I don't like Nestle chocolate. Period. For one, they use dairy in their semi-sweet chocolate chips. Secondly, their low-quality cocoa just does not make for a well-developed and deep chocolate. Finally, as a large company selling a commodity at a cheap price, Nestle invariable cuts corners that sacrifice human well-being (such as the rampant child labor found in Cote d'Ivoire and exploitative wages of cocoa farmers) as well as ecological health.
But Nestle recently announced that it will no longer use products that "drive tropical rainforest destruction." This new campaign specifically targets plantations of palm oil (often used in chocolate candy), the growth of which have driven alarming rates of deforestation in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. Deforestation for any reason has consequences beyond the endangered species and destroyed local livelihoods, it also impacts the global carbon count - particularly in tropical areas where forests are huge sinks for carbon. If interested, you can find out more about forest carbon and the discussion surrounding it at the Bonn climate change talks taking place at present.
That's fine and dandy for deforestation from palm oil plantations. And although Nestle has started paying attention to the sustainability of their cocoa with their Cocoa Plan, they still have a long way to go. And it is critical that large companies like Nestle take on this responsibility and step up their social and environmental sustainability efforts. Like the Walmarts and McDonalds before them, Nestle has a deep market penetration and broad distribution, potentially having profound impact in furthering fair trade initiatives and the like, but also making them deadly to the farmers and ecosystems at the other end. All that said, I still don't plan on purchasing Nestle chocolate any time soon.
I promised cookies, too. Well kids, my latest borrow from the library happened to be Ms. Moskowitz' and Ms. Romero's newest addition to vegan baking - Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar. And because Vegan Cupcakes take over the World is simply amazing, and I love cookies even more, I have been spending a disgusting amount of time flipping through the pages of this mini cookbook and plotting my impending cookie adventures.
Today's exploit consisted of two versions of biscotti - literally twice baked in Italian. I followed the gingerbread biscotti recipe faithfully, minus the candied ginger, plus a tablespoon of applesauce. For the lemon cornmeal biscotti, I left out the poppy seeds, added more lemon flavor, and included dried cranberries for a bit of a punch. Now, up to this point, the Veganomicon recipe for chocolate hazelnut biscotti held my affection. However, these new recipes are phenomenal (I think they have more oil...) - crisp, light, very biscotti-like, perfect for a nice cuppa tea or joe.
On a final note, for my fellow Seattle-ites or others interested in visiting our illustrious city, the International Food Bloggers Conference will be held here August 27-29!!! There are some exciting speakers and sessions, and food of course! Unfortunately, $350 is a bit steep for someone in my position - two months of student loans, to say the least. But it sounds super fun, and Seattle is a fantastic place to visit (let me know if you need suggestions for entertainment).
Coming Up: GreenFest this Weekend!