ETHICAL LENT

February 15, 2018

Ask anyone what they’re giving up this year for Lent and I bet you that fifty percent of people will say chocolate and the other fifty will say nothing. When I was thinking about Lent this year my mind drifted to chocolate. It’s what I’ve always given up, well tried to, anyway. But this year I just couldn’t see any reason I should. Chocolate, consumed in moderation, has been proven to have many health benefits, and most importantly, it contains a natural chemical that releases ‘feel good’ endorphins in the brain. Why would I ever give up something which makes me feel happy?

Instead I have decided to use Lent to become a better chocolate lover, so I can enjoy all of its deliciousness with less of the guilt that comes attached. To do this I am going to give up chocolate that is not Fairtrade, not organic, or contains palm oil.

More and more brands are becoming Fairtrade which will make the first part of this challenge easy. Cadbury has been involved with Fairtrade since 2009 and most supermarkets’ own brand chocolate is now Fairtrade, which means I won’t have to splash out on Green and Blacks when I get a craving. The Fairtrade system ensures that farmers get a premium for their cocoa beans. It also makes certain that the price they get for their produce never falls before a living wage, so they have stable income.

Eating only organic chocolate might prove a little trickier. It all depends on how strict I’m going to be with myself. A lot of brands now use organic cocoa, however the other ingredients like milk and sugar are not always organic. Organic farming has numerous environmental benefits. By avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, organic farms support water conservation and help to build healthy soil, making them much better for the ecosystem. Apparently, organic chocolate tastes better too. However, I’ve done some research, and it seems that Mars bars are not organic, so I might take some convincing.

As you may have already heard by now, palm oil is the devil, so it seems fitting that I should try and give it up for Lent. Unfortunately, palm oil is in nearly everything. For those wondering, palm oil is predominantly produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, where large portions of precious rainforest are being destroyed to make room for palm tree agriculture. This farming can be linked to so many issues, from animal cruelty to the abuse of the indigenous people where the trees are being grown. It’s going to take a lot of label reading, but I think giving up palm oil for Lent is just the start. With any luck I’ll be able to phase it out of my life completely. There are many brands of chocolate that use palm oil in their production, but thankfully, there are also very many that do not.

 

I’m hoping that this challenge will make me a happier and more conscious chocolate consumer. Hopefully, it may even have an effect on the other food I buy, we’ll have to wait and see. All I know is, I’m going to stock up on all the different kinds of Divine chocolate, the brand that fulfils all of my Lent requirements perfectly. Luckily for me, it’s in stock in the library café.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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