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Bill Gates: Chocoholic – Who Knew?

10 Feb

Well, he could be.

In a link to his annual letter posted on the World Cocoa Foundation’s website, Gates discusses the worst of bad situations: agriculture in poor countries that cannot sustain life and health. He discusses the one billion people, many of them farmers, living on the brink of starvation, and the fact that tight budgets around the world may leave many of these people to live – and die – in these conditions.

Gates is not completely pessimistic. He acknowledges the strides made in cutting extreme poverty over the years, and cites the ground-level heroes, out in the fields, labs and classrooms, working in the worst conditions to ensure a turnaround. He understands that global poverty was worse when he was young, and changes in farming methods, new seed varieties, new drugs and vaccines and better health care have not only changed the standards of living worldwide, they have saved many lives.

Gates’ goal is to have the readers of his letter make a simple choice: continue to support the poorest people and help them gain self-sufficiency, because everyone benefits. Gates also wants to make agricultural innovation and research a priority. A majority of the world’s population must spend so much time gathering food, and so many poor families either depend completely on food they grow and sell, or spend a great percentage of their income buying food, that moving new agricultural ideas forward has to be important.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter is lengthy, with photos, charts and statistics, but it is quite readable. The letter discusses other aspects of the Foundation and its work with world governments in schools, public health care and family planning. It is more compelling storytelling than dull numerical reporting, as it introduces you to individuals the Gateses met in their travels. And it is a call to action for everyone, not just the billionaires with bucks to leave behind. Support large and small matters, just like farmers large and small matter. And where chocolate is concerned, many of the world’s cacao farmers are located in the very areas Gates’ foundation is assisting.

So maybe Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t chocoholics after all. But they’re certainly trying to help those of us who are.

And if you need some help with chocolate choices, I have a few more:

  • Wawel 90%: No joke, you can actually eat this Polish-made bar and enjoy it. It’s not as bitter as you would imagine; it has a very woody, mossy background. I never tried baking with it, in place of unsweetened chocolate, but I would certainly consider it.
  • Elite Bittersweet: A bar from Israel, it had no cocoa percentage listed, but it was on the sweeter side. Also very fruity and somewhat tangy.
  • Amano Chuao 70% Reserve Dark: It’s from Utah. I had no idea there was chocolate made in Utah, and I would consider traveling there if I had to in order to get more of this bar. Perfect sweet versus bitter balance, slightly mossy, and no sugar crunch at all.  
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