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

Chocolate news

America’s Favorite Chocolate Candy Bars Are Soon to Become Another Genetically Modified Food. This is very disturbing news for the chocolate world. GM crops present an enormous danger to biological diversity, and thus to the future diversity of available cacao.

Hungary proposes a ‘chocolate tax’
“The Hungarian government has proposed the introduction of a special tax on food products and drinks which contain salt or sugar in excessive quantities, Reuters reports.” This is one approach toward legislative intervention in the global obesity crisis.

Good news for researchers: Nestlé opens archives facility in York

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) plans to regulate some health claims made about chocolate by food companies. For now, they state that: “Theobromine in cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) does not enhance mood.”

Cargill has designated three employees to work exclusively on sustainability projects: Cargill sets up dedicated team to accelerate sustainable cocoa agenda

A new chocolate bar that I’m adding to the “must try” list:

Chuao Chocolatier Proves Opposites Attract with “Potato Chips in Chocolate” Bar. This bar brings together milk chocolate and potato chips. Hallelujah, hallelujah! Childhood junk food dreams come true!

You can even watch a delicious video of the bar being made:

Droolworthy chocolate recipes from the blogging world, all look great for summer:

Bitter Chocolate and Buttermilk Ice Cream, from Leite’s Culinaria
(Note: see David Lebovitz’s How To Make Ice Cream Without a Machine for a simple DIY method.)

Bread with Chocolate and Olive Oil, from Mark Bittman

Dark Chocolate Mocha Fudge Pops, from Always Order Dessert

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Dacquoise, from Alice Q. Foodie

No Bake Chocolate Cake Recipe, from 101 Cookbooks

Food politics news:

I’ll be attending this food politics webinar next Thursday, July 14th, from 5-7pm: Law as a Social Determinant: Black Health, Food Insecurity, and the Law. I once worked with a wonderful undergraduate student who introduced me to the problem of food deserts, and I’ve been trying to learn more about them (well, really about how to get rid of them), especially in the context of race and class in the US, ever since.

Infographic: USDA’s latest data on adoption GM crops: 65%-94% of corn, soy, and cotton. (via @marionnestle)

Must read article: Big Ag’s Latest Attempt to Chill Free Speech, from Michele Simon

During the week, I tweet many of these articles via my twitter feed.

Wacky World of Choc Wednesdays: Chocolate Printing

One of the news stories making its way through both the geek and chocolate worlds this week has to do with a 3D printer that prints with chocolate.

From the press release, entitled “The future of gift shopping – design and print your own 3D chocolate objects”:

Using new digital technology the printer allows you to create your own designs on a computer and reproduce them physically in three dimensional form in chocolate.

The project is funded as part of the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Programme – Digital Economy and is managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on behalf of ESRC, AHRC and MRC. It is being led by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the University of Brunel and software developer Delcam.

3D printing is a technology where a three dimensional object is created by building up successive layers of material. The technology is already used in industry to produce plastic and metal products but this is the first time the principles have been applied to chocolate.

The research has presented many challenges. Chocolate is not an easy material to work with because it requires accurate heating and cooling cycles. These variables then have to be integrated with the correct flow rates for the 3D printing process. Researchers overcame these difficulties with the development of new temperature and heating control systems.

There are a number of enthusiastic posts from the geek/tech world that explain the implications of a product like this, e.g.:

Chocolate Printer Is Here; Foodies of the World Celebrate, from PC World

UK researchers developing 3D printer that crafts with chocolate, from Digital Trends

Chocolate 3-D Printer Arrives At Last, from Wired

The printer sounds like a neat way to be creative with chocolate, though I expect that fine chocolate connoisseurs are with me in wondering how much the chocolate quality will be compromised. It’s also not yet widely available for use, so those of us eager to see it in action will just have to wait. The good news is, if you’re a handy geek and would like to make a 3D chocolate printer at home, say, with LEGOs, there’s an Instructable for that!

For a number of years, of course, there has been a robust business around printing on chocolate. Consumers can do things like personalize their M&Ms and put their faces on lollipops with relative ease. There is even a food printer that can print white ink on thin sheets of dark chocolate [video].

Sweden-based MasterPiece Systems and US-based Chocolography are just two of the companies offering sophisticated equipment that can print on chocolate.

Check out this sultry video for a demo of the MX-315 from MasterPiece Systems:

And here’s an interview with Mark Weiss of Chocolography with more details about how the printer works:

The growing industry of printing with or on food is a fun and quirky one. And throwing chocolate into the mix is just brilliant. Thinking on it now, I am reminded of this quote from Patrick Skene Catling’s The Chocolate Touch: “Chocolate all the time… Chocolate’s best, that’s all. Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate.”

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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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