Adrian Loveridge, Peach and Quiet

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Visitors Prefer to Eat Local

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

I have spent much of the last week identifying any restaurants that currently are not in the re-DISCOVER lunch initiative to give them all an equal opportunity to participate in this promotion during 2017. Frankly what surprised me was the number of establishments’ who do not use what amounts to free social media opportunities to maximise basic details and inform potential clientele, such as opening times, closure days, email contact details and creatively use imagery to highlight eating options. Of course there are notable exceptions, which conversely use this form of advertising to get their product out there and tempt potential diners.

And why would you not, when a large part of social media is free for the taking and exploiting.

The recently concluded Restaurant Week Barbados reinforced the importance of quality high resolution images. Of course our visitors no longer rely totally on printed material, which is often not available until they physically arrive to do their research and homework. The vast majority of planning and preparation is now searched online prior to travel, ensuring the best use of their time.

As a destination it is also critically important that we further capitalise on our amazing number of varied eating places at all levels and price points. Perhaps this is also another area where our restaurants can be better supplied with local produce to reduce dependency on imported items.

For instance, do our more pro-active and organized farmers and growers have an existing database of all our licensed restaurants, where they can transmit a simple daily email flyer showing ‘what we can offer you this week’ with prices and quantities available?

This approach also may help even out the common problem of gluts and shortages.

For the individual restaurants, sourcing required items is usually a major bone of contention, certainly in our personal experience. All so often you order in the morning and when the delivery is made later that day, frequently items are ‘out of stock’ and you are left with just hours to spare, as to decide which alternatives could possibly be used that evening.

A common response from some of our existing suppliers and distributors has been in the past payment settlement challenges, but in this day of sophisticated technology, surely the cost of a wireless debit/credit card merchandiser onboard each delivery vehicle, where the items could be paid on delivery, would overcome this concern and justify the small outlay cost.

Frankly it has concerned me greatly for a long time that as a largely tourism dependent nation, we are so reliant on imported foods. Our visitors largely want to eat local foodstuffs. After all, they can virtually purchase all the items we choose to import, at a fraction of the price available here, from where they live at home.

If you look at just one of our major markets, each American consumes an average of 1,996 pounds, or nearly a ton of food per year, which is around 5.47 pounds per day, according to data produced the US Department of Agriculture. This annual amount includes 630 pounds of milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream and 185 pounds of chicken, turkey, pork and beef, seemingly with no mention of fish.

There is no reason to believe that our American visitors eat any less on holiday. In fact if they are staying at an all-inclusive property, it could well be more. So with an average US visitor stay of 7 days that amounts to almost 40 pounds of food per person. Multiply this by the annual number of US visitors and maybe you get a hint of our food importation bill and drain on foreign currency earnings.

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25 Comments on “The Adrian Loveridge Column – Visitors Prefer to Eat Local”

  1. chad99999 November 14, 2016 at 2:49 AM #

    We really need to go beyond complaining about our reliance on imported foods.

    What are the practical steps required to create a stable supply of local food? Are there other countries that can provide the guidance we need? Are there consultants who can help us create the system we need? (Forget about the UN of its agencies). Are there farmers we can bring to Barbados to pioneer a new system? What has been the history of past failures to create supply linkages, and what can we learn from those failures?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David November 14, 2016 at 6:29 AM #

    What does a Trump presidency mean for Caribbean Tourism?

    by caribbeantradelaw

    What does a Trump presidency mean for most Caribbean countries’ largest foreign exchange earner? Secretary-General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Mr. Hugh Riley, explores this issue in his latest blog post. Have a read here! 

    Read more of this post

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  3. David November 14, 2016 at 6:31 AM #

    This is where James Paul of the BAS, the BHTA and MOA have been very disappointing. The tourism sector is a good place to begin because of the volume business opportunity.

    Like

  4. FearPlay November 14, 2016 at 8:58 AM #

    I’m out of my depth here but to the best of my knowledge everything that goes into local agriculture is imported, except labour. What with the high cost associated with imports added to our very high cost in labour, maybe it is more cost effective to import finished produce rather than grow our own. If an hotel is able to source what appears to be higher quality produce at a more reasonable cost then they will go that route. As a point of simple reference, compare the cost of imported lamb, limes and vegetables before attaching the horrendously high duties and tariffs and you’ll see what I mean.

    Like

  5. David November 14, 2016 at 9:15 AM #

    @Fearplay

    Yours is a valid concern BUT this is where the technocrats on the island must step up. There is opportunity cost to evaluate. Bear in mind agriculture is subsidised in the developed world.

    >

    Like

  6. Rosemary Parkinson November 14, 2016 at 11:44 AM #

    I have been preaching all of the above Adrian Loveridge from time immemorial and even more so since publishing Culinaria: The Caribbean, Nyam Jamaica and now Barbados Bu’n-Bu’n – my culinary tours – at great personal expense, both financially and emotionally, I might add. I nearly did not write what I am about to write. But came back to the blog after dismissing it, and decided that I could have one more rant. Just one more.

    I have screamed about all and more on the pages of Food – The Gleaner (Jamaica)newspaper’s section on a Thursday for years – I wrote for them as their main food critic/contributor. Tried to do the same for The Nation a few years back but was put down because “you cannot write bad things about food places because they could be already our or potential customers, and you cannot write good things because it would be free advertising”. What? I am not to be a critic, just have the title? Sounds like good government practice to me, come to think of it. Needless to say I could not live with that way of thinking. I guess all the work our dear Carnetta did for all those years left no real impact behind. So I gave up ‘the job’.

    I have written here on BU about all of the above including food, even in my Barbados book a sweet food conversation between several of the die-hards on here that cook (with permission from BU of course) and who gave recipes (what a great post that was, right David?). I have written countless postings on Facebook on the matter. I have spoken to Ministers of Tourism at seminars, done countless presentations backed by my photography, screamed about food and the lack or organization to hoteliers, young chefs too, in different Caribbean islands.

    More recently, literally nearly had a heart attack of anger while doing a presentation re our local food & health situation at the meeting of ACP, EU and other organizations to discuss why agriculture is so important for tourism – a subject that already had me in disbelief as it does not take a rocket scientist nor thousands of dollars in the type of expenditure it requires to gather all these people in one room to know that importance. I found myself literally shaking with hurt and anger as I spoke and my photographs rolled over on the overhead televisions for I was constantly being sent notes to desist (I guess those at the top did not want to hear any more truths not knowing what I was about to start on the positives), so much that afterwards, I was ashamed to have burst open like that in front of so many hundreds of delegates from all over the world (although literally one or two actually quietly came to me and whispered how they agreed with all I said). I felt ashamed that my outburst would somehow damage all the positive discussions I heard all around me supposedly being done in the ACP countries. Until I returned home and came to the realization that (a) I have nothing to be ashamed about – my passion for this island and the Caribbean as whole has no boundaries. I did not lie. I simply told a truth in a passionate way, a truth that maybe many took as being thrown outta proportion but in the scheme of things, I was not interested in getting more funding from the EU for projects, I was only interested in getting us better, opening our eyes and getting us proactive. I cannot be ashamed of my words or my rants when it comes to our culture, our traditions our delightful food and our health. I cannot. But I can make another change.

    I have worked for all of these years, since 1992 with my pen and my travels, have never had a real holiday since because I am always working, learning, talking to people in the food world, reading everything I can, photographing, writing in magazines. My voice and all the other voices who joined me in solidarity or just on their own, were hoping to change the way many restaurants, people et al think, encourage all to buy and eat more local. But apart from some few very very brave farmers, vendors, small eateries such as Harriett at Cheapside Market Food Court (upstairs), Mustors in Bridgetown, Granny’s at Oistins, Hunters Bar in Tudor Street (only mentioning my favourites to be honest, there has not been a major change, certainly not in Barbados. I know there are more visionaries to be named as trying their best, and praise be for that – the numerous delicious van ladies; the odd restaurant such as Brown Sugar whose buffets at least carry some local dishes (not as many or as good as before sadly) or Savannah Hotel. I have met young Chefs who would give anything to be able to use “ours” in their cooking but are not allowed to experiment because the big guys ent gine have to work their backsides off looking for no local foods – actually we now even have a young Chef who is doing what so many in our culinary establishments seemed to think was just not on – a Chef who has given me best gift of all without even knowing it.

    A young Jason O Howard saw the potential of our traditional cuisine, understood the flavours and was visionary enough to finally see that this delightful cuisine of ours could be taken further than just ordinary levels, but into art on a plate that not only brings back the memory of say a huge bowl of souse, or a stuffed roasted yard chicken, fish cakes, porridge pun a night (the list is endless) but, actually tastes like home, tastes like how it should taste, beautifully seasoned our way. Art on a plate that could bring us the only Michelin star the Caribbean has received but guess what? Having worked from the bottom to the top, this son of the soil does not live here anymore. In a way, and in order to keep his vision alive, he was forced to leave to look for opportunities to put his love and ideas and experimentation on a plate. So Jason lives in London to the delight of all those who have eaten his food, and travels all over teaching, experimenting, doing what he loves best – showing off Caribbean cuisine to be the finest in the world. Jason has finally, only this year really, been recognized after a half of a lifetime doing and learning what he loves best by the BTMI London… but he should be their poster boy of food and paid for the honour. This young man could be the answer to so much. However, while he will be at Food & Rum in these coming weeks, Barbados, in the true sense of the word, is not ready for him. There is not enough respect for this kind of creativity when it comes to the financial side of things. Well not yet. And to be truthful, Jason can pull from England all the fresh clean Caribbean produce and product he requires, including our staples from the local markets, sometimes at better prices than home – yes some grown in England self and some imported from African, Asian, Caribbean and Pacific countries. As happy as I am to see these export market supplies in bountiful quantities, it is shameful that it doan seem to work here. Sad enough all of it.

    My fight has been huge. Really huge. Barbados, in particular, more so than the many other English-speaking Caribbean islands (the only worse one could be Antigua), lacks local traditional food cooked the local way with ingredients made from local sources but more importantly lacks knowledge of the good of organic or clean foods, or what constitutes healthy. Here are just quick notes of some of the things I would like to see in my lifetime, not just for Barbados but for the whole of the Caribbean. Caricom members could do well to get off their proverbial 40-something year bottoms and get this done, at least.

    Organic or clean foods for Barbados. For the Caribbean in fact. No pesticides, no GMO seeds or otherwise.
    More farming – we have enough land lying around – if government would implement more schooling on the subject, implement the studies, bring back respect, encourage knowledge for what is ours. Bring in those who can teach us better, give more concessions/funding/loans at small interest to help those interested in becoming working farmers.
    There is clean and forward technology available where tons upon tons of food can be grown on as little as three acres of land. Would love to see it implemented.
    Technology is there that can be adapted for farmers and places of business, including vendors that deal with food (like one centre point whose only business is to be connected to farmers and know who has what and what should be grown so there is never a glut of one product). Farmers organizing same between them also.
    Farmers thinking artisan products – butter et al
    Caribbean islands united in agricultural aspects, import and export.
    Inexpensive flights for humans and cargo so that the integration and highly publicized but not materialized Caricom idea can work. Farm workers moving about with impunity (we send them to Canada why not here) to help on farms.

    I actually could go on and on. But right now, I am already tired. So just add on all that Adrian has said above.

    I have always known that we could have a vibrant full-on culinary experience to add to our foreign ones with a vibrant agricultural policy so we would not have to import so much, reducing our IMPORT BILL. KEY WORDS that brought on this thought.

    NOTHING…BUT NOTHING… WILL EVER CHANGE OUR AGRICULTURAL POLICY HERE IN BARBADOS (AND OTHER ISLANDS). OUR SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS DO NOT WANT IT. WHY YOU ASK? BECAUSE THE CURRENT YEARLY HUGE FOOD IMPORT BILL THAT CERTAINLY BARBADOS HAS (ADD IT TO ALL OTHER ISLANDS AND IT RUNS INTO THE MILLIONS ON THE SIDE OF BILLIONS) COLLECTS AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TAXES THAT LOCAL OR CARICOM FOODS WOULD NOT, SO IT IS IN THE INTEREST OF OUR GOVERNMENTS TO ENCOURAGE THE IMPORTATION AND CONSUMPTION OF FOREIGN IMPORTED FOOD NO MATTER HOW GOOD OR UNHEALTHY THEY ARE. SO THERE. MATTER DONE AND I, THEREFORE, DONE WORRYING ABOUT US AND OUR LACK OF LOCAL. IT IS AN IMPOSSIBLE WORRY TO HAVE AND AN IRON WALL TO BREAK DOWN.

    This was sure one light bulb moment that has changed me for suddenly that shame and that pain stopped, the passion remained but I knew it would never, ever continue to force my health onto the iffy side. I will continue to promote what I can. The places where great local food can be found. Whether expensive or inexpensive (there ent nutting cheap no mo’). I will write about Chef Jason O Howard till the Michelin star comes home. I will big-up in every Chef with vision that cooks, promotes and shares the joys of all that is ours. I will continue to be proud of Chef Edey for all he does to make the young realize the joy of taking traditional foods up a notch and hope one day that good local clean food farms and products will see the importance of sponsoring his cook-shows and competitions, so he too can get rid of some of imported stuff that because of that sponsoring, ensures he uses some products that are no ours.

    I will have great respect for all those who work at IICA for small pay. I will adore Ms Ena Harvey who does her best to instill in her staff to go out and shout the importance of local. I will continue to promote and spend my money while in Barbados with farmers, vendors through our markets. I will eat and take friends to our super food court at Cheapside Market. I will buy my meats from their butchers, I will always buy my fish from Redman at Oistins and hope one day I can convince him to salt some, so I can forget de cod from abroad. I will speak with dairy farmers and try to convince more to learn about making artisan products, our own cheese, our own butter, our own cream. The list goes on. I promise to think positive and try in a positive way to bring people who come to our shores to all my favourite local places, my rumshops where we can libate with the best of what is ours – our rum (my Mount Gay to be sure) and my fave beer (Deputy is a charm). I will ensure that I read labels and will do my best not to purchase foods from the US and will encourage others to do the same – only because most of our money goes there and their food quality received for our hard-earned money, we do not deserve.

    But I have hung up my ranting voice when it comes to large conferences and seminars – too disheartening and my passion cyan tekk de aftermath of nerves…I am on the side of those in the waiting room and want to live there for a good long while eating and drinking the goodness of what is ours. I will never, ever, again go through what I did at that EU conference. Will not ever damage my body so. I have to leave this kind of over the top passion now to the young, to you Adrian Loveridge. Continue your endless passion, take up the fight and scream loudly. As loud as you can. I will do my bit real quiet. Because I have to.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David November 14, 2016 at 12:07 PM #

    @Rosemary

    What you have been able to achieve so far and it continues must described as PRICELESS. The passion you exude in everything you do is PRICELESS. Do not give up even if you are of the view you are throwing a bucket of water in the sea. Some of us are inspired by people like you.

    Keep the flame burning.

    Like

  8. Vincent Haynes November 14, 2016 at 12:30 PM #

    David

    As late as the late 90s the then govt identified the Scotland District as the bread basket of Bim,set up a commitee and identified the crops and lands to be used…..nothing transpired.

    Since then we have had two Greenhouse farms one in St.Thomas and the other in St.Peter both no longer in operation.

    Todays solar technology will allow us to produce many temperate and even some winter crops.

    Fertiliser use will be greatly reduced with modern technology coupled with the fact that we can produce a lot more of our fertiliser with sargussum.

    We have the ability to produce virtually everything in Bim…….BUT……the elephant in the room are the importers of produce,fertiliser,pesticides,weedicides,tools,vehicles,seeds,eggs,etc,etc,they have invested too much to be allowed to fail and history will show that the Planter class controlled Bim upto around the 70s and then their arch enemy the merchant class took over and they will not relinquish power easily.

    Like

  9. David November 14, 2016 at 1:08 PM #

    @Vincent

    Wasn’t there a big fuss the other day between the BAS and Sandals about the need for the two sectors to integrate? Why cant we get this going?

    Like

  10. Vincent Haynes November 14, 2016 at 1:46 PM #

    David

    In the 90’s a body was set up called Agro-Eco-Tourism one of its aims was to be the link between farmers and hoteliers….one of the supporters of the idea was the then IICA rep for Bim a chap called Dagenais who was a jnr ag. minister before in a Quebec govt. who based on his province modus operandi(A farmer could only grow what he was instructed to by the farmers cooperative and limited to the amount and time of year)saw it as a good thing for Bim and all that had to be done was for the MoAg and the BAS to come up with a plan to regulate the farmers.

    Well he spent 2 years trying without success,our farmers are still un-regulated producing shortages and gluts to the benefit of the merchants and the Moag&BAS happily spinning top in mud.

    Like

  11. Colonel Buggy November 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM #

    We have not yet grasped the fact that agriculture is dead, or rather dying in Barbados. There are many forces in this country, that see the use of land for agriculture to feed the inhabitants ,as a waste of precious real estate.
    Over in Christ Church, near the new Blackman-Gollop primary school, we see hundreds of acres of former agricultural land , being cleared prior to the installation an upscale residential development .

    Moving the earth to please.

    Like

  12. Vincent Haynes November 14, 2016 at 1:52 PM #

    Colonel Buggy November 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM #

    Agricultures death will benefit the Merchants,the landowners,the govt and the realestate folks.

    The average Joe will over time be charged more for food and then years down the line wonder how it got so…….

    Like

  13. FearPlay November 14, 2016 at 2:11 PM #

    Anyone paused to think about predial larceny? Sir Charles is constantly complaining about thieves being caught in the act of stealing livestock and getting suspended sentences or less. Anyone stopped to think of the many small farmers who have had their life’s savings vanish as a result of thieves? Until we can fix that little problem don’t look for too many investing the time or money in this currently fools paradise.

    Like

  14. Vincent Haynes November 14, 2016 at 2:51 PM #

    Praedial larceny is used as a smoke screen by the do nothing agencies for their own agenda,it can easily be solved once a will exists…….

    A concerted effort exists to allow Ag to wallow in this island by acts of ommission and commission with only one conceivable end result.

    Like

  15. FearPlay November 14, 2016 at 3:44 PM #

    @Vincent Haynes – While what you say may be true, the farmers are meanwhile being asphyxiated by the smoke in the smoke screen.

    Like

  16. Vincent Haynes November 14, 2016 at 3:59 PM #

    FearPlay November 14, 2016 at 3:44 PM #

    Correct……many have given up in disgust.

    Like

  17. Simple Simon November 14, 2016 at 4:16 PM #

    @FearPlay November 14, 2016 at 8:58 AM “I’m out of my depth here but to the best of my knowledge everything that goes into local agriculture is imported, except labour…”

    water, sunshine,soil, knowhow…

    Like

  18. Simple Simon November 14, 2016 at 4:19 PM #

    Adrian is right.

    people who truly know food, prefer fresh.

    When food has been shipped thousands of miles it is no longer fresh, or at least not as fresh as foodies understand fresh.

    in addition we have to add the cost of shipping food thousands of miles, ALWAYS using expensive fossil fuels to do so.

    Like

  19. peterlawrencethompson November 14, 2016 at 5:27 PM #

    @Rosemary
    When I get back home next March I must seek you out and thank you in person.

    Like

  20. Colonel Buggy November 14, 2016 at 5:33 PM #

    Like Humpty Dumpty, agriculture has taken a great fall,and all of the Queen’s mules and all the Queen’s Knights do not appear to know how to put it together again.
    Perhaps they need to take some advice from the Stable Boys.

    40 Acres and lots of mules.

    Like

  21. Colonel Buggy November 14, 2016 at 5:46 PM #

    Praedial larceny has entered a new phase. Crop thieves are now obtaining large quantities of produce , with bounce cheques.

    Like

  22. Exclaimer November 14, 2016 at 7:01 PM #

    This government is not interested in having a robust agricultural industry. I have recently returned from Barbados and was astounded at the astronoimcal high food prices – certainly for imported foods. This was in contrast to the locally produced food which was relatively inexpensive.

    The archaic image of an industry rooted in slavery does not rest well with our leader’s consciences. If you want to know where Barbados is heading, then i suggest that you take a trip to the principality of Monaco, in France. I have been there and i can testify that It is a fabulously wealthy region and is an enclave for the elite. It is not a part of the world that embraces the poor.

    This government is not foolish. It is working to a plan: destroy the domestic agriculture industry; bring in expensive imports; and starve out the masses in the hope that they will emigrate.

    It amazes me that so many of you bright folks on BU consistently fail to understand the policies of our politicians and their end game. They and their backers have calculated that Barbados needs to remove her poor from off the island by any means necessary.

    Like

  23. bajans November 14, 2016 at 8:54 PM #

    @Rosemary

    You mentioned some years back Harriets’ in the Cheapside market. I tried her and now whenever I am home I eat there at least once a week. I told her how I heard of her and mentioned your name but she does not remember you. It is a dire task cooking coo-coo for one person, so I always get it there. This year I took home a friend and we went there and my friend could not make up her mind so she had half coo-coo and half rice and peas with salt fish gravy. Harriet’s prices are reasonable and she ALWAYS serve salad and vegetables. She told me she would not charge extra for salad or veggies as she always had them with meals growing up. You will also get a slice of yam or sweet potato. Sometimes she has breadfruit or banana coo-coo.

    Re the Brown Sugar, it has gone down. I went there about four years ago with my son and was disappointed. The pepperpot was like long pond and tasteless, the flying fish were not seasoned and deep fried in a tempura batter. The souse was awful, all salt and no lime. The only thing I enjoyed was the bread pudding with rum sauce. I will NEVER eat there again. Waste of money.

    Another good place to eat local food is the food van at Rockley Beach. The one run by the Guyanese lady. My god, her food is good and cheap! $12 for a hefty lunch. There is a white local who goes and buys for his whole family. He told her in February when he went to pick up his lunches that she is too cheap that she should charge $15. In fact, it is worth more. Her food sells out in an hour after she arrives.

    Like

  24. Colonel Buggy November 14, 2016 at 10:22 PM #

    Exclaimer November 14, 2016 at 7:01 PM
    And to put the masses to live back into the gullies is not on their agenda either, as I’ve recently seen a runaway bushy gully up for sale,40 acres I believe, described as a Tropical Forest.

    Like

  25. lawson November 15, 2016 at 8:03 AM #

    Exclaimer the problem with that thought process is Barbados will be left with only criminals as people convicted of crimes may not be allowed entry into another country. For instance if you had and a enditable offence in your country you probably wont get in to canada

    Like

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