Forcipomyia spp. pollinating a cacao flower. Goodman Cacao Estate, Killaloe, Australia, 2017. Credit: Samantha J. Forbes
This 12-minute primer on Soundcloud gives a reason to appreciate these otherwise very annoying pests:
Forcipomyia spp. SEM image. Goodman Cacao Estate, Killaloe, Australia, 2017. Credit: Samantha J. Forbes
Chocolate starts as a beautiful yellow and cream-colored blossom, with blushes of pink and magenta. The flowers, sprouting straight from the bark of the cacao tree, are no bigger than a dime—and they’re pollinated by something much smaller: a barely visible fly related to biting no-see-ums, or midges. Continue reading
Left, a ripe cacao pod. Right, truffles from Midunu chocolates contain spices and flavors from all over Africa. Midunu Chocolates
Thanks to Amy E. Robertson and National Public Radio (USA) for telling the story of Midunu, a brief excerpt of which is sampled below:
…While working in Senegal, Atadika joined forces with two more food-loving friends, and created a pop-up restaurant that was wildly popular. After dipping her toes in the culinary world for a couple of years, she finally took the plunge. In 2014, Atadika resigned from the UN, moved back to her native Ghana and began cooking full time.
Atadika started with catering and pop-up dinners. “It wasn’t my plan to do chocolates,” she says. “But whatever I do in food I look at in terms of adding value, and chocolate just kind of popped in, because we have this cocoa but we weren’t really processing it at the level we should be.” Midunu Chocolates was born. Continue reading
The rise in artisanal cacao farming, as we have noted on occasion, can have important implications for conservation. Whether you are a chocoholic or just a casual dabbler in the sweet bi-product of cacao, this report deserves your attention (click on the image to go to the source):
Chocolate is everywhere. It is the afternoon pick-me-up, the sensual indulgence, the accoutrement to seduction. Lovers gift truffles, skiers sip on rich hot chocolate, and connoisseurs savor the tiniest, richest bite of single origin dark chocolate. The ancient Aztecs believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac, and the emperor Montezuma was reported to gorge himself on chocolate in advance of his trysts. Continue reading
Cacao pods ready for harvest at the Loiza Dark Chocolate farm. Courtesy of Loiza Dark Chocolate
Thanks to Dan Charles and his colleagues at the salt, over at National Public Radio (USA) for telling us about that something speaking to Mr. Vizcarrondo; we, working in Belize, working on farm revival among other things, also hear that something and we are inspired to hear of others who hear it too:
The dream of reviving Puerto Rico’s chocolate tradition took root in Juan Carlos Vizcarrondo’s mind years ago.
He’s always been obsessed with flowers and trees. As a boy, he planted so much greenery in his mother’s backyard, there was hardly room to walk.
But in his thirties, he started planting cocoa trees, with their colorful pods full of magical seeds. “Something told me, just keep planting, because nobody has it! It’s so strange, nobody has it!,” he recalls. Continue reading
Richard Fortey and Derek Niemann among the beeches in Grim’s Dyke Wood. Photograph: Sarah Niemann
We do not favor private sector conservation efforts over all other options; we favor them over the option of no conservation at all. Governments around the world have rightly done the heaviest lifting on preserving nature, considering their resources, eminent domain, and other factors including the most salient; public lands effectively belong to an entire nation’s citizens. Philanthropies have also done enormous good. We have written plenty on both public and philanthropic conservation schemes. Today, a more modest story, but no less lovely:
The Tamshiyacu plantation in northern Peru where it is alleged a United Cacao subsidiary illegally cleared primary rainforest. Photograph: Environmental Investigation Agency
Thanks to the Guardian‘s renewed environmental reporting efforts for this investigative delicacy: