Barbadians can get greater control of their health, economically, if they make smart choices and adopt certain practices.
It is no secret that eating meals high in fibre and whole grains, especially fresh fruits and vegetables like ground provisions, can improve your health and cut down on the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) and obesity. However in recent years there have been complaints that healthy foods are too expensive and that, with the current economic situation, it is impractical to sustain that lifestyle on a budget. Many people even use the cost of local produce as an excuse to continue their use of unwholesome, canned foreign imports and to support their unhealthy eating choices.
Yet, is this a true reflection of the consumers’ market or is it a cop out for those who would rather be ruled by their taste buds? In many cases people simply prefer imported sweets, snacks and fast foods to cassava, bananas and guavas. And though there are some snacks that are made locally and are healthier than other options, the idea of reaching a certain lifestyle and being able to purchase items advertised on the international media is quite a lure for Barbadian status-seeking shoppers. So is there any merit to the claim of local foods being too costly?
To compare local carrots, for instance, to imported carrots in a supermarket, one might argue that it is cheaper to buy canned carrots, or even imported fresh carrots; but compare the price of those imports to the produce in the farmers markets, or in the vendors’ mall in the City, or even in one of the many small outlets lining the side streets in Bridgetown, there is no doubt that it makes more pocket sense to buy Bajan. Furthermore, the sheer quantities available make it easier for shoppers to negotiate their way to an even more reasonable price.
In fact, supporting Bajan produce makes more sense in the short-term and in the long-run, since it could result in a reduction of the import bill and hence help to preserve Barbados’ foreign exchange reserves and strengthen the economy – a move which would ultimately put more money back into your pocket in the future. In addition, having a population that consumes more healthy local foods would undoubtedly improve the overall health of the nation and reduce the healthcare costs attributed to CNCDs.
Still, go a step further and support all Barbadian products whenever possible. There are several quality items made locally in the garment and furniture industry for instance, and other beauty and household products that can be used to replace previously imported items. Your support could mean sustained employment for a number of people in this country.
In the final analysis, it simply takes a conscious effort to avoid short cuts and do the right thing by supporting local farmers and manufacturers – your body and your pockets will thank you.