Embrace Your Roots!


Since the passage of hurricanes Maria and Irma, the one thing that can be said about food is that root vegetables 'rock'. It was reported that in the immediate aftermath of  the passage of Maria in Dominica, folks who had access to their 'ground provisions' experienced much less anxiety about food than those who were dependent on store-bought food. With respect to Food Security, roots and tubers are considered to have many advantages especially in developing countries which experience  hurricanes and prolonged drought. They grow underground and many thrive under unfavorable conditions. This makes tubers and root crops a very sustainable form of farming. They promote crop diversity which, in turn, contribute to healthier soil as they do well in mixed farming.

Yams, potatoes, dasheen, tannia, beets, turnips,  carrots, onions, garlic,  radishes, and ginger are all considered root crops. Roots are some of the most nutrient-dense edibles in the world. While each root contains its own set of health benefits, they share many of the same characteristics. Because they grow underground, they are among the best sources of antioxidants like vitamins  A and C.  They are abundant in magnesium and have the highest source of potassium in the veggie world; potassium helps control blood pressure. Roots may assist the digestive process and can enhance weight control because they are lower in calories as compared to grains such as rice. They are also high in  fiber which helps you 'fill full faster',  prevents constipation and serves as a defense against developing 'weakening' of large bowel (diverticular disease). With the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, that are directly linked to obesity, roots and tubers may have a role in curtailing the trend.

Unfortunately, in many developing countries, the population  have gravitated to a "Western-style" diet as the middle class in those countries rise. They are now consuming more meat and dairy while many foundation foods such as root vegetables become a "side dish". Processed foods continue to occupy a larger space in the food arena.  This trend does not bode well for small island states, which have little manufacturing base and therefore find themselves importing more and more food to satisfy the taste of consumers. That practice also discourages small farmers who supply the local market.  The creation of such a precarious situation also places those countries in a perilous state when disasters like hurricanes strike and store- bought foods are not readily available. It is time to get back to the roots.




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