Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pick chocolate right from a tree to give to your Valentine? Well it’s not as simple as that, of course. You need to start with the fruit of the cacao tree, which contains the beans that can be transformed into chocolate. Guests visiting Epcot are getting a good look at the cacao tree when they experience Living with the Land or the Behind the Seeds tour. Our cacao trees, one of the more than 100 food crops that guests can see at The Land Pavilion, are in full bloom.
So how do you transform cacao beans into chocolate? The process has quite a few steps. It begins with cleaning and roasting the beans, then removing the shells. Next is the creation of the cocoa liquor, which, with cocoa butter and other ingredients like milk and butter — and a few more steps — becomes chocolate.
Historians tell us that chocolate played a special role in both the ancient Maya and Aztec cultures — for example, chocolate drinks were served during sacred ceremonies. And although cocoa is originally from the Americas, today western Africa produces almost two-thirds of the world’s cocoa.
Did you know?
- Guests experience a two-acre wonderland of tomato “trees,” cucumbers on strings, hanging pumpkins, floating lettuce and even Mickey Mouse-shaped fruit at The Land Pavilion, making it one of the most unique growing facilities in the world. Visitors gain inspiration for their gardens at home and look at the issues of feeding the world in sustainable and creative ways.
- On the Behind the Seeds tour, guests get a more in-depth understanding of innovative growing practices as agricultural scientists guide guests through the greenhouses and laboratories. Technologies aimed at achieving sustainability are demonstrated, like the careful management of water and nutrients and biological control of insect pests.
- The Land scientists are constantly working to develop growing systems that are both kinder to the environment and improve productivity — for example, figuring out how to grow more crops in less space so people have the food they need and forests and other natural areas are protected.
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