Easter bunnies and child slavery

Just recently I’ve started listening to Marvin Gaye, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to do so! I know I’m not the first to say this, but What’s Goin’ On is a beautiful album.

If the album has a low point artistically, I’d have to say it’s track four – Save The Children. As beautiful as it sounds (let’s face it, the whole album sounds incredible), it is just way too cheesy for even Marvin’s incredible voice to pull off convincingly.

That said, the message is sound. And the song has been in my head ever since someone gave me a Lindt chocolate bunny for easter. You may think I’m drawing a long bow you here, but stick with me.

As you’d know by now, I put a lot of time and effort into making sure the ingredients I source are not just healthy and sustainable, but have also been ethically sourced and produced. This is part of what I believe to be the quadruple bottom line of good food production – delicious, healthy, environmentally sustainable and ethical.

Of all the reasons I choose to use specific ingredients, I’d say there are two that really seem to cut through with customers. The fact that I’s organic, and the fact that it’s local (in that order). Then there are the facts that my products are refined sugar, gluten, dairy, preservative and palm oil-free.

Another point that I am really keen to make to my customers is that not only is the cacao I use raw, organic and delicious, it’s also Fairtrade. The thing is, I’m often struck at how far down the list of priorities this seems to be for a lot of people. Which brings me back to that Lindt bunny.

According to World Vision’s Chocolate Scorecard, Lindt is just one of five of the major chocolate brands that does not use ethically sourced cocoa in it’s entire range. I was shocked to see that Green and Blacks is also on that list. So too is Ferrero, which makes Nutella.

Given what we know about the use of slavery and child labour in the cocoa industry, I find this really upsetting. More so because I feel that many people are either unaware of the full extent of this issue, or are somehow inured to it.

That’s why from now on if you see me in a market or a store talking about my products, you may notice that I am spending more time talking about the importance of fairtrade practices in procuring my ingredients than I do about their other good attributes. Not because I believe that eating organic or local or palm oil-free is any less important, but because I feel that in the process of raising these issues up in the public’s consciousness, the issue of human exploitation is being drowned out, and as a committed humanist, I believe it needs to be placed front and centre in our minds and our decision-making when we are buying food and other products.

These are not just personal decisions we are making when we buy food or indeed any other product, they affect the lives of many people, often in multiple countries, and we need to be conscious of the role we play in that. I believe that food is political, and every item that you buy is a vote for the kind of world that you want to live in. And I for one shall never vote for slavery or any other kind of human exploitation.

Until next time, may all of your ideas be irrepressible.