The Truth about Organic Food
Part I: Organic Bananas
Organic products are conquering the supermarkets and discounters of the developed countries. They are the symbol of a modern society that cares about health, sustainability and fair employment conditions. Organic agriculture is a valuable contribution in the fight against the destruction of the environment while supplying high-quality products that have not been in touch with pesticides and other dangerous chemicals that are harmful to health.
Is it possible, however, to produce food sustainably in masses in consideration of the welfare of animals, humans and the environment?
Organic bananas from Ecuador
Ecuador has an ideal climate for the cultivation of bananas and supplies 171,000 tons of the global organic bananas. One of the exemplary enterprises in the field of organic agriculture is the Celia María farm. The farm is the leader of the organic banana production in Ecuador. Besides adhering to strict organic standards, the farm offers good labor conditions for its workers and provides them with regular training on organic production procedures. Knowingly, agriculture is one of the economic sectors that use the most water. The water system at Celia María farm uses sprinklers of maximum efficiency that guarantee a minimum use of water.
20 years ago, Jorge Encalada started transforming his business into an organic banana plantation. The banana trees at his plantation are standing in dense rows and at first sight, you cannot see a difference to conventional plantations. Peter Grosch, an organic food inspector from Germany says that the plantation manages to provide the appropriate biodiversity that is necessary to guarantee the growth of high-quality organic bananas that have not been treated with pesticides. The soil of the plantation that nourishes the plants consists of mountains of compost made from herbal waste of the banana production and cow dung. Organic plantations are not permitted to use mineral nitrogen fertilizers. The balance of the soil is to be guaranteed exclusively through organic fertilizer. Encalada uses a natural plant extract to spray the plants and fight the aggressive fungal pathogen that causes the black Sigatoka disease. This pathogen can disturb photosynthesis and destroy the harvests. Against insect infestation, the plantation workers envelop the fruit bunches with plastic bags. These are subsequently recycled. You can discover biocoenoses in the soil. Earthworms crawl in the soil and demonstrate a fantastic performance. They decompose organic material in the soil, digest it and leave behind their excrements. Their tunnels are filled with these excrements and are used by the plants as nourishment.
Bananas from the farm have been awarded the certifications B.C.S OKO-Garantie from Nürnberg (Germany), the USDA from the United States and the Fair Trade Certification.