Biting off more than we can chew

The slogan, ‘Eat what you grow’, rolls smoothly off the tongue of most Jamaicans.  The truth, however, is that we say by our actions, ‘Eat what you import’.  Many older Jamaicans will tell of the days when the shelves were filled with Jamaican fruits and vegetables. In the ‘new’ Jamaica, the market, although still the centre of fresh produce competes with the shelves laden with strawberries, peaches, American apples and other imported delicacies.

 How many Jamaicans, especially those in built-up areas, have access to enough green space to plant a garden? Do they have the time or expertise to maintain the garden?

Well not me.  Yes, shamefully I admit that despite my intense displeasure of ‘paying through my teeth’ for vegetables and fruits, I do not have a home garden. 

Where do I begin? I think a lot of Jamaicans might be just like me.  Despite being willing to start a garden, they lack the necessary skills.  Perhaps a trip to a plant nursery might be a good start to get some well needed advice.  Do you have a vegetable garden?

Teri Ann Renee Paisley (gleaner on-line writer)

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17 Responses to “Biting off more than we can chew”

  1. LadyJA says:

    Look at it this way Teri Ann, if we can ‘eat what you grow’ the advantages are:
    1) it removes our dependence on others to feed us;
    2) we can trade with our neighbours, therefore driving down the costs of food;
    3) if we find we can produce surplus then we should be looking to trade with the export market;
    4) if no one wants what we produce at least we can eat it ourselves, and many of our hungry people can at least expect to be fed;
    5) and at least we know what we are eating, because with many of these imported foods if only you knew what some of us know you would not want to eat it.

  2. jo bent says:

    2 years ago I suggested to my mom to plant some
    tomato .,pepper, and pumpkin seeds I was offering, she looked at me like I was a silly
    child and ask” why so ppl just come and take it and I wont say a thing I dont want to be killed over little things”,this is not a mean or selfish person, she got older,Ja. changed our seniors are scared, so they dont even bother with the simple things in life, she has a small back yard space and the gate to property low, she lives behind the bars and locks in after 5:30pm. I heard one leader made the same suggestions and many ppl were offended as they thought that was disrespectful to the nation

  3. Tony says:

    Jamaica will never be self sufficient and will continue to suffer from low production until the problem of praedial larceny is effective dealt with.

    I am not surprised that so many people have given up farming. This is a country filled with grudgeful, lazy, bad-minded, worthless thieves. So, everytime someone tries to plant something or raise some livestock, he/she is putting his/her life at risk, because all these lazy good-for-nothing parasites do is sit, watch and wait until this farmer’s effort comes to frution, then they walk in to take over. And if this poor farmer ever says anything he/she could end up dead.

    I don’t know what the authorities are waiting for to deal with this problem. Everytime there is a case of praedial larceny, the authorities should make every effort to find the perpetrator and deal with him/her as severely as possible.

    I would suggest that each time a thief steals from a poor trying farmer, the thief should lose a limb. Just try this and you will see how fast this problem goes away.

    Until this problem is dealt with, Jamaica will continue to suffer from under production and an inability to feed ourselves.

  4. Trevel says:

    As a young boy sent over to Jamaica from England
    I was amazed by all the fruit & veg produced on the island during the 80′s ,now everrything come
    from abroad – even patti and ackee in a tin !
    What is wrong with the people of the island yes if u live in town it can be hard but you can go to local market and buy fruit & veg ! Support local produce and this will help the ecomnomy !

  5. Lianne Gram says:

    Many thanks for your wonderful job; this is the thing that keeps me on track during my day. I have been looking around for this website after I heard about them from a buddy and was happy after I was able to find it after searching for some time. As a blogger myself, I am glad to see others taking initiative and contributing to the community. I wanted to show my appreciation for your work as it is actually very encouraging, and many writers do not get the recognition they deserve. I am sure I’ll be back and will refer some of my friends here.

  6. teriann says:

    Thanks for the kind words Lianne.
    As for Tony, I just want to say there is a lot of bad out there but good things are happening in agriculture too we just have to stick it out to see the rewards.

  7. aj says:

    Tony, judging from your tirade I suspect that you are not “one of them” but you are just as negative as they are, bredren that is a lot of venom coming from one human being, I agree that their behaviour is dispicable but for you to speak like that means that you just as bad as they. Think positive my brother rise up above the muck.

  8. CAREBEE says:

    i disagree…i dont think that we have to plant what we eat to eat what we grow. Simply support local farmers. My dad has a huge garden in his backyard with yams, corn, tomato etc. but its a hobby…he still buys local food from the market because he understands that he will not be able to produce everything he wants to eat, unless he quit his day job and bought more land!

  9. teriann says:

    Well Carebee, the concept of planting what you eat does not necessarily mean that everything you eat you must be able to grow yourself. It goes hand in hand with supporting local farmers and not being so reliant on foreign goods.

  10. Ladyjazz says:

    Teriann you are so right the concept of eating what you plant doesnt mean if you have a 9-5 job you should come home and run a Farm too it means to me we should stop importing fruits and vegetables into JAMAICA and letting the local farmers suffer and not able to provide for their families There are so much raw materials in JAMAICA that can be developed I am at amazed at the thought of importing fruits and vegetables in JAMAICA that has been radiated with radiation and full of pesticide and wax all over. Here in the states they are fighting over the proper naming of whats in the food, what you put on it and they will give the JAMAICAN people anything , why you think there is so much Disease in the world they continue to mess with the genetics of the foods to produce all kind of fruits you never knew they had…I dont remember eating Brocolli, celery,Peaches,cauliflower as a child growing up Callaloo is just like Spinach and Collard greens if not BETTER and the Yellow YAM to die for..JAMAICA has some of the best fruits and vegetables in the world…(I am BIASED here) but you know what I mean .Wake up Government time for real CHANGE

  11. teriann says:

    Hey Lady Jazz let’s hope that Jamaicans everywhere decide to heed the call to consume more Jamaican products.

  12. Ladyjazz says:

    I am here and cant find a yellow yam anwhere, the only place i have ever seen it was New York years ago What I would give to get some JAMAICAN produce

  13. Vivian Stephenson says:

    The Minister is the harbinger of the slogan, “Eat what you grow, grow what you eat” and if we could put this in our songs, and psyche, this might become a reality. Recently I have seen small farmers featured in the gleaner, and I find this encouraging. There need to be more emphasis of farming taught in our school curriculum.There is a lot of land in Ja. Stop buying chicken back from overseas and buy local chicken. Eat more fruits and vegetables from local markets. When I am in Ja, I eat from the land. I don’t go to Kentucky Fry Chicken or Burger King, that is not Ja. There need to be more incentives on the part of the govt (people) to encouraging small farmers through providing loans and access to Ja. market. The problem that I have noticed over the years is that people are living or trying to live like they are in US or Canada, or UK. If you are in JA live like you live in JA. Granulated sugar is bad for you, eat brown sugar. And cut the foolishness. By the way, I have banana, sugar cane, mango, calaloo, tomato, pepper (scotch bonnet, very hard to keep up with the insects on my pepper tree)in my yard, and I don’t live in the country. Eat what you grow, grow what you eat. Right now my little farm needs some attention to be honest, but this is what I am talking about. People in the country carrying their machete under their arm pit, and buying lotto. They need to do some subsistent farming, and stop the foolishness of buying french fry from kentucky. Eat what you grow, but first grow what you eat.

  14. Vivian Stephenson says:

    Well said Terriann, Carebee needed a little lesson and you gave it to her. Good Job. I hope she learn, I am quite sure she did.

  15. joe lynn says:

    oh yes the usual,tony tells the truth yet is crusified for it..my sentiments exactly tony,you have hit the nail on the head,just go to once peaceful manchester or stbetts,ask the people who farm and keep lifestok,what one of there greatest problems is,they will tell you its threat from low class, lazy ,nogood people who just watch and wait for you to produce then they get to steal,some farmers even get murdered by said sociopaths[no reguard for human life either]…those things need looking into,people in these communities and island wide should be able to retaliate collectively,yes even by chopping off parts of the brutes if necessary..

  16. Alexia says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with the “eat what you grow, Grow what you eat” People always make excuses the main one being “I don’t have the time” or “I do not know how” A little research on the internet took my 10ft X 5ft home garden to a 2 acre farm. I didn’t know what I was doing at first but I didn’t give up. It is not hard to start a garden. I even have pack choy growing on my veranda in flower pots. Don’t get confused on fertilizers pesticide and all those stuff. There are items you can find right in your kitchen that can act as fertilizers and pesticide. I am willing to give tips to persons willing to try.

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17 comments so far
teriann Posted by: teriann July 14, 2010 at 10:14 am