Yesterday's outing was to the Chocolate Plantation to learn about cacao and tropical fruits. The tour guide, farm worker, repurposed California real estate salesperson holds a cacao pod in the second picture. The ice cream cone looking half shows the gelatinous covering containing the cacao beans.
The co-owner welcomed the guests and was the first I have heard describe such experiences as agritourism. I realized I have been on several agritourism outings. On this trip alone, I have visited the largest coffee plantation and a kind of hippy, mixed crop chocolate "plantation".
As things go with me, I began to think about employment, technology and the economy. I can provide several examples now of the small and large scale efforts to generate "needed" goods. The farmers' market and the supermarket, the hand-picked Kona coffee and the largest coffee farm, shrimp fisherman and shrimp farmers, the hand pollinated cacao grower (tropical fruit grower, agritourism host, recording study operator, t-shirt seller) and large-scale chocolate. The small-scale operators have a story - the wild shrimp harvesters tout the health benefits of shrimp not raised in captivity and kept healthy with chemicals, the farmers' market produce growers use pretty much the same argument and the add the short shelf life of their produce limiting the practicality of shipping, and there is always the argument of keeping people employed and willing to tell the story of their products (for a price). Still, there is always that issue of money. Who can afford the merchandise from the small-scale farmers, fishermen, and hand-crafters? The touted benefits of many of the products are questioned by the scientists. Acai is no better for you than other fruits. Supposedly, the big chocolate makers take the cocoa butter out and replace it with another artificial product before selling chocolate because the cocoa butter is worth more than the chocolate. The spin - it is good farming has not become a political topic or Fox would be all over it.
I still like Snicker bars and I understand much of this is because of the sugar and perhaps some other ingredients.