Rainforest resources have always been hankered after for their health-enhacing powers, and only recently begun to find culinary use. Turns out wild cacao, oreja de mono mushrooms and babassu palm fruit from Madidi are in demand among chefs in Bolivia.
A recent gathering, which addressed women from Yaguarú—one of 31 indigenous communities in the area—established that sustainable products from the region make versatile cooking ingredients. It also helped local communities understand the economic value of natural resources that thrive in their native land.
Rob Wallace of the Wildlife Conservation Society has documented numerous plant species in Madidi, together with his team. Of these, the edible ones are identified with the help of local guides. A citrus fruit named camu camu (with a vitamin C content higher than oranges) and honey from stingless bees are part of the list.
In 2015, Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino bought 40,000 Peruvian soles of ají negro (a spicy yuca reduction) for his enterprise, massively boosting the economy of the product's native village in the Peruvian Amazon. It is hoped that Madidi will see a similar fate.