Hugo Lara

Hugo Lara's picture
Basic Info
Wild Gift Class Year: 
2011
Better World Expertise: 
Sustainable Food & Agriculture
Current Occupation: 
Chief of Chicha, SAMI Beverage Company
When you connect with the dirt, the water, the rocks, and the air in such a visceral way, like I did, you realize that there is a force out there in the wilderness that is essential to our existence as human animals, which is easy to forget in the manufactured world where everything is at our disposal. We must venerate these areas, not just protect them, because without them we lose a part of who we are – the wildness within us.

Food and sustainability have been the main focus of the past few years of my life.  I’ve been obsessed with eating well since I was a child and luckily had a mother that was a great cook, and made everything fresh and passed down our food traditions.  Having had the privilege to visit other countries and to taste cuisines around the world I’ve seen directly how food impacts culture, society and our environment. As Wendell Berry says, “Eating is an agricultural act,” as well as act of resistance I would add, against the established models of industrial food system.  What we eat and how we eat matters.

The Wild Gift trek served as the launching point for creating my business in sustainable food. Wild Gift gave me the freedom and precious time in the wilderness away from the distractions of daily life, to allow my ideas to germinate.  That seed that was planted on my trek is finally starting to come to fruition years later.

My current day job is operations and communications for the Rainforest Alliance's certification division. I'm deeply involved with developing our new marketing strategy for recruiting and maintaining clients in forestry, farm, carbon and tourism certification and verification of products and raw materials from forests and farms to the market.

At the same time, I have been hard at work running my food business, A Little Peruvian LLC, at the Burlington Farmer's Market. A Little Peruvian sells Peruvian inspired street food using local ingredients.

Out of my experience of running my food stand, a new business is developing of Peruvian inspired beverages - SAMI Beverage Company, LLC. In the native Quechua language, SAMI is an offering of food made to the earth, a nourishing spirit that is transmitted through food, plants and people. People can exhibit SAMI through talent, grace, force of personality and good luck. 1% of SAMI's profits will go to projects that protect and promote Peru's rich indigenous and agricultural heritage focusing on protecting seed varieties.

SAMI is the next evolution of my dream to bring healthy, fun and traditional Peruvian food products to the rest of the world. The first beverage that SAMI is releasing is Chicha Americana, a modern spin on ancient Peruvian drink made from purple corn, apples, pineapple, and a variety of spices. Chicha Americana will be debuting in select Vermont stores during Fall 2013.