Love Origins® and the Rice Stove Project

Photo by Kat Page
Photo by Kat Page
Photo by Kat Page
Photo by Kat Page
Photo by Kat Page
Photo by Kat Page
Photo by Kat Page

Norman Love Confections is donating a portion of the Love Origins® proceeds to the Rice Stove Project, a program that builds specially designed rice stoves for those who live in the cacao-rich Marañón Canyon of Peru to help the local residents create sustainable heat for cooking and eliminate a environmental threat.

In this remote region, residents have few creature comforts, but the fertile soil allows wild coffee, cacao and tropical fruits to grow in abundance. Approximately 5,000 farm families live in the canyon, which can only be reached by barge or long boats that cross the river. There are some foot paths, and a small number of cars and motorbikes traverse the canyon. Schools and public services exist, but life remains hard here. While farmers grow many crops and those who grow cacao are proud of the Pure Nacional that Peru
considers a national treasure, another crop grows there that threatens the residents' existence: rice.

Brought to the canyon years ago through a government subsidy, farmers now struggle to make a profit on this non-native crop, which leaves behind stacks of rice hulls up to 40 feet high. The hulls naturally contain silica, which can damage lungs. When the temperatures rise, the mounds spontaneously combust and smolder for weeks, sending silica-laden smoke throughout the area, endangering the health of the residents.

Simple rice stoves, designed by a Canadian nonprofit organization, can burn the husks safely. The free and readily available husks burn hotter and faster than wood which is expensive and rare in the canyon and creates more smoke and slower cooking times. Reducing the dependency on wood also helps with the prevention of rainforest deforestation.  

A stove costs $60 to make. Dan Pearson, co-founder and president of Marañón Chocolate, and his business partner, Brian Horsley, are working with the nonprofit organization, Discover Hope, to purchase and build rice stoves for the farmers. They have raised enough money so far to build 200 stoves using materials sent from European-based donations. The goal is to eventually supply all 5,000 Marañón Canyon families with a stove.

In order to speed the progress of the Rice Stove Project, Norman and Mary Love have made a personal financial contribution that will provide funds to build stoves now. When the harvest season begins in November, farm workers do not have the time to construct the stoves. Proceeds from the Love Origins® line will provide funding for stoves for next year and beyond. Maura Metheny, chef chocolatier and head of design and innovation for Norman Love spearheaded the project.