As I sit here in the Miami airport, waiting for my flight home (I am on a break for a few weeks)... I am reflecting on the past few months I have spent diving into the nutritional aspect of Haiti. It is amazing to think about how far the feeding center at Grace Village has come since my first 3-day diet analysis in June of 2012. It is even more amazing to think about how much I have learned and uncovered about the agriculture, the food politics, and the nutritional problems in Haiti...and how I have grown, as an individual, in the process of it all. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity and this time to be on the field in the poorest country in the world..and doing what I love to do.
I am excited to announce that my growing wont be stopping here....I will be going to graduate school in the fall of 2013 to obtain my Masters in Public Health Nutrition. I am continuing my education inorder to more effectively help a greater population of people in Haiti (and potentially other poor and developing nations) have access to a well-balanced and sustainable dietary intake.
Over the next few weeks home, I hope to post some of my insightful journal entries (or pieces of them), as well as gathering nutritional information for other orphanages and people in Haiti to use in hopes that they can "catch wind" of what we are doing in the Feeding Center (Grace Cafe) at our orphanage.
It seems that the doors on my journey are opening to help other orphanages across Haiti provide healthy and balanced meals to the children they are supporting. I see this as a great way to help more children learn about healthy eating.. a habit that will hopefully stick with them throughout their whole lives. Not only would they be eating in a way that will provide support to their communities, but would provide them with "tools" (micro and macronutrients) for preventing acute and chronic diseases. In a country where people live on less than $1 per day... and healthcare and access to medicine are limited (and expensive). Daily nutritional intake from high-quality foods should be seen as the number one defense and priority expense. Unfortunately, I still have many food wars to face in this realm. Grocery stores, vendors and street foods are lush with foods (and beverages) packed with salt, sugar, and fat...even though the country (as I continually am learning) is lush with a wide variety of nutritiously dense foods that are surprisingly available at relatively low costs.
My haitian apprentice tells me I need to get on the radio.... hmm.
Just to put things into perspective.
Six meals of rice and beans with a few pieces of okra (picture on the top) costed more than all the produce on the bottom, which includes: 8 soursop, 10 sweet potatoes, 4 camote, 20 oranges, 2 chachyma, 1 green papaya, 1 large squash.
So take your pick..... Haitian fast food or market fresh produce. Not to sway your option, but there is a lot of micronutrient variety and tasty flavors in those starchy vegetables and sweet fruits!!!