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…

Saving Traditions

The majority of people around the world are familiar with growing food from seeds; of course, the number is less in developing countries, and less still in urban areas, but overall most people have witnessed the transition from seed to harvested vegetable (or fruit). Fewer people have then saved seeds from that plant they grew…

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…

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…

Buying Local. But not to reduce your carbon footprint.

Late spring in New Hampshire. The tables at the farmers markets are a bit sparse and the attendance is limited to only the most stalwart supporters of local food. There will be a few booths of handmade items, such as leather or jewelry, and a couple of booths selling meat, cheese or milk (the taste…

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…

Fresh From the Land

What’s the next best thing to going into your backyard and harvesting veggies from the earth and using them a short while later in your dinner? Driving down the road (with incredible views along the way) and having the eight-year-old daughter of the local farmer do it for you!! (Not that I’m promoting child labor;…

Eating Away at Biodiversity

The illegal trade of birds, reptiles, and some mammals is a lucrative corner of the black market among El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. It has been about three years since consuming turtle eggs became officially against the law in El Salvador, and still it’s not too hard to find place that sell these so-called…

Mexican Drought Wreaking Havoc on Farmers

You know it’s dry when even the cacti are withering.  A drought has been plaguing the majority of Mexican states for two solid years; it has gone from bad to worse in such a way that it’s now officially the worst drought in recorded history. The Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, has been…

El Salvador’s Family Agriculture Plan

The Family Agriculture Plan (PAF) is a new act that was implemented in 2011 by the Ministry of Agriculture that aims to reduce rural poverty and increase agricultural production in order to revitalize the economy in the countryside. With four main components to the plan, the government hopes to improve the livelihoods of about 2…