I’ve noticed that fruit and veg here go bad quickly and are prone to fungi and internal rot. Taking into consideration fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and (lack of) refrigeration, it can still be a delicate balance of timing in order to consume veg when they are ripe and fresh. Once they peak, soon after they will ferment or become substrate for some other uninvited bacteria or fungi. In the states I can buy a good looking tomato and expect to keep it in the refrigerator for 10 days. Here, a bag of good tomatoes can last 3 days, and if there are any blemishes, those little toms are ticking time bombs. We had a bowl of tomatoes that grew white fungi overnight!
I realized just how convenient it can be to have genetically modified organisms (GMO) foods, but also how scary mutant ninja produce have taken over the “fresh” food that we eat in the states. In recent years, Ghanaian farmers have been transitioning to using more and more GMOs, today certain vegetables are available year round and more industrial/modern plant propagation techniques are being utilized by large and small-scale farmers alike. Being here has stretched my perspective on reality of food in America but also the benefits of GM. Ultimately, I maintain that GMOs are not good, and I try to steer clear whenever possible.
Nearly all the food we eat is modified and domesticated in some way or another. And if you remember your 9th grade history class, the Neolithic revolution was really the first time land was cultivated which led to the rise of ancient civilizations. So cultivation and modification food is a central part to the story of the human race. but with GMOs, food is owned and controlled by corporations that are ultimately motivated by their profits instead of quality, sustainability, or ethicality of the food, farming practices, or farmers.
The most striking thing to me here is definitely the flora of central Ghana. The soil here is very fertile and you can see there is a healthy layer of humus here rather than just red clay and sand. Even people in the office – who have high salaries, have their own businesses in small scale farms that are managed and tended by hired workers. I am keen on visiting a farm one of these days. The most common crops here in central Ghana are yams, cassava, maize, and beans. There are tons and TONS of maize grown here. The good news is that the farms are generally watered from rains rather than irrigation systems. The plants help with erosion but, run off from the fertilizers and pesticides are still a major concern because many people utilize (above ground) potable water – especially in rural farming communities – that can be easily contaminated due to the wide-spread farming that occurs throughout Ghana. These are also chemicals that will percolate or leech into ground water sources.
Today the Ghanaian government has sponsored some public initiatives to encourage the use of natural fertilizers and farming techniques. On small scale farms, it is easy to collect and use manure from your livestock to fertilize, and use pesticides derived from local plants however, on large scale farms, owners tend to opt for GM seeds, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
CHAWCLATE CHAWCLATE CHAWCLATE! AAAHK!
Ghana is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans and cocoa is grown in the east. The largest importer of Ghanaian cocoa is Switzerland home of Nestle products which include nestle tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips, and other high quality chocolates like Lindt or Tourist.
I hope there will be time for me to visit cocoa (in the north) and gum (west) tree plantations during my time here.
I’ve tried some Ghanaian brand chocolate…they have not mastered this art yet. Unlike standard commercial brands of chocolate such as Hersheys they use higher quality ingredients such as cocobutter, instead of vegetable fats and emulsifiers. I wish I could say this improved the flavor and quality of the chocolate but It. Did. Not. This was a very disappointing derivative of cocoa.
The lesson I have learned is that chocolate is an art where a humble bean can become luscious and palatable, but I am seeing that it is not as simple as procuring a cocoa supply and using the “right” ingredients in appropriate proportions.