Organic Hearts of Palm
Native Forest Hearts of Palm are truly international delicacies. Consistently tender and delicious, they have become favorites of chefs the world over, complementing a wide range of recipes. They make a delightful appetizer or side dish when sautéed with butter and topped with grated Parmesan. They may also be enjoyed straight from the can as a low-calorie snack, or sliced and served as a wonderful addition to any salad. Once you try them, we know that they will become a favorite addition to your culinary life.
Tasty, low calorie and versatile, hearts of palm are certain to continue growing in popularity. Worldwide demand has spawned numerous hearts of palm agricultural and processing facilities throughout Central and South America. Some of these projects were criticized for converting vital rainforest land to agricultural production at the expense of the environment. However, not all hearts of palm projects are alike. Let’s learn a bit more about where Native Forest Hearts of Palm come from and why the brand you select has an impact upon the world we live in.
Perhaps more than any time in recorded history, mankind has come to recognize the importance of protecting the biological systems naturally present on our planet. In response to the alarming depletion of the earth’s rainforests, we believe it is important to develop and support rainforest-protective enterprises. One such project can be found in the Amazon River basin of Peru in South America, where conscientious entrepreneurs have worked hand-in-hand with ecologists to create a system for harvesting and processing Native Forest Organic Hearts of Palm.
Here we rely upon the Euterpe precatoria, or huasaí palm tree, which grows profusely throughout this vast Amazonian rainforest. Long term leases secure approximately 240,000 acres of pristine native forest for the wild hearts of palm ecological project, thereby protecting the land from any rainforest-destructive development. In addition to preserving the region’s ecology, this project brings needed employment to those who live deep in the Amazon basin, providing them the opportunity to work closer to their families and their ancestral homes.
There are few roads and much water in the rainforest, so access to the wild crop relies on boats and feet. The rivers have dragged multiple layers of sediments over eons to form the soil of the Amazonian plains. Much of the soil has a high clay content with a reddish-orange color resulting from the natural accumulation of ferrous oxide in the sediment. As such, the wild hearts of palm (Euterpe precatoria) from this region may either have a white or pink coloration depending upon the clay content of the soil in which the plant has grown. The color has no effect on the taste or quality of the palm heart.
The tender “hearts of palm” we enjoy are actually the undeveloped leaves that have yet to emerge from their casing within the stem of the palm tree. The huasaí palm is very prolific. Where one is found there will typically be dozens more in close proximity, competing for soil nutrients and sunlight.
Guided by strict size and maturity protocols, harvesters will cut only the palms that are of ideal maturity (not too young, not too old). This practice leaves the older plants ideally situated to thrive and to seed future huasaí plants.
All harvesting is done manually, avoiding machinery and vehicles that might otherwise damage this unique environment. Guided by strict size and maturity protocols, harvesters will cut only the palms that are of ideal maturity. This practice leaves the younger plants to mature further and the older plants ideally situated to thrive so they will seed future huasaí plants. Harvesters routinely trim the rainforest canopy as they work, allowing more nourishing sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor. This, in turn, promotes growth of a multitude of botanical plants, and other indigenous flora, contributing to a healthful balance of biodiversity in the forest.
This method assures that the huasaí palm, and the rainforest itself, will remain a fully renewable resource for generations to come.
By harvesting palm hearts according to these ecological principles, hundreds of independent operators are able to build financial security for themselves and their families in one of the poorest regions of Peru.
After harvesting the palms, they load them into small boats and deliver them to our certified organic processing facility, which employs over a hundred more local and indigenous people in an area that has very few employment opportunities.
Here, the hearts of palm are palm stalks are debarked to reveal their tender white or pink centers. These are flash pasteurized, and packed in brine in enamel-lined cans or glass jars for shipment to North America.
Our tender and delicious Hearts of Palm are prized the world over for their tasty, low-calorie contribution to salads and side dishes. It seems that more people are discovering Native Forest Organic Hearts of Palm every day.
Source: Native Forest
The story of Native Forest Organic Mandarin Oranges
Native Forest Organic Mandarin Oranges are plump, juicy segments of indigenous mandarin oranges, organically grown on remote islands in the pristine lake region of Zhejiang, China. Many Americans do not believe that China has pristine natural regions, but they would be incorrect. While the poor air quality in several of it’s major cities is cause for serious concern, China also boasts some of the most breathtaking natural geography in the world. Considering China’s vast land mass, and the huge impact it’s economic growth has on the rest of the world, fostering understanding, respect, preservation and sustainability of these natural areas are important keys to caring for the future of our planet.
The organic mandarin islands are located in the Thousand Island Lake, around 100 miles west of Hangzhou, the capital of the southern province Zhejiang. The lake is one of the 44 state national scenic spots and is presently China’s biggest national park. The lake covers over 143,000 acres, an area more than 220 square miles that encompasses 1078 islands. Most of these islands are owned by individual families who live on and care for them. The islands are also home to more than 1700 species of native plants. The surrounding waters, highly valued as a reservoir for some of the nation’s highest quality drinking water, boast 87 species of fresh water fish. The biodiversity in the area is enormous; some of the islands are wild and mountainous, some of them are occupied with tea, mulberry, timber, and bamboo, and five of them are homes to certified organic orchards of grapefruit and mandarin oranges.
It may be helpful to understand how small family farmers have created these unmatched organic orchards. Around ten years ago, one of these families noticed several stands of volunteer mandarin trees growing in the wild. The trees grew quite easily without any problems, so the family decided to plant more trees and to cultivate them. Families on neighboring islands saw how the mandarin trees thrived, and they followed suit. Several of the families learned about the sustainable benefits and premium value of organic agriculture, and began the process to achieve international organic certification of their orchards. As a result, we now enjoy the bounties of five organic island orchards, which have been totally organic since 2004.
The isolated area of the organic islands and their wonderful biodiversity create good conditions for organic farming. Mountainous island topography and long distances between the islands pose significant natural barriers to the possibility of wind drift contamination. The absence of industry or even roads contribute to the pristine nature of the area. Diverse island flora restrains the incidence of pests and diseases. Many grasses and bamboo make it more difficult for disease spores and pests to jump from tree to tree. Meanwhile, the wide variety of island plants creates a habitat for the pests’ natural enemies to thrive.
Any rotten or infected fruits that do occur are quickly removed and destroyed by the farmers, who also prune the trees faithfully to open the canopy. This increases sunlight and airflow to dry the leaves, which further reduces the incidence of disease. Farmers are proud that their organic orchards are flourishing under their care, contributing to both the sustainability and prosperity of the region.
Most years, the mandarins are plump, ripe and ready to pick between October and December. That’s when the farmers harvest their tree-ripened fruits and guide their small boats, loaded with organic mandarins, to the distant mainland shore. From here the mandarins will be transported to our certified organic canning facility, approximately 55 miles away.
Source: Native Forest