Chocolate's Uncertain Future
Whether you love chocolate or express you love with it, prepare yourself for the coming chocolate shortage!
I've just finished reading several articles by people - by people I mean women mostly - writing about their true love. Valentine's Day is past and some men, who don't already know, found out what women really, really want. Yep, sorry guys, it's chocolate! The uninitiated think I'm attempting humor. Maybe – but that still doesn't address the research showing that a surprising number of women claim to prefer chocolate to sex, other evidence shows that the two have had a well-known, happy relationship that's older than most others!
We don't need scientists or expensive research to confirm what most of us already know how good it makes you feel or, even, that it tastes good. In fact, it tastes so darned good that it has to be bad for you. It's one of those relationships that you just take for granted. You know the type. And I'm not just talking about the good girls attraction for the bad boys — it's more like the better the ice cream the more fattening it is.
Many people's happy relationships with chocolate have outlasted most others in their lives. And many of us leaned to love ealy. In addition to Valentine's day, chocolate helped mark Christmases, birthdays, Easters, anniversaries and other days as special when we were kids and it is a tradition that many of us have continued to enjoy long past childhood.
Michelle Obama's timing could have been better. We know we shouldn't be reaching for comfort foods in these tough and trying times. But, like it or not, human cravings are governed by a law as sure and mysterious as that of gravity:
If it tastes or makes you feel really good, it's probably bad for you or it'll get you into trouble.
At a young age, most of us have worked out the relationship about stuff that's fun – one way or another, it's not good for us. Simply put – if we got caught, we were in trouble. And that seemed to me one of the advantages of growing up – you got to do a whole lot of fun things a lot more frequently.
Food has always been something of an exception, though. Timing rather than anything else seemed the most important consideration when eating chocolate cakes or cookies. Preparing a lot of very unhealthy food used to be considered one of the most loving of acts and eating large amounts of that food was a way of reciprocating it — the love, that is.
Visits to the grandparents' houses in particular required Herculean efforts at kitchen tables groaning under vast quantities of food requiring our consumption to show love. Of course, at the time none of us knew that any food could be harmful. Although, I sometimes wonder if many of us didn't secretly know that smoking and many forms of eating weren't as benign as we all liked to pretend. This type of willing suspension of disbelief always comes easy to our species, I fear.
The problem was and is that over eating a lot of things that aren't good for us has disastrous consequences for our health as well as our looks and ability to move around. And numerous studies and research confirm what many of us have secretly guessed: Anything that tastes like the food of the gods is practically guaranteed to send us to an early grave, particularly if we overly indulge ourselves. The instances of just one disease alone, Diabetes, are quite terrifying because often it is a direct result of lifestyle choices.
And then scientists brake the astounding news: Chocolate is good for us!
It hardly seems credible! Not only is chocolate not bad for us, we're being told that there are health and other benefits. But it's all relatively old news now. We've even adjusted our taste buds somewhat to the slightly bitter taste of the higher, healthier percentage of real chocolate in our bars and other treats.
Finally, chocolate seems to be the one thing that we can both indulge and enjoy without guilt; in fact, we can tell ourselves that it is really doing us good and know that scientists, doctors, and probably even Michele Obama would all be in agreement. It seems to be too good to be true, and you know what they say about that! Yep, it is too good to be true. It is not that what they have said isn't true, the bad news is that chocolate is about to get more expensive. And I mean:
Chocolate is about to get a whole lot more expensive!
The warning bells of the coming chocolate Armageddon were being sounded in the Fall of 2010:
Brittny Drye wrote on November 10 that the Cocoa Research Association were predicting that cocoa would become as rare and expensive as caviar because of growing demand and supplies that would remain hopelessly limited. If that wasn't bad enough, on November 11 Tim Wall was writing:
Wall quotes John Mason of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council as saying that chocolate could become, you've guessed it, as rare as caviar. Again the warning was that chocolate would no longer be affordable to us poor common folk. There are no quick fixes, particularly if the environment and those who grow the cocoa are to be respected, we learn.
If all of this tsunami of bad news hadn't made you reach for the M and Ms, no one would have blamed you for eating a week's ration of Hershey bars in one sitting on viewing Stephen Messenger's November 13ths headline:
I couldn't believe that I had stupidly not taken Climate Change into account when thoughts of pleasantly munching on chocolate bars in my retirement already were seeming like an impossible dream. I should have probably left a comment thanking Mr. Messenger for eloquently reminding me and other readers that chocolate actually grew on trees and was neither the product of chocolate rivers or magical elves. If concerns about climate change weren't bad enough, the thought that any comfort that might previously have been sought in a candy bar may soon become a healthy, tasty memory of the past were down-right disturbing.
If I didn't already feel like a dullard for ever taking the cheapness of a Kit Kat for granted, Linda Lee, on February 1, 2011, had some other alarming news only hinted at by the beguilingly cute headline:
Ms. Lee cleverly pointed out something else I hadn't taken into account – 40% of the world's cocoa beans are grown on the Ivory Coast. And there's been a great deal of political unrest there. In fact:
Manufacturers are already facing the highest cocoa prices in 30 years.
On February 8 the Ivory coast was again in the news because of a new ban on exports. The reasons are different but the 9 and 10 NEWS headline is similar and suggests that we're heading for a perfect storm when it comes to the shortage of cocoa beans.
Cocoa Bean Shortage May Lead to Chocolate Price Spike
Easter is coming
OMG! Where's my chocolate?
Chocolate's Story grows Darker
I'm learning that there's always been problems associated with the politics of chocolate's production in the Ivory Coast; however, the fate of chocolate and many who produce it looks bleaker than usual as March 2011 advances. Laurent Gbagbo, the illegitimate leader of the Ivory Coast, is in bloody conflict with the internationally recognized president after last year's election. Gbagbo needs money for his soldiers and other supporters and, according to the Wall Street Journal, he won't release cocoa beans for export until he receives export taxes. All of the international sanctions complicate matters even further. Chocolate lovers everywhere are being urged to pressure chocolate companies to end trade with Gbagbo now and commit to working only with the legitimate government. In short, the story of cocoa beans seems to grow both more complicated and sadder as the shortage appears to be more and more inevitable.
By the the end of March 2011, Bloomberg's were predicting that cocoa prices, along with sugar and coffee, will rise by as much as ten-fold by 2014.
A piece of good news for both the Gold Coast, the international community and chocolate lovers was received on April 11, 2011when we learned that the nearly five month battle over the presidency had come to an end with the arrest of defeated President Laurent Gbagbo.
A READER'S TREAT
T’will make old women young and fresh,
Create new motions of the flesh,
And cause them long for you know what,
If they but taste of chocolate.
James Wadsworth, London. 1665