“Nothing like Chocolate”…

… is a documentary that I saw recently during the NY Chocolate Show 2012.   You may have read a couple of posts preceding this one about my experience at the NY Chocolate Show and about Culinary Trends in chocolate.  This is the last in the series about the NY Chocolate show.  I know some of you may already have tired of reading about chocolate and my love for it, but I promise that this is the last one about chocolate…. at least for a few days.  What do I do – it’s the holiday season and there are chocolates everywhere I see…….and I find them irresistible 🙂

During the show, I came across the Grenada Chocolate Company and tried their chocolate. Grenada Chocolate Company’s products have won several awards at the Academy of Chocolate in the UK.  My favorite was the bar with 60% chocolate and not too bitter.  They do have a bar with 100% chocolate too.  I also saw a leaflet (see picture below) about a documentary called “Nothing Like Chocolate“.  I was keen to watch the documentary, especially, if I could find the time for it in my calendar.  It was at a location (not a movie hall that I was aware of) in Tribeca.

NY Chocolate Show 2012:”Nothing like Chocolate” – documentary

I went to the venue a few minutes before the screening time and was surprised to know that the venue was not a movie hall.  It was the Jacques Torres Chocolate store and factory. There was no line of people waiting to watch the movie.  The store seemed to be shutting for the evening.  I asked someone behind one of the counters about where the movie was being screened.  He pointed to a group of 3 – 4 people, setting up a projector and a screen in front of two 2-seater couches meant for guests / visitors to the store.  The people in that area all seemed as though they were part of the movie crew or part of the Grenada Chocolate Company.  I took a few tentative steps toward that group, when I heard a “Bon soir” in a friendly voice from a man in what seemed like a Chef’s white coat.  He indicated that the movie was being screened there in a few minutes.  It took me a few minutes to realize that the man was Jacques Torres himself!!!  That was my celebrity sighting for the evening / week.

You can watch the trailer of the documentary “Nothing Like Chocolate” here.

Growing up in India, I did not know that different types of chocolate exist.  Having spent a few years in the Western world, I have come to realize that there are different varieties of chocolate just as there are different varieties of mangoes, coffee, etc.  I have read the terms “Fair trade chocolate”, but have never given enough thought to fair trade, beyond assuming that “Fair Trade” = farmers (cocoa growers) are compensated in a “fair” way (whatever that means!!).   There, you know how ignorant I am about a food ingredient I claim to “Love” and find “Irresistible”.

On watching this documentary, I have not merely been educated about how cocoa pods are processed and how chocolate is made, but have also come to know that

  • 40% of the world’s chocolate output is from Ivory Coast,
  • children are being sold, kept out of school and forced to work on the cocoa farms, while being treated poorly and being paid a pittance.

It was eye-opening for me, that children go through so much trauma and challenges for something that we take for granted.  We (rather, I) hardly give any thought to these issues when we (I) buy a chocolate bar on an impulse before heading to the cash register to pay for whatever we (I) bought at the local deli / supermarket.  How many of us can get through a day / couple of days / a week without a chocolate fix?

“Nothing like Chocolate” is a wonderful, eye-opening, and thought-provoking documentary about child slavery and labor, bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturing, and life in Grenada.  The movie is interspersed with interview clippings of author Michael Pollan, environmental activist Vandana Shiva, Human Rights Advocate Bama Athreya, and Professor of Neurobiology David Presti at the University of California, Berkeley.

Trivia that I learned from the documentary:

  • Child slavery is prevalent in West Africa and children work in mines, cotton and chocolate factories
  • Grenada has the best cocoa in the world
  • Grenada Chocolate Company is the world’s smallest chocolate factory
  • In 2005, the world’s chocolate manufacturers voluntarily set a deadline of 2005 for themselves to produce slave-free chocolate, but that is not yet the case

Life in Grenada seems so simple – children playing cricket on the streets with plastic crates for stumps (very much like they would in India); hard-working people working on the farm, going to church, helping the community, despite their own financially tight situation.  Yet I wonder, if I can voluntarily give up the comfort of living in NYC and head out to Grenada or any other tropical island for a living, or to help local farmers / population, the way Mott Green, the founder of Grenada Chocolate Company did back in the ’90s.

Green is passionate about making and selling organic slave-free chocolates.  He is a purist – he loves pure chocolate, hence Grenada Chocolate Company’s products are all dark chocolate without too any flavors.  The only flavor / seasoning that he is comfortable including in his chocolate bars, besides vanilla, is sea salt.  After the documentary screening wrapped up, Green fielded questions from the audience, although I did not stay for the entire Q & A session.  Grenada Chocolate Company is not yet fair trade certified, although they are working on the certification – it is expensive.

On watching the movie. I am inspired to buy fair trade and slave free chocolate as often as I can and to go on a chocolate tour of the Caribbean – most likely at the Grenada Chocolate Company or the cocoa farm at the Belmont Estate, from where Grenada Chocolate Company procures its cocoa.  See the steps of manufacturing chocolate in a bean-to-bar setting from harvesting, roasting, all the way to chocolate bar production on this page.

For other countries that offer Chocolate Tours, see this NY Times article on chocolate tours in the Caribbean; was it a coincidence that the article came out at the same time as the NY Chocolate Show 2012?  Have you ever been on a chocolate tour in Africa / Central America / the Caribbean?  Would love to hear about your experience ……:)

Watch this movie, if you can, and buy the chocolate bars from the Grenada Chocolate Company.  I guarantee that you will certainly enjoy both.

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4 comments

  1. Lakshmi Narasimhan · · Reply

    Super one on chocolate!

    Like

  2. Thanks, Lakshmi!! Glad you liked reading this one.

    Like

  3. Hi vidya, I really like your chocolate series. Well written as well.anuja

    Like

    1. Thanks, Anuja. Am glad that you enjoyed “my” chocolate series.

      Like

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