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The Chocolate Project is by no means a political organization yet when one has travelled a bit in the world and seen the effects of our voracious appetite for the raw materials of third world countries it is impossible not to be affected by it. Meeting farmers and chocolate makers from around the world and hearing their stories has coloured our take on globalization and has formed the philosophy which guides The Chocolate Project to this day, but we don't want to be in your face about it. Not everyone agrees with our view and that's OK. From time to time we will post politically incorrect rants and commentary here which you can either check out or easily ignore, and still enjoy all the rest of our lovely site. They will always pertain to to something happening in the chocolate world, for good or bad - like this.....
"Because I'm a chef I think about food a lot. Probably not in the same way you think about food though, as I usually do my best thinking when I'm not hungry. Fifty years ago North Americans spent over 40% of their income feeding themselves. Now we spend about 8%. Fifty years ago most of our diet was produced within a days drive of where we lived. Now less than 5% is. Not only has food gotten cheaper compared to our average income, but responsibility for the production of our consumable goods has been handed over to people who we will never meet, living thousands of miles away from us. The net result is that farmers in our own communities can no longer make a living feeding us. Progress? Perhaps not so much. We need to change our approach to not only the foods we eat, but to every consumer good that crosses our path. So much of what we consume is not sustainably produced that a critical tipping point is likely to occur in our lifetimes. For many of the world's resources it has happened already and there is no going back. The minerals and metals used to construct the device you are reading this very post on for instance are likely mined in China, dug from some of the dirtiest and most highly polluting operations on the globe. The cacao in the chocolate sold in every corner store and grocery across North America has been produced on the cheap by clear-cutting millions of hectares of West African rainforest and enslaving generations of workers into a cycle of poverty they will never break out of. The knock-off Nike runners you got at Winners for $20 were made by kids in a Bangladeshi sweatshop who get paid in rice. The spinach from Mexico that you read about on the news making 34 people sick with e-coli was irrigated with a nutritous mix of human and animal wastes and will still be just as hazardous the next time you buy it. We all know these things and they are not even really shocking anymore. Oh well, that's the price of progress we say.
This progress has come at a very dear price to our bodies and our sense of taste. Anthropologists tell us that past societies enjoyed foods that were far more intense, bitter, spicy and generally "funkier" than the foods we eat. Nutritionalists tell us that those foods were also far more healthful than the bland, processed stuff we are now ingesting. So what is our 21st century solution? Well if no one wants to eat seaweed, wild greens, cacao beans, fermented cabbage, mustard seeds etc. etc...you can just buy them in tablet form. I have actually seen pills for "Pure Cacao Essence" in a health food store. Because a chocolate bar is just too unpleasant a taste I guess...In Western society our palates have been changing over the past three or four generations. We like our foods sweeter, saltier and way crunchier than at any time in human history. Bitterness and acidity now seem like extreme tastes to us as does any food that does not immediately break down into a paste in ones mouth. The food industry has been all to happy to hold our hands through this taste transformation giving us exactly the foods we crave. It makes you wonder who is leading who.
While our taste buds have been cowering under a blanket of sugary high-fructose corn syrup love, our hearts and digestive systems have been having a tough time of it and our pancreas has bailed out completely. Many cancers and most types of heart disease have clear dietary causes but the shocking increase in type-2 diabetes over the past three decades is almost totally the result of a massively high sugar diet. There are some states in the U.S. now where the rate of type-2 diabetes has reached 25% of the population. Here is Canada our rate is lower, but we consume way more hidden corn/fructose based sugars than we realize and it is only a matter of time before we are as hefty and sickly as our southern neighbours.
We get alot of questions about sugar in chocolate and I'm glad that customers are questioning what they eat. That is the first step to making some positive changes in one's diet. The inverse of the percentages on a chocolate bar label are a measure of sugar so it is actually quite easy to know how much sugar you are ingesting. Let's take a 100g dark chocolate bar that is 75% cocoa mass. That bar, if you were to eat it all in one sitting, would thus contain 25g of sugar. Seems like a lot, but then again eating 100g of dark chocolate is pretty hard to do. That is a very big bar. But let's say you did. Comparatively, a regular can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar. A 20 oz bottle of Minute Maid Pure Orange Juice contains 48g of sugar. A bottle of SoBe Mango Melon Health drink contains 70g of sugar. Getting the picture?
Real chocolate is a tropical fruit seed, fermented, dried, roasted and ground into a paste with a bit of sugar. It is not a health food. It is not a junk food. It has no special healing properties nor it is it a replacement for a balanced diet but when done correctly it is a handcrafted work of art that will make you very, very happy.
David Mincey "