Alter Eco – Changing The Chocolate Industry As We Know It

The chocolate industry has received significant criticism in the past decades for unsustainable practices stemming from questionable labor practices, use of low quality ingredients, poor production standards and problematic advertisements trends. These troubled elements combined have been brought to light by professionals analyzing the human, environmental, economic and social impact of chocolate on communities across the world. Indeed, most of the problems highlighted within the industry are still rampant today. Very few companies can pride themselves for having sustainable practices from a bean-to-bar perspective. Alter Eco, based out of California, France and Australia, prides itself in providing its clients with “healthy, sustainable and socially responsible foods” (Alter Eco, 2015). Through its high standards for quality and social responsibility, Alter Eco is a powerful response to the problems highlighted with today’s chocolate industry and attempts to mitigate the problems rampant within the multi-billion-dollar industry of cacao.

Acopagro_

Alter Eco Foods provides its clients with a multitude of products ranging from chocolate bars, truffles, quinoa, and rice. Mathieu Senard, the co-founder and CEO of Alter Eco, states: [The company] started with chocolate, and then [evolved to] grains such as quinoa and rice. Our goal is to buy directly from cooperatives and, more importantly, pay a fair price” (Kaye, 2017). Alter Eco’s mission remains the same through its line of products. The company prides itself in its concept of “full circle sustainability” for all the products in its line. Full circle sustainability, in its most basic form, presents solutions to most of the problems highlighted by specialists in the chocolate industry. Most of the problematic companies view sales and production as a two-way street between the client and the business. Alter Eco views its everyday business practices from a different perspective by adding the environmental impact of production in their equation. With its globalized market, Alter Eco Foods is showing its competitors that sustainable practices in the labor, ingredients, production and marketing spheres is both attractive and delicious to consumers across the world.

The issue of child labor is an epidemic in Cacao plantations across the globe, and even more dominantly in Cote D’Ivoire. Chanthavong, in his analysis of child labor in chocolate production, writes: “Slave traders are trafficking boys ranging from the age of 12 to 16 from their home countries and are selling them to cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire. They work on small farms across the country, harvesting the cocoa beans day and night, under inhumane conditions.” The problem of child labor, regardless of the production goals, is an incredibly sensitive issue that many governmental and non-governmental organizations are attempting to handle. In its efforts to limit the spread of child labor in Cote D’Ivoire and across the glove, Alter Eco sources its cacao beans from South American farmer-owned plantations, more specifically Peru and Ecuador. Furthermore, the company sources its Cacao butter from Dominican Republic, cutting any sort of possibility for economically- or socially-encouraging abusive labor practices. The company undoubtedly prides itself in its “single origin, highest quality cacao beans.” Alter Eco’s sustainable labor standards go much further than avoiding cacao originating from questionable sources with risk of child labor involvement. The company aims to rectify the issue of unsustainable labor practices through fair trade relationships, development programs, and women empowerment programs. Fair trade relationships are at the forefront of the sustainable labor practices push forth by the company’s values. Professor Martin from Harvard University writes: “Landlessness remains a serious problem among the descendants of enslaved people throughout the cocoa producing world today.” To further remedy these rampant issues, Alter Eco prides itself in sourcing all of its products from small-scale, farmer-owned cooperatives. Alter Eco is partners with the Institute of Marketecology (IMO), Fair Trade USA and the Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FTLO). This list of high-level certifications provides clients with the certainty that the labor practices for producers are socially acceptable and sustainable and that the values of the company for providing producers with good living and working conditions are followed.

Fivecocoakids-BBC+Dominic+Hurst

Alter Eco’s efforts to offer a socially- and ethically-acceptable product do not stop at the location and origin of its labor force. The company put in place a variety of development programs in order to increase the likelihood of sustainability of its producers and workers. Its Fair Trade Premiums, which allocate money throughout the supply chain, have allowed Alter Eco’s sugar cooperative, Alter Trade, to build a training center for their employees in the Philippines, simultaneously serving as an assistance center for families to visit. Furthermore, in its full-circle attempt to provide all workers with social and economic support, Alter Eco addresses an underlying issue in today’s farming practices in its development of leadership and empowerment programs for women. Women within the farming industry are often viewed as second-class individuals due to the utterly and outrageously outdated assumption that they will not be as useful as men on the land. Alter Eco writes: “Gender equality is an important aspect of the Alter Eco business model, all the way down to the field.” Through such a stance, Alter Eco attempts to remedy the gender disparity and inequality within the farming industry through maintaining that “women will assert their due role and space in both the management of the homestead farming economy and in the governance of [the land]” (AlterEco.com).

Guadalupe-405x304

The issue of unsustainable environmental practices within the chocolate industry is one Alter Eco addresses with strength. Indeed, as stated earlier, Alter Eco prides itself in adding the environment in its equation for sustainable production practices, which is something very few businesses work towards. Professor Martin from Harvard University, in her presentation entitled “Psychology, Terroir, and Taste,” states that Terroir and Harvesting practices can strongly affect, both positively and negatively, cacao quality and quantity. Furthermore, “the use of pesticides on the farms can lead to the destruction of part of the soil flora and fauna through both physical and chemical deterioration” (Ntiamoah, 2008). Alter Eco prides itself in assuring that all of its cooperative farms maintain their fields within American and European standards for organic certification. Such a certification makes sure the consumers are aware of what they are getting: a product “free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and [that] must not [have been] processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering” (Henry, 2012). Such sustainable ecological and organic practices put forth Alter Eco’s values in promoting a product that is good for farmers, earth, and consumers. Alter Eco’s efforts in promoting sustainable environmental practices do not end at the farm or on the plantation. Although the company goes to great lengths to maintain its organic certification, it even goes steps further in pushing forward its values of sustainability. Through its commitment to becoming a carbon-negative business, Alter Eco has already received its Carbon-neutral certification, which confirms the company offsets the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) as it produces. “Alter Eco works closely with PUR Project and [its] farmers to plant trees for the amount of CO2 [produced]” (Alter Eco, 2017). Furthermore, in its efforts to become a carbon negative business, Alter Eco started its emission subdivision called PUR Project. “Contrary to offsetting, which consists in handling carbon compensation in other places by uncorrelated people and means, the insetting includes the handling of carbon compensation into the commercial dynamics of the company” (PUR Project, 2017). In other words, Alter Eco’s insetting efforts are rooted deeply in the idea that you must give back to the soil and air from which you took. In having an impact within its supply line, Alter Eco can assure that its efforts are not in vain, and that, although it plans to plant an additional 7,776 trees in 2017, the 28,639 trees (Alter Eco, 2017) already planted since 2008 are truly being put to good use to reinvigorate the soil from which so much is produced.

Alter Eco’s efforts to make their products more environmentally-friendly do not stop at their carbon-neutral status. They indeed go even further to make their products truly “full circle sustainable.” The packaging in which their chocolate and truffles are placed are fully compostable. Plastic and the conventional polyethylene packaging are quite detrimental to the environment due to the astronomical quantity of plastic sent to landfills or that finishes its life course in the oceans. The packaging developed by Alter Eco provides an eco-friendly alternative to the original plastic packaging found for most chocolate bars. This new packaging is made from compostable materials, GMO free, and without any toxic ink. Mathieu Senard adds: ““We believe the impact of our packaging is just as important as the product itself. How could we call ourselves a responsible, sustainable company when much of our packaging was going to landfills to live for hundreds of years?” (Alter Eco, 2015). This question raised by Senard is one answered by very few companies, which makes Alter Eco that much more efficient in its goal of changing the dynamics of chocolate production across the globe. To top off its environmental goals, Alter Eco has partnered with the 1% For the Planet Fund, which gives 1% of the company’s sales to a non-profit with environmental improvement goals.

 

 

Businessman David Ogilvy was once quoted for saying: “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.” Advertisements and marketing are truly at the forefront of the chocolate industry’s sales. Whether it is for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, or Halloween, chocolate advertisements are all over television networks, the internet, and social media. Nonetheless, there are many problems and complaints associated with today’s chocolate industry and its marketing techniques. During her lecture at Harvard University about “Race, Ethnicity and Gender” in today’s chocolate industry, Professor Carla Martin elaborated on today’s chocolate marketing techniques and its associated prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination. Most of this discrimination comes in the form of racism or sexism. Women are portrayed as irrational in the presence of chocolate while men are portrayed as sexualized bodies. Simultaneously, race is also being portrayed in stereotypical and offensive ways. Alter Eco attempts to go against all these rampant problems with marketing for chocolate. The company presents its potential buyers with an honest, informative advertising. Fagerhaug (Honest Marketing, 1997) writes: “The main point about honest marketing is to run the business in such a way that a customer at any time can feel the certainty any customer longs for; that he or she made the right choice.” When a customer purchases a product from Alter Eco, there is a directly associated certainty in the quality and honesty of the product received.

alter-eco-coc-edit

In conclusion, Alter Eco attempts to provide its clients around the world with a sustainable chocolate product that tackles most, if not all the problems associated with today’s chocolate market. Through its fair labor practices, honest ingredients, conscientious production techniques and reliable advertisements, Alter Eco gives its customers exactly what they can expect. If more companies put as much care and attention in their products as Alter Eco does, the world would be a much better place. Alter Eco is undoubtedly part of the solution to the problems in the world’s chocolate and cacao industries.

———————————————

Works Cited:

“Alter Eco – B Corporation”. B Corporation Website. Fair Trade & Organic Foods, 2017.

“Alter Eco Foods”. AlterEco.com, Web. Accessed 05.03.2017.

“Alter Eco 2015 Impact Report”. AlterEco.com. Pages 7/7. 2017.

Business Wire Magazine. Alter Eco Logo Image. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160419005633/en/Alter-Eco-Unveils-Annual-Full-Circle-Sustainability-Social

Chanthavong, Samlanchith. “Chocolate and Slavery: Child Labor in Cote D’Ivoire.” TED Case Studies. American University. Pages 17/17. 2017.

Fagerhaug & Andersen. “Honest Marketing: A Coherent Approach to Conscientious Business Operation.” Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 2017.

Henry, Alan. “What Does Organic Really Mean, And Is It Worth my Money?” Lifehacker.com. 2012.

Laye, Keon. “Alter Eco Wants to Make Chocolate a Regenerative, not Extractive, Industry.” Triple Pundit Online Publishing, 2017.

Lovely Package. Alter Eco Packaging Image. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. http://lovelypackage.com/alter-eco/

Martin, Carla D.“Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate advertisements”, Harvard University, CGIS, AAAS 119x, 2017.

Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, abolition, and forced labor”, Harvard University, CGIS, AAAS 119x, 2017.

Martin, Carla D. “Psychology, Terroir, and Taste”, Harvard University, CGIS, AAAS 119x, 2017.

“Mission/Values.” Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade USA, 2016.

Ntiamoah, Augustine. “Environmental impacts of cocoa production and processing in Ghana: life cycle assessment approach.” Journal of Cleaner Production, Print. 2008.

Plan Vivo. Pur Project Logo image. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. http://www.planvivo.org/

Smedley, Tim. “Forget About Offsetting, Insetting is the Future.” The Guardian. Web, 2015.

Squicciarini & Swinnen. “The Economics of Chocolate”, Oxford Scholarship Online, 2016.

Slave Free Chocolate. Chocolate’s Slave Trade Image. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. http://www.slavefreechocolate.org/

The Problem of Child Labor in the Cocoa Plantations. Africa News Service, Feb 2, 2012

WordPress.Willandmegan. Alter Eco Chocolate Bar Image. Media Image (Jpeg). Web. 05.03.17. https://willandmegan.wordpress.com/tag/alter-eco/

Constructing Taste: The Memetic Transmission of Chocolate’s Consumption

 

Taste, here, is an autonomous force that affected, rather than reected, discourse.”

Marcy Norton, in discussion of chocolate’s evolving composition (p. 691)

 

Tangibly, what we might intend by ‘chocolate’ is a broad, non-essentialist, amalgamated foodstuff; it is composed of myriad ingredients, none of which need necessarily be present in order for it to be known as such – with the possible exception of that core ingredient, Theobroma cacao (pictured above); it is “chemically complex, containing many potentially pharmacologically active compounds” and yet there is little in the way of consensus in the sciences or in the humanities as to what precipitates its elevated status among foodstuffs (Benton, p. 213) – a status complicated all the more by the great uncertainty as to what one actually intends by ‘chocolate’. There is ongoing research into the fundamental effects of neurochemicals contained in cacao, the actual content of which, in white chocolate for instance, may be negligible; how chocolate in its tangible form, or indeed as a psychosocial construct, might influence brain chemistry is likely to remain a research area fraught with moral hazard, given the normative judgements, claims, and aspersions more than likely to be elicited from competing interest groups in Big Food, consumer groups, democratically elected governments looking to legislate on nutrition, et cetera… These are particularly shaky foundations on which to attempt to construct some sort of accorded or objectivised truth, and indeed there continues to be a stark lack of consensus in scholarly circles with regards the neurological effects of cacao (Benton, p. 205). Thus this essay takes the behaviour of chocolate consumption, in a rather general and somewhat specious manner, as a behaviour transmitted socially and as that alone, not intending to cast any normative judgements thereupon but to deconstruct various intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of ‘chocolate’ the concept and the object of consumption which might single it out. The objective is thus chocolate decentred, debased, and a formless tool for memetic analysis of our consumption habits.

 

Model of Transmission

            A behaviour born in the Amazonian basin millennia before Christ (Coe, p. 24), the spread of cacao consumption, in its broadest sense, would suggest a powerful intergenerational, and indeed intercultural, process of transmission. A foundational view of human ethology is the Platonic understanding of behavioural acquisition by the unending and omnipresent process of mimesis, or emulation (Stanford) – one learns of a behaviour by witnessing it and repeating it after assimilation and simulation in the brain. One can similarly understand this process as the memetic transfer of cultural information, the transfer of a meme (the intellectualised unit represent of the behaviour) from one individual to another and thus its transmission (see video below). One experiences this first-hand in the raising of a child, or simply in the development of close relationships, as humans are preternaturally disposed to mimesis of the bodily comportments of others – one can likely divine whence one inherited one’s own particular tastes, idiosyncrasies, and predilections (perchance chocoholism?).

 

https://video-api.wsj.com/api-video/player/iframe.html?guid=5C1154F8-36EB-4797-AFE9-C60226055FB1

Richard Dawkins on the ‘Cultural Meme’, Wall Street Journal

In this context, and a conception of his contemporary capitalistic society, the sociologist Thorstein Veblen posited that emulation is the chief determinant of taste – that one inherits tastes from the powerful classes, assimilating their mores out of a Dawkinsian survival instinct (Veblen, pp. 112-17). Chocolate still enjoys a status as a treat or luxury, some of that New World mystique and allure often lavished on its marketing, whilst the average individual in a western nation consumes roughly 10lbs or more per annum (Forbes). Veblen would argue that this alliance of one’s behaviours, and by extension one’s identity, to the trendsetting classes, ie. the colonial elites who first adopted the drinking of chocolate as a delicacy, would be out of prudence in a competitive social environment and thus serve a specific function. This is a view in line with that of cultural sociologist Pierre Bourdieu that taste is the conformity of subjective pleasures to social hierarchies (Sulkunen, p. 112). It would not be a stretch to link these conceptions of memetic transmission as subservient to socio-political order, and not simply informative thereof, to the Marxist or otherwise materialist understandings of the exigences of economy and how profit incentivises, ie. differential rates of taxation, which have dictated the relative fortunes of chocolate, or rather cacao, and other drug-foods such as coffee or tea (p. 185-186).

molten chocolate

Molten chocolate, muthscandy.com

Cultural historian Marcy Norton criticises the ‘functionalist’ perspectives detailed above for their invention of the rational consumer – who behaves according to economic and biological, perhaps genetic, imperatives. Norton similarly dismisses certain more qualitative explanations which suggest ethical, normative explanations for shifts in consumption behaviours. She holds that it is not the purpose of objects but their actual use that is of import, whilst supposedly attempting to address the ‘why’ as opposed to ‘how’ chocolate consumption evolved (Norton, pp. 661-664). Yet, the more post-structuralist aspects of her thinking, with regards eschewing qualitative understandings of the consumer, marry well with conception of the sociocultural functionality of taste as transferred memetically, albeit confined to the Cartesian lines of economic and biospherical exigence. Thus cultural-functional, emulative, materialist, and indeed psychopharmacological models (to be explored below) can be triangulated in the, unconnoted, notion that behaviours such as chocolate consumption, and indeed the very conception of ‘chocolate’ itself, are cultural information diffused by memetic transfer.

Yet, establishing an inoffensive theoretical model for how chocolate-related concepts and behaviours, or simply chocolate-related ‘memes’, are transferred offers no insight into what information is actually coded therein. In like cultural contexts to that in which this author has lived, chocolate is likely far more readily associated with the image of molten chocolate above, at least symbolically; that is, to the complex, recombinant form that has evolved over centuries, been embellished upon almost so much as it that normalised silky, conched, tempered form – as opposed to molten, note, though recognisable all the same – is still systematically erred from today. It is almost so wholly abstracted from the base plant as to render cacao, pictured below, all but unrecognisable to the average consumer. In order to understand the social transmission of chocolate consumption, one must look at the polymorphous conception of chocolate that is coded, in its intrinsic and extrinsic complexities.

sliced cacao pods

Sliced cacao pods, public domain

Content of Transmission

The experience of cacao consumption is not only a product of that behaviour’s transmission, but necessarily its precedent. Consumption of a foodstuff is the exemplification of a subjective experience and, as such, despite the fact that the behaviour may be replicable, and indeed often enacted socially and thus easily transmitted and replicated with a degree of specificity, attempts by researchers to construct metrics thereupon are doomed to be disappointingly lacking in insight (eg. Stuckey, pp. 136-137). Strictly gustatory experience, ie. taste only as experienced via the tongue in exclusion of other senses and neurological activity, has fewer variables at play and indeed the great sweetness and fattiness of some chocolates has been shown, though clearly not then representative of large swathes of that which falls under the moniker ‘chocolate’, to stimulate reward circuitry in the brain – ie. prefrontal activity indicative of mesocorticolimbic dopamine activation (Benton, pp. 213-215). Yet even one’s taste buds, the transductive receivers which convert molecules to electrical signals and neurochemicals that communicate information to the gustatory cortex (whose role is explained in the video below), do not work in isolation of other senses. They also vary, and not only from person to person, ie. in their combined constitution. In the individual’s own lifetime their taste buds evolve unto adulthood (Stuckey, p. 21). This only nods towards the potential epigenetic influences of tastes, themselves received and thus reinforced or augmented by memetic transfer – a good example would be how a child may have a sweet-tooth, partly due to exposure to high levels of cortisol in the womb, or to displays of stress in early life which predisposes a calorific diet, who in later life develops more savoury tastes and so alters the memes, and indeed genes, they would otherwise have transmitted to their own progeny (Cornell; NCBI). One can clearly see the application of this analogy to patterns of chocolate consumption and the potential for individuation thereof.

The Science of Taste – KQED QUEST

In addition to the strictly gustatory elements to the ‘taste’ of chocolate, there are the important effects of trigeminal nerve stimulation, ie. sensation of texture, pain or spice, and temperature, which are crucial to pleasure in eating. Additional elements, elaborated upon in the video above, concern not simply the olfactory, and other sensory data, but cognitive and emotional memories and associations – “enjoyment of emotions as summoned through imaginary or illusory images [as] central [to] pleasure” (Colin Campbell in Norton, p. 663). The totality of these elements together with ‘taste’ itself forms what is distinguished in the video therefrom as ‘flavour’.

In the consumption of a foodstuff there is major influence of other pre-coded aspects of human psychology, not simply immediate, tangible phenomenology – food developer Barb Stuckey argues that the sound of tempered chocolate cracking, qualitatively, is a key element in the presentation of, and in turn key to the preconceptions and thus eventual satisfaction a consumer has for, a chocolate product (Stuckey, p. 140). These ad hoc influences on one’s perception of a particular chocolate, if not ‘chocolate’ conceptually or behaviourally, add a great deal of complexity to the relationship of individuals to that particular object of consumption. And one’s enjoyment, indeed investment in, the momentary experience can be almost completely distracted, voided, or drained of pleasure (and thus likely otherwise altered or influenced) by dramatic ongoings in the environs – as described by Stuckey with regards how a couple’s spat at the next table utterly precluded her from investment or pleasure in her meal (pp. 132-133).

Given that the complexity of ‘flavour’ as a concept and experience is not limited to the concept or experience of chocolate alone, chocolate’s special status as an indulgence and yet in ubiquity, its elevation culturally, and enduring appeal have suggested some peculiarity thereto. As detailed at the start of this essay, there is not an agreed scientific explanation, indeed while there are a number of psychoactive chemicals such as phenylethylamine and methylxanthines caffeine and theobromine, as well as the serotonin-producing reservatrol and tryptophan, they all appear in far too low quantities to wholly explain widespread archetypes of the ‘chocoholic’ or the archetypal behaviour or ‘craving’ chocolate (Benton, pp. 209-212). A more comprehensive explanation is that the high correlation between pleasurable food intake and the release of endorphins, peptides which act on opioid receptors, is true of chocolate consumption (pp. 212-213). If one couples this with the dopamine activation described above then one can understand a major aspect of repeated chocolate consumption as dependent on one’s perception of chocolate as opposed to the inherent nature of the product itself – thus the great influence of information culturally conferred with regards to chocolate.

Multisensory factors do not end with those extrinsic elements of the experience, ie. the cultural context in which one consumes chocolate or the packaging and presentation, but extend to the temperature of the room one is in, the ambient noise-level, present company, weather, and so forth – and early experiences, within context, write scripts for future experiences in the associations they entail (Psychology Today). If one were to use the analogy of coffee and coffeeshops, the texture of the mug used, even the colour of that mug (Flavour Journal), the cultural construct of drinking from a mug at all, or indeed the fundamental construct that coffee, as opposed to maté or indeed chocolate, should be the warm beverage chosen; these are all examples of the complex psychology at play, influencing our perceptions and the manner in which we code concepts and behaviours memetically transmitted. In turn, those codifications inform the memes we pass on to others, here as pertains to our consumption patterns, in which the effects of theobromine content or ‘the catchy song playing in the background on the radio in the trendy coffeeshop where first I tried a white hot chocolate’ fade to one of legion infinitesimal inputs that construct the meme as it is held in the individual.

 

The counterpart to Plato’s mimesis, however, was diegesis, or ‘narrative’ (Stanford Online), and while this essay was intentionally aimed at deconstructing some of the intrinsic and extrinsic elements of chocolate as it is conceived and experienced, admittedly in a roundabout and haphazard fashion, it has been at the cost of any narrative sense as to what chocolate really is. Indeed, if one is to utterly debase and decentre one’s concept of what exactly a product is or should be – as has hopefully been achieved in this essay thus far – one is able to open consumers up (or is oneself opened up, dependent one’s role in the power dynamic in play) to the wholesale transfer (or adoption) of metanarratives. As so often becomes of highly mature consumer industries, as they slip towards conspicuous consumption and what one might term becoming ‘Veblen goods’ (pp. 33-48), there is developed a sense of ‘terroir’ and producers attempt to directly control the memetic transfer of conception as well as ritual, ie. all the multisensory facets to the psychological experience of consumption as detailed above. Thus there is the attempt to tailor experiences, alter transmission and construct the product, in this case chocolate, directly as opposed to leaving the interplay of transient socioeconomic, cultural, and biospherical factors reach equilibrium unaided.

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving”. Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2004.

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2006 (3rd Ed).

Mintz, Sidney W.. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1985.

Norton, Marcy. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics”. The American Historical Review, pp. 660-691. Vol. 111, No. 3. 2006. Print.

Sulkunen, Pekka. “Society Made Visible: On the Cultural Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu.” Acta Sociologica, pp. 103-115. Vol. 25, No. 2. 1982. Print.

Stuckey, Barb. Taste What You’re Missing. New York: Free Press, 2012.

Veblen, Thorstein. The Theory of the Leisure Class. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Weinberg, Bennett A. and Bonnie K. Bealer. The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug. London: Routledge, 2002.

 

 

 

Web Sources

 

“Does the colour of the mug influence the taste of the coffee ?”, BioMed Central

http://www.flavourjournal.com/content/3/1/10

“Kids under chronic stress more likely to become obese”, Cornell University

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2012/01/study-stressed-kids-more-likely-become-obese

“The World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers [Infographic]”, Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/07/22/the-worlds-biggest-chocolate-consumers-infographic/#1fab80ed4484

“Epigenetic diet: impact on the epigenome and cancer”, NCBI

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197720/

“Why do we crave chocolate so much?”, Psychology Today

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/comfort-cravings/201402/why-do-we-crave-chocolate-so-much

“Plato’s Aesthetics”, Stanford Online

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-aesthetics/

‘The Science of Taste – KQED QUEST’, YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HxAB54wlig´

How will I ever find the item I’m looking for?

too many choicesStrategic tactics are employed throughout retail to capture the attention of the potential consumer, stimulate product, generate buyers interest for future purchase, remind shoppers of forgotten necessities, and create opportunities for point of sale impulse buys. In a highly saturated product markets, like chocolate, creating unique distinction between brands is essential to attract sales. We will examine some of the general and brand specific strategies in use by manufactures, product vendors and chain retailers to promote sales.

Miriiam-Webster defines marketing as the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service. For retailers, everything inside and outside the store is marketing. Location, position of entryways, aisle layout, traffic flow of consumers, fixtures, lighting, temperature, signage, flagging, product placement, proximity to other goods – all contribute to the amount of time a shopper is in contact with their inventory, which products and in which order the consumer is exposed to their goods, and the likelihood that the customer will leave with more than they came for. The effectiveness of these methods is known as the conversion rate – number of people that make purchases as a percentage of people that enter the store.

Manufacturers rely on similar strategies of product placement, packaging, price point, product delineation, colors, and graphics to attract consumers and distinguish their product from competitors.

layout

(fig.1) Typical planogram for merchandising layouts for supermarkets

Shelves are arranged in four foot increments, (eight feet of beans, twenty four feet of breakfast cereal) no more than six feet tall, typically with endcaps to display additional merchandise in the “racetrack” around all the aisles. Goods will be stocked in horizontal, vertical or pyramidal arrangements, single or in bulk on a wide variety of display types to create focal points for attention and maximized exposure.  Products can be flat stacked, “book-shelved”, front face or “bill-boarded” depending on a variety of factors including: eye level appeal, price point, profitability, age of the targeted consumer, vendor’s contract, volume of product, age of stock, etc.

Billboarding and front facing process Solid and continuous wall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN5sFlbPe_A)

Obvious similarities exist between the strategies used in merchandising chocolate and other retail products. Examine the two images below:

clothing(fig. 2) Examples of horizontal, vertical, flat stacking and bill-boarding.unnamed (16)

(fig. 3) Examples of horizontal, vertical, flat stacking and bill-boarding

In the following images (fig 4 and 5), “breath freshener” products are vertically arranged together as are sours, gummies, hard suckers, and salty snacks. This display was consistent in the all retail stores examined during this study. All similar items had a specific designated locations in the store with a group of similar items.

(fig. 4 and 5)

A typical convention used for most large retail is, that most commonly purchased and highest profit items are located in the center of the racks and at the mid point of the aisle. Items that queue shoppers toward those items are placed next to the side of the racks creating a “leading effect” – guiding them towards the profit center. Leading is the strategic placement of goods that steers the consumer toward what the retailer hopes is their next purchase. In the figure 6, brightly colored candy is placed next to baking goods.

unnamed (6)

Notice the baking goods are in plain wrappers but the candy is glossy. Also note, the Sour Patch gummy candy, with its brilliant rainbow of color, is exactly one shopping cart’s length away from the baking flour. Additionally note that the candy is at children’s eye level. Research on the psychology of supermarket traffic patterns indicate that shoppers will likely shop on the right side of the aisles and often push the cart with their left hand while placing items in their cart with their right hand.

Envision this: you’re shopping for flour with your child in the cart. With the cart stopped in one cart length from the flour. Your child then sits directly in front and at eye level with the Sour Patch gummies. You can imagine the rest.

Some things to note here. First, there is direct marketing toward the child. Second, even if there is no sale of the Sour Patch at that moment, the child has still been exposed to the product setting the stage for a future consumer. Lastly, your attention and eye have now been drawn down the aisle.

unnamed (9)

(fig7)

One push of the cart further down the aisle and the child is directly in front of the M&Ms and Reeses – the number one and two top selling candy in the US respectfully. Coincidence? In retail “eye level is buy level”.

unnamed (11)

Fig.8

Figure 8 is an example of further leading the consumer toward the lessor selling but more luxury brands. It’s worth noting that these less profitable brands, with less marketing power, cannot secure the same prominent position on the shelves as the larger brands. Lindt, considered a luxury brand by some consumers, is next in line on the shelves to Mars and Hershey products.

In the US, 3 Billion pounds of chocolate are consumed annually – roughly 12 pounds per person. According to a 2014 BloobergMarket report, out of the “Big Five” chocolate companies – Ferrero, Cadbury, Hershey, Nestle and Mars – Mars and Hershey dominate the $18B market with nearly 70% of sales while Nestle and outsider Lindt combined can only claim 10%. Note in fig. 9 below, that the Lindt products are sandwiched between bulk packs of M&Ms. At half the price M&Ms are targeting Lindt bulk truffles directly.

unnamed (14)

Fig.9

While competition for the market is aggressive, consumers don’t always select their products based on price or location within the stores. LOHAS stands for the Lifestyle Of Health and Sustainability, a $300 Billion dollar market comprised of every type of good from cars to travel destinations to dog food. Glenn Rudberg, a partner and Director of Brand Strategy at ETHOS stated in a in a January 2017 interview about LOHAS consumers “They look for honesty, authenticity, and alignment of principles and values. They want real”. LOHAS consumers are willing to spend up to a 20% primium for an item that they perceive is in line with their political, personal or cultural views. Organic, Green, Sustainable, Artisan, Local, All Natural, Free Trade, Non-GMO, BPA free are all terms common to the LOHAs market. Both obvious and subtle differences in packaging suggest clear distinctions between products. Fig. 10 below shows a distinct difference in product placement, shelf layout and packaging as the consumer travels from the major brands toward the specialty, LOHAS, brands.

unnamed (12)

Fig10.

Direct story telling has enormous impacts on consumers especially effective with the LOHAS client. The top three means of intriguing and engaging consumers listed in a 2013 Forbes article 5 Secrets to Use Storytelling for Branding Marketing Success are 1. Telling the truth, 2. Giving the product a personality, and 3. Getting the consumer to support the underdog or do-gooder. Each of the brands in fig 11 have their own story to tell. The packaging is simpler often flat not glossy, earth tones are favored over bold colors, typically stocked vertically in single packages not bulk. Directly at eye level is Lily’s. A quick glance at Lily’s website (http://lilyssweets.com/) shows every strategy listed by Forbes. Lilly is a brain cancer survivor who selflessly raises money for kids with cancer. All of her products are NonGMO and Fair Trade. How could anyone not support Lily?

A closer look reveals that every statement on Lily’s website uses a LOHAS term. Endangered Species Chocolate, Chuao, Love and others are grouped together and all employ similar practices.

unnamed (17)

References Cited:

Billboarding and front facing process Solid and continuous wall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN5sFlbPe_A)

Merchandising Basics and Display Opportunities

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZTkS2RVkr0

emotions of target consumers 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN5sFlbPe_A

eye level is buy level… clear intent to purchase 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThNeIT7aceI

80% of our produce that gets touched

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN5sFlbPe_A

Meriiam-Webster

Merchandizing

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/merchandising

Marketing

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marketing

The Era of Ethical Consumerism is Here: How to Market to LOHAS Consumers | Ethos

http://blog.ethos-marketing.com/blog/how-to-market-to-lohas

Glossary of marketing terms

http://retailertrainingservices.com/glossary-of-key-retail-and-retail-marketing-terms/

Big Five

https://www.forbes.com/2010/06/02/china-chocolate-consumers-markets-economy-candy-companies.html

LOHAS

http://www.lohas.se/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Understanding-the-LOHAS-Consumer-11_LOHAS_Whole_Foods_Version.pdf

Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/02/05/5-secrets-to-using-storytelling-for-brand-marketing-success/#7a7dd9257d81

Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-17/nestle-s-u-s-chocolate-ambitions-melted-by-lindt-deal

MIsc

https://brpconsulting.com/

Monocrops, Poverty, and The Ethical Shortcomings of Global Capitalism

Julia Naumowicz

10 May 2017

Chocolate, Culture, and The Politics of Food

Monocrops, Poverty, and The Ethical Shortcomings of Global Capitalism

When Christopher Columbus first sailed west to find a new passage to India, it was by design that the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were to instead take harbor in South America.  Columbus’s goal was to circumvent the Silk Road, which was an ancient network of trade routes connecting the whole of the Asian continent to Europe and Africa[1].

The Silk Road of Columbus’ era

By forging a direct naval route, Columbus hoped to secure for Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of what is now Spain access to the means of producing and trading goods that had been cut off to Europe by the Ottoman Empire.  Instead, Columbus, and subsequent Conquistadores, returned to Spain with cargo holds stuffed with new and exotic plants, animals, and people.  It was not until after Columbus’s voyage that the value of cacao to the Indigenous Americans was revealed, and it would be nearly one hundred years before cacao became commonplace in the Western world.

The phenomenon of chocolate, as first a religious elixir, then transported to Europe as a medicine before becoming a widespread delicacy of the European aristocracy, is one of strange dichotomies.  As mentioned above, the French aristocracy kept a special place on their banquet tables for small chocolate statues or chocolate served in quaint moulds, and the Italians were renowned for their love of chocolate in their cooking, as evidenced by pappardelle and chocolate polenta which was popular in the eighteenth century.[2]  (Ironically, however, it was in the chocolate houses of the 1600s, turned coffee houses by the reign of Louis XVI, which became the gathering places of the overworked proletariat who overthrew the French aristocracy in 1789.)  With the Industrial Revolution came newer and less costly technologies for preparing chocolate, and by the mid nineteenth century the chocolate bar was born.

But it is with cacao as a monocrop that the phenomenon of global capitalism can be analyzed in its entirety within a single industry.  From its role as a religious elixir and a beverage specifically preserved for the Mayan and Aztec elite to an ordinary Hershey bar, the evolution of cacao as a cash crop exemplifies the collaborative nature of Imperialism and Capitalism as well as it places in stark contrast the realities of global poverty.

Cacao is a notoriously difficult plant to grow.  According to Michael Coe, co-author of The True History of Chocolate:

… With very few exceptions, it refuses to bear fruit outside of a band of 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south of the Equator.  Nor is it happy within this band of the tropics if the altitude is so high as to result in temperatures that fall below 60℉ or 16℃.  If the climate is one with a pronounced dry season, irrigation is a necessity, for cacao demands year-round moisture; if it does not get it, it sheds its otherwise evergreen leaves in a protest that is described as looking like autumn in New England.  Poor growing conditions make it even more susceptible than it normally is to the multitude of diseases which attack it, including pod rots, wilts, and fungus-produced, extraneous growths called “witches’ brooms.”  Squirrels, monkeys, and rats steal the pods to enjoy the pleasant-tasting white pulp which envelops the seeds that they contain, but they avoid the bitter-tasting seeds themselves (although they may disseminate them)[3].

 

This is an extremely narrow band of growing conditions, which means in turn an extremely narrow band of countries and regions capable of cultivating the cacao tree.

Côte d’Ivoire is one such nation in which cacao can be cultivated, and it has been a world leader in cacao production since the 1970s.  Originally a French colony, the small African nation declared independence under the leadership of Félix Houphouët-Boigny.  In the 1960s, Houphouët-Boigny made the famous speech in which he guaranteed that “… he would turn the jungle into an Eden, and that everyone who lived there would enjoy the fruits of their own labor.”[4]  It was by creating and cultivating huge cacao plantations that Côte d’Ivoire fueled its economy, and, after his death in 1993, it was cacao which has caused the greatest turmoil in the small African nation.  By 1998, the trafficking of children to the cacao farms of Côte d’Ivoire was an international story.[5]

Despite public outcry in the United States in the early 2000s, the public quickly forgot why they were angry in the first place, and the Harkin-Engel Protocol was written up by large chocolate corporations and the congressmen who are in their pockets.  According to Slave Free Chocolate, a non-governmental organization that campaigns to end child slavery in the cocoa industry, which directly quotes Wikipedia on their website, the Harkin-Engel Protocol covers six major points:

The parties agreed to a six-article plan:

  1. Public statement of the need for and terms of an action plan—The cocoa industry acknowledged the problem of forced child labor and will commit “significant resources” to address the problem.
  2. Formation of multi-sectoral advisory groups—By 1 October 2001, an advisory group will be formed to research labor practices. By 1 December 2001, industry will form an advisory group and formulate appropriate remedies to address the worst forms of child labor.
  3. Signed joint statement on child labor to be witnessed at the ILO—By 1 December 2001, a statement must be made recognizing the need to end the worst forms of child labor and identify developmental alternatives for the children removed from labor.
  4. Memorandum of cooperation—By 1 May 2002, Establish a joint action program of research, information exchange, and action to enforce standards to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Establish a monitor and compliance with the standards.
  5. Establish a joint foundation—By 1 July 2002, industry will form a foundation to oversee efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. It will perform field projects and be a clearinghouse on best practices.
  6. Building toward credible standards—By 1 July 2005, the industry will develop and implement industry-wide standards of public certification that cocoa has been grown without any of the worst forms of child labor.[6]

 

Thus the actual problem of child slavery and widespread poverty in West Africa was able to be completely ignored.  So long as corporations could squirm their way into the vague definition of “certifying that cocoa has been grown without any of the worst forms of child labor”, whether or not children should have to work at all was seemingly not up for debate.

As of 2015, the Gross Domestic Product of the United States was 1.3 trillion dollars.  That is, $1,300,000,000,000.  From the website Brain Decoder , “Now, can you imagine how [much money] that is? Probably not. The way our brains are set up, truly understanding that vast a number is pretty much impossible.

‘Our cognitive systems are very much tied to our perceptions,” said Daniel Ansari, a researcher at the Numerical Cognition Laboratory at Western University in Canada. “The main obstacle is that we’re dealing with numbers that are too large for us to have experienced perceptually.’”[7]

So, for our reference, here is a handy infographic:

What this is to highlight is that $1.3 trillion is an unimaginably large number.  In reality it is a number that only exists in computers, because there has never been 1.3 trillion of anything large enough for the human eye to count in one place.  There are nearly one-hundred seventy-three times more dollars just in the United States than there are humans in the world as of 2017, and none of it has an actual value.[8]

For some more mind-bogglingly large numbers, There are more than 2.3 million documented homeless children in the United States as of 2014, and that number can only have gotten larger in the subsequent years.[9]  795 million people in the world live without enough food to eat.[10]

The Gross Domestic Product per capita as of 2015 in Côte d’Ivoire is $1,398.69, and trailing far behind it are neighboring Mali ($744.35) and Burkina Faso ($613.04).  Comparatively, the GDP per capita in the United States is $55,836.79.

((NOTE: The difference between these four countries’ GDP per capita is so staggering that in order to show the reader what the GDP per capita for Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso are the United States initially had to be omitted entirely.))

To put that into perspective, the average Ivorian is expected to survive on what the average American makes in a little over a week.

It is difficult to fathom, then, how cocoa sells for roughly one dollar per pound,[11]  and the average chocolate bar costs about one dollar,[12] how Michele Buck, CEO of Hershey Corporation as of March 2017, can justify making almost ten million dollars11  every year from the profit of chocolate sales.  In the same country where one in five children goes without food, we waste 165 billion dollars—or 133 billion pounds—of food each year, and often grocery stores purposely sabotage their products or lock their dumpsters so that starving people with no money are unable to take their garbage.  (In fact, as of 2016 France is the only country in the world that has written a law to prevent grocery stores from wasting food in such a fashion[13].)

It is difficult, when viewed from a rational perspective, to truly understand why it is that there are people dying from lack of a high enough number attached to their name.  It is confusing that for every homeless person in the United States there are about five homes standing empty[14], because someone doesn’t have a high enough number to have adequately “earned” the privilege of having shelter, which is a human necessity[15].  It is difficult to fathom how, when every human needs water and food to live, we have devised a system where in order to survive one must prove that they deserve the opportunity to not starve to death by producing valueless numbers for other people who have higher numbers attached to their names.  It is difficult for this writer to understand how, in a world of driverless automobiles and a medical cure for Hepatitis C at our fingertips, there are children who have been bought and sold to produce a food item that they will never in their lives get the chance to taste.

 

 

Works Cited

[1] http://www.ancient.eu/Silk_Road/

[2] Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. “Chocolate in the Age of Reason.” The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013. 218-19. Print.

[3] Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. “The Tree of the Food of the Gods.” The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013. 19. Print.

[4] Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate. St Lucia, Qld.: U of Queensland, 2008. 4. Print.

[5] Off, Carol. “The Disposables.” Bitter Chocolate. St Lucia, Qld.: U of Queensland, 2008. 130-31. Print.

[6] “Iii.d.8 Ilo Convention (No 182) Concerning The Prohibition And Immediate Elimination Of The Worst Forms Of Child Labour.” International Law & World Order: Weston’s & Carlson’s Basic Documents (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

[7] Baggaley, Kate. “Why We Can’t Grasp Very Large Numbers.” Braindecoder. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

[8] “Lexicon.” Fiat Money Definition from Financial Times Lexicon. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

[9] Business. “One in 30 American Children Is Homeless, Report Says.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 16 May 2017.

[10] “Know Your World: Facts About World Hunger & Poverty.” The Hunger Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

[11] “Cocoa Futures End of Day Settlement Price.” Cocoa Beans – Daily Price – Commodity Prices – Price Charts, Data, and News – IndexMundi. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

[12]  “U.S. Candy and Chocolate Average Price by Segment, 2016 L Statistic.” Statista. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

[13] Dvorsky, George. “Why the US May Never Pass a Food Waste Law Like France.” Gizmodo. Gizmodo.com, 05 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 May 2017.

[14] Desk, MintPress News. “Empty Homes Outnumber The Homeless 6 To 1, So Why Not Give Them Homes?” MintPress News. N.p., 02 July 2015. Web. 16 May 2017.

[15] “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.

[16] The Dark Side of Chocolate: Child Trafficking and Illegal Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry. YouTube, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

Cadbury Ethics

In the early twentieth century, the Cadbury Brothers Limited was a prominent chocolate producer in Britain. In 1901, a member of the Cadbury company, William Cadbury, was exposed to the accusation of slavery in his company’s cocoa farms. The situation was such that “he was told that slave labor was used on the island of São Tomé. Shortly thereafter this unsubstantiated comment was given credence when the Cadbury company received an offer of a plantation for sale in São Tomé that listed as assets two hundred black laborers” (Satre 18). With the rumor of slavery existing and having a direct tie to the Cadbury company, William did not immediately conclude that slavery was going on because “he did not equate the labor of São Tomé to that of other forms of slavery reported in Africa” (Satre 19). Cadbury was not incorrect in observing that the labor conditions were different than the historical slavery in Africa, but it was still slavery and leads to the questioning of his ethics.

The slavery in São Tomé was different from other historical forms of slavery in Africa. “Portugal had abolished slavery in all of its colonies, including Angola, in the 1870s, but plantation owners and others still desperately craved workers” (Satre 2). “To satisfy this constant demand for labor, a state-supported system of ‘contract labor’ emerged. Wherein government agents certified that natives could, of their own free will, sign contracts committing themselves to five years of labor at a set wage.” The plantation owners abused these contracts, which lead to slavery. Nevinson, who was researching slavery in West Africa, described several reasons why people might become slaves, including the following:
“[s]ome had broken native customs or Portuguese laws, some had been charged with witchcraft by the medicine man because of a relative died, some sould not pay a fine, some were wiping out an ancestral debt, some had been sold by uncles in poverty, some were indemnity for village wars, some had been raided on the frontier, others had been exchanged for a gun; some had been trapped by Portuguese, others by Bibéan thieves; some were but changing masters” (Satre 7).
The exploitation of labor was in fact slavery, but William Cadbury wanted to be thorough in his obtainment of information because “he wanted to be absolutely fair to the responsible parties on the cocoa plantations and in Portugal” (Satre 19).
In order to come to a definitive conclusion regarding the possibility of slavery in the Cadbury cocoa farms, William Cadbury enlisted the services of Joseph Burtt, who would travel to São Tomé in order to uncover whether the rumors of slavery were true. Before Burtt could begin investigating, he had to first learn Portuguese. Cadbury might of had an expedited report if he had chosen someone who already knew Portuguese, but Burtt eventually found explicit evidence of slavery. When the time came for Burtt to publish his findings, he “added to the delays by pushing, in addition, for a ‘personal and private appeal to the planters’ to ensure they understood’ that the whole question has been taken up from a desire for decent conditions of coloured labour and not from English’ self-righteousness and hypocrisy” (Higgs 135). The delays in the report mounted to the extent that even though Burtt had been commissioned by the Cadbury family in 1905, he did not return to England till 1907. After William Cadbury read Burtt’s report and visted Africa, “he found a system he called ‘slavery in disguise’” (Vertongen).

Meanwhile, another party was uncovering the truth behind the working conditions. Henry Nevison was on an assignment to investigate the working conditions in West Africa. Nevison worked for Harper’s Monthly Magazine and would end up writing “a series of articles and a subsequent book describing slavery in Portuguese West Africa” (Satre 2). He witnessed explicit slavery and periodically published his findings in Britain. Nevison publically called for a boycott of the slave plantations.
With the information from Burtt’s report and the public scrutiny caused by Nevison’s exposure of the slavery conditions and pressure for change, William Cadbury came to the conclusion that a boycott was necessary. “1909, Cadbury Brothers wrote to Fry and Rowntree to recommend that all three firms ‘cease buying S. Thome cocoa’” (Higgs 147). All three firms began the boycott and were particularly effective in Britain because “[a]t the turn of the twentieth century, the British cocoa and chocolate business was dominated by three Quaker-owned firms-Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree-although European companies continued to claim a large part of the British market” (Satre 14). The companies moved their cocoa farms to the Gold Coast in West Africa, where they knew slavery was not employed.

The ethics pertaining to William Cadbury’s actions in combating slavery need to be further examined. A substantial amount of time passed from when he first learned about the labor conditions in the cocoa farms and the action of the Cadbury company to boycott the slave labor being used. William is partly at fault for this delay. Although being prudent and securing a definitive report of the possibility of slavery may be wise, his choosing Burtt was problematic, since the latter had to learn Portuguese before beginning his research. The delays in the publishing of Burtt’s report were the result of Cadbury’s desire to not offend. Ultimately, William Cadbury can be criticized that the developments to end the slavery could have been conducted on an expedited time frame. Another reason for the delay was his not being convinced that the rumored conditions were in fact slavery, due to the differences between it and prior forms in Africa. He wanted more evidence of the exploitation as the Portuguese government even pledged to create better working conditions for the labors. Since “he obviously wanted to believe that the Portuguese government officials were sincere in their promise to enforce the new rules” (Satre 15), Cadbury’s delay in boycotting might be somewhat justified. In conclusion, enlisting Burtt to provide more evidence of slavery and allowing the Portuguese government time to correct the slavery problem are valid reasons for some of the delay in action, and given that the boycott of the slavery did ultimately occur, William Cadbury should not be regarded as unethical.

Works cited

Satre, L. Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business

Higgs, C. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa

Vertongen, D. (Director), & Hargrave, G. (Producer). (2000). Extra Bitter: The Legacy of the Chocolate Islands [Video file]. Filmakers Library. Retrieved May 13, 2017, from Alexander Street.

Naughty but Nice: Gendered Sexualization in Chocolate Advertising

Chocolate is recognized as one of the most craved foods in the world, resulting in the coinage of terms such as chocoholic or chocolate addict. However, going from targeted marketing by most chocolate companies around the world, one would assume that the majority of the chocolate addicts or chocoholics were, women. As soon as a woman takes her first bite, in an advertisement, a sense of ecstasy follows triggered by the chocolate, invariably showing the relationship between women’s sexual pleasure and chocolate. Women’s sexual pleasure, much like the attitude towards chocolate, is considered sinful; the juxtaposition of these two views woven into narratives through chocolate commercials, only solidifies the concept of “naughty but nice” as they objectify women sexually while they are consuming chocolate.

Women tend to be sexually depicted in commercials in two ways, one, in which women are aroused by consuming chocolate, or two, women become attractive to men after they consume chocolate. Below are examples of two ads from Dove and Godiva that exemplify these two categories of portrayal of women in chocolate advertising. 


In both the commercials, chocolate is seen as a sinful treat that women consume. In the first Dove commercial, a woman is being wrapped in chocolate coloured silk as she sighs and savors the luxury of consuming chocolate whilst being wrapped around by a luxurious fabric. It is depicting the after effects of consuming the chocolate whilst showing what a privilege it is to be able to consume chocolate. The background music and noises further alludes to the effect of sexual arousal post consumption and the use of silk in the commercial shows luxury and class, and at the same time, it represents a material that is often used to portray sex. In the Godiva commercial, three women are shown in three different locations wearing long dresses that represent three kinds of Godiva chocolates; dark, milk and white. Three men can be seen gifting chocolates to the women, which in turn sexually arouses the women and thus excites the men. It is interesting to note that the commercial does not show men consuming the chocolate, but only women. In one instance in the commercial, one of the women almost shares the chocolate with the man but then teases him as she eats the whole truffle herself, because she just cannot share it or resist it.

Professor Peter Rogers, from the University of Bristol, explains: “A more compelling explanation lies in our ambivalent attitudes towards chocolate – it is highly desired but should be eaten with restraint”, he further states that “Our unfulfilled desire to eat chocolate, resulting from restraint, is thus experienced as craving, which in turn is attributed to ‘addiction’.” (Rogers, 2007) Women in the above commercials depict this relationship of resistance and indulgence with chocolate, not only through the consumption of chocolate itself but also through their sexual desires. Due to the perception that “nice” women and their sexual pleasures should be restrained as opposed to men’s sexual pleasures, chocolate gives them the narrative, the chance of indulgence, and gives them the opportunity to be “naughty”. Chocolate then starts to show women’s relationship with their own sexual desires, that relies on chocolate to be fueled.

Chocolate, then hence is portrayed to being the food for women by commercials. In contrast, a Burger King commercial shows meat as the food for men, aptly titled “I am Man”. The commercial shows men eating burgers while chanting socially accepted norms that make them men; these are men who are strong and can lift cars and pull heavy weights, men who cannot survive on “chick food” such as quiche. Commercials such as the one by Hungry Man, as well as Mc Donald’s McRib advertisement, show only men, consuming meat products. When catered to men such as the ones that are shown in these commercials, chocolate becomes delicate and feminine. When contrasted, meat becomes the socially accepted food for men while chocolate becomes the socially accepted food for women. 

Without any concrete scientific evidence, chocolate is now widely believed to be craved by women more than men. Dr. Julia Hormes from University of Albany states in her study published in Appetite in 2011 that “half of the women [in the U.S.] who crave chocolate say they do so right around menstruation,”. (Hormes, 2011) Hormes’s study tried to correlate menstruation with chocolate craving however, she arrived at the conclusion that “These biochemical, physiological hypotheses didn’t pan out.”  (Hormes, 2011) Hormes believes that the strong influence of culture, particularly the kind portrayed in commercials plays a role in how women tend to react to chocolate.

In an interview with Kate Bratskeir of Huffington Post, Hormes talks about chocolate marketing, she says;

“Chocolate is marketed as a way for women to deal with negative emotion (like, say, the stress and headaches that come with PMS), Hormes said. It is an “indulgence” because it is an exception to the rule — women who diet and subscribe to a certain ideal of beauty should only consume chocolate when they “need” it.”…“Only in America. In Spain, for example, women don’t report craving chocolate perimensturally nearly as much as women in the U.S. do. It’s not that Spanish women have a different make-up to their cycle, it’s really that tampon and chocolate ads aren’t aired during the same commercial break. In the U.S., it seems, there’s something so strongly feminine about chocolate that fewer men report wanting it. But, “Spanish men are almost as likely to crave chocolate as Spanish women.” In Egypt, neither men nor women really report craving chocolate; “They tend to crave savory foods,” Hormes said.” (Hormes, 2011)

The need that is described above by Hormes is a culturally manufactured one that is fabricated through commercials showing women needing chocolates, specially when it comes to sex.

ferrerorocher
Ferrero Rocher Print ad. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/02/guest-post-sex-desire-and-chocolate-propaganda-research/

Chocolate advertisements not only play into women’s sexual desires but also women’s body image and various insecurities. The above print ad from Ferrero Rocher shows a naked model being tempted by chocolates that are growing from the tree. The ad is attaching the narrative of Eve and the forbidden fruit to chocolate, depicting this woman as a “sinner” for consuming chocolate and having sexual desires. The ad also shows a skinny model indulging in the sinful act of consuming chocolate. The inclusion of a model, gives off an image that makes it okay for women of regular sizes to indulge in chocolate. It shows that women can still be thin and be naughty, and consume chocolate as a guilty pleasure. While talking about the relationship of female body image and chocolate marketing, in his paper, Occidental College student, Jamal Fahim writes,

In order to remain slim and attractive, women must avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories. Images of the ideal body have permeated the minds of many consumers who are inclined to view the body as an object of admiration and a model for self-construction. Moreover, consumer goods may serve to compensate for a person’s “feelings of inferiority, insecurity or loss, or to symbolize achievement, success or power” (Campbell 1995:111)”.

Image
Dove Print ad. https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/12/02/guest-post-sex-desire-and-chocolate-propaganda-research/

Chocolate companies tend to play up various different feelings that Campbell described whilst talking about consumer products, however in most cases those feelings within the wide spectrum from insecurity to success are usually related to sex and women in chocolate advertising. The print Dove advertisement above, for example, associates itself with an insecurity that is often linked with sex, lasting longer. The ad compares indulging the Dove bar to lasting longer while showing the face of a woman who is satisfied.

All the advertisements mentioned above adds to the misconception of chocolate as an aphrodisiac and that it works more on women. The New York Times article, tries to evaluate this claim stating;

“Nowadays, scientists ascribe the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate, if any, to two chemicals it contains. One, tryptophan, is a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal. The other, phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine, is released in the brain when people fall in love. But most researchers believe that the amounts of these substances in chocolate are too small to have any measurable effect on desire. Studies that have looked for a direct link between chocolate consumption and heightened sexual arousal have found none. The most recent study, published in May in the journal Sexual Medicine, looked specifically at women, who are thought to be more sensitive to the effects of chocolate. The researchers, from Italy, studied a random sample of 163 adult women with an average age of 35 and found no significant differences between reported rates of sexual arousal or distress among those who regularly consumed one serving of chocolate a day, those who consumed three or more servings or those who generally consumed none.” (O’ Connor, 2006)

The article concludes by stating that, “if chocolate has any aphrodisiac qualities, they are probably psychological, not physiological” (O’ Connor, 2006).

This psychological perception of chocolate and sex is one that is manufactured by chocolate advertising bringing out various themes that are associated with female sexuality starting from the perception that female sexual desires are akin to a sin, to body image issues that perpetuates women’s need to be slim to various other insecurities associated with sex such as lasting longer or overall satisfaction. Even though the findings and correlation between chocolate and sex are negligible, the marketing for chocolate continues to perpetuate chocolate’s association with sex and its implied special relevance to women’s sexuality as it plays into societal expectations from women, that require them to be and make them more attractive if they are “naughty but nice”.

Work Cited:

Bratskeir, Kate. “This Is Why Women Crave Chocolate, Men Want A Burger” Huffington Post. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/chocolate-craving-pms-men-vegetables_n_6102714.html&gt;

Campbell, Colin. 1995. “The Sociology of Consumption.” Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies. London, England: Routledge.

Fahim, Jamal, “Beyond Cravings: Gender and Class Desires in Chocolate Marketing”. 2010. Sociology Student Scholarship <http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=sociology_student&gt;

Hormes, Julia M, Alix Timko. “All cravings are not created equal. Correlates of menstrual versus non-cyclic chocolate craving”. Appetite. Vol 57. 2011. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21440592&gt;

Lindell, C.  Women and chocolate: A history lesson. Candy Industry, 180(3), 21. 2015

O’Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac”. The New York Times. 2006. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/18real.html&gt;

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women, and Empire. New York: Manchester UP, 2009. 

University of Bristol. “Chocolate Is The Most Widely Craved Food, But Is It Really Addictive?.” ScienceDaily. September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911073921.htm>.

 

Ethnography on Chocolate: Socioeconomic Visual Culture, Mesoamerican Origins, & Contemporary Perspectives

The purpose of this small-scale ethnography is to examine the social significance of chocolate from a cross-cultural perspective. Through interviewing various members of my local community that were born in different regions of Mexico and Central America, I document here their experiences and observances of chocolate.

Experienced through consumption or non-consumption, and observed through their emic perspective, there are underscoring themes exposed amongst the roles in which chocolate has played throughout each of their own lives. Within the context of those personal relationships with chocolate, an interaction between social and economic functions of their state and country may be contemporaneous to their outlook. Although this simultaneity is not always the circumstance, motifs emerge as their uniqueness transpires. Effectually, their contributed insight has actualized a microcosm of chocolates’ socio-cultural diversity and likenesses.

While conducting the interviews with members of my community, the aim was to first listen to their observances, and to then ask questions of clarification to assist in their thought process. The framework of my Q&A was designed this way to acquire a qualitative study, so that this retelling would reflect the individual perspectives of each subject, synchronously providing a glimpse into the societal experience. To depict those experiences through a cultural historical lens, that of which illustrated itself during most of the interviews already, I asked questions about their culture as a whole and how they thought chocolate was generally regarded in their own communities.

This study is not meant to define those relationships, but to highlight multiplicities within these individual cross- cultural accounts. Over reflections of my own and of the human subjects in this ethnographic study, I hope to provide sufficient ­imagery of historic milieu within the functional roles chocolate has played in personal experience and in society.

Origins

Theobroma Cacao, or the Food-of-the-God’s Cacao, is widely accepted by botanists and scholars as indigenous to Mesoamerica. Evidence of its cultivation is indicative of the role it played in ancient civilizations like the Mixe-Zoquean-speaking Olmecs (1500 BCE – 400 BCE). At the famed Olmec archaeological site in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, evidence has been found of the term “Kakawa” used by the Olmec as early as 1000 BCE (Coe & Coe, 1996). See on the map below, San Lorenzo is west of present day Guatemala, and north of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico.

 

San Lorenzo on the map 2
San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán is a famed archaeological site, well known for the massive Olmec stone heads excavated there

 

We find in the archaeological record, the ways in which early civilizations illustrated cacao, or “Kakawa” on their pottery. This being a significant attribute to understand the role chocolate played in their livelihoods and rituals. According to Maricel Presilla in her book, The New Taste of Chocolate, “it was the Maya who brought chocolate making to a high art… building on the foundation left behind by other Mesoamerican cultures”, like that of the Olmecs and other sibling tribes (2009).

 

FullSizeRender (4)
Buenavista vase, Buenavista del Cayo, Belize

 

See this Classic Maya vase from the seventh century portraying the Maize God in an “unending dance, symbolizing both the creation of the universe and also his cycle of death and rebirth” (Takushi, Pioneer Press).

Maya Classic period (250 – 900 CE) vessels show quite literally the function of cacao as it was for drinking, as well as the relative role it played in Mayan life though various representations of the divine.

This is one of the many Classic period vessels that was found to contain cacao residues inside. We know it was used to hold chocolate because cacao is the only plant in the region with both the compounds Theobromine and Caffeine, “a unique marker for the presence of cacao in pre-Columbian artifacts” (Cheong, 2011). To verify the vessels were used to hold chocolate was an important piece to the archaeological record. It provided contextual knowledge when deciphering the imagery or glyphs depicted on the vessels.

Affirmed in the glyphs of drinking vessels from this period, there is evidence of “well established cacao-chocolate terminology”. On the Buenavista vase shown above, we see “tree-fresh cacao” inscribed.  From the Primary Standard Sequence (PSS) of the glyphs you see banded around the top of the vessel, the characters that make the Maya name for cacao, “Ka-Ka-Wa” were deciphered. What strikes me the most about this piece is the seemingly relative “tree-fresh cacao” to the Maize God’s cyclical existence. (Presilla, 2009)

FullSizeRender
Buenavista vase closeup: Maya glyphs depicted translate to “tree-fresh cacao”, “Ta-Tsih-Te’el Kakawa” (Prescilla)

I particularly find this vessel so interesting when we look at the role of chocolate in culture because it reflects a cyclical ideology of their ecological relationship to their land; in the sustenance it provides, the concept of time through death and rebirth, and their Gods all-encompassing role within those cycles.

Field Study

A few years ago in 2013 I came to know a few young men and women from the northern Mexican state of Sonora – (follow the link to read a brief history of Seri Indians of Sonora). They were working and studying here on visa’s while we were employed at a busy restaurant in the heart of downtown Boston. What better place than behind the bar to nose around and pick into people’s lives for cultural insights! Just kidding on the nose-picking… but seriously, even minute conversations with guests created thought-provoking observations. During their multiple terms of residency in Boston over the years, these talented intellectual Sonoran natives and I connected on Mexican – American culture alike, and apart. Upon reaching out to ask if anyone would be interested in participating in this modest ethnographic study, my request was received most graciously. They have all elected to omit fully identifying information, so for the purposes of this study, I will refer to them by their first name only. Below I have included their perspectives on the role chocolate has played throughout their lives.

Andrés began by explaining Mexico as a large country where the culture is full of diversity. “Every state has their own culture about everything – food, traditional parties, our dialect and slang”. With that being said, in the state of Sonora where he lives he doesn’t use chocolate and cacao the way he knows it is used in the southern states of the country like Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, and Tabasco. Andrés has observed the influence of cacao beans in southern Mexico because the cacao growing region produces a lot of recipes that involve cacao and chocolate.

When I asked what he knows about Mesoamerican uses for cacao, he remembers learning from childhood that they used it as currency, and he understood they sometimes would use it in beauty treatments. On that note, I recollect a fortuitous conversation about skin care had between myself and a female of Mexican ancestry I met while servicing wedding hair and makeup to her cousin’s bridal party, circa summer 2015 in East Boston – Indeed, I am not only an aspiring Anthropologist, also a Cosmetologist. My thoughts are usually occupied by anthropological inquiry on a daily basis, which inevitably grants unique opportunity for cultural discussions with the people I meet. Although not a part of this ethnography, she let me know back then about her family recipe for a skin care regimen that contains cacao. Her grandmother and her aunts would grind down cacao beans into a powder, “cocoa powder” minus the hydraulic press. They would mix the antioxidant rich powder with other grinded down local herbs, add water to create a paste-like texture and apply generously to the skin.

“Lather. Dry. Rinse. Repeat.” – she persisted. Yum.

untitled.png
The Spa At Hotel Hershey seems to know just how to indulge all the senses with chocolate

 

For the purposes of this study, I was curious about chocolate in spa treatments, as I have heard echoes of the luxury before. Take a look at The Spa At The Hotel Hershey or examples of just a few contemporary accommodations created for chocolate in the beauty industry.

Andrés expressed to me that Sonora being just below Arizona, his culture is more- so “American” than the way Mexicans live in the south. It is in his experience and observation the misconception of Mexican culture as being one. I think any educated person understands culture, language, economy, etc. vary across spaces of human population. Yet, for those who generalize a nation’s people by its borders, Andrés and his community experience the bias. He grew up with a collection of influences “by the things Americans do”. For example, one of his earliest memories of eating chocolate was during Halloween. They’re also heavily influenced by “spring break madness”, as he defined the season. He grew up consuming chocolate predominantly made by the big corporations, like Mars. His notable favorites being the Snicker and M&Ms. “In the south they don’t have that influence, they don’t experience American Halloween as we do”.

Carlos V chocolate bars are the Nestlé- proclaimed “# 1 chocolate brand in Mexico with over 70 years in the market!… Because of its unique and mild flavor, it is considered the reference of chocolate for Mexicans.” The Aztec stylized imagery first designed to brand the chocolate before it was bought by Nestlé sometime in the 1980’s was created by Fabrica de Chocolates La Azteca, S.A. de C.V. Jason Liebig on his blog, Collecting Candy chronicles his findings in the L.M. Kallok Confectioners Collection of antique packaging. Most notable about the evolution of the branding is first the Aztec styling alongside the “Imperial Coat of Arms” for “by the grace of God, Carolus V Imperator (emporer)”. Then with the English labeling introduced we see a change in the ingredients as well (which was apparent of each label seen in Leibig’s compilation from the beginning to the end. “A tie-in with the film Toy Story, which tells us La Azteca was still the brand’s sole owner as late as 1995″ is interesting where we see Quaker Oats leaving its insignia on the label by the late 1990’s.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not one of the Sonoran’s I interviewed has tried a Carlos V chocolate bar but they have all heard of it at some point in their life through advertisements. Eduardo attests to Andrés’ personal account of diversity from the southern regions in Mexico. Dia de los Muertos is “not celebrated as much as the south, but we do things like going to the cemetery”, Andrés says. Eduardo told me that they celebrate Dia de los Muertos on November 2. “We celebrate in memory of the people who are no longer with us and usually at the tombstones we put special things they liked when they were alive. Chocolates is usually one of them”. Both Andrés and Eduardo did not have a definitive sense of the historical reason for chocolate being placed on gravesites, but they both know it as a long- standing tradition and ritual in celebrating their deceased ancestors. Fernanda, another Sonoran native, added some insight to this practice of memorial. She told me that usually the graveyards are managed by local churches or publicly owned so in contrast to the majority of graveyards that are privately owned in the US, the families play a greater role in gravesite maintenance of their deceased. In this way, chocolate serves a social function in their celebrations.

Interpretations

Shown below, Dr. Martin presented in class this semester some of the ways Maya and Mixtec society visually depicted the functions that cacao played within their cultural practices and belief systems. Royal marriages necessitated the use of currency in the negotiation, so we see in the Codex Nuttall how cacao was a part of the price for the bride. Eduardo remembers learning in school that Mayans used to used the cacao “as a coin to buy everything, from goods to wives”. A relative topic for further study would be in the ways chocolate was introduced to the elite. Diffused out of Mesoamerica first by the Spanish, the Europeans assimilated to its royal regard and used chocolate in the women’s dowry through royal inter-marriages – that of which played a great role in spreading chocolate throughout Europe.

Another example (seen below) comes from the Madrid Codex where we see cacao being exchanged, portraying a give-and-take linkage between their concepts of cyclical time (lunar goddess) and their environment (rain god). I find this imagery especially expressive to their belief of the divine relationship to their human existence and sustenance on earth. Lastly, from the Codex Nuttall we see a royal funerary procession in “Twelve Movements”. Within the tomb depicted at the bottom right of the artwork lies a “vessel of foaming cacao beverage… to ease the soul’s journey to the underworld”. (Martin)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Eduardo recounts drinking cups of hot chocolate since he can remember. While traveling south to Puebla state he tried their “typical meal, mole, and it’s made of cacao”. What he knows about the Maya and cacao is how they used to prepare beverages and meals like the Puebla “mole”. “We have different tribes and culture but we learned about it in school and I experiences it myself while traveling south. Cacao is still a huge deal in south Mexico.”

 

FullSizeRender (3)
“Mole” Ingredients. Presilla, 2009

 

See the dozen or more ingredients to make the traditional “thick, baroque sauce, mole” from Xalapa, Veracruz (Presilla), north of Puebla state in Mexico. Presilla notes that each ingredient is “processed in sequence, each at its own time” (2009).

As the mole is diverse in ingredients, and rich in unique Mesoamerican culture, so too – as these contemporary perspectives have illustrated, are the people of the region diversely interwoven with it’s history and unique place on Earth’s sphere.

***

 

Sources:

Campbell, Lyle & Kaufman, Terrence. 1976. A Linguistic Look at the Olmecs: American Antiquity, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jan., 1976), pp. 80-89 Published by: Society for American Archaeology http://www2.hawaii.edu/~lylecamp/LC%20Lx%20look%20at%20Olmecs%20JSTOR.pdf

Cheong, Kong (Powis, T.; Cyphers, A.; Gaikwad, T.W.; Grivetti, L.) 2011. Cacao use and the San Lorenzo Olmec: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). 108(21):8595-600 · May 2011 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51110764_Cacao_Use_and_the_San_Lorenzo_Olmec

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. 2013 [1996] The True History of Chocolate. 3rd edition. London: Thames & Hudson

Johnston, Bernice. 1997. The Seri Indians of Sonora Mexico. The University of Arizona Press http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/onlinebks/SERIS/HISTORY.HTM

Liebig, Jason. 2012. Carlos V – Building a history for the King of Chocolate Bars http://www.collectingcandy.com/wordpress/?p=2958

Martin, Carla. 2017 AAAS E-119 Lecture Slides. February 1st, pp.23, 47, 53, 57

Mintz, Sidney. 1986 [1985] Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books

Morton, Marcia and Frederic. 1986 Chocolate, An Illustrated History Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, NY

Nestlé. 2017. https://www.nestle.com.mx/brands/carlos-v

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology: Harvard University. 2017. https://www.peabody.harvard.edu/node/287

Presilla, Maricel. 2009 The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Smithsonian Institute. 2017. Olmec Stone Heads photo: http://anthropology.si.edu/olmec/english/sites/sanLorenzo.htm

Takushi, Scott (Pioneer Press). 2013, December 17. Museum of Belize and House of Culture: NEWSEUM Blog Spot: Belize’s Maya Collection on Displayhttps://mobnmoc.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/belizes-maya-collection-on-display/mayaex1/

Unknown photographer; featured image. 2016, October – November. Nexos. https://americanwaymagazine.com/cacao-route

Unknown photographer; chocolate as beauty regimen image. 2017. The Spa At The Hotel Hershey. http://www.chocolatespa.com/treatments/signature/chocolate.php

Faulty Fair Trade: The Hidden Realities of Fair Trade Chocolate

In today’s interconnected world, one’s decisions are no longer decisions merely. Every choice is a statement, a declaration of personal values. For example, purchasing a Prius or installing solar panels can reveal your stance regarding the state of the environment. In a similar fashion, purchasing Fair Trade certified chocolate provides an option for chocolate lovers to enjoy a delicious treat while contributing to the well-being of cacao farmers and indirectly shunning “bad” chocolate companies that utilize modern day slave labor. In fact, one research showed that consumers sought the Fair Trade label to a point that they were willing to purchase the same amount of certified Fair Trade chocolate each year, even after an increase in prices (Hainmeuller 23).

Above: Promotion of Fair Trade chocolate for Valentine’s Day. The Fair Trade brand has become a part of consumer decision making.

Thus, the demand for Fair Trade is clearly present. In theory, Fair Trade helps cacao farmers “build better livelihoods for themselves, their families and communities” (Fair Trade Briefing 10). More specifically, Fair Trade aims to stabilize incomes for cacao farmers, whose livelihoods fluctuate in response to the volatility of chocolate prices[1] (Ibid 11). For example, Fair Trade guarantees a “minimum price of $2,000/tonne for Fairtrade certified cocoa beans, or the market price if higher” and works to ensure that “forced labour and child labour are prohibited” (Ibid). According to Fair Trade such measures “[help] producer organisations and farmers weather low and unstable markets by encouraging greater access to financing, relationship building between buyers and sellers, and improved contract terms” (Ibid 17). But is the existing consumer demand for Fair Trade chocolate feeding a truly “fair” system? While the Fair Trade theory is desirable, the realities are much less so. Despite Fair Trade’s efforts, cacao farmers continue to struggle with chocolate pricing, costs of obtaining Fair Trade certification, and ambiguity of Fair Trade standards in cultural contexts.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 8.18.14 PM
The ideal results of Fair Trade Chocolate

Fair Trade’s claim on providing cocoa farmers with better prices has been questioned in recent years. Entrepreneurship lecturers Alex Nicholls and Charlotte Opal point out that returns are “marginal at best, non-existent at worst,” and that “a typical Fair Trade chocolate bar only returns about 4% of its final price to the producer” (Nicholls 29). Seventy% founder Martin Christy, founder of Seventy%[2], stated that “the Fairtrade premium—about $400 per tonne of cacao—is not enough to make much difference to farmers lives and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that not much of that actually reaches the real farmers” (Ramsey). Christy adds, “if you do the the maths backwards from a £1.30 100g Fairtrade bar there’s no way, once you’ve taken off all the margins, that the farmer is getting enough to live on” (Ibid).

According to a transnational investigation hosted by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters, farmer testimonials support Christy’s claims. Frédéric Doua—owner of a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast—revealed that his harvested product often sits in warehouses, waiting for the occasional Fair Trade buyer to come along (Fair 6). According to Doua, he was hoping for “higher prices and welfare premiums,” but instead became “overly dependent on cocoa prices and Fair Trade buyers” (Ibid). This is due to the fact that “as a member of a FAIRTRADE-certified cooperative, one ‘cannot sell beans outside the FAIRTRADE circuit’” (Ibid). In other words, even if Fair Trade can provide better prices (which Nicholls and Christy have shown isn’t necessarily true), they do not guarantee consistent purchases, despite forcing farmers to sacrifice their freedom to choose their buyers.

But restriction on clientele is only one of the many hoops Fair Trade farmers must jump through. In the first place, gaining Fair Trade certification is a challenge for many cocoa producers. Economist Peter Griffiths notes that “the costs of achieving certification are an unavoidable negative impact” (Griffiths 363). Farmers are expected to pay fees for receiving certification (Certification). For a small farming cooperative of just twenty workers, such a fee can run upwards of $5,000 (Ibid). In addition, Fair Trade does not cover the costs incurred by farmers in order for them to meet Fair Trade standards. A major Fair Trade requirement is the use of sustainable agricultural practices (Brodersen). Thus, cocoa producers that use herbicides must switch to manual weeding, which usually results in higher wage costs. In such cases, Fair Trade does not compensate farmers accordingly (Griffiths 363).

Two additional issues exacerbate the cost problem of Fair Trade certification. The first is that Fair Trade is “unable to certify the total production of registered organizations” (Muradian 2033). For example, in 2001 only about 13% of total production was sold as Fair Trade, thereby resulting in “a large gap between potential and actual certified sales” (Ibid). Farmers’ fears of certification costs are usually sated by projected sales, which are based on selling annual production in its entirety as Fair Trade. However, the reality of partial certification sales causes farmers to rarely restore the money used in order to pay for Fair Trade certification in the first place. The second problem is the lack of a strong regulatory force on Fair Trade’s part. Mislabelling—when non Fair Trade products are sold as “fair trade”—is a rampant problem, allowing non-certified products to enjoy the benefits of price premiums (Parry). The global nature of the chocolate market makes label enforcement difficult, which means that real Fair Trade certified farmers aren’t protected. One seller might lie about being “fair trade,” which is unfair for the producers who had to spend their own money to officially earn Fair Trade certification.

An unexpectedly ambiguous source of contention is Fair Trade’s policy on child labour. Simply stated, Fair Trade has zero tolerance for child labour, especially in a production process as risk-heavy as cacao farming (Child). Injuries from the use of tools such as machetes are common, as well as illnesses caused by contact with various agricultural chemicals (Alliot 10). The confusion arises from determining the line between child labor and family labor. According to Fair Trade:

A major cause of the use of child labour is poverty: farmers receive such low prices for their produce that they can’t afford to pay hired workers. Even where farmers want their children to attend school, this is often hampered by poor availability of education in rural areas, and parents not being able to afford to buy schoolbooks or pay teachers. (Fair Trade Briefing 8)

But from farmers’ perspectives, Fair Trade’s child labour regulations are what leads to such “poverty” (Ibid). Without the help of family members, farmers simply cannot harvest enough to pay for their children’s school fees (Etahoben 16). Furthermore, the generalization that any child participating in work—even if that work is the family business—is considered a violation of Fair Trade values seems excessive. A Cameroonian farm owner Dat Williams explained: “When it is time to break the cocoa pods, I collect my children and any family children around at the time and take them to the farm to help. This is considered as part of the household chores children do to help their parents” (Ibid). Etahoben added “It was an exciting experience when we, as kids, were taken to the farms to break the cocoa, suck the seeds and drink the juice from the pods. We considered it part of becoming a responsible family member” (Ibid). While no parent should get away with abusing children and placing them at risk, the issue of child labour requires greater scrutiny and careful judgment so as to prevent unintended harm caused by good intentions.

 

File:Chuao 003.JPG
A child helping with the cacao harvest. The boundaries between familial work and child labour are sometimes unclear.

With Fair Trade no longer being a clear-cut good, and standard chocolate brands already having been criticized for unsustainable business practices, who can consumers turn to? Organizations like Direct Cacao, founded in 2012, are attempting to provide alternatives to the Fair Trade model. Whereas Fair Trade requires cocoa producers to essentially become members of a global organization and work under standardized guidelines, Direct Cacao works directly with small farmers and create specific relationships based on individualized circumstances (Declaration). Without a singular structure and a set of regulations that apply universally, this direct interaction model does run the risk of creating inconsistent standards. In addition, the process of following each producer through their cocoa production and discussing the best price is time-consuming and in many cases, expensive. The time and money costs can limit the range at which direct interaction can have an impact. However, as Direct Cacao points out, this new approach frees farmers from having to meet Fair Trade standards that aren’t universally easy to achieve.

Another alternative to Fair Trade is an alternative trading organization (ATO). ATOs share the goals of the Fair Trade movement, but each ATO takes its own approach to achieving those goals (Abufarha). Alter Eco, a France-based company founded in 1988, is a representative example of an ATO. All of Alter Eco’s chocolate is Fair Trade certified, but the organization also pursues particular principles that are not apparent in the Fair Trade’s broader manifesto. For example, Alter Eco places a special emphasis on gender equity within the chocolate industry (Alter). While the Fair Trade movement has a general mission to improve the well-being of cacao producers, they are not as specific as Alter Eco’s. Because Alter Eco is part of the Fair Trade movement but doesn’t manage every source of Fair Trade cocoa, they are more mobile and better equipped to place more focus on individual producers. In essence, ATOs are a compromise between Fair Trade and Direct Cacao.

It’s important to note that the presence of such alternatives does not necessarily mean that Fair Trade has failed. Fair Trade’s ideology comes from a desire to help people and create a more sustainable world. Despite the problems discussed above, there are plenty of success stories with Fair Trade—as there should be, given its 70-year history. Still, consumers should approach products with a critical mind. It’s not enough to claim one’s participation in ethical consumerism simply by purchasing a Fair Trade chocolate bar. Without proper scrutiny, the Fair Trade brand will quickly fall from being a symbol for change to being a pawn of consumerism, manipulating the consumers’ guilt complex and desire to “feel good.” In the case of Fair Trade, the organization as a whole should work to ensure stable income over higher per unit prices, redirect cocoa premium investments toward children’s education—thereby alleviating parents’ concerns regarding school fees—and implementing an organized regulatory force that effectively prevents others from taking advantage of the Fair Trade label, so as to protect the investment and hard work of farmers toward Fair Trade certification.

Works Cited

“About.” Seventy%. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2017.

Abufarha, Nasser. “Alternative Trade Organizations and the Fair Trade Movement.” Fair World Project. N.p., 2013. Web. 09 May 2017.

Alliot, Christophe, Matthias Cortin, Marion Feige-Muller, and Sylvain Ly. The Dark Side of Chocolate: An Analysis of the Conventional, Sustainable and Fair Trade Cocoa Chains. Rep. N.p.: Bureau for the Appraisal of Societal Impacts and Costs, n.d. Print.

“Alter Eco Nourishing Foodie, Farmer and Field.” Alter Eco Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.

Brodersen, Pernille Louise. How Fair is Fairtrade? Thesis. Copenhagen Business School, 2013. Copenhagen: n.p., 2013. Print.

“Certification fees.” FLOCERT. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2017.

“Child and Forced Labour.” Fairtrade International (FLO): Child and Forced Labour. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

“Declaration.” Direct Cacao. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2017.

Etahoben, Chief Bisong, Bjinse Dankert, Janneke Donkerlo, Selay Kouassi, Benjamin Tetteh, and Aniefiok Udonquak. The FAIRTRADE Chocolate Rip-off. Rep. Ed. Evelyn Groenink. N.p.: n.p., 2012. Print.

Griffiths, Peter. “Ethical Objections to Fairtrade.” Journal of Business Ethics 105 (2012): 357-73. Print.

Hainmueller, Jens. Consumer Demand for the Fair Trade Label: Evidence from a Multi-Store Field Experiment. Diss. Stanford U, 2014. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Muradian, Roldan, and Wim Pelupessy. “Governing the Coffee Chain: The Role of Voluntary Regulatory Systems.” World Development 33.12 (2005): 2029-044. Web.

Nicholls, Alex, and Charlotte Opal. Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption. London: Sage, 2011. Print.

Parry, Hannah. “Beware the Fairtrade fraudsters: Shoppers warned to watch out for produce with fake labels as criminals attempt to cash in on premiums on ‘ethical’ goods.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 06 May 2015. Web. 9 May 2017.

Ramsey, Dom. “How Fair Is Fairtrade Chocolate?” Chocablog. N.p., 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 8 May 2017.

[1] Some of the causes behind price volatility are: political instability in cacao producing countries, variable weather, and changes in supply and demand (Fair Trade Briefing 5)

[2] Seventy% is an organization founded in 2001 whose aim is “to raise awareness of the quality and origin of the chocolate we eat” (About)

The Invisible Influence of Women in the Production of Chocolate

The preparation of chocolate is a realm that has historically been dominated by women. In ancient Mesoamerican societies, women would prepare a chocolate drink by drying, roasting, and grinding cacao beans. The resulting paste was then mixed with water and maize and repeatedly poured from one vessel to another in order to create a frothy top layer. Though consumed by both men and women, Mayan and Aztec cultures emphasized consumption of this chocolate drink by men, as it provided warriors with energy during long treks and battles. It was also consumed by men, including the groom and the bride’s father, during wedding negotiations (Coe & Coe, 2013).

This ancient history placing women as the producers of chocolate and men as the consumers contradicts current notions of chocolate making, which feature men as the producers of the sweet and women as the primary consumers. Thousands of ads around the world push the message that women rabidly crave chocolate products, going to extreme lengths to get them and becoming increasingly aroused when consuming chocolate. The following video shows a man turning into chocolate after using chocolate-scented Axe Body Spray. Nearly every woman he passes becomes unable to control herself, with one woman even taking a bite out of his pants on public transportation.

Despite the extremes that these women appear to go to for the rich delicacy, preparation of chocolate is not included in any of their actions. Of course, chocolate companies have little reason to advertise their preparation of chocolate for consumers since they are selling already prepared chocolate for consumers. In fact, many large companies endeavor to keep their preparation methods a secret from competitors, going so far as to hire detectives to investigate potential employees to weed out spies from other companies and having all workers sign confidentiality agreements before beginning work (Brenner, 2000). Yet even when company advertisements include idealized portrayals of preparation methods, women are noticeably sparse. The following commercial by Lindt Chocolate shows “Lindts master chocolatiers,” all of whom are male, preparing their signature chocolate truffles. The next scene shows attractive women sensually consuming these truffles. Not only does this commercial play on stereotypes of men’s and women’s roles in chocolate production and consumption, but it also reinforces these stereotypes by eliminating contact between the male chocolatiers and the female consumers.

Commercials like these, which push the notion that women do not make chocolate but only consume it, reflect and reinforce societal notions of what professional chocolatiers look like. The International Chocolate Awards 2016 World Final granted 151 awards, out of a total of 263 awards—almost three fifths of its awards—to male chocolatiers; only 50 awards went female chocolatiers. The remaining 62 went to companies that didn’t list the head chocolatier or listed both a male and a female chocolatier (International Chocolate Awards, 2016).

The lack of women working and being acknowledged as professional chocolatiers reflects the larger societal issue of women being underrepresented in traditionally male occupations, including that of professional chefs. The job of professional chef, however, seems to be inherently contradictory. Traditionally, across many cultures, women have occupied the domestic sphere, which included the preparation of food for the family. Whenever men were involved in the preparation of food, it was a much more public—and thus more important—affair than home cooking, such as the preparation of meals for ancient Egyptian royalty or the ritualistic sacrifice and preparation of meat by priests (Harris & Giuffre, 2015). Compare these examples to modern ideas of the male realms of food preparation, including celebrity chefs and outdoor barbeques, and the evolution of modern notions of gendered spheres of cooking become apparent.

Harris and Giuffre, 2015, note that as men began working for wages, women’s “unpaid labor in the home became defined as unproductive.” When women finally did begin entering the workforce, the jobs they were given were often assistant jobs to men (e.g. secretary to businessman, nurse to doctor, flight attendant to pilot, etc.) and were much less valued than the jobs performed by men. In addition, women were still expected to complete their domestic duties, including the nourishment of families.

In the same pattern, as men began earning wages for professional cooking and other food-related jobs, domestic cooking became devalued. Despite the fact that male chefs were originally seen as a servant class, preparing food for elites, personal chefs were a sign of wealth, positioning their culinary expertise above that of homemakers. The first personal chef to garner celebrity status was Marie Antoine Careme, who is credited with separating the importance of medicinal properties from food served in restaurants and emphasizing, instead, the artistic value of food (Harris & Giuffre, 2015). With the fall of aristocracy, personal chefs turned to restaurants to showcase their creative works. These centers of gastronomic indulgence became associated with promiscuity, and as such were deemed inappropriate for women to not only work in, but also enter (Ferguson, 2006).

Despite the devaluation of women’s work, the emergence of professional cooking as a male occupation was very much dependent on the knowledge of women in the domestic sphere. Rural women, often faced with scarce resources, combined whatever was available to create flavorful and diverse meals. “Despite this inventiveness and creative innovation by domestic women cooks, most historians of food and cooking, both male and female, focus almost exclusively on the ‘great culinary achievements’ of famous male chefs and gastronomes,” (Swinbank, 2002).

The dependence on women’s knowledge of food extends into the chocolate industry as well. During the colonization of Mesoamerica by Spain, many Spanish men often took indigenous wives, who were in charge of domestic duties in the household, including the preparation of chocolate (Norton, 2006). As argued by Norton, 2006, “Europeans unwittingly developed a taste for Indian chocolate, and they sought to re-create the indigenous chocolate experience.” The experience that Europeans sought to recreate was based entirely on the chocolate recipes of indigenous women. Additionally, some chocolate makers of the Bean-to-Bar movement have pushed for a return to these indigenous recipes in modern chocolate placing more traditional ingredients in their bars, highlighting the lasting impact that indigenous women have had on the product.

Another example of the influence of women’s knowledge in the production of chocolate is that of the Mars Corporation. Frank Mars’s first ventures into the candy industry were built on confections he made using his mother’s personal recipes. Although his first attempts at the candy business failed, the main ingredient of his signature creation, the Milky Way, is the nougat he made using his mother’s knowledge. Although the bar has undergone many changes since it first hit the market, the initial success of the Milky Way is undeniable, bringing in nearly $800,000 in sales its first year, the equivalent of over $11 million today (Brenner, 2000).

While the devaluation of women’s cooking has contributed to the underrepresentation of female chefs, and subsequently, of female chocolatiers, the positioning of women as consumers of chocolate rather than producers of chocolate in advertisements, as noted above, has also played a large role. Advertisements for chocolate have targeted women since the early twentieth century. Many of these early advertisements appeal to notions of heterosexual romance, implying that chocolate gifts for women were the best way to show affection (Robertson, 2009). These advertisements formed the foundation of the stereotype of the irrational woman who can only be calmed down with chocolate.

During the 1960s, a different sort of advertisement began to appear. Taking advantage of the second-wave feminist movement, these advertisements featured more independent women. Companies began to appeal to women’s newfound financial independence (Nutter, 2009). The women of these advertisements were consumers completely who were unapologetic about enjoying chocolates, as in the example below. They also appealed to more relaxed attitudes about women’s sexuality, serving as precursors to modern advertisements such as the Axe commercial shown earlier.

5d0qwsh7fw7lzf

Presently, advertisements continue to play off of ideas and stereotypes set up by advertisements created nearly a century ago. These stereotypes contribute to the barriers that women face in the world of chocolate. The 2009 film, Kings of Pastry, documents the competition for the Meilleur Ouvrier de France, France’s most prestigious award for professional craft trades. A scene from the movie is shown below. Notably, not only are the head chefs all male, but so are the assistant chefs.

The production of haute chocolate is a relatively new phenomenon seeking to distance itself from mass-produced cheap chocolates. The movement melds art with chocolate to create new experiences, both visually and gastronomically, for consumers. Haute chocolatiers create massive and beautiful sculptures and include some of the world’s most expensive ingredients. The following video shows Chef Marc Guibert’s chocolate pudding, which doubles as a replica of a Faberge egg.

Haute chocolatiers include world-renown culinary experts as well as small chocolate producers hoping to increase the quality of chocolate available to consumers. Despite the wide range of advocates, however, women in haute chocolate are sorely underrepresented. This conceals the influence that women have had in the preparation of chocolate throughout history, and speaks to a larger societal problem about the lack of women in professions traditionally reserved for men.

Although the International Food Awards awarded less than one fifth of its awards to women owned and run chocolate companies, the contributions that women have made to the field of chocolate are immense. The positioning of women as consumers of chocolate in advertisements as well as the exclusion of women in the realm of professional cooking have contributed to the scarcity of female chocolatiers. As women begin to gain traction in fields that were traditionally reserved for men, the number of female chocolatiers receiving recognition through these awards will likely increase as well.

 

Works Cited

Brenner, J. G. (2000). The emperors of chocolate: Inside the secret world of Hershey and Mars. Broadway.

Coe, S. D., Coe, M. D., & Huxtable, R. J. (2013). The true history of chocolate. London: Thames and Hudson.

Ferguson, P. P. (2006). Accounting for taste: The triumph of French cuisine. University of Chicago Press.

Harris, D. A., & Giuffre, P. (2015). Taking the heat: Women chefs and gender inequality in the professional kitchen. Rutgers University Press.

International Chocolate Awards. (2016). World Final Winners – 2016. Retrieved from http://www.internationalchocolateawards.com/2016/10/world-final-winners-2016/

Norton, M. (2006). Tasting empire: chocolate and the European internalization of Mesoamerican aesthetics. The American Historical Review, 111(3), 660-691.

Nutter, K. B. (2008). From romance to PMS: Images of women and chocolate in twentieth-century America. Edible ideologies: Representing food and meaning, 201.

Robertson, E. (2009). Chocolate, women and empire: a social and cultural history. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Swinbank, V. A. (2002). The sexual politics of cooking: a feminist analysis of culinary hierarchy in western culture. Journal of Historical Sociology, 15(4), 464-494.

 

Image sources

Image 1: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/182044009910644909/

 

 

Tackling Terroir in Chocolate

For this blogpost, I was curious to explore the idea of terroir as it pertains to chocolate. “Terroir” is, literally, the French word for soil or land and can be defined as “the conditions in which a food is grown or produced and that give the food its unique characteristics.” [i]  According to Kristy Leissle, “cocoa beans, like wine grapes, produce distinct flavors depending on strain and terroir, and showcasing that flavor is the goal of single origin chocolate.” [ii]

Of course, as discussed throughout our chocolate class (Karla Martin, personal communication) the final taste of chocolate is determined by many factors. The taste can be influenced by the type of cacao and where it is grown but can also be influenced by the type of cacao tree, how the cacao beans are fermented and dried and how it is processed. How is it roasted? Is it conched and for how long? Are other ingredients added?  A description of the kinds of factors that influence chocolate flavor can be found here: [iii]  But despite those questions, I was curious to explore what differences we would taste in chocolate bars whose beans were sourced from different countries.

So I took myself off to Whole Foods in Dedham – one of the largest Whole Foods I have ever visited. There I faced an enormous and bewildering display of chocolate: 3 full banks of shelves – ½ of an entire aisle – entirely devoted to chocolate, none of it mass market. I employed the following criteria to restrict my choices:

  • Must be at least 70% chocolate
  • No added ingredients other than sweetener, vanilla, emulsifier
  • Package must state the cacao is sourced from a certain geographic area.

I ended up with 7 bars of chocolate to taste, from 6 different areas: Ghana, Dominican Republic Madegascar, Tanzania, Haiti, and Ecuador. Only one was made in the country of origin. The others were produced in Germany, Massachusetts, Belgium, and Switzerland.

What I found at Whole Foods bears out Leissle’s statement that even though the majority of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, most single single origin chocolate bars are sourced from other regions. She suggests that this is likely because the quality of West African chocolate is often not high. The one bar I found from West Africa was from Ghana. Ghanaian chocolate, which is regulated by a national Cocoa Board is considered the best of the West African chocolate. (Leissle). Tight regulation may be the reason that it is higher quality, but it can also make it difficult for manufacturers to source enough chocolate from Ghana to create single-origin bars. Another issue with West African chocolate is that it is often tainted in the public mind by allegations of child and slave labor, which could affect sales.

Interestingly, all of these chocolates bore a special certification of one kind or another, indicating that the buyer was not just buying chocolate to eat, but also contributing to social good with the purchase. Certifications included Fair trade, Fair for life, direct trade, whole trade.  As Ndongo S. Sylla suggests in his critique of Fair Trade, it is as if “poverty itself has become a commodity. Through this label, it is the idea and the approach that are being sold…The irony is that the new advocates of the poor unknowingly work for the rich, being themselves part of this category.” [iv] The packaging suggests that with your purchase you have become a “compassionate consumer” as Martin and Sampeck [v] label it, and so you can feel good about yourself because you are meeting the needs of others when you spend your money, often justifying a higher price. Of course, one doesn’t know how much of that premium actually reaches the farmer. It’s almost a side benefit to one’s good work in buying the chocolate, that it may also be delicious.

All but two of the bars were organic, and this also seems to play into the idea of doing good with your dollars. The packaging materials themselves are organic-looking/earthy-crunchy with non-shiny paper and arty graphics. Julie Guthman, in her history of the development of organic salad mix (“yuppie chow”), says “eating organic salad mix connoted a political action in its own right, legitimizing a practice that few could afford.”[vi] This notion of eating as a political action could also be applied to organic chocolate. However, as Williams and Eber point out in Raising the Bar [vii], organic chocolate isn’t necessarily the best chocolate. Furthermore, organic certification is an expensive proposition for a small cocoa farmer because the land must come out of production for 3 years and getting a certificate costs money. The premium that organic chocolate can demand tends not to come to the farmer. Furthermore, much cocoa actually is in essence organic, though not certified as such, because many farmers cannot afford pesticides. So how much good are you really doing by buying organic chocolate?

For this project, I convened an after-dinner tasting panel of 3 foodies: myself (a prolific cook-gardener), my friend Emily (an artist/social worker who generally prefers milk chocolate to dark chocolate), and my husband John (a field engineer by day and musician/poet in the off hours). We discussed a common convention of tasting, guided by Barb Stuckey’s article on How the Pros Taste. [viii] She suggests the importance of using other senses in tasting, such as sight, smell, taste, and texture or mouth feel. We placed each sample on a white plate to judge the the color, slowly sniffed it to sense the aroma, snapped it with our teeth to judge crispness, and then placed it on our tongue to savor slowly and see what flavors emerged. We sampled in order of lightest (70%) to darkest (85%). After sampling each, we took a look at the package to see what information we could glean. Our method of palate cleansing after each taste was perhaps unorthodox, but delicious: water, plain crackers, and red wine that had been aged in bourbon barrels.

 IMG_7870 (1)

THE TASTING:

Divine 70% “Intensely Rich” chocolate. Ghana     IMG_7855

Color: very dark brown. Aroma: rich and lovely. Snap: Nice, crisp.

Savoring notes: we found it sweet but not overly so. Delicious. You could taste the vanilla. It melted slowly with a lingering flavor and was very smooth. John, our poet, said he could taste the savannah. The finish was very earthy. However, at the end it felt a bit chalky and dry, as if it sucked the moisture out of one’s mouth. We decided to call this kind of finish “sere.”  “Sere” is defined as dry or arid. [ix]

Judgment: We all liked this chocolate very much at first taste, though we weren’t fond of the sere finish.

Ingredient %: 70% cacao. 19g fat, 11 g sugar.   Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin, vanilla.

Certifications: Non gmo project, halal, fairtrade.

Price: $3.00 for 3.5 oz. (It was on sale; normally $3.99).

Website here

Other Notes:  Divine is made with cocoa beans from a co-op of small-holder farmers in Ghana and is produced in Germany. The package is decorated with Adinkra symbols which are traditional West African motifs. The inside of the package congratulates the buyer for supporting cocoa farmers and displays the photograph of an individual cocoa farmer and tells her story.  It also displays the AYA symbol, representing Endurance and Peaceful Coexistence. It feels like you are invited into the community of cocoa farmers by purchasing this chocolate.

Taza Chocolates 70% stone ground chocolate. “perfectly unrefined” Dominican Republic

IMG_7857

Color: less dark and rich looking than the Divine. Aroma: less intense than Divine, but nice. Less crisp than Divine.

Savoring notes: Tasted sweeter than Divine and the initial taste was less intense at the start. Not buttery and smooth but textural, (unsurprising since it is stone ground and unconched.) Very pleasant to savor, though the texture was distracting. Overall a simpler taste than the Divine. The finish was also less dry (sere) at the end.

Judgment: We all thought this chocolate was o.k., but not a favorite, mostly because of the grittiness and lack of complexity.

Ingredient %: 70% cacao. 14 g. fat, 11 g. sugar.  Ingredients: organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic vanilla beans.

Certifications: USDA Organic, non GMO project, Gluten Free, Vegan, Direct Trade

Price: $4.75, 2.5 oz.

Website here

Other notes: Packaging is simple non glossy paper, quite attractive. It makes a big point of being unrefined and minimally processed with bold flavor and texture. It is made in Somerville, MA

Madecasse, Madagascar.  70% heirloom Madagascar cocoa, “bright with a fruity finish.”

IMG_7858

Color: not as dark as the first two. Aroma: strong, rich and deep. You could almost taste the chocolate as you smelled it. A reasonable snap.

Savoring notes: A bit granular. Not as smooth as the divine. Lingering, complex flavor. Our poet musician called it “beautiful birds” and then described the taste as “symphonic” and “well-orchestrated.” The finish had a little vanilla, it was luscious all the way through, and there was no chalky dryness or “sere” quality at the end.

Judgment: Our favorite so far.

Ingredient %: Fat 16 g, Sugar 10 g.   Ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin, natural vanilla.

Certifications: Fair Trade, Fair for life.

Price: $4.50 for 2.64 oz.

Website here

Other notes:  The packaging is lovely. Simple yet colorful with a drawing of an opened cocoa pod (revealing the white flesh and the cocoa beans), nestled with leaves, cocoa beans and pieces of chocolate bar. On the back, a map of Africa/Madagascar and the story of the chocolate. Madecasse was started by peace corps volunteers in Madagascar who decided to make chocolate “as a vehicle for social impact.” This bar is not only sourced from Madegascar, it is made there. More than some of the other packaging, this bar seemed to stress the deliciousness of the chocolate, as much as their mission.

Whole Foods 72% “Tanzania Schoolhouse Project Cacao.”

IMG_7859

Color: quite dark, as dark as the divine chocolate. Aroma: rich. Bite: soft.

Savoring notes:  Smooth and delicious. No “sere” finish at the end. We couldn’t say exactly what we were tasting…just that it was delicious.

Judgment: The favorite of Emily, the person who typically doesn’t like dark chocolate. John and I still preferred Madecasse, though we did enjoy this bar.

Ingredient %: 17 g fat and 10 g of sugar.  Ingredients: Organic chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter. No lecithin and no vanilla.

Certifications: vegetarian, USDA organic, Kosher, Whole trade

Price: $6.00 for 3.5 oz.

No website.

Other notes:  Somehow we didn’t expect this to taste good – perhaps because it seemed to be more about supporting Tanzanian schoolhouses and doing “good works” and less about the chocolate. And perhaps because it was made by the big business of Whole Foods. The packaging wasn’t as appealingly earthy/arty as the others. It was glossier, with photographs of Tanzanian people and cocoa trees rather than compelling graphics. This bar is made in Belgium. We were also surprised to find that we didn’t miss the vanilla in this bar. Interestingly, the Tanzania schoolhouse Project website link which describes their charitable projects makes no mention of this chocolate. The packaging also doesn’t indicate what amount of proceeds are donated to the project. My cynical side thinks Whole Foods may be using the Tanzanian project as a marketing tool, since there is so little transparency about what they are really doing in Tanzania.

Apotheker’s “classic dark”, bee-sweetened 76% chocolate, Dominican Republic.

FullSizeRender

Color: This chocolate was the darkest so far. Aroma: wonderful – very rich. Bite: very soft.

Savoring notes: The honey taste was predominant at first and the chocolate tasted very different from the other ones. Although the texture was not smooth, it was enjoyable, more so than the grittiness of the Taza. The taste felt slow to open up, perhaps because it was less sweet, but when it did open was nice. The honey taste lingered throughout and the finish had no “sere” at all. This was definitely a different kind of chocolate and we found it enjoyable.

Ingredient %: 18 g fat, 6g of sugar.  Ingredients: Organic Cacao liquor, organic cacao butter, organic raw honey, sunflower lecithin, organic vanilla beans.

Certifications and claims: direct trade, family owned, gluten, dairy and soy free, single origin, biodynamic, hand-crafted.

Price: $6.50 for 2.5 oz.

Website here

Other notes: The package graphics and the name hint at being like something from an apothecary or a general store, like it might be good for you. It has an old-fashioned, early 20 century look that might draw you in on the basis of sentimentality. It also proclaims in large letters that it is organic raw honey sweetened – so it can draw in people who are drawn to health foods. This bar is made in Dorchester, MA by a husband/wife team who also make soaps, hot cocoa, and bee-sweetened mallows. This was our second bar made with Dominican cocoa and quite different from the first.

Taza “perfectly unrefined” 84% Dark chocolate, sourced from Haiti.

FullSizeRender (2)

Color: quite dark. Aroma: very earthy and perhaps a little sharp. Bite: hard but not crisp

Savoring notes: Like the other Taza bar, this was granular, but the texture was almost sandy. It had a very earthy taste, very simple, almost primitive. Emily commented that it was more like a food than a dessert. It finished with a fruity taste.

Judgment: We loved the flavor that opened when we savored a piece of this bar, but we were put off by the grittiness.

Ingredient %: 13 g fat, 6 g sugar.  Ingredients: cacao beans and cane sugar

Certifications and claims: organic direct trade, non gmo, gluten free, dairy soy and vegan free

Price: $7.50 for 2.5 oz.

Website here

Other notes: the packaging of this bar is similar to that of the Taza Dominican bar. It is also made in Somerville. The package makes note that Taza is the first U.S. chocolate maker to source certified USDA organic cacao from Haiti.

Alter Eco, “dark blackout” 85% dark chocolate, from Peru.

IMG_7862.JPG

Color: quite dark. Aroma: strong and vegetal, reminiscent of tobacco. Snap: crisp.

Savoring notes: The flavor was very slow to open – perhaps because it had less sugar. The taste was a little acidic. The texture was smooth, waxy at the start. It had a chalky, “sere” finish.

Judgment: Meh. We didn’t care for this chocolate very much.

Ingredient %: 22 g fat, 6 g sugar.  Ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter, raw sugar, vanilla beans

Certifications: USDA Organic, Fair trade, gluten free, non gmo.

Price: $3.99 for 2.82 oz.

Website here

Other notes: packaging is the least glossy of all – very recycled looking. There is a lot of comment on the inside of the packaging about their mission: sustainability, replacing coca crops with cacao crops and the importance of cocoa cooperatives and a Carbon Zero reforestation project, along with photographs of people who are presumably cacao farmers. Clearly the intent is to let you know that by buying this chocolate you are doing good. Too bad we didn’t like the taste of it.

Last thoughts on this experience

We were all surprised by how interesting – and enjoyable – it was to use so many senses in experiencing each chocolate bar. Taking the time to savor revealed so many nuances. Emily, who prefers milk chocolate, actually enjoyed most of the bars when she took the time to smell and consider each sample and slowly let it melt in her mouth. We found ourselves with questions about the reasons for the differences in taste: what was due to how the chocolate was processed, how much was terroir, how much was the power of suggestion in packaging, how much was due to the percentage – or type – of ingredients.

There are many avenues for further investigation. For instance, we could compare a number of different chocolates sourced from one region (if we could find them). We could compare chocolates produced with different methods – for instance a variety of unconched chocolates. We could investigate the claims different companies make about bettering the lives of farmers or the environment or contributing to other good causes. How much do they actually do and contribute and how much of the lingo is an attempt to reel in the compassionate consumer by convincing them they are doing good with their consumer dollars? I look forward to  exploring these ideas in future tastings with friends.

Sources Consulted:

[i] Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/terroir.

[ii] Leissle, Kristy, “Invisible West Africa: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate,” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. 2013. 13:3, pp, 22-31.

[iii] Chocolate Review, Chocolatereview.com.au, accessed May 9, 2017.

[iv] Sylla, Ndongo S., The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich. 2014. Athens, Ohio University Press.

[v] Martin, Carla D. and Kathryn E. Sampek, The Bitter and Sweet of Chocolate in Europe. Doi: 10.18030/SOCIO.HU.2015EN.37.

[vi] Guthman, Julie, “Fast Food/Organic Food: Reflexive Tastes and the Making of “Yuppie Chow” in Counihan, Carole and Penny van Esterik, ed., Food and Culture. 2013. New York: Routledge.

[vii] Williams, Pan and Jim Eber, Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate. 2012. Vancouver, BC: Wilmor Publishing Corporation.

[viii] Stuckey, Barb, “How the Pros Taste,” in Taste What You’re Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good. 2012. New York: Free Press.

[ix] Mirriam Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sere, Accessed May 9, 2017.

Bipolar Self-Medication with Chocolate: How Science Has Confirmed Chocolate’s Place as a Mood-Enhancer

Ever since the Spaniards discovered the new world, and along with it, discovered chocolate, chocolate consumption has been associated with medicinal benefits.

In The True History of Chocolate, Sophie and Michael Coe tell us:
“the Spaniards had stripped [chocolate] of the spiritual meaning which it had for the Mesoamericans, and imbued it with qualities altogether absent among the Aztecs and Maya: for the invaders, it was a drug, a medicine, in the humoral system to which they all adhered. It is hardly surprising to find that it was under this guise that chocolate travelled in Europe, from one court to another, from noble house to noble house, from monastery. But it soon became a medicine that was appreciated for its taste, its filling nature, and its stimulation.” (Coe and Coe 126)

We have several early Spanish attestations to medicinal properties of the newly discovered chocolate. Girolamo Benzoni, author of the History of the New World (1575), was among the first to write of chocolate’s beneficial effects on the body, though he did not exactly liken it to medicine or medicinal effects. He writes that chocolate “satisfies and refreshes the body” (Coe and Coe 110). These generalized benefits of chocolate consumption for the body soon developed into medicinal effects, as the Spanish began to encorporate chocolate consumption into their Galenic views of medicine (Coe and Coe 122). In 1570, Philip II had sent his Royal Physician Francisco Hernández to Mesoamerica on what would ultimately be a seven-year expedition to document native plants so that the Spanish might benefit from Mesoamerican medicinal practices, which were far superior to their own (Coe and Coe 122). Coe and Coe describe Hernández’s incorporation of chocolate into the Galenic system:
“Cacao and chocolate naturally attracted Hernández’s attention. The cacao seed is ‘temperate in nature,’ he says, but leaning to the ‘cold and humid’; on the whole, it is very nourishing […]. Because of its cool nature, drinks made from it are good in hot weather, and to cure fevers. Adding the mecaxochitl flavoring to chocolate not only gives it an agreeable taste, but because it, like most cacao spices, is ‘hot’ by nature, it ‘warms the stomach, perfumes the breath … [and] combats poisons, alleviates intestinal pains and colics,’ and so on.” (Coe and Coe 122)
Hernández’s description firmly set chocolate in the medicinal conversation of Europe forevermore.

The use of chocolate as medicine persisted in European history. The medicinal properties of chocolate beverages were cited by Francesco Maria Brancaccio in 1664 as an argument for why chocolate beverages should be permitted during times of ecclesiastical fasting (Coe and Coe 149). Most 18th century authorities believed that, as long as it was not consumed in excess, chocolate was on the whole very beneficial to one’s health.

Though much of the conversation about chocolate as medicine was centered around its physical benefits, people also began to suggest mental benefits of chocolate consumption as well. In his 1591 treatise on New World foods, Juan de Cárdenas asserted that chocolate consumption, among its other properties, could make one “happy” (Coe and Coe 123). Later, in the 1600s, marquise de Sévigné, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, advises a correspondent who was apparently not sleeping that “chocolate will set you up again” (Coe and Coe 155).

These early attestations to beneficial psychological effects of chocolate consumption paved the way for modern beliefs in chocolate’s psychological effects, as a mood enhancer. The public’s belief that consuming chocolate will boost their mood has greatly impacted the modern chocolate market. A recent report by Mintel (2016) “found 24% of British consumers say they have bought chocolate confectionery in the last three months to boost their mood, while 64% of Chinese consumers agree that eating chocolate is an effective way to relieve stress” (Yu). Many chocolate companies advertise in such a way as to capitalize on the mood-enhancing effects of chocolate.

brain-health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate
Depicting many of the psychological effects attributed to chocolate consumption in the modern age, this particular image is used by Fondant Chocolate, a premier chocolate company in India, as part of its marketing. This demonstrates how the modern chocolate market benefits from public belief in the positive psychological effects of chocolate consumption.

Many people seek out chocolate for its mood-enhancing benefits, but this essay will focus on a group of people who use chocolate for much more than cheering themselves up on a bad day: those diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 11.33.23 PM
This medically reviewed article on Healthline shows that not only do bipolar people self-medicate and crave chocolate, but it is actually being medically recommended as a remedy for bipolar symptoms. (Krans)

For the purposes of this essay, it is useful to give a brief overview of what bipolar disorder, a mood disorder, entails. The International Bipolar Foundation describes:
“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. […] Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings– from overly ‘high’ and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.” (“Learn”)
It should also be mentioned that people with bipolar have low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is considered to be a naturally occurring mood stabilizer (Peeke).

 

First, I will mention that the reason I picked this topic is because I am, myself, bipolar, and I, like many other bipolar people, have used chocolate to self-medicate. Many others with bipolar also use other, actual drugs to self-medicate (such as alcohol, cocaine, and heroin) and often develop substance abuse problems. I, however, never found comfort in a bottle. Chocolate was my self-prescribed mood-stabilizer, long before I had even received my diagnosis. It is my intention to share a little bit about my own use of chocolate as a mood-enhancer, before delving into the science and explicating why the use of chocolate as medicine, though not treating the same ailments as chocolate beginning in the 1500s, may actually have more clout than a simple urban myth.

I am not exactly sure when my bipolar disorder began manifesting symptoms, but in hindsight, I can definitively say that by junior high, it was definitely in full-swing. My pre-teens through early college life were categorized by all the typical signs: extreme mood swings with intermittent periods of normalcy, ‘bipolar rage’ (blind, irrational, near-violent anger with no traceable cause), crippling anxiety, et cetera. I am not sure at what point my childhood love of chocolate became a realization that eating chocolate helped my mood, but at some point, I began to associate my turbulent moods with a solution: the consumption of chocolate. It made me feel better, especially in the moment, but eventually I would come crashing down, as my mood spiraled downward. I would thus seek out more chocolate to ease that depression, and thus I became as dependent on chocolate as an alcoholic is on alcohol to self-medicate. I became so dependent on chocolate as my self-prescribed mood enhancing drug that I actually developed compulsive-eating and binge-eating disorders (see also a blog about another bipolar person’s experience with this). Even my family recognized the power that chocolate had to improve my moods, and when they saw that I was struggling on a given day, their go-to method of cheering me up was giving me something with chocolate in it.

I was not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 20 years old, and it took until I was 22 to finally be put on the right dosage of the right medication: lithium. Lithium is arguably the oldest psychiatric medication around (in use during Classical times (Angst and Marneros)) and is a mood-stabilizer. Lithium will be very important in the science on chocolate as a mood-stabilizer that I outline below. Still, even though I am now on the right dose of the right medication, I still have mood swings, and when I do, my family still suggests chocolate as a remedy.

Many studies have been conducted on chocolate as a mood enhancer. According to UNH Staff in their article, “2 Chocolate Benefits for Your Brain: Improves Memory and Mood”, “chocolate has been shown to improve depression and anxiety symptoms and help enhance feelings of calmness and contentedness. Both the flavanols and methylxanthines are believed to play a role in chocolate’s mood enhancing effects” (UNH Staff). In addition, the article cites several studies that showed chocolate consumption improved mood, and another study in which participants “felt more calm and contented after consuming a daily dark chocolate drink containing a high amount of polyphenols” (UNH Staff).  These studies show that chocolate does indeed have a connection to ‘good feelings’, much as Juan de Cárdenas had asserted that chocolate could make one happy centuries earlier.

Chocolate also contains phenylethylamines, which are a neurotransmitter that “in low levels, is associated with depression […] Phenylethylamines work by releasing endorphins in the brain and promote feelings of attraction and giddiness” (Chitale and ABC News Medical Unit). Between the low levels of serotonin, which cause cravings for carbs and sweets to spark pleasure centers in the brain and elevate mood (Peeke), and the low levels of phenylethylamines, people with mood disorders may actually be self-medicating with chocolate consumption, which compensates for those low levels.

I must here take a slight detour from the discussion of the science-supported benefits of chocolate to set precedent for my conclusion. The American Chemical Society put out a summary of research that was delivered at one of their meetings, in an article entitled “Good Mood Foods: Some Flavors in Some Foods Resemble a Prescription Mood Stabilizer.” The research is exactly what the title suggests: “New evidence reveals the possibility of mood-enhancing effects associated with some flavors, stemming at least in part from natural ingredients bearing a striking chemical similarity to valproic acid, a widely used prescription mood-stabilizing drug” (“Good Mood Foods”). This suggests that some foods, far from simply providing a quick mood boost, could actually be used to medicate mood disorders, even if it were just as a supplement to actual medications.

Nuno Rodrigues-Silva considers the science behind the question: why do we crave chocolate? One view he considers argues that craving for chocolate is a “homeostatic response to nutrient deficiency (e.g., magnesium deficiency)” (Rodrigues-Silva 430). He goes on to explain why someone with magnesium deficiency would crave chocolate specifically:
“Chocolate has one of the highest magnesium levels reported of all foods, approximately 100 mg/g, except white chocolate which contains magnesium in much lower amounts, about 12 times lower than milk chocolate. Magnesium deficiency results in selective depletion of dopamine in the CNS [central nervous system], a major neurotransmitter involved in euphoria, satisfaction, and addiction. Additionally, magnesium deficiency is related to anxiety, and its administration has been related to reduced hyperexcitability in children and attenuated posttraumatic depression/anxiety in rats.” (Rodrigues-Silva 430)

However, Rodrigues-Silva fails to mention an important function of magnesium: magnesium is frequently used as a supplement to aid in sleep for those with sleep disorders (common for people with bipolar disorder), but most importantly, recent studies suggest that magnesium can produce improvements in bipolar disorder similar to the improvements seen in patients who take lithium (Lake). That would put magnesium on the list of mood-stabilizers.

You might remember how I said that the medication that stabilized my bipolar was lithium, and that before that, I was regulating my mood with chocolate consumption. If I, as a person with bipolar, craved chocolate when my moods were out of control, that would indicate that I might have been experiencing magnesium deficiency, according to Rodrigues-Silva. If magnesium, according to recent research, might be a mood-stabilizer, that would mean that when my bipolar disorder reared its ugly head, I was actually craving chocolate not as a quick mood enhancer but as a medication. I was, in all reality, actually self-medicating my bipolar with chocolate.

6a1ed800fe0938da337143bf03876467
Star Wars star Carrie Fisher, outspoken about her bipolar disorder until the day she died, describes in her second memoir Shockaholic her “craving for salad– chocolate salad.” (Fisher)

It is not just an urban myth that chocolate will boost your mood — chocolate has, now, a firmly rooted place as a medicine, just as the Europeans had claimed centuries earlier, though for different ailments.

So, what does this mean for the future of the chocolate industry? The chocolate industry already markets to and profits from people who believe that chocolate will boost their mood. Taking daily medications to manage mental illness is a hassle at best and impossible to remember at worst– and many people with bipolar simply do not want to take medication. Imagine if chocolate manufacturers began to market chocolate as an alternative or supplement to traditional mood-stabilizers. How many people would buy into that option? A lot of people, I reckon– and they would also need to consume chocolate en masse in order to get enough of a mood-stabilizing benefit day to day, sky-rocketing sales. It could be a great new direction for the chocolate market.

 

 

 

Bibliography
“About Us – Fondant Chocolate.” Fondant Chocolate. Fondant Chocolate, n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
Angst, Jules, and Andreas Marneros. “Bipolarity from Ancient to Modern Times: Conception, Birth and Rebirth.” Journal of Affective Disorders 67.1-3 (2001): 3-19. Web.
Baker, Kelley Thorpe. “Until I Pop: Emotional Eating and Bipolar Disorder.” Blog post. Bipolar Hope. Bipolar Magazine, 26 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2017.
Chitale, Radha, and ABC News Medical Unit. “You Feel What You Eat.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 05 Mar. 2008. Web. 10 May 2017.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2013. Print.
Fisher, Carrie. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill eat chocolate. Digital image. Daily Mail. Daily Mail, 9 May 2014. Web. 10 May 2017.
Fisher, Carrie. Shockaholic. London: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Print.
“Good Mood Foods: Some Flavors in Some Foods Resemble a Prescription Mood Stabilizer.” American Chemical Society. American Chemical Society, 19 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 May 2017.
Krans, Brian. “7 Foods That Help to Calm Your Nerves During Bipolar Mania.” Healthline. Healthline Media, 12 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 May 2017.
Lake, James. “Integrative Treatment of Bipolar Disorder: A Review of the Evidence and Recommendations: Page 2 of 4.” Psychiatric Times. UBM Medica, 03 July 2013. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Learn.” International Bipolar Foundation. International Bipolar Foundation, 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
Mental Benefits of Chocolate Consumption. Digital image. Fondant Chocolate. Fondant Chocolate, n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
Peeke, Dr. Pamela. “Mood, Food and Bipolar Disorder: A New Prescription.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 July 2014. Web. 10 May 2017.
Rodrigues-Silva, Nuno. “Chocolate: Psychopharmological Aspects, Mood, and Addiction.” Chocolate in Health and Nutrition. Ed. Ronald Ross. Watson, Victor R. Preedy, and Sherma Zibadi. Totowa, NJ: Humana, 2013. 421-36. Print.
Thompson, Dennis, Jr. “Sugar and Bipolar Disorder.” EverydayHealth.com. Everyday Health Media, LLC, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 10 May 2017.
UNH Staff. “2 Chocolate Benefits for Your Brain: Improves Memory and Mood.” University Health News. Belvoir Media Group, 20 Apr. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
Yu, Douglas. “Happiness Factor: Emotional Benefits Are Top Chocolate Sales Drivers, Says Mintel.” ConfectioneryNews.com. William Read, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 10 May 2017.