On Friday, June 19…

This week was different because I was able to really dig into my research and start investigating the nutrients of the agave plant. I focused on gaining an understanding of the antioxidant levels in the plant. The purpose of antioxidants is to “repair oxidative damage”. Specifically, they have enzymes that “convert free radicals into non-reactive species.” Antioxidants can help prevent cancer, heart disease, loss of vision and other health conditions because clogged arteries and other malfunctions in the body can be a result of free radical damage. While I was researching, I learned that agave nectar has a large amount of antioxidants compared to other sweeteners and even has more than some fruit such as goji berries! Thus, because agave nectar has so many antioxidants, some Ecuadorians, especially the people who farm the agave, drink it as a supplement every day.

That is a little snippet of what I have been researching this week and overall, I am really enjoying what I am learning. However, one of the obstacles that I faced this week was the language barrier. I would say that half of the documents that I have read are in Spanish and it has been quite challenging for me to translate them. Although it is really challenging, it is making me use my six years of Spanish (I am extremely thankful right now that I took Spanish in middle school and high school!) and I feel like it is helping me immerse myself more with Ecuador. Another obstacle that I am facing is to understand how exactly they are going to use my research because I want to make sure that what I am doing is useful for the company. I asked my supervisor when I met with him and they are still a little unsure, but hopefully they will know soon. Other than that, everything has been going very well and I am excited to keep on learning about agave!

Fun Fact about Ecuador:
Near Quito they have an active volcano, Sangay. This week one of my supervisors explained to us that Sangay erupted and they got some ash flying around in Quito this week.