28 January 2013

Apples and oranges...and bananas.

Sometimes, the stark contrasts we find in Haiti really hit you. Take these bananas, for example (see the end of the post for a picture).

Which ones would you choose, at face value?

Now let me tell you this: the ones on the right are four times as expensive as the ones on the left, for fewer bananas. Still interested?

They are also imported, the same Chiquita bananas that you're buying at Fred Meyer or Winco or Walmart. This is where things get gray for me.

Some people would say that it's apples and oranges--that the choice to buy imported bananas is unrelated to the availability of local ones. But if I don't support the local economy, how will it grow? How will the country change?

And yet, if I buy a product that's clearly inferior, what message does that send to the seller? Most people aren't willing to make that trade off; it's not sustainable.

These sad bananas probably came from the southern coast, enduring a long, bumpy truck ride over unimproved roads before arriving here. That's not something the farmer can control. The government is trying to improve the road to Jeremie...but some people are unhappy and have stalled the work, because they think a better road will bring people who want to deforest their land for charcoal. That's outside the farmer's control, too.

So which ones did I choose? I took the easy way out; I didn't. Our family will just have to eat apples and mangos this week.

What would you do?


  1. I would buy the cheap ones and make smoothies, or banana bread. Don't get me started on fair-trade chocolate. I will never see Hershey's as the same again.

  2. Get a farmer to bring you a whole stalk! then you can eat and share them as they ripen from the bottom. I recognize that this may not be possible in that setting. Sometimes, though we would talk with shop-keepers and express that we would like to buy something if it could be in better condition when it arrived.