Trinidad and Tobago of the 1960s and many of its pastoral areas were once thriving estates of fruits like cocoa, vegetables and leafy greens enough to feed our nation with a surplus. Today, with a hefty food import bill, we are faced with the necessary task of creating self-sufficiency in the various aspects of our food production. That includes having to diversify and alter lifestyle choices to create sustainability for our citizens. We are being re-oriented to healthy eating and care of self.
Setting up a home garden is an ideal way to start. Begin this by making a plan and putting it into train. Firstly, identify your space for planting your crop of choice. Next, acquire the seedlings for growing and then sow the seeds. There are many tutorials available online or short courses, which offer instructions for those who wish to take up the challenge. For those who aren’t green thumbs, there are emerging and well organised fresh produce markets across the island, taking up the challenge to change and improve our economic self-reliance and overall health.
Every 10 minutes around the world, 565 people are born, while 56 die of starvation, according to World Health Organisation statistics. So why in the world can we not prevent starvation on an affluent planet blessed with phenomenal resources? To fashion, a life of self-sufficiency has become leisurely and lazy in an age prone to fast pace, fast food and quick disposal. A determined effort has to be made when it comes to independence and self-sufficiency from private spaces and governments. Food and water are, after all, two of the main elements vital to sustaining life. Home-grown is best sown if only to improve the bottom line on our national budget.
Planting is not an easy or lazy endeavour. But it is certainly one with far-reaching and change effects: a new self-start up career, an entrepreneurial pursuit, a family affair, a stress reliever, health upliftment, prevention of disease and preservation of life. Growing, cooking, eating and benefitting from fresh local choices all put a renewed perspective on life expectancy. Let life begin anew… Plan to Plant.
References: World Health Organisation www.who.int/ Ministry of Agriculture www.agriculture.gov.tt/ New Start Club-newstartclub.com or firstname.lastname@example.org NAMDEVCO
Life’s Nutritional Remedies:
- Good Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Air, Sunshine, Temperance, Rest.
- Essential Food Groups for Holistic health: MORE of… Fresh/steamed vegetables, whole grains, cooked cereals, brown rice, fresh fruits Water. LESS of… Refined processed foods. Meats, fried foods, dairy (Cheese, milk-based items) sweets high in calories and sodium (salt)
It is never too late to start anew. Use these eight benchmarks to make the change:
- Incorporate plant-based foods in your diet, no cholesterol/low in sodium/high in vitamins low in fibre.
- Sunlight – All important vitamin D.
- Exercise – All round heart health.
- Water – All the time eight glasses a day.
- Temperance – Too much of anything is good for nothing.
- Air – Relax, clear lungs, breathe deep and do it often.
- Rest – Eight hours daily.
- Trust – Inner peace.
Benefits of local seasonings & fruits:
- Spanish Thyme: Used in cases of dyspepsia, coughs and gas, as a heating compress for sore throat.
- Ginger: Used for stomach problems such as nausea, gas and indigestion or a pain reliever for arthritis.
- Turmeric: Said to be useful for inflammation or joint pain, heartburn, stomach ulcers, wounds and eczema.
- Guava: With more than three times the vitamin C of an orange, guava is used for diarrhoea, dysentery, constipation, cough, skin care and scurvy.
- Soursop: The fruit and leaves are used to relieve stomach distress, fever, pain and certain respiratory problems. More recently, it is being researched as a cancer treatment.
- Carilli: The apt English name is bitter melon; its compounds can lower blood sugar and is also used to boost energy.
Plan to buy & cook local:
Visit your district fresh fruit, vegetable or fish vendor or municipal market. Check the schedule for the travelling farmers’ markets hosted by the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation in collaboration with the Ministry of Food Production/ Ministry of Agriculture every other Saturday at the Queens Park Savannah, San Fernando, Point Fortin, Santa Cruz, Couva, Debe and other districts.
Check the farmers’ market schedule at their website: www.namdevco.com where regular highlights of wholesale fresh produce market prices are also available for ease of reference.
To contact the Farmers Market Unit call: 1 (868) 679 8412. Visit the Santa Cruz Green Market or UpMarket (Check these on FB) for a host of select locally produced vegetables, fruits, flowers, homemade condiments, foods and homespun local craft.