STELLPFLUG COLUMN: A chocolate shortage is just about the last straw

STELLPFLUG COLUMN: A chocolate shortage is just about the last straw

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As if things were not bad enough. We have the COVID-19 virus, unemployment, stock market volatility, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and riots in the streets. What is next? A swarm of locusts? A mosquito in your bedroom? Actually, it’s worse. I’ve been informed that by 2040 there will be a dire shortage of chocolate.

In 2013 and 2014, there was quite a lot of buss about a cocoa shortage by 2020. The reports were doom and gloom and proclaimed we would all be out of our favorite confectionary in just a few years. I didn’t panic, nor did I stock up on Dove dark chocolates. I read about it and was saddened that yet another of our favorite things would be lost to climate change and insects.

Fortunately, that prediction melted away. Thank goodness that didn’t occur or we would have riots in the streets. Oh, wait, we already have riots in the streets. It is seven years later and there is a resurgence of fret and worry. New experts, new predictions, and they have projected the year 2040, to be the year of dwindled chocolate, or at the very latest 2050. The soothsayers are out there, even using the word extinct, scaring a lot of people, and moving some people to tears, others to action.

The scientists are already at work in their labs desperately trying to save chocolate—and certainly butting in line for a Nobel Prize if they do. Don’t Snicker, this is serious business. Just Twix you and me, I don’t want chocolate to cost 100 Grand. They are looking for ways to grow cocoa plants in a variety of areas and solutions to the infestation of bugs and diseases. They are pondering the crops, size of beans and amount produced in less than ideal conditions.

The global concern is due to a combination of rising temperatures causing less moisture in the soil where cocoa can be grown along with pests that have infected crops. A virus transmitted by bugs has decimated parts of Brazilian farmers’ crops. And the primary growing area in West Africa is experiencing aging and diseased trees facing warmer temperatures, thinning forest shade and tired soil.

Sustainability is a concern as more of the land needs to be used for food crops. They are in a serious Crunch with great demand and Mounds of challenges. Short of going out of this Galaxy to plant new corps, the candy maker Mars has pledged $1 billion toward sustainability efforts aimed at saving production.

We all know the health benefits of dark chocolate, from nutritious to delicious. It is said to prevent heart disease and lower the risk of stroke. That could mean people would be broken-hearted without chocolate, and I have known women who practically stroke out if they don’t get their fix of M&Ms. One friend who used to hide them in various places around her home called them power pellets. I have no doubt that chocolate boosts mood and is a source of antioxidants. It is said to lower blood pressure and improve circulation.

Benefits are many. I always pause when the lists include reducing chances of cancer, but it is on the lists. Even Medscape says it may reduce fatigue in multiple sclerosis patients, and assist in treating depression. It does say it won’t improve your vision, but hey, improving my math skills, memory and mood is good enough for me.

Will artificial intelligence create artificial chocolate? We’ll have to wait and see. But proving we were so good at hoarding toilet paper, I have no doubt that, when word gets out about shortages, there will be basements full of Godiva, Hershey and Ghirardelli.

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at kaystellpflug@gmail.com.

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