Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Importance of Food

Yes, I certainly think food is important in that it´s tasty and I want some for dinner soon. But this post is about food´s importance from a more philosophical perspective. Yesterday, we gathered upstairs at Finca Magdalena on a breezy porch with views of the volcano. Our purpose: to discuss our purpose. We ended up mostly talking about food, and making some really interesting points. We talked about how food was a major connecting thread in the partnership between OSCA and the UNAG. OSCA is so much about providing its members with nutritious and tasty meals. The loan fund in the UNAG helps women buy what they need to farm, so they can produce enough to feed themselves. Food is something that connects to everything in life. As we saw a Finca Bona Fide, a permaculture farm, food is about the environment. Bona Fide used a lot of methods I thought were really innovative, in combining plants that promoted each other´s growth. However, as the farm´s founder pointed out, it was not really innovative, but intuitive. On the farm, they were relearning to grow food according to the methods nature has always used.

Another facet of food is community and dignity. We see over and over how important food sovereignty is to people´s quality of life. The co-op members at Finca Magdalena have the opportunity to improve their lives by growing their own food, in addition to the coffee they sell. The Finca Bona Fide hopes to reach out more and more to the surrounding community, with programs such as seed exchanges and community gardens. The more people can be in control of producing their own food, the more secure and consistent their access to nutrition will be.

Additionally, we thought a lot about food as a human right, rather than as a commodity. So many U.S. policies are making food into something to be sold for the highest possible profit to the companies. Things like CAFTA undermine the idea that everyone has the right to be nourished. Instead of getting discouraged about this, we looked to exciting ideas like urban gardening and cooperatives as ways for people to get closer to their food, and regain the control that seems to be slipping away.

Happy eating and thinking!


  1. Nora,
    I love your thought about farming being "intuitive" and returning to how nature produces food. What plants, besides coffee, are being grown and what is native to that area? Do you think that more natural farm practices change people's attitudes about food?
    Thanks for blogging, all of the posts are fascinating!
    love & best of luck on your adventuring!

  2. Adah! Thanks for commenting.
    We´re seen a variety of crops grown here in Nicaragua. Coffee, bananas, peanuts and sesame are some important export crops. For food, corn, rice and beans are grown a lot. Finca Magdalena was a coffee farm, which apparently also let their cooperative members grow food for themselves on that land also. Finca Bona Fide, the permaculture farm that Michelle just posted about, grew a huge variety of crops. When they started, the land had been used just for cattle and plantains. Now they grow mango, avocado, banana, jackfruit, starfruit, egg fruit, grapefruit, and various vegetables. They´re working on finding out which varieties of everything grow best in that climate, and they are all about diversifying the crops they grow.

    At Bona Fide, their farming practices and views on food seem to go hand in hand. Food is nature. People are nature. Food is something that comes from the earth and is a human right for everyone. The more sustainably and naturally food can be derived, and the closer the people are to the food they consume, the better. I don´t know about people´s attitudes on other farms.