Alternative Glitter In The Amazon

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Edmilson Estevão climbs a mature cacao tree to pick the fruit. Photograph: João Laet/The Guardian

In the Authentica shops our featured chocolates are artisanal in terms of production, and both companies are leaders in their own ways–sourcing, packaging, etc.–in terms of sustainability. We are just now tasting chocolates from a third possible supplier, one that farms the cacao organically and is in control of all stages of production and packaging–from farm to bar as they say. When we have their product on our shelves, you will be the first to know, right here. Since our thoughts are already on this topic, special thanks to the Guardian for this story that helps better understand the many ways in which cacao can create a brighter future:

Cacao not gold: ‘chocolate trees’ offer future to Amazon tribes

In Brazil’s largest indigenous reserve thousands of saplings have been planted as an alternative to profits from illegal gold mining

The villagers walk down the grassy landing strip, past the wooden hut housing the health post and into the thick forest, pointing out the seedlings they planted along the way. For these Ye’kwana indigenous men, the skinny saplings, less than a metre high, aren’t just baby cacao trees but green shoots of hope in a land scarred by the violence, pollution and destruction wrought by illegal gold prospecting. That hope is chocolate.

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Cacao seeds, which are dried and roasted to make chocolate. Photograph: João Laet/The Guardian

“We want to plant and develop income for the community,” says Júlio Ye’kwana, 39, president of the Ye’kwana people’s Wanasseduume association, which came up with the idea. “And it is not destructive for the forest.” Continue reading

First Week Of Shade Coffee Research, Ecuador

Typical landscape mosaic of Barrio Nuevo

Typical landscape mosaic of Barrio Nuevo

Isabel and I arrived safe and sound to Barrio Nuevo, Pichincha, Ecuador (0.224063°, -78.559691°) on May 21 to begin our study on a shade coffee agroforestry initiated seven years ago (see my blog for background info). We moved into the home of Juan Guevara, the local coffee promoter, and his family. It’s a simple concrete house with a kitchen and three bedrooms.After settling in, we spent a day with Juan going to the homes of various farmers growing coffee to introduce ourselves.

We spent the next three days conducting surveys with the coffee producers as well as visiting, evaluating, and mapping their coffee plots. As I expected, we quickly learned a lot about the problems with the shade coffee project that was implemented about seven years ago. Continue reading