Time's running out. I wish I had known about this sooner, and that I had been able to post about it when Hans gave it to me a couple of days ago. Guittard Chocolate has a campaign running called Don't Mess With Our Chocolate.
Here's the basic concept. American chocolate standards are apparently stricter than I personally thought they were. Like many food products, there is a legal definition of what can be called chocolate in our country, which has been set up to protect us, the consumers. Certain members of the US chocolate industry have decided that they would like that legal definition to be relaxed, so that they can replace high quality ingredients such as cocoa butter and real sugar with cheaper, and much lower quality ingredients at our expense. To me this is like American farmers asking to replace the natural flavors and sugars of fresh fruits with artificial flavors and sweeteners. I can't think of any way to more effectively ruin a perfectly good apple, or pefectly good chocolate.
Guittard didn't need to take a stand on this. From the looks of things, the new legal definition wouldn't require chocolate manufacturers to change their recipes, it would just allow them to. Guittard could have profited from this new legal change. They could have used it as an opportunity to save money on their chocolate by producing an inferior product as well. Even if they maintained the same high quality standards that they have now, this change would allow them to promote themselves based on their adherance to higher quality practices than everbody else. But they didn't do that. They decided to try and educate the public on what I'm sure most of the rest of the US chocolate industry had no intention of telling us, so that we could have the opportunity to stand up for our rights and beliefs.
I hope that Guittard's efforts won't be in vain. The US chocolate industry seeks to legally mislead us with an inferior product, and we need to stop them. American chocolate has struggled with credibility in Europe for decades, and has only recently found acceptance in a place known for their high standards of quality. The US chocolate industry seeks to destroy that newfound respect at home and abroad, just to make an extra buck. Their efforts will benefit nothing but their profits.
Please take a moment to head over to Guittard's campaign site and click the link on "How to Help". We have until April 25th to let the FDA know that we won't stand for this. It's time to stand up for youselves and let it be known that we as Americans care about quality, and that we will not be duped or taken advantage of by greedy chocolatiers.