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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PAY ATTENTION: PART ONE

Basic physical human needs: food, shelter, clothing, water.

FOOD: What next? Stone Soup?
A very wise nutritionist tells us that the price of corn has gone up. While this may seem insignificant to the rest of us, it affects our ability to deliver quality services to our schools. Corn feeds animals that produce much of the foods we require to balance our nutritional services to our students. The rising price of corn affects the farmer who sells it and the farmer who buys it. It affects the livestock, the milk, the eggs, the wheat industry and it ultimately trickles down to the consumer, us. On the homefront, the PSS homefront at least, we have had to scale down our meals for students because we can no longer afford to feed them certain foods for more than a few days at a time.

The price of fuel has made feeding our families harder to do because we have to chip in to cover the cost of getting it here in the first place. When it finally gets here, we chip in again to keep it fresh at the grocery store where the price of electricity to keep the place running adds another few cents. That's just the cost of buying food in general; buying healthy food is an entirely new dilemma. The luxury of preparing a nutritionally sound meal is almost impossible for families in the lower end of the socio-economic scale, for the rest of us it is a trade-off. Families have been forced to choose between buying that 49 cent bag of chips and fresh produce in order to survive. I don't have to elaborate on the implications this has in regards to health care or the conflict it causes with the implementation of a wellness curriculum in most schools. How do we encourage parents to cook only healthy meals when two cans of SPAM and some rice will feed the entire family and help free up some money for other bills?

We used to gossip about people who balutan at parties and professional rosary scouts. Now I wonder if we weren't prematurely judging them. Could it now be that because we all have to conserve food we can identify with the need to hoard it? Might we all have to bite our tongues one day as we shove that bread roll from the buffet table into our pockets? Sustenance has never been so complicated.

I would like to learn more about what our Health, Education and Welfare committee are doing to address wellness from the economic, educational and legislative standpoints. Programs aimed at overall wellness, whether they come from the schools or the health care industry are useless if we do not have safeguards in place to prevent price gouging, protect our local farmers, protect our natural resources, provide or support/incentives to businesses who promote and market better products, etc. Who is paying attention to how we feed ourselves?

Pay attention. Because we can't afford to live like this any longer!

10 comments:

Saipan Writer said...

The price of corn has skyrocketed because the U.S. has foolishly supported corn-only bio-fuels. So a whole lot of corn is being diverted to fuel, instead of being used as food.

I say foolishly because other plant products can be used for bio-fuels. But not much will replace corn in the food chain.

jmho.

Hee Jae said...

We need to remind ourselves that EVERYONE is affected by this crisis. So, do not get upset when the prices go up or the food portion at the restaurant isn't so generous. EVERYONE is in the same boat and is struggling. Let's at least be appreciative that we don't have people starving to death here. We have free school meal programs, food stamp program, and WIC program. Many other countries with worse conditions don't have these luxuries of welfare system. Although recently we've gone through substandard living conditions (thanks to CUC and the government), we are still alive and putting bread and bacon (or rice and kimchee) on our tables. Let's grow our own produce and go fishing. This should take care of our daily needs for the most part. Just trying to be optimistic...

Boni said...

Yes, Hee Jae. Everyone is in the same boat now.Thank God for our programs too, without them most of our students would never have three full meals and nutritional supplements. I do think though that restaurants should decrease their portions as well as provide healthy alternatives. I would grow my own produce if I could keep them alive. Sadly, I kill even weeds.

Hee Jae said...

I just hope that the community will appreciate the programs as much as we do. It sometimes seems as though the programs taken for granted.

Road-Block Blogger said...

Hi Hee Jae, In Japan now and one comment regarding the free meal program was asked and he says `did PSS take rice out of the lunch meals?`...I really don`t know as I responded. Now I do wonder? LOL

Hee Jae said...

We serve rice 2-3 times a week vs. daily. Oh yea, we took out spam,hotdogs, soba, fried foods, tocino, torta, and all the good stuff. Sorry for the disappointing news. I'll make it up next year??

Boni said...

How do you sleep at night? You're just mean. Seriously though, it's a good thing and parents will learn to adjust. Our kids deserve a healthier future. Food should never be used as a substitute for measuring love, unless it's to show them that we love them enough to give them the best even if it's less. Good work Hee Jae!

Hee Jae said...

You're the BEST! (Just make sure you stand by me when someone comes around with a shotgun!)

Para i familiaku said...

I think you are right on the target when you mention about the costs of food being increased a few cents here and a few cents there, just to cover the additional operational overhead stores and importers have to face when food is brought to the CNMI. I just can't figure out how come our farmers all plant the same stuff, granted what can grown in our soil is different from what can grow in other colder parts of the mainland (like apple for example). I do think that we can grow our own brocolli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. I think this is where the Division of Agriculture should really step it up and beef up this ready market!

It is always shocks me when local produce costs more than imported produce.... !

Boni said...

I saw some pineapples for sale at Costco. I think they come from Rota. Beautiful. I can see an orchard of fruits, an eco-tourism orchard where visitors come to taste the island's sweetness. Good for the farmer, good for the visitor, good for the economy.