A one day celebration of World Food Day was held on Friday of last week at the Mopan Technical High School in Benque Viejo del Carmen. The event should have been held on October 16th, which is recognized around the World as World Food Day, but it had to be postponed due to inclement weather. Some 21 schools from the Primary and Secondary School levels visited the Mopan School and had an opportunity to visit many booths related to food and agriculture. Students were also able to visit a fish pond and broad leaf vegetable plots thanks to the Taiwanese Technical Mission.
For this year World Food Day is being celebrated under the Theme, “Social Protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty.”
Social protection can be defined as a range of solutions, often combined with each other, such as work opportunities, provision of food, money and services that are designed to support the vulnerable and help them move out of hunger and poverty. In Belize we have the Building Opportunities for Our Social Transformation BOOST Program, which provides a financial incentive to families, who immunize and send their children to school and has been recognized by World Bank experts as a model project for the developing World.
Chief Agriculture Officer, Roberto Harrison, who was present for the World Food Day event last Friday, reminded that the significance of celebrating World Food Day is to create awareness of the need to fight hunger and poverty in the World.
“Belize being no different, we bring together public and private sector, to demonstrate the many technologies and commodities that are good and made in Belize; especially in the line of food.”
But more practically, “…the need for creating awareness to young people that agriculture is a way of life and that it’s a decent way of life, we bring youths into this so that they can in fact see some of the technologies being used, for the general public to be aware of the need to eat wholesome and secure food.”
For Dr. Jorge Polanco, the coordinator for the Institute for Nutrition for Central America and Panama, wholesome food was a subject that mattered; especially for a day as World Food Day. He said that food production within Belize is enough to feed the entire population, but the challenge remained that not everybody has access to the quality foods. He also said that many times children would just eat junk food, because they don’t know better. By junk food or ultra-processed foods, Dr. Jorge Polanco means those foods that are saturated with fat, has a lot of sugar and exceeds the daily nutritional requirements.
“So these are the things right now coming out in the regional agenda, to bring to the forefront the benefits of a healthy food in regards to the prevention of many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension [and] obesity,” he said.
Roberto Harrison also agrees with Dr. Jorge Polanco that Belize can feed itself.
“We are pretty good, self sufficient in corn, rice, beans, poultry, meats, fish to a certain extent, which fits within the dietary requirements and needs of people,” he said.
At least for one day at the Mopan Technical High School, hundreds of children and adults were able to learn that Belize abounds with a range of healthy and delicious foods---blended sea weed with milk was being distributed on the grounds. They will now in turn visit their homes and spread the word that good foods make a healthy body and mind.
Dr. Jorge Polanco’s statements we referred earlier, to stay away from ultra processed foods, were corroborated by scientists this week. The World Health Organization WHO reported on Monday that eating foods such as sausages and ham causes cancer, while unprocessed red meat may also be carcinogenic. Dr. Teresa Norat from the United Kingdom informs the media that people should limit consumption of red meat and avoid consuming processed meat, but they should also have a diet rich in fiber, from fruit and vegetables whilst maintaining an adequate body weight throughout life.