Golden Ticket: can you taste freedom?

It’s breakfast time, I haven’t slept, and Robin’s telling me the full plot of the Sooty Show for the fourth time in a row. Nathalie’s taking half an hour to eat a small bowl of cereal and the cat’s miaowing for food. I excuse myself from the table and sneak to the laundry room. I open the fridge door and take out the bar of Dairy Milk. I break off a square and pop it in my mouth, closing my eyes and sucking the chocolate into a sweet paste.

“Mummy! Natty’s not eating her muesli.”

“Mummy! Robin said, that I said, that she said, that I’m not eating my muesli. But I ammm.”

I let the chocolate soothe me, keeping my eyes closed until I hear a chair scrape back over the kitchen tiles. At the sound, I hurriedly pop the bar back into the fridge and suck the evidence of the UK’s top selling chocolate bar from my teeth.

I remember the moment I saw it, like I remember how I heard about Princess Diana, and my Dad remembers the lunar landing. It was a summer morning in 2009 and I was buying bread from One Stop on the walk home from school. I glanced at the confectionery shelves and stopped in my tracks. Was that the...? I picked up a purple-wrapped bar and stared at it like Charlie finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory. I texted Mark and my Mum and my friend Michelle, I gabbled excitedly to the young man at the checkout: the UK’s top selling chocolate bar was sporting the Fairtrade logo. Chocolate ethics had gone mainstream.

In the last three years, NestlĂ© have controversially followed Cadbury’s lead making Kit Kat Fairtrade. Mars’ Galaxy became Rainforest Alliance certified and last year Mars added Maltesers to the Ethical Big-Brand Chocolate Gang. Additionally, Mars are pledging that they’ll be buying 100% of their cocoa from sustainable sources by 2020.

"NestlĂ©!" a friend of mine choked when I told her the news about Kit Kat. "I saw the 'chocolate' Panorama. It’s just greenwashing".

Well maybe it is, but you have a choice: boycott these big-brand efforts and wait for the world to be perfect or join in pushing the ethical-chocolate landslide. So, how about joining me this Lent? Except it’s not really much of a give up – you can still eat chocolate. Just that it must be Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance or similar.

This is a fast of greater significance than your waistline or your personal discipline – many uncertified cocoa farms supplying big-brand manufacturers are using child slaves to grow and harvest their crops, other ‘legitimates’ work for a pittance in appalling conditions. This is a fast towards providing the golden ticket to freedom and fairer treatment for children and cocoa-workers across the world.

Read last month's post: fifteen minutes

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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