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Blood and chocolate

Fortune mag: widespread poverty and child labor in the cocoa-producing world

While I was waxing euphoric last week about Fair Trade and ultra-fancy chocolate ahead of Valentine's Day, interesting things were happening in the chocolate world. Regulators in Germany raided the offices of seven corporate chocolate makers -- including Nestle, Kraft, and Mars -- investigating allegations of price fixing. Six food conglomerates process half of the world's cocoa, giving them tremendous leverage on price. Usually, they use their market power to squeeze farmers in the global south; evidently, they may now be using it to squeeze consumers in the global north. Canadian and even U.S. antitrust regulators have launched similar investigations, …

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Meat Wagon: Don't have a (downer) cow, man

Despite biggest meat recall ever, 37 million pounds of suspect meat made it to schools.

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. In the last edition of Meat Wagon, we mentioned the scandal at an industrial-scale slaughterhouse in California, where workers had been caught on videotape torturing severely sick ("downer") cows. Horrifically enough, the workers were abusing the enfeebled animals in an attempt to get them stagger to slaughter -- where their flesh would be mixed with that of other cows, and sent to market. More horrifically still, the slaughterhouse in question is a major supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program. Evidently, the idea of tortured-downer-cow …

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It's not just honey you'll miss

Haagen-Dazs says CCD could interrupt your ice cream fix

As I and many others have pointed out, the loss of as much as 70-80 percent of the US honeybee population to Colony Collapse Disorder is a far greater concern than missing that spot of honey in your lavender soy chai. Premium ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs has joined in to sound the alarm about CCD and the impact it could have on our food supply Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business. At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a …

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Aerial spraying of pesticide on Bay Area given OK

The California agriculture department has authorized nighttime aerial pesticide spraying on the San Francisco Bay Area this summer in an attempt to eradicate a potentially crop-destroying moth. Similar spraying was done in two other counties this fall, after which more than 600 residents complained of respiratory problems. Application of the pesticide, called Checkmate, was only authorized for agricultural areas until the U.S. Department of Agriculture received an "emergency exemption" from the U.S. EPA for its use in urban California. The Bay spray would begin June 1 and could continue for up to five years, though residents are organizing to stop …

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A pair of decadent desserts guaranteed to sweeten up your Valentine’s Day

Like every food writer the world over, I am duty-bound to offer a chocolate recipe for Valentine's Day. I was fortunate to get a recipe for Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes from the Woodstar Café in Northampton, Mass., a bakery whose goods are so delicious that I have been known to eat there twice a day when I'm in town. Nothing says I Love You like a cannelé. Photo: Canto 6 Bakery and Café But I also wanted to offer a non-chocolate alternative for those who can't have chocolate or who just prefer other flavors. The owners of Canto 6, a bakery …

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Smog struggle

A view behind the scenes at the EPA and the White House

It is now less than four weeks until the EPA announces its decision on whether to change current national standards for ozone or smog. And things are getting very interesting behind the scenes. Officially, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget website, the EPA has not yet transmitted its plan to the White House for review. The truth is, the EPA is obviously being picked at by the OMB already. The Bush administration is just trying to keep the details of this matter as secret as possible. (Some business lobbyists have heard that the EPA is pushing …

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Attack of the superweeds

While global GMO acreage surges, herbicide-resistent weeds thrive

Global acreage of genetically modified crops jumped 12 percent in 2007 -- "the second highest increase in global biotech crop area in the last five years," gushes a report from the pro-GMO International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Farmers planted an additional 30 million acres of GM crops in 2007, an area nearly equal to the land mass of Iowa (a huge swath of which itself is planted in GM crops). Overall, GM crops cover 282.4 million acres, ISAAA claims -- up from zero as recently as 1994. Photo: iStockphoto ISAAA hails the GM explosion as a …

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Mad Flavor: Wine and chocolate

More ideas for Valentine’s Day bliss

In "Mad Flavor," I describe exceptional culinary experiences from small artisan producers. Showing my usual absolute devotion to the interests of Grist readers and disdain for my own, I attended a tasting last night of wine and chocolate pairings. I made this sacrifice to give you, dear readers, more ideas for a festive Valentine's Day. The tasting took place at 3 Cups in Chapel Hill, a cafe fanatical about sourcing and serving excellent coffee, wine, chocolate, and tea. 3 Cups chocolate buyer Jonathan Wallace and wine guy Matt Souza paired four small-batch chocolates with Italian wines from small farms. Wallace …

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Campaign will let restaurant patrons donate to drinking-water project

Mark your calendars for the week of March 16, when diners at participating restaurants can choose to drink local tap water instead of bottled water and donate $1 to the Tap Project. Proceeds from the project benefit Unicef's efforts to provide clean drinking water to children in developing countries. The Tap Project was started pro bono last year by New York boutique exec David Droga; it raised $100,000 in New York last year, will go forth in more than a dozen additional cities next month, and may go global in 2009. sources:

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Love me, love my food habits

Veganism as relationship deal breaker

Love is in the air, and according to the New York Times, it's also served up at the dinner table. But when it comes to dueling food preferences -- he loves meat, she doesn't -- sometimes dinner leaves couples, well, hungry for more. No-holds-barred carnivores, for example, may share the view of Anthony Bourdain, who wrote in his book Kitchen Confidential that "vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit." Returning the compliment, many vegetarians say they cannot date anyone who eats meat. Vegans, who avoid eating …

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