Paying more for Fairtrade cocoa is key to ending child labour

30th September 2010 The Times

To eat chocolate is to enter a moral maze. It has been associated with indulgence and sex and more recently, justice

To eat chocolate is to enter a moral maze. It has always been associated with indulgence and sex — if you believe the advertising — and the newest selling point is justice: “fairly traded” chocolate that promises a decent livelihood for the cocoa farmers. In the past year this has become mainstream: Cadbury (with Dairy Milk) and Nestlé (with KitKat) have gone into Fairtrade, and some Mars products carry the less-exacting Rainforest Alliance label. You can have chocolate both sinful and worthy simultaneously: “Indulge your sweet tooth with this decadent collection of Fairtrade Belgian chocolates . . .” runs an ad on the Oxfam shop website.

Can you taste that goodness? At a party I handed round two plates of chocolate squares. They looked identical but I said one had Fairtrade chocolate on it, the other was conventional: I wanted to know which tasted better. My subjects voted in favour of the Fairtrade chocolate, and with a political bias: the more liberal-minded, the more they preferred the Fairtrade. I’d conned them, of course: the two chocolates were the same, which made everyone cross.

Read the rest via Times Online

Haiti: the aid army marches on its stomach

families receiving aid and food in Haiti

Children leave the Muncheez restaurant in Port-au-Prince. The restaurant owners have been giving out free meals to children in the camps for homeless earthquake survivors.

19th March 2010

In stricken Haiti, food is key not just to survival, but also to the morale of the aid workers and the displaced

Lunch was patés, which look a bit like Cornish pasties that someone has stamped on. But the children were very excited. Most of them had had nothing but bread or the United Nations high-energy biscuits to eat that day. The cook, 19-year-old Valencia Desiluz, was frying them in hot oil, for anyone with 5 Haitian gourdes (about 10p) to spend.

When my turn came I had a nervous bite: the crunchy pastry was good, but it opened up a Worcester sauce reek of dried fish and onion . This was a little bit further than my stomach was prepared to go on a first date with Haitian disaster camp food. So I gave the rest of the paté to two small boys — Stanley and Dieudonné — who thanked me politely and ate it before we’d finished exchanging names.

Read the rest of this article at Times Online.

Fewer British babies would mean a fairer planet

25 October 2009 The Observer

It’s not the growing number of people in poverty who are causing climate change, it’s the rich

The worst thing that you or I can do for the planet is to have children. If they behave as the average person in the rich world does now, they will emit some 11 tonnes of CO² every year of their lives. In their turn, they are likely to have more carbon-emitting children who will make an even bigger mess. If Britain is to meet the government’s target of an 80% reduction in our emissions by 2050, we need to start reversing our rising rate of population growth immediately.

And if that makes sense, why not start cutting population everywhere? Are condoms not the greenest technology of all?