It’s amazing melted and mixed with milk. It’s the perfect addition to cake and cookie batter. It’s divine sweetened with a little sugar. We know it’s delicious (in all its forms), but there’s more to chocolate than great taste. A few fun facts to nourish your mind…
- It grows on (Theobroma cacao) trees! Like coffee, cocoa or cacao (pronounced kah-KOW) can flourish under the shade of the forest canopy, where it supports biodiversity — providing habitat for threatened plant and animal species, protecting natural pollinators and cocoa-pest predators, and creating biological corridors.
- According to the Greeks, chocolate – or theobroma – is literally the “food of the gods.”
- Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa farms conserve forests and wildlife while ensuring that workers are provided with decent wages and safe living and working conditions, and their families have access to health care and education.
- In South American civilizations, cocoa beans were once used as a form of currency — only eaten as their quality degraded. According to ancient records, a horse cost 10 beans and a rabbit could be purchased for four beans.
- Approximately 70 percent of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa. Cacao trees grow across the lowland tropical regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
- The Mayans were the first to grind up cacao seeds and use them to concoct a drink.
- Cocoa is farmed on more than 28,000 square miles (18 million acres or 7.5 million hectares) worldwide. That’s an area about the size of Ireland or the state of South Carolina.
- About 40 million people worldwide, including five million farmers, rely on cocoa for their livelihoods. Most cocoa is grown by “smallholder” farmers, who own one- or two-acre plots of land.
- While cocoa — a rare and expensive commodity — was introduced in Spain as early as the 1600’s, it wasn’t until 1765 that the first chocolate factory was established in the United States. Two and a half centuries later, the average American eats about 12 pounds of chocolate per year.
- Like turkey, chocolate contains tryptophan — a chemical that the brain uses to produce serotonin, which can generate feelings of ecstasy or love. Chocolate is also rich in antioxidants.
- There are Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa farms in 12 countries: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru and Tanzania.
- In the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” chocolate syrup is used as fake blood.
- The Rainforest Alliance is working with farmers in Ghana to produce “climate-friendly” cocoa, helping farmers and their communities to adopt practices that help curb climate change and mitigate its impacts.
- According to a 2010 study, two out of three women say choosing their own chocolate is just as personal a decision as selecting their own lipstick.
- A cacao tree takes five years to produce its first beans.
Is your mouth watering yet? Visit Shop the Frog to find brands and stores offering Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate goodies.
Curious about the people behind the chocolate products you love? Tour a Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa farm with Noah Jackson.