Cacao in Eastern Guatemala: a sacred tree with ecological significance

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Kufer, J, Grube, N & Heinrich, M 2006, 'Cacao in Eastern Guatemala- a sacred tree with ecological significance', Environment, Development and Sustainability, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 597-608.

The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com,


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Since at least 600 BC, cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) has occupied a place of cultural importance in Mesoamerica. In many Maya groups its importance as a ritual food plant is second only to maize (Zea mays L.). The Ch’orti’ Maya and their culturally non-indigenous Ladino neighbours in Eastern Guatemala continue to use cacao for culinary and ceremonial purposes. Of particular importance are cacao uses in Ch’orti’ rain ceremonies, which are strongly connected to local environmental knowledge. The protection of cacao as a sacred tree may help to limit slash-and-burn maize agriculture to sustainable levels.

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