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In the News: Why Change “Chocolate”?; a Slow Food prince

† Why change the definition of chocolate? We know it’s a matter of dollars and cents, but why now? Tom Philpott at Grist posts some thoughts:

At the time, I didn’t know why the industrial chocolate giants were agitating for this dubious cause. Now I think I know: cocoa-bean prices rose abruptly last year, pushed up by strong global demand and bad weather and political unrest in the Ivory Coast, the world’s most prolific cocoa-producing nation. . . .
. . . Now, with cocoa prices up, the manufacturers are evidently seeking to maintain their profit margins by stretching the cocoa they buy as far as they can. Substituting cheap, heart-ruining hydrogenated fat for cocoa butter is one way to accomplish that. (Chocolate-making titans Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill are also among the world’s dominant vegetable oil producers.)

Visit Grist for Tom’s post (including links to other, related information). Tom’s original post on the topic is here.

† From last week, but of continuing interest: Last Wednesday’s New York Times’ food section featured an article about Prince Charles, his commitment to organic principles, and his Duchy Originals line of products. Slow Food members and friends who attended the 2004 Terra Madre gathering in Turin may recall Prince Charles’ speech at the closing ceremony, in which he noted:

Slow food is traditional food. It is also local – and local cuisine is one of the most important ways we identify with the place and region where we live. It is the same with the buildings in our towns, cities and villages. Well-designed places and buildings that relate to locality and landscape and that put people before cars enhance a sense of community and rootedness. All these things are connected. We no more want to live in anonymous concrete blocks that are just like anywhere else in the world than we want to eat anonymous junk food which can be bought anywhere. At the end of the day, values such as sustainability, community, health and taste are more important than pure convenience. We need to have distinctive and varied places and distinctive and varied food in order to retain our sanity, if nothing else.

(A copy of the speech text is available here.)

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