By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
Welcome to Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day, the 14th of February, a traditional day for the change of romantic gifts of affection in both America and Europe. These tokens can include chocolates of all kinds, shapes, and sizes.
During my Valentine's Day experience in 2009, as an adult I embraced the popular holiday like an excited kid by savoring gourmet chocolates from both the West Coast and East Coast as well as the Midwest and Deep South. It was love affair with chocolate.
While I enjoyed champagne truffles, hand-painted pastries, orange-infused chocolates, and chocolates with nuts of all kinds, I forgot about the delicate roots of chocolate and the cocoa bean--which seems to be in danger these days...
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Widespread Chocolate Appeal
The deal is, Africa produces 70 percent of the world's cocoa crop, followed by Latin America and Southeast Asia, and other regions around the world. Folks in "chocolateville" around the world are not ignoring the plight of chocolate--which is derived from cacao trees tagged as the "food of the gods."
America continues to lead the globe in cocoa bean importing and chocolate production. But Switzerland maintains front-runner position in its chocolate consumption. Like the worlds of olive oil, vinegar and wine, the world of chocolate is both competitive and delicate--and that's where the danger lies.
Cocoa bean harvesters count on Mother Nature to do her best, I learned. There are two main harvests per year, but some cacao can be harvested all year long. Also, pests, disease, and weather destroy some of the world's cacao each year. Sadly, chocolate craziness--including political, social, and economic woes are happening amid the Ivory Coast, a dangerous place right now like back in 2002. And this unrest puts the cocoa bean business in jeopardy and prices may soar (affecting the pocketbook of both chocolate makers and chocolate lovers) in the coming years.
As I anticipate arrival of a box of assorted dark chocolates from one of my favorite East Coast chocolatiers, Enjou Chocolat, I continue to send positive energy to the chocolate gods that all will be well in chocolatelands so chocolatarians, like me, can reap the healing rewards.