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Postby admin » Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:54 pm

http://www.honeycolony.com/article/the- ... chocolate/

After thousands of years, hybridization has become a "natural" part of our agricultural landscape. Scientists like Linn firmly believe this is the route "to understand the plant in finer molecular detail than ever before."

But some would strongly argue that playing God has disadvantages; it can poison humans and ruin the eco system. Take wheat. In its 8,000-year history as a domesticated food, it has been manipulated, forced and accelerated so much so that the plant we eat today bears little resemblance to its ancestral roots. It possesses completely different nutritional components (i.e. higher amounts of starch and gluten) and many more chromosomal codings, creating all sorts of odd new proteins. No wonder gluten intolerance is becoming epidemic.

Conveniently, cacao is already a hybrid by nature. "If one cacao plant is compatible with another, they will mate," says Adler. "Cacao is a slut. A cacao pod can even have more than one varietal strain inside of it. It can be pollinated multiple times."

According to Jim Eber, there are more than 14,000 known varieties of cocoa beans around the world.

The most devious variety however -- threatening the integrity of the cacao supply -- is the increasingly popular "CCN-51." This high-yield, low-flavor hybrid "is the bugaboo of the fine chocolate industry," says Eber. The plant is grown in collaboration with companies like Archer Daniels Midland, Eber says.

Increasingly, growers are replacing high quality varieties with this substandard one. Unlike its relatives, CNN-51 doesn't require shade in its early years. It's tolerant to both disease and difficult climate conditions. Farmers earn more to grow it and it has the highest sustained production record of any cacao ever planted anywhere, outperforming all but the more recently planted and far less widespread variety called Super Cacao in Ecuador. Who cares that CCN-51 requires more labor, maintenance, water, chemicals and fertilizer (its root system rapidly depletes the soil of nutrients). With this craze, we run the risk that diseases will become hyper-vigilant and completely wipe out the region's supply.

As far as flavor profile, words such as "crap," and "acid dirt" have been used to describe the taste. But have no fear, the bulk of big chocolate and candy companies can burn off tastes in the manufacturing process. And by the time they've removed any lingering residue, there's actually very little cacao left in the candy.
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