Sometimes my childish brain thinks that chocolate comes from Santa's workshop, mad scientists working in a lab entirely made of chocolate, or Willy Wonka's orange-faced employees known as Oompa Loompas. But it turns out chocolate comes from cocoa farmers toiling in the hot sun over cocoa plants. Boy oh boy, sometimes life seems just so much more boring then my childish brain.
Well, unlike Willy Wonka, who protected his Oompa Loompa employees from the terrible Whangdoodles and Snozzwangers that kept them hungry and desperate, the executives at Nestle and Hershey seem pretty OK with their hard-working cocoa farmers living in desperate hunger. In fact, most of the chocolate industry doesn't seem to lift much of a finger in the extreme cases where children are kidnapped from their families and enslaved, beaten, and forced to grow cocoa. Where are Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe when you need them? Or better yet, where are wizards like Harry Potter?
After all, in Harry's world, chocolate holds a unique place: chocolate serves as a powerful remedy for the chilling effects produced by contact with dementors, which are foul creatures that drain peace, hope and happiness from the world around them. Chocolate brings a feeling of warmth and safety in the aftermath of these terrible attacks, and blocks of Honeyduke's best chocolate are kept on hand for emergency use in Hogwart's hospital wing. Chocolate's use as a healing antidote to these soul-less monsters represents the playful and innocent nature of the Wizarding World. So it's pretty doubtful that chocolate produced using questionable labor practices would have such a positive effect, both in Harry's word and ours. Also of note: if one of Harry's two best friends, Hermione Granger, saw hard-working farmers living in abject poverty, she would create a union before you could say "Expelliarmus!"
So it sort of sucks that chocolate being sold in Harry's name is not fair trade. The fair trade label is the most realistic way that we can know that the cocoa farmers were treated fairly, transparently, and with the chance of upward mobility. And it's not only a question of morality. Dumbledore echoes Hermione's efforts in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, saying, "Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike... we wizards have mistreated and abused our fellows for too long." Professor Dumbledore is right. Our "indifference and neglect" to cocoa farmers is forcing them to flee to other crops, putting chocolate on a road to become as rare and expensive as caviar in the next 20 years.
Albus Dumbledore told his students that there comes a choice between doing what is right and doing what is easy. In this case, those who wish to do the right thing by not enslaving farmers to poverty and those more infantile-minded among us who just want easy access to chocolate can team up to ensure that cocoa farmers keep producing cocoa.
The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) would like to partner with Time Warner and NBC Universal to make all Harry Potter chocolate fair trade.
We are sending a letter and signing a petition to the Harry Potter parent company that is currently putting out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2, to ensure that Harry Potter chocolate become fair trade thereby reflecting the values in the very stories that our world knows and loves. And after a year where we sent five cargo planes to Haiti, brought our book donations to 55,000 across the world, won the $250,000 first prize in the Chase Bank Community Giving Challenge on Facebook, and continue to expand with more than 70 chapters, a staff of 40 volunteers, and a network that includes the world's most prominent YouTube celebrities and Twitterers who reach over 1 million people, we are prepared to show Time Warner and NBC Universal that we have the enthusiasm to see that all Harry Potter chocolate become fair trade.
Should you wish to join us you can check out our Deathly Hallows Campaign. I have a feeling that any one from Willy Wonka to Albus Dumbledore and the multitude of heroes we know and love from childhood would agree that it's an excellent decision as we work for a world that is a little more magical and a lot more just.
Follow Andrew Slack on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@andrewslack