Semisweet and Choco-locate featured in the Toronto Star
chocolocateteam — 4 years ago
App and documentary help chocolate fans get an ethical fix
Chocolate may be our most accessible vice. Unlike caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or sex, it is the fix we can buy, store, transport and consume anywhere, all day long. But most of the chocolate available to us is bad, gastronomically and morally. The average candy bar contains so much sugar, artificial flavours and preservatives, it resembles a tube of chap stick more than chocolate. And like the majority of the world’s chocolate, it likely comes from West Africa, harvested by children aged 9 to 16.
A new iPhone app, Choco-locate, helps us find good chocolate. A couple clicks on the free tool tells me that I’m 1.24 kilometres from Chocosol Traders. It’s just one more click to call the shop or open the map to guide me there. Below that is a list of the four most popular products — Aztec Blood, Hemp Gold, Five Chili Bullet, Sinfully Raw Vanilla — as voted by users. With all the chocolate and heart-shaped icons on the screen it’s surprising that it’s not also a dating site.
Symbols on the right side of the screen note that this shop offers artisanal, raw, vegan, organic and fair trade products.
The locating tool is one element of a larger transmedia project heralding the documentary Semisweet, which airs June 6 at 9 p.m. and June 7 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on TVO.
Semisweet takes us from Burkina Faso and Mali in West Africa, where 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa comes from, to The Hershey Company, in Pennsylvania, one of the world’s largest buyers. “In order for Hershey to be able to sell chocolate at one dollar a bar,” says producer Lalita Krishna, “someone’s got to be exploited.”
But Krishna didn’t want to just be the bearer of bad news, the dark side of chocolate.
“Looking at chocolate, the more I talked to people, everybody turned around to me and said, ‘Don’t tell us there’s one more thing we can’t eat.’”
So the film steers to France, where chocolatier Patrick Roger carves 80 kilogram sculptures of chocolate orangutans and hippopotamuses. Back in Ontario, we meet raw chocolate gurus Ron Obadia, a yoga instructor (also the inventor of chocolate yoga), and Nadine Artemis, “a botanical muse shaping effable plant-light into palpable consecrations to blush senses and muse imaginations.”
But when the producers discussed the project and chocolate with a focus group, what they heard was, “Just tell us where to find it.”
So they developed the app, which will not ping when you’re near a 7-11. No one needs any help finding a Snickers bar. The database, which allows user comments and ratings, features smaller, independent businesses. It currently covers Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara, Stratford and Ottawa, Ontario, plus Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, Washington, with plans to have Montreal online by July.
View the full article here: http://www.thestar.com/living/article/1206793--app-and-documentary-help-chocolate-fans-get-an-ethical-fix