There are many tactics to approach the importance of farming and comsuming organic produce.  Of great importance to many people in Europe and the United States is the health of the consumer.  Pesticide residues are a concern, especially on fruit such as strawberries which are eaten intact, with the skin, and eaten in large quantities by young children.  For many, the motivation for buying organic produce is to prevent unnessary and irreversible damage to the environment.  Chemical runoff in rivers and water tables, increasing numbers of pesticide and herbicide resistant plagues and weeds, and the disapearance of beneficial insects and animals are just a few of the effects of overuse of agricultural chemicals.

Another reason to buy organic is very obvious in this part of the world, where nothing in the supermarkets except for maybe coffee is labelled organic, and it is a struggle to propote environmental consciousness.  In Managua, literally across the street from the CEPRODEL office, is a whole community of people living in trash bag huts.  They are farmworkers from banana fields, living together in one park outside the office of the banana firm.  A friend told me they have been living there for five years, requesting compensation for their medicals bills due to overexposure to pesticides.

This article summarizes just one struggle here in León, Nicaragua.  Tomorrow afternoon I am going to visit the foundation here in town, Fundacion La Isla, that is helping a group of sugar cane workers get medical help and care for their families.  One of the things they are offering are trainings in organic agriculture, so that farm workers that have their own small peices of land can can farm organically and avoid the debilitating health effects of chemical exposure.

Locally, there is no market here for organic produce.  The infrastructure, consciousness, and ability to pay higher prices are virtually non existant.  The most plausible oportunity I can see here to encourage and expand organic agriculture quickly is to strengthen the international market.  It´s not a solution, because transportation costs are rising.  It goes against so much of what I preach and believe in –  such as local food systems, and it also bypasses the education and local marketing of organic food and practices.  But the reality is I don´t believe that people in the U.S. are ever going to stop buying bananas.    The question is, if organic bananas cost a dollar more at Whole Foods, is that extra dollar helping to ensure someone´s health who lives and supports his family on two dollars a day?

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