CSA presents lecture on free trade products [Updated]

Biola’s Coalition for Social Action hosted an event Monday night to discuss the “dark side of chocolate,” focusing on slavery and the importance of free trade products.



Andrea Saccoccio, activist with International Justice Mission, speaks at The Dark Side of Chocolate event about the realities of slavery in the chocolate industry on Monday night. Students were encouraged to consider free trade chocolate. Photo by Katie Juranek

At Monday night’s Trick or Treat: The Dark Side of Chocolate, Biola’s Coalition for Social Action gave away free chocolate after teaching attendees about the slave trade and how it relates to the chocolate people buy, consume and take for granted.

Andrea Saccoccio, an activist for social justice with the International Justice Mission and an organization called The Oasis, spoke to a room full of students in Calvary Chapel.

“I hope you will join me in becoming a little uncomfortable, or a little afraid,” Saccoccio said as she began her talk.

Using Moses to point to slavery and justice

Saccoccio talked about the Bible story of Moses. Using excerpts from Exodus 14, Saccoccio told attendees what the Bible says about slavery and justice.

She explained that, in the Bible, justice is described as the creation of order, and said that Christians should be leading righteous lives, which entails living with justice.

Modern slavery and today’s chocolate

She proceeded to talk about modern slavery. Modern slavery, more commonly known as human trafficking, contains thousands of people who are never paid, working to create something that is not appreciated by its consumers.

The U.S. spends more than 13 million dollars every year on chocolate, Saccoccio said. About 40 percent of the chocolate bought and sold by the U.S. is a product of slave labor on the Ivory Coast in Africa.

Rethinking the slavery footprint

Informing the audience that there is slavery happening all around them, Saccoccio asked them to think about what their slavery footprint might be.

“A bargain for you may have been very costly for someone else,” Saccoccio said, referring to the 200,000 children around the world who are victims of the slave trade.

Slaves produce more than chocolate

Saccoccio informed the audience that chocolate is not the only thing that people should worry about purchasing. Everyday items such as clothes, fruits, vegetables and snacks are all potentially products of slave workers. Saccoccio said there are more slaves now than there ever have been in history.

Students in attendance were greatly impacted by her talk. “I’m glad that now the student population is aware of this because we need to be aware,” senior Joel Farbman said.

Asking God to deliver His people

Just like the Israelite slaves in the Bible, the body of Christ can ask God for deliverance for those still in bondage. Saccacio caused the audience to look in a new light at their own free lives. In hard times, she said, most Christians wonder if God is going to show up and help them. But then they are given hope by trusting in him.

“God is where God’s people are,” Saccoccio said.

After reiterating God’s command in Genesis for man to have dominion over the earth, Saccoccio said Christians should not abuse their God-given resources with slavery—they need to instead seek justice on behalf of oppressed people.

Demanding slave-free chocolate can make a difference

Saccocio gave the audience a partial solution to the slavery dilemma, urging students to be consumers who demand slave-free chocolate, causing the industry to change its practices and pressuring governments to enact anti-slavery laws. As a result of the abolition of modern slavery, children will be able to go to school, farmers will have the chance to be pulled out of poverty and communities will become safer.

In the U.K., people pushed the free trade movement, and now Cadbury and Nestle use only free trade chocolate. Saccoccio said that if the people in the U.K. can do this, America can too.

Senior Melody Schwartzbauer said she enjoyed Saccoccio’s advice.

“Spreading the word changes the actions of students on campus and myself,” she said.

Despite the fact that the price for free trade chocolate may be a little bit higher in comparison to the common brands like Hershey’s, Saccoccio said she hoped that Biola’s campus would become free trade consumers.

Students choosing to join the movement

Sophomore Sarah O’Donell said she is joining the movement.

“[I’m] definitely buying free trade from now on,” O’Donell said. “I’m excited to take on this new challenge, and I’m also really excited to see if the cause takes off on campus.”

The night ended with the distribution of free trade chocolate from Trader Joe’s and with the hope that the students would seek change as informed consumers in the marketplace.

“What’s scarier than your Halloween costume or your scariest movie?” Saccoccio said. “Your chocolate.”

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