BROWSING through the latest news about global developments, two articles from two world-recognized groups stood out: the Food and Agriculture Organization's article how women from Chad are being taught how to best earn from Dih‚ an indigenous algae; and how Pacific Islanders have become obese because of chucking out indigenous diet as against the imported ones as reported by the World Health Organization.
Chad is listed as the fifth poorest country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI). It is estimated that 80 percent of its 10.3-million population live below the poverty line.
And yet on the edges of Lake Chad, for which the country is named, naturally grow Dih‚ or what the health conscious world call Spirulina. In this country that is marked with poverty and starvation is a lake that produces a natural algae rich in protein, iron and betacarotene, which the world commercially produces for premium prices.
But for so long, Chad was just so eaten up by their problems its people never looked at the lower caste women who were harvesting Dih‚ and selling these in their markets.
In the Pacific islands of the three regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, there is a high prevalence of obesity and its consequent health problems, and WHO says the culprit is imported food.
WHO estimates that in at least 10 Pacific island countries, more than 50% of the population is overweight, some islands even having as high as 90%; above 30% among women in Fiji and 80% of women in American Samoa.
Of greater interest is that in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, iodine deficiency and related goiter are endemic. The solution that has been posed is the introduction of iodized salt in the diet. But we all know what foods are rich in iodine. They are sea fish and shellfish. And for island countries to have people who lack iodine just means people who no longer eat what was their traditional diets.
We do not need to look far to Chad or Vanuatu. We just have to look at our cute, chubby children who will soon grow up to be obese, unhealthy adults to see that it is our continued failure to appreciate and push the healthy diet that ahs sustained our ancestors in exchange for the fat and carbohydrate saturated diets of the fastfood generation. Think, French fries.
But, is anyone keeping track of our children's health? Or are we just stuffing them up because of the convenience of buying fastfood as well as the quick smiles and cheers that we get upon mentioning that we're treating ourselves with this and that chicken?
Is anyone even looking at agricultural policies that encourage unhealthy lifestyles?
A country that panics over rice shortages and in response stocks up hysterically even though millions of tons will be wasted, just to be able to say that there is rice in stock will most likely not be able to consider the consequences of agricultural policies and marketing ploys to its population's health.
That doesn't meat that we will just allow our future generation to wallow in obesity. We can always wage our own localized healthy food campaign outside the much-hyped up zero trans-fat, which is really designed for the fast-food mentality.
Let's look within us to see what is it that we really produce and that we should be eating and will thus not be eaten up by poverty as Chad has become despite having a natural source of a world-coveted commodity, and not also become the rolly-polly iodine-deficient populace of seafood-rich Pacific island nations.
Such healthy diet consciousness, however, will only be successful if we as parents and elders drum these up for ever child to hear, see, and be enjoined to take on.