Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Help Wanted: Coconut Pluckers

Regular readers of this blog know that there is a story behind every food item.

Whether it is beef, chocolate, yogurt or avocado, some sort of growing, nutritional, political or marketing tale can be told.

Some stories are more tangential than others. Witness the article in today’s New York Times about the dwindling number of coconut pluckers in Kerala, a southern state in India.

India’s huge coconut industry depends on the pluckers to climb trees and harvest coconuts by hand. It is a dangerous—but well-paying—job that traditionally was reserved for members of the untouchable caste.

However, times are changing in India:

"The scarcity of coconut pluckers in Kerala illustrates the loosening of the once rigid caste bonds in many parts of India, freeing young people from hereditary jobs.

Unlike northern states, where caste remains a force and education remains out of reach for many, Kerala has a 100 percent literacy rate, and the shackles of caste are looser than ever."
From now on, whenever I teach people how to make a Thai green curry using coconut milk, I’ll think of a coconut plucker scampering up a tree and “slicing the nuts from their stems with a heavy blade he carries tucked into his loincloth.”

Click here to read the entire article.

1 comment:

Amber said...

Thanks for sharing. I think it's so important to reflect where our food comes from. Eating for Evolution just did an interview about how it's only a relatively new emergence that we have the option to choose what we eat rather than being limited to what we can grow & find locally. And with the ability to choose comes the ability and responsibility to consider how our choice affects the whole... not just us.

Thanks for the post!