Your Chocolate Priestess discusses issues concerning the environment, labor concerns, and health from time to time in The Chocolate Cult. Each time I try to use logic and research to present you, Sisters and Brothers, with enough information to make a good decision about what to eat and what to purchase. Right now I'm torn by the evidence concerning pesticides which this article says may be used more often on the Ivory Coast as a way to combat some of the many problems cocoa farmers can face.
We need to be aware of this problem and it's potential solutions for several reasons. First, the Ivory Coast produces the most cocoa so it supplies the most raw materials for all of those chocolate candies, cookies, cakes, drinks, etc. This means that if they increase pesticide use it will very likely affect what you buy and use.
Second, insects can wreck havoc on a crop and they can invade a large region thus devastating millions of acres and millions of tons of products. This, of course, will cause prices to rise but it can also result in hunger though probably not in relationship to cocoa since for most people it isn't a major food group in their diet.
Third, there are serious concerns about what pesticides do to the plants and to the creatures that eat them. Obviously it kills or repeals the insects but what about us higher up on the food chain? While the USA regulates which pesticides can be used, other nations will have other rules and yet we live in a global supermarket where can choose products from around the world often without being aware of where ingredients come from.
(Image from http://www.pesticidewatch.eu/?page=food accessed July 21, 2009)
Fourth, alternatives to pesticides had a mixed record of effectiveness and productivity. For the small organic farmer in the USA and the wealthier consumer, this may not be an issue but for agribusinesses and other consumers price and the tonnage of crops harvested may be a serious concern. The most natural way of dealing with unwanted predators, if you must do something, is to introduce something to hunt them but you have to be careful about what you introduce or you can upset an ecosystem.
Growing up in the America's farmland I know how important these decisions are to farmers. Most do not make the decisions lightly and most are interested not just in this year's crop but future generations of farmers and their crops. Do nothing and have less product to sell. Do something and there will be consequences beyond increased production.
So I'm torn about pesticides. Educate yourself, seek out information, and make the choice which you feel will help you find the Sacred Substance to help you on your journey toward the Divine.
Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.
If you are reading in the eastern half of the Midwest, don't forget The Chocolate Cult's first CONTEST.