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Bananas are a common part of the Peruvian and Brazilian diet. We have been fortunate enough to have people sell or even give them to us along the way.

Think about the food you ate this morning for breakfast. Where did it come from? Did it come from your refrigerator or pantry? A restaurant? Where was it before? How did it get there? What resources were used to deliver your food to the supermarket? Did it get there by truck, by airplane, or maybe by boat?

Making farinha is a process that requires many people. These kids were helping (and munching on the finished product).

These are all very simple questions, but they have significant global impacts. Many ecologists believe that the food you choose to consume has the greatest environmental impact of all your choices. The reason is that the production of food is directly related to the care and preservation of the land.

How would you like to eat this fish for dinner? A young boy paddled up to us to show his catch from a net. He was bringing about 15 plecostomus fish home to give to his family.

Think about the last time you were in your supermarket. Did you see bananas? Have you ever seen bananas growing in your neighborhood? Did you see strawberries for sale, even though it wasn’t summer?

Food that has to be shipped from far away requires multiple forms of transportation. Bananas may be flown from Central America to the largest city near you, then loaded onto trucks and driven to your supermarket, where they wait for you to buy them for later consumption. It’s amazing to think of how far produce travels before it ends up on the shelf. Produce is only one example. Next time you’re at the supermarket look for foods grown on each continent (excluding Antarctica, of course).

This little boy was hard at work, peeling yucca with his parents.

When we have shopped for food in larger towns along the Amazon River, we have seen some foods that are produced locally while others come from the U.S. and other countries around the world. Just think how far that bag of chips or bottle of ketchup had to travel before it ended up in Tefe! Fortunately for us, you have encouraged us to eat more locally grown foods, like bananas, yucca (or manioc), papaya, other fruits and vegetables, and fish caught from the river.

What might lead all of us toward making more sustainable food choices? As with all choices, weigh the options. Just because the food option is available, does it mean that it is always justified or the correct choice to make? Once you start to trace your food sources back to their origins, you can begin to make well-informed, environmentally sustainable, culturally-sensitive food choices.

How do humans fit into the food chain? What type of consumers are humans? What does making healthy and diverse diet choices have to do with environmental conservation? What role do farmers have in preserving the land? Are there different types of farming that have different impacts on the land?

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