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Thursday, September 18, 2014

LAFAZA Pure Ground Vanilla Powder Highly Recommended by Whom You Know

Start your morning off with this delicious addition to your favorite beverage. LAFAZA Pure Ground Vanilla gives you the true unique flavor of all-natural Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, without any preservatives or additives. One whiff of this delicious flavor and I became a fan. The flavor is so robust that for most recipes, one tablespoon of LAFAZA’s Pure Ground Vanilla is equivalent to 2 tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract. Pure Ground Vanilla is different from vanilla powder. Vanilla powder often contains a base ingredient such as silicon dioxide or maltodextrin, and many vanilla powders are made using synthetic vanilla flavoring. Lafaza starts with premium aromatic LAFAZA vanilla that has been sun-cured and dried to remove nearly all of the moisture in the pod. The beans are then ground to a fine powder and sealed for freshness. Lafaza was born from the efforts of Peace Corps volunteers assisting vanilla farmers in Madagascar. Good deeds make for good foods and gustatory history.
Vanilla Powder has long been one of my meta searches in any market, health food store or greengrocer around the world. Unusual, in that it’s the essence of vanilla in a pure form, ground and dried, and so is able to be used in any recipe whatever for a delightfully different edge. So exotic, and not so unlike its extract cousin, vanilla powder is now available from the farmers in Madagascar, via LaFaza. Oh, the joy! On their website, there are suggestions for baby food recipes. Well, this baby likes it on everything, not just in recipes. Sprinkle some onto fruit in the morning for a non-sugar treat, with or without yogurt. Use it in your shakes, smoothies, and need I mention…baking! Oh, the delights. Ground Vanilla Powder binds you to the earth from which the plant is grown, in a way that elevates vanilla to the heavens of spice. 
I have never tried ground vanilla powder and was not sure what to expect. I am so glad I got to experience Lafaza Pure Ground Vanilla Powder. This is fabulous for baking, shakes, teas, rubs, really anything you can think of making. This powder is made from ground sundried vanilla beans. Packing a powerful vanilla punch you can use this powder in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. I used it in my strawberry vanilla cupcakes and it really made a delicious difference. 


LAFAZA pure ground vanilla powder contains only hand-selected Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans from the company’s innovative direct sourcing projects. The process starts with top-quality vanilla beans that are sun-cured and dried to remove nearly all of the moisture in the pod. The beans are then ground into a powder that provides convenience and intense flavor – a delicious, all-natural addition to food and drinks. Unlike most ground powders on the market, LAFAZA’s product begins with only excellent quality vanilla beans, the sole ingredient, and never contains any other additives or previously extracted vanilla. Using this product is a breeze – just substitute for vanilla extract in any recipe, but use half the amount (it has highly potent flavor). Try sprinkling pure ground vanilla into oatmeal, yogurt, fruit salads, hot cocoa, or put a teaspoon of it into your coffee grounds before brewing morning coffee for a pure and natural vanilla brew.

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. 

fter 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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