In answer to a question posed earlier on this thread - about what the Haitians might teach us -
Timothy Swartz has years on the ground in Haiti - and is a most excellent writer and observer - trained as an anthropologist... Read the entire article - for pleasure..
..."Their frugality and resourcefulness is nothing short of stunning. Many of the items used in and around households are procured or manufactured by household members from useful plants, trees, and shrubs found in the yard, growing up around the garden, along paths, or in the kadas
(arid State land). Limes and sour oranges are used as all-purpose disinfectants; aloe and maskriti as a hair oil and conditioner. Galata
leaves, and seeds from the bawonet
plant, serve as soaps. Rope is woven from sisal and palm thatch. Sacks and saddlebags are fashioned out of thatch and grasses. Baskets are made of grasses, royal palm leaves and/or splintered bamboo. Sleeping mats are made from dried plantain stalks. Gourds from the kalbas
tree provide a range of different sized storage and drinking vessels. Sticks are collected for use as cooking fuel. Flammable coconut husks, pitch pine, and dried orange peelings are used to start fires. Often households do not even own a pack of matches, but send a child when necessary to borrow a burning ember from a neighbor. Uses are found for imported industrial refuse: flammable plastic bottles or packaging serve as fire-starter, mattresses are fashioned from worn-out Goodwill clothing and sheets, pigeon houses are made from flattened cans of cooking oil, a scrap bucket lid makes a wheel for a boy’s go-cart, a nail is the axle, a stick is the drive shaft, and a sprinting boy is the motor.
When drought or blight strikes these people regularly consume at least thirty varieties of wild leaves; a wild olive, which before the recent advent of imports and food aid was an important source of cooking oil; and at least one wild bean. During times of crisis, they eat boiled green mangos, unripe fruit from the corosol
tree, at least five types of undomesticated seed pods, two wild yams, and the fruit of a cactus. People in the region also opportunistically eat feral cats, iguanas, and most types of birds—including eagles, hawks, and woodpeckers. They consume land crabs, fresh-water crabs, and crayfish. They need cash to pay for school and medical care. To get it they sell their garden produce and animals in flourishing Internal Rotating Market that astound most outsiders. Throughout the country, thronging open air markets with thousands of corralled and braying donkeys occur on alternating days of the week such that people living in any given region have walking distance access to at least two markets per week. Montane micro-climates, their differing rainfall patterns, and the consequently differently timed harvest season make it logical for farmers to sell their crops rather than risk losing them to insect and mold and then store surplus in the form of money. The opportunity has facilitated the evolution of the intense interregional trade dominated almost entirely by women. Called machann
and madan sara
, the women may sell daily small quantities of items produced by the household- such as eggs, manioc or pigeon peas. But the prevailing strategy is for one women to seasonally specialize in a particular item, such as limes. She buys small quantities from multiple farms, accumulates a profitable quantity, and then takes them to market or sells them to another female intermediary higher up the chain, one more heavily capitalized, who accumulates greater quantities and who is likely destined for a larger town market, city or, the holy grail, Port-au-Prince, where prices are two to five times."...
It’s March 21st, two months and nine days after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. I’m seated at a table surrounded by five other diners, in a crowded outdoor restaurant, trying to work a legally undersized lobster tail out of its shell. The town in which this restaurant is located is called Jacmel...