Wednesday, September 26, 2007

banana business

Coming down from Limon one passes through acres and acres of banana plantations, crisscrossed with creeks running towards the Caribbean. Each massive hand of bananas is sheathed in blue plastic, the same blue plastic that is clearly visible littering the creeks. Nowadays the plantations are owned mostly by Chiquita and its subsidiaries, in the past it was the giant United Fruit which completely shaped this part of Costa Rica. Back from the coast, plantation workers still live and breath plantation, buying from plantation shops ensuring that they are nothing more than indentured servants. That’s not all they are. A huge amount of pesticides and insecticides are dumped on the crops making the workers part of a general experiment in toxic waste (read ). Birth defects, infertility and an average life expectancy in the 50s also come with the job as workers handle and inhale fertilizers and drink the water polluted by run off from the crops. Fertilizers are ‘necessary’ because of the monoculture: United Fruit pulled out due to a massive banana blight that hit in 1913, bananas have since come back as a crop but at a cost. Meanwhile tourists downstream pay top dollar in shishi restaurants for river shrimp fed by water from the same plantations.

The moral of the story: BUY ORGANIC BANANAS!

In the garden there are many, many bananas that grow totally free of any human intervention. They are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted, sun ripened and spotted in their skins. I have such a glut that tomorrow I begin jam making.