The “Rainforest to Table” Movement Is About More Than Just Eating

What chefs and conservationists have dubbed the last culinary frontier is in the unlikeliest of places. A new movement known as “Rainforest to Table” seeks to focus attention on the amazing diversity of natural foods available in the Amazon forests. Awareness of Amazon cuisine not only offers gastronomists unique food experiences but also provides indigenous populations with a means to earn income, and gives environmentalists a chance to save the rapidly depleting rainforests.

The forests and rivers of Amazonia are replete with breathtaking biodiversity, and much of it is edible. The region is home to approximately 3,000 species of fish, 3,000 types of fruit, and many thousands of other varieties of edible plants. Latin American chefs from some of the world’s finest restaurants travel the area in search of local ingredients that they can incorporate into their menus. These range from new varieties of fish and local plants to more unusual cuisine such as edible ants. One world-renowned Brazilian chef includes ants in his high-end sweets, while another adds an ant-derived vinaigrette to his premium burgers.

The “Rainforest to Table” movement does far more than add innovative dishes to restaurant menus. It also provides an alternative to the widespread decimation of Amazon rainforests, which are crucial factors in the struggle against climate change. The area is threatened with deforestation by cattle ranchers and planters of soybeans, oil palms, and cocoa. Most of the deforestation is illegal, but governments have a difficult time opposing it. Natural food production as an alternative is a powerful ally in the battle to save the essential forests.

The Amazon rainforest is an immense area spanning nine nations, and environmentalists are hopeful that focusing on its natural bounty can save it for its indigenous communities as well as the rest of the world. Read this article to find out how much of the food you already eat originates in tropical rainforests.

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