I believe weather to be cyclical. In other words, I don’t believe in “Global Warming” now referred to as “Climate Change”. Have you pondered, just for a moment, the ridiculousness of the name “climate change”? Climate is always changing, and I believe it happens in cycles. For example, we’re experiencing a somewhat mild, dry winter, right? This comes on the wake of a very wet spring and summer, and to some extent fall. Not only did it rain, but it brought some of the fiercest storms I can remember – dramatic, tumultuous and at times dangerous. Because of all the precipitation we received in the preceding seasons, winter is simply balancing itself out. Sure, we’ve had some snow and some cold, but I believe this is the fourth warmest winter on record (so far) and the fourth winter with the least amount of snow (so far). I could be wrong, but I truly believe, like everything else, there is a rhythm to weather; it’s cyclical, like the circle of life. An old Chicago adage sums it up well, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes…” Now, that is climate change.

On the heels of Valentine’s Day and imbibing in way too much chocolate, I thought I’d take a moment to ease any guilt you might be feeling by emphasizing the benefits of chocolate. Here it goes: Chocolate is made from plants, more specifically the Cacao tree, which means it contains many of the same benefits as dark vegetables. Chocolate and vegetables in the same sentence? Anyway, chocolate, like those dark vegetables, contain flavonoids which act as antioxidants, dark chocolate having the most. Flavonoids have also been shown to decrease blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Dark chocolate stimulates endorphins, your body’s natural pain-killer, giving you a sense of pleasure. Incredible, right? Wait, there’s more! It also contains serotonin which acts like an anti-depressant and of course, caffeine, which gives you a little pick up. All that in chocolate? Yup! Now, if you’re anything like me, I tend to reach for milk chocolate, which still contains the antioxidants, stimulates endorphins and serotonin, just not as much and with a little more fat.

It is possible to grow your own Cacao tree; however, in the Midwest, you’re going to need a greenhouse to do so as they are natives of South America and need constant heat and humidity. From the small amount of research I did, it is possible, but requires constant attention and a whole lot of work. Even if you could successfully grow a Cacao tree, there’s still a whole lot of work involved in turning the pod/seed into the recognizable chocolate we crave. I think I’ll leave that to the professionals…

Best wishes,
Kim Sweeney