Coincidence? I think not. Chocolate, as we now know (and as the ancient Mayans knew, moments before they all achieved Nirvana), is a superfood. It contains theobromine, great for stubborn chesty coughs (my cough is all better, thanks to the increased chocolate). Dark Chocolate contributes to long life, is packed with antioxidants, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, contains the antidepressant serotonin: just know, faithful readers, that
CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR YOU!
Anyone who says things like "Two ounces chocolate converts to five ounces on hips" is just a sad person, bent on spreading distress.
Unfortunately, all chocolate seems to come from Belgium, or Switzerland, or other non-cocoa-growing countries.
There are political reasons for this: Importing countries impose much higher tariffs on processed cocoa and finished chocolates (than on cocoa beans). For example, the European Union charges a 7.7% tariff on cocoa powder imports and 15% on chocolates containing cocoa butter, but exempts raw cocoa beans. Similarly, Japan and the United States have no ad valorem duty on unprocessed cocoa beans but charge significant cocoa chocolate import tariffs. So, with the taxes, there is little profit and much risk in turning your untaxable cocoa beans into taxable quality chocolate. Communities like Brasso Seco who have the cocoa and the industrious people who can make great chocolate to sell to the rest of us will remain entirely agricultural because the chocolate tax would price their product right out of the market.
Nestlé has proudly announced its Cocoa Plan, providing cocoa farmers in Africa with 12 million "More Productive Cocoa Trees". What a great idea! This will keep the farmers busy, producing cocoa at an extremely low cost for an extremely rich and powerful company. The fact that child labour and slave labour are suspected in cocoa growing, particularly in the Ivory Coast areas in Nestlé's scheme, doesn't seem to be an issue to Nestlé. In fact, I find that their Cocoa Plan Website makes the shabby poverty of their growers look rather cute and photogenic. Sorry, Nestlé, I wouldn't want to work on one of your farms. And thanks to your new "Fair Trade" label, millions will be fooled, and I have lost any respect I had for Fair Trade. There is no way the chocolate trade could be fair, unless the taxes were the same for processed and raw product. I cite Nestle as an example, but all of the large chocolate companies pay minimum tax and a tiny wage to cocoa growers, while shipping the chocolate back to the third world in enormous quantities.
Gandhi would have a field day with this.
So it looks like there will be little eatable chocolate coming out of the Ivory Coast, or South America, or India, or Trinidad in the future. If I were a braver woman, I'd boycott Big-Business chocolate. Maybe I could boycott except in emergencies? An internet search has produced several nice-sounding smaller chocolate companies like El Rey in Venezuela, but as I haven't tasted their chocolate I am unable to recommend that we all order online from there. What I NEED, is free samples. Mmmmmmmm.....
Now that I've written this, I'm all depressed about the politics of chocolate. Fortunately, I can hear a bar of non- Big Business 70% calling my name from the kitchen. It contains 'Trinitario' chocolate, and I would like to fool myself that someone in Trinidad might have been paid something at some point in the manufacture of this bar.
In the future, we will see a move away from cocoa-growing enslavement. Maybe. And what will happen then? Worldwide shortage of chocolate and cocoa. I wonder what will happen then?