Disruption of the food system

Today the greatest minds are busy with disruption of banking system, automobile industry, space rockets, energy sector etc. But only a few seem to focus on our food system or “food value chain”

Organic Farming VS Conventional Farming?

People tend to forget that organic farming is actually the traditional way of farming. Industrial or conventional farming became the new norm for industrialized countries after the ‘green-revolution‘ of the 1950s and 60s. This period saw the development of new seed varieties, and mass use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation to produce higher yields. The big difference between organic and industrialized farming is that industrialized farming relies on chemical inputs and a highly mechanized approach, whereas organics is about farming holistically, recognizing that we are part of a broader ecosystem. Although, it is important to note that some large-sale organic farms still use industrialized approaches such as mono-crops and some industrialized farms also adhere to organic principles, using limited amounts of chemical inputs.

This blog post is about the food before its gets mixed-up and sold as added value product like a Starbucks chocolate chip oh sorry … the FDA won’t let Starbucks use the term ‘chocolate chip’. Its called a Starbucks “chocolaty” chip. Starbucks’ chips’ percentage of actual cocoa bean is too low to qualify as a true chocolate chip. That makes the little nibs perfect for melting, but less ideal in the dictionary definition of the term. (Starbucks chocolate chips). So always keep in mind the premium you pay for so called added value brand products actually have LESS chocolate less high quality ingredients inside that “premium” product. It makes totally sense from a classic economic point of view. Try to sell the lowest quality with the maximum of high end marketing to a even higher premium price. And does it work? Well currently this is the way most business work. Consumers are happy living the marketing-lie ;-). Is it bad or morally okay? Well its absolutely legal. Most fortune 500 companies do it. It seems that consumers are not aware of it or they simply don’t care about this little detail. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Try to investigate what quality of chocolate it being used for most chocolate bars… Try to see how and where the cacao is grown, fumigated, harvested, dried, fermented how much a cacao farmer makes selling the cacao beans. And how much the brand or the retailer makes selling the chocolate.

Riots and protests over food prices have broken out in 30 countries since 2007 (The Great Disruption).

The so called Fair Trade products are not really fair its more of a brilliant marketing stunt for the end consumer. Example: Reasons Fair-Trade Coffee Doesn’t Work.

Fairtrade is not transparent!

The Fair Trade Scandal, states, “Fair Trade is but the most recent example of another sophisticated ‘scam’ by the ‘invisible hand’ of the free market. This noble endeavor for the salvation of the free market was tamed and domesticated by the very forces it wanted to fight. With its usual efficiency, the free market triggered the implosion of the Fair Trade universe and hijacked its mission, without Fair Trade supporters and stakeholders even realizing it.”

Despite the implications of its name, “Fairtrade” prices do not necessarily cover any of the basic costs of life—like housing, food, or education—for growers. Fair Trade labels don’t list the amount paid to farmers; that sum requires research… The amount can vary depending on the commodity. An analysis using information from TransFair shows that cocoa farmers get 3 cents of the $3.49 spent on a 3.5-ounce chocolate bar labeled “organic fair trade” sold at Target in the UK (!) Farmers receive 24 cents for a one-pound (0.5kg) bag of fair trade sugar sold at Whole Foods for $3.79.

One sack (138 pounds) earns a Ghanaian farmer about $106, but can flavor more than 100 pounds of candy. Put another way: Ghanaian cocoa farmers are getting about 77 cents per pound, where a high-end maker selling 2-ounce chocolate bars for $9 apiece earns $72 per pound. Even your basic $2 bar brings in $16 per pound, about 20 times what the farmer gets. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, cocoa growers in West Africa earn, on average, about 6 percent of the final cost of a chocolate bar. (source YesMagazine)

 

example: Ecuadorian traffic light food label

Labeling: Product cost breakdown overview

In a ideal world every product should have a transparent label indicating not only the nutritional level like in Ecuador (Food Labeling in Ecuador) but also the product price value breakdown.

A transparent overview of the product cost breakdown: Production (farmer), packaging, Taxes, Marketing, Permits, Transportation, Listing, middlemen, retailer and commission costs E-commerce, carbon footprint, CO2, etc.

 

So fairtrade may be a better option but is still far away from FAIR. If you look at who creates the value eg food and who makes more value eg money it is never the farmer but always some middleman or the retailer… Why is this so important and what does that mean. Well at the end of the day it means that there is little $ motivation for the farmer to really care for the crops for them to be healthy. The motivation is to produce maximum quantity to make a little more money. So why should you care? Well 🙂 YOU will be most likely buying from some retailer food … and if you keep in mind that the price does not reflect the quality nor does fair trade or organic certifications…

 

T-shirt and craft beer price breakdown overview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real cost of chocolate bar breakdown

The system is broken.

Ideally would be to buy your food directly from the farmer but that highly unlikely going to happen today. BUT it would be the most logical thing. The farmer would sell at a better price for him and still be less expensive than the retailer in many cases. The quality would be much better knowing exactly where your food was grown. Nowadays we are far away from this.

“Often fair trade is sold at a premium, but the entire premium goes to the middlemen.” Farmers stay poor. End clients have no idea about product quality and social impact.

What about Organic/Natural/Free-Range/nonGMO and other Food Label  certifications?

The world of organic labelling is probably one of the most complicated ones. What does it actually mean? Biological or organic farmed products (fruit, vegetable, cereal or animal products, etc) are made without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified organisms, and probably some other unnatural practices. The animals producing meat, eggs or milk are not given any antibiotics or growth hormones.

Organic is not always equally sustainable.

Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general features practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Selling food with an organic label is regulated by governmental food safety authorities, such as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or European Commission (EC).

The USDA states that the goal of organic foods and organic farming is to “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Certification costs vary depending on the size of your production operation and on the accredited agency you choose to use. In general, organic certification costs run between $200 – $1500. Your costs will include an application fee, site inspection fee, and an annual certification fee.

 

Organic/Bio Labels

To be able to use the word organic on a food label in Canada or the U.S., the product must have at least 70 percent organic ingredients and be free of GMOs and the worst of the food additives. A Certified Organic product contains at least 95% organic ingredients, and has an official USDA or Canada Organic/ Biologique label. These products are grown without chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, sewage sludge, or GMOs. Animals raised organically have access to pasture, eat organic feed that contains no antibiotics, and do not receive synthetic growth hormones. Organic products cannot be irradiated or have synthetic additives. The USDA Organic label can also be used on personal care products that meet the organic food standard for their products, meaning they are not only organic but made of edible ingredients. Canada does not have a similar option. Canada’s organic label has come under criticism recently because, unlike in the United States, Canada does not require field tests and it outsources certification in countries such as China that have questionable environmental standards. Nonetheless, the Certified Organic label for food is still the best assurance of quality.

Organic taste

Obviously, whether organic foods taste better is a matter of, well, taste. Many people swear by the difference in organic eggs, dairy, meats, and some produce. Others say that when blindfolded, those same people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between organic and conventional. There’s incredibly little data on this topic, so we’ll have to leave it up to you and your palate to decide. Price: At most supermarkets, organic goods come at a premium price. Part of it is a matter of supply and demand, and part of it is that organic produce, meat, and dairy often require more money to grow than conventional goods.

For many, eating organic is a luxury they can’t afford. For others, it’s a matter of taste and quality.

Organic yes or no?

If the reason you’ve been buying organic is because you believe they’re “better for you” nutritionally, then there’s no reason to continue according to current studies from the food industry…

However, if you’ve been buying them because they’re “better for you” in terms of chemical pesticides or growth hormones or antibiotics, you’ll definitely be getting food with lower levels (!) makes sense right. Also if the critical concern for you is environmental sustainability, or putting your money where your agricultural mouth is, then you have a compelling reason to keep buying organic.

 

nonGMO or GMO-Free Labels

GMOs — or genetically modified organisms — aka GM or GE (genetically engineered) refer to plants or animals created through the changing or merging of a species’ DNA. Canada allows GM varieties of corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, apples, and salmon. It’s the fourth largest producer of GM crops, well behind the U.S. and Brazil. We also import GM cottonseed oil, papaya, and squash. rGBH tainted milk products come from the U.S. in processed foods that contain milk solids or powders such as frozen desserts or mixed drinks with dairy. In the 20 years since GM ingredients were first introduced into Canada, these foods have made their way into most of the processed foods available in Canada. Unless you buy foods labelled organic or NON-GMO, you are almost certainly getting them in packaged foods that contain corn, canola, soy, or sugar. Unless the GMO-free claim is backed up with the NON-GMO Project label or, even better, one of the Certified Organic labels mentioned above, it’s a meaningless claim. It should be noted that the NON-GMO label does not mean that a product is organic. Indeed, having a NON-GMO label on something like strawberries is meaningless as strawberries are not currently being genetically modified anywhere, yet they are a pesticide-intensive crop. You are far better-off spending the money on the organic strawberries or skipping over all the conventional strawberries, including the NON-GMO ones.

 

Cage-Free, Free-Range, Grass-Fed, Hormone-Free, Antibiotic-Free, Natural, or All-Natural Labels

These terms can be used without the independent verification that a third party provides. This makes them meaningless. Add to the list “No Antibiotics Used” or “No additional hormones added.” When I see one of these terms without a third-party certification, I assume the company is greenwashing.

 

Gluten-Free and Other Allergen Labels

Food allergies are on the rise and can be deadly. In the U.S. and Canada, labels must note foods that contain the top allergens, gluten, and added sulphites. When something has an added “Gluten-free” label that means that the item does not include any gluten-containing ingredients, although there still may be cross-contamination. An item can be certified gluten-free as long as it has 20 parts-per-million of gluten or less, which is safe for those with Celiac disease. For most people avoiding gluten, it is enough to just contain the gluten-containing grains which are: wheat, kamut, semolina, spelt, barley, bulgur, and rye.

 

THE OVERALL PROBLEM

Often certified foods or products ARE sold at a premium, but the entire premium goes to the middlemen.” Farmers/producer stay poor. End consumers have no or just very little idea about product background (nutritional quality, environmental and social impact). Also fertilizing, the use of chemical pesticides and growth hormones in conventional farming has caused, and is causing, enormous damage worldwide to local ecosystems, biodiversity, groundwater and drinking water supplies, and sometimes farmer health and fertility.

 

Local food and seasonal food?

In a ideal world people would buy local food. Local fruits.

So if Europeans buy apple nothing to worry about right?

No. Its not that simple. Europe has been importing Chilean Apples like crazy in 2018 because also of the climate change and the droughts in Europe (Chilean apple exports rose by about 60% to EU). Also there is a EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ and apples are the 4th worth produce you can consume with the highest pesticides. According to that study 90% of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues. 80% of apples tested contained diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe. So if you do like apples try to eat them locally and seasonally. Good luck.

 

Be the change you want to see

We can encourage this by demanding that for example chocolate makers / retailers provide straightforward information about their products. Ask some hard questions about the chocolate on your store shelves—how much did farmers earn for the cocoa in this bar? Was it higher than the world market price, or about the same? What country did the cocoa beans come from? Expect to get correct information, and if someone answers you, “Switzerland,” start shopping somewhere else.

 

Possible solution in the Age of Social Media

(1) Cutting out as many intermediaries as possible from the food industry “value chain”

(2) Selling added value product via direct shipping (DropShipping) and subscriptions

(3) Labeling & communication: Transparent cost, quality and value for the end client

(4) Not limiting to one or a few products but enabling a generic direct trade system for farmers to create top quality added value products they can sell directly to end clients – thus increasing the potential gain for the farmer – thus motivating younger people to start farming again.

(5) You can be the change. After all you are going to eat it. So logically you should care about it…

(6) We could start to sell organic produce directly from the farmers to the consumers. DropShipping farm to table organic tropical crops aka “fair trade in the time of Social Media” …

Nutrition – Flexitarianism

Written by Matthew Livingston and originally published at the mattliving.com blog

DISCLAIMER: These are my thoughts and experiences on what can be a deeply cultural, charged and personal topic: diet. There is a lot we don’t know, especially when it comes to what a sustainable diet is. For one, most studies have been centred in high-income Western countries (Jones et al., 2016); it’s also still largely unclear exactly what a “healthy diet” should consist of, nevertheless what a truly sustainable society would look like. Integrating all of these concepts is an enormous challenge.

“Defining what represents a macro-nutritionally balanced diet remains an open question and a high priority in nutrition research.” (Song et al., 2016)


Before coming to the Ranch, I had been vegetarian for about a year and a half, predominantly for environmental reasons. Currently, I would probably classify as a “flexitarian” or “ethical omnivore”, as are most of the denizens here, with the majority of the diet being plant-based. Ideally ~95% of our calories would come from plants, due to extensive research on the health, longevity and environmental benefits of eating a predominantly plant-based diet (123). A 95:5 plant to meat ratio is manifest in all of the Blue Zones (4), examples being Okinawa & Sardinia, where people live the longest and most healthful lives in the world. Allow me to explain how I came to this decision and why I’m sticking with it for now…

My original swap to vegetarianism was influenced by my desire to live “more sustainably”, and healthily, as it is for many people now. I saw the documentary film “Cowspiracy” (bear with me) and this initiated my research into food and agriculture, which carried over into my environmental sustainability degree. It was also enough to shift one of my fundamental behavioural patterns – my diet. It was a little tough going at first,  but I soon found that I didn’t miss eating meat much at all. I felt a bit better about myself, “knowing” that I wasn’t contributing as much to global warming, as my research indicated that changing one’s diet can be one of the most impactful ways of reducing your carbon footprint (Aleksandrowicz et al., 2016)…


Fast forward to May 2017, when I travelled to Ridgedale Permaculturefarm in Sweden for my Permaculture Design Course with Richard Perkins. Richard is a proud meat-eater, being particularly fond of freshly line-caught fish, properly cured bacon & sausages, and a nice, juicy steak from locally reared, regeneratively farmed livestock, as viewers of his Youtube channel will know. He was keen to point out that there are in fact “no ecosystems on this planet that exist without animals driving the nutrient cycling” (Perkins, 2016). Ecosystems depend on the cycling of nutrients (and minerals) in order to function, and these nutrients can be accumulated, dispersed and concentrated by animals in such a way as to benefit the whole.

One beautiful example of this is the salmon of British Columbia, that feed the bears, eagles, forests and pretty much everything else that lives there with nitrogen and other accumulated minerals from the ocean when they return to their spawning grounds. Another was the Great Plains of North America, where tens of millions of bison roamed. These prairie lands were extraordinarily diverse habitats for a multitude of co-evolved flora & fauna, micro and macroscopic. Now they have predominantly been turned into endless fields of corn, wheat and soybeans, using fossil-fuel powered machinery and chemicals to maximise profit whilst depleting soil of not only its nutrients, contributing to erosion and nitrogen runoff, but its life too.


Regenerative Agriculture aims to work differently. The challenge is to maintain healthy yields and livelihoods whilst simultaneously enriching soil, biodiversity and ecosystems and improving the system’s ability to regenerate itself. Through various mechanisms, we can actually draw down carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soils and vegetation. What’s more, animals can help achieve this goal. Grazing animals such as bison co-evolved with grasses (which are extremely efficient sunlight accumulators, astronomically more so than our photovoltaic panels), such that massive herds would graze through perennial grasses whilst defecating and trampling the remnants down to create a mulch that left the soil covered, before moving on. The grasses would get a natural fertiliser boost but wouldn’t be eaten down completely, which meant that they could grow back and not have to deplete their soil nutrient reserves. Over time, this kind of rotational grazing, especially when well-managed, can build significant amounts of soil. At Ridgedale, they have employed it, along with other techniques such as Keyline Design, to build over 6 inches of soil in just four seasons. There is even a project called Pleistocene Park in northern Siberia that hopes to repopulate the Mammoth Steppe, which historically supported one of the largest densities of herbivores in history and could function as a massive carbon sink. Surely we need animals as a part of our (agri)culture, then?


Well, you might point out that ruminant animals like cows and sheep that we are now cultivating in extremely large numbers produce methane as a part of their digestion, a greenhouse gas with ~30 times more “global warming potential” than CO2. Greenhouse gas accountancy is a complex topic and there is still significant debate as to whether the sequestered carbon pays off the methane produced during the lifecycle of the animal (see Garnett et al., 2017 & P.P.S.); that said, it’s also possible that the earth historically supported much larger numbers of herbivores, many of which were likely driven extinct by humans thus contributing to ecosystem disruption, as discussed in Sapiens and elsewhere (78).

Another common argument is that eating animals is calorically inefficient when we could eat what we feed them. I would say this is a partially valid point in that animals, especially cattle, often need more land and water to produce than their plant-based counterparts, but it’s less valid when discussing purely grass-fed animals whose rumens are evolutionarily designed to digest grass, which most of us humans obviously don’t do very well; this suggests that if you want to obtain food from a parcel of land that wants to be grassland, you could force it to be not grassland, or you could manage and eat animals that are designed to live in and perpetuate that ecosystem. The Sustainable Food Trust goes so far as to say “the only sustainable way to obtain food from grassland is to graze it with ruminants”, which does sound a bit extreme especially considering that rabbits and geese are just two examples of non-ruminants that can be grass-fed. Livestock especially are getting a lot of bad rap due to the significant environmental damages of deforestation for pasture (an example of forcing an ecosystem to be something it doesn’t want to be) and their methane and nitrous oxide emissions (Steinfield, 2006; Stoll-Kleemann, 2015; many others).

Whilst not negligible, I’m concerned that many of the livestock systems under scrutiny aren’t representative of best-practice regenerative methods and that there is definitely the problem of reducing a living creature to the efficiency metric of its greenhouse gas emissions per kg of meat without considering all of its other beneficial functions and services; this metric has led people to the conclusion that “landless systems” or feedlots are better for the environment (Garnett et al., 2017), despite animal welfare being known to be abysmal and where wastes are concentrated and rarely dealt with properly. These factors go against the principles of regenerative agriculture and thus wouldn’t be allowed to continue; yes, grass-fed cows and other ruminants require more land, but we could limit the amount of land devoted to raising them and thereby reduce the total stock and consumption. In this manner, by allowing animals and ecosystems to express their true functions and behaviours according to the co-evolutionary properties of the animals and their environments, it might be possible for humans to yield ethically sound animal-derived food that positively contributes to the whole-earth system.


There are also a few points I would like to discuss with regards to plant-based (especially vegan) diets. Vegetables and whole grains, which form the staples of most healthful plant-based diets, as well as fruits and nuts, obviously take some amount of energy to produce, thus we need to consider where this energy or fertility comes from. We also need to consider where the dietary fat, protein and vitamin B12 will come from (amongst other nutrients/minerals) when meat is abstained from completely; I believe it is possible to meet your protein needs on a plant-based diet (Ranganathan et al., 2016), but doing so in the dead of winter in a temperature climate in a sustainable manner might be more difficult (are the Inuits an unsustainable people?)

Even the “most sustainable”farming methods I am aware of (which may or may not be organic certified) acknowledge that the inputs to grow food ultimately have to come from biological nitrogen fixation, conversion via animals, or inorganic elements (chemicals). For example, compost is vital to almost all organic, traditional and regenerative farms, and often incorporates animal manure, which adds additional nitrogen and biology to the soil and ultimately to the plants. The only exceptions I can think of to this would be Jean-Pain compost (which uses only wood chips and water) and Masanobu Fukuoka style rice and winter wheat cultivation, where the straw from the previous crop was left on the field as mulch and nutrients. Even the ancient and incredibly successful Meso-american Chinampas systems, as well as the rice cultivating nations of China, South Korea and Japan, have utilised ferti-irrigation techniques comprised predominantly of the wastes of fish as nutrients. Thus, since no sustainable farming methods can use inorganic chemicals derived from fossil fuels, most consumers that eat a purely plant-based diet are still deriving their nutrients from (the functioning and inclusion of) animals… Perhaps the question then becomes can, should and how would we integrate animals into our farming systems without eating them?


I’m still considering the implications of these questions and my position on the frequency and type of my animal consumption. We’ve had four “Pig Parties” in the four months I’ve been here at the Ranch, and chicken about once a week on average, all of which was reared and slaughtered locally in Mastatal. This corresponds pretty well to a 95:5 plant:meat ratio (see P.P.P.S.). For the first of the two pigs I visited the farm where it lived, died and bore witness to how it was processed; for the second we had an intro on how to properly butcher a pig. I think this is a crucial missing link for the majority of meat consumers and we need to continue building awareness of the realities of industrial slaughterhouses. Both of the animals I visited lived outdoors in tropical home gardens, feeding on bananas and other food scraps, although I’ve now been told it’s likely they were fed some concentrated feed. Pigs will eat just about anything, including chickens – they are probably the ultimate organic material recycling animal. Feeding farm animals to other farm animals is illegal in many parts of the world, but we need to always be searching for ways to turn “waste” into food, and pigs are one effective way of doing so. They in turn provide manure to feed back into the ecosystem and, when the time is right, are themselves converted into protein, fat and flavour for dozens of people for multiple meals. They can also provide piglets so that the system can continue, perhaps indefinitely. Without pigs in this system, you would have to replace the dietary protein and fat, which in our climate would likely come from more annual beans and palm oil from cleared forest land, as well as find another method of recycling the food scraps (vermi-compost is great, but doesn’t provide food in return).


Based on this discussion, I would like to present my initial take on a scale to classify diets based on their ability to be sustained, from best to worst:

  1. Local regenerative
  2. Local organic certified
  3. Non-local regenerative
  4. Non-local organic certified (many vegetarians/vegans in cities)
  5. Local conventional
  6. Non-local conventional (most consumers)

Where locality is on a scale from hyper-local (within 5km), to local (within 50km), to regional (within 250km), to non-local (further than 250km). Another important variable that goes hand-in-hand with locality is seasonality. Thus a checklist for regenerative dietary choices might be something like:

  1. Is it local? (as the crow flies to place of origin): <=5km — <=50km — <=250km — >250km — Don’t know
    1. Does it come from your garden, your nearest farmer, your nearest market, or another country?
  2. Is it in season?: Yes — No — Don’t know
    1. Are you regularly eating avocado, chocolate or coffee in winter in a temperate climate? What can you eat and drink locally and seasonally to replace imported goods you habitually desire?
    2. Are you consuming fermented foods and beverages? The Japanese have one of the strongest food cultures (called Washoku 和食) and longest lived people in the world, and 5/6 of their staple food ingredients are fermented foods. Fermentation is not only extremely beneficial for your health, but ties in beautifully with preserving the abundance of the harvest.
  3. Was it produced regeneratively?
    1. Did it build soil and/or sequester carbon?: Yes — No — Don’t know
    2. Did its production support local farmer(s)/community? Yes — No — Don’t know
    3. Did it use no chemicals and no or very little fossil-fuel powered machinery in its production? Yes — No — Don’t know

It is my guess that many consumers would tick No or Don’t Know for every field, whilst falling into the worst category (non-local conventional). We need to shift first from ignorance to awareness before we can shift to understanding and action – behavioural change is flipping hard! All I can say right now is the link between diet and planetary health is crucial in navigating our transition towards a sustainable prosperity.


Let me be clear: plant-based diets are absolutely a big part of the solution, and there are many cases (including the average Western diet) where meat consumption should be reduced, but nevertheless animals aren’t the enemy. Vegans, vegetarians and ethical omnivores have a common enemy, and that is industrial agriculture (especially feedlots, which are completely awful). Meat in moderation, i.e. Meat Mondays as opposed to Meatless Mondays, may be a way forward for many people, rather than jumping straight to 100% plant-based diets based on quinoa and avocados shipped in from someplace slightly more exotic. I think this better follows the Transition Ethic that Rob Hopkins thoroughly emphasises via the Transition Network, by meeting people where they’re at – there is an irrepressible demand for meat due to complex sociocultural factors that will take time to shift away from, but if we can make ethical compromises that simultaneously shift mindsets, we will be well on our way to a more symbiotic relationship between humans and Nature.

May The Triforce (Plants, Animals and Fungi!) Be With You!


P.S. Follow the debate here, and here.

P.P.S. For the adventurous you can read my Regenerative Agriculture Brief and explore the references there too!

P.P.P.S. Three meals a day with chicken for 52 meals and pork for 12 meals in a year = (365*3-(52+12))/(365*3)*100 = 94.2%.


References, a.k.a. some of the things I’ve read:

 

guanábana – 4m preparation finalized transplanting fruit trees

After more than 4 month of preparations and planning, this week we have been transplanting about almost 1000 guanábana tropical fruit trees. The plants seem to really like this climate and the geology of step hills here. Wikipedia: It’s tolerant of poor soil and prefers lowland areas between the altitudes of 0 metres to 1200 metres. It cannot stand frost. So in a nutshell perfect for our location at the edge of the amazonas region in Ecuador.

Image: guanabana tropical fruit

You have probably never heard of a guanábana fruit yet. It grows in many parts of the world and is known by many names. In the US&A it’s called “Soursop”. In Spain it is known as “Graviola”, in Ecuador and many other Latin American countries it is known as la ‘Guanábana’ (Annona muricata).

The flavour of the guanábana fruit is delicious – literally like a combination of strawberry and pineapple with an underlying creamy flavor of coconut or banana. Nothing less complex.

Although its rind is quite bitter, the fruit’s flesh is soft, smooth and sweet, and provides healthy carbohydrates as its major nutrient. Guanábana also contains a significant amount of vitamin C and several B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, along with a high amount of alkaline forming calcium, an important mineral for bone health.

During the last 4 month we have been preparing this moment where we would finally transplant the Guanábana trees at finca PermaTree. Due to the fast growing pasture we had to clear cut the 3Ha all by hand before being able to make the specific measurements and then dig all of the holes for the plants. Then we found a high quality supplier for the needed amount of organic matter where we chose to mix two different types together. Every plant got about 1kg of organic matter. After one week of hard work among 7 we did it! Yeah.

Tropical Fruits at PermaTree in Amazonas Region of Ecuador

Tropical Fruits at finca PermaTree at the edge of the amazonas region in Ecuador, South America. We are between the warm tropical / subtropical lowlands and the cool sierra region.

We are growing a extreme diverse mix of common tropical fruit with native species to Ecuador and Latin America, as well as many new varieties from the Asian continent with similar tropical climate. Our goal is to have food forest with a vast variety of tasty, healthy fruits.

Fruit Forest

Our goal with finca PermaTree here, is to grow all of the existing possible exotic fruits of the planet in one place. Just because we can. And maybe because we the humans are ending natural diversity and this is a growing future issue for the next generations of humans on the planet. We are not here to save the planet or whatever… The planet does not need us. WE need the planet earth.

All-ready harvesting tropical fruits from

  • Papaya  
    Papaya / Paw Paw – Carica papaya
  • Sapote
    Sapote – Nahuatl tzapotl
  • Guaba / Ice-cream-bean 
    Guaba (Ice cream bean) Inga edulis
  •  
    Maracuya – passiflora maliformis  (Passionfruit) Yellow skin

  • Granadilla – passiflora ligularis (Passionfruit) Orange skin
  •  
    Plátano (Plantain) Musa paradisiaca
  • Guineo / Banana  
    Guineo (Bananas)  Yellow / Reddish
  • Opening ripe Cacao pods 
    Cacao (Cocoa) Theobroma cacao

  • Caña de azúcar (Sugar cane) Saccharum officinarum

  • Guayaba (Guava) Psidium guajava

  • Naranjilla (Lulo) Solanum quitoense
  • Mango 
    Mango – Mangifera indica
  • Piña - Pineapple  
    Piña (Pineapple) Ananas comosus

 

 

 

Sooner or later to be harvested exotic fruits:

  • Guanabana / corazon-de-india / Soursop
    Guanábana (Soursop) Annona muricata
  • Coconut 
    Coco (Coconut) Cocos nucifera

  • Salak (Snake Fruit)
  •  
    Durian – Durio zibethinus
  •  
    Jackfruit (Jackfruit) Artocarpus heterophyllus
  •  
    Cherimoya (Custard Apple) Annona cherimoya
  • Fruti-Pan / Breadfruit
    Fruti Pan (Breadfruit) Artocarpus altilis
  •  
    Babaco (Mountain Papaya) Vasconcellea × heilbornii

  • Mangosteen – Garcinia mangostana
  • Noni / Morinda-citrifolia
    Noni – Morinda citrifolia
  • Carambola / Star-Fruit
    Carambola (Star fruit)
  • Pitahaya - Yellow Dragon Fruit  
    Pitahaya – Stenocereus/Hylocereus, (Dragon fruit)

  • Achotillo / Rambutan – Lychee
  • Borojo – Alibertia patinoi

Check out our fruit of Ecuador poster here on issuu or visual.ly

Healthy Tasty Food

The project PermaTree was mainly created because we – Btina and myself – wanted to eat healthy tasty food in our future. We at PermaTree focus on healthy nutrition aka healthy food “diet”.

Definition of diet: “A selection of nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, in order to maintain life and growth.”

It’s something many understand totally different. For some it’s about following a specific diet. For others it’s about losing weight. And for us it’s really and simply about eating tasty fresh healthy foods to gain energy and positive vibes. We embrace diverse nutrition with some exceptions due to current location limitations and because most of the fruit trees we have been planting will need between 2.5 and 8 years until we can harvest the fruits.

 

Most people think we at PermaTree are vegetarians because we do not eat or cook meat at home. The meat storage in our freezer is only for our for legged friends, our two dogs. Meat or overleft from cows which vendors do not sell to their customers. And to be honest the meat quality here in South America is not comparable with Europe. It’s more like a gum than a juicy piece of meat. So, if there is good meat around, sure we take the chance to eat meat once a time. But we are absolutely not dependent on meat. More important for us is, to know the source of where the food is coming from. Who is the producer and how is it treated, animals wise and also the entire growth process of a plant foods (organic VS GMO/hormone/chemicals).

What type of food do we eat at finca PermaTree?

A typical day involves a big bowl of seasonal tropical fruit (Banana, Papaya and maybe Mango) with oatmeal and fruit juice for breakfast. Lunch could be rice with peanut butter, salad and carrots, lentils with shredded coconut meat. Dinner may be lighter like Papaya or just some rice with eggs. We focus on seasonal, partly organic and local produce we purchase at the market and harvest as much of our own food from the Finca as we can.

So, for example plant wise speaking they need calcium too, which is most likely coming from bones. Meaning dead animals or dead human beings if you want so. And many people go and buy some fertilizer and do not know how it is made. So roughly said, the vegetables and fruit you eat have eaten bones to be able to grow big and juice! What do you think now? There is always something missing in this circle. As a circle example we get born, life and on on the end we are going back to earth where we decompose and create nutrient for plants or animals and so life is full of circles.

For us organic fruits, vegetables, grains creatively mixed together is what we are thankful after a hard working day. Most tropical fruits have so many health benefits we can’t even talk about it, because it would take more than just a dozen of blog articles. In a nutshell if it’s a natural organic fruit you can be sure it’s healthy, if it’s from the tropical climate it may be a so called superfruit and even more healthy. Why? Because those deemed “super” by nutrition scientists are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients that can help you live longer, look better, and even prevent disease.

Papaya Natural Fruit Juice - no sugar no milk

As soon as vendors use GMO/hormones for their animals or chemicals for their plants, it is most likely because they can sell it in very big amounts and therefore industrial food production. Better not to consume. Industrial food is just to make money not to sell nutrition. It’s about selling the least expensive food-material best packaged at the highest price. For profit. It’s all about the profit and the net gain and worth of the industry. Your health is not part of this equation.

 

Industrial production is NOT good for our environment, animals or even directly for us humans regarding our health! This is the most significant fact we have to keep in mind, more than following any diet in this world.

Which we, without hesitation, calling by there names: Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal, Kosher, Low-fat, Raw-food, Gluten-free diet, Diabetic diet, Carbohydrate Diet, etc. These diets have to do with religion or a specific belief or just a current trend. 99% of all diets are also way to extreme at the end of the day. Also depending on your body type (Metabolism) how fast your body can burn energy, some diets may work for one person but not for another.

Amira preparing another Healthy Lunch Breakfast: Tropical Fruit Salad and Huevos revueltos Breakfast: Tropical Fruit Salad with Papaya

Our goal at PermaTree in Ecuador is to produce locally all of our food we consume there. Sounds like something obvious but it takes time to get there.

Others may want to, because they want to live healthier or lose weight. There is also currently a trend within athletes which are vegan and strong. Sounds good but most still do not care where food is coming from and if it contains chemicals or not…  Which we think is also a very significant detail.  

Healthy Food Recommend from PermaTree

  • Zero sugar “diet’ = more energy and just another addiction.
  • Cook all of the meals at home. If possible don’t eat outside, no control there.
  • Get the produce (vegetables & fruit) from nearby local markets or farms, always ask where it comes from you may be surprised by the answers from I dont have a clue to 3000km away.
  • Focus on consuming the good fats (Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat) and not the bad fats (saturated fat and trans fat). Examples foods would be: nuts (coconut, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans) vegetable oils (olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil) peanut butter and almond butter avocado, salmon, herring, sardines, trout, walnuts and all kind of seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds).
  • Obviously – Don’t eat processed foods. anything in a packaging with a brand and
  • If possible eat raw vegetables, fruits, etc.
  • shiny slogans
  • Do you own research about food and listen to your body
  • Experiment new fresh food and mixes

HowTo Make Raw Energy Bars

Making Raw Energy Bars & Why We Should Eat More Raw Foods

Today we would like to share a new recipe with you, which is very simple to make and does not require any baking or cooking. These raw energy bars are the perfect snack on the go, providing you with a combination of complex carbs, healthy fats and proteins. So let’s get started!

energybars

First thing you do is building the base made with

  • Rolled oats
  • Banana
  • Peanut Butter

Optional add-ins could be

  • Raw chocolate
  • Shredded coconut
  • Some walnuts
  • Raisins or other dried fruits
  • Raw cane sugar honey
  • Chia seeds, flax, sesame
    OR
  • whatever you have on hand! Feel free to get creative ☺

Now all you have to do is mash the bananas, mix it with the peanut butter (best thing is to use them ~ 1:1), and then add the dry ingredients until you reach a sticky consistency. This might take some time and some testing. Make the test by rolling the mixture into balls, then it should be ready to be used. Spread the mixture into a baking pan and flatten it. Leave it in the fridge overnight to make it stick together. The next day, take the pan out and cut the mixture into bars.

Enjoy!

raw energy bars DIY

 

Now, what does raw food mean exactly and how do we benefit from eating it? Technically, raw food means that it is not heated up above 48° C. Uncooked, unprocessed food, or let’s just say food, in its most natural state. Although there are several types of raw diets (like raw vegan, raw vegetarian, and even a raw meat diet), they all share the same idea: consuming aliments, which are “alive”, as heating food up above 48°C destroys many of its beneficial components like vitamins and nutrients. So, just to name a few of the main advantages of eating raw:

  • Heating up your food destroys its nutrients and natural enzymes. Enzymes support your digestive system and strengthen your immune system which is essential to fight chronic diseases. Eating raw food therefore helps with digestion, provides good skin appearance and prevents diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, etc.
  • Helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body as raw foods normally contain less saturated and trans fats than packaged and processed foods
  • Saving costs and energy: As no cooking is required, you save a lot of energy which also makes your wallet happy ?
  • Less packaging: main components of a raw food diet are vegetables, fruits and whole grains. You can find most of these on local markets, where they are not packaged, which means less plastic trash and therefore, less garbage. Just make sure to take enough bags with you, as sellers always try to put products into plastic bags (especially here in South America)!

One important thing when eating raw food is to make sure the products you buy and use are organic and of good quality. Sadly, fumigation and the use of huge amounts of pesticides and other chemicals is widespread in our modern world. Consuming contaminated aliments can damage your system and lead to serious illnesses. Don’t be one of those people who is senseless about what they eat and put into their bodies.

Start taking care of yourself, as health is the most important thing we have!

energybars

 

“By eating live foods you create a live body. Live foods contain essential nutrients the body needs to create and maintain energy. Dead foods speed age, decrease ability, and decrease energy … they are useless when dead…” quote Charles de Coti-Marsh

 

About Author: 

heenas-messy-kitchen-logo @ Verena Lippok

Verena Lippok is a passionate vegetarian food blogger, cat lover and world traveller. She is the co-founder of HeenasMessyKitchen.Com. Follow her creative works around healthy foods on Pinterest, instagram and her blog

”Everything you do to your body today affects your future life. So let us give some love to our bodies by living a healthy and fit lifestyle.” – Verena Lippok

Tropical Fruits of Ecuador

If you also embrace diversity and a healthy living then you might be interested into the so called tropical fruits or exotic fruits of this planet. Here in Ecuador the different micro-climates provide a fantastic environment for most of the tropical fruits, to grow very well.

tropical-fruits-ecuador

Our goal with finca PermaTree here within the amazon region of Ecuador, is to grow all of the existing exotic fruits of the planet in one place. Just because we can. And maybe because we the humans are ending natural diversity and this is a growing future issue for the next generations on the planet. We are not here to save the planet or whatever. The planet does not need us. We the planet earth. Back to the tropical fruits a quick overview of the exotic stars within all of them:

  • Annona muricata, Guanábana (Soursop)
  • Artocarpus heterophyllus, Jackfruit (Jackfruit)
  • Vasconcellea × heilbornii, Babaco (Mountain Papaya)
  • Artocarpus altilis, Fruti Pan (Breadfruit)
  • Passiflora edulis, Granadilla (Passionfruit) …
  • Stenocereus/Hylocereus, Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)
  • Annona cherimoya, Cherimoya (Custard Apple)
  • Nahuatl tzapotl, Sapote
  • Alibertia patinoi, Borojo

Additionally many other tropical fruits from Asia also do grow very well in Ecuador such as the Durio zibethinus, Durian fruit tree.

Fruits and vegetables which are growing now at PermaTree ?

Depending on the season you an find: papayas, bananas, plantain, cacao, ice cream bean, sugar cane, pineapple, guava, lemons, guayusa, hierba luisa (lemon grass type), cassava (yuca), wild cherry tomatoes, corn, rosemary, basil, thine, aloe vera, vetiver, neem, noni, naranjilla, zapote and we have been planting guanábanas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruits, chirimoya, coconuts, strawberry, maracuya, breadfruit, bamboo (bamboo shoots), macadamia, peach palm (contact), soursop, jackfruit, star fruit and dragon fruit.
Check out our fruit of Ecuador poster here on issuu or visual.ly
https://issuu.com/permatree/docs/fruits_ecuador
and
https://visual.ly/tropical-fruits-ecuador