Organic Hearts of Palm
Tasty, low calorie and versatile, hearts of palm are are wonderful in salads, superb in side dishes, perfect pizza toppings and a treasured ingredient of chefs in the world’s finest restaurants.
Growing worldwide demand has spawned numerous agricultural and processing facilities for hearts of palm throughout Central and South America. Some of these projects have been criticized for converting vital rainforest land to agricultural production at the expense of the environment. However, not all hearts of palm projects are alike.
Native Forest Organic Hearts of Palm projects are mission-driven to support social welfare while conserving pristine rainforest ecology.
Edgar Montenegro, our lead Hearts of Palm partner in Colombia, was honored in 2018 when he received the Oslo Business for Peace award for ethically applying business efforts to create economic and societal value.
Montenegro works closely with local Afro-Colombian communities and indigenous people, providing jobs for over 240 households, impacting over 1,300 families, and helping marginalized groups become more resilient. We are proud that the Native Forest Organic Hearts of Palm project contributes to the success of his mission.
Mission-driven entrepreneurs work with NGOs and government agencies to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of native forest to support wild palm harvesting and other environmentally sustainable projects. Their efforts protect rainforests from destructive development and employ people who live deep in the “bush”, offering them the opportunity to live and work closer to their families and ancestral homes. Hearts of Palm may be harvested from several different species of palm. In Colombia, Edgar Montenegro’s team focus on Euterpe oleracia, a bushy palm that grows profusely throughout the vast South American rainforest. Also named “the acai palm” after its healthful fruit, hearts of palm harvesters are able to cut just a few properly sized stems from each plant, leaving the plant and its root system largely intact.
There are few roads and a lot of water throughout the rainforest, so access to the wild palm crop relies on boats and feet. Over thousands of years, rivers have dragged layers of sediment that created the topsoil throughout the river basins. Much of the soil has a high clay content, whose reddish-orange color results from the natural accumulation of ferrous oxide in the sediment. As such, the wild hearts of palm harvested in these regions may have a white, beige or pink coloration depending upon the clay content of the soil in which the plant has grown.
This natural color variation has no effect on the taste or quality of the palm hearts. The tender "hearts of palm" we enjoy are the undeveloped leaves that have yet to emerge from their casing within the stem of the palm tree. The tender "hearts of palm" we enjoy are the undeveloped leaves that have yet to emerge from their casing within the stem of the palm tree.
Wild palm species are very prolific. Where one mature palm is found there will typically be dozens more in proximity, competing for soil nutrients and sunlight.
All harvesting is done manually, avoiding machinery and vehicles that might otherwise damage this unique environment. 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.
Guided by strict size and maturity protocols, harvesters will cut only the palm stems of ideal maturity (not too young, not too old). This practice leaves the remaining palm plants ideally situated to thrive and to seed future generations.
By harvesting palm hearts with sustainable practices, the rainforest thrives while hundreds of independent operators build financial security for themselves and their families.
After palms stems are harvested, they are loaded into small boats and delivered to the certified organic cannery.
The organic cannery employs local and indigenous people in an area that has few other employment opportunities.
Here, the hearts of palm are palm stalks are debarked to reveal their tender white or pink centers.
The centers, or palm hearts, are flash pasteurized and packed in enamel-lined cans for shipment to North America and throughout the world.
Native Forest® Organic Hearts of Palm are delicious additions to your wholesome, balanced diet. You and your family will enjoy them in salads, sandwiches, casseroles, side dishes and more!
Harvested lands are managed in partnership with prominent conservation organizations and Native Forest Hearts of Palm exceed USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and European Union organic standards. Brands matter! Your selection of Native Forest Organic Hearts of Palm supports important social and ecological projects, helping pristine rainforest to remain a fully renewable resource for generations to come.