Christmas is coming with all the associated chocolate.  If you have a sweet tooth and love chocolate, enjoy it ethically.

Did you know that you can buy Advent Calendars (yes the real one with the Bethlehem scene) with Fair Trade Chocolate inside

What is happening in the growing, picking and buying of cocoa that is unfair? Why do we need to have Fair Trade

While chocolate is sweet for us, it is heartbreaking for cocoa producers and their families. Most cocoa farmers are trapped in poverty and forced to rely on child labour and even child slavery. Meanwhile the chocolate companies profit from the cheap prices. The six largest cocoa producing companies are in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, and Cameroon.

In a 2002 study by The International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture of the 4500 African cocoa farmers, it was found that an estimated 284,000 children laboured under terrible conditions. They often worked from 6 am to 6:30 pm applying insecticides and pesticides, and using machetes without the necessary protective equipment.

Some parents in poverty stricken Baurkina Faso or Mali sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work once they arrive on the Ivory Coast and then send their earnings home. Their wages are so low that this does not happen.

The $13 billion chocolate industry is consolidated in just two firms. They take little responsibility for the conditions under which they receive the chocolate ingredient "cocoa"

Carol Off, a Canadian broadcaster, has written Bitter Chocolate. In this book, she investigates the dark side of chocolate. She traces the origins of the cocoa craze and follows chocolate's evolution under such overseers as Hershey, Cadbury and Mars. In the Ivory Coast, that produces nearly half of the world's cocoa beans, she follows the dark seam of greed. Against a backdrop of civil war and corruption, desperately poor farmers engage in appalling practices such as indentured servitude of young boys-children who don't even know what chocolate tastes like!

In a CBC radio interview Ms. Off relayed a conversation in which she asked children who picked the cocoa pods from the high branches with the long-handle machetes if they knew what was made with cocoa. They had no idea. They couldn't even imagine what a chocolate bar tasted like!

What takes us a few minutes to pop in our mouths is brought to us at a terrible price. What can we do? We can buy fair trade chocolate, cocoa, and sugar as well as coffee.

Fair Trade means decent working conditions and wages, along with a greater possibility for schooling and health care for children and adults working on the farms as well as decent return for the farmers.

When you eat chocolate, think Fair Trade!

You can buy Fair Trade Chocolate Advent Calendars and Bars at Ten Thousand Villages You can also get it at most health food stores, the East End Food Co-op on

Commercial Drive
, or Famous Foods on Kingsway.

Have a Fair Trade Chocolate Sunday at your parish in the next week. Ten Thousand Villages will help you with this.

You can get more information on Fair Trade and where the Fair Trade La Siembra Camino chocolate is sold in Canada For further information go to

The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund nationally ( and within the diocese is giving leadership in the area of Fair Trade. You are welcome to contact your parish PWRDF representative or me at St. Margaret Cedar Cottage, 604 874-5030.