Diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer are rampant here, along with a slew of other illnesses.
There is almost no farming, and the veggie displays at the local groceries are limited, to be kind- most of what they carry is in cans or boxes or bags - not a lot of fresh stuff, and the only "green" is iceberg, which as we all know, is white. We offered a friend a blueberry the other day, when we got our shipment in, and he said he had heard of them but never seen or tasted one before. I'm sure he could have given a dissertation on all varieties of Doritos and lunch meats. The main meal here is fried seafood, but they also eat all manner of meat, dairy, refined flours and other junk. Some of the older children here are so overweight it should be criminal, though the little ones are like little rails.
There is a shimmer of light here before we arrived, and her name is Mrs. Butters. She is a schoolteacher from Gayana, where farming is common. She started a school farm, with two huge greenhouses and lots of outdoor planting, and all of her students work in the garden and learn how to eat what they grow. The kids love it, so that was hopeful.
A few days before the dinner, we found that people were talking about us, and strangers were coming to our door asking for help with their illnesses, which prompted the dinner. They want to be well, they want to feel good enough to enjoy their children and grandchildren, to enjoy the paradise they live in. We told each one of them that a change of diet would be a good start, to give up their BAD (Bahamian All-the-time Diet) and learn some new habits. They protested very mildly, saying that it sounded hard, but if it would get them healthy, they'd do anything. We wanted to show them that it could be a wonderful, even joyful change, that while the food would be different, it would be delicious, too.
So, as people began to arrive at Antionette's house, we were a bit unsure of how this fried fish-loving group would take to the green juice we had made. We talked about alkalinity, how it is a good environment for our bodies and a bad environment for disease, as we sipped our juices, and they were all (well, except for one) enjoying the juice.
We moved to the dinner table and served the first course, Pecan Sammies (carrot-pecan burgers) wrapped in romaine leaves with fresh, thick tomato slices. We told them they were sort of veggie burgers, to be eaten with hands instead of forks, and everyone took tentative bites. Plates were soon empty, and when we brought out the main course, everyone seemed surprised that there was more food. ("You mean they aren't going to starve us? This health stuff doesn't mean starvation?")
We had rawvioli with marinara, plantain vegetable coconut curry and kale salad with Cripps pink apples, lentil sprouts and avocado. We also served sea purslane, a succulent plant that grows on the beaches here. It is very high in omegas and other nutrients, very salty and almost buttery. They loved it all, and some people even asked for seconds. We discussed good fats and bad fats, nutrient density, sugars, fiber and more as dessert was served (chocolate mousse with prickly pear-lavender ice cream and grawnola/banana candy toppings). Towards the end we even discussed the state of our oceans and what over-fishing would do to people who live on a small island.
Everyone seemed ready to jump on the wagon with us, and was very interested in getting in on our produce deliveries. We want this island to be healthy, we want the people here to be vibrant and happy. Our first foray into the junk-food-loving world of Bimini eating was successful, and we've come away from it with some strong allies and supporters.
We're planning lots more education, and as soon as our houses are ready, we'll have our place to host from. We're hopeful, energetic and with all the green-juice we've been drinking, nearly unstoppable. :) we'll keep you updated.