Organic Hearts of Palm
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 rain forest land to agricultural production at the expense of the environment. However, not all hearts of palm projects are alike.
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 rain forest-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.
The Native Forest® Organic Hearts of Palm project supports the health of the consumer, the future of the rainforest and the economic and social well being of the source communities.
The project brings employment and a higher standard of living to the region while maintaining respect for its culture and its vast natural resources. The harvested lands and the entire hearts of palm project exceed organic standards of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).