A group of staff and professors already sit on the chairs set in lecture room 137 as I walk in. It’s early still, but the room is already halfway full and stragglers continue to come in to hear the lecture that’s been slightly advertised to certain classes and people interested in the anthropological aspect of chocolate agriculture in Belize.
It’s a good ten minutes of networking the room around us before we smell the faint scent of chocolate growing stronger by the minute.
Mmmm, we all smile through our senses.
The hot chocolate prepared by Anthropology Professor Cameron Griffith and chocolate company owner Juan Cho began to waft into the room little by little as the last few stragglers timidly walked in.
Prof. Griffith introduced Juan, and then Juan began his lecture and surprised us with a phrase in an ethnic Belize dialect tied historically to the Mayan people in the country in Central America. A mix of language training through pronunciation and sign language, Juan taught our group different hieroglyphs the people of Belize still use today.
In explanation of his company’s name, Juan pronounced IXCACAO like eesh-cah-cow. Then further translated the meaning: IX means ‘her’ (feminine gender), while CACAO of course means ‘chocolate.’ Her chocolate.
In this lecture, I learned about the language, the location and type of land, the people and their background, and different terms and phrases that enforced the idea of working with your community. The rainforest that produces the cacao plant creates a harmonious environment for the people to all work together and pay their respect to their surroundings.
Agreeculture: importance of working with what’s around you and keeping a balance; agreeing with your surrounding
Sustainable farming: farming techniques that protect the environment, community, health; where basically you can work off your land and live off your land
“Everything cacao”: living off of the one product; chocolate. Eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Building your home off the wood and other materials around you. Using it as different beverages and giving the community something to work together for.
I broke the chocolate, hearing one smooth breaking noise, seeing the inside to be completely smooth with no trace at all of any air bubbles, and feeling the strong material of the candy.
I smelled the chocolate, scenting the dark rich flavor of cacao that took up 80% of the ingredients in the bar.
Lastly, I tasted it, with a smooth rolling of a small piece in my mouth and slowly letting it melt to savor that first bite.
Will chocolate save the rainforest? Yes, I believe so.