A Sensorial Trip to the Brazilian Savannah
Land of a huge biodiversity, Brazil stands out not only for the variety of flowering plants but also for the number of endemic species. In fact, the country’s savannahs are regarded as the richest and most diverse one worldwide, with approximately 12,000 known species of plants with potentially valuable resources for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Coordinating economic growth and environmental protection has been a major challenge though. The biome has been widely devastated due to urbanization and to the establishment of farms and areas of crops, such as cotton, maize and soybean, and it is estimated that 50% of its original area has been lost thus far.
Flying over central Brazil areas one may be astonished by the wide areas of annual crops, but a ride along the unpaved roads in the countryside will lead to a huge number of farmers making a living from small familyhold properties. Land of warm people with plenty of stories to tell, it is virtually impossible to make a short visit as they will welcome you with coffee, cheese, freshly baked bread, fruit preserves - everything locally produced the old way.
But the winds of change are blowing in favor of them: in the region of Bocaiuva, Northern Minas Gerais, a group of approximately 350 families gathered in a farmers co-op to coordinate their efforts and access bigger and more exigent markets. Among the products, honey stands out. It couldn’t be different. The region has plenty of Cerrado areas with floral resources all over the year and farmers learnt how to manage their beehives so as to obtain monofloral honeys and, working together, achieve quantities that allow them to dream bigger: more than 15 monofloral honeys are presently produced and packed according to the strict Brazilian inspection regulations and the cooperative has recently started to export honey to Asian countries.
The most sold monofloral honey is obtained from aroeira (Myracrodruon urundeuva). Its dark amber color and strong peculiar taste called the attention of scientists. A high content of phenolic compounds was observed in samples of aroeira honey, as well as biological activity against pathogenic organisms. A grower we visited in Bocaiuva told, laughing, that, ironically this dark honey was regarded as ugly and sold at very low prices til recently.
Aiming to make this and other Cerrado monofloral honeys available to people in search of new food experiences, we designed a gift pack made of four small jars. In the first batch, Pequi (Caryocar brasiliensis), Velame (Croton heliotropifolius) and Cipó-Uva (Serjania lethalis) - all endemic to Brazil - honeys were selected to provide a small sample of our savannah agrobiodiversity being exploited in a sustainable and socially accountable way.
Further reading Santos et al. (2018). Quali-quantitative characterization of the honey from Myracrodruon urundeuva allemão (Anacardiaceae - Aroeira): macroscopic, microscopic, physico-chemical and microbiological parameters. African Journal of Biotechnology 17: 1422-1435.
Fonte: Specialty Food Association