May 2010

My MILSPEC Brownie, Dessert # MIL-C-44072C

This PDF of the military's specification for oatmeal cookies and brownies, document MIL-C-44072C, [PDF] has been making the rounds on the internet lately, most recently on Metafilter.  Some people think it's a hoax, a hilarious send-up of the US Military's culture of bureaucracy.  But there are enough people vouching for its credentials that I'm willing to believe it's real.

More to the point, does it work?

After reading the spec, I decided that I absolutely had to try it for myself.  

Endangered Species Chocolate, All Natural Smooth Milk Chocolate

After watching that dismaying documentary "Chocolate: The Bitter Truth" I resolved to purchase more fair trade chocolate.  Honestly I have always shied away from the more expensive bars, because… well, they're expensive!  I wasn't really aware of the difference between fair trade and "regular" chocolate.  Most of your high end chocolate bars are organic, or fair trade, or just really fancy, or some darned thing.  I couldn't keep track.  

Support Fair Trade Chocolate!

I recently watched a BBC documentary called "Chocolate: The Bitter Truth."  And, wow.  This is a hard-hitting documentary about the human cost of chocolate, 60% of which is grown in a narrow tropical belt in West Africa, both Ghana and the Ivory Coast.  This documentary isn't yet available in America, but you can read an excellent article which sums up the documentary's contents here on the BBC website.

It turns out that chocolate is about as bad as diamonds, ethically speaking.  There are international and national rules regarding child labor, which the cocoa growers flagrantly violate.  Children are pressed into service with dangerous tools, instead of being in school as the law demands.

Worst Chocolate Ever: Sweet Obsession Milk Chocolate

I'm skeptical of anything that uses the word "European."   Especially if you call your product a "Fine European" item, that just screams "amateur hour" to me.  Add to that the (perhaps unfair) stigma of being deeply discounted at the store, and I had pretty low expectations.  I bought this 5.3 ounce/150 gram bar of chocolate on sale for a mere dollar - cheaper than a Hershey bar of comparable size.  I was skeptical, as you might imagine!