Our Readers' Opinions
October 5, 2007

Making fruits available to schools is a good start


Editor: I, too, would like to join in the chorus of ‘healthy living’ persons, as a result of healthy eating and regular exercise. Almighty God gave us an opportunity to enjoy this planet once we stay within defined guidelines set out in the Bible, and to a great degree, that involves eating smart. This is one issue that I will support as long as I live.{{more}}

We all know the story about Daniel and his Hebrew ‘Brothers’ who refused the King’s victuals and ate beans and drank only water, and in a matter of weeks looked healthier and outperformed their counterparts who had important positions in the King’s realm and who gorged themselves on the King’s dainties.

In order to think well, one must eat well. I often remind my children that “if you want to look smart, you have to eat smart”. This does not always happen, as the cost of locally grown vegetables is seasonal and subject to price instability, due to this seasonality, but we try to eat healthy as often as possible. Regular exercise is also very important, especially as one gets older … volumes have been written about the proven benefits of exercise.

In order to make the ‘education and wellness revolution more effective, we need to address our eating habits. If as part of the school feeding programme we supply each school child with a ripe banana every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and plantain chips, banana chips, or roasted/raw peanuts on the ‘T’ days, then we can see how we can avoid disaster to our banana industry, as well as opening up new industries to cater to these demands, while at the same time ensuring a healthy nation. We will have to construct ripening rooms and develop a system to transport the fruit to all schools on a daily basis, so you can see how new jobs will be created as a result of this development. This arrangement can be adjusted to provide fruits like mangoes, plumroses, oranges, tangerines, carambola (five-finger), watermelons and wax apples, when in season (Here is where farmers who are members of PTAs can come into the picture as suppliers, generating much needed income for their family). Fruit juices/drinks like carrot juice, carambola, passion fruit, soursop, orange, lime, tangerine, golden apple, grape fruit, local cherry, and sea moss, among others, can add to the variety of beverages that are healthy, instead of artificially flavoured carbonated drinks. Mind you, some of these fruits mentioned can be made into concentrates and also be bottled as carbonated drinks. So you see how we can still generate income from these agro products by adding value through secondary and tertiary processing.

I think the time is right for us to stop talking about “eating what you produce, and produce what you will eat” into concrete action, giving our nation a jump start in the right direction!

Don DeRiggs