"Everyone today is concerned about health and wellness. Food can be our worst poison or our best medicine." This was the sentiment of Health and wellness expert Sharon Feanny, who was speaking at a recent Food Month Editors' Forum held at Mystic India in Montego Bay.
"As more and more people go out to dine, they are looking for healthy options - not just vegetarian, but food that is clean, and as such, the organic market is what we should be looking at," she emphasised.
"There is so much potential for our local products, and Food Month and Restaurant Week are great ways to market that." Feanny suggested.
"There is a growing market for gluten-free food. Almost every restaurant overseas has a gluten-free menu and our local restaurants should follow suit," she recommended.
"In the past, vegetarian meant eating veggie chunks and soya, but what a lot of people don't know is that soya is one of the most genetically modified foods which might cause hormone imbalance." Feanny charged.
She noted that vegetarians are now eating more plant-based foods - legumes, peas, nuts, seeds and high-vitality food - placing the emphasis on organic rather than trying to make something look like meat.
Promoting vegetarian lifestyle
Dennis McIntosh, executive chef at Tosh on the Rock, concurred.
"Jamaican food has made a tremendous impact worldwide, and Restaurant Week and Food Month definitely help in advocating and promoting a vegetarian lifestyle, as well as encouraging and teaching young chefs the genesis of local cuisine because a lot of people are now requesting vegetarian cuisine."
Nutritionist Rosalee Brown also lamented that not enough is being done with our starchy fruits and vegetables.
"When I go out, I don't see a lot being done in terms of that, and our traditional foods should be marketed for export tourism because there is so much potential for our local products," Brown said.
- Shanica Blair