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Deconstructing Dinner – Cuba & Insects

June 30, 2009

June 25, 2009
(First aired on August 21, 2008)


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Launching this episode, we travel to Cuba – a country that has over the past 10 years become of increasing interest to those around the world interested in more ecological models of producing food.

Contrary to the more voluntary means through which some North Americans have adopted and supported more energy efficient and ecological food choices, in 1989, Cubans had little choice. As a result of the Soviet collapse, Cubans were plunged into a situation whereby conventional models of farming had to be abandoned for more organic models.

Deconstructing Dinner correspondent Andrea Langlois travelled to Cuba where she met with Fernando Funes Monzoté – the son of one of the most recognized founders of the Cuban organic agriculture movement – Dr. Fernando Funes Sr. His son has followed in his footsteps and is presently completing his Ph.D on more diversified mixed farming systems at the University of Matanzas.

As the past 17 years has proven to be a regeneration of more biodiverse and ecological food production in Cuba, there has, in tandem, also been an increase in the attention paid to biological systems. Just as the circumstances pushing Cuba to more ecological food production have too begun to impact us here in North America, the second half of today’s episode will introduce us to some of our smaller friends, who are, and will increasingly, become more important to the production of our food; insects.

In March 2008, Deconstructing Dinner recorded a workshop titled “Predator, Pollinator, Parasite”; hosted at the 2008 conference of the Certified Organic Associations of BC.


Fernando Funes Monzote and Andrea Langlois Fernando Funes MonzotéResearcher, University of Matanzas (Matanzas, Cuba) – Fernando Funes is the son of celebrated agricultural figure Dr. Fernando Funes Sr., whose organic farming association was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (otherwise known as the alternative Nobel) in 1999. Fernando Funes Monzote has since followed in his footsteps after graduating in 1995 from the University of Havana. Since then he has worked in one of the research institutions in Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture, and after 13 years of research, is just about finished his Ph.D thesis at the University of Matanzas. His research is on mixed farming systems as part of the University’s pasture and forage research institute.

Deborah Henderson Deborah HendersonDirector, Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, Kwantlen University College (Surrey, BC) – Deborah is dedicated to the potential for integrated efforts in conservation biological pest control and sustainable landscaping. Dr. Henderson, along with Kwantlen University College’s School of Horticulture and the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture established a Conservation Biological Control trial Garden, or “Bug Garden” which will be a valuable resource to provide class materials and a living lab for students to practice horticulture activities and study plants, pests, and beneficial insects and the relationship between them.

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)

Additional Audio

Deborah Henderson
The follow are additional clips from the March 2008 workshop featured on this broadcast

  1. Using canola fields as an example, Deborah describes the benefits of pollinators on reducing necessary land required for cultivation. LISTEN
  2. Deborah uses cranberries as an example of how the creation of insect habitat can assist a farm or garden. LISTEN
  3. Unknown to many, the majority of bees are ground nesters. LISTEN
  4. Deborah speaks about the importance of parasites and how pesticides can destroy some of the beneficial ones. LISTEN


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