The art and culture of chocolate: part 1


Chocolate truffles

MPR Photo/Mark Jungmann

First, let me admit up front that I’m very, very fond of chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. So when the producer of Midday asked me to step in as host while Gary Eichten was away, and then asked me if I wanted to host an hour on chocolate, well I was in heaven.

Talk about your fun research! I spent yesterday afternoon touring the new exhibition on chocolate at the Minnesota History Center, which opens tomorrow afternoon. And today, I got to spend an hour chatting about both the history of chocolate and the modern industry with exhibition developer Gretchen Baker and local chocolatier B.T. McElrath.

However, this conversation wasn’t all sweet and sugary. We talked about the impact of cacao plantations on the rainforest as well as the industry’s links to slavery. As Baker and McElrath stressed, it’s hard to know exactly where your chocolate comes from, or how the workers were treated, which is why it’s important to buy chocolate that’s certified fair trade.

So, you may be asking, why is this entry titled “The art and culture of chocolate: part 1?” In the coming week I’m going to visit a food artist who sculpts with chocolate. Stay tuned for some sweet treats!