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Origins, Properties and Nutrition of Chocolate

Info: 2050 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 12th May 2021 in Nutrition

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One of the most famous and well known selling food products in the world is chocolate. It is used in products such as cakes, candy bars, drinks, cocoa powder, etc.  Everyone enjoys chocolate but most people don't know where chocolate originates from or what ingredients are found in it. Some important things to consider about chocolate is the process of making it in the factory, what it does to the environment, and how it affects the earth. Not all the chocolate that is made is safe for the environment and it is crucial that its production is sustainable for a healthier planet.

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Chocolate is produced from the fruit of Theobroma cacao, a tropical plant that is called the "food of the gods" in Greek, according to a digital display by the Cornell University Library, "Chocolate: Food of the Gods" (Jessie Szalay, 2018). The Coca is grown on the trunk of the tree and its branches, they are called pods. The pods contain seeds known as cocoa beans. A seed covering, a kernel and a germ make up the beans (GROWING COCOA). Harvesting includes removing mature pods from the trees and opening them to remove the wet beans. The pods are extracted manually by using a well-sharpened knife to make a clean slice through the stalk. A pruning hook type of tool can be used for pods high on the tree, with a handle at the end of a long pole. The upper and lower blades of the tool allow the stalk to be cut cleanly without damaging the branch that bears it by pushing or pulling it according to the position of the fruit (International Cocoa Organization, 2010).  When the manufacturers get the cocoa beans, the first step is to put the cocoa in a roasting machine.  It produces the natural scent, color, and eventually the taste that people today recognize as they roast the cocoa. Once cocoa has been put in the machine the cocoa beans have an internal and an outer layer. The outer layer is removed and the inner layer of cocoa is broken down into small pieces called "cocoa nibs." The roasting process is intended to make the shells of cocoa breakable so that the nibs of cocoa can pass through a series of a colander that separates the nibs according to their size and shape. We switch into stage two after the first step is finished, which is the method of grinding the cocoa nibs, which is then made into "cocoa liquor." It is also regarded as chocolate or cocoa powder that is not sweetened. The grinding process creates heat that turns the dry granular texture of the cocoa nib into a fluid as the high-fat content of the nib melts (the chocolate production). It is mixed with cocoa butter and sugar after they have the cocoa liquor. The final step is the combination of cocoa liquor and chocolate molding (chocolate production). The mixture is further tasteful after the blending process to reduce the particle size of the added milk and sugar to the desired fineness. In different amounts, the cocoa powder is blended back with butter and liquor to produce many forms of chocolate. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate are the three most common types of chocolate. All these types have some common ingredients: sugar, milk or milk powder, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, etc. Eventually, when all the materials are combined and completed, forming is the last phase of chocolate production. This gives the cocoa liquor time to cool down and become solid in the shape it was put in when all this is done. In the end, chocolate is loaded and shipped all over the world (chocolate production).

The production of chocolate has many environmental impacts on the earth. Researchers from the University of Manchester in the UK evaluated the influence of ingredients, manufacturing processes, packaging, and waste. The study believes that the UK chocolate business produces about 2.1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. This is equal to the annual discharge of the whole population of a city as large as Belfast. It also found that it takes around 1,000 liters of water to make just one chocolate bar (PTI, 2018).  Cocoa farming also supports the rainforest and old growth forest deforestation. By clearing land in these forests, farmers lower the biodiversity and interactions between the many different creatures that naturally live in the area. Many wildlife ecosystems are destroyed and the plant species diversity is highly reduced. Nutrients start to leach out of the soil due to weak irrigation and poor soil protection, which can increase the erosion of the soil. The more powerful the farming practices are, the more damaging they are to the ecosystem. Cocoa farming becomes a demolition circle as farmers wear out the soils and cut deeper into the forest to obtain fresh land. All of these processes stress the Cacao trees and result in less crop, giving the opposite effect to what the farmers expect from these practices (Environmental impact of cocoa production, 2019). Some farmers have moved their crops out of the shade and into direct sunlight. This practice provides a greater quantity in a short period and at a lower quality. Cocoa trees with no shade manage to grow more weeds as well as be more affected to diseases such as Witches Broom and Frosty Pod Rot. If the crops begin to increase bugs, farmers use large amounts of herbicides to get the bugs of the crops. The herbicides used to ruin the land and the health of the sprayers applying the herbicide. Extra spraying of pesticides can also make the weeds and insects to build up a resistance which will eventually create more harm to the crops (Environmental impact of cocoa production, 2019).

There are many different alternatives to eat chocolate in a diet. Magnesium deficiency is one of the reasons we crave chocolate. The fact that chocolate increases dopamine and feelings of happiness makes us desire it as well (Syuki, 2017). When you start craving sugar and want to eat chocolate but you want to stay healthy or don't want to gain fat or calories, there are many things you could do instead of eating chocolate. One of the things you could eat is carob. Carob is a finely ground powder which has a similar taste to cocoa powder. It is high in fiber, low in fat and contains calcium. In fact, you’ll love carob if you’re sensitive to caffeine. It’s caffeine-free, unlike chocolate and cocoa. You can use carob in cooking or add it to yogurt and smoothies (Syuki, 2017). Another food you could substitute into your diet instead of chocolate is fruit because it is naturally very sweet and a great choice when you get a sugar craving, they contain lots of nutrients, fiber, and sugar to curb your cravings (Syuki, 2017). Eat sweet fruits like strawberries, cherries, apples, oranges, peaches, pineapples and grapefruit to satisfy your sweet tooth, they are low in fat and calories. And if you want to make your fruit feel more like a treat, try dipping it in a little dark chocolate or making a mixed fruit bowl (West, 2017). If you're not craving fruit as a snack you could choose to eat Nuts because there are great alternatives to chocolate as they contain both the magnesium and nitrogen found in chocolate. Sometimes your body craves foods with nutrients that it lacks. Therefore, when you crave something, your body is not only craving the food itself but the nutrients within the food. So next time you crave chocolate or other carbohydrates, make sure to eat healthy foods that contain magnesium and nitrogen, such as nuts and other high protein foods, to satisfy that craving in a healthy way (Skurnik, 2013). If you do not want to eat any of this food and you want to eat something that contains chocolate, the flavor of it and still is healthy for you could try one of these things which are Dark chocolate or cocoa powder.

Dark chocolate contains more antioxidants and less sugar. Unsweetened chocolate is lower in calories, carbohydrates, and fat but higher in saturated fat than the cocoa powder mixture. make sure it contains more than 70 percent cocoa. One square can contain 15-40 calories depending on the size (Skurnik, 2013). If your not in the mood to eat anything you could try Cocoa powder, which is a mixture of many substances that are left over after cocoa butter is extracted from cacao beans. One tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains about 10 calories and has virtually no fat, cholesterol, or sugar. And because it is 100% cocoa, it is jam-packed with antioxidants. You could drink cocoa powder in many different ways, one way is to try mix cocoa powder with almond or coconut milk for a homemade hot chocolate. For a crunchy snack, try cocoa dusted almonds (lightly drizzle almonds with honey and roll them in cocoa powder) (Anskis, 2014).

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Overall chocolate is a very enjoyable food around the world. There are many different types and flavors of chocolate and it is not an easy process to harvest chocolate. There are many environmental consequences of making chocolate bars in the factories, due to harmful chemicals being released into the atmosphere, water, and soil. There are many alternatives for eating chocolate if a person carves it. In general, chocolate is a sustainable food production and will continue to be manufactured globally for the next several years with more varieties. 

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