EDITORIAL: Eat more of what we grow
Recent comments issued by Orlando Marville, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), suggesting that “the food that is grown closest to where you live, is the healthiest food”, must be fully endorsed.
He is not the first official in Barbados to call on Barbadians to grow more food and to eat what is locally produced, but he is well placed to give this advice, based on the position he currently holds. Indeed, it is refreshing to hear that the BADMC is putting systems in place to help reduce the island’s high food import bill, via its recently established Pack House located in Fairy Valley, Christ Church. Reports are that the Corporation proposes to use the Pack House to cut vegetable imports by $9.6 million and fruit imports by $3.4 million, given that Barbados’ food import bill currently stands at around $700 million. Already, 70 farmers are on board and will be supplying the Pack House.
Now this effort is commendable. However, we must encourage more Barbadians to get back to basics and grow some of their food. Given increasing food prices, Barbadians who grow their own produce can either barter with friends and family who also have kitchen gardens or small plots of land for food production or they can even sell some of what they grow, as they also feed themselves. Sadly however, Barbadians seem to think that this type of work takes them back to “the old days” and some of them seemingly want no part of it. Yet, they will enter local supermarkets and complain about the “high prices” of foreign goods which they choose to buy. We somehow think that things “foreign” are “better”, when this is not always the case.
If we are growing our own food, then we are aware of what is being placed in it. We cannot always account for what is placed into foreign products and oftentimes, many of these overly processed foods do our bodies no good. The saying goes, “you are what you eat”, and if indeed we are honest with ourselves, a number of Barbadians will not be too happy to identify with what they have on their plates, on a daily or even weekly basis.
Given the rise in the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases, we must be more conscious of what we place on our forks to enter our mouths. If we take time to consider what it is that we are feeding our bodies, we could possibly take steps to change what we eat and how we eat. And it would certainly help if we can find nutritious foods right in our backyards, grown in tubs, containers and cans. It really does not take a lot for us to grow a few heads of cabbage, lettuce, some carrots, tomatoes or cucumbers. We just need the right mindset.
We as Barbadians use the Internet for research and for other purposes. Why can’t we find a video or two on the Internet that instructs us how to grow produce right in our homes or around our homes? There are many new inventions that can help us in this regard. Officials at the BADMC are also willing to assist Barbadians who may need a helping hand in honing their “green thumb”, so that they can get maximum yields from what they plant.
So we really have no excuse when it comes to growing more of what we eat, in and around our homes. We simply need to make up our minds that we will “eat more of what we grow”, and with that determination, take steps to turn that thinking into reality.