Bitter Chocolate

Bitter Chocolate

Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet

Book - 2007
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Award-winning author and broadcaster Carol Off reveals the fascinating - and often horrifying - stories behind our desire for all things chocolate.

Whether it's part of a Hallowe'en haul, the contents of a heart-shaped box or just a candy bar stashed in a desk drawer, chocolate is synonymous with pleasures both simple and indulgent. But behind the sweet image is a long history of exploitation. In the eighteenth century the European aristocracy went wild for the Aztec delicacy. In later years, colonial territories were ravaged and slaves imported in droves as native populations died out under the strain of feeding the world's appetite for chocolate.

Carol Off traces the origins of the cocoa craze and follows chocolate's evolution under such overseers as Hershey, Cadbury and Mars. In Côte d'Ivoire, the West African nation that produces nearly half of the world's cocoa beans, she follows a dark and dangerous seam of greed. Against a backdrop of civil war and corruption, desperately poor farmers engage in appalling practices such as the indentured servitude of young boys - children who don't even know what chocolate tastes like.

Off shows that, with the complicity of Western governments and corporations, unethical practices continue to thrive. Bitter Chocolate is a social history, a passionate investigative account and an eye-opening exposé of the workings of a multi-billion dollar industry that has institutionalized misery as it served our pleasures.
Publisher: Toronto : Vintage Canada, 2007, c2006.
ISBN: 9780679313205
Characteristics: 310 p. ;,21 cm.


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Nov 21, 2015

Since reading this book, I now try to only buy fair trade chocolate! It seems this industry is almost impossible to completely control, because the plantations of cocoa are more often than not, in terribly impoverished, often war- torn countries. Happily, public pressure has been working to change Cadbury's approach somewhat. Still a long way to go. The most interesting part of the book for me, was the history of the chocolate companies, Rowntree, Cadbury etc.

Dec 04, 2011

An interesting and rather well-written book, but it's about much more than chocolate and the cocoa it comes from. It's really about widespread corporate and political greed and the Third World social costs that arise from it. What she says about cocoa production applies equally to most production in China, where for example North American and European companies are only willing to pay about US$4 to get a pair of jeans made for them, a price that the Chinese companies can meet only if they pay their workers as little as possible and work them as long and hard as possible.

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