September 2nd – 9th 2018, Slow Food Barbados will be having a Local Food Challenge. The basis of the challenge is to only consume products that are grown, caught or raised in Barbados.
Sounds simple? It isn’t. Just because you buy a product in Barbados doesn’t mean that everything included in that product is produced locally. An absurd amount of food is brought into the island. Even products that can be produced locally. While you may think something as simple as a carrots is local, it may very well be an imported good.
But why is it important to eat locally? The short answer is that it is healthier personally and socially. Generally speaking, local produce is fresher in that it didn’t have to travel for long periods to get to you. Something that is picked and brought to the market is much fresher than something that had to travel for a week just to get in front of you. On a bigger scale you help local businesses. That money stays in Barbados and circulates, instead of funding large foreign corporations.
Sounds complicated? It isn’t. There are different levels to the competition;
Slow: Where about 25% of your food is local. The goal here is to try at least 3 local meals. Its as simple as swapping out 3 imported meals for local ones. The great thing about going slow is that you can make mistakes. When you start asking, ‘What is local?’ you will be surprised by the answer and how easy it is to substitute.
Slower: This means about 75% of your meals should be local. At this level about 3 of your meals can be made with imported goods. There is still some leeway if you accidentally stumble upon some Kobe Beef.
Slowest: 100% local! This is the real deal. Where we should all be. During the week everything you eat should be grown, caught or raised in Barbados. It is possible if you plan for it.
Luckily, Slow Food Barbados is aware that this is a big step so they have resources to help you. Their Buyer’s Guide let’s you know all the places you can shop locally. It’s the best place to educate yourself on how you should purchase. Educating yourself and asking questions makes the world of a difference in this challenge. My suggestion is to keep it simple. Good dishes don’t need a lot of ingredients. Pick a vegetable, roast it with a few herbs and you can’t go wrong.
By taking part in this challenge you can practice being more aware of what you buy and consume. Food is very personal. If you educate yourself on local produce you encourage a much better relationship with your food which usually equates to a healthier lifestyle. The secret is that this shouldn’t be a Challenge (pun intended). We should all be eating this way on a daily basis. Eating foreign products is not a problem if it is done in moderation. If you get a piece of Kobe Beef. EAT IT. However, the majority of our food should be local. The more demand we create for our goods, the better the supply will become. Maybe some day soon there will be a business man in Japan trading online trying to treat himself by scoring a premium piece of Barbadian Black Belly Sheep.