La Virgen (Wed. 3/11/09) – Exploring an Organic Pineapple Plantation
by Monica Stich -- March 12th, 2009
Can plantation owned by a Texas company promote organic farming in Costa Rica and produce local benefits?
Can plantation owned by a Texas company promote organic farming in Costa Rica and produce local benefits? Fair trade, organic produce has been promoted as a way to increase rural incomes while encouraging superior environmental practices. To explore some of these issues we visited Collin Street Bakery Finca Corsicana, a large organic pineapple plantation owned by Collin Street Bakery based out of Corsicana, TX.
Employing primarily local workers, the plantation produces over 38 million pineapples a year from over 3,000 acres. About 70% of their produce is supplied to Dole under a 20 year contract. They claim that all organic pineapple sold in Whole Foods Markets are from this site. While all of the pineapples that come from Finca Corsicana are organic, this is not always identified on the packaging. The guide explained that this helped to market their product. He claimed that it is sometimes difficult to sell organic because consumers prefer pineapples that appear yellow, rather than the green hue their organic pineapples display.
While we visited the fields and packing plant there was a notable absence of workers. Our guide explained that there was a meeting to decide how to spend the money received from the fair trade certification (about 3 cents a pineapple). Some of the proposals were to provide free public transportation, fund a computer learning center, and offer day care services. While these are clearly important benefits for the community, it was uncertain how local leadership would be determined with such a large collection of workers.
Of course, the end of the tour involved a significant amount of fresh pineapple, fruit cake, and pure pineapple juice from hollowed pineapples. What better way to convert you to the benefits of large scale organic farming?