Markets spur movement

In just a few short years, commercial agriculture in the Cayman Islands has taken off.

Considering the difficulties in previous attempts to get consumers to buy local produce, this is a major accomplishment.

The initiative was pushed by former Minister of Agriculture Kurt Tibbetts and is being carried on by current Minister of Agriculture Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

With additional support from the Department of Agriculture and the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society, many of Cayman’s farmers are now producing the quality of produce consumers want.

The buyers include restaurants and grocery stores as well as members of the public.

New technology and new growing methods are part of the reason agriculture has worked this time, but another reason is a transformation of consumers.

More and more, people want good, wholesome foods, preferably fresh.

People now understand that a lot of the health problems the Western World is experiencing are caused by diet.

Plus, for anyone who has compared the taste of a tomato grown locally with one that gets shipped in from overseas, fresh is clearly superior on the plate.

The move toward locally produced foods is not unique to Cayman.

In countries all over the world, people are coming to the same conclusion and the growth of the Slow Food movement is testament to that.

That organisation advocates good, nutritious foods, produced responsibly in a way that is kind to the Earth and fair compensation for the producers.

Slow Food believes eating locally produced food supports biodiversity and preserves food culture.

The group thinks consumers are actually co-producers because the decisions they make in buying food can change decisions all along the food chain.

For example, if Cayman’s grocers see more demand for local produce, less food will be shipped in from overseas.

Those who haven’t been to the Market at the Grounds on a Saturday morning or to Camana Bay on a Wednesday afternoon would probably be pleasantly surprised at the quality of produce they find.

Their taste buds will be pleasantly surprised as well.