Living in the tropics I found myself surrounded by cocoa trees, which was something you’d dream about as a kid. “Chocolate trees” But like so many things we’re used to consuming we don’t have the knowledge of how to process a raw material into something we can use, within the society we live convenience has removed us from the source. A simple act of making something gives us a connection to our environment.
My name is Ryan and I'm part of the apprentice team at Rancho Mastatal for 2019. I've been navigating my lactose-intolerance since I was a child and gluten-intolerance since I identified it approximately five years ago. In this and the following installments of Dairy Diaries. I'll be exploring dairy kefir, in my personal effort to find ways to make dairy products I enjoy healthier, more digestible and more delicious.
Many of us grow up thinking of home as our safest place. As consumers, we have been led to believe that by the time products make it to the market, they have been thoroughly tested and proven safe. We pick up packaging and read labels before buying, just to know what is in the products. But, what does a label really tell us? What are these manufactured products made with? Where and how was it cultivated, processed, packages and shipped?
Everything seems to have been created by a higher intelligence that has designed this universe in mysterious ways for us to live off. We live in a perfect symbiosis with nature. Everything seems to have a purpose which co-exists with all that is around us yet we don’t have an explanation to all this perfection.
The need to cultivate a “living soil” that is full of microbes is something I hear frequently in the organic farming and permaculture world. As an apprentice at Rancho Mastatal this year, I have the unique opportunity to look further into the universe of these small and unseen allies. A way into this world was through the Ranch’s process of making organic fertilizer, one that harvests and inoculates the soil with Mountain Microorganisms (MM). This is similar to compost tea, where we create a fermented fertilizer with microorganisms such as manure.
It's 5.30 am in the dewy morning rainforest of Mastatal – the cacophony of squawks and birdsong remind us that the winged beings have begun their daily business of foraging for themselves and their young, the toads have tucked themselves into the nook of a tree or within a pile of leaves to avoid the relentless heat of the new day, and one by one the guests at Rancho Mastatal stretch and yawn their way out of their abodes and ease their way towards their first cup of coffee.