Chocolate is healthy! Ok hear me out, cause we’ve all been told to put down the chocolate cake or refuse the chocolate bar staring us in the face at the grocery store checkout. It has become associated with all the calorie dense, fatty, sugary things that we should consume less of, but it’s really not chocolate’s fault. We learned this and so much more on our quest to educate our mini blogger while traveling and enjoying the jewel that is Belize.
Our travels took us down a dirt road and to the gates of a farm and factory just outside Punta Gorda Town in Toledo District, Belize. Juan, of Ixcacao Maya Belizean Chocolate, was willing to give us a tour of their facility on a Sunday. Since the machines don’t work over the weekend, we did not get to see large batches of cacao being processed. Still, we got to learn a lot about the origins of the exotic fruit and how the Maya people processed it hundreds of years ago.
The tour starts in the back yard were the Maya family practices polyculture to imitate nature and grow as many different crops as possible in the small space. There are 3 different species of cacao growing among an avocado tree, lime, guava and much more.
Of course, a chocolate tour would not be complete if we did not learn how to make it. Madi had never seen it done, so this was a special treat for her. She got to grind the cacao beans on the stone passed down by 5 generations of Maya families. Chocolate making was followed by a tasting, including the traditional Maya drink.
This tour is an excellent group tour to participate in on any Belize adventure. It’s even great for children. They learn history and chocolate making skills, hands on as opposed to from a book. I think this tour is a great tool to help kids understand how nature works and how far we’ve come from the connection we once had with the earth.
Fun facts we learned about chocolate
- Sandflies pollinate the flower of the cacao tree, no sandflies no chocolate!
- Cacao is an antidepressant.
- In the time of the Maya, cacao was more valuable than gold.
- Traditionally, Maya drink hot chocolate with chilli.
- In the time of the Maya there were no dairy or sugar industries so they only had dark chocolate.
I could go on forever, but I would ruin the tour for you. What do you want to know about Belizean Chocolate?