Food Culture Technology and Health
The Caribbean Is One Nation.
There Is now emerging evidence, that many of our young citizens, are encountering health challenges, that were once thought to be the experience of older members of our societies. These trends are placing considerable pressure on our limited resources. While we accept that modern life styles and the steady proliferation of American styled fast food outlets, are to be blamed for some of these problems, we are also convinced that our food culture is at the root of our current debacle.
Obesity is one of the major problems confronting Caribbean health agencies. It is generally accepted that many of the non-communicable diseases, are the direct result of poor eating habits, that lead to obesity and can also be the reasons for higher levels, of heart related illnesses including heart attacks.
Obesity and the ailments that accompany it, are the result of changing cultural habits, technology and the lack of good old fashioned exercise. The drift away from ground provisions, known as “blue food" in some islands to meals from boxes and cans with their high levels of preservatives and often unknown expiration dates, are also some of the culprits.
Growing up in the Caribbean, we were known to use salt on everything and were great lovers of what we call soft drinks, known to the “outside world” as sodas. Our affinity for both salt and sugar in our cuisine and delicacies such as sweet bread and many different varieties of indigenous confectionery, would have also played a very pivotal role in our eating habits. These habits and food consuming traditions have been passed on from generation to generation.
However, those who have been fighting against and warning of cultural penetration, could not have planned for or imagined that the birth of modern technologies would have also contributed to our current predicament. In short it is not only our highly-based sugar and food culture that we have to worry about but also the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle. We are no longer walking or cycling anywhere and then we retire to our televisions and computer games. In other words, we have abandoned the “outside” for the comfort of the couch. The wonderful beaches that earn millions upon millions of dollars, form the tourism industry, are no longer used for lengthy swimming, diving, angling and other exercises. In days of yore many of us started the day with a long morning swim which would have exercised every muscle.
In terms of physical preferences, our men once preferred females who were buxom and our women used to believe that a healthy man had some meat on his bones. Skinny was not the most endearing physical quality. Those preferences are now changing but at the cost of high gym fees and expensive products from health food stores. It’s going to be an uphill climb to get our people “moving’ again. It shows that cultural penetration, technological advancement and following foreign trends have diabolical results for small vulnerable regions such as hours.