By David Kattenburg
Bolivia seems an unlikely place for the world’s ecological/slow food movement to take hold – given the poverty of the country and the powerful hold exerted over it by hemispheric and global economic forces.
But Bolivia is home to countless varieties of indigenous potatoes, corn, quinoa and other grains, and the popular socialist government of Evo Morales has established policies favoring ecological agriculture and opposed to the encroachment of genetically modified crops.
On the sunburnt plains of Bolivia’s altiplano, nestled in carpas (greenhouses) of popular construction, women and men are growing food without the use of chemicals, for local consumption and sale. Others are producing a variety of “natural” dairy products that have gained a foothold in some of the trendier neighborhoods of Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.
On the water front, the Morales government has managed to fight off multinational engineering companies and agro-food giants seeking to privatize this precious resource upon which small-scale farmers depend, but the fight for farmers’ rights continues in Bolivia’s contentious constitutional arena.