When the Chocolate giant Mars says they will GO ALL IN to fight climate change, well, I had to pay attention and ask, what's that about?
It is really about chocolate, the family owned business, and staying in business? If climate change is real and the planet is warming, their products, my favorite food group will melt easier and people will not buy it. The bottom line. It gets serious when thinking about a world without Snickers.
Chocolate is unique chemically and irresistible because its melting point is slightly below our body's temperature, so cocoa butter dissolves first in your mouth and distributes the rest of the chocolate ingredients over your taste buds quickly, starting with the sugar.
Makers of chocolate have understood their product sales were limited because of its unique properties. Thirty percent of the Earth has high temperatures year-round and at any given time, one-quarter of the earth is dealing with SUMMER.
Before the advent of air conditioning chocolate makers had to close up shop when the thermometer reached 78 degrees Fahrenheit, the melting point of cocoa butter. U.S. chocolate sales in the southern states had always lagged. Growing up in Texas back in the day I remember going to the city swimming pool with a quarter in order to get something out of the vending machine after getting out of the pool. The choices: Paydays, Zeros and sacks of peanuts. NO CHOCOLATE.
In the 1980's there was a rush to figure out how to change chocolate so it didn't melt as quickly when it got warm. There would be money in it. The race was on and some produced candy that tasted and chewed like paraffin. I bet there are lots of people who don't even know what paraffin is now. Lots of paraffin was used in everyday kitchens this time of year, to seal jars of jelly and foods from the garden that were canned. There are still recipes for making chocolate candy that contain paraffin on the ingredient list to as they say, stabilize and add a shine.
My kitchen is a catch all and I found some Paraffin not too long ago on the shelf. It came by the pound in a box about the size of 4 sticks of butter. Right on the side of the box it says it is a product of GULF the oil giant. Sure enough, paraffin is totally an oil product made from the waste after everything else is processed from oil. EPA lists it a hydrocarbon.
Paraffin isn't commonly used now for home canning. The big candy manufacturers tried using it but for taste and mouth feel got away from it.
World War II popularized candy as a treat for soldiers, and War meant candy sales and profit for the makers who produced it. War in the middle east decades later became a challenge to the companies since the region meant hotter temperatures. Mars worked with the Pentagon during the first Gulf War providing M&M's which "melted in your mouth, not in your hands" and provided Frozen Snickers bars packed with the Thanksgiving Day meal for every U.S. soldier.
Mars just announced it is pitching in a billion dollars to fight climate change so they must think this is the real deal. They want a company that is still thriving in 100 years, and to do that they are going to change what they can and make their own company have a smaller carbon footprint. Barry Parkin, Mars' chief sustainability officer said, "We believe in the scientific view of climate science and the need for collective action."
They are going to help the 1 million farmers around the world who are growing their ingredients to farm in a more sustainable way and they want companies around this world to make changes now, too.
Extreme weather events are impacting countries where they get their cacao (cocoa), countries within 10° south and 10° north of the equator. Irma this week and the real possibilities of ever more hurricanes will occur in their producing countries.
Extreme weather is changing the formation of hurricanes, making the ones that form to be more intense.
This can impact not just chocolate producers and the livelihood of the farmers growing it. But it can start impacting chocolate lovers around the world with availability and cost.
It gets personal. As Earl Hatley says, "The last thing we need is for us to become like the planet Mars."
We'll have some chocolate out for you at the National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek September 26 and 27. The topics range from Tar Creek, lead exposure, impacts to families when a creek is ruined by a poultry processing plant, earthquakes, and you can be sure climate will not be denied a chance to be discussed.
The public is encouraged to attend. The event is free for Ottawa County residents, but register early so you can GO ALL IN to the Ballroom in the Student Union at NEO and not miss a bit. Call 918-542-9399 or online www.leadagency.org.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim
Rebecca Jim is the executive director of the LEAD Agency.