In my Latino Literature class we were assigned to make a list of the places from where the produce in our local supermarket comes from and then write a short paper about it. I thought it would be nice to post it here:
The food and produce eaten by me and my family comes from different corners of the world. Since Puerto Rico is a country that depends on imported foods more than in their own produce, most of the produce and meat are from other countries. For example, most meat bought in my house comes from Costa Rica and the United States, only some poultry is from the Island (companies that are in fast danger of disappearing). When it comes to fish, it can be imported from the United States or from far off places like China, frozen and hard as a slab of wood. The apples we buy many times are imported from Washington and the Tamarind, which grows in the Island, is imported from Thailand, Mangoes many times are from here, can be bought in a “ventorrillo” ( a vegetable and fruit store), but if bought in the supermarket, it will most likely be imported from India. Plantains, which also can be grown in the Island, are imported form the Dominican Republic, just as bananas are sometimes from there too or the American brand Dole, Avocados many times are also imported from the Dominican Republic.
What I've always found terrifying about all the imported produce is the fact that Puerto Rico is an island with rich soil, capable of being used to grow many vegetables and fruits, but those lands are never used to its full potential, mostly used to build condos that sell for half a million dollars. Instead we depend on the produce brought from other places, instead of depending on our own land to feed us. It is a dependency that we have grown accustomed to, making us blind to our Island's own ability to sustain us. We stroll through air conditioned lanes picking fresh produce, meat and cans to consume, without ever questioning the origin of the food we enjoy. Before this assignment I barely ever paid much attention to the place from where my food came from; yes, I was aware of the place from where they came from, but not of what this meant. We don't give much thought to the conditions and type of life those who grow our food go through, to us it is just a nice shiny apple or a juicy pear, we know lots of ways to prepare our meat, but we have no idea about who is responsible for the produce and meat we consume. Right now I must admit that I do not have much knowledge about the conditions of life of the Thailandese people who harvested the tart Tamarinds I ate, or what kind of work policy they have in Costa Rica from where the Beef Steak I love was imported.
I sometimes think that the reason we are so detached from the process of harvesting and the people involved in it is because when our produce is imported we lose touch with them, we are not living where they live and we certainly do not experience the way they are living. By consuming imported products that connection between nature and man is certainly lost and so is the notion that someone went through the trouble of harvesting what we eat.