Charlie's Chocolate Economy
From its first use by the Olmecs in the ancient Americas to its proliferate presence in modern foods, drinks, and snacks, chocolate has always been a popular commodity. Its historical development from bean to drink to bar is both complex and fascinating, and yet this favorite sweet of both children and adults alike carries a darker side that colors its popularity. As the past few decades have shown, sustainable and ethical trade has become an increasingly viable approach by chocolate and cacao companies in response to the popular outcry against the injustices that riddle the cacao economy. OBJECTIVES. In this paper, I use the Worlds of Food framework of Kevin Morgan, Terry Marsden, and Jonathan Murdoch to examine the rise and development of a “moral economy” in chocolate from its beginnings as individual moral outcries to the organized efforts that contribute to the sustainable world cocoa economy today. METHODS. Following this historical analysis, I present the myriad problems, challenges, and obstacles currently faced by the world of chocolate by presenting and critiquing various case studies of sustainability models promoted by players in the cocoa economy. RESULTS. I find the existence of a cycle of compromise between a sustainable agenda and a profiteering, business-as-usual agenda in the world of chocolate. In conclusion, I suggest practices that might further enable the successful mainstreaming of ethical chocolate for a truly sustainable world cocoa economy.