I’m Lovin’ the Irony

May 24. In El Salvador, this is the day McDonald’s donates a certain percentage of their Big Mac sales to a local charity that helps give surgeries to children with heart problems. The organization is called Sana Mi Corazón, which translates to Cure My Heart (or My Healthy Heart, but I’m pretty sure it’s the…

Nanoparticles in Your Food Supply?

Nanoparticles are microscopic  substances that act the same as their larger counterparts, and have been used on some level since the 9th Century (according to archaeological records) by pottery artisans. They are essentially the same as the larger units, however, the physical and optical properties of the nanoparticles can change. For example, nanoparticles can have…

Rusting Away

Coffee Leaf Rust, a plague affecting coffee plants worldwide, appears to worsen when coffee is grown in full sun, according to recent research published by the University of Michigan (conducting their research in Mexico). Shade-grown coffee has been making  a small comeback for the more environmentally conscious caffeine consumer. Shade-grown coffee means more habitat for…

Freshly Cooked School Lunches (at public schools in El Salvador)

In 2010, the Ministry of Education in El Salvador undertook a project – Provision of Local Food, Education and Health – to start providing freshly cooked school lunches at public schools around the country. The goal of the project is to help women set up small businesses that provide school lunches, which then feed children…

Coffee Leaf Rust Plagues El Salvador

  Coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix) is a fungus that is widely feared among coffee growers. Its full life cycle is not completely understood, but direct contact must be made by the fungus, or the fungi spores, with the leaf to infect it. Scientists also know that the presence of free water is required, and…

Livestock in El Salvador

The cattle industry in El Salvador is a small one. It is composed of thousands of small farmers, many of whom raise cattle for their own family’s consumption, or perhaps to sell to their neighbors. The breed of cattle commonly raised are called “criollo” locally, but is actually a variation of Brahman cattle, which is…

Eyes on the Big Box Store Prize

Farming in El Salvador. Not the number one way to get rich quick…in fact, it’s likely well below number one hundred. Nevertheless, there are farmers out there, working tirelessly to feed us. There are many more farmers working tirelessly just to feed their families. And there are a few farmers hoping to “make it big”…

Cattle Rustlers Rounded Up in San Miguel

Theft of cattle near San Miguel had been on the rise since the beginning of the year. By June, the number of cattle thefts was double the number of the previous year. Ranchers were becoming frustrated and disillusioned with the local police, whom they felt were not trying to solve the cases, and thus the…

Animals as Machines: how sustainable is this waste management system?

In Monteverde, Costa Rica, there is a cheese factory that was started by a group of Quaker settlers in the early 1950’s. Today they purchase milk from nearly 200 small dairy farmers in the region. While most of the milk arrives in modern stainless steel cylindrical tanker trucks, some milk is still delivered in the…

A Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and a Side of Toxins

Copper, arsenic, dioxin, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, lindane, penicillin, Flunixin, Sulfadimethoxine, Florfenicol, Sulfamethazine, Ivermectin…some of these may sound familiar, some may sounds vaguely like something you learned about in biology class some years back. But nothing sounds like something you’d expect to find on your dinner plate. And yet they’re there. They snuck in, as uninvited guests….

Costa Rica Protects Local Rice Production, But at a High Cost

Costa Rica might be facing repercussions after three straight years of exceeding the amount of rice subsidies set by the World Trade Organization – exceeding it by about 650%. However, the rice producers in Costa Rica remain confident that nothing will happen, since they are practically inconsequential in terms of global rice producers. Rice is…

Cutting Down Livelihoods

El Salvador. A country that’s situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire (prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), where 50% of the rural population lives below the poverty line and there are huge rates of underemployment; 40% of Salvadorans are subsistence farmers, 21% are officially employed in agriculture (which accounts for 12% of the country’s…