Today was Day 2 of our journey in beautiful Costa Rica. We started the day by visiting EARTH University’s very own banana plantation. Our guide David explained the whole process that goes into the growing and distributing of the banana. Looking at the trees, you can see that the fruit is covered in blue plastic bags with a little tiny banana left to hang outside of the bag. We learned that bananas requires a certain temperature to properly thrive, so the growers wrap them in a plastic bag to keep in the heat. They leave one little banana outside of the plastic bag to assess if the bananas at the top of the tree are ripe because if the banana on the bottom is ripe, the plant is ready for harvest. Once the plant is harvested, the growers load the bananas (with the plastic still on) on to an assembly line machine that carries them from the plantation to the distributing center.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures at the processing facility but it was very intense and interesting. Every step and process is held to such a high standard and must pass a certain curriculum. EARTH University supplies bananas for Whole Foods in the United States so like I said above, they must “pass the test” to be sent over to Whole Foods. Once the bananas come to the facility they are cut up into blocks of 4 or 5 and are put into water to 1. Remove the sap from the fruit because if the sap remains on the fruit when it ripens it will have black marks and won’t be accepted by Whole Foods. 2. The water helps with the temperature adjustment for the fruit to perfect the ripening process. Once they are out of the water they are put into these huge cases to be shipped to the United States. Unfortunately Whole Foods is highly picky and if the bananas are too long or too short or if one is missing from the bulk branch they cannot be accepted. The fruit that does not pass the test moves onto another facility to continue to ripen and either get served to the local community/cafeteria, or given to the livestock. The “waste” from the banana trees are made into compost to help manage waste accumulation, and to aid to the plants/soil.
It was very interesting to witness this whole process because firstly bananas are my favorite fruit, and secondly we are always on the other end of the spectrum receiving the bananas at the store, but never actually acknowledging the procedures that made this banana happen. It is actual people who pick the bananas and clean them and prepare them for us to consume back home. I think it’s really important to understand and appreciate all the hard work that goes into every fruit, vegetable we consume. We need to teach students and children that food does not randomly pop up in the grocery store. We need to educate them about agriculture and the dedicated time and energy that goes into it. It starts with appreciating the little things in life that accumulate into compassion for all.