Passover and Chocolate - a Matter of Freedom
Updated: Apr 7
In my last blog post, I said that I would get back to environmental matters this month. Between then and now, however, it occurred to me that Passover is the right time to talk about an industry built upon slavery, trafficking and child abuse. What is that industry?
The farming and harvesting of chocolate.
Most people are unaware that the vast majority of chocolate produced in the world was grown and harvested by slaves – most of them, children. Thousands of these children are trafficked, few of them are paid any kind of fair wage – if in fact they are allowed to keep the pay for the work that they do – and they labor in very dangerous conditions. They are not allowed to go to school, and they live in abject poverty.
We, who live in clean houses with rooves over our heads and more food on the table than we can eat, need to examine our responsibility for that child slave labor. We like cheap chocolate – but many of us could afford to pay more.
There are many companies that work hard to create delicious, fair-traded chocolate. While that chocolate costs more (because the workers are adults who are paid for their labor), supporting the companies that use fair trade chocolate is worth that extra cost. Moreover, leveraging our purchasing power can effect great change. If we add a boycott of companies like Hershey, Mars, and Nestle, who knows how effective we might be?
The Torah teaches us that we must take care of “the widow and the orphan,” because we were slaves in Egypt. Moreover, we are taught: “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.” As we look back on our own history of slavery, we are reminded that slavery is an evil that must be abolished wherever it exists.
So, take action now: Look for fair trade chocolate when you buy chocolate (and if it’s not wrapped in plastic, even better). If you want to take one step further, sign onto the petitions, below:
To send letters to your congressional representatives, check out this link to a Resistbot on this matter:
Finally, if your tradition is to include a chocolate seder during Passover, please check out this Hagaddah from Rabbi Deborah Prinz https://onthechocolatetrail.org/booksupplement/haggadah/ . She is a warrior for Fair Traded Chocolate, and her seder is not only full of resources, but meaningful as well.
May this Passover bring us the energy, and the will, to recommit to building a better world for all of us who live here.
Chag Sameach –