“God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me” -Genesis 21:6

As I was practising my early morning Internet surfing routine, I came across a blog by Kelly. The caption was “Laughter, Strength and Food – the Philosophy for a Good Life”. Then there were other quotes with which I empathised: “Humour is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.”

“Your sense of humour is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health”…according to Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D. I am working to enhance my laughter routine.

I am already involved in an exercise routine to boost the wellness combination of physical strength and fitness. My focus is on walking and swimming. My two mile (35 minutes) daily target in the early morning is so refreshing what with the coolness of the air, the gentle breezes, often a cloudless sky, families of monkeys already on the hunt, the engaging smiles and greetings of the passer-by and the soothing sounds of Mother Nature. I choose a route which has some up-hill relief for increased cardio-vascular activity and as I go up I am often comforted by the phrase “what goes up must come down”. Then very often this is followed or substituted by 500 vigourous “treading water” strokes of aqua exercise. These experiences nurture my body and my soul.

Then there is the nutritional component of the good life – the food! World Food Day is on Tuesday, October 16, 2012. The official World Food Day theme, announced each spring by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), gives focus to World Food Day observances and raises awareness and understanding of approaches to ending hunger.  “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world” is the 2012 theme. It has been chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger.

We are fortunate in Barbados to have an average per capita income level which places us above the poverty line. However, obesity, especially among children, raises the concern of proper nutritional balance.  We must focus on producing more locally and eating the right foods.

The Trustees of the Graham Gooding Trust Fund commemorate the late E.G.B. Gooding (1915-1987) who was born in Britain of Barbadian parents and was educated at Harrison College and Cambridge University. He was a botanist, agriculturalist, food technologist and environmentalist and I was fortunate to have interacted with him on many occasions on my return to Barbados in 1974. He researched and published extensively on the ecology and flora of Barbados.

He was an innovative thinker and made many an important contribution in the areas of food production, sugar cane diversification and agri-business. He worked unstintingly for conservation of the island’s natural heritage through the Barbados National Trust and the Government’s Town and Country Planning Advisory Committee.

Graham was an advocate of the mantra “Produce what you eat”. The mandate is important from a macro-economic point of view since it: provides local jobs; uses our natural resources; conserves our physical environment; the produce travels only a few miles and therefore reduces our carbon footprint; sustains food security thus assuring our independence; and saves foreign exchange outflow which comes about from the importation of food, now at the staggering figure of over BB$ 600 million annually. It is also very important from the individual nutritional perspective that we use local foods as often as we can. Food produced by Bajan farmers and fishermen tastes better, is fresher, more nutritious and can be subject to stringent local control of the chemical inputs.  We are what we eat.

The Graham Gooding Trust Fund gives an annual Graham Gooding Biology prize at the University of the West Indies and initiated the concept of “Eat Bajan Day” as an activity that builds on his legacy. This year Eat Bajan Day will be observed on Friday 12 October. Eat Bajan Day is to sensitise us to the importance of local agriculture and fisheries to our health and wealth and to the planet’s future. The Trustees are encouraging you to try to use only local foods and drinks for your meals on Eat Bajan Day.

There are already diligent, well planned and successful attempts at import displacement, e.g. carrots, and some of us are not even aware of it. I asked a family once if the carrots they normally buy were local or imported. They immediately responded “imported” of course, the local ones are ugly and unpackaged not like the well tapered attractively packaged imported carrots. I said do you have any carrots in the fridge. They responded positively and fetched me the packet of well tapered and packaged carrots. I glanced at the package and asked them to read what they saw on it. To their utter amazement and chagrin the package read “Bajan carrots” and they were cheaper than the similarly packaged imported carrots. Barbados also now sells fresh Bajan produce to cruise ships.  Please support our fruit tree sale at Carters Wildey on Sat 13 October to raise funds for the Trust.