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Did Industry Ruin Food?

Did Industry Ruin Food?

Hello and good day!

I am sitting here at my desk with a bar of chocolate in front of me.

I bought it from a locally owned organic market that is up the street from our chocolate shop.

In general, my wife likes to buy organic, and she does most of our shopping.

For my part, I prefer to shop with independently owned retailers when possible.

This little shop scratches everybody's itch.

As for the bar that I have in front of me, I chose it because the brand is widely distributed. I've seen their bars in Target, at every supermarket in town, and at the bigger specialty market where we usually go for larger quantities of produce.

I was hoping that the local shop owner would have the brand too, and he does, and that lets me know for certain that the regional organic food distributor who works our neighborhood carries this line of chocolate.

I am now buying one bar of chocolate per day, made by other companies.

The purpose of these purchases is to provide fodder for the new show that my brother Brian and I have begun to record daily.

The link at the bottom of this email will take you to the episodes that we've recorded so far. We've been trying to do a show together for a couple of years but have struggled to find the correct format.

Thankfully, it looks like we have finally found a concept that allows us to use our 16 years of experience in the chocolate and cacao industry, while also making attempts at humor and trying to provide useful information.

Our reasoning behind deciding to review the chocolate of other companies is as follows.

First, for at least the last five years or so, we have almost exclusively eaten our own chocolate.

After ten years in the business, we concluded that nobody was making better chocolate than us, and that it didn't make sense to besmirch our pallets with chocolate made by other outfits.

For that reason, we feel it might be good to get back in the market and see if anything has changed.

The second reason for taking on this project is that summer is around the corner, and soon we won't be able to ship our chocolate in the mail to customers without the chocolate melting.

As a public service, we're hoping to document which of the chocolates commonly sold at the grocery store are decent, and which are a total waste of money.

This way, if you need a chocolate fix, you'll know which companies we think are worthwhile, and may be suitable to hold you over until the fall, when the weather cools down again.

Of course, if you live near Issaquah, WA it is a moot point, because you can buy the chocolate directly from us in either of our two, nicely air-conditioned retail locations.

The chocolate bar that I have in front of me is from a company called Hu.

Maybe you've seen them around. It is an organic 70% cacao bar.

The sweetener is coconut sugar instead of cane sugar.

It is vegan and paleo.

There are all kinds of certifications on the back, Organic, Fairtrade, Non-GMO, etc.

It is a decent bar of chocolate for what it is.

For my taste buds, the taste of coconut sugar overwhelms the flavor of the cacao and the cacao used is not a flavorful variety.

As time goes on, the coconut sugar dominates, and while I like the flavor of coconut sugar, it becomes treacle and cloying rather quickly.

The cacao seems to be well fermented and dried.

Given the mild flavor of the cacao, and the fact that the post-harvest processing is well done, I'd guess that it is cacao from industrially bred hybrid cacao trees that has been fermented and dried by a co-op.

All that being said, I like the bar, and the company seems to have been founded by good people.

You could do a lot worse.

You could do a lot better too, but maybe not in a grocery store.

I guess we'll find out what the options are as we review more and more products.

By the way, our plan is to put new reviews online every single weekday.

Setting aside the flavor of the bar, I noticed a statement on the packaging, and I have to be honest with you. This kind of statement drives me a little bit crazy.

I don't want to come off as snarky, but I do plan to shoot straight.

Here is the statement.

"It's time to get back to the way humans ate before industry ruined food."

Right off the bat, there is great irony in this sentence because no chocolate bar can be made in large enough quantities to service major retail outlets without industrial methods.

I am in charge of the marketing for our company, and I am sensitive to the kinds of sales messages that companies put out there.

This is hard core pandering to a particular kind of audience, plain and simple, and it is false.

Industry has not ruined food.

Some production methods have produced inferior ingredients, that are less flavorful and less nutritious, and that have done damage to the natural environment.

This is undoubtedly true.

On the other hand, cacao doesn't grow anywhere in the continental United States, Europe, or northern Asia.

Nor does coffee.

Nor do mangos.

Even simple old frozen fruit has to be flash frozen and kept cold in freezers that utilize electricity.

All of it must be hauled out of the jungle on trucks and shipped across the ocean on boats.

Industrialism per se is not a bad thing.

It has vastly expanded the variety of food that is available to all of us.

We have instant access to a bounty of wonderful options from all over the world in every single grocery store that we walk into.

On the other hand, industrial varieties of cacao, which is what I believe Hu uses in their products, are bad for the environment.

They tend to kill off the ecosystems where they grow because they produce unnaturally large quantities of cacao and that sucks the health out of the soil.

This is not true of the heirloom variety of cacao that we use in our chocolate because it is well adapted to, and symbiotic with, the environment.

To properly assess the balance between environment and industrialism requires a sober and understanding mind, not hyperbole.

Also, it isn't right to bite the hand that feeds you.

You shouldn't ride on the back of industrialism while also bad mouthing it.

That is hypocrisy.

I am running long now and have to sign off soon.

So, I will limit myself to one last point.

This issue reminds me of a quote from the famous old-time writer, H.L. Menken.

He wrote that, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

In our economic system, which is a system of free enterprise, companies must conform to the desires of the buying public.

That is the only way to turn a profit.

Industrialism is a tool.

The way industrialism will be used depends on how people spend their money.

If we buy food made with good ingredients that preserve the natural environment, then the companies who make those products will endure.

If we buy unnatural crap that kills the soil, the companies who make those products will proliferate.

Industry doesn't ruin food.

The choices of the buying public do.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day.


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