Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark Side of the World's Most Seductive Sweet

Overview

Award-winning author and broadcaster Carol Off reveals the fascinating – and often horrifying – stories behind our desire for all things chocolate.

Whether it’s part of a Hallowe’en haul, the contents of a heart-shaped box or just a candy bar stashed in a desk drawer, chocolate is synonymous with pleasures both simple and indulgent. But behind the sweet image is a long history of exploitation. In the eighteenth century the European aristocracy went wild for the Aztec delicacy. ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $16.00   
  • Used (6) from $16.00   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$16.00
Seller since 2006

Feedback rating:

(59850)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Good
Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Experience the best customer care, fast shipping, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all ... orders. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Mishawaka, IN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$18.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(64)

Condition: Like New
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 2006 Hard Cover As New in As New jacket Near fine hard cover in near fine unclipped dustjacket. Clean tight and unmarked. 326pp nf/nf.

Ships from: Halifax, Canada

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$19.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(96)

Condition: Very Good
Toronto 2006 Hardcover First Edition Very Good in Very Good jacket 8vo. Pp 326."Bitter Chocolate is a social history, a passionate investigative account and an eye-opening ... expos? of the workings of a multi-billion dollar industry that has institutionalized misery as it served our pleasures. " Read more Show Less

Ships from: Edmonton, Canada

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$25.37
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(77)

Condition: Good
Good Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Your purchase also supports literacy charities. *****PLEASE ... NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$26.38
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(17)

Condition: Like New
Mississauga, ON, Canada 2006 Hardcover Fine in Fine jacket

Ships from: Southampton, Canada

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$72.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(18)

Condition: Like New
Toronto 2006 Hard Cover First Edition. Fine in Fine jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. Signed by Author A VERY FINE, unread copy of the first edition. In VERY FINE Jacket. "AS NEW.". ... SIGNED by CAROL OFF on the title page. VERY, VERY, VERY SCARCE thus. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Toronto, Canada

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

Award-winning author and broadcaster Carol Off reveals the fascinating – and often horrifying – stories behind our desire for all things chocolate.

Whether it’s part of a Hallowe’en haul, the contents of a heart-shaped box or just a candy bar stashed in a desk drawer, chocolate is synonymous with pleasures both simple and indulgent. But behind the sweet image is a long history of exploitation. In the eighteenth century the European aristocracy went wild for the Aztec delicacy. In later years, colonial territories were ravaged and slaves imported in droves as native populations died out under the strain of feeding the world’s appetite for chocolate.

Carol Off traces the origins of the cocoa craze and follows chocolate’s evolution under such overseers as Hershey, Cadbury and Mars. In Côte d’Ivoire, the West African nation that produces nearly half of the world’s cocoa beans, she follows a dark and dangerous seam of greed. Against a backdrop of civil war and corruption, desperately poor farmers engage in appalling practices such as the indentured servitude of young boys – children who don’t even know what chocolate tastes like.

Off shows that, with the complicity of Western governments and corporations, unethical practices continue to thrive. Bitter Chocolate is a social history, a passionate investigative account and an eye-opening exposé of the workings of a multi-billion dollar industry that has institutionalized misery as it served our pleasures.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Ghosts of Medak Pocket, winner of the Dafoe Book Prize:

“A first-class account . . . her prose is lively and her tone impassioned.”
The Globe and Mail

Praise for The Lion, The Fox and the Eagle:

“This is an explosive look at what really happened in the failed peacekeeping missions in Sarajevo and Rwanda.”
Ottawa Citizen

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679313199
  • Publisher: Random House of Canada, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Off has witnessed and reported on many of the world’s conflicts, from the fall of Yugoslavia to the US-led “war on terror.” She has won numerous awards for her CBC television documentaries in Africa, Asia and Europe. She lives in Toronto.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

In the Garden of Good and ­Evil


“In my dreams I gorge on chocolates, I roll in chocolates, and their texture is not brittle but soft as flesh, like a thousand little mouths on my body, devouring me in fluttering small bites. To die beneath their tender gluttony is the culmination of every temptation I have known.”
–Joanne Harris, ­Chocolat

The broad highway leading out of the city of Abidjan is marked on the map of Côte d’Ivoire as a principal ­two-­lane thoroughfare, but with the city behind us, it narrows quickly and degenerates into a potholed road no wider than a driveway. Tangled vines and shrubbery encroach on both sides of our vehicle while we push through what resembles a dark, leafy tunnel. Constant ­precipitation–­a perpetual cycle from warm mist to torrential thundershowers to ­steam–­seems to stimulate new jungle growth before my ­eyes.

Koffi Benoît is at the wheel on this excursion into the unknown. He’s an unflappable Ivorian, and I would trust him in any situation. Ange Aboa is our principal guide into la brousse, as he calls ­it–­the bush. Ange is a reporter for the Reuters news agency and spends much of his time in Côte d’Ivoire’s backcountry trying to make some sense of the murky, muddled world of African business. Together, we travel west out of Abidjan, deep into the tropical forests and remote farm country that stretches for hundreds of kilometres towards the Liberian border. Our mission is to seek out the truth about Côte d’Ivoire’s most precious commodity, ­cocoa.

My two companions know the bush country well, but they are perpetual strangers here where people trust only their own clans. We need help from local residents if we are to penetrate the walls of history and vegetation and probe the mysteries within. In a small village, we meet up with Noël Kabora, a seasoned pisteur who travels the tiny pistes, or back trails, every day as he makes his rounds of farms, gathering sacks of cocoa beans from the farmers. Abandoning the relative comfort of Benoît’s Renault for Noël’s dilapidated truck, we turn off the highway and head deep into the bush. Ange has moved to the back of the truck to chat with some local people while I sit in the cab with Noël. Benoît decides to stay behind and have tea with some newfound ­friends.

Nearly half of all the cocoa in the world comes out of this humid West African jungle and eventually finds its way into the confections that enrich the diets and the moods of chocolate lovers around the world. The bonbons, truffles, hot chocolate, cookies, cakes, ice cream sundaes and the ubiquitous chocolate bars; the sweet morsels that ostensibly say, “I love you” on Valentine’s Day, “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Birthday,” the Halloween treats; the Easter eggs–thye started the long journey into our stomachs and our ceremonies here in this tropical hothouse. Yet I could not be farther away from those cherished ceremonies of life, the pageants of celebration and happiness in the developed world, than I am driving along these rutted paths through the ­jade-­coloured forests of Côte d’Ivoire.

Noël points out the cocoa groves tucked in among the tall banana trees, the mangoes and the palms. Exotic green, yellow and red cocoa pods, the size of butternut squash, cling precariously to the smooth trunks of the trees called, in Latin, Theobroma cacao – “food of the gods.” Farmers lop the ripe pods from the bark with machetes and split them open to harvest the riches within: dozens of ­grey-­purple seeds the size of almonds embedded in pale ­tan-­coloured pulp. Through the bushes, we can see the racks and mats where the contents of the pods are piled up to ferment for days in the humid ­heat, producing ­a marvellous alchemy in which the seeds steep in the sweet, sticky juice from the pulp while sweltering in the hot tropical ­sun.

Micro-­organisms in the fetid pile go to work, stirring into action about four hundred different chemicals and organic substances that magically transform a bland bean into the raw material that is the essence of the world’s most seductive sweet After five or six days of malodorous mulling, the beans are then laid out on racks to dry. This delicate series of operations, augmented by manufacturing techniques, has made chocolate addicts out of millions of people around the world throughout history. Children invest meagre allowances for just a bite of it; some women say they prefer fine chocolate to sex; and modern science claims for chocolate myriad potential health benefits, from reducing cholesterol to boosting libido. Chocolate is the embodiment of temptation. It creates a mysterious addiction, which, in turn, sustains a vast international trade and an industry with a seemingly insatiable appetite for raw product. For their survival, the captains of the chocolate industry depend on these remote farms and the pisteurs who make daily excursions into the bush, gathering sacks of carefully fermented and dried cocoa ­beans.

Noël expertly navigates a ­mind-­boggling road that seems at times to disappear completely. He points towards the tops of hills where groves of cocoa trees grope for sunlight and comments knowingly on the quality of each farmer’s ­produce, noting the ones who have perfected drying and fermenting and castigaing those whose beans are always dirty. From time to time, we can see a little ­one-­room schoolhouse or tiny chapel surrounded by the poor mud houses of the people who cultivate “the food of the gods.”

Farmers in this region have been growing the world’s cocoa for a relatively short ­time–­since the 1970s and ’80s, when Côte d’Ivoire’s benevolent dictator and founding father, Félix ­Houphouët-­Boigny, realized that this fecund farmland could grow a botanical equivalent of gold. He wanted to transform his ­post-­colonial country, just reclaimed from France, into the economic engine of West Africa. In the 1960s Houphouët-­Boigny announced that he would turn the jungle into Eden and everyone who lived here would enjoy the fruits of their own labour. The creationist vision worked and, for a time, Côte d’Ivoire became arguably the most profitable and stable country on the continent, mostly through providing the world with ­cocoa. All that has changed.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)