Monday, October 20, 2014

Chocolate and Shrimp

If that title didn't peak your's post is about Ecuador's exports. Ecuador has 1400 miles of coast, with such a large ocean presence, I'm sure you're not surprised that seafood is high on the list of exports. I recently read where Ecuador exports approx 37,500 metric tons of shrimp, second only to Indonesia who exports 40,000 metric tons. The U.S. Imports 85 percent of it's seafood and in 2012 the average American ate 3.8 pounds of shrimp, and the number rises every year.

We see Shrimp boats heading out to sea everyday, some go at night, some during the day. I've heard they stay out to sea for three days. Little boats go out to meet them, and bring daily hauls to shore and market. We also have shrimp farms along the water way, there's differing opinions about shrimp farms, are the shrimp raised in dirty pools, chemicals and hormones?...maybe, but sometimes what you don't know, won't hurt you.

Apparently here on the coast, and on up into Esmeraldes province, they used to cut down mangrove forests to install shrimp farms, but they aren't allowed do that anymore, and the mangroves are being reforested.

Above is a view from Bahia of some of our local shrimp farms. Shrimp has always been a favorite, but with the high price in the States, we didn't eat them often, here, we have them at least 3-4 times a week. This is how I like to see them...right before they go in my belly!

Our next export is chocolate! Ecuador is Latin America's second largest exporter of chocolate, Brazil is first (7th globally). Brazil had an outbreak of witches broom, a parasitic moss that destroyed their early crops, and may be lower ranked in coming years, it is said that Ecuador will be fourth globally by 2015.

Cocoa grows on trees, we saw them from the bus on our trip to Cuenca thru Guayaquil, I thought it was papaya at first.

An unripe cocoa pod opened to show the cocoa beans forming. 

Ripe beans, are separated from their pods and membranes then dried, and finally pulverized into powder.

Nestle company is a huge driving force in Ecuador's chocolate harvest and export, so who knows, that chocolate bar you ate last week may have been grown in Ecuador?! So as you can see Ecuador is full of life, sweet and delicious. Our adventure continues, one great meal (and dessert) at a time, stay tuned!

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