BY BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
Travelling to the Torba province in Vanuatu, a group of islands in the South Pacific, you’ll be treated to fresh crab, yams and pineapple. Unfortunately, you’ll have to leave your sweet tooth at home, as you will definitely be going through a chips, Oreos and soda withdrawal.
This is due to the governments plan to ban all western food imports to the region in order to curb health problems for its 10,000 citizens, the majority of whom are farmers.
“At the moment we have an infiltration of junk food from overseas,” Father Luc Dini, chairman of Torba Tourism Council, told the Gaurdian. “There is no need to eat imported food when we have so much local food grown organically on our islands.”
The ban on junk food is an approach to dealing with the health issues that have been rising in Torba due to a poor diet. The region has its fair share of tooth decay and non communicable diseases like heart problems from eating unhealthy food. Torba is the most isolated province in the region and without comprehensive medical care an ideal way to combat these health concerns is to take a stand against the cause, and rely on their rich, natural, healthy food resources.
The island yields many fruits, vegetables and has bountiful fishing waters. These are all better alternatives to quick food like rice or pasta, which they have been receiving.
In the United States 34.3 per cent of kids aged two to 19 are eating fast food on any given day according to a 2015 CDC report, and every year 678,000 people die due to diet related diseases. By banning unhealthy western food Torba is aiming to avoid this same fate.
The initiative began in February when Dini, with the support of local chefs, began to only serve locally grown food at tourist accommodations and began speaking with people about the benefits of eating healthy and supporting locally sourced food. Official legislation is planned to be put in place within the next two years and Torba plans to become the first organic province by 2020.
“If you really want to live on a paradise of your own,” said Dini, “then you should make do with what you have and try to live with nature.”