Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Slave To Chocolate

by Dick Mac

I don't mean that I adore chocolate. Well, I do.

I am talking about people, human beings who are enslaved, earn slave wages, to harvest the ingredients that make the chocolate we chocolate slave consumers enjoy.

As I have aged I have become more and more lactose intolerant, and less and less interested in milk chocolate.

Over the past few years I have learned a lot about dark chocolate and have been amazed at the complexity of it all. Is it 60%, 75%, 85% cocoa? The higher the percentage of cocoa, the darker the chocolate. Then there are the bonus add-ins.

Dark chocolate with hot peppers doesn't sound good, but is delicious. Dark chocolate with mint is also amazingly yummy.

As I shopped for these newly-discovered chocolate treats, I began to learn that there were fair-trade brands, just like coffee.

This means that the farmers growing the cocoa are being paid a livable wage and are not beholden to a plantation holder or shipping company that pays them extraordinarily low prices and sells to the USA at a massive profit.

An industry has grown around this information, as we now live in an information age.

This page at Fair Trade USA shows a list of chocolate products known to be free of slave labor. There may be others, but these are certified as being slave-free:

Fair Trade Cocoa

In other odd chocolate news, Kraft subsidiary Cadbury, published an advertisement for the new chocolate "Bliss" product. The ad reads: "Move over, Naomi, there’s a new diva in town. I'm the world's most pampered bar."

Supermodel Naomi Campbell assumes the ad refers to her, and I think she is probably correct. The ad refers to her in the Stones-ian manner as being "chocolate." Now, when allowing a slightly pornographic notion of beauty define the dialog, then the use of the word chocolate to describe a famous black woman known for her beauty (and bad attitude) is perfectly acceptable. When we move the dialog out of the pornographic/rock 'n' roll vernacular, it's sort of embarrassing to see a huge corporation refer to a wealthy, successful black woman as "chocolate." Even if she has a bad attitude.

Cadbury in the USA isn't very good, it's much better in the UK (until Kraft screws that up - which I promise you they will); and since my favorite of their brands was their milk chocolate that I no longer eat, I don't have any hard decisions to make about supporting the company. I do not instantly jump to Campbell's side in this controversy; but Kraft has made a very poor choice in advertising campaigns. In the big picture though, it's nothing that a boatload of money won't fix, and Campbell will have the last laugh - all the way tot he bank.

Read more: Naomi Campbell may sue Cadbury for using her name in 'racist' chocolate ads

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