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Agriculture in Belize

Belize is a country rich with history and prideful in their unique upbringing. My Alternative Service Break trip to Belize with the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement gave me the opportunity to explore how Belizean agriculture plays a role in the life of the locals. Around the world many people nowadays purchase their food from a grocery store. What many of us know is that produce is grown on a farm, but we don’t truly understand the process of the when the seed is planted, the crop is grown and harvested, and how it ends up in the grocery store. No one can truly understand the amount of work that is put into produce unless you become a part of that process, which is what I had the opportunity of doing in Belize.

We worked with Belizean farmers and helped them harvest their crops and till the land for planting new crops. We also worked for three days straight building a drying shed that would allow them to dry their produce to make a higher profit. The time we spent with the farmers was the most rewarding aspect of our experience. There is no better way to understand how important and valuable food actually is than learning where it comes from and being involved in the process of cultivating produce. After those five days of working with the farmers, I truly began to grasp how much work and time is put into growing produce for us. That has helped me value my food to a higher degree and also be more conscious about what I put into my body.

What do you think about when you hear the word “organic”? Some think of it as a healthier option than traditional food. Others may think that it doesn’t have any pesticides and some just think it’s expensive. Organic is a new, modern term that has risen over the past few years. What many of us don’t know is that organic is not a new thing, it has existed over thousands of years. The way people grew their own food back in the past is by simply putting it in the ground and harvesting it when it was ready, nothing special. As the population grew, more people needed to be fed which led to large-scale agriculture that we know of today. Over the years, we have lost this traditional farming technique to produce a greater yield. This modern technique consists of monocultures and the use of pesticides. This experience has taught me a variety of valuable lessons and the most important one was knowing where your food comes from. Not only to protect yourself, but to protect those that grow your food. Farmers are one of the most important people in the world and by ensuring the money you pay for produce goes directly to them, you are giving them the compensation they deserve for their hard work. This can be done by purchasing fair trade products and buying directly from farmers at a farmer’s market. Traveling to Belize and meeting the farmers has touched me and helped me realize the importance of agriculture in my daily life.

Click here to read more about Daniel’s experience in Belize.