Pineapple Fields Forever

The supply chain for the fruits vs coffee is very different. I don’t think you necessarily quantify the levels of difficulty but there seems to be more steps on the coffee industry. Coffee required growing, harvesting, cleaning, drying, roasting, etc. Like we saw between Doka and Café Britt, this required multiple companies to produce. However, bananas and pineapples didn’t quite have this same process.

For bananas, we visited a smaller family style farm. We saw that they grew bananas, plantains, and many more plants to sustain their farm and families. We saw, first hand, that nearly nothing goes to waste on their farm. Everything they hack down is either composted or consumed… even the plantain skin (Picadillo dish from lunch) We learned that since the bananas do not have any seeds, they depend on the surrounding baby plants, around the mother tree, to keep the process going. The process is pretty self explanatory; they plant the tree, let it grow (use chemicals to prevent diseases, like Mal de Panama, which can wipe out a whole farm), and harvest when ready (large but still green). They then ship them off to be sold. There doesn’t seem to be nearly as many steps as the coffee process.

The pineapples had a similar process. We traveled to another family style farm where we took a tractor ride to the endless pineapple fields. The process is similar to bananas in the sense that they don’t have seeds and must rely on previous plants to sustain growth of more. They use the crown of harvested pineapples to start another plant… baby plants grow off of the main crown. The tour guide explained they’re certified organic and sustain this practice through covering their soil with plastic prior to planting. This practice is likely healthier and more sustainable for the environment all around. They must, however, use a chemical to induce the pineapple plants for consistent production of the fruit. The handling of these fruits must be very gentle to avoid bruising; harvesters only hold the fruit by the crown.

If I had to work on a plantation, I’d probably choose to be on a banana plantation. It honestly seems the least meticulous and least back-breaking work. Planting 6,000 pineapple plants a day or picking millions of tiny coffee beans per season seems rough. The banana plantation (according to the one we visited) also hosted a variety of plants, including plantains, which I especially enjoy!

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