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The Chocolate Genome Project


Our excellent Lily Barberio food intern Emily Carrus, formerly part of the pastry team at the Modern and a baker at Levain Bakery, shares the following news: 

Good news, chocolate-lovers: technology—or at least IBM—is on our side. Turns out this mega tech company recently partnered with Mars, maker of some of America’s favorite candies, to develop better cacao trees. By reworking cacao’s DNA, IBM hopes to produce trees that can flourish even through poor growing conditions like drought and damaging fungi growth. This is good news not just for the mid-afternoon chocolate craver, but also for cacao farmers worldwide, who face economic stress when unhealthy cacao harvests can’t generate enough income to support their communities.

The announcement seems to come at a pertinent time. Just minutes before learning of this partnership, I came across an article in the Chicago Sun Times about how Americans are still feeding their sweet tooths by indulging in their favorite treats despite the not-so-great economy. Candy sales are even up from last year, according to the National Confectioners Association. Clearly, demand for cacao won’t diminish any time soon.

Chocoholics who can’t wait for the IBM project to get off the ground may want to stock up on their favorite chocolate bars and candies, just to be safe. Or, there’s always Askinosie’s C-Ration, a cleverly packaged month (or even year’s) supply of dark chocolate—good to keep on hand for emergencies.

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