Everything You Need to Know About Chocolate – By Melissa Clark – The New York Times

“You probably think you already know everything you need to know about chocolate.

For instance: The higher the percentage of cacao, the more bitter the chocolate, right? The term “single origin” on the label indicates that the chocolate expresses a particular terroir. And wasn’t the whole bean-to-bar movement started by a couple of bearded guys in Brooklyn?

Wrong; not necessarily; and definitely not.

Americans spend $21 billion on chocolate every year, but just because we eat a lot of it doesn’t mean we know what we’re eating. And misunderstandings at the store can make it especially hard for chocolate lovers to figure out which of the myriad, jauntily wrapped bars crowding the shelves are the best to buy, in terms of both taste and ethics.”

“. . . But while creativity and technical acuity in chocolate making have blossomed, ethical and environmental concerns still plague the supply chain. Despite a 20-year effort to battle the systemic poverty, child labor and deforestation endemic to the industry, those problems may actually be getting worse.

It might seem a lot to think about as you choose your Valentine’s Day chocolates, but here are answers to some basic questions you may not even know you had.”

“. . . . But while creativity and technical acuity in chocolate making have blossomed, ethical and environmental concerns still plague the supply chain. Despite a 20-year effort to battle the systemic poverty, child labor and deforestation endemic to the industry, those problems may actually be getting worse.

It might seem a lot to think about as you choose your Valentine’s Day chocolates, but here are answers to some basic questions you may not even know you had.”

“. . . . It’s a similar story with environmental impact. In 2017, 34 chocolate companies agreed to end deforestation by their industry. But according to a 2018 report by the environmental group Mighty Earth, cacao production was still ravishing forests, and the animals living within them, at an alarming rate.

Even when the industry does act, efforts from the top down can fail to take root. Both child labor and deforestation are part of the daily realities of the systemic poverty afflicting West Africa, said Kristy Leissle, a founder of the Cocoapreneurship Institute of Ghana and author of the 2018 book “Cocoa.”

To truly improve the lives of farmers and their families, Dr. Leissle said, the farmers need to be included in the conversation. “The current initiatives have been imposed on Africa from European and North American people who are not engaged in the daily labor of cocoa farming,” she said. “The solutions need to come from within the cocoa industry in Africa. That’s where the expertise is.”

Cacao, a shade-tolerant plant, can be grown under the forest canopy without drastic clearing. And when grown in a sustainable manner, it can have a low carbon footprint.”

Added Value Farms is Where David Buckel worked. A youth-­centered urban farming and food justice non­-profit in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

URBAN FARMING & YOUTH EMPOWERMENT
Added Value Farms is a youth-­centered urban farming and food justice non­-profit in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We create opportunities for teens to expand their knowledge base, develop their leadership skills, and positively engage with each other, their community, and the environment. We operate two urban farms and a community composting program in partnership with other local organizations and city agencies. The Red Hook Community Farm (2.75 acres) focuses on education and production, while the NYCHA farm (1 acre) focuses on community engagement. Our programs include a teen farm apprenticeship, a weekly farm stand, a CSA, and a school workshop program. We strive to transform vacant lands into vibrant urban farms, improve access to healthy, affordable produce, and nurture a new generation of green leaders.

Quick Facts:
Last year, we produced 20,000 pounds of produce at our 2 farms.
We hire and mentor 5-25 youth per year (spring, summer, and fall) to run our farm and market.
Our Saturday Farmers Market is open for business June-November, and sells affordable, fresh, pesticide-free produce grown right here in Red Hook!
More than 1,200 children visited for our farm-based learning program last year.
In partnership with Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the NYC Compost Project, we compost over 200 tons of organic waste annually.
Over 60 families invest in the farm through our Community-Supported Agriculture program.
Hundreds of volunteers support our work through weekly drop-in workdays as well as volunteer events through their workplace.

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