Links: Recent News in Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food

Chocolate news

Cocoa shortage by 2020 unless industry acts now, warns Mars
Mars Chocolate, which currently purchases only 5 percent of its total supply from certified sustainable cocoa producers, pledged to use 100 percent certified sustainable chocolate by 2020. The company also predicted a major cocoa shortage (of more than one million tons) by that time if sustainable measures are not significantly increased. Here’s hoping that “technology transfer that puts farmers first; innovations in agricultural science; and rigorous certification standards” (Mars’ words) will be meaningful.

Ghana’s former President John Kufuor, was awarded the World Food Prize for his “zero hunger” program, which cut hunger levels in Ghana by half over his eight years in office. “His government achieved this by modernising and commercialising cocoa farming, Mr Kufuor said.”

Ferrero has received the “Golden Windbag” award for the “most misleading advertising” by a food manufacturer this year. It won the award for deceptive advertising of its Milch-Schnitte brand, sold in Germany with the slogan “Tastes light. Doesn’t weigh you down. Ideal for in between,” and portrayed in ads featuring figures from extreme sports. The awarding group, Foodwatch, argued that the advertising does not properly inform shoppers about the product’s sugar and fat content and suggests that it is instead sporty and light. Ferrero has refused to accept the award. This is not the first time that Ferrero has been accused of using misleading advertising — only a few years ago, its brand Nutella caused global uproar when it was marketed as part of a healthy breakfast for children. You can watch an Australian version of a Nutella ad advising on children’s nutrition here.

Some chocolate products and attractions that have piqued my interest of late:

Honest CocoaNova, from the folks at HonestTea. It comes in three flavors: cherry cacao, mint cacao, and mocha cacao. More here, thanks to Nashville Scene Bites blog.

Billed as “brewed chocolate,” or a chocolate drink for coffee lovers, Choffy also looks interesting. I’m excited (with a healthy side of skepticism) to try it. Just check out the branding! It is so intensely organic, green, antioxidant and theobromine rich, foreign yet single origin… the company is pushing all the right buttons for the Whole Foods crowd.

Here’s one from the “funny but sort of gross” category: Chocolate Plasticine. “Magic chocolate lets you mould, stretch and squeeze your chocolate into whatever you like.” (via MadeForMums)

Then there’s Nestle’s limited edition Alpino packaging, where the chocolates are laid out just like Peg Solitaire. It’s all fun and games until it gets eaten.

A vacation might be in order once the £2m Sweet History of York confectionery exhibit is complete.

A couple of chocolate recipes:

Chili with Chocolate from David Lebovitz
This involves dropping chocolate into the chili to melt. Yum.

Vanilla Milk with Chocolate Ice Cubes Yes, the ice cubes melt and ooze their chocolatey goodness into the milk as you drink.
(posted by thekitchn, via Le Pétrin, h/t to friend CLS for passing it on!)

Food culture and politics news

In Pictures

You don’t want fries with that
An infographic from the Washington Post displaying information from three Harvard studies on foods eaten and pounds gained or avoided. Sweets and desserts (ahem, chocolate lovers) are implicated.

Where the Farm Subsidies Go
Another informative infographic from the Washington Post.

A disturbing graphic from National Geographic on Our Dwindling Food Variety (via @NatGeo)

Artist Perrin Ireland live-draws conference sessions. This one, entitled “Scents and Sensibilities: The Invisible Language of Smell” is just fabulous. (via @sciam)

Etsy, ever the pulse of DIYers, recently posted a treasury that encapsulates the GYO (grow your own) food movement. (treasury curated by GloryBDesign)

In Words

This debate between Tomatoland author Barry Estabrook and critics presents fascinating viewpoints on American tomato growing and agriculture more generally.

A moving autobiographical portrait of journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’ life as an undocumented immigrant. Given the essential labor provided by many undocumented immigrants to US food production, this story’s critique of immigration policy is directly relevant to US food policy.

For a product like chocolate that can only be grown outside of the US, attention to FDA policies and politics is essential. What FDA is up against with imported foods, by Marion Nestle.

Just for fun

“You’re the most annoying dude I’ve ever SEEN brah…
Could you PLEASE move? You’re RIGHT in front of the Quinoa.”


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    Bittersweet Notes is an open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. I invite you to join me as I explore the story of chocolate and the life stories of those involved with chocolate at its many stages of production and consumption.

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