Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cocoa for Climate Change

I know. I am M.I.A. for a week and then I come back to the the scene with a preachy title. But this post may be slightly different from what you expected. Agriculture is an interesting field, because it not only will suffer severe consequences from a changing climate, but contributes to the causes of elevated greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Somewhere between 20-30% of global emissions come from deforestation, largely in the tropics.

In a recent blog post, the Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) program of the CGIAR wrote about a study that examined the link between chocolate and GHGs that contribute to climate change. Slash-and-burn agriculture, where farmers cut down forest and then burn it to add the nutrients to the soil, has a long history of use in the tropics, where the soils are nutrient-poor. The report notes that in West African Guinea, in order to produce cacao in any usable quantity, farmers have to continually cut down swaths of forest, releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A simple application of fertilizer would boost cacao yields and alleviate some of the pressure to expand plantations.

Now, I'm not saying that fertilizer is the answer. As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food wrote this year, employing agroecological principles is one way to boost production without relying on industrial agricultural methods. But we forget that in the U.S., most of our food relies on fertilizer of some sort - chemical, organic, etc. Africa didn't benefit from the same yield increases Western, Asian, and even some Latin American countries experienced during the latter half of the 20th century. Many argue that too little fertilizer is used in Africa. I think the key here is how fertilizer is used - with more restrained and precise application.

So there's your food for thought, and here is your food to eat!
Adhoc Chocolate Beet Cake (vg, gf)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1 medium red beet, cooked and pureed
1 tbs soy yogurt
1 tbs molasses
1 tbs coconut oil/vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple butter
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 - 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
15-20 drops stevia (I used chocolate)

25 g dark chocolate, chopped

1. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
2. Blend wet ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into the bowl with dry ingredients. Mix to your heart's content (yay gluten-free foods!)
3. Fold in the chopped chocolate (be kind, use the good stuff). Pour mixture into greased ramekins. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes and then let cool slightly. I like it underdone, so leave in longer if you don't want a fudgey cake.

Stay tuned - chocolate with a soul series is on its way...

1 comment:

Victoria said...

I'm excited for the chocolate with a soul series. I'll be watching (and I hope your hand is better after the, uh, incident)