The Hightower Report

Vacation on Warming Island; and A Chocolate Mess


A CHOCOLATE MESS

Shouldn't chocolate contain, you know … chocolate? By which I mean cocoa butter and solids, derived from the cacao tree, which the dictionary specifically says is "the source of chocolate."

No, says Hershey, Nestlé, and other industrial candy makers petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to let them lie to us consumers about what's in their confections. They want to be able to use no chocolate at all – instead substituting artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated and chemically modified vegetable fats, and other artificial ingredients – yet still get to call their product "chocolate." You don't have to be a chocoholic to see that this is a raw deal.

To add insult to injury, Hershey even blames us for its proposed rip-off, claiming that the deceptive label is needed to keep up with the changing "consumer taste preference." Oh, right – I'm sure there's an explosion of pent-up consumer demand all across America for that yummy taste of chemically modified trans fats. Who wants that old cocoa richness when we could have the waxy texture of the artificial stuff?

What we have here is a crass play by the big manufacturers to use cheap ingredients, then advertise and sell the product as fine chocolate. Gary Guillard of Guillard Chocolate Company is one of many real chocolate-makers who are appalled by this perversion. He says that the manufacturers' proposal would "cheapen chocolate's great taste, all in pursuit of shortchanging the consumer and putting that change in their own pockets."

If you want real chocolate instead of the fake stuff, which one group calls "mockolate," now is the time to speak up. The FDA's public comment period for the industry's proposal runs until June 25. For more information, and for a direct link to the FDA for registering your comment, go to www.dontmesswithourchocolate.com.


VACATION ON WARMING ISLAND

As summer approaches, families all across our country are making vacation plans. But some people get bored with the same old trips, whether to the shore or to some exotic tropical island. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

Well, Bucko, don't get all mopey. Perk up your vacation life with something entirely different, something guaranteed to cause a buzz back at the office: a cruise! No, not the geezer cruise with shuffleboard and the endless buffet. I'm talking about a cruise with cachet and topical relevancy – a cruise to watch global warming as it's happening! Yes, instead of just talking about climate change, you can literally go look at it, thanks to a boom in something called "global warming tourism."

For example, a company called Betchart Expeditions is offering a 12-day excursion up Greenland's coast to witness the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. After traveling some 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle, you will lay eyes on a brand-new landmark aptly named Warming Island. It was totally unknown until discovered in 2005 emerging from beneath the melting ice sheet. Just think – your very own Hummer might have contributed to the sudden appearance of this unique chunk of geography!

And you can see it in style aboard Betchart's 50-foot passenger ship. The bare-bones price for a steerage cabin with a shared bath is $5,000. But add a $2,000 upgrade, and you get a "superior" cabin with a private john. The cruise company notes that you can be among the first humans to see this spectacular island, which it describes as "a compelling indicator of the rapid speed of global warming."

Of course, this is a cruise loaded with irony. As a climate-change expert says, "If enough people expend enough fossil fuels to visit Warming Island, they will ensure that there will be many more." So bon voyage – and don't forget to buy the T-shirt.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

global warming, Betchart Expeditions, Greenland Coast, Arctic Circle, chocolate, Hershey, Nestle, Food and Drug Administration, Guillard Chocolate Company, FDA

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