The Editor, Sir:
A couple weeks in the home of a middle-class Jamaican couple and friends residing in upstate New York draws immediate comparison with a very significant aspect of our (Jamaican) diet. In a vital area of proper nutrition, Jamaicans are failing to meet that target and this might be a matter of affordability.
In the US, for instance, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the National Research Council all recommend five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Without a doubt, that recommendation is more than being met in the said New York household. Conversely, only a minority of Jamaican households can afford the exorbitant cost of local (and imported) fruits and vegetables (one orange or one ripe banana, half cup of vegetables equals one serving).
Economies of scale make food relatively cheaper in the US, while low production resulting from inadequate growing practice, high production input costs, and some amount of profiteering, push fruits and vegetables off the table of the average Jamaican.
Food is grossly overpriced in Jamaica and, although we are not starving, and there is food on the table, we are generally undernourished in relation to our daily nutritional requirements. Not to be misunderstood, we eat plenty, but invariably foods that are inadequately balanced and are mostly short in digestibility value.
This happens because of the current high costs of balancing a diet resulting not only in overall undernourishment of the population but also in the growing obesity that one newspaper report recently highlighted.
Notwithstanding their consistent high production, in European countries, for example, the Netherlands, food is relatively inexpensive while service aspects of their economy is at a high cost. Empirical evidence shows that under-nutrition is related to high crime and violence in a society.
I am, etc;