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Kitchen Table Talks Report: Chocolate with Dignity, Part I

As a father, there is perhaps nothing more profound than being mindful, present, and open-minded enough to life’s lessons that my young child incessantly and brusquely thrusts in my face. As a winemaker, little has motivated or reminded me more about our natural propensity to be captivated by our sense of smell and taste, as much as watching my toddler instantly become enraptured with chocolate. In chocolate, at three-years old no less, he likely had already discovered one of the few things that will remain among his favorite pleasures for many decades to come. A remarkable lifetime relationship that will bring virtually uninterrupted pleasure. Anyone think they can compete with that?  Sweet dreams.

But just recently, when he turned four, I thought he was compassionate enough and could emotionally handle the “dark side” of chocolate. Read more

G8 Promises $20 Billion in Agricultural Aid: Real Change or Business as Usual?

Today, the Group of 8 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy pledged 20 billion dollars in agricultural aid, responding to a request made yesterday by President Obama. For the first time, instead of being given directly as food aid, these funds are set to be allotted for building an agricultural economy in nations in need, specifically in Africa. Just what this agricultural infrastructure entails (the fine print mentions fertilizer and seed, grain storage vessels and plant variety research) could be the key to whether the plan actually seeks to feed many of the billion people on earth who are now hungry, or whether the U.S. and other nations will, instead, further fuel the food crisis. Read more