Asociacion de Mujeres de Punta Morales
November 30, 2009
Earlier today I met the president and treasurer of the Women of Punta Morales Association. The mission of the association is to provide sustainable jobs for women. In 2000 they embarked on three projects: the first to produce mussles in mangrove forests, another to grow vegetables hydroponically, and the only one still surviving, oyster production in the Morales bay. The association started with 35 members. Today it has only seven. These seven women are devoted to the project, even after enduring almost year without salaries, during which a virus completely wiped out the youngest generation.
As I watched the association’s president dump oysters from a moss-covered mesh bag and sort them quickly with her hands, I thought about how different the Costa Rican restaurant market is from what I became used to in New England. I’m certain that Bostonians would throw down for a share in feminist, sustainable oysters every week. A program similar to a CSA would help these women stay afloat, forge a stronger relationship between farmers and eaters, and could help satisfy the demand for mussels in restaurants. Hotels aren’t interested in working with these women more than buying their oysters. They don’t realize how much they stand to gain by investing in the association.
Technical assistance from the Universidad Nacional and some small business loans allow most of the association’s women to grow or market oysters as their sole jobs. It is a modest living. They related their frusteration with knowing that expansion to meet demand is best, but also that it is out of reach financially. After listening to the dedication in these women’s voices and seeing the small cuts on their fingers from the sharp edges of oyster shells, I thought decidedly “I would be proud to eat these.”