Not in Harry's Name

This weekend at Leakycon, the Harry Potter Alliance is launching our new campaign “Not in Harry’s Name.” Are you unable to meet up with your fellow wizards and witches in Boston? Don’t fret. You can be part of our online D.A. meeting right here, by reading some of the same information presented at the conference. Here we’ll explain just what “Not in Harry’s Name” is all about.

What’s in a name?

Shakespeare once wrote: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But would any other name evoke the same image? The soft petals contrasted with the sharp thorns? Names are important, and as Harry Potter readers we know that there are certain associations we make with names. The name Dolores Umbridge, for example, might bring to mind the color pink, or the image of a frog, or the sound of an annoying hem hem. It might also bring to mind attributes such as manipulation, censorship, and sadism. It might understandably make you shudder.

Names hold weight.

We here at the Harry Potter Alliance know this as much as anyone. Why else would we have chosen to act as an organization under the banner of Harry’s name? The name Harry Potter holds many meanings: the Boy Who Lived, the boy in the cupboard under the stairs who grew up to fight basilisks and dragons, to stand against corruption and the abuse of power, the boy who chose what was right instead of what was easy in his quest to bring down the Dark Lord Voldemort.

It becomes a problem, then, when something comes along that could potentially tarnish the name of our favorite bespectacled boy wizard. In this particular case, that something is chocolate.

Where does it come from?

Up to a certain point at Hogwarts, it seemed to Harry and his friends that the food at feasts just “magically appeared” on golden plates at their tables. It was only when Hermione decided to investigate the source that she discovered it was actually made by house elves toiling away in the castle kitchens.

It was one simple question—where does it come from?—that led Hermione to form S.P.E.W. in an attempt to stand up for elves laboring under unfair conditions. It is this same question that the Harry Potter Alliance is now choosing to ask about the chocolate manufactured as part of the Harry Potter franchise by Frankford Candy Company, in partnership with Warner Brothers and its parent company Time Warner.

So, where does the chocolate in a chocolate frog come from?

Nearly two thirds of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa, with about 43% coming from Cote d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast) alone. The problem? Just as Hermione discovered elves like Winky and Dobby to be working away in the Hogwarts kitchen without any pay or rights, so the world has begun to discover that injustices like child labor, slavery, and the exploitation of workers and farmers are a large part of what goes into making our favorite chocolate bars.

Frankford Candy Company, who produces the chocolate frogs, fudge flies, and cockroach clusters associated with the Harry Potter franchise, is a part of something called the World Cocoa Foundation, a large organization whose mission statement claims it “promotes a sustainable cocoa economy through economic and social development and environmental conservation in cocoa growing communities.” This sounds like a good thing, right?

However, among the WCF’s members are cocoa giants such as Nestle and Archer Daniel Midlands, both of which have lawsuits pending regarding child labor abuses. Also, the WCF’s strategy to help increase farmer income is simply to help farmers produce even more cocoa—which, again, sounds good, until you take into account the law of supply and demand, in which having less of something available makes it more valuable. By helping farmers put more chocolate on the market, they’re making it easier for big transnational corporations to buy huge amounts of chocolate for a pittance.

So, when Frankford Candy Company claims that its membership in the WCF can ensure that injustices aren’t going on in the making of the chocolate they use, it isn’t enough. Something more needs to be done.

Fair Trade vs. Free Trade

Chocolate is supposed to be a good thing. Not only does it taste heavenly, but it’s also used to ward off the after-effects of a run-in with soul-sucking dementors. That’s got to be some powerful stuff! Chocolate isn’t bad, and the companies involved in making these chocolate candies aren’t necessarily “villains” either. But they should be taking more steps to make sure that the production of the chocolate they use doesn’t involve injustice and cruelty. One way of doing this is for the companies involved to work toward chocolate frogs becoming a Fair Trade product.

You may have heard these words bandied about before: Fair Trade and Free Trade. These terms are rather like Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley… one word off makes a whole world of difference.

Free Trade refers to a general freedom in the exchange of goods and information among and between nations. The tendency in a Free Trade system is for things to center around money. Fair Trade, on the other hand, is a system in which the production of goods is seen as whole process, and not just a price.

In order for a product to be considered Fair Trade, both the producers and traders of that product (in this case, chocolate frogs) must meet a set of specific guidelines that work to promote justice and prosperity in three different areas of life: social, economic, and environmental. These guidelines call for fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, transparency in organizations, community development, environmental sustainability, and more. A Fair Trade mindset says that the quality of life of the people making the chocolate is at least as important as the quality of the chocolate itself, if not more so. This is the kind of thinking that would make Dobby proud.

What Can We Do?

We at the Harry Potter Alliance firmly believe that the injustices that may be going on in the name of Harry Potter should be stopped. As a result, we have already put into motion a plan to start a dialogue about Fair Trade with Frankford Candy Company and Time Warner. This is just the beginning, but we may be calling upon Harry Potter fans like you to help us in the near future, so keep an eye out to see how things unfold.

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to get involved:

~Learn more about Fair Trade at the following sites:

http://www.transfairusa.org/content/about/overview.php

http://www.fairtradefederation.org/ht/d/sp/i/2733/pid/2733

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

~If you haven’t already, come join the discussion about “Not in Harry’s Name” by becoming a member of our Common Room: http://thehpalliance.ning.com/

~Be sure to check out the “Not in Harry’s Name” video, and post your own response

~Keep an eye out on the HPA website for updates in the near future

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5 Comments

  1. May 22, 2009 at 2:07 pm
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    Thank you for your interest in sustainable cocoa. I too, am a fan of Harry Potter although I have not yet sampled the chocolate products you mention in the blog entry.

    Reading through your blog, I wanted to make several corrections which are inaccurate:

    First of all, Frankford Candy is not a member of the World Cocoa Foundation, but we would welcome them to join.

    Secondly, we represent nearly 70 chocolate and trade association members of all sizes and functions. Through our partnership programs in West Africa , Latin America and SE Asia, we have helped over 300,000 small scale cocoa farmers to improve income, social and environmental conditions. The programs are designed together with farmers and are “farmer focused”. These programs are supported by the development community and NGOs. For more information, please visit http://www.worldcocoa.org

    Thirdly, we work collaboratively with all groups who are bringing value to cocoa farmers. Last year, we posted a blog together with Transfair which you can see on our site. Hopefully this will clear some of the misunderstanding regarding our organization.

    Best regards.

    Bill Guyton

  2. Brigid Courtney

    May 22, 2009 at 3:50 pm
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    Hello, it is very revealing for me how one thing leads to another and asking a few questions we find there is something else for us to do.. I took my first step and went on wikipedia.. Since one of my neurologaical issues is not being able to take in a lot on the monitor I am printing this up to have a closer look.. and acan refer back to it…

  3. Brigid Courtney

    May 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm
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    Hi again just made (would you believe my first foray into the video section) tried to find the Not in Harry’s name video,and it said not there… Should I be looking somewhere else.. Thanks!! have a great day all

  4. Amanda

    May 27, 2009 at 10:03 am
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    Here’s a little article about some big names who have gone or are going Fairtrade. Thought you might like to read it! And good luck!

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/mars-bars-background.php

  5. Lisa

    May 28, 2009 at 3:27 pm
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    Bill,

    I applaud the World Cocoa Foundation’s efforts towards sustainable cocoa production. You mission statement is strong and it’s clear that your organization has helped many farmers over the years. However, I can’t help but question the WCF’s approach towards cocoa production, namely that farmers driven to produce more cocoa for your member companies will be paid less for it. The more cocoa is on the market, the less it is worth. Why doesn’t the WCF focus on ensuring that farmers receive a fair price for their beans? I’m fairly certain many of your member companies could afford it. If farmers were paid more it seems to me that the need for farmers to exploit child laborers would be eliminated. Thanks for your continued support of farmers, and we look forward to learning more about the World Cocoa Foundation in the future.

    In Peace,

    Lisa Valdez,
    Campaigner for “Not In Harry’s Name”

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] agenda for social change includes persuading the producers of licensed Harry Potter chocolate to adopt rigorous fair trade practices.  Anelli also explores such intriguing questions as communal norms and censorship, the adoption of […]

  2. […] had an incredible online presence this weekend through the launch of our new internship program, Not in Harry’s Name, and What Would Dumbledore […]

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