Wednesday, May 8, 2019

BASIC FOOD BASKET- THE MAKING OF SUGAR

Oxen drive the mill


Just realized I never posted this... I wrote it on 6-24-2015.  It is still very pertinent, so here it is:
Large transnational corporations offer jobs and even housing and improved schools and roads to poor communities.   People in these communities sign up for work but do not that the chemicals used in the majority, if not all of the pineapple, sugar cane, bananas and African palm monoculture farming threaten their health, their ground water and their land.  According to those who have been studying this issue for many years, pineapple companies no longer buy the land but just lease if for about 10-15 years.  After this period of time, the land is rendered useless, the groundwater is contaminated and the people are really sick, some with kidney failure.  The price of cheap pineapple is high.  Costa Rica is left to pay for trucking in drinking water and for the healthcare of these people, including the sterility of many of the men who have worked at the banana plantations.  Can you imagine what these chemicals do to those who actually eat them? 



There are solutions though… they  lie on many different levels…the consumer has a tremendous amount of power… if the demand for organic pineapple in other countries increases and the consumption of pineapple that devastates the natural resources and economies of other countries decreases, then the companies MUST change if they are to survive. 


Another solution lies in going back to traditions.  Costa Ricans used to produce their own basic crops.  Now with the subsidized prices of imported crops such corn nobody can compete.  But on a local level, neighbors can work together.  Our new Trapiche (a traditional sugar cane mill) is one of the core components of the BASIC FOOD BASKET project at the Center.  Virtually everyone consumes sugar and this is one of those problematic crops when grown in vast monocultures. A trapiche is very expensive, so not everyone can have one, but the Center’s new mill (well it really is not new, it is about 100 years old) is available for anyone in the surrounding communities to come bring their sugar cane and take home sugar cane products… they share some of the sugar with the Center- everyone wins including the environment as this sugar cane is not grown in a large monoculture so it needs no chemicals and no artificial irrigation as it is grown with the rainy season.



We gave away this crystalized sugar cane at our farmer’s market, but now there is one farmer selling his sugar cane at this market… a testimony that given the opportunity, people want to do the right thing for themselves and for the world

 Our local artist, David Villalobos, created this work of art to pay tribute to the farmer and traditional agriculture. See the sugar cane at the very top it is holding, wrapped up in its own leaves, so there NO packaging to pollute our environment

The world is slowly taking a turn in the right direction...

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