Vanilla

Vanilla

Somebody questioned what it took to grow and process vanilla. The answer crossed my desk today:
The orchid that produces the pods is something of a diva, making vanilla one of the world's most labor-intensive crops. The finicky plant likes damp heat, steady rainfall, and a delicate balance of sunshine and shade. It takes its time—around two to three years—to produce an odorless, pale yellow flower that, unless pollinated, dies within hours. Pollination requires artificial insemination, a manual transfer of pollen from the male anther to the female stigma. (In Mexico, where vanilla originated, an indigenous bee pollinated the flowers; vanilla could not be grown elsewhere until a slave boy on the island of Reunion discovered how to pollinate the orchid in 1841.) The seed pods, like human children, take nine months to develop. But the green, string-beanlike pods become dark brown and fragrant only after a curing process that takes several months, a kind of spa treatment for vanilla beans. According to Rain, the pods are "wrapped in clothes and stored in boxes for hours to days, massaged, manipulated, laid in the sun to dry each morning and brought in to rest each evening." The entire cultivation process can take up to five years. Most of the world's vanilla is grown in Madagascar, Indonesia, Mexico, and Tahiti, where climate is right and land plentiful. Total production is small, around 2,000 metric tons a year, with demand historically exceeding supply. It's no wonder that vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world. In 2004, vanilla prices peaked at $500/kilo.
Excerpt from - The White Stuff: How vanilla became shorthand for bland. By Amanda Fortini Posted to Slate, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2005, at 12:33 PM PT
My first flower!

My first flower!

Dorm Apartments

Dorm Apartments

Bad news

Bad news

GUYS!  GUYS, I have a TOMATO! :DDDDDD

GUYS! GUYS, I have a TOMATO! :DDDDDD

we have VEGGIES!!!

we have VEGGIES!!!

Paperwhites

Paperwhites