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  • Reply to: Is fried chicken setting back development in the Caribbean?   1 week 2 days ago

    This is a subject that really needs discussion in the region and this report will be a great start.

    Old photographs of the Caribbean from the late 19th through the first half of the 20th century show little obesity among the lower-income population. They were eating a diet that was suited to long days of physical labor, and that diet, except for the addition of American-style fast food, has not essentially changed: meat (or fish) rice plus yams and some other starch, a very little bit of vegetables on the side. Also for the first half of the 20th century most country people walked everywhere. This change in the physical nature of work can be made very quickly--as quickly as a move into town. But the body does not adapt to the change with the same speed. (In some of the smaller islands in the Eastern Caribbean remittances from relatives who had emigrated had the same effect by two means: 1)it became a status marker to eat processed imported food rather than food that you had grown on your own land (there's a whole cultural history associated with this too); and 2) it became possible to afford cars.)Poverty is a psychological factor as well, as can be seen right here in DC: in Northeast DC where I live all these cheap carry-out places have basically the same offerings: fried chicken, fried fish, fried "Chinese" food,and some version of cheese steak sandwiches or Italian subs. If you live in a state of food insecurity, these are about the cheapest source of protein, fat, and salt that you can get all in one package, and, bolstered up with some starchy sides, make a feeling of satiety that satisfies not only the nutritional need but the pressure of the insecurity--till you get hungry again, that is. Obviously we can't and shouldn't wish people back to the days when they had to walk for miles carrying water on their heads and so on, and there was no doubt still hunger among the very poor.

    Promoting better choices also means creating the conditions in which better choices are feasible in terms of cost, time, availability of ingredients, taste, and, of course, sustainability.

    Enormous dietary changes have occurred in the US just over the past 30 years, much of this driven by an expansion of the palette, of what people consider to be good food, as well as by a concern for health. The people who contributed to this transformation of the American diet were chefs and food critics, who made the quest for interesting new flavors interesting. Moreover that transformation was accelerated by consumers' social aspirations and disposable income. Some credit for it is also owed to the counterculture movement. This was a pretty major cultural shift in food terms. Caribbean cooking could certainly benefit from similar kinds of exploration adn the time to do it has never probably been better, now that there is so much wider exposure to media there. But the availability and cost of ingredients are constraints. When you live in the Caribbean and try to cook from, say, some healthy Mediterranean or Asian recipes, many are just basically out of the question. And all this of course presupposes people having enough leisure (and spare cash) to experiment on their families with new flavors. Nor are the people selling chicken on the street in a position to do try things out on their customers at the risk of their slim profit margins.

    Eating more fish would be healthy but I'm not sure it is sustainable. Fish stocks in the Caribbean are already severely depleted, so unless there's some vision of maybe tilapia farming to go with the recommendation to eat more fish even the current level of consumption there is basically unsustainable.

    I'm assuming that there, as here, the healthy and environmentally sound thing to do would be to grow a wider repertoire of vegetables and fruit locally rather than import them. People want to do it but for many reasons (praedial larceny, for example) have found it very difficult. Farming is a hard living anyway--which is why people move into the cities. But it would be great to solve this.

    One interesting development in the Caribbean is the emergence of I-Tal food, which is like the Caribbean version of vegan food. . It is tasty and healthy (the flavors are not an extreme departure from the customary (English-speaking) Caribbean palette--and people there tend to be rather conservative about their food) and really deserves wider recognition in the region as an effective indigenous approach to nutritious and healthy cooking.

  • Reply to: Voices of Haiti   1 week 2 days ago

    My heart is so big for Haiti and its people! God has placed a love for them in my heart that can not be explained. I am afraid to come there but always help them in visits to D.R. I stopped going after Oct 2013 when they started charging Haitians to work there and other injustices they do. I am boycotting D.R. Haiti is in my prayers that someone has the idea to change the situation in Haiti to a prosperous and abundant life! God Bless you big for all your efforts

  • Reply to: Meet those forgotten by the economic boom in Latin America   3 weeks 5 days ago

    Since I returned to Uruguay in 2003 I am arguing that there is large group of workers (basically the own-accounts workers) who have been left behind by the primary export boom. The "leftist" current Government is content with unionised wage earners earning much better but forgets about the real poor. I am glad to have come across your work.
    Best regards
    Jaime

  • Reply to: Will more debt hinder the development of the Dominican Republic?   3 weeks 5 days ago

    some good analysis...but how about Greece ?

    it seems that at some point in future all debts will have to be "cancelled" as this system doesnt seem to work properly...either in US, Greece or Dominican Republic

  • Reply to: El reto de llevar agua y saneamiento a toda Centroamérica   1 month 2 days ago

    Felicidades el SIASAR es realmente un sistema poderoso. Un valor agregado de la información que contiene el SIASAR es que puede facilitar la elaboración de planes de gestión del riesgo y adaptación al cambio climático en el diseño de políticas sectoriales y en la preparación de planes de inversión, además de permitir a los gobiernos locales la identificación de comunidades con sistemas de agua vulnerables y a los técnicos incitar el diseño de sistemas con resiliencia. Todas estas oportunidades pueden tener un impacto en mejorar eficiencia del uso de los recursos económicos destinados al sector de agua y saneamiento rural en CA.