Lack of organic food consumption

Sekove Naqiolevu (right) with Shamima Ali during the Terra Madre-Mother Earth Day celebration at Fiji Museum. Picture: RAMA

INSTANCES of non-communicable diseases are increasing in Fiji because of the shift of local consumption from organic to processed foods, says a nutritionist.

Nutritionist Asaeli Naika said this during his speech at the Terra Madre event held at the Fiji Museum in Suva on Thursday.

Mr Naika stood on behalf of the National Food and Nutritional Centre to bring to light the effects of industrial production of food items and globalisation on NCDs rate in the Fiji Islands.

“According to our surveys and assessments of our food supply and our population food intake, majority of the foods we eat daily are processed foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat and all other chemical additives used in their production,” he said.

He reiterated the fact that Fiji had the highest rate of diabetes in the Pacific with increasing rates of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancers.

He claimed the country was becoming increasingly unhealthy and that it would soon become poor because of low productivity. Mr Naika also pointed out that imported goods posed health risks.

“The longer the distances our food travels, the more the CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions through transport and travel (ships), processing, packaging, refrigeration and storage requirements your food needs to reach your table fresh and in good and safe quality and CO2 emissions also contribute to climate change.

“We are growing less and consuming less frequently of our own traditional starchy roots which is one reason we are depending more on market supply and imported flour and rice for daily meals.

“These chemical fertilisers and pesticides are harmful to the soil, other small living organisms in the soil and the environment,” he added.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre executive director Shamima Ali, who was also part of the event, said both men and women should recognise the effectiveness of eating and growing organically as nowadays both the sexes are responsible for the nutrition of young children in the family.

She added that such a program was extremely valuable for Fijians as it would help us make more informed decisions regarding our health and that of future generations.