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What the heck is a Pili nut?

The Pili nut (pronounced “peel-y”) is a rich, buttery tree nut, wild harvested from deep in the Filipino rainforest. Its taste is unlike any other in world, often approximated as a combination between a macadamia nut and a cashew, but with a stronger, more tender flavor.

Pili nuts are harvested from the Pili Tree, or Canarium Ovatum plant, a massive, beautiful tree native to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. For many years the Pili nut has been a popular snack throughout Asia— typically served as a fried and sugar-coated dessert. When our founder, Jason Thomas, discovered Pili nuts for himself while on a kitesurfing trip to the Philippines, he fell in love with their rich flavor and was inspired to share them with the rest of the world. Instead of frying them however, he decided to offer them as a healthy eating choice and sold them in pure, sprouted form.

Served in their activated state, Pili nuts hold a wide range of nutrients, providing a plethora of health benefits. Containing many essential vitamins and minerals and the highest fat and lowest carbohydrate content of any nut, Pili nuts are a perfect addition to an active lifestyle. Not only are they healthy for you, but for the environment as well. Wild harvested Pili nuts keep environmental damage to a minimum, so you can feel comfortable that your choice of nuts is also a good choice for the world.

Wild to the Core

Unlike all other widely available nuts, Pili nuts are grown without any destruction of the natural environment. Hunter Gatherer Pili nuts are harvested by hand from wild stands in the mountains of the Filipino rainforest. Local villagers gather nuts by climbing up tall trees and shaking down ripe Pili fruit to the forest floor. They then soak each fruit in water to reveal the hard nut buried inside, and shell every nut by hand with a single strike of a sharp machete. The entire gathering process is carried out with the same traditional strategy that Filipinos have have been using for hundreds of years– respecting the health of the rainforest and of local people.

The cultivation of our Pili nuts is so pure that it cannot even be considered organic. While it goes without saying that the wild Pili trees we harvest from are free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and genetic modifications, there is no way to certify these conditions about a tree growing naturally deep in the mountains. In truth, organic would be an understatement. Pili trees are fertilized only with rich, volcanic soil, cultivated with ample natural sunlight, and modified from year to year by the ever-changing rhythms of the rainforest. A more sustainable and natural growing process would hardly be possible.


At Hunter Gatherer, we make a concerted effort to form cooperative relationships with the communities that help us bring Activated Pili nuts to you. We rely on Filipino communities from the moment our nuts are harvested until they are loaded onto a boat to America, and we try to repay them by contributing to the local economy in as productive as a manner as we can. We have forged close relationships with our suppliers, and are hoping to soon create a co-op in the Philippines to ensure that all of our harvesters receive a fair value for their labor.

We are particularly proud of the bond that we are helping to create between locals and their natural environment. In many of the Philippines’ rural communities, poverty drives villagers to turn to illegal logging and poaching to support themselves. Unlike other forest products, Pili nuts rely on the health of the environment rather than its destruction, so their cultivation encourages people to engage in the protection of their forests. By buying a product of the rainforest, we provide struggling communities with a stake in the preservation of their natural surroundings, and offer an environmentally friendly job alternative to forest destruction. While the economic temptations of deforestation will always exist, we believe our nut collection provides a valuable incentive for hard working rural communities to turn towards more sustainable practices.


In contrast to the traditional method of serving Pili nuts fried, we offer them in a healthy sprouted and activated form. After wild harvest and shelling, the nuts are then activated through a 12 hour soak in salt water and dehydration. The activation process breaks down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors contained within raw pili nuts, allowing the body to access the nutrients inside much more easily. The result is a super-nut with a rich buttery taste, containing a huge range of essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and Vitamin B1, and the highest fat and lowest carbohydrate content of any nut. This compact nutrition and delicious flavor makes the Pili nut a great take-along snack for long adventures, as well as healthy staple in any balanced diet.