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Final Reflections on Costa Rica, What the Heck is a Biodigester, What Noni Looks Like

Before heading down to Costa Rica, I had no idea that it would be one of the best trips that I would ever take and that it would impact me so greatly.

Now back in New York City, I have been trying to wrap my arms around why I loved it so much. Three main things come to mind:

1) First and foremost, it was a phenomenal group of people on the trip. Despite the fact that almost none of us had ever met before, we all got along really, really well. No drama, very easy, and everyone was extremely likeable.

Additionally, the individuals from EARTH University who hosted and took us around Costa Rica were beyond gracious. Their warmth and concern for our well-being was just truly amazing.

On my flight back home from San Jose to Miami, I happened to sit next to someone who graduated from EARTH University in 1999. One of the things I told him was that I couldn’t get over how great the service was in Costa Rica, and he totally agreed. It’s a commitment to service that we just don’t have in the U.S., and the people from EARTH University certainly went above and beyond anything that we could have imagined.

2) The trip to Costa Rica was incredibly educational and inspirational. As I mentioned in my video, visiting EARTH University is probably the highlight of my two years doing livingmaxwell. This is an institution that is really changing the world and doing it with impoverished youth in developing countries.

I loved going onto the banana plantation and learning about all aspects of sustainable banana production.

Meeting the women entrepreneurs who receive microloans from the Whole Planet Foundation really moved me.

And it was fascinating to see how EARTH University is deploying biodigesters into poor, local farming communities. Since most farms have animals, the waste ends up in rivers and gets into the water supply.

The biodigester (see video below) is an inexpensive way to convert the waste to methane, which can be used as electricity. In the process, money is saved, less global warming will occur, the water supply won’t be polluted, and trees won’t have to be cut down (as a source of heat).

When we were installing a biodigester on a farmer’s property, he showed us a noni tree. I’ve seen noni juice many, many times before in health food stores but never knew what the actual fruit looked like.

3) Lastly, I loved being back in Latin America. Speaking Spanish is a huge passion of mine, and I am fascinated by all things Latin – the food, the people, the music, the language, the outlook on life, the history.

Despite having spent a lot of time throughout the region, mostly in Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico, this was my first time back in more than a decade. And I guess I realized just how much I missed it.

I hope you enjoyed all of my posts and videos from Costa Rica. It was a very special week.

A message from Tradin Organic

Why Tradin Organic is Prioritizing Regenerative Organic Farming

At Tradin Organic, we believe that regenerative organic farming is key to growing healthy and nutritious food ingredients — for now and for future generations.

And in Sierra Leone, we have grown the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified cacao.

Learn more.

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Living Maxwell

Company Stories

Erewhon in Los Angeles – The Most Amazing Organic Market

When I was in California recently to attend Expo West, I made a stop at Erewhon Natural Foods Market in Los Angeles. I first discovered Erewhon last year and it is the most amazing organic market.

As I explain in this video, a few things make it stand apart from the rest — the elixir bar and the massive selection of raw food products.

If you are ever in Los Angeles, make sure you stop by Erewhon. This organic market is truly one of a kind.

A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

Organic Insider

Company Stories

Upset Over Policy Differences and that Major GMO/Chemical Companies are Members of the Organic Trade Association, Nature’s Path Quits the Organization as a Protest to Save Organic

* Iconic cereal brand Nature’s Path has quit the Organic Trade Association (OTA) as a protest to save organic.

* The company says the OTA “is not working in step with organic advocates to protect and strengthen the original principles of the organic movement” and is not acting with sincerity when it comes to hydroponics, the most divisive issue in organic.

* BASF and Cargill have been granted membership in the OTA, even though their GMO and chemical products “are actively harming” organic farmers.

* The OTA defends its governance, transparency and organic agenda.

For some people, having BASF — one of the world’s most powerful chemical and GMO companies — as a member of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is not a problem.

For Arran Stephens, CEO and Co-Founder of the fiercely independent, family-owned Nature’s Path, this was something that he could no longer tolerate.

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Living Maxwell

Company Stories

ECOrenaissance by Organic Industry Pioneer Marci Zaroff is a Very Inspirational Read

When it comes to the organic textile business, serial entrepreneur Marci Zaroff is a true visionary — and I do not use this word lightly.

In 1995, Marci Zaroff coined and trademarked the termECOfashion® and launched Under the Canopy, which pioneered the market for organic and sustainable apparel and home textiles. Additionally, she helped create the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

Most recently, Marci Zaroff founded and is the CEO of MetaWear, the first “sustainable style” GOTS and Cradle to Cradle Certified cut and sew manufacturer in the world for organic and eco-friendly apparel. In addition to that, she is the founder of Farm to Home, producer of THREAD / Driving Fashion Forward, and co-founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Good Catch Foods and BeyondsBrands.

This organic trailblazer just launched her first book called ECOrenaissance: A Lifestyle Guide for Cocreating a Stylish, Sexy and Sustainable World, and I caught up with my good friend to speak with her about it.

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livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink