Surviving rising food prices

Letters to the Editor

Surviving rising food prices

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer and diabetes kill approximately 40 million people each year. This means 70 per cent of all deaths registered worldwide are caused by NCDs.

In fact, in 2010, 70 per cent of the deaths in Jamaica resulted from four main NCDs – diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory ailments.

Thankfully, many of these debilitating conditions can be prevented if we modify our diet and lifestyle.

Under this advisement from the World Health Organisation, our local Ministry of Health and Wellness has been encouraging all citizens to exercise and maintain balanced diets.

Sadly, only a few Jamaicans can consistently eat healthy, as local food prices, particularly those for fruits and vegetables, are unbelievably high. Sugary, starchy, and salty foods are considerably more affordable; hence, they have become our staples.

Just last weekend I went to the market and there was hardly anything below $200 per pound. Large families with meagre or unsteady incomes will, no doubt, end up over-feasting on rice and flour, which are not quite wholesome.

I know that environmental conditions, coupled with the economics of supply and demand, greatly account for the upswing in prices. In a couple of weeks some food prices may actually drop, but they are sure to increase, yet again, soon afterwards. Fluctuation is constant. We must, therefore, fight back creatively and resourcefully by eking out more sustainable means of living.

We may begin by augmenting local agricultural production. Perhaps, more of us could farm, even on a subsistence scale. Small, edible backyard gardens could reduce our weekly market spend.

Those of us living in urban areas can plant crops in repurposed containers or use low-technology rooftop structures for their cultivation. Moreover, these erections can be made detachable and portable, just in case you are renting and may have to relocate.

I have also seen videos of window farming, another wonderful alternative. After all, plants mainly need water and sunlight to thrive.

Maybe, too, it is also time for us to clear arable open spaces in our communities and engender a culture of communal farming. The attendant bonds that will be formed and the low-chemical produce that will bloom under our tending thumbs will, certainly, enhance all aspects of our collective health – physical, emotional, mental, and social.

Eat what we grow. Grow what we eat. This is inarguably the way forward to self-sufficiency, self-sustenance, and lasting self-care.

Shawna Kay Williams-Pinnock

Shawna201@gmail.com


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