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Cuba Campo


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Rebecka Seaman



Welcome to the world of food travel, where the gastronomy of a region merges with the adventure of exploring new destinations. Food travel is not just about satisfying your taste buds; it’s an immersive experience that allows you to delve into the history, culture, and unique flavors of a particular place. And when it comes to combining food and travel, few destinations are as enticing as Cuba, a country known for its vibrant culinary scene and rich cultural heritage.


Cuba, located in the captivating Caribbean, offers a gastronomic journey like no other. From mouthwatering traditional dishes to street food gems, this island nation has a diverse and intriguing culinary landscape. But beyond the delectable cuisine, Cuba’s food travel scene is also intertwined with its fascinating history and agricultural roots.


In order to truly understand the essence of Cuban food, one must delve into the country’s historical background. From Spanish colonization to the influence of African and Caribbean cultures, Cuba’s cuisine is a melting pot of flavors, spices, and techniques. Each dish tells a story, reflecting the nation’s complex past and its ties to both international and local traditions.


One of the key factors that sets Cuba apart when it comes to food travel is its agricultural heritage. Agriculture has played a vital role in Cuban society for centuries, with fertile land and favorable weather conditions contributing to a rich agricultural industry. From sugarcane to tobacco, coffee to tropical fruits, the island offers a bountiful harvest of fresh and diverse ingredients that form the backbone of Cuban cuisine.


To truly appreciate the connection between food and travel in Cuba, it’s important to understand the Cuban Campesino Movement. The Campesino Movement represents the country’s small-scale farmers, known as “campesinos”, who have played a crucial role in preserving traditional agricultural practices and contributing to the local food supply. These individuals possess a deep connection to the land and are dedicated to sustainable farming methods, preserving biodiversity, and promoting organic produce.


As we embark on this food travel journey through Cuba, we will explore the challenges and opportunities faced by Cuban campesinos, the government policies and support systems in place to empower them, and the positive impact of the Campesino Movement on rural communities. We will also highlight success stories of Cuban campesinos, showcasing their resilience, innovation, and dedication to preserving their cultural heritage through sustainable farming practices.


Additionally, we will delve into the international collaboration and solidarity with Cuban campesinos, as individuals and organizations from around the world recognize the importance of supporting this movement and promoting sustainable agriculture. Together, we can celebrate the beauty of food travel in Cuba and contribute to the preservation of its culinary traditions for generations to come.


Historical Background

To truly appreciate the vibrant food travel scene in Cuba, it is essential to delve into its rich historical background. Cuba’s history is a tapestry woven with colonial influences, the legacy of slavery, and a struggle for independence, all of which have left an indelible mark on the country’s cuisine.


The Spanish colonization of Cuba in the 15th century introduced European culinary traditions to the island. Spanish ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes became integral to Cuban cuisine, blending with indigenous ingredients like yuca, corn, and beans. This fusion of flavors resulted in a unique culinary identity that still resonates today.


However, one cannot discuss Cuban cuisine without acknowledging the harsh realities of slavery that shaped the country’s food culture. During the sugar boom in the 18th and 19th centuries, enslaved Africans were brought to Cuba to work on the plantations. Their cultural influence can be seen in the vibrant flavors and techniques that characterize Cuban food.


The blending of Spanish, African, and indigenous influences gave rise to dishes such as ropa vieja (shredded beef), congrí (rice and beans), and moros y cristianos (black beans and rice). These classic Cuban dishes represent a harmonious marriage of diverse culinary traditions, emblematic of the country’s cultural diversity.


The struggle for independence in the late 19th century also had a profound impact on Cuba’s food culture. The Spanish-American War and the subsequent American occupation brought new influences, particularly from the United States. American ingredients and cooking techniques made their way into Cuban cuisine, adding another layer of complexity.


Fast forward to the mid-20th century, and the Cuban Revolution of 1959 heralded a new era in Cuba’s history. The revolution brought about significant changes in the country’s agricultural system, as large-scale agricultural production was nationalized and collectivized.


While the revolution aimed to create a more equal society, it had mixed impacts on Cuba’s food production and distribution. On the one hand, it led to increased accessibility to basic food staples for all Cubans. On the other hand, it also resulted in a decline in agricultural productivity, as the government’s focus shifted towards industries such as sugar and tobacco.


In recent years, Cuba has witnessed a revitalization of its culinary scene, fueled by a resurgence of interest in traditional cooking methods and the use of local ingredients. This renewed focus on Cuban cuisine has not only brought new opportunities for chefs and food entrepreneurs but has also led to a reconnection with the country’s agricultural roots.


In the next sections, we will delve deeper into the agricultural landscape of Cuba and the integral role of campesinos in preserving traditional farming practices and promoting sustainable agriculture.


Agriculture in Cuba

Agriculture has long been a vital component of Cuba’s economy and cultural heritage. The country’s favorable climate and fertile soil contribute to a diverse range of agricultural products, making it an important player in the food travel scene.


Cuba’s agricultural sector is known for its emphasis on organic farming methods and sustainable practices. The country’s commitment to preserving biodiversity and minimizing the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers has earned it a reputation as a leader in sustainable agriculture.


Some of the key agricultural products cultivated in Cuba include sugarcane, tobacco, coffee, citrus fruits, tropical fruits, and vegetables. These crops not only form the foundation of Cuban cuisine but also contribute to the local and international markets.


The sugar industry, historically one of Cuba’s main agricultural sectors, has seen a decline in recent years. However, small-scale sugarcane farmers still play a significant role in preserving traditional production methods and contributing to the production of artisanal sugarcane-based products such as rum and molasses.


Tobacco, another iconic Cuban crop, is renowned worldwide for its distinct flavor and quality. The lush tobacco fields of Vuelta Abajo in the Pinar del Rio region are a must-visit for any food traveler looking to explore the fascinating world of Cuban cigars.


Coffee production in Cuba is also noteworthy, with the country’s Arabica beans prized for their aroma and rich flavor. Coffee plantations offer a unique opportunity for tourists to witness the coffee-making process firsthand and savor a cup of freshly brewed Cuban coffee.


When it comes to fruits and vegetables, Cuba’s lush landscapes are home to a wide variety of tropical delights. From juicy mangoes and sweet pineapples to vibrant papayas and citrus fruits, food travelers can indulge in the flavors of the Caribbean while exploring local markets and agricultural communities.


Overall, Cuban agriculture is characterized by a mixture of large government-controlled farms and small-scale family-owned farms. These family-run farms, known as fincas, are often operated by campesinos – small-scale farmers who have a deep connection to the land and apply sustainable farming practices.


The next section will delve into the Cuban Campesino Movement, which represents the country’s campesinos and their significant contributions to Cuban agriculture and food culture.


Overview of Cuban Campesino Movement

The Cuban Campesino Movement represents the small-scale farmers, known as campesinos, who play a vital role in preserving traditional farming practices and promoting sustainable agriculture in Cuba. These campesinos have a deep connection to the land and are dedicated to cultivating organic produce, preserving biodiversity, and maintaining the cultural heritage of Cuban agriculture.


The Campesino Movement emerged as a response to the changes in Cuba’s agricultural sector following the revolution of 1959. The collectivization and nationalization of large-scale agricultural production led to a decline in the productivity and diversity of crops. In response, small-scale farmers organized themselves into cooperatives and associations to protect their interests, ensure their access to land, and promote sustainable farming methods.


One of the key principles of the Campesino Movement is the promotion of agroecology. Agroecology focuses on the ecological and social aspects of agriculture, emphasizing the use of organic practices, maintaining healthy ecosystems, and fostering community engagement. Campesinos prioritize biodiversity conservation, soil health, and water conservation, recognizing the interconnections between environmental sustainability and food security.


Campesinos also play a crucial role in preserving and promoting traditional Cuban agricultural practices. They are the custodians of historical knowledge, passed down through generations, on crop cultivation, seed saving, and natural pest control methods. By preserving these traditional practices, campesinos contribute to the cultural heritage and identity of the Cuban agricultural landscape.


Furthermore, the Campesino Movement aims to address the challenges faced by small-scale farmers, including access to land, resources, markets, and fair distribution of profits. Through collective action and advocacy, campesinos strive to create a more equitable and inclusive agricultural system, ensuring that the benefits of farming reach the local communities and contribute to rural development.


Key objectives of the Campesino Movement include promoting food sovereignty and self-sufficiency, reducing dependency on imported food, and strengthening local agricultural economies. By focusing on sustainable farming practices and preserving the diversity of crops, campesinos contribute to the availability of nutritious and culturally significant food for both local consumption and food travel experiences.


The Campesino Movement also emphasizes education and knowledge-sharing among farmers. Campesinos participate in workshops, training programs, and exchanges to learn from each other’s experiences and improve their farming techniques. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of community and solidarity among campesinos, strengthening the movement and empowering small-scale farmers.


Overall, the Cuban Campesino Movement represents a grassroots effort to create a more sustainable, equitable, and culturally vibrant agricultural sector. Through their dedication to organic farming, preservation of traditional practices, and advocacy for small-scale farmers, campesinos are at the forefront of shaping the future of Cuban agriculture and enriching the food travel experience for visitors.


Key Challenges and Opportunities for Cuban Campesinos

While the Cuban Campesino Movement represents the resilience and dedication of small-scale farmers, known as campesinos, they also face several challenges and opportunities in their pursuit of sustainable agriculture and preserving cultural heritage.


One of the key challenges for campesinos is access to land. With collectivization and nationalization of large farms after the revolution, many campesinos lost ownership of their lands. Although there have been initiatives to redistribute land and provide leases to small-scale farmers, the process can be slow and complex. Limited access to land hinders the expansion and productivity of campesino farms, restricting their ability to contribute to food security and the local economy.


Another challenge is the lack of access to resources and inputs. Campesinos often struggle to obtain essential farming inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and tools. The limited availability of these resources can hinder crop production and limit the diversity of crops grown. Additionally, access to credit and financial support is crucial for campesinos to invest in infrastructure, technology, and training. Improved access to resources and financial services would empower campesinos to enhance their agricultural practices and contribute to sustainable development.


Market access and fair trade are also significant challenges for campesinos. Limited access to markets and the dominance of large-scale retailers can make it difficult for small-scale farmers to sell their products at fair prices. Moreover, the complex bureaucracy and regulations within the agricultural sector can be an obstacle for campesinos in establishing direct links with consumers, restaurants, and other buyers. Enhancing market linkages and creating fair trade opportunities would enable campesinos to receive fair compensation for their hard work and high-quality produce.


Despite the challenges, there are also opportunities for campesinos in Cuba. The growing interest in sustainable and locally sourced food presents an opportunity for campesinos to market their organic and traditional products. Food travelers seeking authentic culinary experiences are willing to support small-scale farmers and purchase their unique products. By promoting agrotourism initiatives, farmers can showcase their farms, share their knowledge, and generate additional income.


Furthermore, policies and initiatives promoting organic farming and agroecology offer support and recognition to campesinos. The Cuban government has implemented programs to train farmers in organic farming techniques, provide incentives for organic certifications, and support the establishment of organic markets. This support helps campesinos differentiate their products in the market and tap into the growing demand for organic and sustainable food.


International collaboration and solidarity also provide opportunities for campesinos in Cuba. Organizations and individuals from around the world have shown support for Cuban agriculture through knowledge-sharing, exchange programs, and financial assistance. This collaboration helps campesinos access new technologies, learn from global experiences, and expand their networks.


By addressing the challenges faced by campesinos and capitalizing on the available opportunities, the Cuban Campesino Movement has the potential to create a more sustainable and prosperous future for small-scale farmers, ensuring the preservation of Cuba’s agricultural heritage for generations to come.


Government Policies and Support for Cuban Campesinos

The Cuban government recognizes the vital role of small-scale farmers, known as campesinos, in promoting sustainable agriculture and preserving the country’s agricultural heritage. As such, several policies and support systems have been implemented to empower and assist campesinos in their agricultural endeavors.


One of the key initiatives is the Law on Land Distribution, which aims to ensure land access and provide legal security for campesinos. Through this law, campesinos can obtain leases for state-owned land, allowing them to cultivate the land and establish their farms. The government has also facilitated the transfer of idle state-owned land to small-scale farmers, encouraging the use of underutilized agricultural areas. These policies aim to address the challenge of land access and provide campesinos with the necessary resources to thrive in their agricultural activities.


Additionally, the government has implemented various training and educational programs to support campesinos in enhancing their agricultural skills and knowledge. The National Agricultural Training System offers courses and workshops on agroecology, organic farming, and sustainable agricultural practices. These initiatives help campesinos adopt more environmentally friendly farming methods and preserve the biodiversity of Cuba’s agricultural landscapes.


Financial support is another crucial aspect of government assistance for campesinos. The National Credit and Services Company provides low-interest loans and credit facilities to small-scale farmers, enabling them to invest in infrastructure, equipment, and inputs. These financial resources help campesinos improve their productivity, develop their farms, and enhance their market competitiveness. The government also offers subsidies on inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, to reduce the production costs for campesinos and support sustainable agricultural practices.


To facilitate market access and fair trade, the government has established Farmer’s Markets (known as “agromercados”) that provide a direct link between campesinos and consumers. These markets allow campesinos to sell their produce at fair prices, bypassing intermediaries and ensuring a more equitable distribution of profits. Additionally, the government promotes agricultural cooperatives, which allow campesinos to collaborate and pool resources, enhancing their bargaining power and market opportunities.


Recognizing the importance of organic farming, the government has implemented certification programs and labels for organic products. This certification provides campesinos with a competitive advantage in local and international markets, as consumers increasingly prioritize organic and environmentally friendly products. The government also supports the establishment of organic markets, which provide a platform for campesinos to showcase and sell their organic produce.


Furthermore, the government encourages international collaboration and solidarity with Cuban campesinos. Through partnerships and knowledge exchange programs with international organizations, campesinos gain access to new technologies, best practices, and market opportunities. These collaborations contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture in Cuba and strengthen the resilience of campesinos in the face of various challenges.


Overall, the Cuban government’s policies and support systems recognize the importance of campesinos in promoting sustainable agriculture and preserving Cuba’s agricultural heritage. By providing land access, training, financial assistance, market opportunities, and international collaboration, the government empowers campesinos to thrive and contribute to the vibrant food travel scene in Cuba.


Impact of Cuban Campesino Movement on Rural Communities

The Cuban Campesino Movement has had a profound impact on rural communities across the country. By promoting sustainable agriculture, preserving cultural heritage, and prioritizing community resilience, the movement has revitalized and empowered these communities in various ways.


One significant impact of the Campesino Movement is the preservation of traditional farming practices and cultural heritage. Campesinos have deep roots in their communities and a strong connection to the land. By maintaining traditional farming methods and preserving diverse crops, they contribute to the cultural identity of rural communities. This preservation enhances the sense of pride and heritage within these communities, fostering a deeper appreciation for their agricultural traditions and attracting food travelers seeking authentic experiences.


The movement also drives economic development in rural areas. Through their agricultural activities, campesinos generate income and contribute to the local economy. They may sell their produce in local markets, supply restaurants and food establishments, or engage in agrotourism initiatives. This economic contribution leads to job creation, provides opportunities for entrepreneurship, and helps sustain rural livelihoods.


Moreover, the Campesino Movement promotes food sovereignty and self-sufficiency in rural communities. Campesinos prioritize sustainable farming practices and the production of diverse crops, ensuring access to nutritious and culturally significant food for local consumption. This focus on food security reduces dependency on imported goods, strengthens local food systems, and improves the overall health and well-being of rural communities.


Another notable impact is the promotion of environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation. Through their commitment to agroecology and organic farming practices, campesinos protect the natural resources of their communities. They employ techniques such as crop rotation, natural pest control, and soil conservation, minimizing the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. This approach preserves ecosystem health, reduces environmental pollution, and contributes to a more sustainable future for rural communities.


The Campesino Movement also fosters social cohesion and community resilience. By organizing into cooperatives and associations, campesinos forge strong bonds with their fellow farmers. They collaborate, share knowledge, and support each other in overcoming challenges. This sense of community strengthens rural ties, promotes mutual aid, and creates a support network for campesinos facing adversity. Additionally, the movement encourages the active participation of women and the younger generation, ensuring the continuity of agricultural traditions and empowering marginalized groups within rural communities.


Furthermore, the Campesino Movement stimulates cultural exchange and solidarity. International collaborations with organizations, researchers, and volunteers provide opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning from global experiences. These interactions contribute to the cultural diversity of rural communities, expose campesinos to new ideas and innovations, and foster a sense of global connectedness.


In summary, the Cuban Campesino Movement has had a transformative impact on rural communities. By preserving cultural heritage, driving economic development, promoting food sovereignty, protecting the environment, fostering community resilience, and promoting cultural exchange, the movement has revitalized these communities and reinforced their place within the food travel landscape of Cuba.


Success Stories of Cuban Campesinos

The success stories of Cuban campesinos highlight their resilience, innovation, and dedication to preserving their cultural heritage through sustainable farming practices. These stories not only inspire other farmers but also showcase the impact of the Campesino Movement on individuals and their communities.


One success story is the case of Maria Perez, a campesina from the Vinales Valley in Pinar del Rio. Maria transformed her small plot of land into a thriving organic farm, focusing on cultivating a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Through sustainable farming practices, Maria not only provided fresh and nutritious produce for her family but also began supplying local restaurants and farmers markets. Her success not only contributed to the economic development of her community but also served as an inspiration for other campesinos to adopt organic farming methods.


Another success story is the cooperative of Las Terrazas, located in the Artemisa province. The cooperative specializes in producing organic honey and coffee. Through their dedication to sustainable farming practices and meticulous attention to quality, they have gained recognition both locally and internationally. Their success has created employment opportunities for the community, stimulated tourism, and showcased the potential of agrotourism as a means of sustainable rural development.


The story of Juan and Rosa Hernandez showcases the transformative power of agroecology on a family farm. Juan and Rosa converted their conventional farm in Matanzas to an organic one, embracing principles of biodiversity conservation and sustainable farming. Through their dedication to organic agriculture, they have not only improved soil health and crop resilience but also increased crop yields and biodiversity on their farm. Their efforts have not only benefitted their family but have also inspired neighboring farmers to transition to organic farming methods.


The success of the Campesino Movement is not limited to agricultural production. The cultural impact is equally significant. The campesinos of the Viñales region have managed to preserve traditional tobacco-growing techniques, ensuring the exceptional quality of Cuban cigars. Their success has contributed to the preservation of cultural heritage and cultivated a global reputation for Cuban cigars.


The success stories of these campesinos highlight the transformative power of sustainable farming practices, knowledge-sharing, and community engagement. By showcasing their achievements, these farmers inspire others to adopt organic farming methods, prioritize cultural preservation, and contribute to the development of their communities.


These success stories also demonstrate the immense potential of the Campesino Movement in driving sustainable rural development and promoting food travel experiences in Cuba. As the movement continues to thrive, it will undoubtedly generate more success stories, inspire further innovation, and contribute to the preservation of Cuba’s agricultural heritage.


International Collaboration and Solidarity with Cuban Campesinos

The Cuban Campesino Movement has garnered international recognition and support, with organizations, researchers, and volunteers from around the world collaborating with Cuban campesinos. This international collaboration and solidarity play a vital role in empowering campesinos and promoting sustainable agriculture in Cuba.


One form of collaboration is through knowledge-sharing and exchange programs. Researchers and experts from various countries visit Cuba to learn from the campesinos’ experiences and share their expertise in sustainable farming methods. This exchange of knowledge not only enhances the skills and practices of campesinos but also promotes cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.


International organizations also play a crucial role in supporting Cuban campesinos. NGOs and development agencies collaborate with campesino cooperatives and associations, providing technical assistance, training, and financial support. These collaborations empower campesinos to improve their farming techniques, access new markets, and strengthen their agricultural enterprises.


Furthermore, international volunteers contribute their time and expertise to support campesinos in their farming activities. These volunteers often participate in agrotourism initiatives, helping with farm work, and sharing their knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture. Their contributions enhance the capacity of campesinos, foster cultural exchange, and promote grassroots solidarity.


An example of international collaboration with Cuban campesinos is the partnership between Cuban and French agroecology organizations. Through this collaboration, French researchers and agroecology experts work closely with campesinos in Cuba to develop sustainable farming techniques, conserve biodiversity, and enhance soil health. This partnership not only promotes knowledge-sharing but also creates networks of support and solidarity between farmers in different parts of the world.


Solidarity also extends to international campaigns and advocacy efforts in support of Cuban campesinos. International organizations raise awareness about the challenges and achievements of campesinos, advocate for their rights and fair trade practices, and mobilize resources for sustainable farming projects. This solidarity strengthens the voice and visibility of Cuban campesinos on the international stage, highlighting the importance of small-scale farmers in building a sustainable and equitable global food system.


International collaboration and solidarity with Cuban campesinos contribute to the resilience and success of the Campesino Movement. By sharing knowledge, providing technical support, and advocating for their rights, these collaborations empower campesinos and promote sustainable agriculture in Cuba. They demonstrate the power of cross-cultural exchange, shared experiences, and global partnerships in building a more sustainable and inclusive future for small-scale farmers around the world.



Cuba’s vibrant food travel scene is a testament to the harmonious fusion of flavors, cultures, and history. The Cuban Campesino Movement, representing small-scale farmers, plays a pivotal role in this culinary landscape. These campesinos, with their dedication to sustainable farming practices and preservation of cultural heritage, contribute to the rich tapestry of Cuban cuisine and offer authentic food travel experiences.


Through the Campesino Movement, campesinos strive to overcome challenges such as land access, resource availability, market opportunities, and fair trade. The Cuban government’s policies and support systems have recognized the importance of small-scale farmers, providing access to land, resources, education, and financial assistance. These initiatives empower campesinos, enhance local economies, and promote food security and sustainability.


The impact of the Campesino Movement extends beyond the agricultural sector. It positively impacts rural communities by fostering cultural preservation, economic development, environmental sustainability, social cohesion, and community resilience. Campesinos take pride in preserving traditional farming practices and cultural heritage, attracting food travelers seeking authentic experiences and supporting local economies.


International collaboration and solidarity are also crucial components of the Campesino Movement. Through knowledge-sharing, exchanges, partnerships, and advocacy efforts, organizations, researchers, and volunteers from around the world support Cuban campesinos. These collaborations promote cultural exchange, enhance farming techniques, raise awareness, and mobilize resources for sustainable agriculture.


In conclusion, the Cuban Campesino Movement exemplifies the interconnectedness of food, culture, and sustainable development. By empowering small-scale farmers, preserving traditional farming practices, and promoting sustainable agriculture, the movement ensures the continuation of Cuba’s agricultural heritage for future generations. Food travelers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the flavors, history, and stories of Cuba, while simultaneously supporting the resilience and livelihoods of campesinos and their rural communities.