Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Chocolate and child slavery

November 27, 2009

I’ve been aware for a while that child slaves are used on cocoa farms, but I wasn’t motivated enough to investigate the issue. And I knew that it would require a commitment from me that I wouldn’t want to keep.

MissN spoke in a public speaking competition (Speak Up 09) on social justice issues last night ( it was the first inter-school competition she had competed in and she won!) on this topic. Read her speech and see what you think:

Put your hand in the air if you like chocolate! That’s good…

Now put your hand in the air if you like slavery!

The two are intricately mixed.

70% of the world’s cocoa comes from the Cote d’Ivoire. And this cocoa is harvested daily by more than 600 000 child slaves, who work in backbreaking conditions so that you can buy a $1.20 fundraiser Cadbury.

Do you still like chocolate so much?

In Cote d’Ivoire, a country in West Africa, 40-50% of children between a mere 5 and 14 years of age work full time, handling dangerous jobs. 15 000 are captured, beaten, forced to work, and underpaid. Or not paid at all. The majority of these children are illegally trafficked from neighbouring countries.

My cousin is seven years old. She hardly knows what work is – she thinks running around a soccer pitch is hard work. Whereas children the same age, more mature than they should ever have to be, use machetes to cut cocoa beans from high branches, or apply toxic pesticides to cocoa plants without protection.

Aly Diabate was 11 when lured onto a farm, with promises of $150 and a new bicycle. Upon arrival, he realised he had stumbled into a living nightmare. Other children, of whom he was one of the eldest, worked for 14 hours a day in hot blistering conditions. He would lug around a 10kg bag which was taller than he was, and if he dropped it, he would be whipped mercilessly. He would be fed one banana a day. At night, he would live with the rest of the slaves in a 5 by 5 metre room. They were locked in, and if they needed to relieve themselves, they would just have to find some spare space. Aly eventually escaped and alerted the authorities, but he is one of the lucky few. Many forgotten children work through torture like this for years on end.

Slavery, here in our developed countries, is often a dismissed topic. So many people don’t believe it can exist in a modern time like this, or many simply don’t think it is a very big problem. In fact, there are more slaves now than there have ever been at any other time in history.

In the $60 billion dollar cocoa trade, Cote d’Ivoire is the leading exporter. Many major chocolate companies buy from these suppliers. Ever scarier, the majority of these buyers either know about the exploitation of workers used to produce this cocoa, or they don’t care enough to investigate the legality of their purchases. The more chocolate we eat, the more children are forced into slavery to deal with the demand – and hence, the more profit big corporations make.

Several well known companies indulge in this illegal practice. Some may surprise you – they include Nestle, Hershey, Cadbury and one that particularly shocked me, Lindt. If the companies were to switch to legal suppliers, they would only lose a maximum of 1% of their profits. Only seven companies that sell in Australia have been proven to be completely slave free.

This practice is a serious miscarriage of justice, and prevents those on the farms from the innocent childhood they deserve. And so we need to change it.

There are many possibilities. International cooperation? Establishment of government legislation? The slow, if possible, eradication of slavery via international forces?

Or the installation of a fair and just trade system? Oh, wait, we already have that… Fairtrade. Fair trade is a trading partnership which aims to reach equity in international trade. They do this by paying workers fair prices, assisting them to gain skills and knowledge needed to operate as a business, and by challenging unfair trade practices. Fair trade also holds campaigns to raise awareness and funds for supporting the producers.

As someone very close to me said, “I care about them, and want to do things for them, but it’s not like I’m going to hop on a plane and protest in their capital city.” And ladies and gentlemen, I’m not asking you to. All I’m asking you to do is make a stand. Don’t buy chocolate from companies who buy cocoa from slave owners. Don’t spend your money on companies which will continue to exploit human beings in this way. Buy your chocolate from Fair Trade companies instead. By boycotting questionable companies, you are making a statement. You are saying “I do not approve of using children in this manner, and I want it to stop.” Buy the right brands, and give these children a chance.

So, put your hand in the air if you like Fair Trade chocolate.

More than half the audience raised their hands…

I am now convicted. No more slave chocolate for me. MissN’s authenticity and integrity is admirable. She has decided to return the chocolates she was selling as a fundraiser for her school’s drama trip to New York, and give in a donation instead.

I challenge you to research for yourself what is involved in producing the chocolate you eat, and to think about what action you are willing to take.

James 5: 1, 4

Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you.

For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.


For John and Maggy – soup and brownie cake

June 2, 2008

Hospitality is not one of my gifts. For various reasons related to my childhood and personality, I am not comfortable “entertaining” people in our home. But I am good at encouraging people, and I have been challenged to get out of my comfort zone with regard to extending hospitality to friends and to-be friends.

But – I can cook. I love cooking for my family and I do regard it as one of my gifts. If I could, I would bless John and Maggy Dobbs with some soup and my rich brownie flat cake.

I got this recipe from epicurious, one of my favourite recipe sources. It’s an intense flavoured soup (don’t leave out the anchovies and rosemary – they make the soup), but with a freshness and lightness that belies the fact this is a complete meal in a bowl. It conjures memories of a dinner in Monteriggioni on a cold night in ’93 (even though I have no memory of what we ate that night).

Bean and Swiss Chard (silverbeet) Soup
from: Soup: A Way of Life | November 1998
Barbara Kafka

Clearly this is an Italian soup. Biete is Swiss chard, usually green, although I have a fondness for the drama and beefy taste of the red-stemmed kind.
Servings: Makes about 5 cups (1.25 litres); 4 first-course servings.

1/2 pound (225 g) Swiss chard (silverbeet) or kale, trimmed ( I remove the thick white stalks)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
2 flat anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil (I use much less)
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (I mince them finely)
1 cup (225 g) cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans (chick peas are good too!)
4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock [or Garlic Broth for a meatless soup]
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (60 g) small shell macaroni (I use Orgran rice and corn fusilli)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a medium saucepan, cook the chard with 1/2 cup (125 ml) water and the salt over medium heat until tender. Drain the chard, reserving any liquid that remains. Coarsely chop the chard. (I don’t bother cooking the chard – I just add it raw)

Very finely chop anchovies together with the rosemary.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale gold. Stir in the anchovies and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the chard and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat it with the oil. Stir in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni. Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.

For dessert, I would serve rich brownie flat cake. I make this at least once a month. The recipe is apparently from Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald. My friend Fiona gave it to me a couple of years ago, and it’s now the cake I bake most. It makes dessert when served with berries and cream or mascarpone.

Rich Brownie Flat Cake
125g butter
100g dark chocolate
3/4 cup sugar (I use castor – superfine to you North Americans)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour (I use spelt or pharoah flour as I am wheat-free)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt butter and chocolate (I do this in the microwave). Cool.
Whisk sugar and eggs, stir into cooled chocolate mixture with the vanilla.
Stir in sieved flour and nuts.
Bake for 30 minutes in 170C (325-350F) oven in a 21cm lined round pan.

And I have been praying about a song for John and Maggy. I have been praying for them with most songs I have heard or sung the last week or so. But this is the one I offer them today. And tomorrow. And the next day. We sang it at “church” last night.  It’s one we sing often. This is a good version. I couldn’t find a Hillsong version on youtube, except a subtitled one. But this one should have you singing.

Love Wendy

Chocolate and coffee.. gifts from God

April 21, 2008

Those who know me already know I love coffee and chocolate.  I love them both dark and organic and intense and they bless my daily life.  (Not that I have chocolate every day!)  My mission in life is to nurture my family.  So combine all that with my love of cooking and what do you have?  A dessert which is quick, easy, divine and not too wicked, and one I have made quite a few times.


Coffee and Chocolate Self-saucing Pudding  

(from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 32 Apr/May 2007)

1/2 cup (125ml) milk (I use soy as i am dairy free)
35g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted (I substitute spelt or another flour as I am wheat-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee, sifted 
1/4 cup (27.5g) almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup (27.5g) brown sugar

1/2 cup (55g) brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup (250ml) water

Preheat the over to 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit). For the pudding batter, place the milk, butter, egg and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the flour, baking powder, coffee, almond meal and sugar in another bowl and mix. Gradually add the milk mixture and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

For the sauce, place the sugar, cocoa powder and water in a 15cm 4 cup (1 litre) capacity non-stick (NOT Teflon!) frying pan (I use a Le Creuset cast-iron pan) over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Pour the pudding batter into the frying pan containing the sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm to touch.

Serve with cream, mascapone or whipped ricotta. Or even plain.  It doesn’t need anything with it.  

Serves 4 (leftovers make good breakfast – almonds are protein!)