22 December 2009
Goodbye to Cuba's urban agriculture
Cuba seems to be scaling back on the number of urban market gardens that the country has, much to the annoyance of reporters like this Guardian hackette who like to romanticise such things. They may be "a model of sustainable living," something that the western middle class is always going on about, but for the people who have to work them, they are a backbreaking way to put food on the table. Now that Cuba is receiving help from Venezuela and tourist revenues are increasing, the days when people had to slog long hours in the sun to feed themselves are coming to an end.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping an allotment or growing some vegetables in a back garden. You can even grow potatoes in old buckets as my mother did during the Second World War if it comes to that. However there is a world of difference between recreational gardening, something which usually involves a trip to the local garden centre to pick up chemical fertiliser and pesticides, and the muscle aching chore of keeping an organic vegetable plot going because if you don't then you go hungry.
Is it any wonder than the Cubans are abandoning their market gardens? It makes much more sense to learn a foreign language and then spend a day taking a tourist around old Havana. Once you have done that then you can go and buy your food in a supermarket like the rest of us do.
The only people who will complain are the western middle class, men such as this BBC reporter, who like to romanticise the poverty that forced the creation of the garden system in the first place.