The Really Nourish Movement is on location in
Sangre Grande, Trinidad
Being a child of immigrants from the Caribbean, the idea of fertile land and effortless nature – fruit trees spontaneously growing everywhere so much so that no one could really go hungry – was ingrained in my consciousness. I had never set foot in the West Indies until I was 19, but I had already been immersed in the culture growing up first-generation American in Brooklyn, NY.
The truth, I am learning quickly, about the food in the Caribbean is a story of post-colonialism and the struggle of small countries. Trinidad and Tobago is a leader in the region in many ways, and by some measures, is on par with developed nations. Such a position can be a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, the nation has an economy to speak of. She produces and packages a lot of her own food products, unlike many smaller, less developed countries that rely heavily on imports. The imports she does get are of generally higher quality with more choices compared to the aforementioned little sister nations. On the other hand, with a population of more than 1.3 million, she is an attractive market for food products, and because she’s behind the curve on GMO regulations and her people are not demanding clean, organic food loud enough yet, a lot of stuff that other countries may not want gets dumped here.
Case in point: Liza oils. This is a Cargill product, and Cargill is from the USA. This was my first experience actually seeing a product claiming to contain genetically modified ingredients. I wondered, since Trinidad’s government has not made a decision to require such labeling, what countries rejected this product that it ended up here.
I simultaneously wondered if Trinidadians are talking at all about GMOs and if any of them even know that this oil, which I am certain sells extremely well here based on the amount of shelf space the brand has in Sangre Grande’s Coss Cutters sumpermarket, is made with Frankenstein soy beans.
Thankfully, I brought along the Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil that I got as a free gift from my most recent Thrive Market purchase of US$79.00 or more. But when that was about to finish I was rather concerned. For the first week or so I was preparing for this eventuality. I had assumed that in a country where one cannot walk a kilometer without seeing a coconut tree, there would be plenty good oil around. Not so much! I had finally found, after some searching, a coconut oil I could cook with,
but it was kind of orange-colored, a color indicating that it is not extra virgin cold pressed (The other process of making coconut oil involves heating up the separated fat in coconut milk and straining out nearly burnt solids, leaving you with an orangy-brown oil. Cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil is colorless.), and probably grown with agrochemicals, given the scale of the producers who make those brands. I finally found the good good – cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil in an herbalist shop in Arima, Trinidad, about 21 km (13 miles) away from where I live. To put that into perspective, the North Shore Staten Island neighborhood of Saint George where I have my New York apartment is about 14 miles away from the Whole Foods market I travel to TriBeCa in Manhattan to shop at to get these kinds of items.
But WHY COCONUT OIL?
- Because saturated fats are good for you and have been determined to have no link at all to heart disease.
- Because it doesn’t oxidize in high heat.
- Because it also contains very beneficial fatty acids for your bod.
The Main Differences:
In the U.S., we have more internet access to apps and product to meet our food revolutionary needs.
- In the U.S., we have organic labeling for produce. More about that in an upcoming post.
- Outside of the U.S., some grocery items will actually indicate on the label that they are made with genetically modified ingredients. A few states in the union have that, but it’s not nationwide. Instead, we have the DARK act awaiting the attention of the U.S. Senate.
- Outside of the U.S., we have organic grocery items from the European Union as well, where they actually have laws forbidding GMOs or at least demanding labeling.
So the trick is just to overcome the learning curve. It’s not any different than the life of a food revolutionary States-side, though. There’s a learning curve to overcome there too, one that most people haven’t addressed having lived there all their lives!
Bottom line: As a food revolutionary wherever you live, shop and eat, it is imperative in today’s world to arm yourself with knowledge about what is available around you – where it comes from, how it is produced, what the label is NOT telling you, how to get your hands on better quality versions. It is possibly dangerous to your health to make ANY assumptions. You will be richly rewarded for putting in the effort to accumulate your armament in the form of a better quality of life in general for you and yours.