The Graham Gooding Trust Fund commemorates the late E.G.B. “Graham” Gooding (1915-1987) who was born in Britain of Barbadian parents and educated at Harrison College and Cambridge University. He was a botanist, agriculturist, food technologist and environmentalist. He researched and published on the ecology and flora of Barbados and had a long career in food processing in Scotland, Colombia and the USA. One of the innovations for which he is remembered locally is the development of instant yam flakes which while very popular in their day have long ceased to be manufactured. He headed the Diversification Section of the Barbados Sugar Industry at a crucial juncture, leading to expansion of onion production and non-sugar agriculture. Through the Barbados National Trust and Government’s Town & Country Planning Advisory Committee, he worked unstintingly for conservation of the island’s natural heritage. The Graham Gooding Trust funds an annual Graham Gooding Biology Prize at the University of the West Indies and initiated the “Eat Bajan Day”, as an activity that builds on his legacy.
Eat Bajan Day is really to sensitise us to the importance of local agriculture and fisheries to our health and wealth and to the planet’s future. We are what we eat. Local food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious. Local food travels just a few miles from farm to fork, reducing our carbon footprint. Think of a meal of breadfruit coucou and pork stew, literally from around the corner, compared to “English” potatoes and New Zealand lamb, both of which travelled thousands of miles in refrigerated containers! Our centenarians are a regular reminder of the healthiness of meals based on local foods as against imported, processed food. There is also something to be said about living in tune with nature’s seasons, rather than eating whatever we want, whenever we want, flown in from the far flung corners of the globe. We also know much less about what chemicals were used to produce imported foods compared to those grown locally. Most importantly, local produce, meat and fish provide local jobs and save valuable foreign exchange that should be reserved for those things for which we really have no local substitute and cannot do without. We cannot truly be independent if we rely on others to feed us.
We encourage you to try to use only local food and drinks for your meals on “Eat Bajan Day”, Friday, October 12, 2012. Let’s see how we do and whether in the coming months we can transform our diet to one that is more local and regional, healthy and tasty, “green” and economically secure. The first step in lowering that ridiculously high food import bill and improving our well-being begins with you and me.Written by Sean Carrington