photography by FIELDS DIANE
According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), choco-holics may eventually have to ration their sweets, thanks to climate change. The cacao tree, which could be largely extinct by 2050, joins the ever-growing list of foods, which may soon go extinct.
Cacao trees bear a medium-sized fruit, which contains chocolate’s magic ingredient: the cacao bean. Several hundred of the coffee-like beans are required to make just one pound of chocolate and without them, there’s no replacement for the chocolatey taste we know and love.
Currently, over half of the world’s chocolate supply is produced in West Africa where high humidity, uniform temperatures, and an abundance of rain establish the ideal environment for cacao trees to prosper. Unfortunately, with the way temperatures have been rising, the NOAA anticipates that a large percentage of the land currently used to cultivate cacao won’t be suitable to do so in 40 years.
But fear not, chocolate addicts. There are plans in place to save the cacao trees. Not only are farmers exploring ways to adapt to the rising temperatures, but Food and Wine reports that famed candy company Mars has teamed up with the University of California to develop a new method that may help save future cacao crops. They’re hoping to modify the DNA of the crop to withstand higher temperatures and higher elevations.
NOAA’s report is a cautionary one. While climate change will not affect the current generation of cacao plants, it will have an impact on the next one. In the meantime, we’ll be hoarding our favorite chocolate recipes.
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