Chocolate-making begins in the field, not the factory. Cacao
trees supply the seeds that will be processed into the delicious
sweet loved ’round the world.
The cacao tree grows in the shade of tropical rainforests near
the equator. Its particular adaptations and interdependence
with other rainforest dwellers have been a subject of study
for many years.
Now, as rainforests dwindle and the demand for chocolate increases,
scientists and researchers are looking into new ways to better
manage cacao farms and preserve the environment.
Select which portion of chocolate’s amazing origins and
rainforest relationships you’d like to explore first:
Introduction: Growing Cacao for Chocolate
For a quick introduction to the chocolate tree, check out this
brief summary that gives you the big picture of cacao biology,
farming practices, and cacao’s rainforest connections.
The Cacao Tree’s Basic Biology
Find out more about the basic science and structure of this
unusual tree. You’ll uncover the hidden secrets of each
part of this plant and learn about the different varieties of
cacao that go into making chocolate.
Get briefed on the basics about cacao farming methods and issues
that threaten chocolate production. You’ll examine the
effects of cacao farming on the rainforests and learn how farmers
and scientists are working together to create sustainable cacao
Explore a Cacao Farm
Explore the relationship between cacao and other plants, animals,
and insects. You can use binoculars and microscopes to get an
“up-close-and-personal” view of different kinds
of cacao farms.