This is the time of year that we all start thinking a bit more about the most common natural disaster in the Virgin Islands: Hurricanes.
I’m already seeing online reports about the current tropical storm to the Southeast of St. Croix – Chantal – and today it’s making me think about one of the aspects of buying and eating locally that people don’t think of as often. And that aspect is – food security.
Less than 1% of the food eaten in the Virgin Islands is grown locally, according to an independent study performed for the St. Croix Farmers’ Cooperative. And what that means is that we are tremendously dependent upon the continued supply chain of boatloads of food arriving weekly on our island – food that travels thousands of miles to make it to our plates ! We are always one natural disaster away from that supply chain coming to a halt. What would happen if there was a large enough disaster that the boats simply couldn’t come for a while? I can tell you what would happen, we would all be eating out of the bush, and we would rapidly deplete the fish in our ocean. Iguana and mongoose might just become new ingredients on our tables. Hermit crabs might become a new delicacy. Tan tan seed pods are edible, and we might just be eating a lot of tan tan salads. Personally, I would rather not get to that point!
By buying locally, and eating locally, every dollar you spend goes towards supporting our local farmers, and maintaining (and hopefully increasing) our local food supply. This is TRUE homeland security folks, as we are building up our local food safety net for the possibility of a natural disaster. By supporting our local food economy, we are supporting our local community, and each other.
So next time you’re buying meat or produce in the grocery store that wasn’t grown or raised locally, please consider what that dollar you are about to spend is supporting – is it supporting our local food economy and security at home? Or is it supporting a corporation somewhere across the ocean? Every dollar spent is a vote for the future – and I hope we all continue to vote for OUR future, here on St. Croix and in the VI – keep our food money, and our food security – Local!