All posts filed under: English

Obstacles Puerto Rican Farmers Faced after Hurricane Maria: Information for Future Adaptation Strategies

Versión en español aquí. This is the English version of an Op-Ed published in El Nuevo Día on March 24, 2021 (open access here). The title here was modified. Literal translation: “Obstacles post-Maria: Future Strategies for Agriculture. The challenges that Puerto Rico has faced due to hurricanes, although painful, could serve as a source of information to prevent or avoid future damages, or to better cope with them. Another hurricane season is coming this summer, and we know that the agricultural sector is one of the most affected by climate shocks. Here I share data from 405 Puerto Rican farmers on the most common obstacles they faced to recover their farms after Hurricane María. Understanding the obstacles they faced could help identify which strategies would better facilitate recovery from future impacts. These data are part of a study, carried out between May and July 2018, in collaboration with agricultural agents of the Agricultural Extension Service of the UPR.

I am part of #TheGrist50

Versión en español aquí The Grist chooses every year 50 fixers across the US that are doing important work at the intersection of climate change, social justice, wellbeing, and the environment. “The final 2021 Grist 50 includes emerging leaders in climate, sustainability, and equity who are creating change across the nation.” Check out the list here, and my part here. Learn more about Grist 50 here.

Looking for Moths Under the New Moon

Esto es una traducción del ensayo, “Buscando mariposas bajo la luna nueva en El Yunque“, publicado el 12 de marzo de 2021 en la revista 80 grados. This is a tranlsation of, “Buscando mariposas bajo la luna nueva en El Yunque“, published in 80 grados on March 12, 2021. I was thinking of two things while walking: that my legs could not hold me anymore and that I wanted to see a coquí, Puerto Rico’s endemic frog. We had been within the green labyrinth of El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest, for almost four hours. Although I wanted to look up and appreciate the plethora of stars, I kept my gaze down so that the flashlight on my head would light the way. Falling down on one of those paths, full of rocks and roots, while carrying a backpack full of scientific equipment, is not a pretty picture. There were times when I slipped, but still had not fallen. I was in the back of the line, walking slowly to see if I could spot …

My interview at the In Common Podcast: Talking about food systems research, wellbeing, and grad school life

065: Food systems, communicating science and taking care of yourself in academia with Luis Alexis Rodríguez-Cruz Click here to listen “In this episode, Courtney speaks with Luis Alexis Rodríguez-Cruz, a PhD candidate in Food Systems at the University of Vermont. They discuss Luis’ unexpected path to his research on Puerto Ricans farmer adaptation and food security following Hurricane Maria. Courtney and Luis also talk about Luis’ efforts in science communication, sharing his research in Puerto Rico and beyond. Finally, they discuss a blog post Luis recently published on “How to not suffer (much) in graduate school” and his take-aways for taking care of yourself in academia.”  

My Unstructured Structure and the Meadow of Flowers

This is the final reflection written for the University of Vermont course, “Writing Across Disciplines”, taught in spring 2020 by Dr. Caitlin B. Morgan. The essay was written in May 2020–Thus, when it says, “this semester”, “now”, etc., it refers to January-May 2020. In the start of the semester, I wrote that I would focus my efforts on writing a piece centered on a food systems story for my Writing Across Disciplines course. Moreover, I stated that I would allocate time for daily writing. Now in the future (May 2020), which, like Luis Rafael Sánchez says, “always comes dressed as the present”, I can say that I have not followed my plan thoroughly. I wrote the food systems piece, but it has yet to become what I want it to be. I allocated time for work, but found myself often not writing on such times. Nevertheless, I have written what I wanted or what I was assigned to write. In this present-future I can say that my structure is an unstructured one, and it works. …

PR-SPAN’s Science Rising Initiative to Bring Visibility and Awareness in Puerto Rico’s Election Cycle

This was originally published in Ciencia Puerto Rico on October 3, 2020. Oprime aquí para leer en español. Puerto Rico has been immersed in a constant recovery cycle over recent years. Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and the one we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic, make evident the underlying inequities and social and political dynamics that perpetuate the vulnerability of the Puerto Rican people. Facing the disproportionate effects of climate change and with climate extremes upon us, coupled with the current social and political crisis we are experiencing, it is important that policymaking be centered on scientific evidence and equity. Thus, the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PR-SPAN), a Ciencia Puerto Rico initiative, has the objective of raising visibility and awareness with science (conCiencia) by bringing often-unnoticed topics to the public discussion in this election cycle in Puerto Rico.

On Not Suffering (Much) in Graduate School: Part 2

Presiona aquí para leer la versión en español. I wrote a piece in 2018 about the strategies and habits that helped me go through my terrible first year of graduate school (2017). I started that piece with a verse by Sol Fantin: The problem of time is not that is short, but swift. Time has passed, and what I wrote is still valid. It is important to know why we want a PhD or Masters before throwing ourselves in, to be informed about the place before arriving, and to develop a meaningful relationship with your advisor. Moreover, one should create healthy habits, and build a community of friends and people that support one another. Here I expand on that list with new strategies, and I reinforce some that I mentioned in 2018.

Politics of Adequacy in Food Access in Cuba

This review was published in Food, Culture, and Society online on June 2020. Even though Cuba is constricted by the US blockade and embargo, and was severed by the fall of the Soviet Union―on which it depended for trade and imports―the island is regarded as an example of sustainable food systems, of doing a lot with so little. It is also known for its low malnutrition rates, for its food security in general. Nevertheless, that does not mean that people do not face hardship in accessing food. Medical and sociocultural anthropologist, Dr. Hanna Garth, sheds light on such hardship in her first book, Food in Cuba: The Pursuit of a Decent Meal. This is an ethnography rich with thick description about the politics of adequacy as seen through the lens of household food acquisition in Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city. Garth’s book explores/peers closely at the intersection of the social-cultural meanings of food and food access, with particular focus on the hardship people face―within, and at different scales from the household to the community level―to …

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Puerto Rico’s Food Sovereingty

This is my translation of my recent column in Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día, published on March 19, 2020. Puerto Rican farmers and fisherfolks, beyond safeguarding our natural and agricultural resources, are key agents in strengthening our food security. Sadly, they have not been taken into account during the emergency we are going through. The COVID-19 pandemic should increase our awareness of our vulnerable island food security, and drive us to actualize actions that have a positive impact on our food system.

Decolonizing the Caribbean Diet: Two Perspectives on Possibilities and Challenges

You can read the full article here. This piece was published in a special issue of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development titled Indigineous Food Sovereingty in North America. Vol 9 NO B (2019). I acknowledge Vanessa García Polanco for being a great mentor and inviting me to contribute this piece she conceptualized. Abstract: We wonder if food and agriculture will be an emer­gent theme in reclaiming the Taíno identity, the Indigenous people of the Caribbean. As we con­sider the emergent movement to decolonize our diets and utilize food as medicine alongside veganism and vegetarianism trends, we wonder how and if food, foodways, and agriculture are or will be tools to decolonize and reclaim the Taíno identity. In this paper, we will explore two perspectives on the possible opportunities and challenges of such movements and how they will look in the Caribbean and its diaspora. Picture: El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico was considered a sacred place by the Taíno people. The photo was taken by Luis Alexis Rodríguez Cruz (2017)