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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lafaza 2 Gourmet Vanilla Bean Spice Jar Recommended by Whom You Know

Freshest vanilla beans in a jar ever. How can this be? The farmers who grow LAFAZA vanilla use sustainable farming practices that help protect the unique rainforest biodiversity in and around the Mananara-Nord region, on the north-east coast of Madagascar. LAFAZA vanilla comes from independent, small-holder farmers whose dense agroforestry systems act much more like a healthy forest, and less like an industrial farm. This approach yields vanilla products with a deep complex flavor and we believe you will most certainly agree these are number one. Many of Lafaza’s partners have been growing and curing vanilla beans in environmentally sustainable ways for over four generations. Practice has indeed made perfect.
Fabulous ingredient lovers rejoice! No more dried out vanilla beans for you. Your recipes should be using this vanilla bean, with its scintillating aroma and soft interior. Lafaza makes vanilla into a cult for your kitchen, with real taste that goes beyond what you have been using. As one who loves vanilla in its many guises, please believe me when I tell you that these vanilla beans are like no others. No soaking is necessary, but should you want to soak one in a jug of milk for recipes, be our guest. In a pot of sugar, stashed for your future needs, one of these vanilla beans fills all your recipe needs for baking. Slice one open, scrape out the delectable insides and start the oven. Cookies, puddings, meringues…..the list is endless, and you’ll never want to stop. These vanilla beans make the best anything, with unsurpassed flavor. What a delight!
I love sweets and I especially love the flavor of vanilla. If I spend the time to bake something I want it to be delicious and fresh. I am always searching for the best quality ingredients which is why I really enjoyed using the Lafaza Gourmet Vanilla Bean Jar. This jar comes with two A-1 premium vanilla beans from Madagascar. These powerful beans are organic as well. I used one bean in my batch of vanilla and chocolate chip cookie brownies and I could taste the difference. You will be impressed with the flavor and quality of Lafaza Gourmet Vanilla Beans.


2 Gourmet Vanilla Bean Spice Jar: 

LAFAZA’s premium Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans represent some of the finest vanilla produced in Madagascar each year—the cream of the crop. These gourmet beans are full of seeds, with deep black coloration and moist, flexible pods. LAFAZA vanilla beans have a deep, intoxicating aroma and are packed with Bourbon vanilla flavor. Each vanilla bean comes from a hand-pollinated orchid flower, and is harvested and sun-cured over the course of 2-3 months using traditional techniques. LAFAZA vanilla beans are always traded directly and ethically with cooperatives of smallholder farmers and curers using agroforestry growing systems in Northeastern Madagascar.

The LAFAZA Story 

It started innocently enough about 8 years ago when two company co-founders, Nathaniel Delafield and Sarah Osterhoudt, joined the Peace Corps after completing grad school and spending several years in the U.S. workforce. At the time, they were looking for a new direction. They offered up a simple proposition to the world: “World, put us where you will. We are ready to get to work!” They had no idea where they would end up or what was in store for them. A leap of faith is just that, so they leapt. 

As it turns out, almost halfway around the world a small group of vanilla and clove growers in Madagascar were making a similar leap of faith about a much more serious matter. Their rural farming communities were suffering from a lack of basic resources such as medicine, educational materials, and market access for their products. With the help of a local non-profit organization, the farmers contacted Peace Corps to request volunteer assistance. They did not know what to expect and had no idea who, if anyone, would show up. There wasn’t even phone service within 200 miles. But a leap of faith is just that, so they leapt. 

The vanilla market had recently crashed, and prices were down over 90 percent from previous years. Farmers in the region were unable to connect with international markets, and even Madagascar export markets had to be accessed through multiple intermediaries offering below-market prices. The local cultivation and curing skills were exceptional, the agroforestry systems used by farmers in the region almost unbelievably lush and complex. The vanilla beans were intoxicating in their flavor and aroma. How could local growers be receiving such low prices? There had to be a better model, but surprisingly, there wasn’t. Yet. 

After many long conversations with farmers, a business concept was formed to create a direct-trade model based on fair trade principles that would bridge between local cooperatives in Madagascar and gourmet markets in the U.S. A small vanilla bean sample made its way to Oakland, California to LAFAZA co-founder James Delafield, who had been working for years in the specialty food industry. He entered it into a blind test by a major Bay Area chocolate maker that had formed a panel of experts to review ingredients. The sample was selected as their top choice among vanillas from around the world, and they asked how to get more. LAFAZA was born. 

Our company has grown from its original village-level roots, but we remain grounded in three founding principles: to create sustainable, direct supply chains that protect the environment; to follow fair trade practices that support farmer livelihoods; and to only offer the highest-quality natural products to our customers. We call it our “Triple-F” bottom line – to support Forests, Farmers, and of course, deliver great Flavors! LAFAZA’s team is proud of its work on both continents as a leader and innovator in this field, and we have many more delicious projects in store for the future.

Nathaniel Delafield, CEO and Co-Founder 
Nathaniel has extensive experience in nonprofit and business organizational development and management. He has been working as CEO of LAFAZA since helping to found it in 2005 while serving as a Peace Corp Environment Volunteer living with vanilla and clove growers. Nathaniel has a passion for gourmet food and food systems, and for the rural culture of Northeastern Madagascar. He spends his time in Oakland, CA, Madagascar, New Haven, CT, and rural Madagascar. He speaks the northeastern Malagasy dialect, and helped to organize a large farmers’ cooperative for rural growers in the Mananara region. Nathaniel holds two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in Macro-Social Work and Urban and Regional Planning. He has a BA degree in Sociology from Wesleyan University. 

James Delafield, President and Co-Founder 
A certified food manager, James has over twelve years experience working in the gourmet food industry. After studying Resource Ecology at the University of Vermont, he relocated to the Bay Area of California – a center of food culture. Focusing on vanilla for the past eight years, James now oversees product development, warehousing, and operations for LAFAZA from Oakland. After extended trips to Madagascar for project research, purchasing, and export, James has developed a passion for the island’s rich offering of tastes and smells, as well as a keen concern for its unique flora and fauna. 

Danny Hervol, CFO and Madagascar Director 
Danny fell in love with Madagascar after first arriving in 2005 as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Community Health. After his Peace Corps service, Danny served as Project Director for a 435,000€ landscaping contract and also manages the consulting company, MAD Consulting. He holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Puget Sound and his MBA degree from The University of Phoenix. Danny has directed LAFAZA’s Madagascar operations since 2010, and is an expert in Malagasy exporting and rural agricultural project management. Danny is fluent in Malagasy and lives in the port city of Toamasina, Madagascar where he can sometimes be found hanging upside-down with lemurs at local parks. 

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