Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's been a rough week...

...first, I found out I couldn't eat Hershey's, Nestle's, Lindt, or M&M's/Mars chocolate any more. Then, I had to rescue my beloved roommate Mike, who totalled his truck Tuesday night, which meant driving in an ice storm (i wanted snow, not ice--i have never been more afraid while driving on-road or off. my wipers were frozen solid and i couldn't see worth a damn and none of the roads had been salted or plowed) on what was supposed to be my "sick day" for two hours. Yesterday, I locked myself out of my car while it was running to defrost and had to wait over an hour for Jim to turn around on his way to Jersey (which i had to call twice and literally beg him to do, because the local police were too busy with real emergencies to come open my car) to bring me a key and then have him take me to buy a gas can (the gas cans at target all specifically say "not for refueling on-road vehicles", though they are in the automotive section) and some gas and found out my phone company took their money two days too soon and I was well past broke, got into work wayyy late and got yelled at about all manner of things by my boss at work. He then asked me why I wasn't staying later to make up my time. So. Right. Bad start to the week.

First things first. My favorite chocolate companies buy their cocoa from the Ivory Coast. Many of the farmers there use child slavery to produce their beans. Since I don't support child slavery, I can't really buy their chocolate in good conscience. Lest you think I have no references and am just crazy, look here, here, and here. Some of the information is old, but it's relevant. Basically, when it came to light eight years ago that most of the world's cocoa beans (forty to fifty percent by most estimates) were produced and harvested by farms that employed or enslaved children, the entire industry, at least in America, committed to "solving the problem." This was meant to be done three years ago, but for one reason or another (civil war, trusting a multimillion dollar industry to regulate itself, etc) the goals were not reached. A three-year extension was granted, which brings us up to this summer for the new deadline. There's not much progress still, but there seems to be less press coverage. To be fair, I don't remember hearing about this the first time around, but then, I was a kid at the time, and news coverage wasn't my deal. At any rate, there are a lot of options for chocolate made without child slave-labor, but they're all more expensive. Organic and free trade chocolate are safe bets, because of the standards required to be certified in either of those categories. This website has a list of chocolate that is organic or fair trade, and some of them are available in Australia, too. So. Now that I feel like I'm over-reacting, I'm going to remind myself that, well, slavery is bad. Especially child slavery. And buying chocolate from these people is basically supporting child slavery. I can't do that, not even for a bag of M&M's. And I've really had to re-think my buying habits in terms of food products in general, not just chocolate bars. I'm not really comfortable buying cake mix or brownie mix or chocolate syrup or ice cream (though ben&jerry's is okay) or hot cocoa or cookies or cakes or a whole lot of food products any more. I mean, where did that cocoa come from? I'm not eating slave baby cookies, any more than I'm eating slave baby candy!

I feel a little silly doing this, what will one person's boycott do? But, then I told Colleen, and she's changing her chocolate habits. And I'll keep telling people, and maybe they'll keep telling people, and eventually, enough people will know and care to really make a difference. Or, at least, I can eat chocolate without thinking of it as "slave baby candy." Not that I'm saying anyone who buys chocolate from these companies is a terrible person, and not that I'm going to refuse to talk to people who buy chocolate from these companies. But I am going to share this knowledge and hope that I can have some kind of small, positive change. And I am not going through my house throwing out anything with cocoa in it (dude, it's chocolate. we don't waste chocolate. ever. even tainted chocolate.). But as these things are consumed, they will be replaced with brands and types I can buy without feeling like a bad person.

Wow, that was a lot of talking about chocolate, none of which I have in the house right now (waiting to get paid tomorrow to buy some). How about something more upbeat than luxury-related social activism? I know, I'll show you romance, Jim style. It's Valentine's Day, and this is what was waiting for me when I got home today. Yup, that's a dozen long-stemmed red roses. Yup, they're in a plastic pitcher. To be fair, Jim bought them after his shift at his first job and before his shift at his second and he didn't realize we don't have a vase, so he improvised. He also wrote me a note, folded on a piece of notebook paper that says (careful, this is mushy stuff)
"a pitcher of love for you
cause I couldn't find a vase,
a white line letter
cause I forgot to get a card,
and a thousand "I owe you dates"
cause we can't go out tonight."
This, to me, is classic Jim--a bemusing mix of the sweet and the clueless. The thought is there, just, well, not all there. He makes me smile, and he really is a sweetie. Plus, when it counts, he comes through for me. Anyway, look, pretty flowers! And my car keys. You can't see it, but at that point there were three copies of my car key on the table--the original, plus a spare for Colleen, and a spare to keep somewhere in the house. Sometimes, I learn my lesson the hard way.

So, here's hoping that the last wee little squidge of week goes by well and gracefully for all you folks out there and that your weekend is full of nice things like knitting and yarn and good company. Speaking of knitting, I'm working the heel flap on the bribe sock, finally. I sat down on Tuesday and watched Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version, and I thoroughly loved it. Every delicious, brain and eye candy moment. Mirri approves, too. She actually sat on the back of the couch watching me knit and purred. Colin Firth has multi-species appeal. I wonder if he knows...


Rose Red said...

awwww, Jim's such a sweetie! I'll read up on the chocolate stuff, I didn't know about that. Lucky I do love me a bit of Green & Black's organic chocolate...And I'm really hoping that Dutch cocoa is grown in the Netherlands...

Kate said...

Haha, points to Jim for being unique. Also, I think that Colin Firth has multi-gender appeal...I bet men are attracted to him and are just too dumb to realize it. This is me sending good weekend thoughts your way! Love ya, Em.

Bells said...

what a great post - challenges, sucky bosses, information, pondering of Weighty Issues, romance, it's all there.

The link to what chocolate is good to buy doesn't work!

I'm astounded I didn't know about this before. i feel so ignorant. I hate buying nestle products and avoid it where possible (they are so pervasive!) so will add chocolates to my list. RR is right on with the Green and Black. They are good people, I believe.

Bad slavery people.

I always wonder with this stuff though, are we ripping off the workers by not buying their produce, even if it is produced using evil means?

And yay P&P! You are a soul sister now.

Donna Lee said...

But what if what the children earn is the only money their families have to buy food? I support the "no slave baby candy" movement (is it a movement, yet?) but it's important to make sure that boycotting the product hurts the company and not the poor workers. And sorry you had a sucky week. I,too, had a sucky week but not quite as sucky as yours.

Amy Lane said...

Aww--that totally counts as being a sweetie...I'm down with the no-slave-baby-chocolate...but now I'm wondering about what your mom said...

Political economics are SOOOO complex!!!

May the prickweenies find other playthings than yourself, and may your weekend be stelar!