Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eat what we grow and grow what we eat

I fully support The Ministry of Agriculture’s Eat Jamaica Campaign, I have been fortunate not only to observe but to engage with people living in the English countryside and I continue to be amazed at how territorial they are about the things they consume, food mileage is very important to them.  A butcher or a local grocer would advertise with pride that the products they sell were not only produced locally but organic and with minimal environmental impact. The butcher in Devon County  would advertise that the beef on sale was Genuine Devon Beef from a farm only a few miles from the store and British certifications or seals placed on packages for all to see, to prove that the items was produced locally and pass British Standards.

It comes as no surprise therefore that British agriculture satisfies 60 per cent of the food needs of the UK. If countries that are more economically stable and classified as First-World can set aside material needs and make common sense decisions based on individual and environmental cost in the interest of humanity and future generations, then why can't we do the same for our Jamaica?

In a country so dependent on nature and the environment for its existence, we should be more conscious of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Jamaican certification and seals means nothing if the Jamaican consumers have no confidence in brand Jamaica.

I am happy to report however that the Jamaican Environmental movement is growing and slowly having a positive impact on certain sections of our society. Over the past decade several organizations have been created to push for a greener more environmentally friendly Jamaica and they have become a force to be reckoned with. It is very important, that we the public get behind these organizations in order to educate the general public that Jamaica’s future will come from the Environment and our success will come from embracing a sustainable way of life. It is clear for all to see that our present way of life is not sustainable, we are in a sense flogging a dead donkey whose rotten carcass is making life unbearable, we are as Michael Manley puts it “going up the down escalator” the level of Jamaica’s growing  debt is proof of this, we borrow to live.

There is a lot of exciting, innovative things happening in Jamaica, lots of little cute concepts and ideas from cafés to wine bars, cute little shops, gourmet foods such as Tamarind Hill Farm's Goat Cheese all beginning to take life, most of these innovations are being driven by the ex-pat community, non-Jamaicans who choose to make Jamaica their home, they see Jamaica as a viable option, they see things in Jamaica that most other Jamaicans cannot see. Liz Solms organized event “Farm-to-table”, a monthly gourmet dinner served in the middle of a farmer’s field using foods from the farm itself.  Check out Therese Morris, Founder & Owner of Flavour du Jour, as she promote the local food industry.

The Higher the petrol Price the Bigger the vehicles?

The rising price of oil and the negative effects that it is having on our economy and society demands that we make certain sacrifices that is in the National Interest of our country. Do we really need a gas guzzling SUV to get from Barbican to New Kingston or from Sandhurst to Manor Park?  The size of the vehicles on the small roads of Jamaica is a bit over the top but in Jamaica, style means everything, common sense plays no part in our daily lives.

Driving a monster truck while depriving our society of much needed foreign exchange to feed, educate and provide health care to our kids is a crime against our society and future generations. How much does it cost to fill the gas tank of one of these monsters? The environmental and financial impact of our actions will come back to hurt us.

In some richer countries the people have chosen to drive small, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars which are more suited to the size of our roads. Some of these Small, environmentally friendly cars are produced by companies like Mercedes Benz, which should satisfy the superficial need Jamaicans have to own brand-name products.

Update: Thursday | June 16, 2012

JAMAICA'S FOOD import bill continues to spiral out of control, jumping by US$100 million last year to a staggering US$930 million. Some J$750 million was spent on imported French fries.

Following his disclosure at a recent graduation ceremony for the first batch of 28 graduates from the Farm Field School project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roger Clarke told Agro Gleaner that the increase was a shocker.

He said: "I was anticipating a lowering of the import bill (so) I was alarmed at it." This comes against the background of the national 'Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow Campaign' and Backyard Gardening project, both of which were deemed to be successful in promoting consumption of local agricultural produce.

Meanwhile, Ancile Brewster, the IDB's country representative to Jamaica, warned that any attempt at reducing the food import bill would need to go well beyond "more than just blocking" imports. Speaking ahead of Clarke, he had put Jamaica's annual bill at more than US$800 million, which, when combined with Trinidad and Tobago's US$600 million, sees the two countries paying in excess of US$1.5 billion to import food each year. Read More: Rising food import bill concerns Clarke

LOCAL BANANA growers in Portland are appealing to the Ministry of Agriculture to provide a sustainable local market for them to sell their fruits, as thousands of acres of green gold are going to waste. The last-ditch appeal comes against the background of large amounts of banana chips and other by-products of the fruit that are imported into the country each year, while rural banana farmers remain poor.
Read More: Banana growers plead for help

Environmentally Conscious Consumer Operations

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