Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eating Brazil nuts protects the Amazon rainforest - literally

Patricio Cracking Open Brazil Nut Coco Photo

Image via: Author's collection

Probably the most entertaining interview we conducted during my South American tour with Green Living Project was interviewing Brazil Nut Concession Owners, and in particular, Patricio León. This 75 year old man has been harvesting brazil nuts since he was about 14 years old and is still out doing it, though he admits that now he has staff to help with the work because he’s not as young as he once was. If you’re not familiar with brazil nuts, but have ever eaten a can of mixed nuts, then you’ve probably eaten or at least seen a brazil nut. They’re the really large moon-sliver shaped nuts that you usually find hanging out at the bottom of the canister. Listen up, because eating those directly helps to protect the rainforest.

So who cares about brazil nuts and why does eating them protect the rainforest? Well, when it comes down to it brazil nuts (or castañas, in Spanish) only really grow under healthy, pristine conditions in the rainforest. Thus far, farmers and commercial organizations haven’t really successfully been able to grow the trees in brazil nut plantations, so eating them means you are supporting healthy rainforests. Farmers can’t chop down the surrounding trees to more easily get to the brazil nut trees (which are typically found 1-2 per hectare), because the trees won’t produce as well as if they were in a healthy, primary forest. Patricio told us that the trees that were in “secondary forest” areas produce 2/3 or fewer "seeds" compared with trees that are grow in primary rainforest. ...

Eating Brazil Nuts Protects the Amazon Rainforest - Literally

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