By Henrike Christ
Everybody loves it. It’s the most popular sweet. You can get it all over the world and it’s one of the most produced.
We all are eating it a lot without reflecting where it comes from. The Chocolate; begin with just a block of Chocolate and think of all the other products which are made of it. Ice Cream, cake, and cookies just to name a few. But it’s a long way to get these lovely dishes on our plates. As the Cacao-beans are hanging on trees, one could say that chocolate actually grows on trees. To harvest Cacao, you have to break the shell and remove the pulp, which is very tasty. After you got the beans you have to ferment and dry them in the sun. Thereafter, they are roasted, mostly in larger cooperations.
But where do those Cacao Trees grow and how do Cacao Farms work? They’re planted in the so-called Cabruca, deep in the rainforest, meaning that they are part of a forestal ecosystem. In this way of sustainable farming you protect the forest and simultaneously assure that the Cacao-Trees get enough shade to grow. On the other side it’s a lot of work to plant the Cacao in this way. It starts with making some space on the ground of the Rainforest for a little seedling. After that you have to make a hole which is about 35cm deep. Now, you have to wait until it rains, as seedlings should only be planted when the soil is wet. At the same time it should be hot. That is the reason why the workers are sweating a lot. During the time they’re outside, they moreover often get bitten by mosquitoes.
What is often unimaginable is that all this work is done by hands, without any modern technical tools. Since I experienced the hard work myself, cleaning the area, planting seedlings, harvesting etc., I will always feel the hard work whenever I eat chocolate.
(Photos by Kirsten König)