Fair Trade Trick or Treat

Vintage poster, 1893

What's the scariest thing you'll encounter on Halloween? You probably wouldn't guess that it would be the use of child slave labor in mainstream cocoa production. For those not familiar with this issue, much of the world's cocoa is produced using child labor, and thousands of the children put to work on cocoa plantains may be victims of child trafficking and slavery. Mainstream chocolate companies have signed a protocol agreeing to work to end child labor in cocoa, but it's at best unclear what kind of progress has been made.

Around Halloween, it's important to be aware that the chocolate treats meant to give pleasure to children here at home are often produced by the suffering of children in cocoa-producing parts of the world. Luckily, there things that families celebrating Halloween can do to make sure their treats contain no tricks:

1. When buying chocolate, look for fair trade products.

Fair trade chocolate companies are certified by independent organizations to engage in fair labor practices, such as using only adult workers who are paid a fair wage for work in safe conditions. It can be a little tricky to find fair trade chocolate packaged and priced suitably for trick-or-treat in stores, but Equal Exchange makes a great Halloween kit that includes 150 miniature fair trade chocolate bars in your choice of either milk or 55% dark chocolate and 150 illustrated cards with information about fair trade chocolate.

2. Choose fruit-flavored candy and fruit snacks instead of mainstream chocolate.

There are lots of fruit-flavored treats available amongst the traditional trick-or-treat sacks of candy at grocery stores. If you're looking for something suitable for special diets, try Annie's Homegrown Organic Vegan Fruit Snacks, which come in cute bunny rabbit shapes.

3. Explore salty and savory options like popcorn, pretzels, potato chips, and crackers.

Sometimes you'll find single-serving versions of these snacks with the Halloween candy at grocery stores, and sometimes up the regular snack aisle. Annie's Homegrown, the company that makes the fruit snacks recommended above, makes a Goldfish-type cracker called Cheddar Bunnies that are made with organic ingredients.

I hope that these tips help you to have a happier Halloween. I've personally enjoyed all of the products recommended in this article, and think that you and your family will enjoy them too.