We had the chance to take a panela production tour in a small co-op town of Colombia.
The day started with the processing factory (where farmers bring their panela to be packaged and labeled) and ended up at a wonderful trapiche (panela farm).
The term “organic” gets thrown around all the time. As Andres, who helps run the farm, pointed out: “Just because it is organic, doesn’t mean that they are taking care of the land.”
He showed that many farms are “organic”, but not sustainable as they don’t take advantage of recycling the by-products
One of the by-products of the panela process is molasses. The molasses is used to feed the pigs. The urine of the pigs and water by-products of the process are used to water the plants.
The sugar cane fiber by products are burned to generate heat in the panela cooking process. Nothing is wasted.
We highly recommend a panela tour; it is similar to the popular coffee farm tours that happen all over Colombia.