Folium: The Taste of Chocolate via TwentyTwo Words
I will admit, over the past few years, that Americans have become more conscious of food origin. Buying “local” and “organic” now carries a greater weight, and understanding the role of the global supply network only encourages this line of thinking. I honestly believe that this is a good thing, as long as it is understood properly.
As other Folium articles explain, it is impossible to expect that all food can be cultivated locally. I love upstate New York, but our capacity to grow pineapples is… limited. If we want piña coladas, we need the help of places like Hawaii, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and other lands where the air and soil conditions are right. That’s just how agriculture works.
Now, pineapples are easy to explain. But what about food that exists as part of a greater whole? Cocoa (cacao) beans are a new world food, and the Aztec and Maya both have deep-rooted traditions that involve cocoa consumption. But in 2014, two-thirds of the global chocolate production comes from West African nations. These people have no connection to the plant aside from the fact that it grows well in their soil. (Most likely plantations started by Spanish or French colonists long ago). It’s a cash crop that is immediately harvested and trucked off to the nearest port for processing. These don’t seem to be exploited people. Just farmers, making a living in Western Africa. Another example of the global network bringing food from a continent away to your table.
To be honest I do not know what they make of my beans. I’ve heard they’re used as flavoring in cooking, but I’ve never seen it. I do not even know if it’s true. (YouTube/VPROMetropolis)
Can you imagine personally growing thousands of acres of cocoa, yet never knowing what it’s used for, or what the final product tastes like?
It’s a heartwarming video. Doesn’t seem to be staged. Can you fathom, as an adult, tasting a chocolate bar for the first time in your life?
Remember that we’re all connected. We need African chocolate farmers, and they need a market to sell to! This is how global commerce works! Also, there’s a video of people in Holland reacting to seeing a Cocoa pod for the first time! (Great watch too!)
Where did your last chocolate treat come from? Check the label and leave a comment below!
- TwentyTwo Words: African Cocoa Farmers
- YouTube/VPROMetropolis: First Taste of Chocolate
- MetropolisTV: Cocoa Fruit Pod in Holland
The LEAF Project
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