Twelve-Word Tuesday: Outshine Bars

Outshine Fruit Bars:

“Vegan. Mostly fruit and juice. Better than ice cream in the summertime.”

… and best of all, they’re available everywhere. I’m trying to “do vegan” in a small southern town with probably less than a dozen vegetarians, much less vegans. There is no Whole Foods. There is no Haagen-Daaz Mango Sorbet (oooh, I wish there were). There is no sorbet at all. I know. I looked.

I’d almost given up, when, at the very end of the grocery aisle, I saw a row of brightly colored boxes, decorated with fruit, with equally brightly colored bars pictured on the front.

This is good. Bright colors usually mean plant-based (unless it’s the bizarro neon-shiny colors that mean chemical-based, but I digress). I opened the cooler, picked up a box, and read the label. Bingo! All of them but the coconut flavor were vegan.

They were pretty affordable, and I’ve since tried three flavors: strawberry, grape, and pineapple. I love them all, though grape might be my favorite.

Now, these Outshine bars aren’t perfect. They’re mostly juice and fruit pulp, but they do have added sugar, and they do have a few too many not-totally natural ingredients to be ideal. But they’re well within the realm of “I can live with it,” and they’re worlds better than what I was eating before.

Let me give you another twelve worlds:

Outshine bars: cold, colorful, delicious and refreshing. I don’t miss ice cream.


Disclaimer: Nestle isn’t paying me anything for this post. But if they decide to send me a check anyway, I will cash it 🙂

Little Hershey’s Kisses, Big Child Labor (Wrestling the Chocolate Angel)

Face of Jesus stamped onto a chocolate candy

Human Trafficking and Idolatry…it’s One Stop Shopping

My friend Billy calls my push to abstain from factory farmed meat and eggs “Freeganism,” which is a pretty cool term (he knows about these things; he’s been a vegetarian for over a decade). I’m trying to reduce my dairy consumption, too, because dairy cattle aren’t really treated any better than meat cattle. But I can only go so far so fast.

The thing is, I may have forgotten one tiny little thing in my tepid one-man animal cruelty crusade: people. You see, chocolate, dearest chocolate, is made with cocoa beans. And cocoa beans are all too often made with child labor. These are not only slaves, they’re also often slave labor (bought and sold, like they were 200 years ago here in Mississippi), and they’re often trafficked as well.

Thanks to almost ten years of consciousness-raising, boycotts, and petitions, several of the big chocolate companies are moving toward certified cocoa, which by definition does not allow child labor or slavery. But none of them are at 100%.

The question is not, “do we do something?” That’s ridiculous. As Christians, we can’t just keep paying money to support child slavery. Not once we know what’s going on.

The real question is, do we go will 100% fair-trade companies like Green & Black, or do we support the big companies who are trying to do the right thing? By ‘the right thing,’ I mean companies that have clear programs with specific dates to eliminate child labor and slave labor from their supply chains, and who regularly report on their progress in a spirit of transparency.

I’m choosing to vocally and financially support the large chocolate companies that are in process of transitioning from slave-labor cocoa to fair trade cocoa (Mars, and to a much lesser extent Nestle and Kraft/Cadbury).

This is a judgment call, to be sure, but I’m hoping that the remaining big dogs (Hershey, especially) will follow suit. I think we’re at a tipping point where they entire industry could go either way. There is already real progress, as shown by Just Act’s 2012 fact sheet.

I see this as a “necessary evil” because I’m technically still buying into a system built on slavery, but with the goal of shutting it down. If the world’s biggest chocolatiers refuse to deal with plantations that use slave labor and child labor, those practices will become economic suicide – as they should be – and will vanish.

That said, I completely understand and admire the desire to stick only to fair trade chocolate, to refuse to give any money or sanction to the evils of child slave labor. I took that same path when voting this year. Whatever you do, keep this in mind while you’re stocking up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can make a difference, one purchase at a time.