Here is an interesting post from a fellow vegetable lover who is living in Honduras.  She and her corresponder bring up some interesting points that I have also thought a lot about here.

The experience I had before coming to Nicaragua is sometimes only mildly relevant to the work that I do and is being done here in Agriculture.  Why?  Because I spent four years growing vegetables.  People here eat very few vegetables.  They are expensive, but that’s partly because they are rare.  Why?  It’s not in the culture.

Two nights ago I was invited to a Nicaraguan friend’s house for dinner.  We cooked together, and sat and watched a movie.  Dinner:  fried chicken fingers (made from scratch), rice, fried plantains, and tortillas or white rolls.  Pure starch and fat.  Lunch today in my house was rice mixed with a can of tunafish, fried plantains, fried cheese, and tortillas.  When I mentioned that I have all the ingrediants for a salad in the fridge and anyone could help themselves, I was met with puzzled looks.  A salad?  That doesn’t go with this meal, they said. You eat salad, for example, when you have a peice of meat like beef with tomato sauce.

So it makes sense to me that even though I believe a lot in diversifying gardens and growing organic produce there is more cattle farming here than anything.  It makes sense that I am lamenting how small the market here is when the diet is mostly restricted to few ingredients as well.  La Gringa’s question “will poor people grow vegetables” is the same question as “will poor people eat vegetables?”.  From my experience, both in CT and here in Nicaragua, the poorest family with an awful diet can sit and watch fresh vegetables in their own garden spoil, because it isnt their culture to eat it.

So where do we start?  Projects with school kids, restaurants, exporting vegetables to countries that eat them?  I have to continue step back and think, what are my goals?  Do I care more that the farming is diversified, the soil improved, that farmers improve their economic situation, or that the people here chance their diet to a healthier one?  Where is the most effective place to break into the cycle?

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