Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Bananas How Much Heart Goes Into Food Production by Audrey Seligman

In our first weeks at the OTS La Selva field station we have gone on a few field trips. The ones that stood out to me were the heart of palm plantation, MontaƱa Azul, and the Dole Banana plantation.  On these field trips not only did we learn about the process to prepare the products, but also about the workers.
            At the palmito plantation, I was amazed by how a seemingly simple process required such an incredible amount of work. I was surprised that each jar of heart of palms was hand created. This trade made me much more aware of the process that goes into producing the food I usually eat. I realized that I rarely stop to think about the people who put in so much hard work into the process of producing food, especially canned and jarred food. When I do imagine the process, I often think of it on a large scale. While this method is how some food production happens, from my field trips this week I learned some things cannot be replaced by a machine. For example, only humans can recognize that a palmito is ready to harvest based on how open the top leaf is. At the palmito planation we visited, not only was all of the work on the land, such as planting harvesting and maintaining the palmitos, done by hand, but so was much of the jarring and canning process. I was in awe of how much work and how personal care went into a process that created such a large amount of product. After this trip I realized that I, and likely others, take for granted how available canned foods are and don’t appreciate the work that goes into them.

            At the Dole plantation I once again marveled at the amount of individual and manual labor that went into taking care of and harvesting the bananas. More than this though what I found extremely interesting was that almost all of the work done prior to harvesting the bananas was not necessary, it was done to keep the bananas looking exactly like what we think a banana should look like; perfectly yellow, standardly sized, and of course without any scratches or other flaws. People often find fruits that do not meet theses standards as unacceptable and will not buy them. These products are then thrown away. All over the world people are starving, not because there is not enough food but because of food distribution, the amount of food that gets thrown out is overwhelming. Seeing the process and care of the bananas made think about how outrageous this phenomenon is, and what we can do in the future to change the way people treat and view food.


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