Monday, February 7, 2011

Time for Chocolate Therapy!



    If you have read any of my other posts you may already have figured out that I am fascinated by nature's pollinators and their importance. 
    Did you know that  little insects called midges are the primary pollinators of the cacao flowers?


"A tiny fly no bigger than the head of a pin is responsible for the world's supply of chocolate." —Allen Young, a leading cacao expert

"The cacao-pollinating midges require humid shade with a wide range of plant species and decaying matter on the ground, which is the natural habitat of cacao. The bigger a cacao plantation, the less likely the midges will find their way into the sunny, dry and cultivated groves of cacao trees to pollinate individual flowers. Additionally, while wild cacao flowers give off over 75 distinct aroma ingredients (compare that to 14 in the rose and 7 in the onion) to attract pollinators, cultivated cacao has only a small percentage of those, leaving the midges even less likely to venture onto the plantations."

*All the chocolate we eat comes from the cacao tree, which grows best in tropical rainforests;
*Cacao tree farmers, to keep up with the demand for chocolate, have had to clear rainforests for more room to farm;
*The pods of the cacao tree contain seeds that are processed into chocolate;
*This secret of the seeds was discovered in the rainforests 2000 years ago;

"Tree's Basic Biology

As a small tree native to the rainforest understory, cacao has adapted to its environment in many ways.
First, it requires strict climatic conditions to germinate, grow, flower, and produce pods. Second, its propagation depends upon the intervention of other rainforest mammals, birds, and insects.
Cacao’s biology makes it well-suited for survival in the wild, but more difficult to grow on sunny farms.
Cacao Tree Requirements
Cacao trees are quite picky about their environment. If any of the following requirements are not met, the cacao tree will stop bearing fruit:


Regular rainfall
Steady, warm temperatures
Constant, high humidity
Partial shade
Rich, well-drained soil
Canopy trees to protect plants from wind and moisture loss" http://www.fieldmuseum.org/Chocolate/grow_intro.html

With all the chocolate I have eaten in my lifetime, I am surprised there is any rainforests left!!
 
Benefits of dark chocolate:
 
•it tastes good



•it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure


•it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant


•it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants
.Dark chocolate is good for your heart. A small bar of it everyday can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. Two heart health benefits of dark chocolate are:


•Lower Blood Pressure: Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.

•Lower Cholesterol: Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.



This video is kind of long but very informative:









http://www.fieldmuseum.org/Chocolate/about.html
http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2008/boland_kirs/Adaptations.htm
http://www.chocolate.org/health/therapy.html
http://www.dark-chocolate-life.com/chocolate-trivia.html

My favorite cupcakes & cupcake maker:

Photo owned & copyright by Sprinkles Cupcakes by Valerie
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Sprinkles-Cupcakes-by-Valerie/118004191575577



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