The Challenge of Sustainable Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the worst foods you can buy, in terms of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. But some people are trying to change that.

The long black pruning poles looked cumbersome. But the farmers moved quickly, swarming over the small plot of land and hoisting the poles up to slice through cacao branches with ease. On the bottom end of the pole was a small gasoline engine; on the top, a chain saw. Buzzing sounds mixed with the humming of insects echoing through this corner of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Though it was early spring, the October heat already felt solid and oppressive as the workers, in jeans, long-sleeved orange tops, hard hats, and plastic face shields, strode through the jungle, chickens scrambling to get out of their way.

Farmers in this community were skeptical at first, but pruning the branches at the start of the season can increase the cocoa yield—sometimes dramatically. The tree produces more fruit on the branches that remain. “Also, by taking away unproductive branches, we limit or eliminate plagues or diseases,” Ricardo Zapata, a coordinator for the cacao-pruning initiative in Ecuador, told me. It’s one of several innovations experts say could make an infamously environmentally destructive crop more sustainable. Read more at The New Republic.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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