Eat Local and Get Farming – Solutions to the Global Food Crisis

Solutions to the Global Food Crisis

Food shortages and increasing hunger are making news all over the world. As small islands, we in the Caribbean rely on many imported products. However as fuel costs rise, it forces up the price of these goods and shortages in global production mean that we definitely need to think seriously about making the most of locally available goods.

I’ve been doing an informal assessment of my daily diet to see what proportion is local versus the amount is from overseas. Overall I’ve been doing pretty well anyway but this simple analysis has shifted some habits. For instance, I realized that breakfast I was eating a lot of oats with dried fruits all of which are imported, so even though I still enjoy an occasional bowl of oats porridge I have instead been eating breakfasts of plantain and salad with home-made fruit juices and cocoa tea. To further experiment with local ingredients I recently made green banana porridge too which was interesting. It’s not really a substitute for the oats but a new flavour that adds variety and makes an alternative use of this local staple.

Bread is another food that a lot of people consume in high proportions but relies on wheat flour which is not grown in the Caribbean. Again there are alternatives and bread can be creatively substituted with breadfruit, plantain or by making cassava bread. (Tip: The most delicious cassava bread in Dominica, possibly the world, is to be found in the Carib Territory) Another option is to do like one of my friends does and dehydrate local ground provisions such as yam, dasheen or tania and grind them into flour. Yes it’s a little more work but these yield some interesting results and can be mixed with a little wheat flour to stretch it further.Recently the shops here ran out of rice, flour and sugar and not a speck was to be found in any of the stores for about 2 weeks. Craving sugary sweetness we simply switched to local honey. Since soy and rice milk became unavailable we have used only coconut milk and felt the benefits. The positive side to the current food crisis is that it brings forth ingenuity in using local ingredients and keeps money circulating more within the local economy.

By far the biggest step we can all take towards greater food security is to grow as much of our own food as possible and trade with other local farmers. Eating organic fresh produce is healthy, delicious and gardening/farming is also an activity that increases fitness and boosts endorphins leading to greater happiness and fulfillment – so it’s really a wonderful solution to a multitude of problems! Foods can be grown anywhere from a large tropical garden to a high rise city apartment and growing our own food is a powerful act of self reliance and a joyfully creative endeavour. Since small scale local agriculture is definitely going to be the way of the future, we may as well start now – by choice rather than force.

So let me go into my garden where tender seedlings of lettuce, tomatoes and beans are becoming strong and established plants. I look forward to planting much more and playing my part in contributing to a future of sustainable land use and plates of good food to eat! I’d love to hear from others with local recipes and farming tips to share.

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