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    Teadora: Harvesting Better Beauty Products from the Rainforest

    Are you looking for natural skin care products formulated with cupuaçu, the rainforest seeds that are twice as moisturizing as shea butter? Or buriti, which packs a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory punch? Probably not, but maybe you should be.

    The word ‘unique’ is overused, but Teadora Beauty has a legitimate claim to it. No other U.S. company uses the same wild-harvested rainforest ingredients that Teadora uses to make spa-quality, all-natural and effective skin care.

    Why is wild harvesting important and how does Teadora give back to the Amazon region? Here’s our conversation with Tom Moran, co-founder with his wife, Valeria, of Teadora Beauty.

    Q: Tell us about the natural rainforest ingredients in Teadora Beauty’s products. We hadn’t heard about them before.

    A: We use a number of natural ingredients from the Brazilian Amazon. As far as we know, no one in the U.S. has ever worked to this extent with these ingredients, until now. Teadora Beauty’s founder – my wife, Valeria – is from Brazil. Her mother was a traditional naturopath, and Valeria grew up with these ingredients and a healthy respect for the Amazon.

    One ingredient that we absolutely love is cupuaçu. It’s a member of the chocolate family that grows in a large pod. We use butter made from cupuaçu seeds. It’s similar to shea butter but twice as moisturizing. People in the Amazon call it ‘food of the gods.’ It tastes a bit like chocolate, and people there use it to make desserts, butters, and juices.

    By the way, all of our ingredients are edible. Another ingredient we love is buriti. It contains more Vitamin A than any other fruit or vegetable. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, great for sensitive skin, scalp problems, and so on. We can’t make medical claims for every benefit without doing expensive studies, but we’ve had many reports about the benefits people have experienced using these products. Buriti is also extremely high in anti-oxidants, like açaí, another Amazonian ingredient that has become more widely known.

    Q: And they are harvested sustainably?

    A: Yes. We work mainly with women-led cooperatives in the Amazon basin, as well as members of indigenous tribes, who gather most of our ingredients in the wild. We love wild harvesting, because it helps ensure that the living forest is worth more to the community than allowing it to be cut down for mining, ranching, logging, and so on. Unfortunately, wild harvesting makes it difficult to have the ingredients certified as organic. Organic is a farming standard; it’s not designed to certify wild-harvested crops. Although our ingredients are in a real sense organic, we don’t have that certification, although we have many other similar certifications and practices. We’ve visited most of the cooperatives we work with. We want to ensure that they maintain high standards in both their environmental practices and in how they reinvest their earnings in schools and in their communities.

    Q: You also sponsor rainforest preservation and restoration work in the Amazon, don’t you?

    A: That’s one of the key reasons we created Teadora in the first place. The Amazon is an incredibly beautiful natural resource that has far more of an impact on the global environment than most people realize. It’s been called ‘the lungs of the Earth’ by many, since it produces more than 20% of global oxygen, but Valeria’s people call it the heartbeat of the world. There is literally no path forward to mitigating climate change without conservation of the Amazon region. Biodiversity in the Amazon is incredible. They’re finding more and more plants, insects, and other animals that contain agents that are effective in treating some of our most devastating diseases – like cancer and multiple sclerosis. And yet the World Wildlife Fund estimates that about 100 species disappear every day, just in the Amazon, as a result of uncontrolled development. Those species represent potential cures for cancer, which we’ve lost forever in exchange for someone’s short-term gain!

    Q: Tell us how Teadora Beauty supports rainforest conservation.

    A: We support work on consumer education, such as funding and co-producing the movie “Uncharted Amazon”, as well as funding for several nonprofits, including Amazon Watch, the Rainforest Foundation, and Rainforest Alliance. Our more hands-on work involves indigenous communities and reforestation. Strong indigenous communities are so important. If you look at satellite pictures and scientific research, the single most important factor in preventing deforestation is the health of the indigenous communities. For example, we worked with the International Conservation Fund of Canada and Purdue University to create a solar-powered film studio in a village in the Amazon. It allows the Kayapo people to create films about their culture and traditions, record their myths and legends, and preserve plant knowledge. Not only does it preserve traditions and knowledge, it helps bring the people together as a community. As part of our reforestation work, we are just now launching project with the Rainforest Foundation to plant one million trees on the northern border of Brazil, and protect a large, important area of biodiversity. We’ll reforest under the guidance of the local peoples with a variety of native trees in a way that is as close as possible to the natural pattern.

    Q: So you’re planting all kinds of trees and among them will be cupuaçu and buriti, for example? Will that make the forest valuable enough that the local people will protect it from deforestation?

    A: We think so. We know that what we’re planting will be economically viable when wild harvested. We know that every pound of açaí we harvest, for example, creates a certain number of jobs and a certain amount of income for the community. We want the local communities to have an economic incentive to protect the forest rather than sell it off for mining or ranching activities. We want the forest to be worth more alive than dead – not just for the global environment, but for the people who live there. Our goal in creating Teadora’s skin care products with traditional rainforest-grown ingredients is to support a sustainable economy that protects the Amazon region – the lungs and the heartbeat of Earth’s global environment. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that the ingredients we use are so effective.

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