What sound does a nut make when it sneezes? “Cashew!”
Hopefully we haven’t already lost you with that tragic Dad joke, because we’re very excited to share with you a brand-new series of blog posts, offering you guys some insight into what goes on behind the scenes at Honestly Tasty to make sure we can bring you your much-needed vegan cheese fix! Using only the best-quality produce, that is always grown and harvested in a sustainable & ethical way, is something we take very seriously, so we thought we’d share a little bit more about how and why we source some of our superstar ingredients to make sure we’re living up to this ethos. To kick things off: let’s go nuts about cashews!
Find out everything from how we source the popular nut, to the ways our suppliers support their workers and how we turn them into delicious vegan cheeses… if we do say so ourselves!
The Process: How They’re Farmed
“What did the nut say chasing another nut? “I’m gonna cashew”
Our cashews are grown in the sun-soaked, tropical haven that is Goa, India. Fun fact: the cashew plant was actually first brought to Goa by Portuguese missionaries to prevent soil erosion around 450 years ago! Since then it’s become a hugely integral part of Goan life. Unlike in other regions of India, in Goa’s cashew plantations, it’s common practice to wait until the cashew fruit, aka the ‘apple’ (yup, a cashew nut grows at the bottom of a fruit – mind blowing!) has fully ripened and falls off the tree; as opposed to plucking them off directly. This enhances the flavour, so you can get a seriously tasty and crunchy nut!
The cashew crop is planted just before Monsoon season (usually between June and July), and the fruits adapt well to the hot and humid conditions during this time, which usually range from 25-30 degrees with a humidity of 65-90%. Harvesting then happens from February to May.
So, what makes our supplier’s cashews quite so special?
- Everything put into the farm is fully natural
- Their cashews are 100% organic & non-GMO
- Sustainable practices must be followed at the farm
- The cashew fruits are left to ripen fully, instead of being picked pre-maturely & sun-dried to get the nut from the fruit
The People: Their Ethics
“If You Fall, I’ll Cashew”
For us, it’s all well and good sourcing the tastiest, highest-quality cashews to make epic dairy-free cheeses, but what does that mean for the workers who harvest them? There are some huge human rights issues within the cashew industry; with long work hours, very low wages, and the potential exposure to a dangerous acid present in the cashew fruit that burns the skin, to name just a few!
One of the reasons we’re so passionate to be working with our Goan suppliers, is that they have 250 farmers who handpick cashew nuts, all of which are paid a premium for the raw cashews (as price rates are controlled and regulated by the state government). They’ve also generated around 300 employment opportunities in the town of Bicholim, Goa, and around 90% of these employees are women. All employees are paid well above the minimum wage for the area, are offered flexible working hours & the necessary equipment to protect against injury.
They’re also passionate about giving back to the community, setting up a local college of commerce of IT, that offers high quality, higher education training, as well as a local eye hospital, providing farmers and those from rural villages easy access to affordable eye care, and a Co-operative bank too, creating a huge number of employment opportunities locally. They even have an ambitious programme that aims to promote awareness, early detection, monitoring and treatment of both diabetes and hypertension; which has been hugely beneficial in transforming the health of the area, particularly within the farming community. Producing tasty cashew nuts really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their impact!
Our Cheeses: How We Use Cashews
“Cashews, We’re Nuts About You”
So why are we quite so nuts about cashews? Cashews are the star of the show when it comes to our Ched Spread. Once the cashews arrive at the Honestly Tasty Kitchen, they're soaked and blended with our special mix of ingredients (including our in-house cultivated, vegan, cultures!) and then matured until they give that delicious Cheddar-y taste – think sharp and tangy flavours but with a creamy, spreadable texture!
And then we have to ship it out immediately, to stop us eating it all! Now, who’s up for a ploughman’s?