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The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History of Cacao Paperback – May 13, 2007

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Young has new and important things to say about the ecology and biology of cacao."

Book Description

“Young’s readers will thank him for making life a bit more pleasant, both by improving the production of chocolate and by providing such entertaining reading.”--The Sciences
 
“Informative, valuable, and original.”--Quarterly Review of Biology
 
“Young has new and important things to say about the ecology and biology of cacao.”--Times Higher Educational Supplement
 
“Engaging.”--Booklist
 
Young provides an overview of the fascinating natural and human history of one of the world’s most intriguing commodities: chocolate. Cultivated for over 1,000 years in Latin America and the starting point for millions of tons of chocolate annually consumed worldwide, cacao beans have been used for beverages, as currency, and for regional trade. After the Spanish brought the delectable secret of the cacao tree back to Europe in the late 16th century, its seeds created and fed an insatiable worldwide appetite for chocolate.
 The Chocolate Tree chronicles the natural and cultural history of Theobroma cacao and explores its ecological niche. Tracing cacao’s journey out of the rain forest, into pre-Columbian gardens, and then onto plantations adjacent to rain forests, Young describes the production of this essential crop, the environmental price of Europeanized cultivation, and ways that current reclamation efforts for New World rain forests can improve the natural ecology of the cacao tree. Amid encounters with sloths, toucans, butterflies, giant tarantula hawk wasps, and other creatures found in cacao groves, Young identifies a tiny fly that provides a vital link between the chocolate tree and its original rain forest habitat. This discovery leads him to conclude that cacao trees in cultivation today may have lost their original insect pollinators due to the plant’s long history of agricultural manipulation.
In addition to basic natural history of the cacao tree and the relationship between cacao production systems and the preservation of the rain forest, Young also presents a history of the use of cacao, from the archaeological evidence of Mesoamerica to contemporary evidence of the relationship between chocolate consumption and mental and physical health.
A rich concoction of cultural and natural history, archaeological evidence, botanical research, environmental activism, and lush descriptions of a contemporary adventurer’s encounters with tropical wonders, The Chocolate Tree offers an appreciation of the plant and the environment that provide us with this Mayan “food of the gods.”           
 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; Enlarged/Expanded edition (May 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813030447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813030449
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you are interested in learning about the natural history of the cacao tree then this book is essential reading. However, if you are not a scientist then you will find it hard going at times. There is a lot of information in this book but no easy way to discover it without reading every page. The author tells the story of cacao almost like a travelogue, and the book lacks a summary section at the end of each chapter of the findings, theories and conclusions of the author. But, these criticisms aside, I would still recommend The Chocolate Tree to anyone wanting to understand more of the science behind cacao. All the information about the development of the cacao tree from its wild origins in the rainforest to modern day plantations is fascinating, as are Allen's experiments to find out why natural pollination levels of cacao trees are so low. Stick with the book and you will be rewarded, but the author could have made it much more accessible. One last point - there is an excellent bibliography at the end which will be welcome for anyone wishing to read further into the subject.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book on the subject. My husband is cultivating cacao plants and this book was very helpful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everypage was printed upside down. They are in order from the front of the book to the back, but every page is upside down. SO if you turn the book over and try to read the pages start with the highest numbered page and decrease.
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