08 Apr The Other Important Thing About Easter
3 Minute Read
By Corinne Nash
The most important thing about Easter is, of course, the Christian festival to celebrate the resurrection of
Jesus. These days however, scores of families do not even think about the origin of the holiday from work
or school, preferring to see it as time off for family, a long weekend away camping before Winter comes
on, or an excuse to get all your friends round for a big meal.
Naturally children would be jumping up and down by this point and saying that I have missed the most
essential ingredient of Easter and that is chocolate, or more precisely chocolate eggs. Or, in a modern
world, chocolate eggs, bunnies, ducks, chickens, bilbies, carrots, ladybugs, footballs… in fact it is chocolate
We know they’re bad for their teeth and bad for their hearts, but oh what delight our children take in
hunting down and gleefully consuming those chocolatey Easter treats!
Which causes me to pause, because at the very start of the Easter egg production chain, there are other
children. These children have never tasted chocolate, for they prune cocoa trees, harvest cocoa beans and
cart them in heavy sacks. That children have to work instead of having a chance to gain an education is bad
enough. However, these children have been abducted from their families, or taken away under the false
hope of good paid work. What they encounter in reality is a slave trade. They are not paid, they work long
hours, and they do dangerous work without protective gear. Children as young as nine wield machetes to
cut down giant cocoa pods, or to clear weeds.
Surely this is rare? A minority? A travesty? This is normal and widespread in the cocoa industry. Cocoa
farmers are poorly paid for their product and can barely eek a living for themselves. To make ends meet
they need this unpaid labour.
Rick Scobey, President of the World Cocoa Foundation says: ‘Increasing farmer income is central to
ending child labour, usually defined as work that harms a child. The primary cause is poverty.
Two thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown by 1.6 million farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Most
of these farmers are too poor to hire workers — so their children do this work.’
And it’s not just the farmers’ children, trafficked children make up a large proportion of the work force.
Many will never receive any money to send home, and will never see their families again.
There is an answer however. If farmers were paid a fair price for their crop (above the Government Living
Income Differential) by the chocolate companies, and if the chocolate companies would commit to a Child
Labour Monitoring and Remediation Scheme on 100% of their sourcing farms in West Africa, this would be
a key step to prevent child labour.
So, lobbying chocolate companies to bring fair practices into their supply chains is one aspect.
The other thing that you can do right now, this Easter, is to vote with your feet (or with your wallet). Fair
Trade certified chocolate guarantees no slave labour, and no unfair child labour. (Cocoa farmers’ children
are bound to do some work on the family farm).
It’s not easy to find Fair Trade Easter eggs in the shops. Aldi have some. Woollies and Coles only a few.
There are more available online. Fair Trade chocolate bars are a little easier to source- we have all heard of
Whittakers, Aldi and Green & Black’s? Even these companies do not have 100% of their products made
with Fair trade chocolate. Green & Black’s (owned by giant Mondalez) are switching to ‘Cocoa Life’ certification, in conjunction with Fair trade. It’s not perfect, being their own scheme, but perhaps Fair Trade will keep them honest?
This Easter, as you choose chocolates for your children, please consider what type you buy. A few extra
dollars (or not if you shop at Aldi!) will ensure a much happier Easter story for thousands of West African
children who have never had an Easter egg in their life.
And some home schooling resources on Fair Trade to get your children interested too!
ABOUT OUR AUTHOR
Corinne Nash has a Masters of Human Nutrition from Deakin University and has worked in her own private nutrition consultancy for many years. Corinne also has a background in catering and hotel management. She teams her nutritional knowledge with simple recipes and down to earth tips to make small changes in your diet which will bring large changes in long term health risks.
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