Why you should care
This one’s for the chocoholics, yo. We love you like a pig loves corn.
While reports of the coming cacao-calypse are exaggerated, it’s no overstatement to say that the chocolate industry faces long-term supply issues. The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) predicts a global shortfall of 50,000 tons this season and — horror! — shortfalls of up to a million tons by decade’s end. For this you can blame the sweet-toothed consumer classes emerging in India, China and Brazil. Or the fact that many of the West African farmers who grow 70 percent of the world’s cacao haven’t seen their yields or take-home prices increase.
You might also look within, because your own predilection for dark chocolate has played a role in this shortfall. Cocoa constitutes about 10 percent of milk chocolate; most of the rest is sugar and milk. But cocoa makes up 60 to 90 percent of dark chocolate; that’s one reason it’s more expensive than milk chocolate. Read the story here.
Q: Could super-trees fill Haiti’s totally unrealized cacao potential, turn the country into a chocolate powerhouse and ramp up its economy?
A: Maybe someday. These cacao super-trees produce more and denser pods than the usual, and they graft easily, too. And it’s delicious besides, according to our admittedly biased experts. (They’re Haitian.) And yet, Haitian cacao does have a lot going for it. Its flavor has been described as sweetly seductive rather than bitter, even in its natural form. The country’s cacao results from the remarkable union of Criollo and Trinitario, varieties championed throughout the world. Read the story here.
There may be no such thing as guilt-free chocolate, but if you source it to Brazil’s Bahia state, chances are you probably won’t be contributing to the destruction of tropical forestland. That’s because an old method of growing cacao underneath the ancient trees has suddenly become new again, and it’s helping to preserve Brazil’s most endangered forest. After some devastating setbacks, the Bahian chocolate market is starting over with a focus on quality over quantity, led by an agroforestry strategy called cabruca: a strategy for shade-grown chocolate. Besides preserving endangered forest, the practice is letting some of the country’s poorest start up cacao production again. Read the story here.
Why eat regular old chocolate when you can indulge in hologram-topped chocolate? For most of us, even one bite of chocolate is enough to send our taste buds into ecstasy. Now, materials scientists have concocted a process to make these dark, dulcet morsels look as decadent as they taste. When you tilt the goodies from side to side, rainbow stars and swirly patterns on the chocolate’s surface dance and shimmer in the light. Which means you can have your chocolate and play with it, too. Read the story here.