December 7, 2011

Was Star Trek too optimistic for a future full of chocolate?

"I never met a chocolate I didn't like " Deanna Troi -  Star Trek ( The Next Generation) .
 That is probably one of the renowned quotes about chocolate . I am not that of a Star Trek fanatic , more of a Star Wars. But Star Wars doesn't mention anything about chocolate!
 Even in another Star Trek Episode   (Deep Space Nine) chocolate was a commodity on DS9 during the Bajor Occupation; Quark offered some to Odo to make up for their "rough start" back in 2363.
Does this  ingenious TV series that depicts life in the future , able to predict correctly that chocolate will still exist in the future? And that Chocolate will still be eaten in "rough times"?

Unfortunately, Cocoa and chocolate will be rare foods in the upcoming 10 years. Well that’s what the International Center for Tropical Agriculture ( more about CIAT)  in Columbia warns. So , perhaps teleportation machines and starships will be more realistic  than humans eating chocolate.

The  CIAT research center states that a hotter weather could decrease West Africa’s cocoa production, which currently provides around two thirds of global cocoa production.
Cocoa is a valuable global crop for major industries. Annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages approximately 600,000 tons per year. ( Check below Infographic about Chocolate statistics)

But, West African farmers have been complaining of unpredictable rains, and unusual higher temperatures that is fattening up cocoa beans and causing drying. Many cocoa pods are also found to be rotten with black pod disease..( More from the news)

Worth pointing out, yield already declined and will continue in this downward trend.  The world will require an additional 1 million metric tons of cocoa by 2020 to meet demand, according to Barry Callebaut AG, the world’s largest maker of bulk chocolate.Eventually, chocolate prices  will surge severely in the upcoming few years as economists warn.

But no one wants to stand silent and watch the cocoa trees diminishing on earth.  In Ghana and Ivory Coast, scientists are trying to develop new disease resistant varieties and drought-resistant cocoa trees .
They are also urging farmers in replanting trees in cooler places or zones less prone to flooding.
As well, as more investments are being made on cocoa projects such as the Olam , Rainforest Alliance for increasing the yield of cocoa beans. ( more from Bloomberg Business Week)

As for fighting climate changes, delegates from nearly 200 countries met in South Africa on Nov 28 for climate talks. According to the Associate Press news (Dec 3), the top U.N. climate official said that she is optimistic that industrial countries will agree on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Pearl's Powder: But till agricultural solutions become available and till environmental regulations are actually implemented on industries, let us cherish some special facts about chocolate before it  merely becomes an occasional dessert: 

  1. The word 'Chocolate' comes from the Aztec word, cacahuatl, which means bitter water.Finding chocolate residue in an ancient Maya pot suggests that Mayans were drinking chocolate 2,600 years ago and proving that chocolate was first drunk rather than eaten. ( More in National Geographic news
  2. The Aztecs associated cocoa with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility, believing that the beans originated in paradise and anyone who eats them is blessed with wisdom, and energy. 
  3. The scientific term for the Cocoa Tree is 'Theobroma Cacao', which is a Greek word meaning “Food for the Gods”.
  4. You need to eat a dozen of chocolate to get the same amount of caffeine in a coffee cup . So don’t worry about the caffeine amount in chocolate!
  5. Chocolate is a great source of iron, one ounce of cocoa contains 10% of the daily recommendation of this mineral.  
  6. Chocolate may interact with a number of neurotransmitter systems such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, thus  affecting one’s appetite, and mood. 
  7. It alleviates depression, high blood pressure, and Pre-menstrual syndromes.( more can be found in this research
  8. Chocolate is the third highest antioxidant source for U.S. consumers, just behind coffee and tea.  According to a research posted on the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Chocolate has alot of  these polyphenolic compounds that counteract the damaging effects of oxygen on cells by protecting against free radicals, which are molecules with unpaired electrons that main reason of  causing anything from cancer to bad cholesterol.
  9. Two debunked myths about chocolate are : Chocolate can cause acne and headaches
  10. Chocolate can be deadly for dogs due to  an ingredient called "Theobromine" which can be toxic to their central nervous system and cardiac muscles. 
  11.  Chocolate has over 500 flavor components. This is double the amount found in strawberry and vanilla. 
  12. The discovery of microwaves was due to chocolate. As scientists were developing magnetrons for better radar detectors, but one of the magnetrons melted a chocolate bar in a scientist’s pocket. Eventually, he applied the magnetron’s ability in cooking food.
  13. Melt in the mouth sensation that differentiate a chocolate brand to another is due to the difference in processing, particularly the tempering step.
    Here is a quick view of the chocolate manufacturing steps :
    From a bean to a bar:

Video on how chocolate is made from Discovery Channel:

Interesting Things to Know more :

Bon Appetite!

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