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Sustainability at Vega: Sacha Inchi Seeds

By Vega on April 27, 2014

Sustainability at Vega: Sacha Inchi Seeds

Sustainability at Vega isn’t just about our bottles’ packaging or our office’s energy source. It must be part of everything we do. While ecological sustainability is essential, we also want to make sure we’re economically and socially sustainable as well. Changing the world starts with us. Since sacha inchi seeds have been part of the Vega product line— in Vega® One, Vega One® Organic, and Vega® Protein & Greens —we’ve grown to love this sustainable seed.

A guy walks into a natural foods trade show...

Rewind to 2010. Charles (Founder and former President of Vega) bumped into a man at a natural foods trade show, selling a native Peruvian seed that very few people had heard of, which was exceptionally high in Omega-3s. Always on the hunt for innovative plant-based ingredients that could boost the nutrient density of his own diet and products, Charles was intrigued by sacha inchi seeds. He immediately brought samples back to experiment with. The nutritional profile was an ideal fit for Vega products—we just had to find the right partner in Peru.

Like any relationship, this wasn’t always smooth sailing. At the beginning of our romance with sacha inchi seeds, we found that the supply was scare and quality inconsistent. Frankly, not every batch met the taste standards that we required. Plus a 15 hour plane ride now stood between the Vega operations team and our Peruvian producers. Luckily, we found a supplier who shared Vega’s core values and guiding principles, and was able to secure a stable supply and provided consistent batches. Now we’re the largest importer of sacha inchi products in Canada.

sacha inchi plant

Ecological Sustainability

The native climate for sacha inchi seeds is the Amazon rainforest. Unfortunately this area has seen devastation from large-scale agricultural and livestock operations in the last 50 years. Many uses of the land are incredible unsustainable, but the only viable source of income for rural farmers. Our partnership has grown to over 1000 local indigenous farmers in the Amazon Jungle for whom sacha inchi crops provide an alternative to illegal coca crops, or corn crops. Sacha inchi is a perennial crop that produces seeds year round, and can grow in areas that have previously been clear-cut, helping with re-forestation.

Each seed has its own nuance of flavors. This is because different regions of the jungle have unique microclimates. Specific ecotypes of seeds are selected to optimize their growth in specific regional climates and conditions. Similarly to how wine connoisseurs can taste the specific terroir of a bottle, you can taste the unique growing conditions of that particular seed.

Socioeconomic Sustainability

While many of our Peruvians partners have been farmers for decades, their livelihood was not always guaranteed. Sacha inchi crops are unlike other crops they have or could grow (such as corn), because they assure these farmers that they can always work the same crop and receive a guaranteed price and livable wage. Gone are worries about the market crashing and leaving them with no funds, and a useless harvest.

sacha inchi farmers

All sacha inchi seed farmers we partner with receive education on sustainable farming practices through hands-on classes. Our sacha inchi seed supply chain is verified through the United Nations BioTrade program. To receive this verification, all must be committed to the conservation of biodiversity, fair distribution of benefits and socioeconomic sustainability. This also strengthens the community, as new and experienced farmers share equipment, tips and stories, while earning a livable wage for their families.

Now that you have the inside scoop, you can shop for Vega products containing sacha inchi seeds here!

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