Alimentación Consciente

Versión en inglés

Hace un par de días, una amiga preguntó en FB cuánto dinero gastamos en comida por mes. Me llevó algunos minutos responder y mi sorpresa fue que, aunque vivo bajo un cierto presupuesto, cuando se trata de comida, mis elecciones realmente no dependen solo del precio. organicTener una dieta basada principalmente en plantas, cocinar en casa y vivir en un país tropical donde abunda la disponibilidad de alimentos frescos durante todo el año, hace que mi presupuesto sea bastante razonable cuando se trata de comprar alimentos. He sido vegetariana durante casi 18 años y mi dieta ha evolucionado con el tiempo hacia una dieta donde mis valores se involucran cada vez más en mis elecciones de alimentos.
Como consumidores, creo que tenemos el poder y la responsabilidad de decidir qué iniciativas apoyamos y cuáles no. En el caso de la producción y el consumo de alimentos, nuestras elecciones pueden tener un impacto enorme en el medio ambiente y en las personas. Estas son algunas de las consideraciones que tomo antes de comprar mi comida:

  1. Orgánico: la elección de productos libres de pesticidas y fertilizantes químicos tiene un beneficio directo en nuestra salud y garantiza que los suelos y las fuentes de agua no se contaminen.
  2. Local: la elección de productos locales reduce tu huella de carbono, favorece  a la agrobiodiversidad y apoya a  las economías locales.
  3. Estacional: los productos de temporada son generalmente más baratos y tienen un mejor sabor. De hecho, estos productos tienen más vitaminas y nutrientes que los no estacionales.
  4. Precio justo: Prefiero comprar directamente al productor evitando intermediarios cuando me es posible y pago el precio justo. Otra opción es elegir productos certificados que garanticen que a los productores se les pague un precio justo por sus productos.
  5. Respetuoso con la biodiversidad: elijo productos provenientes de prácticas agro-ecologicas y permaculturales, ya que estas son compatibles con la biodiversidad. La agricultura intensiva, incluso si es orgánica y local, puede ser perjudicial para la mayoría de las especies.Vayu blog 2
  6. Una buena preparación: una vez que tengo todo mi bolso de ¨golosinas¨, dedico un tiempo a explorar recetas para una buena preparación y almacenamiento de alimentos para poder aprovechar al máximo lo que compro en términos de nutrición y reducción de desechos.

Intento considerar estos 6 puntos antes de comprar mi comida, pero no siempre es fácil. En ocasiones tengo que elegir un aspecto sobre otro y el precio sí entra en juego en este punto. Aun así  hago mi mejor esfuerzo y siento que es bueno pensar en esto antes de comprar.

Vayu blog 1Ahora imagina un lugar que se encargue de todos estos detalles por ti y te ofrezca deliciosos platos preparados de manera consciente. Investigando la calidad y el origen de los productos y cocinado de manera tal que te brinden lo mejor de cada ingrediente. Eso es VAYÚ- Alimentación Consciente, ubicada en el valle de Cumbayá, Quito-Ecuador. Un lugar acogedor que ofrece opciones vegetarianas, veganas, crudas, sin azúcar y más. Con espacios verdes, adecuado para niños,  donde nuestras mascotas son bienvenidas, buen clima, atención de casa … una verdadera cocina consciente. VAYÚ también tiene una pequeña tienda con productos deliciosos y sanos para ti.  Definitivamente es un lugar para visitar y disfrutar con tu familia, tu mascota y tus amigos…  muy recomendado! vayu2

Nuestras elecciones pueden tener un impacto enorme en el medio ambiente y en las personas #orgánico #local #estacional #preciojusto #compatibleconlabiodiversidad #alimentacionconsciente 

Conscious cuisine

Spanish version

A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked on FB how much money do we spend in food per month. It took me some minutes to answer and my surprise was that although I do have to live on a budget, when it comes to food, my choices don’t really depend on the price alone. organicHaving mostly a plant-based diet, cooking at home and living in a tropical country where plenty of fresh food is available all year long, makes my budget pretty reasonable when it comes to buying groceries. I have been a vegetarian for almost 18 years now and my diet has evolved over time towards a diet where my values get more and more involved in my food choices.
As consumers, I believe we have the power and the responsibility of deciding which initiatives we support and which ones we don’t. In the case of food production and consumption, our choices can have an enormous impact on the environment and on people. Here are some of the considerations I take before buying my food:

  1. Organic: choosing pesticides and chemical fertilisers free products has a direct benefit on our health and ensure that soils and water sources  don’t get poisoned.
  2. Local: choosing local products reduce your carbon footprint, benefit agro-biodiversity and supports local economies.
  3. Seasonal: seasonal products are usually cheaper and taste better. In fact these products have more vitamins and nutrients that non-seasonal ones.
  4. Fair Price: I prefer buying directly from the producer avoiding intermediaries when possible and I paid them what is fair.   Another option is choosing certified products that ensure that the producers are getting paid a fair price for their products.Vayu blog 2
  5. Biodiversity friendly: I choose products coming from agro-ecology and permaculture practices that are compatible with biodiversity. Intensive agriculture even if it is organic and local can be detrimental for most species.
  6. Good preparation: once I have all my bag of “goodies”, I spend some time exploring recipes for good preparation and storage of food so I can make the most out of what I buy in terms of nutrition and waste reduction.

I try to consider all 6 points before buying my food but it is not always easy. In occasions I have to choose one over another and price does play a role in here, but I do my best and feel it is good to think about this before buying.

Vayu blog 1Now imagine a place that takes care of all these details for you and offers you delicious dishes consciously prepared.  Looking into the quality and origine of the products and cooked in a manner that gives you the best out of each ingredient.  That is VAYÚ- Alimentación Consciente, located in Quito’s valley Cumbaya in Ecuador. A cosy place that offers  vegetarian, vegan, raw, sugar free options and more.  With green spaces, suitable for children,  pet friendly, great weather, homie attention…a true conscious cuisine. VAYÚ also has a small shop with delicious and healthy products for you to buy. It is definitely a place to visit and enjoy with family and friends. Really recommended!

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Our #foodchoices have an enormous impact on the #environment and on #people. Choose #organic #local #seasonal #fairprice #biodiversityfriendly#consciouscuisine 

Hope and innovation for conservation

There are great examples of successful conservation and sustainability efforts around the world that give us hope (Balmford, 2012; Bernard, 2010) and demonstrate that things can get better and will get better.IMG_0880 However, it is time to be honest in tackling the root causes of the problem from a conservation perspective.

Waste and our current consumption and production patterns are the major drivers for biodiversity loss, pollution, poverty, climate change (Orr, 1994).

What if we think  out-of the box for substituting something with nothing (Pauli, 2010)? and we create solutions that move away from pollution and waste and that use the resources that we already have?

The Blue Economy (Pauli, 2010) is a great example  showing that it IS possible to do so. In a nutshell, Gunther Pauli proposes the use of the waste produced by the coffee industry to grow mushrooms to feed vulnerable communities. Producers could grow coffee in a way that is compatible with biodiversity and responsible with the producer’s wellbeing. Responsible coffee drinkers could pay a fair price to producers, and in addition, new entrepreneurs could use the coffee waste to grow mushrooms to feed people (Pauli, 2010). The result would be that we wouldn’t need more land to grow more coffee or more resources for the creation of more goods, more jobs and more money. Check out more about this idea here.

With the same reasoning , there are many other examples of innovation in conservation. It is essential that we keep innovating our actions to tackle waste, production and consumption in the Anthropocene era (Steffen et al., 2011).  Keep checking the blog!!! new ideas coming soon… 🙂

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Business ideas for Conservation

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Otonga Cloud Forest

I’ve been called ‘idealist” several times in my life, especially when the discussions are around business, consumption patterns and biodiversity conservation. BUT I do believe that there are different ways of doing business, different ways of consuming…and more important I do believe that business can enhance the protection of the natural environment and that consumers have the right and the power of choosing sustainable and ethical products. Here are some of my ideas of innovative business models that might work…

Wild orange marmalade from Otonga- My business innovation idea for the conservation of the Otonga Cloud Forest- part 1

In a nutshell, the idea is to sell the best wild orange marmalade to the best restaurant(s) in Quito. The chef will prepare the best dessert based on wild orange marmalade and row sugar from the Otonga Cloud forest. The best-informed clients  will attend the restaurant and pay a fair price for eating a delicious dessert that has a social and environmental purpose. The owner of the restaurant, will invest part of its revenues in the sustainability of its source of production (wild oranges + row sugar + local entrepreneurs of the area). Sounds good right?naranja agria

Benefits:

– The environment is seen as an opportunity for investment rather than as an externality.

– Profit for the marmalade producers and the restaurant.

– Low-income communities in Ecuador can improve their livelihoods by running social enterprises compatible with biodiversity conservation.

– Protection of the cloud forest in Ecuador

– Awareness rising among consumers in Quito

Who’s joining me in my start-up? 😉

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Quito-Ecuador

Step by step…how to create a social enterprise?

Our social entrepreneurship program is getting to its end. Last week Vivamos el Bosque held its legal advice workshop at “El Maltón” community. Here, Jorge Muñoz, shared his experience as a business owner and entrepreneur. He gave good advice about certain topics that need to be taken care before “legalizing” any venture. For example, some of our young entrepreneurs are under 18 years old, what makes impossible for them to sign any legal document; and most of them are still studying so their availability is limited.
como construir una empresa Besides that, Vivamos el Bosque shared with the students, a comprehensive list of things to-do to legalize their venture. Where to go? what to bring? how much does it cost?
With this information they can start their business once they feel ready to do so.
One more workshop left!!! keep following the blog!

Time time time to catch up! Photography workshop 1

I can finally take a deep breath and share with you all about the last two months of Vivamos el Bosque! July and August have been very intense, busy and really great for the project!

As planned… Vivamos el Bosque team has organized and completed successfully its first photography workshop in collaboration with our friends from Tropical Herping. From July 24th to July 29th, 11 participants received 6 hours of theory in Quito about the basics of photography; and they spent two days in the Cloud Forest, where they discovered the magic of the Otonga Forest and had the chance to share a special time with the community of El Maltón. It was a pleasure for me to receive 9 participants from Quito and two special guests from Chile that were travelling in Ecuador when they found out about the workshop. Thank you very much to all the participants, the instructors and our friend and volunteer Celina Perez-Beck for getting involved with Vivamos el Bosque fundraising activities.

The photography workshop had three main objectives. To raise awareness about the importance of protecting the cloud forest in Ecuador; to engage more people in biodiversity conservation through Vivamos el Bosque and to fundraise for the project. I am glad that our 11 participants had the chance to learn from the experts about nature photography while getting to know about Vivamos el Bosque initiative and its close connection with the communities surrounding the otonga cloud forest.

Thank you to all of you for your support and keep in mind that more workshops are coming soon!!

Here, a picture taken by one of our participants, Alejandro Miranda.

Bridging Hearts, Opening Minds and Doing Things Together

Tertulia Científica with Giovanni Onore

Yesterday, we shared a wonderful moment with about 30 friends of Otonga at the “Café Libro” coffee shop in Quito. The objective of the night? to grab a cup of coffee and be part of a lively discussion about the Value of Biodiversity. Giovanni Onore was the perfect ingredient for a fun and informational night full of inspiration, annecdotes, and great insights.
“It is like going back in time and been in one of his lectures” said one of the participants. And it really was like going back in time! Dr. Onore has an amazing power to bring people together and inspire youth. His particular style keep people’s attention and touches everybody’s heart. The message of the night was really straightforward and clear. Ecuador has an incredible biodiversity which make us all proud BUT most important Ecuador has an enormous responsibility to manage and preserve such important biodiversity. How to do that? Onore strongly beleive in the importance of providing education and equal opportunities to everybody so new cutting-edge alternatives can emerge to improve the quality of life of people in total harmony with nature. As part of the night we shared experiences about how to help and how to work for biodiversity conservation. Some good examples of how inspired youth have started great initiatives is the case of FLOARE an enterprise started by Gabriel Iturralde, one of many Onore ex-students. Floare´s main iniciative is the commercialization of baby orchid plants presented as part of an original design, adaptable to urban spaces. Overall, the project is based on borrowing the richness of nature and adapting it to vanguard designs that will provide funds necessary for the social development and conservation of natural Ecuadorian species.
A great initiative with lots of potential considereing that Ecuador has near 4000 species of orquids wich are admired worlwide!!! Congratulations FLOARE!

Another inspiring example is the Centro Jambatu and Wikiri initiative. In one hand, Centro Jambatu is an institute dedicated to research and conservation of Ecuadorian amphibians. It has successfully been implementing the Strategic Plan to safeguard amphibians from extinction by conducting long term monitoring and research, managing amphibians at high risk of extinction in their natural habitat and in the laboratory, providing free access information about the status of Ecuadorian amphibians and promoting outreach and education initiatives. WIKIRI on the other hand, commercialize amphibians and other related products for the pet and educational markets, fighting the illegal wildlife trade and allocating its income to fund research, forest conservation, and education of children and youth in “frog-diverse” areas. Great job Wikiri!

It was a really nice night! Dr. Onore officially invited everybody the event at the communities for the coming 27 of July 2012. The event is called the “Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador”, and we really hope all our friends will come.
Finally, I would like to thank everybody for sharing with us such a lovely night!

A big Hug,

Caro