Amid increasing concerns over food security raised by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, a former President of Saint Lucia’s National Consumers Association (NPA) believes people’s mindset regarding what they consume is an issue.
“We have imported our culinary taste,” Kingsley St Hill observed. “Our children have imported tastes,” he asserted, noting that youngsters do not have a taste for things like green figs, breadfruit, bouillon, and chicken backs which other citizens know and consume.
“We have to inculcate in them that taste for local produce so that when they have a mango they don’t say ‘yuck’,” he explained.
Kingsley St Hill believes because of that mindset, people consume unhealthy food, including fizzy drinks and corn curls.
However, he spoke of the need to plant and consume local foods, including breadfruit and bananas, and get students to eat locally produced items in the school feeding programme.
He asserted that consumption of unhealthy food and lack of exercise contribute to health issues and increase the nation’s health care bill.
“While we are buying the imported food we also have a health bill because it’s not healthy for the children and the nation,” the former NCA President stated.
“People say they don’t have time. It’s easier to go and buy something at Massy instead of cooking a warm meal,” St. Hill told St Lucia Times.
In this regard, St. Hill said it was time for Saint Lucians to examine what they eat.
He lamented that mangoes and other fruits go to waste.
“Our children are not eating mangoes, they’re not eating guavas, they’re not eating our local fruits, yet we have to go to the supermarket to buy for them to quench their addiction to junk food,” the former NCA President told St Lucia Times.
“It’s a reality that when we were young we were poor but we were not hungry. Now people have money and they’re hungry. Why? Because when we were growing up fruits, just like now, were in season. Mango season all children had their tree to go and pick mangoes. We ate mangoes until the mango season was over. Guava season – we went to pick guavas and our bellies were full. We knew how to take a dry coconut, break it and it or eat it with bread. Our children do not know those things,” St. Hill declared.
He urged Saint Lucian consumers to start thinking about food security for themselves, the community, and the nation.
“Every tomato tree one plants in his or her balcony or backyard means it’s a set of tomatoes we are not going to buy from outside,” St. Hill stated.
He pointed out that in this way, foreign exchange remains in Saint Lucia.
According to the former NCA President, the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity, with some governments distributing seeds for their citizens to plant.
“So when I have tomatoes and you have lettuce etc. We share – we barter, so we are not hungry. Our children are not hungry,” he told St Lucia Times.