Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet Hardcover – Oct 10 2006
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About the Author
Carol Off has witnessed and reported on many of the world’s conflicts, from the fall of Yugoslavia to the US-led “war on terror.” She has won numerous awards for her CBC television documentaries in Africa, Asia and Europe. She lives in Toronto.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an extremely commendable work, with many astounding and horrifying facts juxtaposed (and rightly so) with the popular canon of names and facts we are all tenuously familiar with - from the Central American colonialist conquest to Milton Hershey's paternalism to the current fair trade discussion.
You can't help but transform your habits in a small way after the few hours you'll have invested learning of the injustices around a luxury so ubiquitous in our culture that has "an inconvenient truth" (i.e. labour practices) associated with its production. Carol Off is an eloquent story teller, but has a raw journalism "embedded" in this work that is, appropriately enough, written to engage the average reader who does cares more about about a better world beyond so-called dithering - illustrated quite profoundly in the case of the Cadbury family! How we can live with nonchalance and ignoring blatant exploitation for our cravings is really up to us, isn't it?
What she finds is an industry that both exploits it workers - mainly children - betrays its producers, and de-stabilizes its host third world nations in the name of making big profits. The story is a tragic replay of what other multi-nationals have done in diamonds, sugar, coffee, and rubber. The book spends a considerable time in showing where this practice began back in the l8th century, with the opening free trade and the development of the British Empire. The latter portion of her efforts zeros in on the great political, social and economic upheveal the Big Chocolate concerns have caused in the Ivory Coast with the hiring of young children to harvest the cocoa crop. I highly recommend this book for its effective focus and level-headed reportage. Lots of useful and easily confirmable evidence to back up her claims that the Third World is paying dearly for the West's demand for cheap chocolate.
Cocoa beans grow best in special tropical conditions - high heat, elevated humidity, a lush overstory of trees and supportive soil. Originally from Central America where the aristocrats of the Olmec empire restricted consumption of the rich, dark compound of kakawa to themselves, chocolate is now universally enjoyed. Columbus missed the chance to introduce chocolate to Europe, but when it did arrive, it was taken up enthusiastically. Like coffee, which came from the opposite direction, cocoa became the basis for a wave of new gathering places - coffee houses - which served coffee, hot chocolate and tea. The demand for chocolate rose rapidly, driving producers to expand while cutting costs. In agriculture, the chief method of cost reduction is to slash labour costs. The major effort needed in producing cacao, which grows on tree trunks, is the harvesting - cutting, separating the seeds from pulp and spreading them to dry. Even a child can do it.Read more ›
Now chocolate manufacturers can say they don't know where their supply comes from; our good corporate friends Archer Daniels Midlands and Cargill act as the middlemen, buying all over the world, playing one supplier off against the other, to keep the prices low. But in 1965, the Ivory Coast dictator Felix-Houphouet-Boigne started using cocoa to turn his country into one of the success stories in Africa, building a gleaming modern capital city with wide highways and skyscrapers.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Wow, what an eye opener. The author leads one from ignorance to knowledge on a difficult, hidden topic, in an interesting book that will shock you.Published on Feb. 11 2013 by Wade
I read this book and it opened my eyes on the world of chocloate industry (from the raw material supplier world), it's well written and researched book. Good work Carol.Published on July 26 2010 by H. Abdulrazak
Most of what you should know about chocolate is the topic of this captivating book. There are serious and hidden costs to this treat we consume nearly every day - sometimes in... Read morePublished on July 9 2007 by Friederike Knabe