Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pineapples

On the second day of our field trip we visited a pineapple plantation. This specific plantation produces for various brands such as Dole and Whole Foods. It is certified fair trade plantation, meaning that they take specific measures to provide equitable conditions for their workers (such as wages and facilities on the plantation and in the community) and this guarantees the growers a price floor and a premium for the labeling. The plantation actually grows 60 percent conventional and 40 percent organic. In 2004 they actually switched to completely organics but when the recession hit in 2008 they were no longer able to find enough markets for their organic products and still maintain the price premium (which covers the extra costs of organic production). 


Here is the tractor that pulled the little wagon/train that all of us rode to get to the fields and where our guide (yep still strange that there are guides, I just can't imagining flying to Latin America to see pineapples) explained to us the planting and harvesting processes. 


Here is what the pineapple fields look like. Pineapples are actually grown on a plant that resembles and aloe bush. Only one pineapple grows from the crown of each plant. 


Here is what the plant looks like with a pineapple sticking out from the top. 


This is the machine that is used to harvest the pineapples. They are actually each picked by hand and just placed on the back of this tractor for transportation purposes. 


See the pineapples take a bath too. These specific pineapples came out of the organic fields and it will take them 8 days to make their way from Costa Rica to a port in the United States. 


And here are the pineapples they served us afterwards that were filled with pina colada. Yummy!!!!!!!

Both the pineapple and banana trips were very interesting because they further emphasized how ridiculous consumers are and how are lack of understanding drives the market. For bananas because no one wants them with spots the producer goes through all this extra work and wastes a ton of plastic in order to keep them safe during the transportation from field to box. Not to mention the fact that people try and find straight bananas even though it is rooted in a bananas genetics to grow bent. And in the pineapple production the conventional pineapples are actually sprayed with extra chemicals that prevent them from ripening thoroughly just because most people think that a pineapple with yellow on the outside is more ripe; which is not true at all. A pineapple can be completely green and be absolutely delicious. Also Americans like larger pineapples and Europeans like smaller pineapples. Very strange. I guess what continues to fascinate me about food studies is the fact that so much of how and what we eat comes from a lack of understanding of how food grows and where it comes from. I think we all just need to spend a little more time getting our hands dirty and either growing some of our own food or working in a community garden. Because really it is amazing, it is a wonderful process that a small tiny little seed/flower can be something as complex and beautiful as a pineapple. 



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bananas!!!!!

So here at UPEACE are classes are in blocks. So right now I am taking a class on Food Sovereignty and hunger. The other great thing about UPEACE is that we have field trips, like over night field trips to really cool places. This time around we left bright and early (6 am last Monday morning) to head to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Why is this important because if you were unaware of Costa Rica's position in the world it is in Central America (still part of North America) and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Ocean on the other. We headed over to the other side (Ciudad Colon, where I live is slightly closer to the Pacific) to visit a Dole Banana plantation and a Pineapple Plantation as well. We also visited a chocolate production but really it was just eco-tourism through a rainforest where they give you samples of chocolate (so in my book it does not count). So here are some photos and thoughts from my time spent hanging out with a lot of bananas (pineapples to come later, cause one can only handle one fruit at a time).


 Here is Don Carlos our wonderful banana tour guide (and yes the Dole pineapple plantation has a tour guide). He gave us a nice little run down of the history of bananas, they are definitely not native to Costa Rica and like most things they were brought here when development of the railroad began. He is holding a younger banana tree. 


This is what a bunch of banana really looks like when it comes off the tree. 

 In order for the bananas to make it from the tree to the processing plant they take a little train ride. The bananas get covered in plastic and have special rubber padding in between them for transportation to make sure they don't get bruised. 

 Then the bananas take a little bath and get all cleaned up before they get sent our way.

And here are a few of the bananas getting ready to be boxed up and shipped out. The bananas that are singles are most likely going to schools. So there is a really good chance that if you buy a Dole banana that it came somewhere from Costa Rica. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blah

So today is just one of those days...Where things are just blah...for various reasons. So my solution to this day is to make a ridiculously long to do list with very medial things to check off. Hence very quickly boosting my confidence and happiness level. What does this mean for you?? This means that by the end of the day there will finally be a new post on my class field trip to the banana and pineapple plantations. And that there might actually be one tomorrow too (oh my!!! I know this might just be to much excitement ; ) ) I will finally be posting about my home here in Costa Rica.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Beach

This past Sunday most of the people in our program went on our first Costa Rican adventure!!! And why yes it did involve crocodiles!!!!!

We decided to adventure out to one of the nicer close beaches, which is about two hours away and did involve waking up at 530 am to get on a bus at 6am. What can I say its the beach which is so much more important than sleep.  

On our way to the beach we stopped at a fairly normal looking bridge which had this view in the distance 


And had a nice little island in the middle filled with these guys 

I thought it was best not to pet them.... I think you would all agree. After we stopped to see these little guys sun bathing we ventured on to the beach. It was a nice day we spent most of our time hanging out on the sand and venturing into the warm salty water of the pacific. It still amazes me that it is the same pacific i left just a few weeks ago. For a bunch of the group it was their first time dipping their toes into the pacific, I think it made a good impression. While we were at the beach we stopped at a little shack to have brunch, I ended up having the most amazing banana bread french toast, might just be the best in the world. Interestingly enough it was made by a Canadian who has been living in Costa Rica for seven years, sounds like an okay life ; ),

Here are a few pictures from our day!! It was quite a magical place to be. So much beauty in the world. 







Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Costa Rica!!!

   So I have safely arrived in Costa Rica and have now been here for 24 hours. I have a feeling each day will definitely lead to many new adventures. Our first meal consisted of kraft mac and cheese, popcorn and special k cereal. Our landlords picked us up from the airport and we stopped at the grocery store in our overwhelmed post flight trip those were the things we recognized and figured we cook the easiest and with the least ingredients.  Today my roommate Courtney (she is also in the NRSD program) and I spent and hour trying to find the grocery store, which is only 20 minutes from our house, we most definitely walked in a few circles. This allowed us just enough time to get sunburned, yay!! The first of many I am sure.
    Tomorrow we are going on a hike as part of our orientation at the University for Peace where we will be attending school.
   Our house is very nice and spacious (pictures to come) and it has a natural alarm clock (monkeys!!!! they are nice and loud and so far they seem to think that I really should be awake at 6 am, not so sure that I agree with them on that matter).