If you happen to be following my Dominican Republic posts, the first two blogs were pre-conference. I had a great opportunity to get to experience the Puerto Plata community with locals and I had a great time. But now we start to shift gears and really get down to business. Several people asked me why did the Sustainable Food Lab choose the Dominican Republic as the conference location. Here is my take on it. We live in a world that sources from a global supply chain and it’s important to look at our purchasing impacts in those global communities. After all, all food is local to some community. We explored foods like bananas, coffee, sugar, rice and cocoa. Speaking of cocoa, it is estimated that the world’s cocoa supply could be consumed in 15 years. So the Dominican Republic is a great place to see an example of a global supply chain in action and see the impact on the local communities that work in agriculture.
The first two days of the conference consisted of a Learning Journey where my group toured the northwest part of the DR checking out rice, banana, dairy, fishers and the communities of the workers in those respective areas. From there, we joined back with the other two Learning Journey groups where we then went into two more days of meetings discussing priorities such as mitigating climate change at the farm level, business models for trading with small-scale producers, sustainability metrics, and implementing “values based sourcing” in supply chains. Basically, my brain still hurts from the conference.
There is also the emotional side of the visit. As we visited the small impoverished communities, they seemed to think we were their saviors from their situations and that just wasn’t so. It’s much more complicated than that. The trip was filled with knowledge, experiences and difficult emotions. I actually seem to have more questions than answers but I look forward to sharing my farm tour experiences with you next.