In January this year I went to help at a Young Christian Students National Conference. I was blown away by the confidence and competence of the young students, who planned and lead the 4 days, prepared prayer, coordinated voting and launched campaigns. They were just finishing one national campaign – to raise awareness and buying of fair trade products – and starting a new one.

In order to finish their fair trade campaign with a bang, the students took short video interviews of everyone there, with an individual pledge to do something about fair trade in the coming year. I thought mine was practical and relevant – but I didn’t know how it would turn out! I pledged to only use fair trade chocolate and cocoa in my cooking and to let others know that it was fairly traded. As I love to cook with chocolate, this was something that I knew I would notice. I have been slack, especially at Easter or Christmas time, in buying large blocks of cheap compound dark (vegan) chocolate from the supermarkets. Not this year!

My adventures into the fair-trade chocolate pledge started smoothly, as I had bought some cocoa that passed from the Adelaide markets. In Port Augusta supermarkets I can buy fair trade chocolate, the one variety of Green & Blacks. I soon realised, however, that I would have to be disciplined, as there was no fair trade cocoa available in this town.

In February, and for the next few month 3 months I was working at a detention centre in north Western Australia, in a small town called Derby. Here I was even more limited. Certainly no fair trade cocoa, but there was a stock of Green & Blacks. Lent was simple, as I just left out chocolate altogether, but then came Easter! I don’t usually eat much chocolate that people give me as it has milk products, but I will always cook up a chocolate storm at this time of the year. In order to keep my pledge, this year I made chocolate truffles with the Green & Blacks and also broke it up to do chocolate chip biscuits.

Arriving back to South Australia, I picked up some more fair trade cocoa in Adelaide on my way back to Port Augusta. Adelaide visits for me often try to include a trip to the markets for cocoa and semolina (for some reason SO much cheaper than in Port Augusta!) This lasted me a good while, but trouble struck on a weekend my community had away. One of my Sisters suggested that I make chocolate pudding, but we hadn’t brought any cocoa with us! We scoured the small supermarket, but no luck. Despite the disappointment, I ended up making an apple pudding that turned out beautifully.

As the year wore on, my fair trade cocoa supply dwindled. I was not visiting Adelaide for any length of time, so had to resort to an extreme measure. My real little sister was coming up to visit from there, so I asked her to make a trip to the market and bring my precious supply. She generously agreed. Later on I got one more visit in which brought me up to the present moment, fair trade cocoa in my cupboard. Christmas cooking is now well on the way, with fair trade chocolate used for truffles and peppermint slice. Yum, yum, yum!

Today we celebrate Foundation Day for the Sisters of Mercy and one of our readings in morning prayer was: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6 Sometimes it is good to give up ‘naughty’ foods, but sometimes it is also good to encourage fair and non-oppressive production. Thank you to Green & Blacks and all the other companies that are doing their part to reduce slavery and exploitation of farmers!

A photo of some of my Christmas goodies is on the previous post.