December 16, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Reserveage Organics, maker of CocoaWell products, has entered into a sustainable business agreement with the indigenous Kuna of Panama, after delegates from each of the Kunas 49 communitiesthe Kuna General Congress of Panamavoted to approve the partnership. Reserveage Founder and CEO Naomi Whittel signed the agreement inside a Panamanian hut in the Yansibdiwar community of Kuna Yala on Oct. 30. According to Reservage, this is the first time the Kuna have agreed to allow a company to use their images to promote a product and work together for mutual benefit.
The Kuna are very proud, traditionally minded and spiritual people, Whittel said. They have welcomed me to their communities knowing I want to help them to develop an economically, environmentally and culturally sustainable industry.
CocoaWell's birth is actually tied to the Kuna. After learning about Harvard researcher Dr. Norman Hollenbergs 20-year-study of the Kunas sacred practice of drinking cocoa regularly, Whittel launched the CocoaWell brand in March 2011. What caught her eye about Hollenberg s research were findings that the Kuna maintained normal blood pressure as they age and enjoyed exceptional heart health, despite their high-salt diet. The Kuna culture is devoted to cocoa; they drink it like water," she said. I feel strongly that because this sacred Kuna health practice inspired our CocoaWell products, we have a responsibility to partner with them and give back in ways that support their communities and their needs."
Each purchased bottle of CocoaWell, which combines organic whole-food cocoa with plant flavanols in a single serving, will support the Kuna people and their goals, Whittel explained. We will do all we can to significantly reduce poverty and malnutrition among them.
The partnership centers on goals such as: increasing awareness of the Kuna's healthy culture relative to cocoa consumption; establishing an innovative form of fair trade; and investing three percent of net profit from the sale of CocoaWell products to support the Kuna Yala Institute for Research and Developments sustainability and social initiatives.
For her part, Whittel said her goal is to help the Kuna restore natural cocoa production and preserve the cocoa farmers livelihood so they can develop a sustainable economy. We want to support them in protecting and improving the well-being of current and future Kuna generations, she said. We can do this by fostering economic self-sufficiency and designing innovative social programs.
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