Nowhere is the lowly potato more revered than in the Andes of South America. This is where potatoes originated. In just two countries — Peru and Bolivia — there some 10,000 different varieties of potatoes, in colors ranging from green to black to pink. Each has a unique taste and culinary purpose.
Twenty years ago, a young Canadian backpacker named Mary Jane Gagnier stumbled upon a tiny village in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca, fell in love with a local weaver — and never left.
To this day Mary Jane and Arnulfo Mendoza live in Teotitlan del Valle. That’s pretty typical in this village nestled in the dry foothills of the Sierra Juarez, where people stay put — unlike many in Mexico, who are forced by poverty to emigrate.
“There!” Our guide, Cirilo Tapui, points with his machete. “A gigantic woodpecker.”
I follow his gaze. Gigantic is right.
A ray of sun backlights the bird’s brilliant red crest as it pounds its huge beak on a dead tree — THWOK! THWOK! THWOK! Here in the Ecuadorian Amazon, immense and flashy birds like this still thrive, along with monkeys, tapirs, caimans and even, here and there, a jaguar.
Planning to buy a bouquet of roses for someone you love?
If, like 90 percent of the roses sold in the U.S. today, they’re imported, they may have a dark history. The workers who grew them might have been child laborers. The blooms might have been exposed to deadly, environment-polluting pesticides.
But those scenarios are beginning to change. Move over, fair-trade coffee. Now, there are fair-trade flowers.
Around the world, the U.S. spends billions on development programs to improve the standard of living for poor people. Sounds good, right? Well not every country is buying. Take Bolivia, for example, which took a dramatic turn to the left one year ago with the election of Evo Morales. In Bolivia, critics of U.S. aid say it comes with strings attached. As Mary Stucky reports, U.S. money may be losing its influence.
Walnut Grove, Minnesota was the real life setting for the TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” But its population and business community was eroding until Hmong refugees from Laos showed up. They received such a friendly reception in Walnut Grove others followed. Now Hmong refugees make up a third of the town’s population. And Walnut Grove is prospering and growing.
A trade deal with several South American countries expires tomorrow. But President Bush is expected to sign an eight-month extension — which would be a rosy deal for a country like Ecuador. We’ve had this pact with Peru, Columbia, Bolivia and Ecuador for 16 years. They send goods to the U.S. duty-free.In exchange, they’re supposed to crack down on the production of cocaine and other drugs. It’s a rosy deal for a country like Ecuador. Ecuador provides a quarter of the roses sold in this country.