Friday, June 3, 2011

Food Foolishness

The current E.coli outbreak in Germany and subsequent destruction of beleaguered Spain's fruits and vegetables only goes to show how increasingly fragile the food chain is getting. Contrary to the multi-national Food Giants, there should be an argument for countries to provide at least 50% of their food requirements! Both from a health point of view (fresh produce retain more of the 'good stuff') and an economic one if one were to factor in the true transport costs. Granted most things can be produced cheaper on a larger scale, from a point of view of soil exhaustion surely that cannot be a good thing in the long run?
As a child growing up in the urban area of Guyana, most houses had land for one or two fruit trees - the idea of fresh and organic was not even an issue! We have now moved completely away from that. The markets are inundated with over-priced foreign mass-produced stuff-- wax-coated apples which turn soft if left unrefrigerated overnight. An American friend complained about the tasteless carrots imported from the US that are available here  - I told him I was puzzled that we didn't import/smuggle  from Venezuela as I remembered how good their locally-grown fruits and vegetables were! A local company started growing vegetables in a large scale for the Export market but due to transport costs they had to stop. Trinidad apparently would be willing to buy tomatoes but found our varying quantities and qualities too difficult to deal with! While in a stop-over to NY I was astonished that Trinidad was exporting what seemed like a container of large-leafed spinach - and we have more land in Guyana but can't organise that?
An article in an English newspaper ( notes that the IMF had prevailed on Malawi to sell their stockpile of food to private companies and when the crops failed the following year, partially because the IMF then insisted on removing the subsidies on fertilisers to the farmers, it precipitated a huge Famine.
Then too, it's education - our Amerindian people have to work very hard to get produce from the land in some instances and with lots of time on their hands - make their traditional foods. The younger generation don't have time for THAT- neither back-breaking farming work or producing the traditional foods so their diet is changing/has changed. Sadly they seem to be in no-man's land - a few reaching the dizzyingly heights of urban Georgetown  but most seeing their opportunity doing a few short-term stints working in a mining camp, with no long-term goal in sight. As in Berbice, the children of farmers do not want to be farmers but then don't have the education or discipline to settle down to being employed by a larger concern.
 A friend who has land with many fruit trees said that it was too much trouble to employ youngsters or indeed find reliable people so he preferred to let it all rot! I hope he was just winding me up!

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