Will eating the delicious morsels save the Amazon rainforest? Maybe, actually, according to the Amazon Conservation Association and Green Living Project. Brazil has been exporting about 40,000 tons of Brazil nuts every year since 1980. So what role do they play in conserving the rainforests where they grow?
Brazil nut trees are special because they can't really be cultivated successfully on plantations—they only really grow in the wild. The trees grow to about 150 feet and live for hundreds of years, thriving in old, biologically diverse forests. To keep the Brazil nut trees producing at their full capacity, farmers must protect the other trees and plants that grow around the Brazil nut trees as well. Brazil nut farming is inherently eco-friendly and a sustainable use of the Amazon forests.
Brazil nuts grow inside medium-sized, coconut-like shells (called "cocos") in groups of about 15. One Brazil nut tree will usually drop around 500 cocos per season, which are collected by farmers from the forest floor.
So this Earth Day, why not incorporate Brazil nuts into your cooking? The texture and mild flavor pair nicely with chocolate as well as fruit. Here are some ideas:
- Add a cup chopped Brazil nuts to your favorite brownie recipe for some extra crunch and flavor.
- Brazil nut brittle: Just substitute roughly chopped nuts for peanuts in your favorite brittle recipe.
- Instead of croutons, add some coarsely chopped Brazils to a salad of baby spinach, julienned carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta or goat cheese and top with a lemony olive oil vinaigrette.
Do you have any special eating plans for Earth Day? Any favorite recipes with Brazil nuts?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.