How Chocolate but Never Climate Change is Always on the Mind
There are few pleasures in this world greater than sinking your teeth into something chocolate-flavoured. Be it a bar, a cake, a truffle, macaroon, literally anything chocolate-flavoured is something delectable. However, I know there will be some people who deplore anything chocolate (not including white chocolate because it does not count, sorry, not sorry) or who have an allergy to it (it IS a legume after all). Don’t you remember how when we were growing up and still to this day, we’d see brightly-coloured packages along grocery aisles or cash registers and beg our parents or wallets for some change to purchase our favourite sugary treat? Chocolate has become such a staple in our pantries and lives; on average, Canadians will consume 5.5 kilograms of chocolate every year. That is a LOT of chocolate. A lot of milkshakes, granola bars, and ice cream. We have facilitated entire holidays based on the premise that chocolate treats are something that are to be gifted: Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Easter, to name a few.
Now, I don’t know about everyone out there, but to me, nothing beats a Kit-Kat. I don’t even need an excuse to take a break. I will legitimately wipe out an entire Kit-Kat bar anywhere (to all my 1L Section D classmates, I tried hard to mask the crinkling wrapper noise!). When my friends and I were in Asia, I always requested a Kit-Kat whenever possible. Why? Well, East Asian Kit-Kats are on a whole other level. There are all sorts of flavours that boggle the mind and entice the taste buds. Currently in North America we have matcha, white, milk, dark, and strawberry flavours. In Japan alone, there are over 300 different Kit Kat flavours such as sake, cherry blossom, wasabi, even one that you microwave! Recently, Nestle has introduced a new Kit-Kat that is dark pink and derived from “ruby” cocoa beans. You must be wondering, “what in the world is a ruby cocoa bean?. Well, it is somewhat undeterminable due to conflicting thoughts ranging from genetic modification of cocoa beans that it is created from unfermented cocoa beans or that it is an already existing cocoa bean that was identified and has the right traits to produce ruby chocolate. However, it has been in development since 2004 and only revealed at a private event in 2017. It also supposedly has no traditional cocoa flavour but rather has a sweet, yet sour taste to it. The best part is that it has yet to be on the market and will only launch through Kit-Kat. One must ponder why that is, and what in the world IS this cocoa bean that exists in a world where the longevity of chocolate may be limited.
It is quite tempting to purchase this novel chocolate invention (breed, species, food-coloured white chocolate). but will curiosity hold out and enable those who do not live in East Asia to purchase it online? Curiosity killed the cat, as they say. Unfortunately, satisfaction will not bring it back, as most of the time, we do not see past our two-for-$5 KitKat purchases, and what the impacts are to our beloved sweet tooth. Chocolate is something consumers should not be turning a blind eye to, in terms of its foreseeable alteration or (worst-case scenario) extinction. As recently as this year, it is feared that within 30 years, give or take, chocolate can be a distant memory to most of humanity and never grace the lips of future generations. Chocolate is derived from the cacao tree which loves humid, rainforest conditions and is dependent upon heavy rainfall primarily close to the Equator. With the rise of temperatures due to global warming, there will be a loss of soil moisture that will not be replenished by rainfall. Besides drying up, another low point is that the cocoa crop has been produced by subsistence smallholder farms without the improvement of planting material and crop-management techniques. The methodology has not changed substantially, like other modern crops for the past century. Another hit for our beloved chocolate is that experts believe a chocolate deficit will of 100,000 tonnes will occur over the next several years. Moreover, it is believed that Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana’s protected forests are being illegally cultivated and cacao plants are being grown to provide for our global demand. Such deforestation will result in quicker depletions of chocolate snacks than anticipated. With the loss of cacao yields, can there be any grievance to a potentially synthesized chocolate being promoted by a billion-dollar company? Probably not, but marketing it as something it isn’t or misleading people to believe that chocolate is fine and dandy is not okay. Like most crops, global warming alongside the loss of arable land will significantly harm our global crop yields. Chocolate may not be a necessity to most in terms of substance, but the thought that we should be sustainable consumers needs to be adopted. Our future generations will be grossly impacted by our sweet-tooth instant gratification. It is unfair to take away from future humanity the opportunity to have the crops and chocolate we have today. It’s not to say don’t take a break and eat a Kit-Kat, just try to limit it to one bar every couple of weeks or get only one Ruby Kit-Kat upon their release.