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There is perhaps a week or two within the British calendar when there is hope of hot weather. Normally, those weeks occur in July and August and if we are blessed with a bright and warmish day, we celebrate by going to the pub and getting drunk.

Of course, the British get drunk all the time but summer drinking is particularly cherished because people can do so safe in the knowledge that if they fall into a bush on the way home and pass out they won’t freeze to death.

Fortunately, I was offered the opportunity to take a week-long break in December from wearing five layers of thermals and mainlining St John’s Wort, with a visit to Costa Rica to tour its banana plantations. And as I’m off the booze, there was no passing out in bushes or any other foliage! Just the chance of a hit of vitamin D.

Costa Rica plantation

The visit was to report on Costa Rica’s new marketing campaign. I’ve written an analysis for the magazine I co-edit but for the purposes of this post I’ll boil it down to one simple observation – when you see the labour intensive work involved, add in the shipping and import duties as well as the costs of environmental practices and certification – I completely agree with the plantation owner who said the price of bananas is too cheap.

Organisations such as Banana Link campaign for better worker’s rights but there is also a need for supermarkets to pay growers more for the product, which, hopefully would encourage more owners to behave responsibly towards their workers.

As it is, the people I met were a great example of how a fair approach can benefit both parties, with owners offering free housing, medical facilities and well-paid jobs. In return, they have a loyal workforce that supports the business.

Costa Rica workers

It was a wonderful experience, to see where the fruit is grown and to travel through the most colourful and inspiring scenery. The capital San Jose is all you expect, energetic and feast for the eyes with fresh fruit stalls on all corners and brilliant food markets where in the evening the city stops off for snacks or dinner at one of the counter restaurants. This is why I am envious of those who live in warm climates, eating alfresco is not so appealing when you have to wear a duvet and mittens!

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Costa Rica flower 1

Costa Rica flower

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