A visit with the Island Food Community of Pohnpei

The ethnobotany class visited the Island Food Community of Pohnpei and learned about the benefits of local food.

Monalisa Tara covered the CHEEF benefits of local food. The growing and production of local food reinforces cultural agricultural practices and assists in passing knowledge to a new generation of young Micronesians. Culture is the C in CHEEF benefits.

Monalisa noted that many local varieties of food are high in vitamin A, micronutrients, and fiber. They are also complex carbohydrates that are slow to break down into sugars in the body.  Local foods are healthy foods, the H in the CHEEF benefits.

Local foods are usually produced without fertilizer or pesticides. Elsewhere food crops are produced with fertilizers and pesticides. Fertilizer production requires energy often from fossil fuels, and pesticides could leave harmful residues. The only fertilizer used on local food crops is local compost, and no pesticides are used here. Foreign food has to be transported by ship, generating a fuel cost. Local food is also packaged only in its natural container, not in shrink wrapped plastic or a tin can. When you are done eating the food, the waste can go back into the garden. And there is no fossil fuel cost for walking up to your farm to harvest your own food. Local food is environmentally friendly food, the first E in CHEEF.

The second E is the positive economic impact of local food. Money spent on local food goes to a local farmer, not to some distant corporate conglomerate. Money that stays at home gets spent at home and contributes to the gross domestic product through the multiplier effect.

Local food is also food security. The day the boats stop coming is the day those who depend on foreign food starve. You cannot starve if you have a farm filled with local produce. That is food security, the F in CHEEF benefits.


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