Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Future of Chocolate - is it Endangered?

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and since I just read an interesting article on the subject, I thought I would blog about chocolate.

Like many of the things I talk about here, most of us don't give a lot of thought to where chocolate comes from, and we take for granted that it's going to be around tomorrow. The reality is that the supply of chocolate may be in jeopardy.

Most chocolate used in mass-produced chocolate bars comes from two countries: the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Several factors are contributing to a reduced supply of chocolate in those countries and therefore, rising prices:
  • The Ivory Coast may be on the brink of a civil war
  • Africa is experiencing firsthand the effects of climate change in the form of droughts caused by rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall
  • Cocoa farming as it is practiced in these countries is not currently sustainable: soils are depleted; aging trees are plagued by pests and disease; the process is labor intensive, and farmers make very little. 
The good news is that the crisis is providing the impetus for all parties in the chocolate industry to cooperate on finding a solution. And the solution is to make the process sustainable...otherwise, the "food of the gods" may be affordable only by the very wealthy.

Meanwhile, when you buy chocolates for your sweetie on Valentine's Day, choose wisely - look for the Fair Trade label and for organic chocolate. It's worth it to spend a little more to ensure that cocoa farmers are reasonably compensated to save the planet from toxic fertilizers and pesticides.  

For more info, read Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa by Ă“rla Ryan.

Labels: , , ,