Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

VALENTINE’S DAY!!!  You can smell chocolate in the air—do you ever wonder about the origins of the chocolate you are enjoying?

All chocolate begins with cocoa beans, the fruit of the cacao tree (also called a cocoa tree).  Cocoa trees grow only in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, within 15 to 20 degrees of the equator.   These regions are best for the cocoa trees to survive because the trees require constant warmth and rainfall to thrive.  These regions usually have rainfall of 45 to 200 inches of rain per year.  Another key factor for the cocoa trees to flourish is a rich, volcanic soil which is found in these regions.  The trees also need to be grown in the shade of other trees to protect them from direct sunlight and are sheltered from the wind.  Cocoa trees can produce fruit for 75 to 100 years or more.

Happy Valentine’s Day—here’s to another successful year of growing cocoa trees!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Order of the Day: Conservation

Last week I traveled to Texas for some much needed rest and relaxation.  While there we stayed at Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio.  While the area had received several inches of rain the week prior and experienced some flooding, it was hard to tell by the time we arrived a week later.  Impacts of the past year’s drought were quite apparent.  Canyon Lake was down about 10 feet from its normal capacity and many of the boat ramps were inaccessible to the lake.
Later in the week we were in Austin and ate lunch at the Oasis near Lake Travis.  The restaurant is suppose to be on Lake Travis but with the current drought the lake is down almost 50 feet and looks more like a river than a lake.  As we ordered lunch, we asked for water as it is not automatically served.  Of course, taking a look at that lake made one sure to finish the glass of water you had ordered.  Especially when just down the road in the community of Spicewood Beach residents have had to truck in water as their wells are all but dry. 
Conservation is the order of the day for Texans as it should be for all of us all the time.  The challenges that Texas and many other places are facing reminds us all that we need to be responsible in the use of our water resources.