Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan describes the latest development in the organic food market in Latin America, sign posts for the future of food production.
The Organic Produce, Farmers Market and Fair Trade movement has reached Latin America and it is taking hold across the region. It is a movement inspired by conservation, environmentalism and quality — good locally sources ingredients served in traditional dishes with a social conscience. The most striking example to date is Rain Forest to Table. Forest Trends and Canopy Bridge have brought together a coalition of local people, organisations and companies to develop the route from the rain forest to dining tables of Latin America and the world. They are partnered with a new generation of chefs, entrepreneurs and foodies who have come together to create a collective that is refreshing national cuisines and therefore national cultures. In part it is about reclaiming Latin American indigenous identities but blending this with post colonial national traditions that have sometimes been lost in the face of the commodity boom lead consumerism. The team of chefs are committed to using Amazon sourced ingredients in their food, they include some of the best cooks from the best restaurants in Latin America. Leading figures in the movement include Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, of Lima’s amaZ and Malabar, who has been a pioneer in reinterpreting Amazon ingredients in his sophisticated cuisine. Across Latin America, other leading exponents include Paulo Machado, Mara Salles (Tordesilhas), and Thiago Castanho (Remanso do Bosque) in Brazil, Eduardo Martinez (Mini-Mal) in Colombia, Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari of Gustu in La Paz, and Peru’s Mitsuharu Tsumura (Maido) and Virgilio Martínez (Central). They are inspiring new restaurants, organic markets, and the use of novel ingredients. In turn they are contributing to the renewal of the Amazon biodiversity.
The next stage for this organic food movement is to introduce this amazing range of ingredients to the world.
1) Camu Camu — a vitamin C packed super food,
2) Acai berry — one of the most nutritious on the planet
3) Sacha inchi — a seed which is eaten like a nut
4) Paiche — a delicious fish — amongst others
5) Quinoa is protein rich and more importantly gluten-free
6) Amaranth easy to grow, even in bad soil — ground makes an excellent flour
7) Lucuma that flavours ice cream and is a sugar substitute
These need to be introduced much more widely to world markets and their potential to drive export growth in the food sector is huge. The whole project is based on what the organisers call the “almost infinite, diversity of species, varieties, ingredients and uses yet to be discovered in the culturally and biologically rich world of the Amazon. With over 40,000 species of plants, at least 3,000 species of fish, and another, 3000 kinds of fruit, the Amazon larder is bursting with potential.”
If managed correctly this movement could support the diversity of the Amazons ecosystem and sustain that diversity through the opening up of new economic opportunities. Keep an eye out for these products which should be leaving health food shops and entering supermarkets soon.