As we walk down the aisles in our supermarkets, many of us are oblivious to the time and effort that goes into making some of the products that we buy and many a disgruntled comment can be heard on some of those expensive items. Never has this been truer than when picking up a small container of Ceylon Cinnamon (cinnamon verum), where a 100g will set you back U$ 6.50. Ceylon Cinnamon takes its name from the colonial name for Sri Lanka, which produces 90% of the world’s Ceylon Cinnamon.
If you are holding a quill in your hand, know that it took a least 4 years to grow, was harvested at dawn, soaked to help retain its moisture, meticulously hand peeled by skilled workers, the delicate strips of inner bark stacked so that when they dry, they roll up into layered quills. A labour-intensive process that yields, 5kg of lower quality cinnamon per day or only 1kg of the prized thinner Alba quality.
Unfortunately an industry that is slowly dying, one because this skilled trade which used to passed down from generation to generation is no longer sought after by the younger generations. The other reason, thanks to the mass commercialisation of cinnamon in the USA, Cassia Cinnamon which originates in China, Vietnam and Indonesia is often mistaken for the real thing, is bigger and thicker so much easier to harvest and does not require the delicate art of bark peeling.
So, the next time you grab a quill of cinnamon, think of the 70,000 Sri Lankan small holdings, that have worked arduously so that you can enjoy your cinnamon infused tea.