Lessons in Co-operation from Around The World
By Sally Reith
If they say you learn something new every day, then this looks set
to be a year of 365 revelations for me. One of the areas in
which I am growing my knowledge base is co-operatives. So in
the manner of co-operation, I've condensed a couple of these facts
for you to enjoy and share.
The first co-operative I want to tell you about relates to one
of my favourite foods - Brazil Nuts. Who else remembers
struggling to crack these oddly shaped wonders at Christmas?
With the naivety of youth, it was easy to think these treats
grew in a red net bag with an assortment of other nuts.
However, a few years down the line, I am fascinated by the truth of
their journey into the world.
Before they get to me in their individual shell
they have to be removed from a much larger one, known as a
pod. Here, up to twenty Brazil Nuts can be found.
This of course got me wondering how these nuts actually end up
in my cupboard.
Shared Interest customer, Candela is a co-operative based in
Peru that harvests and produces a variety of Brazil Nut products,
including candles made using the pod as a shell which is then
filled with wax.
Harvesters (called Castaneros) collect Brazil Nuts from the few
forests where they can be found. The nuts grow on trees that
can be around 200 years old and grow up to 30 metres
Now I can understand that why these nuts deserve a bit of effort
from us in having to get past that husky shell to the tasty treat
To find out more about Brazil Nuts and Candela click here.
Now, from Brazil Nuts to bees; by their nature many species of
bee are a co-operative in themselves with every creature knowing
its role within the bee community and working together to achieve
Chilean co-operative Apicoop looked to bee-keeping following the
political struggles of the country, which had left communities
divided. By harvesting their Fairtrade honey they are able to
build relationships and work together to build a better
Their story of co-operation does not end there however. To
diversify their production, and to enable new members to join their
co-operative, Apicoop began producing blueberries (which
coincidentally can be found in Co-operative stores).
With the support of Shared Interest, an ethical investment
co-operative and the world's only 100% fair trade lender, Apicoop
has been able to develop both their honey and blueberry production,
which go hand in hand with the bees pollinating the blueberry
plants! Now there's a cycle of co-operation!
To find out more about co-operatives from around the world why
not check out
Shared Interest's interactive map and click on different areas
to read their stories.