Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who discovered cacao

When I started to do my research about cacao - its discovery and evolution - the first term I encountered was "Olmecs."  Curious, I scoured the web about Olmces and time passed by without me noticing it. 

According to historians the Olmecs were the first inhabitants of Mesoamerica (composed of Central and South America) and at the time it was the only region where cacao could be found.  Overtime Mesoamerica extended to Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

(The Olmecs were great artists and sculptors. This massive head is an evidence of Olmec art. Image not mine.)

The first civilizations of the Americas, Olmecs of Mexico (1400 BC-400 BC) were also the first to know the process of fermentation, roasting, and grinding cacao beans for drinks - process that is still followed today.  Because of the bitter taste of ground cacao beans the Olmecs added flavorings like chili, flowers, and herbs.  There are cafes now that serve hot chocolate (using commercial cacao powder) with chili if you want to know how it tastes although I know nothing comes close to the full flavor of freshly ground cacao beans in hot chocolate.  But for experience's sake try it and transport yourself to the times and days of the Olmecs.

There's so many interesting things to share about the Olmecs but I hope this little bit of information will suffice for now.  Had it not been for the Olmecs we wouldn't have enjoyed our favorite chocolate today. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My cacao advocacy

Years ago, when I was much younger, life was different.  It was all about enjoying youth and not a care about the world.  It was fun while it lasted and then reality started to creep in and I realized being young is not an accomplishment - it never is and will never be.

Although being young is already done and dusted my youth bears little resemblance to the life I have now.  Life is still fun but in a challenging and meaningful light.  Wisdom, I believe, is gained as we mature in life regardless if we deserve it or not.  It's all up to us to put it in good use or let it pass us by.

As I feel increasingly obliged with every breath I take to unearth the purpose of my existence, I discovered myself falling in love with cacao and the mystery that surrounds its evolution.  With my initial knowledge about the fruit of the gods I was smitten right away.

The people who are responsible in cultivating cacao - the cacao farmers - are some of the most hardworking people in the world.  We've read, seen, and heard about their sad plight being overworked and underpaid and wallowing in grinding poverty while farming barons are getting richer.  Are our farmers thriving or just getting by?  This is a concern that we can all advocate for to make sure our farmers are safe, well-informed and compensated accordingly.

Whatever it is that you advocate for in life I wish you continued happiness in your journey.  If you're still searching for the purpose of your existence - be patient - it will eventually find you.