Cacao is the plant that we all know as the chocolate tree. Cacao is also the pod and the bean before being processed into chocolate. Whereas cocoa is the powdered chocolate that has been defatted and is sold in stores. How does knowing any of this change our view of chocolate? It may not change anything we know about chocolates, and anyways do we actually know anything about this topic? Not recently has the world turned a blind eye to where chocolate really comes from. Does it come from the factories that beautifully package chocolates for retail sale? Or from some faraway and unknown parts of the tropical world where a lot of children are employed even today to get us the chocolate that we often crave for?

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Unripe cacao pods on a tree in Manipal, India

A cacao tree can typically be grown best in areas closest to the equator. This mostly includes any tropical country. Over the course of history, cacao tree has proven to be a crop which yields the farmer a lot of money in exchange for invaluable cacao beans.

There has been a shift in the recent years, in many parts of the world were chocolate was less consumed. Globalization has affected the way different cultures and countries view chocolate.  Some view it as a luxurious food, some as a ceremonial food and others as an aphrodisiac. While some countries have incorporated chocolate as an essential ingredient in their daily cuisine.

Large chocolate brands are always thinking of innovative strategies to market chocolate in countries and cultures which are not familiar with this luxurious product. These countries are the potential markets which these brands envision to expand in the near future.

The increase in demand for chocolate from new parts of the world means that more and more cacao trees will have to be planted. It will get more difficult to identify fair trade chocolate from ones that employ unfair and unethical means to harvest cacao.

I hope to see a day when we can eliminate these practices from the world. I want to enjoy any chocolate with the confidence that it is fair trade without having it printed only on some chocolates.