One of the greatest art museums in the country, Rio’s Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, just reopened after a three-year remodelling. Its Modern and Contemporary art collections are important, but it’s the 19th century collection, with over 4,000 pieces, that catches the visitors’ attention.
Here are some of the best pieces of the new gallery dedicated to that period, all very epic – or at least theatrical: Continue reading The best colection of 19th century Brazilian art→
Brazilian agriculture is expected to grow a record 40% till the end of this decade – twice the rhythm needed, in global scale, to supply for the growing demand, according to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The country can give a contribution “to reduce the growth of hunger and inflation that is scaring the world, once again”, says this interesting article by Mario Osava, from Terramerica, a news agency sponsored by the United Nations, focused on sustainability and development.
This is the picture of the country’s agriculture, as portrayed by Osava:
Brazil is the leader in sugar, coffee, beef, soy and orange juice exports.
The country’s grain production grew 150% in the last 20 years – even if the planted area grew only 30% since 1990. During the 2010-2010 harvest, 148 million tons of grains were produced.
The country cultivates 72 million hectares (178 million acres), or 8.5% of its territory. According to Roberto Rodrigues, Agriculture minister between 2003 and 2006, interviewed for the article, additional 90 million hectares (222 million acres) could be cultivated without affecting native forests, because there are 70 million hectares of former pasture land that are already degraded. [My own comment: it is not clear if producers would necessary choose to plant in the degraded lands if they have the possibility of deforesting areas that are still fertile and rich in humus. If you don’t have laws, enforcement of the laws, control by the government, society and the banks, which can decide where to invest, you will have more expansion over native forests and cerrado. But that is, of course, a whole different debate. ]
Around 200 million hectares (494 million acres) are used to raise cattle – most of it extensively, with less than one animal per hectare.
Thanks to agriculture (and not the industry), the country had a US$ 20.244 billion commercial surplus.
Quoting Rodrigues, the article says that Brazil has “land, technology and courageous producers” to face the challenge of helping grow global agriculture to respond to the predicted the elevation of food prices, but it still lacks a strategy to fulfill “its destiny”.
Açaí, cajú (cashew) and maracujá (passion fruit), native from the Brazilian rainforests, conquered the world and can be found in many upscale markets in the developed countries. What could be the next fruit to follow their path? What about ….
1 Bocaiúva (Acrocomia aculeata) – Similar to a tiny coconut, it has different names around the country – macaúba in São Paulo and Minas Gerais, bocajá close to the border with Paraguay, macaíba in the Northeast. Its pulp is very sweet and full of fibers and that’s why it has the nickname of “ox chewing gum”. Learn more about it here (in Portuguese).
Once upon a time, landowners used to invent dietary taboos to convince their slaves that they shouldn’t eat certain things. Two of these taboos remain strong. The first says that you might die if you ate mangoes with milk. Mangoes were (and are) very abundant in the Northeast and, thus, common in the slave’s plate. Thus, the masters were trying to avoid their access to the milk. The other taboo involves eating bananas, another abundant fruit in most of the country. “Banana, de dia é ouro, de tarde é prata, de noite mata” (Banana is gold in the morning, silver in the afternoon, and fatal during the night) warns a popular saying, efficient in keeping the slaves away from the orchard after the twilight.
Overheard in an international cruise, days ago. “Brazilian passengers want lots of food, don’t really care if a dish is hot or cold, salty or sweet. But they want to eat a lot and several times a day”, writes architect and blogger Duílio Ferronato, who is working as a cook in a transatlantic, as he describes the orders he received from his superior. “European passengers, in contrast, eat less, use less salt and are more exigent. They want their dishes warm, with a beautiful presentation”. Continue reading Brazil and food, a love story→