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Fair-trade Trick-or-Treating: The Evils of Halloween Candy Production

Updated on October 17, 2012
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I know you're thinking, "How can Halloween candy ever be EVIL?" Yes, all halloween candy is devilishly good, but what I'm really talking about here is how your Halloween candy was produced. It's probably not something that you have thought about much, but maybe you should.

Environmental Effects of Cocoa Production

The problem with chocolate candy are the continued environmental impacts of cocoa production. Due to unfair trade practices, many farmers are moving away from sustainable, low impact "shade" farming where the forest stays intact, the trees are healthier, and biodiversity is preserved. Instead they are moving to clear their land and farm in the sun which increases their output, but leaves the trees susceptible to disease and insects which results in increased use of chemical pesticides. Deforestation leads to loss of habitat for animals and loss of biodiversity in addition to the global impact on climate change.

Cocoa production has also been associated with child labor abuses and slavery. Children between 5-14 years old are often forced to work on these plantations and are subjected to dangerous working conditions.

What to Buy this Halloween:

Buy certified fair trade chocolate. This is the only way to ensure that your candy contains 100% sustainable and child labor free cocoa.

The Mars candy company announced in 2009 that they have made a commitment to purchasing 100% certified cocoa by 2020. Although the movement in the industry has been decidedly slow, according to the candy maker's website they achieved their goal of purchasing 10% of their total cocoa from certified sources in 2011 and they are projecting to surpass their goal of 20% in 2012. The company works with Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International, and UTZ Certified.

Hershey's on the other hand has been reluctant to put such measures in place and has only this year in 2012, announced a similar goal to Mars to ensure the purchase of 100% certified cocoa by 2020.

Palm Oil: A Key Ingredient in Halloween Candy

Palm oil is an ingredient in many types of candy, cookies and other foods. Palm oil production causes some of the same problems as cocoa production: deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Specifically, loss of habitat is threatening species such as the orangutans, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, and Sumatran rhinos. Land is cleared for farming wiping out large areas of forests that these animals need to survive.

What to Buy this Halloween:

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs, CO) has an excellent page on their website about orangutans and their plight. They have a shopping guide and palm oil friendly Halloween candy list that you can refer to when picking out which types or brands of candy or other foods to purchase.

About the Author:

Kristy Rose enjoys the fun her kids have around Halloween time and is also on the lookout for ways that her family can live more "green" around the holidays! She is also passionate about writing, especially on Hubpages. If you want to join the Hubpages community, START HERE and you can publish your first article today!

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    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and useful. Thanks for this very informative hub. Important to know what to look out for. Passing this on.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      A very interesting hub and i do hope these candy companies do become more responsible and clean up their act.

      Vote up and more !!!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      This makes me stop and think about what to buy. We need the candy companies to wake up and be responsible. Glad you share this..I am sharing it on facebook. ps

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 

      5 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      Interesting view. Hopefully more candy companies will improve their policies and efforts towards better harvesting methods.

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