Covering just 0.2% of the Earth ́s surface, Ecuador is one of its most biologically diverse countries. Its Amazon lowlands are exceptionally rich, but also highly threatened. Of the Amazon countries, Ecuador has lost the largest share of its original Amazon forests; expansion of crops and pastures drives over 90% of this deforestation. Indigenous peoples are the stewards of 50% of the Ecuadorian Amazon and their lands maintain most of the original natural forest cover. Farms are a diversified combination of fruit trees, palms, timber species, herbs, and root crops that act as “connective tissue” for surrounding rainforests. With the shift to a market economy, this mosaic of indigenous forests and farms is at risk of disappearing or being radically simplified to meet the need for income, but sacrifice biodiversity, food security and culture. While the Amazon region comprises almost half of Ecuador ́s territory, its rich cultural and biological diversity is poorly known and undervalued in the country ́s centers of economic and political power.
Canopybridge – EcoDecision uses gastronomy as an agent of change by connecting indigenous producers of specialty ingredients with leading chefs and restaurants. Extraordinarily well-tuned traditional farming systems have long been in place. Indigenous forest stewards partner with conservation NGOs and the most renowned chefs in Ecuador to place unique products and ingredients of the Amazon at the dinner tables of South America’s burgeoning food movement. Smallholder producers and top chefs join forces to incubate new products with culinary potential, driving revenue directly to communities and providing new incentives for conservation. The restaurants and chefs are on the hunt for innovative ingredients, unique to the country and rooted in its many cultures. This creates new space for traditional crops, farming methods and local communities. Canopybridge – EcoDecision has provided practical solutions to the logistics problems, ensuring that fresh products reach restaurants and specialty food markets on a weekly basis. Initially a small initiative, the network now aims is to scale up this delivery system through sustainable sourcing from producer associations. Bringing the solution to scale will help diversify producers to avoid over-exploitation of production units and diversify sales to ensure biodiversity in production units is not compromised.
Chefs in top-class restaurants have started to work with traditional and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Click here to read more about the solution CanopyBridge - EcoDecision is promoting in Ecuador.