I have read somewhere (forgive me I cannot remember) that it is illegal to bring cacao pods into the States (and probably many other countries). Something to do with the possibility of introducing foreign bugs or something into our ecosystem and all that. Anyway, the only way that I know of for some people who DO have cacao pods here is that they went to a plantation and collected the pods themselves. Then they either didn't claim them at the airport or weren't found out, and got them back here.
I tried to get some cacao pods for my thesis project in college and I definitely couldn't get my hands on any without trouble. :( Though you could always ask around the community to see if someone out there can get some for you. Or, if you have amazing Photoshop skills, you can always purchase a shot of cacao pods and add it in to your shot. :)
It's not illegal to import pods into the US. There is a shop in the flower district of New York that advertises them and I know that exhibitors at The Chocolate Show in NY have purchased pods from them for use at the show.
Caribbean Cuts. Click on the "Unique Flowers" link in the left-hand nav, then cocoa pods.
The only challenge is how long they take to get and what it'll take to get from NY to Portland.
I just got two pods from Montoso Gardens that I will use for a seminar. Any idea how to preserve them? I'm considering anything from spray varnish to doing nothing - letting them dry out in a cool place. If anyone has ideas, please let me know.
I got two pods from Montoso Gardens a couple of months ago. I just let them set out on the counter to dry. They turned dark brown and now feel like they are made of plastic. I did not use any kind of varnish or anything. I plan to use them in a class that I'm teaching and am very happy with the way they turned out.
I'm so pleased to have found that website. I just ordered one and we'll see how it arrives. Perhaps the fact that it is coming from a US colony (Puerto Rico) influences the rules about importation. I read something from the USDA a few years ago that said I could only bring dry beans from Jamaica.