We have a family joke that cracks us up every year. We eat the children’s chocolates and replace brussel sprouts in the golden wrappers. One year my ingenious husband decided to wrap the chocolates reverse-ways, in the leaves of the sprouts which he’d carefully unfurled.  We gave those to the kids.  This is the merriment we create– HO HO HO.

Last year the prank stopped feeling quite as amusing when I began to contemplate child slavery in the cocoa trade, and realised Ferrero Rocher lacks Fair Trade or anti-slavery certification. Quite effectively petitioned by internet activitists, via Change.Org, the company Ferrero SpA has committed itself to  ensure the end of child slavery in its supply chains by 2020. (Read about it here http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/20/ferrero-sets-date-to-end-cocoa-slavery/ )

2020?  2020?  Surely change can happen more quickly then this, even within the mega-complicated worlds of international agribusiness.  7 years from now, 8 years from the date of the petition– that’s so many childhoods stolen by trafficking and poverty and 16 hour days and beatings and all the horrors– and yes I know children in other parts of the world have to work and I’m not romanticising “childhood” but I do insist that equitable “development” seeks education and social justice as foundations for the hopes of the future.  And when we are talking about the pleasures and magic I seek to give my own children, as their own childhoods, it somehow matters all the more.  7 years: do we let this company off the hook for now, because it states a good intention?  That’s a question– I’m open to hearing interesting opinions.

Here’s a website that discusses lots of the issues around chocolate


So what should we do?  The mega business also produces Nutella about which today I saw a great and shocking graphic


There is so much politics in that map, between countries, labour markets, eco-systems, futures, commodities trading….  Looking at that map I mentally enquired about their relationship to palm oil, such a troubling ingredient in the unfolding story of processed foods, rain forests, climate change, agribusiness…  Apparantly Ferrero is a strong supporter of “sustainable palm oil”; whether this is a total corporate greenwash kind of notion I need to find out. (Readers, please advise!)  In fact, I realise there’s so much I need to learn about palm oil.

I know that all over the internet there are recipes for DIY Nutella, hazelnut spreads, chocolate spreads, raw cocoa spreads, all kinds of deliciousness that one could investigate while keeping a more ethical control over ingredients.  I could even forage cobnuts as the hazel , or acorns to substitute, for goodness sake, and and do a local-foraged-seasonal version!   I am currently contemplating whether I should try to make my own Ferrero Rocher bonbons to wrap in Brussel Sprout leaves. The exercise becomes rather elaborate, and maybe some of the humour gets lost.  I know we environmentalists (along with feminists) are accused of being humourless, and I see this happening in this very blog post!  Oh Friends, help me, it’s all so complicated….

a PS several days later– I’ve discovered a new blog, which I love, and he’s got a homemade Nutella recipe, and this is the one I will try first if I ever decide to give it a go: