Since I didn’t know where to start in writing about my drug of choice, I started trolling the internet for ideas in narrowing down the topic.
What I discovered quite disturbed me though: chocolate is often grown, harvested, and processed by child slave labor. In my little snowflake-lined First-World bubble, I had no idea. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday researching brands of chocolate that are “fair-trade”. I could not find any brands that would be accessible in my local market that I could say for certain that their ingredients were not sourced by way of slave labor.
Then I got to thinking about my coffee. Where does that come from and who picks it? And then I thought about the fruits and vegetables I eat that are grown right here in my state. I did a quick google. Did you know that according to the National Farm Workers Ministry that the average farm laborer makes between $10,000 and $12,500 a year? This is right about the US Federal poverty line! Even more concerning is that families make between $15,000 and $17,500 a year working in the fields. Families? I can only assume when they say “families” that means mothers and children are picking in the fields for wages even lower than that of the individual laborer. People are living as slaves or like slaves so that I can eat well? This blows my mind.
What can I do about this? Give up the chocolate and coffee? Those are luxuries, after all. But what about other farm products? This would lead then into a larger discussion of immigration and migrant workers’ rights. My head is swirling.
What I do know is this: It is written that when a rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to be saved, Jesus told him to go and sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor. The young man could not do that. Jesus then told his disciples: “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19: 23-24.
In other words, I have been confronted with the ethical and moral demands of living in a world with so much poverty.
I need to do something — otherwise, I am so screwed.