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Dissecting chocolate

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-647886.mp3

Albany, NY – When I announced to folks that I wanted to do a 51% show devoted to my favorite dessert, everyone said, oh, that sounds fun. One beat later, they asked... but what does it actually have to do with women's issues?

Well, chocolate has been linked with women in several ways...and we'll look into them over the next half-hour. But we'll start with a quick history lesson and recipe...and if you're so inclined, you can follow along and have a steaming hot cup of chocolate to enjoy for the rest of the episode. This segment comes from Chef Mary Jo McMillan in Ohio.

Chocolate arrived in Europe from South America. Since, cacao farms have exploded into a world-wide industry...some say that the farms exploit their workers, similar to coffee plantations. More fair trade chocolates are appearing in stores in the U.S. But Some Ghanean farmers want US consumers to chew-over a few tidbits when they decide which chocolate to buy. They say the brand Divine Chocolate, which their farmers' cooperative partly owns, enriches not only their own pocketbooks but also the way of life in their communities. And some women say it's also opened doors for them to start new careers. Two female Ghanean farmers recently toured parts of the US to promote Divine Chocolate, whose motto is heavenly chocolate with a heart. 51%'s Laura Iiyama has more.

Joan Steuer is another woman who's made her living from chocolate. Steuer is a consultant for big-name firms like Godiva and Haagen Daas. She's co-authored chocolate cookboos. She's run her own company, Chocolate Marketing, for 20 years. And, if you can believe it, that's just the tip of the iceberg. She sat down to tell be about her love affair for chocolate...and why she thinks women are particularly attracted to the substance. (

There are all kinds of claims that women are drawn to chocolate more than men...as Joan Steuer puts it, that it's a sensual experience. Well, according to Debra Zellner, professor of psychology at Montclair State University in New Jersey, those theories aren't actually based on fact. Zellner has conducted studies that show that women in the U.S. crave chocolate more than women in other countries. I sat down with her to ask her about her study, as well as the health benefits and risks associated with the dessert.

Whether it's a true addiction or not, essayist Jeanne Hunter loves her chocolate. And Cadbury chocolates have shown her some love in return.