Food Sovereignty Food Import Dependency Trinidad and Tobago
activism, Boycott, food, supermarket

Who Controls the Food Controls the Country: Food Sovereignty and Food Import Dependency in Trinidad and Tobago

Part 1: Wheat Boycott

Dreams of Life Back Home

Growing up as a first-generation American child in an immigrant family, I heard lots of idealized reminiscing about “back home”.  To hear them tell it, the Caribbean was a magical unicorn-filled wonderland where everything from the food to the freedom was

To hear them tell it, the Caribbean was a magical unicorn-filled wonderland where everything from the food to the freedom was perfect.  It never occurred to me to ask them why, then, did they leave it to come to Brooklyn, New York. 

perfect.  It never occurred to me to ask them why, then, did they leave it to come to Brooklyn, New York.  Nonetheless, notions of greener grass and cleaner food lodged in my subconscious and followed me through my move to Trinidad and Tobago, my husband’s native land.  Imagine my shock when I discovered how problematic food import dependency is here. At least 70% of what Trinidadians eat comes from outside of the country!

To be fair, my family left the Commonwealth of Dominica in the mid 1980’s.  The country was still far behind Trinidad & Tobago in terms of its entrenchment in the global food system.  Food and life was perhaps still “natural”, what we now call “organic”. Dominica was also still rather underdeveloped, so much of the land was being cultivated to a wide array of local crops to feed a very small population.  Indeed, perhaps there were even unicorns and magic!

Fast forward to late December 2013, my first trip to Trinidad.  I found here supermarkets very much like the ones I left in the US stocked with just as much of the pseudo-variety of wheat, corn and soy incarnations with a sad produce section.  All these symptoms of heavy food import dependency left me feeling somewhat dejected. Really tho?  Did it never cross anyone’s mind here that who controls the food controls the country?

Did it never cross anyone’s mind here that who controls the food controls the country? 

Greenmarkets were an even bigger disappointment than the groceries.  Instead of the rich panoply of diverse colors, shapes and flavors I looked forward to seeing, I found a similar uniformity to the supermarket.  Vegetable vendors have all the same basic inventory. Import fruit and Chinese onions and garlic abound.

Now I started to reminisce idealistically about my New York City farmers’ markets, where I could find a beautiful selection of locally grown heirloom tomatoes, organic foods of all kinds at Whole Foods, and have fresh groceries delivered to my door.

A Wheat Boycott to Call Attention to Food Import Dependency

Not that I wasn’t subject to the Global Food Regime, but I lived in the perpetrating country.  Living in the victimized country that Trinidad and Tobago is has affected me in a deep way.  Consistently I consider the implications of relying so heavily on other countries for the very food we eat.  This deeply concerns me.  I will highlight some of these in the coming weeks.

So on Monday, 11th June, 2018 I started a one woman boycott of wheat.  I chose to boycott wheat for a number of reasons.  Wheat is Trinidad’s top imported food item.  The US being this country’s biggest trade partner implicates that the wheat we eat comes from over-subsidized midwestern wheat fields.  Those farms, with their GMO seed, heavy chemical warfare regime and degerminated finished product, flood the world with nutrient poor, poison rich product.  They are unwittingly sickening the world’s people.

Delicious Poison

The other reason I chose wheat is because I knew it would be an extremely challenging thing to abstain from.  Almost every meal in Trinidad calls for wheat of some kind, from pies, bakes and doubles at breakfast, roti skins and macaroni at lunch, to dumplings and bread at dinnertime and all great snacks – digestive biscuits, khurma, pholourie – you can have in between.  Here is food import dependency at its best: a non-native ingredient masquerading as a native staple. And all of it is SO DELICIOUS! It’s never wise to make generalizations, but Trinidadians can cook! Honestly, I haven’t had a bad meal in this country yet.

Here is food import dependency at its best: a non-native ingredient masquerading as a native staple.

Discussing Food Import Dependency in Trinidad &Tobago: More to Come

I am looking forward to giving talks about this around this country, so this is my first act towards helping to determine solutions to this problem of food import dependency in Trinidad and Tobago.

Here’s my boycott launch video.  Enjoy!

What are your thoughts?  Even if you’re not from or in Trinidad, please share.  The Global Food Regime affects us all one way or another!

Literature Recommendations:

Hungry for Change: Farmers, Food Justice and the Agrarian Question by A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi – Read my book review

When Banana Was King by Leslie Gordon Goffe – Read my book review

 

 

 

 

©2018 Rashida V. Serrant-Davis, The Really Nourish Movement.  All Rights Reserved.

food, God's word, vegan, Water

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3: Troubled Waters

In continuation of a biblical case for veganism, I choose now to focus on water, which is a birthright given by God that shows up in scripture in several contexts:
1. A vital component of God’s consistent provision in our lives
2. A metaphoric reference to His power and His reliability and, at times, His power as it abides in us
3. His way of cleansing us and nourishing us to flourish
We will look at how veganism is an indirect way of exercising better stewardship over this vital resource. Before we do that, let us first examine some scriptures that illustrate what I’ve stated above:
Water is YOUR God Given Birthright

Before we continue with A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3, please accept our invitation to join the growing movement for Food Sovereignty. Sign up right here!

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Now, as I was saying:

In Genesis 2:5-6, even before God created man and made him Commissioner of Eden Gardens, He watered the land in preparation for the garden and Adam.

God Consistently Provides Water

Even after the Fall of Man, although we are subjected to several consequences for our disobedience, we were never expected to live without water.  When the Children of Israel are wandering through the desert, He responded to their complaints of thirst by turning brackish water into clean, refreshing water for them to drink.

Water as a Reference to God’s Power

He caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights straight in Genesis 7 – this is also a reference to cleansing, His main intent for the Great Flood. The waters remained for 150 days and didn’t recede until God decided the time was right.

Water as a Reference to God’s Power as it Abides in us

The Prophet Elijah – 1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

Elijah gave that word later in 1 Kings 18:41

Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”  (NKJV)

We know from James 5:17 that on Elijah’s word, through his prayer, there was no rain for 3 1/2 years.

Water as a Reference to God’s Reliability

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Water as His vehicle for cleansing us and causing us to flourish

In the first verses of the first poem in the book of Psalms, the psalmist lays out the characteristics of those who would be “blessed”, or happy.  In verse 3, happiness is likened to being a tree planted by rivers of water that bears fruit in abundance and whose leaf never withers.

Indeed, Jesus gives the living water, as offered to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.

So here’s the Million Dollar Question:  Exactly what does your consumption of animal-based foods have to do with water?
Answer: It’s another case of poor stewardship over an extremely precious God-given resource.

In Chapter 2 of Securing Our Birthright (entitled “Menu Expansion: When God Condoned Carnivory, Man Went H.A.M. – Hard as a Moabite), we examine this issue. With the permission of the producers of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, I list an alarming set of data regarding the impacts of modern livestock agriculture on Air, Water, Land and Mankind.

(The facts are listed here with references:  http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/)

Here are the water-related statistics:

  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all drinkable water consumption in the world today.
  • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
  • It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound (16 oz, two normal 8oz steaks) of beef.
  • 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs (that’s between 8 and a dozen, depending on the size of the eggs); almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
  • It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.

According to Charity: Water, 63 million people live without clean water.

They suffer from a wide range of preventable diseases because the only water they have access to for cooking for and bathing themselves and their children and washing the family’s clothes is dirty. Also, often their water source, as poor as the quality is, is a long walk from where they live.

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign
Click the Image to learn more

Women and girls are responsible for carrying water in some societies. To do this time-consuming, heavy work for their families, some girls cannot even go to school on a consistent basis.

Just to be clear, Big Ag does not just exist in the United States. There are large CAFO livestock farms all over the world and some of the countries they are in have the biggest water problems.

Also, to be clear, the people in the demographic who live without clean water are highly likely to be people who are too poor to be consumers of animal-based foods. It’s only the wealthiest 30% of the world population who eats flesh, eggs and cheese and drinks milk. The rest are vegan by default.

(Which begs the question: Why do people think it’s more expensive to go vegan, when meat is the most expensive item in the grocery store? But I digress…)

I like math. Let’s do some, shall we?

The World Health Organization estimates that in a crisis, where water supplies that previously existed are compromised, people would need a minimum of 7.5 liters of water a day to meet basic needs. Figuring we are supposed to be drinking around 2 liters a day (that’s a bit more than the 8 x 8oz glasses we probably don’t all drink like we should) that means the other 5.5 liters are for cooking and washing. On the other hand, in the developed world where water is available 24 hours a day, everylittledrop.co.au says that we use an average of around 100 liters a day. This includes flushing toilets and less conservative cleaning and washing.
Figuring 100 liters a day = around 40 gallons, that means that:

  • Your steak dinner could have supplied 31 people with clean, reliable water they could confidently drink and use for cooking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes and flushing toilets.
  • Your dozen eggs could have supplied almost 11 people.
  • Your gallon of milk could have supplied 25 people.

But instead, it supplied ONE person. ONE household. Indeed, it supplied them with “food” that causes them more harm to their health than nutrition. It did so at the expense of many other members of the human family who live in deprivation.

In a world where 63 million are living without clean water, and millions of others have it but inconsistently, and still others, even in the great United States of America, have to choose between drinking contaminated water from their taps or spending money they could use for food to buy clean, bottled water, this is an abuse of God’s provision.

How Much Less water do Vegans Consume?

In contrast, how much water does it take to grow plants? According to a Huffington Post article from 2014 (updated in 2017):
(all of the following are expressed as gallons of water per pound of the food item)

  • Tofu (Soybean Curd) 302 (feeds 3-4 people)
  • Lentils 704 (makes 3-4 meals for a family of 4)
  • Rice 299 (3-4 meals for a family of 4)
  • Potatoes 34
  • Oats 290 (3-4 breakfasts for a family of 4)
  • Oranges 67
  • Grapefruits 61
  • Lemons 77
  • Avocados 141
  • Broccoli 34
  • Garlic 71
  • Tomatoes 26
  • Eggplant 43

The real value of the exchange here is a lot less water for a lot more nutrition. These are the foods that keep the temple in the best condition. This, in addition to the low impact they have on the world’s water supply allow for, once again, better stewardship of the temple and the planet.

Here are a couple of other quotes from the Cowspiracy website pertaining to water:

“Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.”

“The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways.”
Again, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Again, I ask you, does being a consumer in this system glorify God? Does using the increase the God blessed you with to reward the industry that is robbing your fellow man of his birthright?

Where do you stand on this issue?  Drop a comment below while you’re here.

Also, please click here to learn more about how Really Nourish is helping those in need of clean water.

Thank you for reading and sharing this!  God bless you!

eating, food, God's word, scripture, vegan

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 2

My post on this topic from January 16, 2016 has been my most viewed blog post – indeed, my highest traffic web page since the start of Really Nourish.  It has been so much so that I expound on the topic in my forthcoming book, Securing Our Birthright, and felt compelled to take a couple of aspects of this topic and give them a deeper treatment in these next couple of posts A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 2, and later this week, Part 3 (see link below).

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 2: Why Should You Abstain from Animal-Based Foods?

This excerpt from Chapter 6 of the book takes on a scripture that some have been known to use to dispute the idea of abstaining from consuming animal flesh:

Everything God created is good, reject no flesh

(1 Timothy 4:4)

Here is another context discussion where the question one needs to ask is this:

What subject matter was the Apostle Paul addressing in this body of scripture?  

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The context from verse 1 is regarding a prophecy about what will happen in end times.  Some will depart from the faith, because they’ll start listening to the “doctrines of demons” that will tell them that they should reject the food that God set apart for us to receive with thanksgiving.  The context here is the REASONING for your abstention from food that was ordained by God.  

In other words, if you abstain from eating even “clean” animals because you want to play your part in reducing the harmful impacts of animal agriculture on the environment in 2017, this is not the same as if you joined some cult whose doctrine required that you stop eating what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ordained in Genesis 1, Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  This is why veganism cannot be characterized as an act of obedience to God in and of itself, but indeed it can be characterized as an act of self-sacrificial, dutiful stewardship of the Temple and this planet.  Here, then, is a biblical case for veganism you can make to this end.

Animal Flesh IS Good, BUT…

There is another point to this end: what God created IS good.  Animal flesh the way God created it is fine to eat.  But there are limits to how much of it we should eat it that we have far exceeded in modern food culture.  We now know that what is considered a normal level of consumption is, compared to old and even new testament times, excessive.  God speaks about gluttony directly related to eating animal flesh in Proverbs 23:20-21. We are paying the price in the form of a health pandemic that just some restraint could bring to an end. 

Also, the animal flesh that we have today is defiled, just as Ezekiel prophesied at the end of Chapter 4 in his eponymous book. 

Livestock – that includes cows for beef and dairy, pigs for pork and chickens for meat and eggs – is kept in concentrated animal feeding operations where they reside shoulder to shoulder with other animals that may be sick and deceased animals are not removed right away.  They are fed unnatural, genetically modified feed that is laced with unregulated amounts of antibiotics and dosed with synthetic hormones.  Even the diary cows, although they are not slaughtered for meat, are forcibly inseminated relentlessly (the actual term for the machine used is a “rape rack”) so they are constantly making calves and, consequently, milk.  Their babies are taken from them and tethered so they don’t move a lot to keep their muscles weak – the appeal of veal is tender flesh. 

The fish is either coming out of aquatic farms where they too are packed way too close together and also fed GMO, antibiotic laced feed and residing in close contact with sick or dead fish or they are pulled out of polluted waters in drag nets that catch and kill more unintended catch than targeted fish.  The animals are horribly mistreated.   

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Proverbs 12:10

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, scripture says whether we eat or drink, whatever we do, do it all for the glory of God.  Does participating as a consumer in this system glorify God?  

A Biblical Case for Veganism

Pre-order Securing Our Birthright today.  We are donating 50% of all pre-orders to Charity: Water.  Please help us reach our donation goal of $350.00 by March 31, 2018.  100% of your donation to Charity: Water goes to providing clean water to those who have been deprived.  Thank you in advance for your support!
Buy Now

 

A Biblical Case for Veganism Part 3: Troubled Waters

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign
activism, food, God's word, Water

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign

The Really Nourish Movement’s mission is to end the global food regime, the crisis it has created and the lifestyle disease pandemic it has spawned.  Because clean drinking water is under that regime, we’re launching the Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign.  Water is commoditized by powerful corporations the same way food has been, so we are now launching our first effort to contribute to the provision of this basic human right to every man, woman and child on earth.

By the way, this is our 100th blog post since we joined WordPress back in June 2015!  What a great way to celebrate!  Let’s make an impact together!

Please watch this video:

Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign
Forthcoming Book: Securing Our Birthright: Clean, Nourishing Food for All People as Ordained by God

Place your $14.99 pre-order for the Securing Our Birthright today and make your donation towards the Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign fundraising goal.  Our deadline is March 31, 2018.

Buy Now

The work Scott Harrison and his Charity: Water team is doing is so important!  Clean water is your God given birthright, just as clean, nourishing food is.  The government leaders that have been entrusted with upholding these popular rights have failed to do so.  It is up to the people, organized into Non Governmental Organizations to take a unified stand against the status quo and secure our birthright organically.  We can do this just by organizing into very simple efforts like gardening, seed saving, digging wells and making each dollar we spend count as a vote for a better future.

Are you on board?

 

Meet Scott Harrison

Here’s the video that inspired the Really Nourish 2018 Charity: Water Campaign.  Hope you have tissues handy!

We are change makers.  Let’s grow The Really Nourish Movement together so our change making can have a greater impact on mankind.  Let Really Nourish be a part of the legacy you leave when you pass from this life.

Resolution Evolution
Food Life Evolution

Resolution Evolution

Resolutions, reso-SHMU-tions… It’s time for a Resolution Evolution! There’s a sad, modern day association with the well-meaning practice of making New Year’s Resolutions.  They are now known as promises that are MADE TO BE BROKEN.  Their original intent throughout history (a History.com article on the topic sites Ancient Babylon, the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar and, more recently, Christian traditions dating back about 300 years) was to commit to making positive changes in one’s life.

See, the thing is, changing oneself is almost impossible without external and higher assistance.

Resolution Evolution Step 1: Ask

As a Christian, Holy Spirit is the only one who can really change me.  Indeed, I can and should pray to ask for the changes myself, but without Him, the changes won’t occur or if I do pull it off by my own merit, they won’t remain. So I prayed.  I continue to pray as I go along.  My prayers are loaded with expectation and more and more aligned with God’s will for my life.

That’s the higher assistance.  The external assistance is really a motivating factor that is not about you or what you personally want.

Resolution Evolution Step 2: Dig Deep Within Yourself

As I work to develop Food Life Evolution with my first two clients, I have discovered that one of the first steps is to nail down your motivation.  Thinking back to the impetus behind Really Nourish, the clear and frank truth of the matter was that Mount Sinai was NOT going to consider me a potential kidney donor for my dad unless I changed my health.  It was a sunny, hot day in June when I learned that we were a perfect blood match for the transplant.  That is the day that I got into gear.

It was this motivation that helped me get through rough times, like my first two “free sugar free” days.  Sitting chatting with my dad the way we used to do when I was a teenager after my mother had gone off to work was a wonderful experience to have as an adult.  I had the pleasure of seeing him have cute conversations with my 7-year-old daughter.  I thought about bringing my family to Dominica to see the beautiful estate he had built there.  This was also my mother’s legacy.  He just had to get off of dialysis so any of that could be possible.  That’s how I got through the first 6 months of my Food Life Evolution.

As part of the very first session clients will have with (the future) Food Life Evolution team, we will nail this down.  We will zero in on your motivation.  Identifying that something to remind yourself of when you feel weak will be key to your success.

Resolution Evolution Step 3: Motivation Evolution

Some people’s motivation will last them through their life and keep them motivated to sustain their new food life no matter how tough things get.  For example, a lady I’m working with now has felt the call of God to travel on missions.  We discussed this.  If you are on medication for diabetes and heart disease, missions travel is not possible.  During Pre-Field Missions Training, I learned that people with such issues are discouraged from traveling.  The conditions on missions trips are not designed to accommodate more than the basic needs of the missionary.  This is motivation that can sustain.  Her children are grown and this is how she wants to spend the rest of her life.

For me, my initial motivation was temporal.  I succeeded by God’s grace.  The kidney donation was a success.  Indeed, even my motivation to stay in my newly evolved food life had to evolve.  You have been that motivation.  My fellow man, who’s suffering has continued and increased under the global food regime, has been the ever-present motivator for me to stay this course.  The desire to continue to report on law changes, food labeling, to share ideas and bring you into my experiences during the evolution of my Food Life has added a level of accountability that keeps me on point.

See my first annual accountability report here.

Why Is Motivation Evolution So Important?

So you want to be alive and well enough to celebrate your last child’s graduation from High School?  You want to be around for the birth of your first grandchild?  You want to be the perfect date for your spouse at your 15th, 20th, 25th High School Reunion?  What happens when you realize those dreams?

The problem this detail addresses is this:  things are changing in the world.  More people are examining their food choices more closely.  Food processors are finding ways to repackage their products to respond to the changing tide.  Nonetheless, your Food Life Evolution will still have you swimming against the tide.  The changes are happening slowly.  Because the power brokers in the global food system, Big Pharma and Big Healthcare still have their profits as their priority, some changes may be superficial, while others will be hampered by much resistance.

Therefore, your motivation has to sustain you over the many years to come.  It has to inform not only your Food Life, but the food lives of your family, especially the children in your life.  Also, once again, your motivation must be about something bigger than you.

So let the Evolution begin.  Call it a resolution if you wish, but let the motivation take it out of a temporal realm and into the realm of a true and permanent life change.

If it’s a resolution, this should be the last year you have to make it.