We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Chocolate Innovation Afoot
Two items here on
chocolate. The second one pushes the age of chocolate back an
additional 1500 years and as it was already mature, its likely
emergence began a thousand years earlier that that even. None of it
ever made it to Egypt to the best of our knowledge, although this may
simply be an artifact of not looking or the unusual ways it was then
used. The take home though is that its antiquity is now certain as
is the growing antiquity of Mayan culture.
The first item is good
news. Science has woken up to the reality that we have not done
nearly enough with the cocoa bean and it is time to remedy all that.
Now it becomes possible to cut the fat content in half at least while
loading it with vitamin C and water with no loss of quality.
I have personally taken
to adding a shot of cocoa powder into my tea daily in order to absorb
the known benefits while avoiding the sugars and fats. It works
fine. Yet it is nice to understand that reduction of fat is possible
and even desirable. It is also clear that a chocolate bar is a
natural carrier of large doses of vitamin C.
Infusion Halves Fat in Chocolate
By Cassie Ryan
StaffCreated: August 13, 2012Last Updated: August 14, 2012
Orange and cranberry
juice droplets can be substituted for some of the fat in chocolate.
(Alessandro de Leo/Photos.com)
British chemists have
used fruit juice to replace up to 50 percent of chocolate’s fat
content without losing any of its tasty qualities.
Working with milk,
white, and dark chocolate, the researchers added minute droplets of
orange and cranberry juice, less than 30 microns wide (thinner than a
human hair), instead of the full amount of milk fats and cocoa
The new formula
creates a so-called Pickering emulsion in which the tiny droplets of
fruit juice remain separate and stable in both solid and molten form.
chocolate—but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars
are high in fat,” said study lead author Stefan Bon at the
University of Warwick in a press release.
“However it’s the
fat that gives chocolate all the indulgent sensations that people
crave—the silky smooth texture and the way it melts in the mouth
but still has a ‘snap’ to it when you break it with your hand.”
“chocolatey” quality is due to an ideal crystalline structure
known as Polymorph V that makes chocolate smooth and glossy as well
as firm and breakable.
product maintains the content of Polymorph V, and storage does not
lead to a sugar or fat bloom.
making chocolate this way gives it a fruity taste, but this can be
avoided by instead using water with a little vitamin C.
“Our study is just
the starting point to healthier chocolate—we’ve established the
chemistry behind this new technique, but now we’re hoping the food
industry will take our method to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate
bars,” Bon concluded.
The findings were
published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry on Aug. 8.
Maya Used Chocolate
as Spice 2,500 Years Ago
By Cassie Ryan
StaffCreated: August 3, 2012Last Updated: August 9, 2012
Pods growing on a
cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Cacao traces found on
two pieces of Mayan pottery in Mexico suggest pre-Hispanic culture
may have added chocolate-flavored sauce to food like Molé.
A joint research
project between Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and
History (INAH) and Millsaps College, Mississippi, revealed a specific
ratio of theobromine and caffeine compounds typical of cacao in the
The artifacts were
found at the Paso del Macho site in the Yucatan, and one of the
fragments appears to be a serving plate. Dating of the residue places
it between 600 and 500 B.C.
Previous evidence of
cacao use has only been associated with drinking vessels, mostly in
other parts of Central America, up to about 1,000 years older than
the new findings.
“One of the pottery
shards that has been identified as having had cacao residue was not a
bowl or jar, as is typical, but a plate,” said chemist Timothy J.
Ward at Millsaps College in a press release.
“This raises the
possibility that cacao was not only being used to prepare a beverage
at this early time, but was already being used in sauces for dishes,
perhaps similar to the popular dish known as Molé.”
Gallareta Negron at INAH believes the beans were not crushed on the
plate because metates or grinding stones were generally used for that
Paso del Macho was a
small settlement, but was probably important because it had several
mounds and a ball court. The chocolate may only have been used by
upper classes and priests.
combined with other archaeological, architectural, and settlement
data, is providing us with a new view of this little known area of
the Maya world during the earliest times,” said Gallareta Negron in
“The Northern Maya
world was just as complex and sophisticated as the far better-known
Southern Maya area, and we can now add the consumption of cacao to
this list of traits.”