Larchmont, NY, May 01, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- Clay Gordon, editor and publisher of chocophile.com, author of the forthcoming book "Discover Chocolate" (Gotham Books, October 2007), and founder of the New World Chocolate Society has been invited to attend and speak on the subject of chocolate, cacao, and tourism at the first Chocolate Summit to be held May 17th on the grounds of Cotton Tree Lodge (Punta Gorda, Belize) during the first annual Toledo Cacao Festival.
The Chocolate Summit during the Toledo Cacao Festival is bringing together chocolate lovers, chocolate manufacturers, and experts on chocolate from all over the world with members of the Belizean Tourism Board and local cacao farmers, co-ops, and others involved in the local cacao economy.
Mr. Gordon, who has been editing and publishing chocophile.com since May 2001, is recognized as one of Americas' leading independent authorities on the subject of chocolate. He recently returned from a trip to the Toledo District of Belize to study the local cacao economy and has made trips to Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador on similar study missions.
"Every cocoa producing country has different market economics so it's impossible to generalize about how cocoa makes its way from the farmer to the ultimate chocolate manufacturer. The situation in Southern Belize is interesting because it represents a very good example of corporate stewardship by a foreign company that is committed to doing well by doing good. It's an example of "direct trade" where the buyer of the cocoa beans is actively involved in the local economy rather than trading at arms' distance."
"Tourism can play a critical role in local cacao economies," continues Gordon, "because it connects the chocolate lover in the developed world with the people who grow cacao in developing countries. It's sort of like the concept of direct trade -- by getting the ultimate consumer involved with the production of cacao, it's no longer an arms' length relationship. By making the connection, and developing relationships chocolate lovers develop a strong first-hand understanding of why it's important to ensure that farmers get paid a living wage for the hard work they do growing ingredients for the foods we love.
"That's one of the missions of The New World Chocolate Society, which I originally founded to promote cocoa grown in the New World and chocolate made in the New World. On my first trip to Ecuador in 2003 I was struck by how easy it would be to create low-cost and no-cost devices or techniques to help cacao farmers improve their crop yields and the quality of what they produce. On my recent trips Mexico, Venezuela, and Belize I became even more convinced, and I am in the middle of prototyping a low-cost winnowing machine. I intend to release the plans for the winnower into the public domain under a Creative Commons license in the next couple of months once I work the bugs out. While the prototype I am making uses stock plumbing parts made from PVC, in places like Belize farmers could use bamboo they cut down in the forest."
Mr. Gordon's company, pureorigin, is planning a series of "Discover Chocolate" trips to Belize in 2007 and 2008, and plans to add trips to other countries as demand dictates. "Why Belize?" asks Mr. Gordon. "Well, English is the primary language of the country making it very easy to get around. Belize is also home to important parts of remaining Mayan culture, and the Mayans were one of the first societies in the Americas to incorporate cacao throughout all levels of their culture."