Cocoa Drop Cookies
- Amber Wetzler

2 Tablespoons of Fair Trade Cocoa Baking Powder (Dagoba Organic Chocolate Brand http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/coffee/retailers.html)

2 Cups of Organic Granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup of Organic Hormone-free Milk

1 Stick of Butter

˝ cup of Organic Peanut Butter

3 cups of Quick 1 Minute Oats

 

Hand mix the sugar, cocoa powder, milk, and butter in a bowl.  Place contents into a sauce pan and bring to a boil (continue to mix so it does not stick to pan).  Once the mixture begins to boil, only let it boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.  Add the peanut butter and oats and mix.  Drop spoon size portions onto a plate lined with wax paper or foil.  Let cookies stand until they are cool.  They are best if placed into the fridge. No baking needed!  Ready to eat in minutes! Mmmm…J

 

The main ingredients in Cocoa Drop Cookies are cocoa powder and granulated sugar.  Chocolate is a bi-product of cocoa and is extracted from the pods of the cacao tree, referred to as Theobroma cacao, which literally means “drink of the gods.”  3,000 years ago, the first cultures to value cocoa beans were the Olmec and the Maya’s in the tropics south of Vera Cruz and the Gulf of Mexico.  The culture worshiped the cocoa beans as sacred symbols of life and tranquility.  Only the members of society that were wealthy and of high class standing were allowed access to the cocoa bean.  The kings and noblemen enjoyed the cocoa in the form of a frothy drink, very few women and children were granted access.   In 900 AD the Maya’s and Olmec’s were replaced by the Aztec’s who made use of the cocoa bean as a valuable commodity of currency.  Only the wealthiest, most elite members of society were able to access cocoa beans as food or currency.  Since the beans represented the Aztec’s actual money, those who could afford to enjoy them literally ate their money.  In 1502, the Spanish conquistador Cortes recognized the potential of the cocoa bean to expand the globe as a valuable food source and profit maker.  He set up commercial plantations for cocoa production in the Caribbean, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru, which eventually would span the globe through its production, consumption, profit, and exploitation.

Sugar cane production was said to have first occurred in Southwest Asia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.  By 1452 the first sugar-slave complex was operated by African slaves in the Portuguese Island of Madeira.  In 1502 the first black slaves were brought to the American West Indies by the Spaniards and began the African Slave Trade.  In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, European colonists raided Africa for slaves to work the capitalist sugar plantations in the Atlantic Islands and later in the America’s.  This economic system, used around the globe and still today, is centered on using slave labor as a low cost, exploitable way to produce large quantities of the highly commercialized sugar cane crop and other cash crops.  These people were colonized based on their culture and identity.

What many people tend to ignore when eating these delicious cocoa cookies are the politics behind the production, consumption, preparation, availability, and heritage of the main ingredients, cocoa and sugar.  For example, today the Ivory Coast is a nation in West Africa that suffers from severe political unrest and poverty, causing women and children to be especially vulnerable to exploitation by profit driven corporations.  The nation currently produces half of the world’s cocoa in a socially unjust manner because 90% of the cocoa plantations have been accused of using child labor (US State Department and the International Labor Organization 2001).  These impoverished children of color are often forced or tricked into working for no pay, long hours, and under abusive conditions.  If they are paid, it is not enough to provide essentials and they are not educated. The nation’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture and the idea of “free trade”, as explained by Vandana Shiva, has expanded markets from the local to the global level causing the rich to take over the food and bodies of the poor.  The World Trade Organization is the most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world.  It uses “free trade” to serve the interests of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, working families, and the environment.  In addition, the continuing low market prices of key exports like the cocoa bean cause the majority of workers to receive low wages and live in poverty.  Global and transnational corporations have the power keep the prices they pay for cocoa low and the workers are underpaid and exploited. 

Globalization causes these people to become hungry, poor, diseased, and uneducated as their bodies, land, water, and resources are exploited to provide commodities to the rich in other countries.  Struggling nations all over the world are colonized by the rich industrialists for their food and labor to obtain profit.  Valuable resources are hijacked and distributed for consumption to the rich, leaving the inhabitants dependent upon redistribution of food by imports.  It becomes easy to see that culture and identity determine power and that impoverished women and children of color are likely the ones producing many of the luxuries that mostly the rich white males have access to.  What little is made available to the producers in return for the exploitation of their lives and nation is socially unjust.  Throughout history slavery and power have been determined by the intersections of race, class, gender, sex, nation, religion, age, and ability.

Cocoa Drop Cookies have always been a favorite desert in my family.  As a child, I light heartedly enjoyed these cookies with out ever realizing the social injustice behind the production of the ingredients on a global level and the injustice in the preparation right in my own family.  My grandmother introduced this recipe to me and also provided me with a great example of socially constructed gender role conformity.  She had seven children and her job was constantly caring for them, doing housework, and cooking.  I later learned this to be the second shift, as she had a wage earning daytime job as well.  My grandfather was hardly around and when he was, he did not help with the cleaning, cooking, or children because it was “not his job”.  She said she made these cookies because the ingredients were cheap, easily available, and they were quick to prepare.  Little did I know the expense of the ingredients not being paid by us was being paid with the lives of those being exploited for cheap labor during production. 

Class, gender, and privilege played a role in what my family ate, who prepared it, and what was thrown away or wasted.  My grandparents were a working class family with little disposable income so they had to buy cheap food items that would last in a large family.  The woman did the preparation and the man was given priority at the reception by sitting at the head of the table and being served first.  What was consumed was also determined by the man. The women stood and served the food while the children were to be seen but not heard at the dinner table.  Not having to turn on the oven for these cookies saved my grandmother money and prevented energy waste.  She was able to make them fast, not taking time away from her other household duties. 

Thinking about the injustice surrounding my favorite cookie, I decided to come up with ways I could prepare this cookie as an act of feminist resistance.  Using the ingredients I described at the top will lessen profits for the world’s largest chocolate companies like M&M/Mars which makes almost $100 million a year just on M&Ms candies.  These mega corporations and others like Nestle support child labor and globalization because they do not purchase fair trade cocoa and sugar as it costs more.  Fair Trade gives cocoa and sugar farmers the minimum price required to feed and educate their families.  Purchasing family grown cocoa products, organic sugar, and hormone free milk ensure that the environment and people are protected during the production and are ways to use food to promote social change.  Although these products cost more then those produced by large corporations, purchasing them if you can afford to is a small act of everyday feminist resistance.  Clearly these companies are more concerned with profit than with the quality of the life for those who produce their valued commodities.

What can you do?  Seven suggestions can be found at the Food Revolution site.

 

Sources

 

Robbins, John. “Is There Slavery In Your Chocolate?” 2001 EarthSave International. 11 Nov. 2004. http://www.foodrevolution.org/slavery_chocolate.htm

 

“100% Fair Trade Companies.” 17 Aug. 2004 Global Exchange.  20 Nov. 2004. http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/coffee/retailers.html

 

“A Publication of Queer Feminist Subversions.” 2003 Push Magazine. 11 Nov. 2004. http://www.pushmagazine.org/

 

“The Chocolatier” 2001 Foodies Corner. 20 Nov. 2004. http://groups.msn.com/FoodiesCorner/thechocolatier.msnw