Cultural Traditions & Environmental Lessons of the Paraguayan Asado

A jaguar in a Chacoan ranch.

The Chaco is rich in biodiversity, with jaguars, pumas, Chacoan peccaries, giant armadillos and anteaters, tapirs, and hundreds of other mammals, birds and reptiles, and diverse ecosystems that include savannas, marshes, semiarid thorn forests, and open grasslands.

Deforestation in the Chaco. Photo courtesy Rene Gonzalez.

Asado is much more than a meal. In Paraguay and the other South American countries known worldwide for the quality of their beef, asado is a culinary cultural event.

A typical asado in the Chaco.

Much work remains for Paraguayan beef to be recognized as “sustainable.” And even more work will be needed to convince regular consumers that they should demand that the beef on their plate has not been produced by damaging natural landscapes.

A Paraguayan meat processing plant.

A select number of ranches should serve as model farms, where other ranchers can be trained and observe firsthand how the adoption of sustainable production standards can increase productivity and reduce environmental impact.

A typical Chaco landscape.

When you attend an asado, you cannot just drop in when the meat is already done, sit, and eat it. You have to arrive at least two hours in advance while the fire is being lit, and watch as the meal grills slowly to its perfection.

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