Ecological Engineering in the Tropics

Costa Rica – MSU / UCR – December 27, 2014 – January 10, 2015

Food Quality – Nate

What is Food Quality?

Food quality is the quality characteristics of food that is acceptable to consumers. Many factors go into the approval of foods such as the foods texture, shape, and color. Along side many internal factors are also taken in account, such as federal grade standards and chemical, physical, and microbial factors (USDA.) In the United States food quality is enforced under the Food Safety Act of 1990. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also plays a large role in the United States to ensure all imports are up to their quality and safety.

Costa Rica and U.S. Trading Realtions

Costa Rica is currently the United States 32nd largest goods trading parter with over $19 billion in total goods both ways (Meyer). Costa Rican exports have to pass the USDA’s requirements for food quality before exporting them. The requirements include aspects such as eligible and ineligible products. Eligible products include frozen beef,poultry, and certain organs from a cow. These products can be sold and exported. Ineligible products are more specific including hog castings and bird castings. These products can not be exported outside the U.S. USDA requires a certificate and condition the products must meet before being sold to citizens (USDA). Food quality is an important aspect in the daily life of all U.S. citizens. Many of the foods purchased at local grocery stores may be Costa Rican products but they are all perfectly safe due to the harsh requirements of food quality. The banana and pineapple top the charts as the two most popular fruit exports to the U.S. from Costa Rica. Del Monte and Dole are two Costa Rican companies that are the leading producers of pineapple and seen in many local stores.

pineapple dole                             del monte


Daily Updates

January 1 2015

The last few days have all been filled with an adventure and endless learning. Every meal of the day is always great and consists of a variety of fresh fruit or fruit drinks. Bananas, mangos, and watermelons are a few of the fruits we have seen so far.


  A traditional Costa Rican meal.

IMG_2751 (1) Banana bush (not tree) at Fabio Baudrit.  

January 2 2015

Today we arrived at the University of Georgia at Costa Rica (UGA). UGA is located in the surrondings of Monte Verde. The group toured two local coffee producers that were located on Monte Verde.

La Bella Tica

La Bella Tica is a small scale family ran coffee business. La Bella Tica is not your normal Costa Rican coffee though. The entire process taken to produce the coffee is 100% organic. Even the bag is made from the coffee!!

The quality of this coffee does not get the recognition it deserves due to the many large coffee companies in Costa Rica. Ersi, our tour guide and owner of La Bella Tica, was so into her work and so down to earth it made the entire process of making the coffee that much better. She was not in the business for the money but more for the pride she gets from growing 100% organic coffee.

nate pic 2

Sellers license issued to La Bella Tica. Both the sellers license and the certificates shown below were posted on the wall inside of her store, which was really her kitchen, so that all shoppers would notice her legitimacy.

nate pic 1

The certificates given to Ersi and La Bella Tica that guarantees her product is good to sell. “Bella Tica Cafe is certified organic coffee through the EcoLogica certification organization, that grants both organic production and processing certifications under regulations of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, EUROPE EU, COSTA RICA, SWITZERLAND AND CANADA. Our caturra variety coffee is shade grown at the high altitudes of 1170 meters above sea level in Monteverde Puntarenas Costa Rica”( The certification is seen above and if anyone wants to purchase or learn more about this awesome company click here!


nate pic 3

The finished products! (I like to refer to the bag as a product as well.) The bag is actually coffee fibers that are taken off the bean during the process. All the certificates and facts about the beans are clearly listed on the bag and a phone number is given incase there were to be a problem with the coffee. What Ersi is doing here is such a positive thing. She is doing what she loves, she is growing super healthy and wonderful coffee( I would know I tried it), and she is engineering coffee in an ecologically positive way.

January 7 2015


Today we journeyed to Coopedota a large coffee plantation and processing factory. The culture behind the growth of coffee is so amazing. While at Coopedota we got to experience every step in the process. We hiked the coffee fields, we saw the drying of the bean, we even got to do an official coffee tasting test.


This poster above is a requirement guide Coopedota follows when producing their coffee. It shows all sorts of imperfections in the beans and what to look for in a bad bean. The bean needs a certain weight and water content too before it is considered for distribution. Coopedota has also just made a huge breakthrough in an ecological engineering aspect. They have just launched the worlds first carbon neutral coffee! The production of these “green” beans is completely carbon neutral. If you would like to read more about the neutrality click  here!



Coopedota was awarded this certificate from one of their Asian buyers for being so reliable and having the perfect product.

Back in the U.S.A

Everyone successfully made it back to the states after a long day of traveling. The trip was perfect. All the food that was consumed here in Costa Rica was excellent! Many tourists are always very skeptical  of eating and drinking foreign foods and waters when traveling. I personally went in with the mentality that Costa Rica was no different then the states and I was correct. Not a single student or faculty member got any form of food or water poisoning. All plantations and food producing factories took the right precautions when cleaning their foods so that when we purchase them at super markets they are free from all bacterias and diseases. Costa Rica is a great place and will continue to grow some of the greatest tasting fruits and foods around.

Additional Links

1. La Bella Tica

2.Costa Rican Ministry of Health

3. Coopedota

4. Dole Recognition



          –    All photos shown in Daily blog section. Taken by Nate Majeski

          –        Dole Pineapples. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2015.

          –      Delmonte Pineapple Slices. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

          –       “U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” International & Interagency Coordination. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Dec.  2014.

          –        United States. USDA. Costa Rica. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.
         –        Meyer, Peter. Congressional Research Service. Costa Rica: Background and U.S Relations, 2 June 2009.
Web. 3 Jan. 2015.
         – Arguedas, Ericka. Bella Tica Organic Coffee. Jan 15 2015.

One thought on “Food Quality – Nate

  1. Don’t forget your in-text citations! Briefly, what are the USDA requirements ?


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