We are The Capitol.
In case you haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, let me explain. In the trilogy, The Capitol lies at the center of everything, and the outlying Districts exist to give those in The Capitol a good life. The people outside The Capitol work non-stop, survive without luxuries, and many are near to starving. Those inside The Capitol, on the other hand, have plenty; they mostly spend their money on entertainment, making themselves look nice (or weird), and eating. And when they’re full, they drink a liquid that helps them throw up so they can eat more.
Do you see the analogy now? We who live in the United States are The Capitol. We are mostly concerned with the NFL, the shopping mall, and technology. We purchase items that can only remain at their current, inexpensive prices because they are made by slaves in other countries.
But we do our best not to think about this.
The developing world represents the Districts, where the people are working hard, and yet have almost nothing. They do not even get to enjoy the things that they are creating. They watch their children waste away to nothing, with no hope for ever getting out.
We are The Capitol.
* * * * *
One of the ways we continue this symbiotic relationship between ravenous consumer (us) and exploited worker (them) is in the way that we inhale chocolate, chocolate whose very existence and price depends on the use of slave labor, often child slave labor. This year we will spend almost $8 billion on Halloween, $2.3 billion of that on candy. Where is the majority if the chocolate coming from?
The ILO calls the cocoa industry the worst form of child labor today. And these farms, mostly in Ghana and Ivory Coast, exist because of brands like Hershey, Nestle, Mars, and Cadbury—they all purchase cocoa from these farms, are all aware of their practices, and as of today, have chosen to do little about it.
Please. Before you go out and buy pounds and pounds of chocolate from companies who use slave labor to provide us with our 99 cent chocolate bars, read these two articles by my friends Tsh and Kristen:
Please. Do a little research on your own. If we continue to lament the existence of slavery in our world but refuse to give up our obsession with Reese’s Cups or Snickers bars, we become part of the chain, complicit, and just as guilty as the person standing over a child, telling them they have to work harder.
Which really sucks because I love Snickers. And Reese’s Cups. And all that stuff. But this year I’m going to do my best to avoid eating or purchasing candy from companies who so far have made big promises about changes they’re going to make to their supply chain, but unfortunately have yet to deliver.
Reconsider your Halloween Candy.
Question: Have you already looked into this problem? What chocolate alternatives are you finding? (Tsh has some great recommendations over at her blog.)