A VISION DRAWN FROM CULTURE
Over the years, Palestinian cuisine evolved with the development of agriculture in the land. Our balanced diet developed in harmony with our balanced farming practices. Our food needs for protein, fats, fibers, sugar, and starch has led us to cultivate these needs from the land. Palestinian main dishes of vegetable proteins of Humus “chickpeas”, Falafel, Foul “fava beans”, and Mujadara “lentils” are all legumes that are used in intercropping or alternate cropping.
Our fat intake is mainly from olive trees and almond trees, our sugars are from grapes, figs, and carobs. These trees are intercropped with the protein legumes and wheat which provides our fibers and starch. Our meats, eggs, and dairy fats are also provided by animals grazing these same fields and fed the same legumes, starch, and other vegetation.
This healthy, sustainable ecosystem that took thousands of years to develop naturally is now threatened by modern industrialized foods and local political conflict. Canaan works to protect this ecosystem, support it, continue to benefit and draw from it for the future.
A STORY OF HOPE
Our story is a story of hope, a story or resilience, a story of culture. Our story started thousands of years ago, when man first cultivated land. Our story started with the birth of the Land of Canaan, the cradle for civilization and the home for the first agriculture revolution. Our story is a story of farmers, who work the land from dawn to dusk to feed their families, and produce amazing food for the world to savor. We at Canaan saw this priceless agri-culture and committed ourselves to protect it, support it, and make it viable for these hard-working farmers. We also wanted to share it with the world to celebrate millennia of food traditions and provide sustainable routes for it to the world markets.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
The Land of Canaan, the cradle of civilization, is where the first agricultural revolution began. To this day, traditional agricultural community represents the main feature of Palestinian culture. Approximately, 60% of the population lives in 400 villages that mainly comprise family farms. The people are highly dependent on agriculture, especially olive trees. More than 100,000 families totally depend on olives as their primary source of income. Beside the economical aspect the olive tree, it also has important social and historical values.
The survival of these sound sustainable farming traditions that evolved over millennia along with their ecosystem, including actual olive trees that are over 2,000 years old that continue to feed us to this day, represents a human inheritance that the world community as a whole can benefit and draw from.
A PASSION LIKE NO OTHER
Our journey started way before the establishment of the company, it started with Nasser Abufarha being raised by a family that is deeply rooted in farming and agriculture. His family has been planting the land of the Jalameh village for six or seven generations. He grew up on the memories of him and his family planting wheat in the fields, harvesting olives, and savoring the best olive oil with clay-oven Taboon bread at the night of the harvest. Nasser carried these memories with him throughout his life and has been working diligently to establish a network of staff, partners, farmers, and customers who share his love and passion for the land, soil, health food, nature, and most importantly humanity.
Nasser followed a path that started in his family’s olive groves and led him to the US, where he earned his education in anthropology and international development and then came back to his homeland to give back to Palestine and his community.
Since establishment, and to this day, Canaan is family business that is run by passion for healthy, original food, love to the culture-rich soil, and a commitment to perfection. These values are apparent in all aspects of the Canaan model, a visitor can see it in the staff, and partner farmers, and throughout the whole supply chain and distribution network.
A CALL FOR ACTION
For centuries, agricultural land was cherished, passed down through generations, and treated as a sacred asset that is to be protected, taken care of, and respected immensely. However, agriculture was severely affected by the political and economic instability in the region. Hindered access to markets, land, and water resources presented by conditions of occupation and political conflicts, threatened the sustainability of agricultural traditions and the ecosystems they sustained over the known history of human agriculture. Moreover, a host of socioeconomic challenges put huge pressures on agricultural commodities prices, and as a key component of the agriculture economy, olive oil was no different. During late 90s and early 2000, olive oil prices were down to record lows, this threatened the existence of the entire olive oil industry since it was no more viable for farmers to invest in olives, not even labor, let alone all the other inputs needed to sustain an olive farm.
The Canaan project idea was formulated around affording viability for Palestinian rural communities to sustain their livelihood, farming traditions, ancient trees, and millennia-old permaculture and ecosystems. Nasser utilized the olive trees as a way to give Palestinian farmers a sustainable living and a voice at the same time. Over the years, and as the project progressed, he ended up developing a strong network of producer, commercialization, and research organizations working hand in hand to empower more than 2,000 small hold-farmers.
These farmers started growing organic crops, mainly olives, and were able to sell their produce at a fair price, thus allowing a sustainable living. The project also influences positively to the general development of the region, as it offers employment opportunities to farm workers and there is a lot of investment in community projects, research and extension, education. etc. Moreover, as a direct result of the project, the price of olive oil has generally risen in Palestine, improving also the incomes of Palestinian farmers outside the fair-trade system.