When we arrived at the plantation that was only fifteen minutes away from La Selva, we were welcomed by one of the directors of the plant named Carlos who also is charge of giving tours. Carlos has been giving tours for over twenty years at Dole, so he knew his information well. He started off the tour by making us step onto an iodine soaked pad that will kill any type of fungus on the bottom of our shoes. There are fungi that are capable of killing all of the banana trees in a plantation, so of course they do not want any fungus spread to theirs. He sat us down in the shade and talked to us about the history of the bananas in Costa Rica; how they were brought here, how they became a huge business in the early 1900s, and how the big corporations came to be what they are today. He then demonstrated how the bananas are grown from when they are a seed until they are ready to be cut and brought to the factory to be exported. Then he took us through part of the plantation and showed us how the bananas are cut, which is a two-person job. When a long line of banana bunches are hooked together on a cable, a mule hauls the bananas to the packing plant. At the packing plant we watched workers cut the bananas that came from the field into smaller groups of bananas, where they are then passed through a water system that cools them down. They are then cleaned, stamped with the “Dole” sticker, and then packaged to be shipped all over the world. At the end of the tour, we had time to ask Carlos some questions about the environmental effects that come with banana production, as well as worker rights. He answered parts of our questions, but definitely seemed like he was trying to avoid answering them directly. It reminded me that there are still issues in these large corporations that the majority of the public does not even know exists, and that more people need to be aware of where they are getting their food from. Overall, it was really interesting to visit a banana plantation and see how they are harvested and shipped. Now whenever I buy bananas at home, I will think of the long process and journey they took to get to my local supermarket!
Wheaton College ‘18