Gasp!


Our Valentine's gift to you is an environmental message that will send most of send most of us into panic! Be sure to share this with your loved one today.

For many of you, like me, Valentine's Day is extra special because it always means that some chocolate is laying somewhere around the house. Being a confirmed chocoholic, we do not let the brown stuff come close to the farm. This is dangerous stuff, but on this day Cupid overrides and there is a chance to indulge myself. Imagine Valentine's Day without chocolate. Gasp!!!

This note shared by our son Jake, who works at the National wildlife Federation shows a true environmental problem, but one of special significance to all chocoholics. Would life on earth ever be the same without this tasty treat? Maybe, maybe not, but the idea that we could lose chocolate to pollution has far deeper implications of which we should be aware.

Here is what the Wildlife Federation has shared.

Could that Chocolate Valentine Be an Endangered Species? Valentines Day means 

chocolate. In fact, Americans spend over a billion dollars every year saying "I

love you" on February 14 with this popular confectionery. But few people know

just how important Mother Nature is in delivering those sweet sentiments. Every

piece of chocolate we eat starts out as seeds found within football-shaped

green, yellow or red pods that grow from cacao trees. Theobroma cacao, literally

translated means "Food of the Gods", a definition on which chocolate lovers will

agree. A native of the Central and South American rain forests, it is a source

of cocoa and chocolate. Dr. Allen Young, a leading cacao expert with the

Milwaukee Public Museum, says tiny flies called midges living in dense

neotropical rain forests, are crucial to the perpetuation of cacao trees. The

flies are the only creatures that can work their way into the tree's small

flowers. Without the pollination functions the midges perform, the seedpods

could not become fertilized. And without the seeds, chocolate could become an

endangered product, a threat rivaling the loss of any endangered species if you

are a chocoholic.



Today, cacao is cultivated in equatorial countries worldwide, frequently in open

plantations rather than beneath a forest canopy, as it was originally grown. As

a result, cacao farming in many areas has created a host of environmental

problems.



"As rain forests are cleared, we are losing the pollinators that live in them

which could result in dire consequences," says Dr. Gabriela Chavarria, senior

wildlife biologist and pollinator expert for the National Wildlife Federation.



However, according to Chavarria and other scientists, this cycle can be broken.

Grown wisely, cacao has the potential to help preserve tropical forests and

biodiversity while providing a living for small-scale farmers. Fortunately, many

American chocolate companies are encouraging growing practices that will do just

that. Like shade-grown coffee, cacao grown in the traditional manner under a

sheltering canopy of taller rain forest trees provides winter habitat for dozens

of bird species that migrate between the U.S. and Latin America as well as

providing habitat for numerous other pollinators like the midge fly.



More information about chocolate and pollinators can be found on the National

Wildlife Federation's web site, www.nwf.org/chocolate/. Here you will

also find links to companies offering eco-friendly chocolate. The nation's

largest member-supported conservation education and advocacy group, the National

Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life to protect nature,

wildlife and the world we all share. The Federation has educated and inspired

families to uphold America's conservation tradition since 1936."

So this Valentines Day, give that special someone the chocolate they love and this message to help ensure a continued chocolate supply for many more Valentines Days to come. Merri and I hope that Cupid has sent you your share of love on this special day, but that if your message of love came in the form of that sweet brown stuff that it's composed of eco-chocolate!

Until next message we hope that you find every day filled with Cupid's spirit of happiness and love!

Gary


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