Reverse trick-or-treating exposes cocoa woes

This Halloween, kids from Ballston Spa will put on their costumes and head out for a night of trick-or-treating; but instead of just dumping out stuffed pillowcases and overflowing buckets at the end of the night, some will put a twist on the candy fest and join throngs of other kids across the country in Reverse Trick-or-Treating. That means, after they ring a doorbell and receive their candy, they'll hand the homeowner a piece of fair trade chocolate attached to a card that highlights the longstanding and largley hidden labor and environmental issues within the cocoa industry.

One reason for a national campaign like this is that there is still documentation of child labor in cocoa fields, primarily in West Africa, one of the main countries where most of the world's cocoa comes from, said Kim Anderson of Mango Tree Imports in Ballston Spa and the Ballston Spa Fair Trade Federation.

This is the third year the region has participated in Reverse Trick-or-Treating, developed by Global Exchange, a human rights advocacy group. The deadline to order kits online is Friday, Oct. 8, but Anderson said Mango Tree has some kits for those who are interested but didn't make the deadline.

"We're very active in the fair trade community, globally and locally, so when I received a lot of information about this event I spent a little time to investigate it and realized it was a great way to empower kids, to educate adults and get the word out in a very non-educational setting: Halloween night," said Anderson.

Individual families and groups can order Reverse Trick-or-Treating kits online at reversetrickortreating.org. Each kit has about 15 chocolates and cards that expose the problems, which might be startling to the general population, as they're not stories that are widely reported.

According to information from Global Exchange, recent information from surveys has been released that show things the cocoa industry pledged to end 10 years ago, still exist.

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