Paths of Excellence

Paths of Excellence

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Local Food and Social Responsibility

As a beloved touristic destination, Rio de Janeiro is perceived by its visitors as the ultimate hedonistic getaway. But behind the shadows of the statue of Cristo Redentor, the sinuous mountains of Pão de Açúcar and Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio is rediscovering agriculture within its natural beauties and tropical weather.

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After all, the cidade maravilhosa was once famous, not for notorious beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, but for the crops that used to grow on the hills of Morro da Urca and Botafogo. In fact, in the 18th and 19th Century, Rio was a leading producer of coffee and sugar cane. Not long ago, a movement of small organic producers rediscovered such calling and is helping to change the way cariocas eat. Until 2010, Rio, a city with over 6 million inhabitants, had only one organic farmers market – once a week.

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Nowadays, the Circuito Carioca de Feiras Orgânicas organizes farmers markets every week in six different neighborhoods. While there’s a small, but very important movement towards organic agriculture, a group of people in Rio’s favelas is making the different as well. The project Favela Orgânica, in Morro da Babilônia, teaches how to use the ingredients to its fullest. Maré de Sabores promotes social inclusion teaching culinary to women coming from a violent background in one of Brazil’s biggest favelas. Rio de Janeiro has still much to accomplish, but also has a lot of people willing to do it.

The Carioca Circuit of Organic Fairs in Rio – Brazil


In the Circuito Carioca de Feiras Orgânicas, the consumer is able to buy organic products direct from the producer. And it is interesting to notice that small farmers are currently growing greens (that once were quite common in the region, but not anymore) such as taioba (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), ora-pro-nobis (Pereskia aculeate), vinagreira (Hibiscus sabdariffa), beldroega (Portulaca oleracea), and so on. One can’t find these kinds of greens in a supermarket. The price paid in the farmer’s markets is fair and the consumer has also the chance to know more about the product and the person that is growing his food. On the other side, there is still much misinformation towards food in Rio and Brazil in general. As a leading commodity country, Brazil is also among the world’s heaviest pesticide users. And the consumption of industrialized foods is increasing among the poorest part of the population.

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