the Brazil nut harvest was so bad this year, we’re changing some of our recipes
So we’re talking about Brazil?
Actually, no. You’ll find the towering, wide-canopied Brazil nut tree, which reaches as high as 50 metres, right across the Amazon region. And while Brazil produces its fair share of the nut that bears its name, it’s neighbouring Bolivia that satisfies most of the world’s appetite for the nutritious, selenium-rich crop, accounting for more than half of the global supply – and that’s where Eat Natural gets its Brazil nuts. Between December and March, districts such as Pando in northern Bolivia are alive with locals collecting the big Brazil nut pods that drop without warning. The entire crop grows wild – the tree simply won’t fruit outside of its natural environment – and so along waterways, on jungle paths and in forest clearings families and whole communities bring in the harvest.
Why are they so important (apart from tasting great)?
The working days for Brazil nut gatherers are long and carrying the heavy pods is tough work but this is a vital season. Since rubber ceased to be king in this part of South America, the Brazil nut has become the main source of income for more than half the population and, with just four months to make a living for the whole year, every tree is vital. It isn’t just about putting food on the table. The Brazil nut tree only produces its tasty crop when it’s left alone in its natural habitat, millions of acres of rainforest have become self-supporting in their untouched state. In fact, the Brazil nut business is the only sustainable industry in the Amazon.
Sounds ideal. So what’s the problem?
Being so reliant on a single crop makes communities here vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This season, production was down as much as 50 percent after an unusually dry November, and high winds have brought down trees that have taken hundreds of years to grow. These forest giants are surprisingly fragile and without an organised reforestation programme their loss is beginning to have a serious effect. Following on from a bad season the year before, there's a big impact for both local people and the businesses worldwide that rely on their produce.
Why Eat Natural loves using Brazil nuts?
From our earliest days we’ve been hooked on the creamy flavour and crunchy textures that Brazils bring to our bars and muesli, not to mention the well-known health benefits of these antioxidant and mineral-packed wonders. We even worked out how best to roast our Brazils to give them some extra crunch.
What does this mean for Eat Natural bars?
You seemed to love what we do with this nutritious ingredient too – which is why we're committed to continuing to give you the taste you've always enjoyed. Rather than simply use another nut, we'll be tweaking our recipes that get as close as possible to our brazil & sultana bar and our darker chocolate brazils and apricot bar, both of which are affected by the shortage.
What’s Eat Natural doing to help?
So switching to one of our other bars for a while, or the team at our Essex makery having to come up with a clever recipe: first-world problems, right? For our Brazil nut gatherers on the ground in the Amazon region, a tough year is only going to get tougher. The bad harvest means household budgets stretched to breaking point and families falling into real poverty. We don't think it's enough to simply hope the coming season is better, which is why we're talking to our suppliers in Bolivia and seeking local partners to work out how we can lend a hand to the people who’ve helped our business thrive. As well as financial assistance in the short term, we need to look at countering the threats to local biodiversity, both man-made and natural. Because when it comes to the crunch, we all need to be able rely on one another.
To understand more about the Brazil nut shortage have a look at this video.