Sustainable Gastronomy to Conserve the Amazon’s Cultural and Natural Diversity

Our four-day trip downriver from Peru's bustling gateway city Iquitos would test our creativity while inspiring us to speak across disciplines. Photo by Julie Kunen ©WCS.

By Julie Kunen

Last month, I joined a group of fellow conservationists, chefs, journalists, public health experts, and entrepreneurs in the Peru to discuss how sustainable gastronomy might contribute to conserving the cultural and natural diversity of the Amazon. Representing Latin American nations and the United States, we were united in our passion for the Amazon and our wish to bring attention to the peoples, foods, wildlife, and natural beauty of this unique place.

Our four-day trip downriver from Peru’s bustling gateway city Iquitos would test our creativity while inspiring us to speak across disciplines. Photo by Julie Kunen ©WCS.

But how could gastronomy – defined as a cuisine nourished by the traditions, techniques, and natural resources of a place – be a vehicle for preserving the richness of the Amazon in its many dimensions? Our four-day trip downriver from Peru’s bustling gateway city Iquitos would test our creativity while inspiring us to speak across disciplines (and three languages).

We were fortunate to wake in the mornings to river dolphins splashing around our vessel and glide past giant water lilies, but the highlight of our trip was a visit to the indigenous community of Pucaurquillo, whose inhabitants descend from peoples enslaved by rubber tappers during the rubber boom at the turn of the 19th century.

The men of Pucaurquillo treated us to a series of dances in the community maloca (ancestral long house). Photo by Julie Kunen ©WCS.

Community members preserve many traditions. The men treated us to a series of dances in the community maloca (ancestral long house), but it is the women who preserve the tradition that brought us to Pucaurquillo.

Renowned chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino (of the Lima restaurants Amaz and Malabar) co-organized this journey together with Michael Jenkins of Forest Trends, Jacob Olander of Canopy Bridge, and the journalist Ignacio —> Read More

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail