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Cacao, Coffee, Multi-Culturalism

Cacao, Coffee, Multi-Culturalism

Hello and good day!

Cacao is native to the Amazon jungle, but the two biggest cacao producing countries in the world are Ivory Coast and Ghana in west Africa.

Unbelievably, those two small countries produce 60% of the world's cacao. And cacao isn't even from there.

Coffee is native to Africa. But the biggest coffee producing countries in the world are Brazil and Vietnam.

Potatoes are native to Peru, but the biggest producers of potatoes are China and India.

The point of these stats is to highlight that food is a tremendous force for multi-culturalism. It is very likely the most powerful force in the world for bringing together people of different ethnicities.

My brother went to New York a couple of years back and ventured into Chinatown for authentic Chinese food. Where he went, all of the menus were in Chinese and most of the people in the restaurants barely spoke English.

I was thinking about that the other day. I was trying to come up with one other product that you would prefer to buy from people who don't speak your language.

The fact that the person cannot communicate well with you is a positive and not a negative when it comes to authentic cuisine. As far as I am able to see, there is nothing else like that.

Many years ago, I worked with an Ethiopian gentleman. We became friends and he used to take me to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant near the office we worked in. I really like Ethiopian food. The injera bread that the food comes on strikes me as very practical, in addition to being delicious. If you've never had Ethiopian food, injera bread is a spongy flatbread. I'd almost describe it as a crepe mixed with sourdough bread.

Anyhow, they bring the food to you on a piece of injera bread, which you use as a plate. After you eat the dish, you eat the bread. And then nothing is left.

I like that a lot.

Several years after that, I was traveling and came upon an Ethiopian place and decided to stop in. Only problem was that the owner wasn't Ethiopian. He'd lived in Ethiopia for a time and was passionate about the food. But he spoke perfect English and as far as I could tell there weren't any Ethiopians in the kitchen either.

As you can imagine, that put a bit of a damper on the whole experience. I believe that Americans take for granted the wide variety of food options we have available here. At the very least, every town is expected to have a sushi place, a sandwich place, a burger place, a pizza place, a Chinese place, an Italian place, and a Mexican place.

That's just the baseline.

Around here where I live, you better have an Indian place, a Thai place, a Korean place, a Poke place, and a Vietnamese place. Without all of that, you are kind of considered to be a backwater.

I don't know how fair that is, but that is what is expected. And this isn't just in the upscale neighborhoods. That is everywhere.

Ideally, you'd want every single one of these restaurants to be run by people from the country where the food comes from. Of course, if that is what you want, you better have a community that welcomes and celebrates immigrants.

Because that is the only way to get a good variety of food in your neck of the woods. This is how food really smooths the way better than anything else when it comes to promoting multi-culturalism.

Our company is a good case study as well. We used to be mining supply distributors in northern Peru. We sold parts to a big, American owned, gold mine outside the city of Cajamarca. It went well for a while, but the mine was roundly hated by the locals and the mine wasn't able to bring any more land under production.

The thing about mining is that once you dig out all the gold, there isn't much left to do. You need to start digging elsewhere. But the local community fought expansion tooth and nail and the mine shriveled to a skeleton of its former self.

We saw the writing on the wall and that plus a couple of other factors caused us to exit that business and go into chocolate. Nobody wants a foreigner coming in and exploiting their land. Outsiders are not welcome under those circumstances.

On the other hand, in chocolate, at one point we were buying cacao in Peru and selling cacao and chocolate in 40 countries.

And you know something? Everybody was happy to have us there. Governments very rarely hassled us other than making us navigate the usual red tape. Our customers used to come down to Peru to visit cacao farmers, back before the pandemic.

In the name of chocolate, people and goods were flowing back and forth like nobody's business. I'm not exactly sure why food is so effective at bringing together people from diverse backgrounds. But I am certain that it is one of the most powerful unifying forces in the world.

When you enjoy our chocolate, you are connected from a distance to cacao farmers in northern Peru and a wonderful chocolate making factory in Schwyz, Switzerland.Not to mention our production team here in Issaquah, WA.

I bet you that most of the public spending on multi-cultural issues would be spent better subsidizing restaurants. People would learn more about other cultures and be more accepting of them if they had a chance to eat their food, across the board.

There is a solid platform for some politician to run on!

Anyhow, I am running out steam on this one.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!