Episode 21 - Interview with Kristy Leissle

We interview Dr. Chocolate, Kristy Leissle, scholar of the global cocoa and chocolate industries, lecturer at the University of Washington Bothell where she teaches Global Studies, and author of Cocoa - due out later this month.


Pre-order Kristy’s book, Cocoa, here

Episode Highlights

  • (3:10)  How did Kristy come to discover chocolate?

  • (9:03)  How has chocolate changed as a subject of academy inquiry?

  • (15:22) How did Kristy discover the dark side of chocolate?

  • (20:02)  Kristy describes the discomfort of daily life and “material deprivations” of the average cocoa farmer.

  • (24:48) Kristy describes a visit to a cocoa farm in Ghana.

  • (36:43) Sunita and Kristy discuss how Kristy’s work in West Africa challenged Sunita’s assumptions about chocolate and the push to avoid chocolate from West Africa.

  • (46:12) Can craft chocolate lead to any improvement for cacao farmers, and why might cacao farmers have a preference for pesticides/sprays?

  • (1:01:30) How can local production and consumption of cacao change the industry for the better?

Favorite Quotations

  • (Kristy) “Especially in the craft sector, chocolate has become this thing that we look to to help us get out into the world and help us understand difference.”

  • (Kristy) “We think of cocoa as hard and it’s challenging and it doesn’t make people very much money and it’s this incredibly uncomfortable life, [but] that’s my view.  For the people that live in Mali or Burkina Faso in the Sahelian regions that are completely arid, there is no agriculture, there is just no opportunity, there is nothing, cocoa is riches, cocoa is hope, cocoa is the way to get ahead in life.”


Pre-order Kristy’s book, Cocoa, here

Brian Beyke