Thursday, May 10, 2007

What's So Controversial about Chocolate?

I thought I’d learn more about that catchy “Don’t Mess With Our Chocolate” campaign.

Mostly because I adore chocolate. As a matter of fact, I’m eating a small bag of Raisinets as I write, and sure enough, even on this unremarkable candy, cocoa butter and milk are still on the ingredient list. But I’m also curious because, as a parent, I know a lot about the manufacture of chocolate. (All those field trips and educational television shows have left their mark on me!) Back in 2002, for example, our family visited the Field Museum to see its exhibition on chocolate, which takes a visitor through all the steps in the process. This past February we hit the Chocolate Fest at Garfield Park. (This is the event where you learn about making chocolate while you weave slowly through the conservatory on your way to free chocolate samples.)

So I started surfing the Net, and here’s what I found out. I need Michael Pollan to translate for me. This is a classic game of Big Industry v. Big Government, and I don't see how consumers can make any sense of it at all. Maybe this is about trans fats. Or new technologies. Or protecting the public.

My overwhelming sense, though, is it's not the latter.

I’d be curious to know what you think.

So give it a go. Start anywhere, and make sure to check out the docket page!

FAQs from the CMA (representing 90% of America’s chocolate manufacturers and including World’s Finest Chocolate, Inc. and The Blommer Chocolate Co. here in Chicago).

Also from the CMA website, this letter to its membership.

Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association website (original petition filer).

And, the FDA docket of legal documents surrounding the issue.

1 comment:

Johnny Yen said...

It sounds very disingenous-- like the commercials on tv right now on the phone company getting to provide cable. Both sides of the argument are funded by big industries.

When I taught a gifted science class one summer in Evanston, the father of one of my kids was the Choclatier at La Marseilles, generally considered to be the best French restaurant in the Chicago area. He explained how chocolate was made, what he did, and brought a bunch of samples in. It was a fun day.

My wife at the time, Cynthia, was also teaching summer school, but at a different school-- she was jealous.