A new body to promote food and healthy eating on St Helena is proposed in the island’s draft agriculture policy – even though it says food is already at the heart of island life.
And it says the new organisation could “make a significant contribution” to tackling hypertension by encouraging healthy eating. The island has one of the world’s highest rates for diabetes, which is strongly linked to poor diet.
The paper says agriculture is seen as having an increasing role in improving health, as well as being important to tourism.
The new body could provide recipes, encourage people to grow their own food, hold tasting sessions, monitor labelling and safety, and even set up an annual food fair, says the Growing Forward paper.
“The refurbishment of the market building will provide a focal point for the showcasing of local agricultural produce,” it says, “and bring growers and producers closer to each other and the community.”
The paper says new policy must take into account the island’s culture.
“Agriculture and food production, while very much viewed and managed as businesses, are also considered by those involved to be part of a way of life and a vocation,” it says.
“Change can be difficult in any case but can be especially challenging in a rural context where flexibility and mobility is constrained by low incomes, lack of other opportunities, lower educational attainment, a higher age profile and limited access to capital.
“The people of St Helena are highly skilled in the art of cooking and entertaining. Social unity and cohesion is food-centred on the island.
“Any agricultural policy that can assist in maintaining and developing this aspect of life is making a useful contribution to the social health and well-being of the islanders.”