Are Barbadians Buying Contaminated Food?

In our system of government (sog) officials elected to parliament are expected to put the interest of the people ahead of their own. In fact the (sog) places a premium on those offering themselves to public office, not dissimilar to the calling of a priest who is expected to facilitate members of the public getting closer to the Most High. In other words, it is not a 9 to 5 job, it is a ‘calling’.

There has been a lot written in recent years about rising apathy and cynicism by the public directed at the political class and government institutions, Barbados is no different. We can cite comments from the Auditor General, note the precarious state of the National Insurance Scheme or if we want to go big – the ease with which successive governments have borrowed massively instead of implementing initiatives to facilitate adequately earning our way in the world.

It is important for members of the public to be able to develop trust in public officials. Take for example the issue of food standards. The average citizen enters a supermarket or any similar outlet to purchase food items with an understanding standards are being met to protect health standards. In Barbados the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI) is the agency with primary responsibility. The reference to BNSI should not be misconstrued as accusing the institution of not delivering on its mandate although the blogmaster is not in a position to know.

The objectives of the BNSI are to facilitate trade and the international competitiveness of Barbadian goods and services, the protection of consumers and the harmonious development of the sectors of the economy, through the development of standards, revision and amendment of these standards from time to time, testing of products for conformity to these standards, certification of products to national standards, accreditation to ensure that those who carry out testing, certification and inspection are competent to do so and calibration of measures (including mass, volume, temperature, length).

BNSI

A survey of markets in countries more developed than Barbados and with active consumer organizations suggest that Barbadians should be very concerned about the quality of food items being sold to the public.

Two videos sent by Alien to BU with a focus on bottled water and meats are a must watch. Believe it or not this is an expose from Canada and not a third world country. Where can Barbadians turn for comfort that health standards are being monitored?

This is about the quality of water.
This is about meat.

Treat Your Body Like a Temple

A timely reminder from long time BU family member Bentley that it is important to make sensible decisions about our diet.

Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian population

Assuming the rights to health and healthy food as general assumptions, the Guide is an official document that addresses the principles and recommendations of a healthy diet for the Brazilian population, representing a tool to support food and nutrition educational activities in SUS and also in other sectors. Considering the multiple determinants of feeding practices and the complexity and challenges that are involved in the shaping of current food systems, the Food Guide reinforces the commitment of the Ministry of Health to contribute to the development of strategies for the promotion and realization of the human right to adequate food.

Ministry of Health of Brazil

A ‘Glocal’ Food Crisis

Submitted by Steven Kaszab

Wheat prices have tumbled from its peak when Russia had invaded the Ukraine, but one of the worlds most consumed items remains in short supply and that the global hunger crisis still remains. Much like oil, steel and beef, wheat shifts its price and availability in response to many complex factors such as geopolitics and the weather. Declining prices of wheat creates a challenge to our economies, one where low prices of wheat may not incentivise farmers to plant more wheat, thereby creating more scarcity of this product and its many off take products. A lower price for wheat does not deal with the ever increasing cost of energy, which affects the cost of running farm equipment, transportation and even the manufacturing  of needed fertilisers.  Hot, dry weather is also crimping the farmers style of crop growth. Our global economy is facing a potential situation where food prices could spiral out of control. 

Russia and the Ukraine account for 1/4 of global wheat exports. That is what war has affected. A man made crisis that may go into the long term. Adding global drought episodes and we are facing a combination of scarcity, corporate profiteering and ultimately food price gouging like not seen before. Wheat prices are at a level seen before the year began.  @ $7.75 per bushel jumped to over $13.00 right after Russia invaded Ukraine. The price stayed in double digit’s through this June and then began to fall to a $8.00 a bushel level. Winter Wheat stocks also brought the price down and a deal between Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations has allowed some wheat to ship to international markets. 

The cost of wheat and many other foods have been affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine, but the real factors that will affect the price of bread, cereal and other items will be climate change, the price of fuel and fertiliser.  Climate change is making crop growth highly unpredictable. Lack of rain, drought level micro climates and over harvesting of single crop items are limiting what can be grown and harvested each year. In Canada temperatures soared to record highs, making three fourths of the country’s 2021 agricultural land  abnormally dry. Canada’s wheat crop dropped to nearly 40% from 2020 to 2021, causing its exports to Latin America to decline by over three million tons.  Also, in 2020 wheat was about 30% cheaper then it is now. 

Because Russian fertiliser is so important to the global farm trade, it avoided international sanctions. Although high prices hurt countries that import wheat, low prices might dissuade farmers from planting extra crops this year. Over the past decade the number of farms closing production has increased. Family farms are becoming less and less, while corporate farms of thousands of acres specialise in the most profitable of crops, often no those crops that feed the nation. 

Like the stock exchange, food prices are on the move up and down, making money for some, and costing money for others. Whether the costs are artificially kept high, or there really is no controlling our food stuffs costs, the end consumer is in for a roller coaster ride, and their pocket books need to look out.

Cost of Living Matter (2) – A Time to Remain Unborn

Some ‘insane’ Barbadians are asking the question again – is the standard of living we have become accustomed tosustainable. Is it sensible for us `a net importer and purchaser of foreign currency to promote and implement policies that guarantee we must BORROW billions in foreign and local dollars to fund the short fall not covered from taxes collected in the case of domestic and foreign earnings?

Many years ago, ironically at the tail end of the last economic boom which Barbados never recovered, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur warned Barbadians about dark clouds on the horizon and the urgent need to make adjustments. To be expected we continued to engage in immature partisan political ranting as the walls of our society cracked are now tumbling around us.

We are a tiny island with zilch natural resources having to depend mainly on the fickle invisible export of tourism to generate foreign exchange to pay for our conspicuous consumption habits. We continue to build oversized homes, purchase fossil burning expensive SUVs, travel to distant lands to fulfil manufactured aspirations , aspire to study at elite universities, select exotic foods from supermarket shelves, the benefits sold to us on foreign cable beamed into our homes 24/7. To any sensible and educated person the dinosauric economic model could not and does not sustain the level of expenditure we have to incur. There is a good reason why Barbados’ economy has been described as open and susceptible to what economists fondly refer to as exogenous shocks.

On top of the obvious challenge of managing a minuscule 6-8 billion dollar economy largely dependent on a fickle tourism product, there is sufficient evidence – see Auditor General Reports outlining a litany of public sector malfeasance (private sector is always complicit) AND corruption to conclude we make a challenging situation more difficult. With revelations coming out of the arrest of former government minister Donville Inniss et al, there is evidence a culture exist that feeds corrupt behaviour. Although not a unique circumstance to Barbados, Barbadians must hold ourselves accountable for the kind of country we want to build for our children.

Many in this space lived through the 2007/8 global crisis and the oil crisis of the 70s. It is evident from the experiences of the two episodes we have not learned enough to commit to implementing resilient ‘fit for purpose’ policies. WE have allowed ourselves to buy into the ‘good life’ of consumption fuelled by an economy built on beach ground. Even in the face of the obvious, we have to listen daily to bull pucky discussions designed to take us no where. Unfortunately with the multiplicity of agendas to satisfy, with social media a ready purveyor of the inane the blame culture has taken deep root.

It is 2022, according to establishment analysts were are on the precipice of another global recession, one that should it occur given our fragile open economy will again wreak havoc on the lives of Barbadians, decimating a debt ridden middleclass and moving the poverty line north. Our visionless leaders combined with a level of disengagement from Barbadians – who the blogmaster has always contended ceded entitlements under our democracy to the political class – will have to suffer again for it until we learn to do better. The reference to a people getting governments they deserve has been recorded countless times in this space.

To the immediate matter at hand summarised in the article shared by a BU family member:


Rising food prices are changing the way we eat and shop

Emily Peck

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/U5xvN/1/Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios Visuals

Skyrocketing food prices in the U.S. are changing the way Americans eat and grocery shop — they’re buying more store brands, and less costly meat and produce. Some are now just making do with less.

  • Meanwhile, food manufacturers continue to “shrinkflate” — putting less potato chips or cereal in the bags and boxes that we buy.

Why it matters: This is inflation hitting home, contributing to the overall bummed-out mood of the nation.

  • Once upon a time, grocery shopping mainly fell to women, but these days 92% of adults do it. That means most everyone’s noticed rising food prices — and many have adjusted in ways both minor and potentially devastating.

Driving the news: The cost of “food at home” is up 11.9% from last year, the largest increase since April 1979, according to the scorching hot inflation numbers released Friday. Nearly every category of food the government tracks saw accelerating price growth. The most inflationary categories, as highlighted in a note from JPMorgan on Friday:

  • Egg prices up 32% year over year, thanks in part to a January bird flu outbreak that killed about 6% of commercial egg-laying chickens, as Axios’ Hope King explained last month.
  • Fats and oils were next on the list at 16.9%, partly due to the war in Ukraine, followed by poultry (16.6%) and milk (15.9%).

Unusual trend: The increases in prices for food at home are outpacing food-away-from-home, which is up *only* 7.4%.

  • This is “historically unusual,”JP Morgan notes. The growth differential is the widest since 1974, they said.

State of play: For a good snapshot of how rising food prices are changing behavior, we checked the most recent Beige Book — where the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks report on economic conditions in their area (h/t Planet Money’s Indicator podcast on this one):

Read full article https://www.axios.com/2022/06/13/rising-food-prices-are-changing-the-way-we-eat-and-shop

Is a Global Food Shortage Coming?

Submitted by Melissa Martin, Ph.D. – author, columnist, educator living in the USA

Rumblings around the globe are predicting a food shortage, but can the citizens believe the power-driven politicians and the lying leaders? Even leaders of sovereign nations are known to manipulate and spew falsehoods. Why? Because they can – especially when the mainstream media is in their back pocket and their front pocket.  

Is it more a matter of supply chain issues, inflation and the cost of food products, ongoing effects from the coronavirus pandemic, or the recent war between Russia and the Ukraine?  

It depends on what the controlling globalists want you to believe. It depends on what the leaders of the Great Reset (aka New World Order) pass on to mainstream media for headlines. Don’t bother reading USA Today, the New York Times, or the Washington Post. Don’t bother watching CNN or MSNBC. And the owner of FOX limits information.  

Watch the documentary “Monopoly, Who Owns the World?” by Tim Gielen and find out what companies own what mainstream media news outlets: television, newspapers, magazines, websites. Find out what companies own the food factories. Peruse the shareholders – Blackrock and Vanguard are major players.  

“President Biden on Thursday warned of global food shortages as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine — predicting that the war would upend global wheat supplies,” according to a March 24, 2022 article in the New York Post. But President of the U.S. Biden is onboard with the New World Order as he recently stated. 

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. The WFP is governed by the WFP Executive Board, which consists of 36 Member States and provides intergovernmental support, direction and supervision of WFP’s activities.  

The United Nations signed a contract with Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum. So, the UN is onboard with the New World Order. “You will own nothing and you’ll be happy,” says Schwab. Bill Gates is pushing humans to eat plant-based diets, synthetic meats, and bugs. Trusting the members of the New World Order is like allowing a weasel into the henhouse.  

Read the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It rings with utopian bliss. The UN rhetoric reads like a savior that is coming to save the planet and humanity. But a false savior has to first create a false problem – so they can ride in to save the day with a false solution.  

In other words, the United Nations will ask/request/demand that all citizens of all nations give up all money, property, and possessions for the sake of feeding humanity. It’s called global communism. Say farewell to freedom, democracy, and liberty. While the elites at the top of the pyramid wine and dine – the servants at the bottom obey orders. 

“14 ways to PREPARE for food shortages around the world,” is a 2022 article by Glenn Beck.  

Visit https://www.glennbeck.com/radio/14-ways-to-prepare-for-food-shortages-around-the-world

Citizens, as you stock up on canned food and staples, buy some extra to share with your neighbors – if and when, a food shortage arrives. 

Achieving Food Security a Transitory Inconvenience


A country distracted by the pandemic and rightly so, compounded by a snap general election. As if a general election called during a pandemic and all that it ensues wasn’t enough there is the fallout from another 30-0 defeat for all comers. 

To coin a popular phrase used by a former prime minister who presided during the glorious years- the pandemic and current post general elections are merely transitory inconveniences. With the recent ease in COVID 19 protocols the time has come for the underlying issues that effect how we mange our lives to revert to the front burner of focus.

Can you guess what is one of the underlying issues that should concern us? If you cannot watch the video.

T&T Farm

Import it First Attitude!

It is often bandied about the ministry of agriculture (MOA) has more employees with PhDs than most places. However, if you try to plot a correlation between national agriculture output and number of post grad certifications in the MOA, there is a negligible positive. 

The late prime minister Owen Arthur warned Barbadians of storm clouds on the horizon and that Bajans should take interest in backyard farming, he was ridiculed- the matter was consumed by the usual political diatribe. The same occurred when the late David Thompson promoted a slogan of ‘crime and violence. It is ironic looking back that two prime ministers of Barbados were unable – although lead policymakers – were unable to change irrelevant behaviour in our people.

Despite three years into the term of the incumbent government and two years into a pandemic – have we seen enough activity in the agriculture sector given the urgency of now? The answer is NO!

Many times we visit restaurants and ask the question, do you have sweet potato to replace english potato, do you have natural juices to replace artificially flavoured etc, too many times the answer is NO!

What is the purpose of the social partnership if during a period of economic hardship stakeholders are unable to see the benefit of vertical integration approaches in the domestic marketplace?

The following video was shared by Bentley, long time BU contributor.

#foodfirst
#carmeta

Grenville Phillips Speaks: Difficult Conversations – Eating Meating

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean is predicting a 40% unemployment rate in Barbados in December 2020. To survive, many may need to learn how to make money stretch.

Every evening, I eat a delightfully healthy, nutritious, and well satisfying meal with my family. I cook this meal myself, and each forkful brings me immense pleasure. At the end of the meal, my taste-buds were well-activated and my belly is full.

While some fine dining (big-plate small-food) restaurants may charge me over $100 per meal to artificially activate my taste-buds, my home-dinner normally costs $1.20 per plate, and does the same thing naturally. Yes, one dollar and twenty cents. Let me show you how.

First, I stopped eating the corpses of dead animals few years ago; neither fish, fowl, nor beast of the field. This saves me about $75 each month per plate. If four persons in a household eat meat, then that costs about $300 per month per plate on meat alone. I get my proteins from lentil peas. The ingredients follow.

INGREASEMENTS.
I buy one bag of Camellia lentil peas for $4.62 including VAT. The ‘local’ brands, which are a lot cheaper, simply package imported peas, but do not state the source. That is against the laws of Barbados. I complained to the authorities, but no one seems to care.

I buy a 2-lb bag of Uncle Ben’s whole grain (brown) rice for $12.39. Again, the ‘local’ brands are a lot cheaper, but I do not support lawbreakers. Is the source country using child, enslaved, or prison labour? I care about such matters.
I buy a can of non-genetically modified (Non GMO) corn for $3.50. I can purchase genetically modified corn for less, but I care about what I eat. I buy Premium Bajan Seasoning with no Monosodium glutamate (MSG) for $4.99. If I can find Went Work’s seasoning, I but that instead. I also buy ginger ($0.85), garlic ($0.39), two medium sized onions ($0.96), and four large carrots ($3.85).

THE RECEPIE.
So, here is the recipe, which takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. I pour the bag of lentils and half of the bag of rice in a container, and rinse them. Then I put the rinsed contents in a large pot, with the same volume of water.
While the peas and rice are soaking, I cut up the two onions (in fine pieces), one-third of the ginger (large so they can be removed later), and two cloves of garlic (fine), and add them to the pot. I also put in a tablespoon of the seasoning, a teaspoon of sea-salt, and a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper.

I then turn on the heat to high, and stir the mixture until all of the ingredients are mixed. Once the water starts boiling, I turn it to low, cover the pot while leaving a small gap, and let it simmer for 15 minutes (I use a timer).
While it is simmering, I cut up two large carrots (1/2 lb), and rinse the carrots and the can of corn. After 15 minutes of simmering, a little water should be in the bottom of the pot. I mix in the carrots and the corn and let it simmer for two minutes before turning off the heat. What is not eaten is portioned in containers and frozen for later use.

THE COST.
The cost of the high-priced ingredients used in the pot was $18. The pot holds 15 plates of food. Therefore, each plate costs $1.20. If I bought the cheapest rice, peas, corn, and seasoning, then each plate would cost about $0.85.
I can enhance each plate with one third of a chopped apple, so that each fork-full has a piece. That brings the total cost to $1.40 (or $1.05 using the cheaper foods). So, what do I do with the savings I make for eating in this manner? I buy meats for my family.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Understanding Food and the Ecology

For those who love to read here is a book IN DEFENSE OF FOOD – Thank you Bentley.

Here is another topic Barbadians delight in giving lip service. We have reached a point where we do not intend to attack the serious issue of food security. Equally important is that we do not use our intelligence and formal education to understand how different foods we consume affect our health.

We express horror at the rising numbers of NCDs in Barbados. However the authorities hail the expansion of the Burger Kings, Chefettes and other fast foods outlets as an economic boon. We glamorize the convenience of eating ‘junk food’ because it is the right of the individual to eat as they please, YET, taxpayers will have to pick up the tab when the national health budget is allocated.

Go figure!

Expect to read the usual empty headed nonsense by a few who like a broken lock will opine –

Blame the BLP!

Blame the DLP!

Blame the White man!

Blame the man in the mirror?

Minister Sutherland @Shopsmart Notsmart

The Editor

Barbados

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

There was an article in the Daily Nation of the 20th.December 2018 captioned Sutherland calls for sanitary lab. The article alluded to the fact that “Shop Smart” seemed to be having problems over the amount of money it was losing when food products had the Best Before Date (BBD) embossed either on canned or film-packed foods. Minister Sutherland alluded to the fact that money could be saved if the products basically,were tested to determine their wholesomeness after the BBD. He also mentioned in paragraph six that :”the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, (DCCA)… we can’t carry that because we may engage in the risk of harming people………..”

All I could do was laugh. Is it not the function of the Supermarket to ensure that products stocked and their movement through the facility are monitored, to facilitate savings? Obviously, products with short moving times should be purchases in larger amounts than those with longer moving times. Surely this is not the job for Minister Sutherland, as was clearly seen in the awkwardness with which he addressed the topic. Surely this a management problem which the management Shop Smart must address. Some Supermarkets have shelves devoted (Popular Discount and Cherish to name a few) to BBD products. The price of the items are reduced and the consumer buys them.

It is also quite obvious that the DCCA does not seem to have a clue about what tests would have to be done to achieved the goals stated by Minister Sutherland. As a matter of fact one must ask oneself if there are persons trained in food science in DCCA.

In 2000, there was a letter published in the Barbados Advocate on the first of November under the caption: “Not such an easy matter” by me; part of which I now reproduce:

The following comments are made from an educational and consumer aspect…….since it is evident that …..needs more exposure in the area of food science and the quality characteristics associated with stored food products. To illustrate what Iam talking about,I will deal with a box of cornflakes. In the fresh state the consumer expects the product to have the following kinesthetics or textural characteristics: crunchiness when chewed in the absence of milk;brittleness when bitten and mashiness when mixed with saliva in the mouth. These characteristics all come under the heading of mouth-feel and are taught as part of the undergraduate program in food science…..Storage test at room temperature and accelerated storage tests at elevated temperatures are conducted to determine the length of time over which the stored food products retain premium quality status.Chemical analyses to determine the levels of ash,sugars,vitamins….Analysis of the head space in canned and film-packed foods are also done to determine if there is any change in flavor or odor and a BBD is then issued. Cornflakes are packed in an inner barrier of wax paper,which is enclosed in a cardboard box. The inner wax barrier reduces the rate at which moisture and oxygen diffuse from the surroundings,through the cardboard and into contact with the flakes themselves.Over a period of time,diffusion of moisture and oxygen affect the texture of the stored flakes which become soft.The consumer will not buy such a product. It is therefore pointless to talk about extending BBD of cornflakes. In the case of canned food products, simple observation of the shape of the can tells one whether or not the contents are wholesome. Whole chapters of food science books under thermal processing of canned foods are devoted to this. In any event, extending BBD means that the nutritional values would have to be checked and since Barbados places no stress on the scientific capabilities (apart from computer science) of its nationals, there is a slim chance of nutritional assessment being done,since a very high level technical ability is needed to do so. I have not addressed perishables (meats, fish and fruits) for self-evident reasons.

Minister Sutherland would better serve the country by dealing with food fraud instead. In a letter to the Barbados Advocate of the 18th. November 2000,captioned : “Food fraud a global occurrence” I outlined the adverse effects of such fraud: from the mixing of red lead to paprika; the addition of mineral oils to olive oils, to the fake antibiotics that cause an increase in antibiotic resistance; changing of labels ,expiry dates and BBD are all par for the course with food fraud. Advanced countries have their hands full dealing with food fraud.

Robert D. Lucas,PH.D.

Certified food scientist (CFS)

Dr. Lucas Responds to Peter Webster’s Deleterious Effect of Seaweed on Soils Piece

Submitted by Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D. and CFS, Certified Food Scientist

 

[Barbados Underground]

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

There was an article in the Nation of 26th July entitled “How to handle sargassum” by Mr. Peter Webster. Webster in paragraph one seems to have a problem with “however, if large concentrations of sodium salts are added to the soil.’In paragraph two he cites some work done in Portugal that indicates sargassum “has a strong potential as functional food ingredient.” These comments of Webster are now dealt with.

All sodium salts are soluble and there is therefore a tendency for these salts to be leached downward. In periods of drought, sodium salts rise by capillary action to the surface of the soil. It ought to be obvious that with the repeated addition of seaweed to the soil, there will be an accumulation of sodium in the soil profile; that under dry conditions can rise by capillary action and affect both the salinity and sodic nature of the soil. Is Webster suggesting that the sargassum is only going to be applied once to the soil? Webster conveniently ignored the fact that in paragraph two of my article it is stated “the deleterious effects described by Hunte…can be attributed to the ..development over time of soils that are saline-sodic.” Webster makes an issue of the ratio of potassium (K) to sodium (Na) in the living seaweed In any event K:Na in the living seaweed has nothing to do with what happens when seaweeds are decomposed by microbial action in the soil. As previously stated, since K has a greater ionic volume/radii than Na, it is adsorbed before Na.

I have addressed the uses of seaweeds in food in my article of 14th July in your on-line paper.

Sincerely

Robert D. Lucas,Ph.D. and CFS.

Certified Food Scientist.

What to do with Sargassum

Submitted by Robert D. Lucas,Ph.D. and CFS, Certified Food Scientist

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

The following is an overview of the uses of seaweed in the food industry. Suggestions are also proposed for prospective uses of the product.

Seaweeds belong to a group commonly called macro-algae or  hydrocolloids in the food industry. The  latter name derives from the propensity of the substances to form viscous dispersions and or gels when dispersed in water  (colloidal sols) and from the extensive hydroxyl groups with which the substances can form attachments with water molecules.. Hydrocolloids are a heterogeneous group of long chain polymers (polysaccharides{sugars} and proteins). Some of the amino acids in the protein chain contain sulfur (for example; methionine). These are broken down by sulfur using bacteria into hydrogen sulfide and other noxious substances. Hydrocolloids are widely used in the food industry because of their ability to modify the rheology of food systems This include two basic properties of food systems namely, flow behavior (viscosity) and mechanical solid (texture)property (Saha,D.and Bhattacharya,S.(2010) “Hydrocolloids as thickening and gelling agents in food: a critical review.” J. Food Sci.Technol. 47:6: 587-597.).

According to McHugh. J.D. 2003. “A Guide to the Seaweed Industry.” FAO. Fisheries Technical Paper #44:: “The seaweed industry provides a wide variety of products that have an estimated total annual value of US$ 5.5-6 billion. Food products for human consumption contribute about US$ 5 billion of this. Substances that are extracted from seaweeds -hydrocolloids – account for a large part of the remaining billion dollars, while smaller, miscellaneous uses, such as fertilizers and animal feed additives,  cosmetics and the manufacture of paper make up the rest.”

Hydrocolloids fall under the heading of functional food additives,. They are widely used in many food formulations to improve quality attributes and shelf-life. The two main uses are as thickening and gelling agents. As thickening agents, they find uses in soups, gravies, salad dressings, sauces and toppings while as gelling agents, they are extensively used in products like jam, jelly, marmalade, restructured foods and low sugar/calorie gels (Saha and Bhattacharya. 2010).

Seaweeds are classified in commerce according to pigmentation as: red(used for agar and carrageenan in the food and microbiology) and  brown or green. Sargassum seaweeds (SW) are brown. Brown seaweeds are used for the manufacture of aginlates for the food industry. Apart from being thickeners, alginates have some applications that are not related to either their viscosity or gel properties. They act as stabilizers in ice cream; addition of alginates reduce the formation of ice crystals during freezing, giving a smooth product  Alginate gels are used in re-structured or re-formed food products. For example, re-structured meats can be made by taking meat pieces, binding them together and shaping them to resemble usual cuts of meat, such as nuggets, roasts, meat loaves, even steaks.They are also used in the controlled release of medicinal drugs and other chemicals. In some applications, the active ingredient is placed in a calcium alginate bead and slowly released as the bead is exposed in the appropriate environment.

Available information on Sargassum natans and fluitans, the two species of primary concern across the Caribbean, is sparse (Michelle Morrison, CPI and Daniel Gray. The Caribbean Council,  Anaerobic Digestion Economic Feasibility Study: Generating energy from waste, sewage and Sargassum Seaweed in the OECS :CPI Report Number: CPI-SP-RP-141(31/01/2017).It was also concluded that it was not economically feasible to generate bio-gas using anaerobic digestion since SW have low biochemical methane potentials (BMP). Anaerobiosis using pure culture techniques were apparently not used. Using pure culture techniques one can swamp the indigeneous microflora of the substrate with the microflora of choice, thereby controlling the rate of the process using continuous anaerobiosis (by using pure cultures other organisms that can divert the production of methane are effectively inhibited. Must also be noted that the carbohydrate content of seaweed as a substrate varies during the course of the season. According to Lenstra and others (.2011).Ocean Seaweed Biomass For large scale bio-fuel production Energy Research Center,Netherlands (ECN) S. natans has the following chemical composition :on a dry weight basis(dw) Proteins;6.59%; Fat 0.54%;Carbohydrate 76.43%; Phosphorus  0.082; Potassium19.56%; Energy (kJ/100g dry matter) 1410.

SW structurely consists of linear polysaccharides made up of 25-30 glucose units linked by(beta) b 1-3 glycosidic bonds. In some cases b1-6 glycosidic bonds occur. Since the cell wall of SW contains cellulose. the biomass must be pretreated and  then (1) treated with (hydrolyzed ) cellulase enzyme systems supplemented with β-glucosidase followed by(2) fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae(yeasts). Having stage(1)immediately followed by stage (2), result in what is known as a two-stage process which is economically more expensive. It is better to have stage (1) and (2) operating simultaneous, using continuous fermentation in the production of alcohol This can be done by the use of immobilized enzyme technology. In immobilized enzymes, the enzymes are enmeshed in a membrane (made of aginlate) which facilitates the reuse of the enzymes reducing costs and increasing reaction efficiencies.

SW can be used as an animal feed for ruminants only at present, since poultry do not have the necessary enzyme systems required to handle b glycosidic links. Feed from SW, has a low protein content  when compared to soy. To augment the protein content, SW can be used as a substrate for the production of single cell protein. Using continuous fermentation techniques, protein yields as high as 40% on a  dry-weight basis can be obtained. Single cell protein can be used in the formulation of non-ruminant rations as I having been advocating for more than twenty years (letters to the Editor, Barbados Advocate). Thinking long term, the gene for the beta glycoside using gene editing techniques can be inserted into a bacterium found normally in the gut microflora of non-ruminants. The edited bacterium with the added gene can then be reinserted into the gut microflora of the non-ruminant by incorporating it into the rations.. The non-ruminant is now able to utilize feeds made from SW.  Alternatively, SW itself can be gene edited and the gene for the  b condition changed to the a state, making it possible to have feed that can be utilized by both ruminants and non-ruminants directly.

Brown macroalgae, Sargassum ssp., are considered as a potential biomass source for energy production due to their relatively fast growth rates, ease of harvesting, and low pre-production cost. Sargassum fluitans, S. natans, and S. filipendula are three of the most abundant macroalgae species found at Puerto Rico’s coasts. The lipids content of Sargassum spp. ranges between 1.0 and 2.5% (total lipids)Diaz-Vazquez and others (2015) “Demineralization of Sargassum spp. macroalgae biomass: selective hydrothermal liquefaction process for bio-oil production.”Front.Energy Res. 3:6..

If the temperature and pressure  of carbon dioxide are both increased  to be at or above its critical point ,it can adopt properties midway between a gas and a liquid. More specifically, it behaves as a super critical fluid above its critical temperature 31.10 °C, (87.98 °F) and critical pressure of 72.9 atm, (7.39 MPa, 1,071 psi), expanding to fill its container like a gas but with a density like that of a liquid. Under these conditions carbon dioxide(CO2) acts as a solvent and removes fats/oils from a product. It is commonly used in the food industry in the manufacture of decaffeinated coffee. This method can be used to extract oil from SW without the residual harmful effects of the use of hexane, the solvent currently in  wide spread use.

SW is prevalent throughout the earth’s oceans. There has been a lot of noise locally about how to handle the problem. As far as I am concerned, there is no reason why the approach used in the fishing industry should not be adopted. With the use of drones and appropriate algorithms or biosensors one can easily detect the position of SW. Using algorithms, the difference in color of the ocean where the SW is versus where it is absent can be used to pinpoint the product. Alternatively, since S.natans has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen( by an associated epiphyte or cyanobacteria), a build up of or a depletion of nitrates can be used to detect SW, since the background levels in the ocean will be different. Similarly,the same should hold good for carbon dioxide(CO2) which is utilized during photosynthesis. Finally, there should be a temperature differential, due to the metabolic processes underway in the developing SW and the ocean’s background temperatures.  Lenstra and others (.2011) have outlined measures for fishing and harvesting SW. Recently a Caribbean country purchased two seaweed harvesters. So, instead of waiting for SW to come to Barbados, Barbados should go hunting for it.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Lucas,Ph.D. and CFS

Certified Food Scientist.

City of Bridgetown Upbraided!

A City of Bridgetown member expresses disgust!

I’m informing you to the fact that I take offense to your ad on health and nutrition in Barbados Today page 4. This ad features photos of blueberries and strawberries. These fruits are extra-regional while we have local fruits such as Avocado, Soursop, Bajan Cherry etc which are just as if not more nutritious than any fruit from outside the region. Why couldn’t these form part of the promotion? This is but one of the reasons why we cannot get our people to eat locally produced food and why our food import bill is sky high (in excess of $600 million). You need to be more responsible in the future.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – More Local Food

Adrian Loveridge

When I hear various vested interests lobby for the greater use of our tourism sector using more locally made and available product, I am a hundred percent behind this concept, but after almost three decades pursuing this ideal, I have to admit that it is not easy as it is made to sound.

It should not take five telephone calls, emails and Facebook messages and over week later still not possible to extract a wholesale price list. With a few notable exceptions many local companies do not even have or maintain a user friendly website and/or allow online orders and payments. Even when they do, so often you place an order, which sometimes is acknowledged and when the goods are not delivered in a timely manner, you chase and are told that the supplier is out or stock.

With so much speculation about the fragility of our economy and the frequent discussion about the possibility of devaluation, I would have thought that our local manufacturers and distributors would have gone into hyperdrive to fully exploit the increase in visitor arrival numbers and dramatically update their way of conducting business.

What also appears to frequently happen, is that companies will place what can only been deemed as expensive ‘ads’ either in the printed or online media and then when potential buyers respond through the email addresses shown, nothing further is heard.

We all understand the challenges of living on a small island, the time it takes to clear customs and the uncertainty of holding predictable sufficient stocks and supplies, but there has to be a better way.

While a direct comparison with giants like the online logistical trader, Amazon, is perhaps unfair, there must be room somewhere in-between to help minimise the time it takes to source, order and receive more locally made products. There is really no plausible excuse because we have the young tech savvy people on our doorstep to make it happen.

Frankly I shudder at the thought of devaluation and the devastating effect that it could have on our tourism sector. With a largely import dependent economy, it would make an already perceived expensive destination beyond reach for people in many of our markets. Perhaps the only saving grace would be to maintain and deposit our accommodation prices in US Dollars to offset inevitable higher operational and consumable costs.

But my guess this would only greatly increase what is already an alarming practice of collecting and processing payment offshore thereby further reducing Government revenue collection, notably VAT and corporation tax.

It must be clear that this has led to the disparity of higher arrival numbers and reduced on-island spending.

Our already nervous banks must realise that tourism and its ability to generate and maintain inflows of foreign exchange is the only possible way of eventually extracting ourselves out of the current fiscal malaise.

Alienating the Junk Food Industry

The Barbados Advocate editorial of yesterday addressed a controversial position taken by Dr. Trevor Hassell regarding the addiction of our people to junk food especially the youth. What are the whys and wherefores we need to debate to save the health our people?
– Barbados Underground

trevorhassellAs much as we understand the authenticity of his call and, indeed, largely sympathise with it, we fear that Sir Trevor Hassell is in for the fight of his life if he hopes, as he urged recently, for “an end to the promotion and advertising of junk foods in schools and an end to junk food sponsorship and support for school activities as well as family and sporting events in this country.” Sir Trevor made these comments at a recent symposium attended by senior students and teachers of the nation’s leading secondary schools. As reported in the Barbados Advocate of last Sunday under the banner headline “Ban Them”, he urged that the marketing and promotion in schools and the consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor products, sugar sweetened beverages and fast food to school children interfere with the formation of healthy dietary habits. There ought not to be substantial public dissent to this view.

However, any purported ban of these products is likely to face stiff opposition on more fronts than one. The purveyors of these products will query their corporate right to commercial enterprise within our economic system; some citizens will bristle at this purported infringement of their natural civic right and autonomy to consume any product so long as its ingestion is not previously prohibited by law; and, doubtless, there will be some who will blame their current economic misfortune for their unhealthy mode of consumption, even though any credible empirical analysis is likely to reveal that fast food is more expensive than a healthy diet, certainly per unit of nutrition and provided one is prepared to take the time to locate these items.

This debate is by no means a new one. When, more than two years ago, New York City attempted to place limits on the sales of jumbo sugary sodas or sweet drinks as we would have it, this initiative was struck down by the state’s highest court on the ground that the state’s health officials had exceeded the scope of their regulatory authority and that its complexity and reach into the everyday lives of millions made it a fit subject for regulation by the city government itself.

Commenting on the ruling in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Amy Fairchild observed, ‘…the ban is not about attacking individual choice but rather about limiting damage. If we see supersize drinks not in terms of the individual’s freedom to be foolish but instead as a kind of pollution that is super-concentrated in impoverished neighbourhoods, limits on drink size become a far different regulatory measure”.

We concede too that Sir Trevor’s proposal will depend significantly on the political will of the governing administration to implement it at a policy level. Given its struggles on the economic front and the minor electoral advantage, if any at all, to be gained from the implementation of the guideline, this much ids doubtful.

It remains though, in our opinion, a veritable catch-22. It is almost inarguable that these eating habits contribute massively to the near pandemic of chronic non-communicable diseases in our nation, a pandemic that draws greatly on our scarce resources for healthcare. The equation would seem simple enough, but then the state regulation personal choice is not all easy.