- January 31st, 2009
- in Yachting
The British Virgin Islands and the rest of the world for that matter are officially one month into 2009. We hope your 2009 resolutions are still in the foreground and you are determined to make those pledges become reality. In this issue, we are going to help you make your resolution of living a greener lifestyle practical and even delicious.
In our quest to live in harmony with the environment there is one area of life and sustainability that cannot be ignored even in these modern times – agriculture. The agricultural industry provides the food needed to sustain communities. Here are several reasons why you should support the agricultural industry in the British Virgin Islandby purchasing locally grown produce.
Locally grown produce taste much better
If you have ever thought that cucumber you bought from a farmer was the freshest and most succulent cucumber you have ever tasted, you were not exaggerating. Locally grown foods are usually harvested a day or two before they reach your plate. They are still packed with their natural juices and are free from preservative chemicals used in food items grown thousands of miles from your local supermarket that must still appear fresh after days of travelling across land and sea. In the time it takes to harvest a fruit, package the item and have it shipped, natural sugars begin to turn to starch and cells begin to deteriorate. The fruit then loses its vitality. During this process the produce also loses its nutrients. All that travelling is another reason locally farmed fruits, vegetables and meats last much longer than imported produce.
Buying local helps community building
By supporting local farmers, you are also supporting their families. Agriculture has been on the steady decline in the Virgin Islands as farmers leave the industry for more viable jobs to support their families. Though the agricultural industry is important to any community – there should be more support in the Territory of our resident agribusiness.
Farming is a skill that goes back centuries and we can even learn from our farmers how to have our own backyard gardens. In these unclear financial times, saving an extra few dollars on our grocery bills might be a wiser way. Many of our local farmers open their farms to interested persons and school children interested in learning about their time-tested vocation. It is during those times when connections are made. The connections that make living in this part of the world so appealing.
Buying local helps the environment
Your frequent flyer account is not the only account building up air miles. Believe it or not, imported produce build up food miles. Food miles refers to the distance food is transported from its place of production to the point it reaches consumers. When you consider the thousands of miles a tomato might travel from New Jersey, USA to your plate as well as the carbon emissions its courier releases in its transportation plus the energy used to produce its packaging and handling, the math can be a bit much. To avoid building up these miles and adding additional carbon to the atmosphere, items that can be purchased through a local farmer, such as fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other everyday items should be purchased at home in the BVI.
Locally run farms often use considerably less pesticides and chemicals on their plants than large scale commercial farms. This way, local farms add less pollutants to the air and importantly less pollutants are consumed by persons purchasing locally grown produce. Good farming practices such a maintaining streams of clean water, planting items that prevent soil erosion and even the turning of soil helps the earth and thus help farmers produce more and even better crops
Farms also help us to maintain green spaces that can often be developed into commercial spaces that can add to the deterioration of the environment. A harmonic balance with surrounding ecosystems help to naturally clean our air of toxins. Cleaner air can add energy to your mind, body and soul. Clean air protects our bodies from dangerous respiratory diseases and clear blue skies are another token of living in our region.
If you are uncertain where to find local farmers to get your local produce, consider taking a trip to the annual Farmer’s Week celebration. Events this year will kick off at the Agriculture Department in Paraquita Bay on Saturday, February 6. The week long activities gives residents a chance to see the work of local farmers as well as promote and encourage the agricultural industry in the BVI. There are plans for agricultural exhibition on the major islands of; Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Use the opportunity to get to know your local farmer and the produce they cultivate. Here are our recommendations for getting some of the islands best produce; on Tortola see Moviene Fahie at her Paraquita Bay farm or at the Round About in Road Town, Virgin Gorda – Stanley DeFitareitas can be found in the Valley ( he often has a steady supply of delicious tomatoes and peppers). On Anegada you can find Henrietta Wheatly in The Settlement and on Jost Van Dyke, just ask anyone for Selwyn Chinnery.
If you cannot make it out to their farms, do not worry, all local supermarkets have a Locally Grown section for produce and meats. If you don’t see any locally grown produce in your supermarket – you might be too late, but continue with your new years resolution by asking your grocer to have more in stock. Asking for an increased supply, helps your grocer sell more, farmers grow and earn more and you can have all the fresh vegetable you need plus add your resolution of living a greener lifestyle on your completed list.