Today we received some great news! Altaire's photo of a mother and her daughter making coconut oil on the island of Nusa Penida, Bali, was selected as a finalist in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Photo Competition: "Nurture Forests for the Future."
Altaire stumbled upon this scene after wandering into the forest behind an organic garden we had been tilling in collaboration with Friends of the National Park Foundation. After wandering aimlessly through the village, knowing that "blending in" in this remote area, espeically with a camera, was impossible, she asked a local man for a tour of the community. After being obliged by a delightful male with a solid command of English and an enthusiasm for description, she asked why there were so many coconut husks scattered throughout the trees? (There were literally hundreds.) Her guide, Putu, explained that not only can everyone between the ages of 6 and 60 climb a coconut tree for a tasty mid-day snack, many residents are also experts in boiling coconut down and extracting virgin coconut oil. Villagers sell bottles of it at the local market; although mostly used to cook food, Altaire bought some and was told that it would make her hair shiny and healthy. (It did!)
Forests provde us with so much: shelter, food, building materials, fuelwood, animal feed, fresh water, oxygen, fertile soils, biodiversity - (not to mention all-natural hair products.) And yet, modern forms of agriculture coupled with industrialization, urbanization and population growth strip landscapes of not only their carbon-capturing potential, but also the knowledge formulated generation to generation, built bit by bit and grounded in human intelligence that, even without modern Western science, was able to understand and seek to conserve the masterpiece that is millions of years of fine-tuned evolution -- rather than demolish it in a manner tantamount to bulldozing the Louvre for a cheap Parisian souvenir shop.
The contest was held in honor of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition. It was designed to
"...increase understanding of the crucial role that forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems can play in improving the food security and nutrition of rural people, especially in developing countries. It will propose ways to integrate this knowledge in policy decisions at the national and international levels."
One of the most interesting topics to emerge so far is the potential of insects of a highly nutritious food stuff - one that depends on forests.
According to FAO’s research, done in partnership with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, more than 1900 insect species are consumed by humans worldwide. Globally, the most consumed insects are: beetles (31 percent); caterpillars (18 percent); bees, wasps and ants (14 percent); and grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent). Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc. Beef has an iron content of 6 mg per 100 g of dry weight, while the iron content of locusts varies between 8 and 20 mg per 100 g of dry weight, depending on the species and the kind of food they themselves consume.
Looks like we are more connected to the world of creepy-crawlies than we may want to admit!
The winner of the competition will be selected on May 15th, and will be awarded a photo mission with the FAO. They will also have the opportunity to showcase their winning photo on the National Geographic Italy website. Over 1200 photos were submitted, and were judged by members of the FAO and National Geographic-Italy. All selected photos will also be used for future communications material (printed information material, dissemination of information through social media and website with information on REDD+ topics, etc).
To view finalists of the photo competition, click here.
To live-stream events from the conference itself, click here.
For a highly informational and incredibly well produced short-film on forests and nutrition by the FAO, click here.
Follow the conference on Twitter! #Forests4FoodSecurity