Flor de Sal USA Announces Inclusion of Necton S.A.’s hand-harvested, gourmet sea salts in the Authentic Food Artisan program at Whole Foods Market®

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Flor de Sal USA and Necton S.A., producer of hand-harvested traditional sea salt, announce the recent acceptance of NectonÂ?s products into Whole Foods MarketÂ?s Authentic Food ArtisanÂ? program.

Flor de Sal USA and Necton S.A., producer of hand-harvested traditional sea salt, announce the recent acceptance of Necton’s products into Whole Foods Market’s Authentic Food Artisan™ program.

“We’re proud to be counted amongst the esteemed products represented in Whole Foods Market’s Authentic Food Artisan program," said Joao Navalho of Necton. "We applaud their commitment to finding the highest quality foods that also represent tradition, purity and regional identity. Their selection of our products, to fulfill that goal, means many more will have the chance to experience the fruits of our labor. We welcome the opportunity to introduce Whole Foods Market shoppers to the great-tasting products that result from our own commitment to quality and craftsmanship.”

After the winter rains have ceased, and the birds have begun their journeys back north, the salt pans (salinas) of the Belamandil, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the European coastline, are ready to be harvested. During the summer months, weather permitting -- an absence of rainfall and a dry wind from the north -- the salinas are worked by local artisans, salt harvesters (marnotos). The marnotos, on a daily basis, skim the delicate crystals forming on the top of the salt pan by hand, with the same wooden implements that have been used for millennia. The resulting brilliantly white sea salt -- Flor de Sal – literally "the flower of salt" – also known as Fleur de Sel - is a light, crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth salt that maintains all the micronutrients naturally found in ocean water and has been described by many as having hints of sweetness and creaminess, without any of the harshness commonly associated with regular table salt.

“Whole Foods Market’s line of Authentic Food Artisan foods are exceptional products created with the highest regard for tradition, taste, purity and passion,” said Mary Margaret Graham of Whole Foods Market. “AFA products are all handcrafted and carry a special quality symbol to identify the product as truly exceptional. Necton’s products are true examples of this quality, and we are pleased to offer these hand-harvested salts.”

Necton’s Traditional Sea Salt (Sal Marinho Tradicional), similar to Flor de Sal, is harvested by hand, but only after the salt crystals have settled on the bottom of the salina. Every three weeks, the marnotos, using similar implements and techniques as with Flor de Sal, exercise great care in harvesting Sal Marinho Tradicional. These crystals, along with Flor de Sal, are placed in piles beneath the Algarve sun, where they are naturally dried, and then sent off for packaging, with no additional processing taking place.

About Necton S.A.:

Recipients of the 2001 Slow Food Award for the Defense of Biodiversity, Necton S.A.'s salts are hand-harvested from the Algarve region of Portugal, within the Ria Formosa Natural Park- a wetland which had been fallen into disrepair from industrial dumping and maltreatment of the land. With the revitalization of these salt pans, this area has seen the welcomed return of many of the area's native wildlife species, not to mention the reintroduction of a nearly lost skill – the art of harvesting sea salt using traditional methods. More information on Necton's saltworks and their efforts in the Algarve region can be found at http://www.necton.pt

About Whole Foods Market’s Authentic Food Artisan Program:

Whole Foods Market knows that many of the world's finest producers of food and wine are small, family-run enterprises passionate about handcrafting the finest foods in small batches using traditional methods. From vinegar aged in French oak barrels in Modena, Italy and estate-grown teas from India to honey harvested just after the nectar is ripened by bees on the Big Island of Hawaii, the company’s buyers search the world to find these select few producers who exemplify this commitment to excellence and all-encompassing attention to detail. Whole Foods Market recognizes these special food artisans with an Authentic Food Artisan (AFA) seal signifying the producers' dedication to traditional craftsmanship and to the delicious fruits of their labor of love. This special purchasing program to hand pick the best products is a natural extension of Whole Foods Market's commitment to bringing our shoppers the highest quality organic foods that also represent tradition, purity and regional identity.

About Flor de Sal USA:

Located in Seattle, WA, Flor de Sal USA was started in the summer of 2004 with the goal of bringing Necton’s award winning salts to the U.S. marketplace, with plans to work directly with Necton to develop additional nature-based products which spring forth from the salt pans of the Ria Formosa Natural Park in southern Portugal.

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