The Great Cost of Halloween Chocolate

Halloween is a big expense for many Americans, with national average estimates for 2011 topping $70 per person for costumes, decorations, and candy, up about $6 from last year to over $6.8 billion nationally. For a family of five like mine, that means $350 (though I doubt my husband in Kuwait for the Army will spend any money, Halloween is also the beginning of care package season for soldiers stationed overseas). Still, it's a lot of money, and if you consider yourself an average spender, setting aside $20 or $30 of that budget for trick-or-treating candy doesn't seem out-of-bounds.

That $20 would buy a lot of bags of Hershey's bars, Almond Joy, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, three of my family's long-time faves — enough for a couple hundred trick-or-treaters! But we won't be buying anything like that this year, and it's not just because I don't consider myself an average spender. (If you count the jack-o-lantern pumpkins — many of which we end up eating later — we'll probably spend $40 or $50 as a family on Halloween this year. I'm an aficionado of homemade costumes, and let's just say my fabric inventory is overstocked.)

Forced child labor is one reason
Why are we changing our chocolate habits? Because of forced child labor, and many other problems associated with so-called “conventional” production of chocolate, sugar cane, and other tropical crops that go into American Halloween candy. After watching just five minutes of this recent BBC report on how many African children are sold, or “loaned,” by their relatives to harvest cocoa beans, I was ready to tell everyone I could (as Kristen Howerton writes) “to break up with commercial chocolate.”

It's not just this one example of child labor that has me avoiding the big candy makers' products. It's a long history of ill treatment of the people and fertile land in the tropical regions where these crops (and others, like bananas and coconut and coffee) grow, bad treatment that was orchestrated by U.S. and European companies and supported by corrupt governments. A combination of environmental destruction and exploitation lead to famine, more poverty, and even more corruption as the only entities with money were the first-world companies and the people and government officials who catered to their need for cheap chocolate, sugar, bananas, coconuts, coffee, etc.

It's bananas like bananas
Bananas are a great example of this; many say the conditions of sugar plantations are the worst, although not a lot of mainstream investigative work has been done on sugar growing. Peter Chapman's book Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World made the rounds a few years ago on public TV, radio, and talk shows. A review in the New York Times encapsulated the message like this:

United Fruit defined the modern multinational corporation at its most effective — and, as it turned out, its most pernicious. At home, it cultivated clubby ties with those in power and helped pioneer the modern arts of public relations and marketing… Abroad, it coddled dictators while using a mix of paternalism and violence to control its workers. “As for repressive regimes, they were United Fruit's best friends, with coups d'état among its specialties,” Chapman writes. “United Fruit had possibly launched more exercises in ‘regime change' on the banana's behalf than had even been carried out in the name of oil.”

Tropical crops from bananas to chocolate to coffee are grown most cheaply when the rainforest is stripped, water is diverted to feed the crops, and petroleum-based fertilizers are trucked in. Everyone knows by now that these methods increase short-term yields cheaply at the cost of long-term environmental stability. But not everyone has gotten comfortable with how badly this may impact chocolate in the future; and is, in fact, already causing shortages and price hikes for cocoa.

But much like bananas, many of us are too cozy with their chocolate to give it up unless there is a clear example of how destructive it is. Could child slave labor be the impetus for us to re-think our Halloween (and year-round) spending on this commodity, or luxury, depending on your perspective?

How much giving it up costs
I started spending more for fair-trade and organic chocolate several years ago when I started doing research into sugar and coffee production. At the time, I was focused on the conditions in Western tropics like the Caribbean and Central American coffee growers — my sister has lived in Panama for more than a decade, and I couldn't help focus on that region as central to my concerns. As chocolate and coffee have very similar cultivation and love similar climates, I extrapolated and decided to stop buying Hershey's and Mars and start buying Equal Exchange, Endangered Species, and a Pacific Northwest company called Theo Chocolate. (My favorite of all of these is an Equal Exchange bar from Panama, appropriately!)

It's not going to surprise you to hear that it's far more expensive to buy fair trade, “child labor-free” chocolate than the stuff you can get in the supermarket or drugstore in the Halloween aisle. A 3.5-ounce bar, even on sale, will cost $3 or $4. I buy chocolate in bulk when it's on sale, or through a buying club, so I spend about $40 a month for chocolate enough for me and my boys (two of them will happily eat dark chocolate; the third prefers milk chocolate, so I buy a few bars of that for him a month and they disappear fast).

How about Halloween?
Those big 3.5-ounce bars don't really translate to trick-or-treat handouts. I called Theo Chocolate, as that's the brand my kids like best, and they told me that as a small company with limited machinery and packaging options, small bars weren't in their immediate future (they're working on solutions for Halloween 2012 or 2013). But Equal Exchange is another matter, with dark chocolate minibars that go for 19 to 30 cents apiece, depending on how much you buy (roughly similar to the cost of a “fun size” Three Musketeers). They have an organization package called “reverse trick or treat,” where you can get large quantities to hand back to neighbors with a flier on fair trade chocolate.

I'm not much of a door-to-door evangelist. I prefer to write my beliefs! So I'd rather buy the minibars for trick-or-treaters, or another option like Sunspire's Fair Trade Chocolate Earth Balls or Yummy Earth lollipops and drops. Again, the per-unit cost is between 19 and 30 cents each; making it about the same as commercial options and something I can feel way, way better about.

I don't spend much at Halloween, but when I do spend, I want how I spend my money to be in line with the way I believe the world should work. I believe childhood should be a time of fun and learning — not hard labor. I believe that, when you grow crops sustainably, they're not just better for the long-term health of their neighborhood and their planet, but they taste better (that Panama chocolate bar is the stuff of dreams). And I believe a little more cost per unit will keep me from overeating — I can't afford it! — and I like my body this way.

In the end, in my opinion, there's every reason to buy more expensive chocolate for Halloween, and the rest of the year, too.

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Erik
Erik

Excellent! A simple look at what is supposed to be a relatively benign indulgence. Thanks for a great post.

Tom
Tom

Interesting, I’m sure most people wouldn’t believe they could buy fair trade chocolate for about the same cost as what I’ve seen on sale at the grocery store for brand name candy. I think it may be a little cheaper to buy the regular chocolate elsewhere, like Costco or Walmart, but I’m shocked to see fair trade so inexpensive.

ArandomPerson
ArandomPerson

Fair-trade coffee is a scam playing off past & current guilt so why wouldn’d fair trade chocolate be the same?

Fair trade chocolate would deprive poor western kids of some of their little treats & give the wealthy ones (and most importantly their parents) something to make them seem better, so that is something I suppose.

Oh, I am being cynical today. Buy what you you can afford and what makes you happy–if that is fair trade; hey, more power to ya.

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars

You mean those “poor Western kids” with record high obesity levels and early on-set diabetes? Those ones? Oh yes, definitely make sure they get more high fructose corn syrup in their cheap chocolate.

Seriously, when do we start valuing quality over quantity again? Yes, buy what you can afford, and what you can live with.

I’d rather have less chocolate in my life, and be happy with where it comes from and who it supports.

Paris
Paris

Read the article before you comment. Because you obviously haven’t, I get the impression that you’re not cynical, but dim.

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars

I’ll second the Theo Chocolate recommendation. This a great piece, highlighting my favorite ideas of conscientious spending and voting with your dollars and your feet. Beyond that, there is an added benefit.

Theo tastes better. A lot better than cheap chocolate, to which I am forever ruined. I stock up on Theo when I find it on sale, at local drugstores.

http://dogsordollars.com/2011/09/14/grocery-check-in-chocolate-on-sale/

Also, Theo themselves has recently started offering the occasional sale. I think last week they did 20% online purchases. Friend them on facebook to stay in the know on such things.

Joani
Joani

And if you are ever in the Seattle area I would highly recommend a Theo factory tour. You learn all about chocolate and taste test just about every variety. I think the tour is $6 per person.

Jynet
Jynet

The tour IS $6 per person, and involves a fair bit of tasting!

I was there a couple of weeks ago, and I will not be buying any conventionally produced chocolate again – ever.

Theo did 2 “small” sized bars this year, but neither were very child freindly, one was hot – ghost chilis!, and one was coffee flavoured. They were great though 🙂

Jason mark
Jason mark

Would have been. Nice if this article came out last week when it wasn’t too late to order online.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Interesting post! I live in an apartment so I don’t get trick or treaters, but my parents get unpredictable numbers, and they hate being stuck with poor quality candy at the end of the night. I think these options would work really well for them. (My mom only eats “the good stuff” now.) But I wonder: where do we draw the line? Even fair trade Halloween candy generates unnecessary garbage (unless they’re in recyclable packaging) and isn’t obesity one of the major problems our countries are facing? I don’t have kids yet, but I’m already at a loss as to… Read more »

Leah
Leah

Not that everyone can do this, but I’d someday like to emulate my neighbors. Not sure how much they spent, but I think it was worth it. Instead of handing out candy, they would grill up hotdogs on Halloween. Anyone walking by was welcome to stop for a cup of hot cider or coffee and a hotdog. Some people just hung out there and played around instead of going trick-or-treating. This doesn’t directly address the article, per se, but I think it’s a good option. I’d love to see more Halloween things that are about hanging out and having fun… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I like that idea 🙂

My parents gave out mini packs of gum and halloween themed pencils one year. These days, there aren’t many kids in the neighbourhood so they don’t do much for Halloween anymore.

Patty
Patty

What a great idea! I would love to do something similar to that.

shawn
shawn

man…i would have been pissed if i got a pack of gum and a pencil when I was little. Let the parents worry about their kids diet. If they control their diet responsibly the rest of the year, one day of fun and chocolate hoarding won’t kill them. i have fond memories of huge bags of candy, trading with friends for what you like, sharing with family…it’s halloween!!!!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

@Shawn — if it was a single day of indulging, I’m sure most people wouldn’t fault that.

Ask those kids’ teachers, doctors and dentists how much impact Halloween has and I’m sure they’ll tell you it goes well beyond a single day.

I’m kind of glad I live in an apartment so I don’t have to worry so much about the opinions of little kids 😉

shawn
shawn

Like i said, let the parents worry about the rest of the year’s diet. me giving them raisins is not going to make them eat healthier in their everyday lives- it will just make them upset with the candy they got for halloween. i would know, i used to be a kid 😉

Sara A.
Sara A.

I’ve been trying to spread the word not to buy child slave trade chocolate this year. People called me a “Debbie Downer” and got mad at me.

I don’t understand… I am very polite when I say anything about it. People just don’t want to hear it.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I get that response whenever I don’t buy what people want me to buy or eat what people think I should eat. I’m careful about what I eat for my health and what I spend for the sake of my financial health. Still, I hear “live a little”. To me, “living” doesn’t mean eating food that makes me sick or spending on a lot of stuff. People don’t understand it, but I figure I’m doing something right if I’m meeting opposition. It’s hard when people try to force their opinions on you, but important to remember that sometimes they feel… Read more »

Judy
Judy

Perhaps try spreading the word differently. If you tell someone not to do something, whether you mean it or not it often comes off very judgmental and makes you sound like the morality police. This could explain people’s reactions to your suggestions. However, this is a finance blog isn’t it? Frame your argument in a positive financial sense. Tell them you found awesome deals to get this delicious fair trade chocolate for the same price as the common stuff. Stress the deal and the deliciousness and leave the politics/morality out of it, you might get a better response.

SB @ One Cent At A Time
SB @ One Cent At A Time

Do you really think Americans stop eating chocolates should stop child labor? Let’s take a hard look at the problem. Its a problem of poverty. If you can not eat your meals, you will send your kids to work. If there’s no system to turn these children in to educated persons, only way to earn is by hard labor, then why not start early? If chocolates stop selling, those children will find some other way to earn money, their parents will. Not eating chocolate is just not the solution. You can really help if you donate the saved money (by… Read more »

Another Kate
Another Kate

You’re right. It is about poverty — so we have to work toward ending extreme poverty. But also is about forced labor. Parents are told their kids will be earning money for the family, and then they just never get money (or get a small down payment at the beginning and nothing more), and their kids aren’t allowed to leave. Or, in some instances of child slavery (I’m not sure if this happens with slaves on cocoa farms), the kids are kidnapped the family gets nothing. We need to take a combination approach to fighting slavery: work to fight poverty,… Read more »

stephanieg617
stephanieg617

Good food for thought. I wish I had seen this before buying our Halloween candy. Next year could Halloween articles be posted earlier- like around October 20th? No one near me sells the free trade stuff and I do not have enough time to have it shipped even with Amazon Prime.

Melanie
Melanie

Yes, I would have loved to have seen this article in time to place an order and before I bought stuff. 🙂

Michelle C
Michelle C

Ditto!

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

agreed on earlier posting for Halloween, but even so, something to keep in mind for those tidbit trays at thanksgiving, and other following holiday parties. The season of eating is upon us and eating always costs, in money, inches and principle! 🙂

Amy
Amy

People who are desperate enough for money that their children work in horrible conditions? Those people’s families are going to starve when their kids are laid off. Boycotting these companies isn’t doing these children any favors. It makes their situation worse, not better.

If you want to help children in this situation, you need to help improve the economic conditions of the country.

Maria-Elena
Maria-Elena

The economic conditions of a country are improved when the companies that manufacture there have the incentive to provide fair wages because customers refuse to buy products made from slave labor.

Amy
Amy

Unfortunately, that’s generally not true. Companies will go where the wages are cheap rather than raise wages, unless they have no choice but to remain in a certain area.

Economic conditions improve from free trade. Every country goes through an industrial revolution, and although the growing pains produce some fairly horrific conditions for people, without the growing pains there will be no prosperity.

Pamela
Pamela

A major component of fair trade companies is not just to stop using exploitatively produced goods. It’s also to set up systems by which workers can make a living wage that supports their family and helps their homes provide them a sustainable living.

By supporting fair trade, you are supporting families struggling to get by. And you’re putting pressure on the governments that allow their people to be exploited.

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

the philosophy works when you can convince enough of the market that a piece of sweet isn’t worth the cost imposed on some other human…

of course the realist in me says good luck with convincing average Joe ‘Merican to give up his m&m’s for the sake of some exploited kid in china (or anywhere else).

but yeah, if america quit buyin’ the chocolate because of a company’s business practices, they’d improve the business practices…seriously, who eats the stuff other than us? We ARE the market.

Samantha
Samantha

I don’t think you fully understand the plight here. These children are SLAVES, meaning they do not get paid anything for their work. They cannot leave. They get fed enough to keep them alive and working, and no more. Their families may certainly be starving, but having men kidnap their children is not putting dinner on the table. This is forced labor. It has nothing to do with the economy, and more with corruption.

Amy
Amy

I read both the articles. It sounds like these children are being sold by their parents. Horrific? Yes, absolutely. Solvable by purchasing free-trade chocolate? Doubtful. Like you said, slavery is an issue of corruption. Beating back the problem would require government or institutional change to institute rules that reduce corruption. But the other thing that stops this kind of corruption is economic prosperity. People are bought and sold because of desperation. Reduce the desperation and you reduce the pressure to do horrific things.

Lindsay
Lindsay

Yeah, it annoys me when people preach about child labor. In some places, and even in the past in the US, children had to work to support their families. But there has been a report that the child workers in Cote d’Ivoire are being abused, and up to 6% of them have no relatives living in the area, suggesting that they may have been trafficked as slaves.

Tina
Tina

I feel like this article has no place on GRS.

This is basically an opinion piece on working conditions in poor countries. I think it could have been written to be about personal finance, but in the end the vast majority was dedicated to the writer’s opinion on why slave labor is bad.

I’m not saying it isn’t well written, and I’m not saying that I agree or disagree, I just feel like this does not belong here.

Sara A.
Sara A.

I didn’t think child slave labor being bad was a matter of “opinion.”

Tina
Tina

And that is not the point of my statement. The point of my statement (as evidence by the fact that I said I neither agree or disagree) is “This has little to nothing to do with personal finance, ergo, has no place on GRS”

Lyn
Lyn

Tina, I couldn’t agree with you more. What a disappointment to log on this morning and be subjected to Sarah’s rant. While I don’t disagree with her opinion, this was not the forum for it. Big disappointment.

changeonabudget
changeonabudget

I DO think it has a place on a personal finance website. How we spend our money has consequences – on ourselves but also on others. She is outlining why she will spend more money on candy than most people this Halloween and the impact that spending money on traditional chocolate brands can have. It may cost more to buy fair-trade foods, but it also means that you are supporting companies that treat their workers in a way that you as a worker would prefer to be treated. We all have justifications for how and why we spend our money… Read more »

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

agree with changeonabuget…

besides, the article DID say, that the cost of her “political” preference did enhance her bottom line simply because she had to think about when and where to drop $4 on candy, and that her budgetary limitations also added to her fitness bottom line (limited opportunity for weight gain) so presumably she saves on gym fees…

an article about thinking about how you spend, and pointing out how doing so improves your bottom line…

hurm, sounds like GRS to me.

phoenix
phoenix

I think the wisdom of child-labor-laws in very poor countries is something that is debatable. If children are prevented from working altogether, even at young ages, does this mean that they will starve instead? To me, starvation is a much worst fate than working too young. Of course, if it is necessary to work in order to eat, they should be kept safe . . .

To me, it is more important to solve the lack of food and clean drinking water problem that our world has

Another Kate
Another Kate

If they were being taken good care of, it would be tempted to say “Hmmmm… could it be better to be a cared-for slave than a free person starving?” But my understanding of the situation, which I have gleaned through reading a lot about this, not through personal experience, is that the slaves are fed little and beaten severely. Better to be free, I think.

Maria-Elena
Maria-Elena

I disagree. The objective of the article was to argue that sometimes cheap prices incur costs that are too high. It is a good reminder that, when making financial decisions, we look at the whole cost of the transaction, not just the money that comes out of our wallet.

Stacy
Stacy

I disagree as well. When you get something cheap, it usually means someone else is paying the cost somewhere. And for people who also want to align their spending with their values, it’s good to hear about the issues going on.

Nate
Nate

The name of the blog is “Get Rich Slowly,” not “The Holistic Shopper.” Its tag line is “Personal Finance That Makes Cents,” not “How to align your spending with your values”.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth

Yes, Nate, but if I were to start the blog anew today, the tag-line might very well be “how to align your spending with your values”. Because that’s what smart personal finance is all about.

Tina
Tina

JD, I actually feel that the largest component of smart personal finance is about how to get the most out of your money. That’s a lot of what this blog used to be about. Early articles about what is the smartest way to pay off debt were inspiring (it certainly inspired my husband and I to pay down our massive student debt.) Early articles explaining the value of different investments (Roth IRAs, tradional IRAs, 401ks etc) and why they’re good, that’s wonderful personal finance. To me, THAT’s getting rich slowly, that’s how it’s done. While I agree that a component… Read more »

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars

Why are personal finance and conscientious consumerism mutually exclusive?

I for one get extremely bored constantly reading about 401k’s, mutual funds, and interest rates.

Now that I’ve got my financial empire under control, how I spend that money is increasingly important to me. Obviously small choices (chocolate, coffee, bananas) can have big impact. Just like any debt snow flake/snow ball. Examining those is a worth while pursuit, and part of slowly enriching my own life.

changeonabudget
changeonabudget

The name “Get Rich Slowly” is not the same thing as “Get Rich Any Way you Can”. Not being aware of how our consumption practices and spending habits affect others isn’t “smart personal finance”, it’s short-sighted and selfish. You don’t have to agree with her decision to spend more money on fair-trade chocolate but you can’t fault her for explaining why she is doing it. Labour practices like this are one of the major reasons I struggle with investing in the stock market. Sure I could ‘Get Rich” by investing money, but am I getting rich of the backs of… Read more »

Kris
Kris

I agree with Tina and was planning on posting the same concerns prior to reading her comment. I’ve been coming to this website for the last three years to learn about personal finance. If I want to read about issues concerning fair trade, child labor etc… I will go to a site catering to those issues. JD has made it very clear in the past that this is not a “political website”. I appreciate that about GRS and it’s a major reason I continue to come back. Please stick to the personal finance issues and leave the political issues out.

Catherine
Catherine

Ok, Kris, what if sarah had talked about the health costs of those snickers and reeses pieces? Would it still be as preachy? Great deals often have great costs, whether for your child or someone elses. Cheap food is killing us — obesity and diabetes are at all time highs in this country — and I shudder when I read blog posts at GPS about how much was saved by coupling because most of the coupons are for frankenfoods that were created at great cost to animals or children. And this same food is killing us! If you think fair-trade… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine

Sorry, fumble fingers got me mid-rant. Anyway, I visit a juvenile diabetes clinic with my dog and I am shocked at the children I meet. I really work to keep my food choices safe and ethical as a result. Apologies for the passion, but from where I stand, cheap food is no bargain. That is personal finance, just on a macro level.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Are you referring to type 1 or type 2 diabetes? In Canada at least, juvenile diabetes usually refers to type 1 — the kind that is caused by an autoimmune disorder, not unhealthy lifestyle habits (type 2, formerly known as adult onset).

Not everyone who has diabetes “got it” from eating too much junk or not exercising. (the issue is quite complex.)

catherine
catherine

Regrettably, I am refering to Type 2. Obese children with Type 2 diabetes is growing exponentially. Our children are dying from all this cheap food.

spiralingsnails
spiralingsnails

“If I want to read about issues concerning fair trade, child labor etc… I will go to a site catering to those issues.” But if you don’t even know that those issues exist, you won’t GO looking for information concerning them. And judging by the comments on this article, more than one of us hadn’t heard much about this hidden suffering. Having new information presented by a source that you are already familiar with (whether a family member, newspaper, or interesting PF website) is how most of us learn about new topics – whether it’s child slavery or sneaky debit… Read more »

Nancy
Nancy

I have to say, when I started reading this article, I thought that it didn’t belong on GRS and that there would be alot of negative comments. As I kept reading,and I saw how well Sarsh had made her point, I thought it was a very timely article. As far as being on GRS, there are certainly alot of other articles which cover how we spend our money – whether at Christmas or another holiday where people spend money – but usually they don’t have such an opinionated stance. I think its fine to get some education about this, but… Read more »

AC
AC

I totally agree. I don’t come to this sight to read about someone up on there soap box. I sort of feel like a lot of the articles lately have been less and less about personal finance, and more and more opinionated/preachy. It’s a real turnoff. I obviously agree that horrible, wrong things go on in other countries, but there is a whole different side to this argument that is not even presented. But I don’t want to debate those issues because I was under the impression that this blog was about personal finance, not political issues.

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

Funny, I’ve been reading this site for years and now, have learned everything about 401Ks I need to know…but you don’t see me blasting on about how boring it is or how it only affects X% if readers here and what about the rest of us? A headline indicating a connection to personal finance I HAD NOT thought of (or already read about here), now THAT will get my attention.

Kathryn
Kathryn

I completely disagree. This is an article on decision-making around how money is spent. It’s completely appropriate for a personal finance blog, and I’m happy to see it.

Robin Burks
Robin Burks

That recent BBC report about child labor links to an article written in 2000, which is hardly recent. Do we know if anything has changed since then?

Shirley
Shirley

So is it better to buy NON-CHOCOLATE Halloween candy, like Skittles, Starburst, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, etc etc? I, too dont have enoigh time to order anything online. What is the best option since I havent bought anything yet?

Catherine
Catherine

Make your own. Organic rice krispie treats rock.

sjw
sjw

That won’t work in many neighbourhoods. The parents don’t trust it if it isn’t in an individually wrapped package.

Claire
Claire

That’s a waste of time; parents are just going to throw homemade items out.

Sarah+Jo
Sarah+Jo

There’s certainly still time – to be healthful minded and still have something to hand out: Head to your local grocer and buy mini-oranges (Clemintines) There are typically about 20 oranges/3 lb bag (priced at 2>97 at my HEB this morning). Take your black permenant marker and turn those mini oranges into mini-jack-o-lanterns by drawing faces on them. Parents may be more likely to allow thier kids to eat them, as they are ‘individually wrapped” (in their natural peel) and you’ve not contributed to the obsiety problems of our younger generation.

changeonabudget
changeonabudget

Good question. Are there any smaller chocolate shops in your area? You can ask if they sell fair-trade chocolate. Some groceries stores also stock fair trade chocolate. If you absolutely can’t find another alternative, just don’t get Hersey. They are by far the worst practioner of child slave labour in their chocolate trade. If you are concerned about what was raised in this article but can’t find any other chocolate, you could also donate a small amount (the differnce in price of buying it fair-trade for example) and donate that to an organization working to improve labour conditions.

Steve S
Steve S

Thumbs down. JD: Sarah barely met the criteria for an acceptable Personal Finance blog post by bookending her story with some cost analysis. But the gooey, chocolatey center was a big dose of moralizing and value judgements that don’t really belong here. This isn’t her first post to do this. Though experiment before anyone gets mad at me: Imagine a guest writer wrote about how they give to charity. But in the middle they wrote about how they make sure they don’t give to charities that support gay and transgendered people (because their religion looks down on that), and how… Read more »

Nate
Nate

Haven’t you noticed? This blog has barely even been about personal finance at all in the last few months. It’s about travel, why you shouldn’t feel guilty about buying whatever you want whenever you want it, why you should quit your job, and why you should stop using shampoo. And, as you say, moralizing. Until the other staff writers can become more relevant than the reader stories, the only person worth reading here anymore is Brokamp.

Oh… and some of the comments. Those are worth it, sometimes.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth

Nate, you’re going to hate my post tomorrow. It’s about travel and conscious spending. But at least there aren’t any politics in it. 🙂

Nate
Nate

I’m a lover, not a hater. I just don’t understand the dramatic drift (okay, that’s not true – I understand and respect that some of your life goals have changed, I just wish that it didn’t negatively impact GRS). If I seem at all caustic, it’s not because I dislike the site, but rather because I like it quite a lot and am upset because I view the quality as having declined. Can’t we just compromise? I will keep reading, so long as posts start appearing again that *actually* deal with finance? The rest of the time you can be… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth

I agree, Nate, that there need to be more practical, how-to articles here. That’s something I’ve been working on behind the scenes (though not for the past month, obviously, since I’ve been completely out of contact with the world). I’m always afraid to write them because I don’t want to repeat myself. But then I have to remember that not everyone has been reading for 5-1/2 years, so maybe repeating myself isn’t such a bad thing. As for the political/social stuff: I can’t promise that the staff writers will always steer clear. Sarah seems to like to incorporate social conscience… Read more »

Bella
Bella

OMG “White Guilt Wednesdays” !
that’s so awesome, I am going to be chuckling all day after that one.

Claire
Claire

This is a reply to comment 59. I agree, too. I liked all of the older GRS articles. Yes, the staff writers have a different point of view, but honestly when I see that JD is the author of the newest post, I get happier because I know it will be a good, quality, and RELEVANT article.

Kristen
Kristen

Warning…off topic comment but I heart Nate and JD and free alliteration suggestions!

Sarah L
Sarah L

I agree with post 24… I used to really love GRS, and looked forward each morning to reading all the articles, but now, I only read the ones that catch my eye because it feels like it’s no longer as focused on helping people “Get Rich Slowly” I understand spending, and how you choose to spend can and is a part of that, and on occasion it is interesting to hear how others spend in other countries but it would have been a lot nicer to me if the article had been a little more focused towards, This is what… Read more »

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

i don’t think JD intended for GRS to become a cult of JD

but all those saying they only like what he writes and only like to read stuff like he used to write…

jes sayin’

Procrastamom
Procrastamom

I totally agree. My thought is that this piece was posted here either because JD is out of town and didn’t review it or because the site is now going in a different direction.

Yosef Katz
Yosef Katz

Hi, if being for or against gays can be equated to being for or against exploitation of children in labor camps then you, Sir Steve S, are off your rocker!

Since when is anything moral having to do with money simply equated to all things moral having to do with anything???!

skp
skp

What???

Steve S
Steve S

“Hi, if being for or against gays can be equated to being for or against exploitation of children in labor camps then you, Sir Steve S, are off your rocker!” Listen. Those of us in the first world can sit here all day and make value judgments about how terrible it is to let our precious little snowflakes do actual manual labor. And to the extent that cocoa production crosses into literal human slavery, I would advocate for its abolition. However, where you see a “forced labor camp” may be an African family’s only means of survival. Children don’t have… Read more »

imelda
imelda

You actually think that child slavery is a matter of personal opinion?

Analogy fail.

Mom of five
Mom of five

Who pays 19 to 30 cents for a fun size Milky Way? Somebody who doesn’t watch for sales. You know, you don’t need to give out chocolate at Halloween if you object to how cheap chocolate’s harvested. Smarties, Nerds, Starbursts, and Lollipops will all prevent your house from being egged just as easily as Fair Trade Chocolate. And you generally can buy those popular non chocolate Halloween staples on sale with a double coupon if you’re paying attention. Also, I always pick up a bunch of cheap little Halloween toys (e.g. miniature glow in the dark skeletons). I typically get… Read more »

Tom
Tom

Who pays 19 to 30 cents for a fun size Milky Way? Somebody who doesn’t watch for sales.
Tons of people who just picked up a few bags at the local grocery store the past few weeks. Costco sells a bag that’s about $2.50 per lb of Mars brand chocolates. The same brands in smaller bags at ACME, Safeway, Rite Aid, etc., are going for well over $4/lb.

jim
jim

You may be thinking of different sizes.

I take “fun size” to mean the small size candies. You may be thinking of the regular candy bar size which is generally closer to 1 or 1.5 ounce each. The small size candies are a fraction of an ounce each. A jumbo bag of “snack size” Kit-Kat bars is $2-$4 retail at grocery stores. Theres 42 individual small bars in that bag so thats like 5 to 10 cents each.

Tom
Tom

For what its worth, the 150 pc all chocolate fun size assortment bag is selling on Amazon for $24 right now (would link to it but I’d like to avoid moderation). That’s a bit over 16c per candy, and about $3.45/lb. I bought the exact same thing at Costco for $13.99. I’m sure plenty of people will spend $3.45 or more per pound on mass-produced candy for Halloween.

Nina
Nina

Great article, fair trade is an important issue.

One of my pet issues is union made products. Here is a list of union made halloween treats from union plus http://www.unionplus.org/union-made/halloween-treats

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is much intersection between treats with fairly priced raw materials AND fairly paid workers who make and package the items.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Hershey is at the top of the list there, and they had a recent walkout of foreign students who it seems were being overworked and underpaid.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/foreign-students-walk-off-hershey-factory-job-protest-214310205.html

Amber
Amber

I like calculating your per-trick-or-treater cost. It’s not just a bag of candy, its .19 cents per kid!
I bought the target halloween fruit snack packs. $6.49 for 50 packs. Thats .13 cents a kid! .26 cents if they’re really cute!

Celina
Celina

Great write up!

Kristen Howerton also writes about Ideas for an Ethical Halloween here: http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2011/10/ideas-for-ethical-halloween.html

Bella
Bella

Unlike the GRS post – this link has LOTS of ideas of alternatives to conventional chocolate for Halloween.

Zach
Zach

I appreciate the perspective, and being reminded of the conditions surrounding the harvesting of the materials for these products… but the only thing sticking in my mind right now is that you spend $40 a month on chocolate (even as a family of 5).

I guess we all have our weaknesses.

Sarah gilbert
Sarah gilbert

Zach, $40 is a lot. But I bring chocolate to writer’s group each week instead of the usual bottle of wine… so a good half of that goes to ‘professional development’ 😉 — I’d be surprised to hear that an average family didn’t spend far more than that each month in treats! (soda, juice, candy, cookies, and the rest of it)

AS
AS

Sarah, I really do think you raised a valid point about chocolate and where it comes from. It IS a personal finance issue as well. What we do in with our personal finances helps direct the future of the world economy which effects ours and our children’s future. I am alarmed to read how much you spend on chocolate as well, though. I have four children and do not buy soda, juices, cookies, etc. We eat fruit and homemade snacks. What I am trying to say is that I wish you would have brought up the point of moderation or… Read more »

Kathryn
Kathryn

Thank you thank you thank you. I have really struggled with how to explain to people succinctly, before their eyes start to glaze over, what the issues are around chocolate. I will definitely share this post.

Yosef Katz
Yosef Katz

I was going to take offense to this post as I have been living in Thailand for 8 months already and then somewhere in between it turned for me. I have always believed that we, as individuals, should be conscious of how the money we spend is being used. This, of course, goes far above here is a dollar give me an object or service of value in exchange. Some anti-religious people will object due to the moral overtones but that should not deter anyone in the long (or short) run, we are human! This post is right on in… Read more »

Mike Piper
Mike Piper

Am I misunderstanding you, or are you asserting that being anti-religion means being anti-morality?

Yosef Katz
Yosef Katz

No, just risking my observation that usually anti-religious people take objection when a moral issue is discussed. Flame me all I’m well due for it! 🙂

Mike Piper
Mike Piper

I’ll just say that the anti-religious people you know must be very different from those whom I know, and I’ll leave it at that.

imelda
imelda

Troll.

Jenna L.
Jenna L.

Great post, Sarah! I definitely weigh where my money is going as part of my personal finance decisions and I welcome more posts like this one at GRS.

That said, I happen to love Hershey products and look forward to the day when I can feel good about purchasing them. I was happy to see 50K people pushing Hershey’s to shift toward using fairtrade cocoa in its products: http://www.change.org/petitions/hershey-raise-the-bar

Cat
Cat

Very interesting article. Frankly, it cost me 25 bucks for candy (non-fair trade) – I’m in Canada and always amazed at how you can find stuff cheaper in the U.S.

Now – is there such a thing as peanut free fair trade? We have rules about what kids can take to school,and it must be peanut free..

Amber
Amber

I have to agree with others that Sarah, while I totally support the ideas you post here, it is really not in the realm of personal finance. There IS a great cost to halloween and ideas on how to circumvent that would be appreciated here. Tackling global issues of slavery and corporate greed seems beyond how you cut your halloween cost from $350 to $40. That should have been the post for GRS.

Yosef Katz
Yosef Katz

Amber I am of the opinion that personal finance is you spending your money how you see fit. Whether or not you agree with the article’s emphasis it is definitely about someone spending their money how they see fit. If you would rather not hear about the various issues that shape this individual’s (the author) thoughts and feeling toward spending her money then no one is forcing you to listen, are they?!

phoenix
phoenix

While I would love to see children have a childhood the world over, my question is the relationship between starvation and child labor laws. On September 11, 2001, over 35,000 people died from starvation–a method of death that I cannot even contemplate. But it was a quiet method of death that the world doesn’t seem to acknowledge. About 85% of those were children. Now, the numbers are even higher. A person dies of hunger every 2.5 seconds. I would LOVE to have more information regarding what happens to the children if child labor laws are created and enforced–does this mean… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

This is a really good point. While “child labor” sounds horrifying at first impression, this is often what people have to do to survive. My dad says he started working when he was 4 years old– my grandmother was raising children alone in a remote region of the planet and the choice was between labor or starvation. My dad wasn’t sold into slavery of worked to death; he was loved and cared for, he went to school managed to attend a public university and have a successful professional life (thanks in part to his excellent work ethic). Anyway, I’m not… Read more »

changeonabudget
changeonabudget

Buying fair trade products doesn’t take away a job from someone else. It creates a job with a living wage and ensures that approriate labour standards are being met.

If you want things to change, then change your consumption habits to match your values. It might cost you more but that’s because every penny you save is being squeezed out of the worker at the other end. I want to save money, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of someone else.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

I actually buy fair-trade coffe, which tastes worse than the Starbucks version of the same roast I like (French). [No, that doesn’t make me a saint and it doesn’t wash my endless crimes. And I might start back on Starbucks just for that.] But I was not aware until… now, pretty much, of this child slavery/cocoa connection. So I didn’t post in support of child slavery. I just posted to say that I’d like to know more about this issue and find out what’s what (and thanks to Sarah for bringing it up). I wouldn’t want to dive into some… Read more »

Frances
Frances

You know there is more than one brand of Fair Trade coffee, right? Be brave, experiment!

Samantha
Samantha

I love this article, and I really appreciate the message it is sending. Even if folks don’t see how it could have a place in the personal finance realm, it is certainly about personal values, and where you spend your money affects the world.

I would encourage people to read up on this issue! Kevin Bales has written several books on modern day slavery, Disposable People and Ending Slavery are amazing.

Barb
Barb

Without commenting on the specificity of whether tha rticle is appropriate for this blog. Forty dollars on choclate a month for a mom and two kids????? Even if thats inflated because it’s fair trade, how much chocolate are youe ating?? In my house we might, might mind you..go thru a large bar of real german choclate a month. also, Ive never spent twenty cents for a bar of fun chocolate in my life. with doubled coupons, bags of candy end up being a dollar sometimes. either way, Ifyou have disposable income to buy only fair trade choclate thats great…..but the… Read more »

Yosef Katz
Yosef Katz

So you see, author, in the end it was Barb that was listening AND paying attention!

Amber
Amber

Uncalled for hostility Yosef. This is exactly why GRS should not go into the political, because it brings out the nasty in commenters.
I too am extremely curious how Sarah went from the “average” spending of $350 for a large family to only $40 this year. That is why I come to GRS and if those articles disappear I will too. When I want to read up on fair trade issues I go to Green America (which I support) or Democracy Now! (which I support).

Yosef Katz
Yosef Katz

Amber perhaps I blew it, I was not trying to be hostile, I think Barb truly was paying attention and got that point about personal finance for herself (and me as well) from the article. $40/mo for chocolate seems like a lot to me, if everyone here is just comfortable with that then that is their prerogative after all it is (or should be) about personal finance, right? Please do not take this that I did not enjoy the article either, I really did and it hit a lot of points on the head for me as well. PS –… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy

Man, I have mixed feelings about this. We don’t typically have candybars in our house and I was really looking forward to buying milky ways, twix, hersey bars or some other combination for halloween and to be able to eat the left overs (and sample my kids’ bags too). Now, I don’t know what to do. To be completely ethical what-throw out the candy my child gets at Halloween? The kind of ethical treats I can get at whole foods are bin types I can’t give out because they are not individually packaged, and the other offerings are prohibitively expensive… Read more »

Linda
Linda

oh, come on….. RE: “you can get large quantities to hand back to neighbors with a flier on fair trade chocolate.”

I picture my lawn littered with those fliers on Nov 1.

Halloween Trick-or-treating in my neighborhood lasts about 3 hours.

Just have some fun for a few hours and go with it. There’s 364 days other days of the year to have a social conscience.

imelda
imelda

Man, I didn’t notice that in the article.

I am in FULL support of this article being posted, and I love that Sarah offered some affordable alternatives to the drugstore chocolate.

But man, if you hand out a flier like that, you are going to ruin a LOT of kids’ Halloweens.

A CHILDREN’S CELEBRATION IS NOT A FORUM FOR DISCUSSING THE HORRORS OF THE WORLD. For pity’s sake, let the kids have a nice night. Do your part by handing out fair-trade chocolate, and advocate on your own time.

Dallas+saver
Dallas+saver

The article was preachy and self-righteous.

imelda
imelda

Nope.

It was objective and factual. If you felt condescended to, that’s because of your own guilt, not the article’s tone.

(note: I have never bought fair trade, but this article has convinced me to in future. Rather than bristling, I appreciate the information.)

Another Kate
Another Kate

Why preachy and self-righteous? I don’t get it. It seems like if someone raises a social issue, they are immediately accused of being preachy and self-righteous. I don’t want to live in a world where we can’t discuss issues like slavery, because we might offend someone. We can’t all embrace all the good causes in the world — no one has enough energy to tackle all the world’s problems — and your cause may not be my cause, but let’s not err on the side of accusing people who bring up social concerns of being “preachy and self-righteous.”

Bella
Bella

I had a feeling when I saw the headline that this would be big discussion. Honestly I have mixed feeling over the article. I do think it was too late to post for this year – I already bought my candy – and yes it was Reese’s, Hershey’s etc… All chocolate – and a big bag of smarties of course. Every year I’m floored by the high cost of junk food. Honestly, I bought ‘snacks’ for my husband to take hunting adn spend as much on a 4 day supply of snacks (chips, candy, nuts etc) as I did on… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy

As for coffee, look up counterculture. You may not find those exact words but that’s what they are. Most organic coffees are basically shade grown as well because it is less stressful on the plants.
Ourselves, we do about 50/50 the good coffee, and the cheap coffee. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to afford to drink it.

Megan E.
Megan E.

I’m torn here – I liked the article and the subject matter (and I LOVE Theo chocolate!) but I do agree that this isn’t what I want to read on a financial blog. Instead, I would’ve liked to hear more about the homemade costumes, about the reduction in costs for the holiday, about reusing pumpkins for pie (since the ones I buy for carving aren’t pie pumpkins, and thus are a sunk cost) and so forth…in other words, a mention on how an alternative is fair trade chocolate and X company sells individual ones would be good, but a whole… Read more »

Bella
Bella

Here is what I know about homemade costumes – last year I got away with some scrap fleece and tulle and basically amke my daughters costume for free, in about an hour, this year, we’re talking more like $40 in pattern and fabric and 7-8hrs of time. Handmade via sewing is really the expensive way to go.

Amy
Amy

This is true. I am a big fan of making my own costumes – but I do this for the originality of them. There’s usually no cost savings in doing it this way (and in fact it is often more expensive, not less), UNLESS you’re doing something VERY simple, like a cat or a robot or something.

But I agree that an article on this topic would be GREAT for Get Rich Slowly and I would prefer to see more like it here.

Tina
Tina

I love making costumes! While I’ve never had the opportunity to make Halloween costumes, I have made some rather elaborate things for theater (I was a costume designer for a community theater for 3 years) so I’m pretty good at making beautiful costumes on the cheap 🙂 Generally, the cheapest way to do it is to modify existing items. Try a good-will or other thrift-type stores. Or if you’re really lucky and have a pack-rat in the family, see if you can take some old clothes from them. You can also get coupons or watch out for fabric sales at… Read more »

Barb
Barb

Handmade via sewing is not necessarily the most expensive way to go. Mcalls patterns have been on sale for 99 cents for weeks, and there is fabric as low a as a couple bucks a yard. More important thoug is tha most “homemade” costomes do not have to be “handmade”. There are very few non period costumes that cannot be made primarily with found items,scissors and a few other items

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

my mom used to make the most envied princess dresses when I was a child…by cutting, tucking, tacking and stitching her old 50s’/60’s prom and deb dresses to fit me. Nothing fancy…done the day of. Plenty of prom and wedding dresses in goodwill with lots of tulle and satin. That stain on the train will be cut off for a 4 ft princess and a lot of poly/acetate can be gently hand-washed or steamed for cleaning without the cost for drycleaning. Can’t sew? Fabric tape and hot glue. Not like they’ll wear it next year anyway. Need a disney belle… Read more »

Harmony
Harmony

I agree that this article did not belong on GRS. Spending extra to feel good about yourself for not suporting child slavery? Complaining that international corporations work with dictators? Maybe you should also include information about the Chinese workers living under an oppressive goverment and working long hours making Halloween costumes? I supose if you really want to spend extra for that “feel good” feeling from buying “socially responsible” products it doesn’t hurt anything but your own bank account, but it seems like an odd article for GRS. There are international charities that you can contribute to that will make… Read more »

Brenton
Brenton

“Maybe you should also include information about the Chinese workers living under an oppressive goverment and working long hours making Halloween costumes?”

Or iPhones…

phoenix
phoenix

That is my favorite one too, well that and Heifer Int’l! I do the same (not because of chocolate issues–I don’t eat or buy that much chocolate).

Meika
Meika

Oh, I completely disagree! This isn’t about making oneself feel good, it’s about addressing an issue that our consumption patterns help propagate. Nonprofits that work to end poverty and exploitation are great (and I support them, too), but there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say.

At any rate, there is a moral/ethical component to all the decisions we make about money, so I think it’s entirely appropriate to discuss this facet on a personal finance blog. I;d be disappointed if this were completely ignored.

Stephanie M
Stephanie M

While this was a great article, I agree with other people that this website doesn’t seem to be the correct place for it. Wrong target audience, at least with the slant that it was given. It seemed like the financial items were an after-thought.

Brenton
Brenton

It wasnt a great article. It presented only one side of the issue, misrepresented other opinion pieces as actual sources, and attempted to masquerade as somehow relating to personal finance.

This would not have been posted in the NY Post, and belongs on whatever the left equivalent of the O’Reilly Factor is.

Brenton
Brenton

Ill have to summarize because I dont have enough time or space to write out a true rebuttal to Ms Gilbert’s article. First, west Africa is an unimaginable hellhole. I dont think anyone reading really understands. This is a place where soldiers would kill a child and drink its blood before going into battle because they thought it would grant them strength. Drug abuse, prostitution, corruption… these are the norm, not the exceptions. Life is completely different for these people than it is here in the US. 12 years old working with machetes in “dangerous” conditions isnt viewed in the… Read more »

K
K

Absolutely agree, that was a big problem with me as well. So many of these anti-child labor laws just come off as ignorant idealists…they have no idea the struggles these families and the children go through-as you said, where being raped and killed with machete is almost a guarantee rather than a freak crime.

These families are starving-they offer their children for labor not because they are cold-hearted, but because they need every cent to survive.

Nancy L.
Nancy L.

Brenton, thank you for explaining what I sensed, but didn’t have enough facts on hand to express. In my experience, most large scale boycotts tend to grossly oversimplify highly complex situations, and tend to promote “solutions” that often fail to solve the stated concern or even cause worse problems than the original issues. Very few real-world situations are black & white, and while it’s admirable to want to help others in worse circumstances, I also think our well-meaning approaches often are less helpful than we would like to believe.

AC
AC

Boycotting child labor = child starves to death. That is the argument not presented. These children don’t work because their parents are irresponsible; they work because the family needs the money to survive and try and have a better life. The real culprits are the corrupt governments that fail to enforce private property rights through law enforcement, an impartial judiciary, etc. Basically, these people don’t have a system of government that protects individuals like our government does (or used to do, in some people’s view).

WM
WM

I wish there was a dislike button. “west Africa is a hellhole…” etc? Care to specify exactly where you are referring to? Have you ever been there? I sincerely doubt anyone who has spent significant time in Dakar, Accra, Abuja, Contonou etc just to name a handful of places would describe it as such. Taking random incidents and generalizing across the region is not entirely giving a picture of what is the norm and not the exception.

K
K

I too love GRS, but am sick of the constant hippie-traveler and politics posts that continually creep up.

I would pay money for someone to write a post about how they earned extra money and cut expenses so they could afford a big ‘ol gas guzzling SUV…just because it would be something different than the non-stop “traveling on a budget” posts.

Beth
Beth

Haha! Love it! I proudly drive a pickup and I love telling that to all of the hippie folks on the campus where I work. I also use gasoline (gasp) to ride ATV’s for fun when I have spare time!

K
K

You rebel you!

Keep on driving 🙂

KM
KM

I’m sympathetic to the concerns in the post, however, my buying Halloween chocolate 1 day a year (or not) makes zero difference to whether or not any children are being exploited. The situations in those countries are such that children and poor people will be exploited no matter what. I can’t “help” the situation in any way at all by not buying chocolate–instead I should be working through our political system to encourage the US to put pressure on those countries to reduce/eliminate child labor, slavery, etc. When we make buying decisions like this, isn’t this just doing something easy… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Good point. To some extent, marketing is about making us feel good about our purchases. Sure, we can buy a pink toaster and a fraction of the cost goes to breast cancer research, but we can feel good about it every time we use that toaster. (As opposed to making an actual donation to breast cancer research.)

IMHO, Sarah did more for the cause by raising awareness than she probably does by buying fair trade chocolate.

changeonabudget
changeonabudget

I disagree. I think if you want to change things, the most important way to do that is to vote with your dollar. We are consumers are more powerful than we realize. If you buy from fair trade companies, they can grow and expand, which pressures companies that use slave labour to change their strategy in order to maintain their customer base. I notice that so many posters are getting defensive and upset about this post. I know it is difficult to hear how we may be hurting others with our choices or to feel judged for our habits. But… Read more »

Minal
Minal

Sarah,

I appreciate this article as I, too, “want how I spend my money to be in line with the way I believe the world should work.”

But how to reconcile that belief with your retirement strategies? It seems that the only way to wisely save for retirement is to invest in total stock funds, and all of those invest in tobacco, guns, and Big Oil.

An article on how to invest in a way that is both socially conscious and personally advantageous would be really helpful!

Thanks,
Minal

Stephanie
Stephanie

I just wanted to chime in that I do appreciate Sarah’s well-written article. I think that a large part of GRS has been about rejecting consumerism in favor of conscious spending, and part of that is knowing where your products are coming from. I totally agree that any form of slavery is always bad, and I do research companies before I buy from them. However, in some countries, children work, and that is not always a bad thing. It is a very American (or western) thing to believe that children need a carefree and easy childhood, and then get plunked… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew

I wonder if everyone who cares so much about fair trade chocolate cares even a little about the appalling conditions under which the computers / tablets / laptops they are using to express this concern are produced ? Forced 16-hour days in Chinese factories, anyone? Or are the resulting convenient products just too important to your life?

Stephanie
Stephanie

For me the mining for the minerals (Africa again) is a worse issue than the Chinese factories – the factories tend to employ adults and teenagers (not all, I know, but usually), and the working conditions are locally considered to be standard or above standard. You get into terrible working conditions when you have an iLaunch – meaning millions of products need to be ready on the same day, so production has to increase. Anyway, I don’t have a good answer to your question, except to say that consumer pressure can make a difference in the way these products are… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

You can’t escape politics. The article is going to be political whether you bring up the subject of child labor or whether you conveniently turn away from the subject and pretend it doesn’t happen.

Just because something agrees with your politics it doesn’t mean it’s not political.

I’ll take the red pill, thanks.

Vince Thorne
Vince Thorne

Kids have fun at halloween and I agree that the price can add up and hence some restraint needs to be added. I am, however, not certain that Americans should blame themselves for all the problems of the world (like child labor in cocoa farms) and definitely not try to fix the problems of the world. It is upto the governements of the foreign nations to build their policy on humanitarian grounds. Else the dissent piles up and spills out like the current news in the middle east would show.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

Maybe we can schedule a guest post by PETA for a day or two before Thanksgiving.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Ha! 🙂

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

Bring it on! I eat corpses and embryos for breakfast and I’m not threatened by vegan discourse.

Wysteria
Wysteria

Actually, if any of the staff writers have expertise in this, tips for eating diabetes-friendly diets, vegetarian diets, gluten-free diets, etc etc, on a tight budget would be awesome. Without ending up with weird nutritional deficiencies or horrible tasting food, that is.

Marie
Marie

This was a very thought-provoking post, thank you. I have already bought Halloween candy for this year, but will re-think for next year. The mother of a friend of mine has an excellent alternative: she saves spare change for a few months, then wraps a few coins (less than 30 cents’ worth!) in a bit of plastic wrap and ties with a bit of ribbon. Each kid gets a little coin package. The kids are excited to get money, the parents don’t have to throw away homemade treats, and she doesn’t have to worry about having leftover candy around the… Read more »

Marianne
Marianne

I am from Europe. Maybe that is why I don’t understand the negative responses from a lot of posters. To me the reactions sound defensive, as if someone has taken the fun out of trick or treating.
I buy fair trade when possible. I don’t boycot bad chocolate, or bad banana growers, I support the coorperations who work on improving the lives of the workers. Coffee, bananas, chocolate.
And no, I don’t have an iPad, my cell phone will get replaced when it breaks, and my car isn’t a gaz guzzler.

Noxius
Noxius

I would guess that most of you buggers are camped in some OCCUPY camp and using your fair trade laptops to write this stuff.

Another Kate
Another Kate

Seriously? How does your hostile, pointless remark help at all?

Consider improving your communication skills above the level of name-calling. I’m a big advocate for debate, but debate should be based on facts and opinions on the subject at hand. “Nyah, nyah, nyah, you [pick one] liberal loser/conservative idiot” is meaningless.

Krantcents
Krantcents

I have not given this much thought because I now live in a gated community. There is no Trick or Treating.

I see nothing wrong in living with a set of values and expressing them. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I have to say I’m a little confused by the backlash on this article. If these topics don’t interest you, why read them? As someone who works with research and information, I know not every peace of writing is going to be useful for everyone. In fact, there are a lot of posts on PF blogs that I skip simply because I’m not American, I’m not married and I don’t have kids. Variety is a good thing, and you need it if you want to have a diverse community of readers. Kudos J.D. and Sarah for giving me something new… Read more »

AP
AP

I don’t understand this viewpoint. “If something doesn’t interest you, why read it?” The internet does allow you to create your own echo-chamber and it is pushing us further in that direction every day (google news will show different news to different people based on what it thinks will interest you. This was discussed at the last TED conference). However, I read *this* particular piece because that is the new GRS article for the day. GRS has become one of my morning blogs and I generally enjoy the comments too. If the new article was “How to Train Monkeys For… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I do see your point, but I think you’ve got the wrong idea about my reading habits and you couldn’t know my background communications either 😉 (I’m very careful about Google and RSS for a reason!) My point is that if I see an article about a topic that doesn’t interest me — like saving money on coffee when I don’t drink coffee or which U.S. credit cards are the best when I don’t live in the U.S. — then I just ignore it. Bloggers can’t please everyone all the time, and if an article is a waste of my… Read more »

Bareheadedwoman
Bareheadedwoman

reading or not reading it is very different from posting to all and sundry that it should not have been written and most certainly should not have been posted…

Steve S
Steve S

I can’t speak for everyone, but as a daily reader of GRS who rarely participates in the comments, this was more than just a knee-jerk reaction to an article I didn’t want to read, didn’t agree with, etc. She has had more than enough posts on this site so far to find her voice, and I finally decided that it was worth saying something that her voice does not jive with what I believe the site to be about. It’s not my site so I have an infinitesimally small influence, but I thought I’d speak my mind either way. It’s… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole

We’re going to be unpopular this Halloween… we got our trick-or-treat stuff from the “healthy” Halloween aisle at target. So, no chocolate. But I’m sure they’ll love their (California) raisins and fruit leathers. I think there are also some mini-granola bars.

Jacob
Jacob

Ok What does this have to do with Getting Rich Slowly? Way to use this blog as a outlet for your own personal benifit. There are tons of horible things done to children and adults across the world. This blog is not the right place to discuss them.

Kat
Kat

Those who enjoy Hershey and disliked this article, should stop and think about the exploitation going on in our own country.

Foreign students PAY MONEY to come here and work for basically free (see recent news about the walk out).

American’s are out of work and Hershey and its subs are hiring out foreign students for the tax breaks.

So on top of getting their chocolate from slave child labor, they are screwing forgeing students and American’s as well.

Noxius
Noxius

Hershey couldn’t find American employees, so they used who they could get to work. All this blabing about the poor American worker being unemployed and there are a hell of a lot of jobs available, they just don’t have the incentive to work as long as the Feds pay out unemployment for extra long periods of time. There is a major shortage of apple pickers in Washington right now, so get the unemployed buggers off thier easy chair and on a ladder.

Mark
Mark

http://www.mars.com/global/press-center/press-list/news-releases.aspx?SiteId=94&Id=3087 Some of the main stream candy companies are actively working to support cocoa farmers (see link above). Beginning in the fall, DOVE® Brand Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate will source 100% of its cocoa volume from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, and the packaging will bear the organization’s little green frog seal in January 2012. The move demonstrates Mars’ commitment to use 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa in all of its products worldwide by 2020. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms curb deforestation, conserve soil and water, reduce waste and provide habitat for wildlife. Through certification, farm workers benefit from decent wages, safe… Read more »

imelda
imelda

Wow, if you’re going to advertise for a company, at least be subtle about it?

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