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The Watchman: Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin and Kamal Saleem Discuss "The Coalition"

We all know that the U.S. government is operating in an outrageous budget deficit situation. But most people are unaware that we have a chocolate deficit situation on our hands, too.

Where is the outrage there? Chocolate comes from cocoa. It seems the demand for cocoa far outpaces the amount of cocoa being produced. What's worse is the problem continues to worsen every year with no repreive in sight.

I suppose I'm partially to blame. Well, me and others like me who have been touting the health benefits of dark chocolate. In order to receive the wonderful, healthy, antioxidant benefits of chocolate, we need to eat the kind that has at least 70 percent cocoa, more is even better.

That uses up a lot of cocoa compared to the traditional milk chocolate bar, which only contains 10 percent cocoa.

Apparently the message is sinking in, because demand for dark chocolate has skyrocketed. But the demand doesn't stop there.

China, a country of 1.3 BILLION people, is now discovering what we in the West have known all along, which is CHOCOLATE IS WONDERFUL.

Chinese consumers are gobbling up the stuff more and more each year. They still have a long way to go before they reach our levels, though, or the French. The average Chinese person consumes only 5 percent of the chocolate that the average Western European eats.

Who will satisfy the demand for chocolate? That's the other side of this dismal coin.

The cocoa supply is drastically reduced. Cocoa producers are having a very rough time of it, indeed. In fact, it's so bad that the amount of cocoa produced worldwide has DECREASED BY 40 percent! Almost half!

That's largely because dry weather has ravaged the cocoa crops in West Africa, specifically in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where nearly two-thirds of all the world's cocoa is produced.

As if that's not bad enough, cocoa crops are also being infested with a fungal disease. Because of this, many cocoa producers have decided to give up farming cocoa altogether and switch to growing something that is heartier and more profitable, such as corn.

The end result is quite predictable. When demand increases and supply decreases, prices go up. Have you noticed how chocolate prices have risen?

If you're like me, you haven't noticed it specifically, but have definitely noticed that EVERYTHING is a lot more expensive at the grocey store these days. Cocoa prices have jumped more th 60 percent in just the last two years.

This chocolate deficit, where farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, is nothing new. It's been going on for 50 years. Last year world ate 70,000 TONS more chocolate than it produced.

By 2020 it could reach one million tons and by 2030 two million tons!

There is one ray of hope. Well, that depends on whether it turns out well, and I'm very skeptical.

An agriculural research group in Central Africa is trying to develop a new kind of cocoa tree that can produce seven times the amount of beans that traditional cocoa beans produce.

Sounds too good to be true. One has to wonder if the taste will be compromised or the health benefits of cocoa will be diminished with these franken-beans.

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