Culture Health Environment Economy Food security

Text for the CHEEF benefits is from: Post is intended for study purposes for students in an ethnobotany course after a visit to the Island Food Community of Pohnpei.

Food is a basic part of our culture. When we promote our island foods, we are also promoting the traditional Pohnpeian way of life and farming system. As the forces of globalization affect indigenous peoples' traditions and food availability, it is imperative that traditional knowledge on agroforestry and cultural beliefs surrounding food are preserved for future generations. Connection to the land and local ecosystems is one way to do this.

Serve a soda and appear foreign, serve a coconut and be local. Value the coconut, value local custom and culture. Value the soda, and value foreign goods and ways.

Emihner Johnson speaking on the CHEEF benefits and on the current nutrition linked health crisis in the FSM

Consuming island foods provides protection against many nutritionally-related diseases including: diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, vitamin A deficiency, and anemia.

Health problems emerged from the 1970s with the dietary shift to imported processed foods, resulting in the level of non-communicable diseases being identified as a health emergency in the region. Nutrient-rich staple food crops have been substituted by imported white rice. This present staple in the Micronesian diet has no beta-carotene (processed by the body into vitamin A) for protection against these preventable diseases. Many imported foods are highly processed with very poor nutritional value and contain high levels of sugar, fat and salt causing the deteriorating health of island people. See Local Island Foods & Nutritional Value for information on how island foods benefit our health.

Traditional island foods are also generally produced without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which have been linked to a range of health problems, including obesity, and are alarmingly ranked among the top 3 cancer risks.

Drink a soda, get unhealthy. Drink a coconut, get healthy.

Local food helps protect the environment through the reduction of waste, climate change mitigation, negligible ‘food miles’, soil benefits and biodiversity, among others.

When you grow or buy fresh local food there is no packaging that takes hundreds of years to decompose leaching toxins that harm animals, humans and the environment. They do not need to be transported large distances and kept cool using excessive amounts of energy between producer and consumer, referred to as ‘food miles’. By maintaining our lush food forests we also act on climate change by cleaning the air and sequestering carbon. The soil is protected by our trees from erosion and landslides and thrives in an organic environment without the widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that harm our waters, our health and our soils. By growing and eating local foods we can contribute immensely to a healthy sustainable environment locally and globally.

Toss a soda can beside the road, if not picked up that can will be there next year. Toss a coconut beside the road, and that coconut biodegrades.

Rodman, Rodrigo front row. Nemely, Marigold, Ian, and Henry in the second row.

By purchasing local foods the money stays in the country and supports the grower’s family and the national economy. By growing local foods people are less reliant on the cash economy for survival and can obtain nutrient-rich sustenance with very little input. Surplus can also be sold or preserved, with opportunities for entrepreneurial food processing initiatives existing.

Furthermore, agricultural production for local consumption is an import substitution policy that would help the Federated States of Micronesia national economy.

Buy a coconut and a local grower makes money, buy a soda and the money goes to an off-island company.

Keona, (Nette), Jayme, Rosalynn

Food security
Food security refers to having sufficient nutrient-rich food locally available and accessible and the resilience to the possibility of disruption or unavailability of food supply. Partial self-sufficiency in food production limits the risks if food shipments are disrupted on route.


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