A Word to The Wise and Not So Wise

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I sat in a Polyclinic’s waiting room one morning, waiting for my name to be called to see the doctor. A young man came in, alerting those sitting there of the fruits he had in a box on his shoulder for sale.  According to him, he had plums, cherries, strawberries and grapes.

Sounds delicious, right! Healthy and, of course, what the doctor would highly recommend for their sickly patients to consume.

One person, I believe to be a female, asked him the price of the cherries – I thought, at least he would get a sale!  They do work hard, these young walking salesmen; no doubt, the sun is striking hot and it is no mere easy task, going from establishment to establishment hoping for sales.  I know, because I too had that experience, however, selling other products.

I was speechless!

He said the price of the cherries was BDS $10.00.  I was speechless!  Obviously, and of course, at that kind of price these fruits had to be imported fruits and hence would, absolutely, be very costly.

And to make matters more hilarious, is the fact that the quantity of cherries in a bag can be counted on one hand.  Amazing, I say amazing because, it is hard to believe and understand why one should have to pay $10.00 for just a few cherries.  And I ask the question to prove what? Certainly, money does not grow like leaves on trees, nor do they fall like the autumn leaves.

The person who asked the price of the cherries, did not even give him a second look; he lingered a bit, perhaps hoping she would consider his effort and make a purchase.  He went away, I know disappointed and maybe somewhat disheartened – not having made, not even one sale.

How many establishments had he gone to and how many persons had he approached for that time of the morning and, in all instances, been given a deaf look.  That thought and the image that crossed my mind screamed at me!

Economic life

My humble reasoning in this matter was this: the cost of living has increased in every sphere and activity of the economic life of our society.

The cry is: “it is hard on the people, especially those on the lower rung of the economic ladder – the poor and the needy;” yet why do we, for want of some wisdom, understanding and good old common sense, maintain and keep holding on to uneconomical, fruitless habits, ideas, and traditions; not recognizing that the luxurious desires of our delectable taste buds, necessitates an adjustment.

These imported fruits travel distances, far and wide, from countries some of us only know by name.  And perhaps take many days, packed in such a way to maintain their freshness to reach our shores – I wonder, if by the time they do reach this land, are they still nutritionally good?

These fruits which are imported, have exotic names; thanks to social media advertising, which indoctrinate us into believing, because they come from “over away” they are healthier and better for all purpose intended, proceed to give us all the good tasty menus and recipes, to keep one’s interest captivated to all the possible “healthy juices” that can be produced.

Again, merely to satisfy the luxurious taste of our untrainable and unappeasable taste buds.

Luxurious fruits

Who now in this present-day society, except perhaps for the “better-offs” (“the haves”) who make thousands of dollars when the month come, can afford these, I call them “luxurious fruits?”  Surely, someone can educate these young walking salesmen that they need to be a bit more realistic and in touch with the current status of the economy, in providing such service, as selling fruits or whatever to the poorer class of the populace.

Who may I ask, grace the precinct of a public health institution, for their medical health issues and needs?  Certainly not they that are financially blessed!  Why then do they persist in this folly?  Purchasing expensive fruits from merchants who I know themselves are merely concerned with making huge profits, and they too, these young walking salesmen, seem to have the idea that by charging big money, that they too can make big profits (quick).

On my word, the older folks would have preached, “a little with content is great gain.”  One does not build a mansion on millions but build the foundation first with pennies and good old common sense.

River Terminal

I purchase, from time to time, on my way home, going along the River Terminal, a bag of “good old Bajan fat pork” as they are called.  They still taste quite good to me and I might add, it cost me only two dollars for a full bag, and I believe I got my two dollars- worth of locally grown fruit.

There are so many local fruits, I am sure, that are available which dot the landscape of this island; along the highways and the by-ways and in places one would least expect. Couldn’t these young budding fruit vendors use this God-given source – a fantastic opportunity – to hone their trade?  There would be no initial costs to them, and indeed a good profit would be realized, I am certain.

I contacted the Ministry of Agriculture to find out whether a survey had ever been done of the various types of fruit trees that are readily grown in Barbados.  To my understanding this was not really done.   I also contacted UWI for some information, which again was not readily available.

However, I was given a list of fruit trees that are available for purchase at the Soil Conservation Department, Ministry of Agriculture.  These fruit trees are:

  • Cherries
  • Guavas
  • Goose berries
  • Sour-sop
  • Velvet apples (shape like Kiwi)
  • Pomegranate
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Table grape vines
  • Jamaican plums
  • Mediterranean (Med) figs
  • Passion fruit
  • Golden apples
  • Custard apples (brownish colour in skin)

And what about the below list? None of these were mentioned.

  1. Tamarind
  2. Bajan Ackee
  3. Hog plums
  4. Dounce
  5. Fat pork
  6. Cashew
  7. Sea Grapes
  8. Watermelons
  9. Plum Rose
  10. Local Almonds
  11. Limes
  12. Sugar Apples
  13. Local Almond

What needs to be done, if it has not yet been done, is for a survey to be carried out of all the fruits that are available, document them, do a study of their nutritional content and value and, yes using the imagination, to create by-products using these same fruits in producing tasty delicious juices etcetera.

For example:

Tamarind: – You have tamarind juice, tamarind syrup, tamarind balls, tamarind chutney, tamarind salsa, and I am sure there might be other possibilities of tamarind uses. Another good example is the local almond.  There are so many almond trees and almonds are just simply falling to the ground making “almond carpets.”   For some, these are merely ornamental trees.

I have heard, and I do believe it: “what the mind of man can conceive, he can achieve.”  This mind is a great and powerful tool; it just simply needs to be put to use. We need to stop being “copy cats” and exercise this brain power to achieve.

Not only that, in as much as others have been creative and produce all these imported food/fruit products and by-products, these young men/women, they too can use their creativity, bringing it to the fore and produce and manufacture – should we continue to lie down with our hands across our chest and wait for others to feed us (in many instances using our own products to produce items to ship it back to us at exorbitant prices).

Nutritional value

The public needs to be educated of what is locally their own – it is just as good and valuable and great in nutritional value as any other and perhaps even better, because it would be fresh.

It is time, especially in these uncertain economic times, to stop squandering hard earned money – money does not, like dry leaves, fall off trees. “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.” That statement is still true today.  And so, make your sweat count – for something, where at the end of the day you can see what you have labored for and achieved.

It is sweeter, believe you me, because you know within yourself you honestly earned it, and you know what – you did not have to spend a whole lot of money, you did not have to beg.

Pride goes before a fall – would you rather keep on slipping, sliding and stumbling – humble yourself, and appreciate what is readily available, right underneath your noses.

Perfect scenario as well:  while watching CBC News at 7:00 p.m. one evening, in the Business Section, it was said that a Jamaican farmer was exporting mangoes.

Here is an original recipe for making Bajan Ackee Juice/Drink

If persons are willing, and want to take the initiative, they can call the Ministry of Agriculture, The Soil Conservation Department and purchase fruit trees to start their own little fruit orchard.

Hey!  you don’t have to have an acre of land to do this, unless you are getting into it a serious way for exportation.  We now have the CSME – what perfect opportunity this is to forge fruit links for the Caribbean Economy.

I also recently attended a presentation with regards to forging trade links with a particular Caribbean neighbour;  what perfect timing this is, in that, fruits and their by-products can be marketed and thereby can be a ready income earner for exporters local exporters.

As it is already been said:   “In order to advance (particularly in this new world order that is taking shape right under our very noses) we need a new mental attitude!”

Who would you eat from now?

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