Homeland Security

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Fruits

St Croix Source: Community Supported Agriculture Taking Root in the V.I.

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!

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Why We are Blessed

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English: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Cr...

English: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. HT = herbicide tolerance. BT = insect resistance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something I think about quite often in regards to our local food and agriculture industry on St. Croix is how truly blessed we are.

Think about it – in the States (and around the world) right now there is a huge debate going on over Genetically Modified foods, as well as several harmful pesticides and herbicides (neonicotinoids and RoundUp, to name two)  that are commonly used in food production in the states. A lot of people are quite concerned about these food sources and the way in which they’re grown, not only from a health perspective, but from an environmental perspective as well.  There are theories that pollinators like bees are being decimated from the continued use of these pesticides, and I tend to agree.

Also people are concerned about the growth of large factory farms (agribusiness) and the loss of the small family farmer, and the impact that that loss has on agriculture as a culture in the USA.  There’s a lot that can be discussed here, but suffice it to say that the opinion that I see most often is one that when a few large companies control the food supply, we, as a population of people, lose control over the way that the food we eat is grown and prepared.

But regardless of any personal stance on GMOs, and large factory farms in general, we are blessed on St. Croix.  Why?  Because right now we don’t even have to enter into those arguments, because for the most part our local food is not grown like that here.  And if I can do my part with Go Local St. Croix, hopefully we will never have GMO crops or dangerous chemicals like I mention above being used here in our local food supply.  Yes, there are farmers here who do use non-organic poisons, but on the whole more and more St. Croix farmers are moving towards organic (or low-impact) growing techniques because those farmers care about the food that they grow – because they care about the people that consume it.  And the more that our local community in return shows that it cares about not only the food that it has to eat, but about our local farmers as well?  Well, only good things can come from that, my friend.

We are blessed here.  We may live on a small rock in the middle of the ocean, but in many ways that carries a gift for us – a gift of our own food identity, and our own determination of our food sources for our future, as we carry the heritage and culture of the Crucian past into the future.  Personally, I’m excited, and I’m doing my best to help us to always be blessed to not enter into the world of debate over agribusiness and factory farming – because our local Crucian farmers will take us into the future.

Go Local St. Croix – Local Food, Local LOVE.  We are blessed!