THE DARK SIDE OF CHOCOLATE

A few days ago, a new series of 5 episodes on  history of chocolate  made its debut on Pathfinder Web TV (research and story by me).

This  is the first episode, for more click here.

 

It is true that millions around the world share a love for chocolate.
However, chocolate has a very dark side for  thousands of people living in the cocoa sector of West Africa, since they are forced to labour in the production of cocoa, chocolate’s primary ingredient.

Moreover, thousands of childhoods are trafficked from Mali and Burkina Faso  to work on the plantations of   Ivory Coast, which is the top supplier of the world’s cocoa. Some 290.000 children work yearly day and night in about 600.000 farms. Hundreds of them have been kidnapped or forced into slavery while others have been sold by their extremely poor families.  The low prices we see in America  and Europe get lower on the backs of poor farmers who  have to depend on the labour of their children because they can’t afford to pay workers. Since farmers use their own children to help them, many of them  do not see why it is wrong to use the labour of other children.

At the same time, the chocolate companies are getting incredible profits.

Of course, most cocoa children have no education.
Of course, child slaves, besides working under inhuman and potentially injurious conditions, are  paid little or nothing and they are scarred from malnutrition.
Of course, they are viciously beaten if they try to escape and are often victims of sexual exploitation.

 

What can we do?

With the Easter chocolate bunnies and eggs upon us, it’s a good time to take into consideration the child slaves in West Africa.  So, let’s buy  fair trade chocolate and cocoa products that are certified as slave labor free. This way we will help small producers of cocoa get a fair price for their product and cocoa workers get paid. Thus, they will be able to afford to send their kids to school instead of to work. Increased access to education is a key component in any effective strategy to reduce poverty and exploitative child labour.

If consumers demand for Fair Trade chocolate increases, perhaps Hersey, Nestle, Lindt, Mars and other chocolate companies will put human rights before profit,   bring the changes necessary to ensure fair wage and fair labour practices and  eliminate child exploitation once and for all.

Consumers hold the power… Each of us can make a difference, each of us can create a better world. Lets put an end to the disastrous cycle of poverty and child  slavery and exploitation beginning with something simple as the type of chocolate we buy.

(To see if the chocolate you buy is slavery- free please visit: http://vision.ucsd.edu/~kbranson/stopchocolateslavery/main.html)

 

I recommend you to watch the following documentary ” The dark side of chocolate”  by M. Mistrati and R. Romano. The film investigates the continued allegations of child trafficking and forced labour in the international chocolate industry.

 
ΓΙΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΕΔΩ

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BACK TO BLOGGING…… AND A GLASS OF COFFEE

Back to blogging…

 It’s been an eternity since my last post, but in the meantime I finally finished up the edits on my book. The Lexicon of Greek Taste is due for release by Aspri Lexi Press in September 2009!!  Add to that the lost of my domain name, and the last couple of months have been exhausting.

To make a long story short, http://www.historyofgreekfood.com became http://www.historyofgreekfood.org, because the registrant company STARGATE.COM was bought by UK2 Group. My domain name was supposed to be purchased by UK2 Group, however it had not. This was despite historyofgreekfood.com being on their list of domains. As a result, I could not renew it either through UK2net or through Stargate and I could not access my website. Even worse, historyofgreekfood.com was bought by domain squatters and the price went sky rocketing when I tried to buy it back. So, I changed it to historyofgreekfood.org. Unfortunately many posts, comments, links and photographs are gone, since I was not very wise to export all of them to my computer.

….. and a glass of coffee.

frappe1

When the temperature rises in Greece, the frappé season is! This very popular Greek summer –coffee started by accident in 1957, at the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki. Dimitris Vakondios, employee of the representative of the Nestlé food company, couldn’t find any hot water to make his instant coffee, so he mixed the coffee with cold water and shaked it in a shaker. A new coffee had been born.

Thinking that instant coffee was launched onto the international market just in the 1950’s, it is not suprising that the idea of the ‘shaken’ cold coffee spread slowly. But in 1975, Nestlé began advertising on Greek television Nescafe, the hot instant, easy-making coffee. Four years later Nestlé expanded promotion to cold instant coffee and gave it the name of Nescafe Frappé. Greeks begun to drink it with such enthusiasm that became their most characteristic summer coffee. When a Greek today wants to drink a cold instant coffee, he simply asks for a frappé.

Frappé is a simple beverage. The instant coffee is combined with 1/5 of a glass of really cold water, sugar (optional), shaken vigorously together in a shaker or with a hand mixer, until the mixture will turn to thick foam. In case of using a shaker, the creamy mixture is poured over ice cubes in a tall glass. More cold water is added, some milk(optional) and the coffee is ready!

The foam of a good frappé is very thick. The lower oil content of instant coffee compared to traditionally brewed coffee makes the coffee -bubbles do not collapse and the foam creamy and durable. The best foam is made with spray-dried coffee, which actually is cheaper because spray-drying is simpler than freeze-drying. On the other hand, the high temperature needed in this process, destroys the natural flavor of coffee.

The popularity of frappé has nothing to do with its quality or quantity. The frappé is more about social gathering, contact, talking and watching people go by. The statistics say that the average person needs about 1 hour to drink a frappé at a cafeteria. Its high price – 3-6 euros for a glass of coffee- probably has mostly to do with the time that customers keep the tables. And it makes Athens the second most expensive city in Europe after Moscow, at least in terms of the price of a cup of coffee.

And here is the frappé I drink in summer mornings. Well, it is not so traditional but is tasty and I love it.

frappe2

 2 fingers of cold milk and 1 ½ tsp. coffee are mixed together with a hand mixer and then more milk is added into the foam.

I use the organic coffee Mount Hagen, a freeze-dried coffee with very rich flavor.

mount-hagen

It is a product of Fair Trade, which means that the final customer is charged a little more but the middlemen have been cut off and the farmers have fair wages.