Oh, For the Love of Mango!
Mango, Mango, Mango! How do I love thee…? let me count the ways…. mango chutney; mango salsa; mango relish; mango jam; mango juice; mango mousse; mango sorbet; mango smoothie. Served in a salad, or on grilled salmon; with roasted Cornish hen, or pulled pork . . . got the picture? But long before I acquired a taste for mango’s fine fares, I enjoyed the fruit in the conventional way, worms and all!
Jamaica has a wide variety of mangoes and I’ve met a few during the carefree days of my youth. In Portland I was introduced to hairy stringy, number eleven, redman, and Black Hill sweetie to name a few of the “commoners.” In St. Mary, I came across Robin, turpentine, and long mango; but it was in Tony St. Andrew that my appetite was first whetted by the sophisticated East Indian and Julie.
Yet, I still recall with much fondness and some degree of nostalgia, idyllic summer days going to mango bush at Edenwood with my big brother and friends. There, we ran about unrestrained, from tree to tree, gathering mangoes that had succumbed to the pull of gravity. Other times, if were unable to climb the trees, we flung stones to dislodge ripe fruit that still nestled amongst inaccessible branches; they tumbled to the ground, sometimes bursting upon impact, splattering magnificent yellow nectar. Undeterred, we had our fill before departing mango bush, weighed down with crocus bags of mangos.
Later, as “home-sweet-home” lamps were lit, and peenie wallie bugs flashed their neon lights to signal the approaching night, the crocus bags were brought out to the verandah where family gathered. We stooped to the ground or hunched forward as teeth tore into the skin and flesh of mangoes, juice trickled down the sides of mouths or cascaded over fingers, seeds greedily sucked dry. EVERYTHING devoured! skin, flesh, and yes, WORMS too. That’s why you eat mango in the dark. ‘Cause, as mama use to say, “Wha no kill yuh fatten yuh!” Of course, at the end of summer, worm medicine awaited tyrax or Semen Contwé [si-mi-contra bush] and next mango season we got to do it all over again. All for love!
What's your favourite mango?
Sweet Jamaican Strawberries
About a week ago I had my first locally grown strawberry. I was put in contact with the farmer through RADA, which has been a reliable source for finding suppliers for some heavily sought after produce, especially the exotic ones. I imagine I was probably as excited as all the customers who bought out the strawberries within less than a couple hours of them being launched on the website.
We made arrangements to meet up with the supplier in Papine, as he lived all the way in Content, way beyond the St. Andrew Hills. I was pleasantly surprise to meet the farmer I had had several phone conversations with. He was younger that I expected, about early to mid-twenties and just as excited about his strawberries as I was about tasting them.
First thing I noticed was that they were not as big as the ones I’m used to in North America, but boy were they sweet! After eating a couple and allowing my all-too-eager children to likewise indulge their taste buds, I had to ask myself, why is it that we’ve only just started to really grow strawberries, especially in the mountains? Why do we continue to import food in such high quantities that we can grow right here on home soil? This is just another of the many perplexing things about Jamaica. According to the farmer, the demand is so high that he is currently unable to keep up. He assured me that within a couple weeks the supply will be more reliable and he and his colleagues expect that their farms will be churning out a more consistent supply. I will be on the lookout for that.
I mentioned last week that we are and should be thankful for RADA for their efforts in helping our farmers take on new produce and helping them to get on the market. Sure RADA has its shortcomings, but I will continue to cheer them on while I patiently wait for them to follow suit with some black and blueberries, grapes and raspberries, just a few of my faves. Click here to place your orders for strawberries while supplies last.
The many uses of the Avocado, AKA pear
So it is pear time . . . or more precisely, avocado time (side note: ever wondered why Jamaicans call it pear?)
The flesh of the avocado has been variously described as oily, buttery, and creamy; it is chock full of nutrients including protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium. And the debate rages on as to whether it is a fruit or a vegetable.
For some reason, I cannot tolerate avocado in my diet. Maybe this is directly attributable to the gluttony with which I once enjoyed the fruit (yes, I am calling it a fruit) during the halcyon days of my youth. I once consumed an entire pudd’n pan of the crop over two days, having collected them as they were dislodged from their lofty evergreen perch and tumbled to the ground like glorious manna.
But eureka! I have found other ways to enjoy the produce:
I drop of avocado essential oil in my body lotion does wonders for my skin.
Mashed avocado with a dollop of honey is my go-to 15 minutes face mask. And don’t it make my black skin glow!
For my dry, brittle hair, I make a deep conditioning treatment by adding olive oil, honey, and mayonnaise to mashed avocado then coat my hair from root to ends; I then cover my hair with a shower cap, then a warm towel and another shower cap or plastic bag. I leave on for thirty minutes then wash out with warm water. This treatment imparts lustrous sheen to my hair, and leaves it feeling oh-so-soft!
Yes, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, the avocado is very versatile and you don’t have to eat it in order to derive health benefits.
About the recent heavy rains and what it means for your food supply
When it comes to farming, the rain can be both a blessing and a curse. No one can argue with how essential water is to agriculture and just about anything else on planet earth, but any farmer will tell you just how devastating too much rain can be. The recent heavy rains resulted in substantial loss of produce for so many of the farmers who supply us. Some produce such as lettuce, bok choy, tomato, cauliflower and quite a few other above ground crops were most affected. Non-greenhouse farmers, which is the majority of farmers in Jamaica, were hardest hit. The Ministry of Agriculture is already predicting a setback in growth in the sector over the next quarter. Brace yourselves, this may result in higher costs for some of these produce in the near future when scarcity sets in. Those with supplies of in-demand items will no doubt raise their prices, and so will everyone else along the supply chain.
We should absolutely be grateful for the increase in the water levels of our reservoirs, but let’s also spare a thought for the farmers, who after many days of tilling the soil and tending to their crops, must now come to grips with hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses overnight. Most of the farmers I have met since launching this business have a genuine love and appreciation for farming. They get immense satisfaction from what they do both from the process itself, in planting and watching their crops grow, and more importantly, from being able to support their families that rely heavily on them in an economy that doesn’t offer a whole lot of other options. If you knew these people personally, and how hard they work at their farms, you could not come away from the realization of how devastating their loss is without feeling something.
In the meantime, continue to buy Jamaican and support our local economy as our framers take the necessary time to get back on their feet. This may not always be possible as imports of some produce may be necessary to supplement the scarcity of some items. But please, continue to choose local produce where possible as we anxiously await the rebound. Some farmers have already put in new seedlings. I for one am excited about our local farmers taking up the growing of strawberries in the hills. I have managed to convince one of our farmers to put in some seedlings. We will be chronicling the growth of these strawberry seedlings over the next few weeks on our soon-to-be launched YouTube channel and other existing social media platforms. If you love strawberries as much as I do, stay tuned for that.
Why you shouldn’t compare us to Coronation Market
So, for consumers chasing the low prices at "curry," I think a few things should be borne in mind when next you visit. Those low prices may be good for you, but for a great number of the vendors, the profit margins are very small, and for many, the only thing that pays less than selling at "curry," is to stay home and do nothing, so most opt for the former. How many rich vendors do you know?
'Twas a Good Good Friday
When one of the nicest persons you’ll ever meet extend an invitation to take you on a farm visit to meet some new suppliers, you don’t say no. And so we didn’t, even if it was on Good Friday. So up we went into the hill of St. Mary, Jeffrey Town to be exact. For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s just above Guys Hill, and for those of you who don’t know where that is, sorry, that’s the best I got. But it was wonderful! The air was fresh and the people were friendly and joyful.
We had the pleasure of meeting a quartet of farmers who took such joy in farming that even when much of their crops go to waste due to bad weather, market glut or a lack of buyers, they continue to do it because of an immense amount of personal joy that they themselves find difficult to express. This particular group of farmers belong to the Jeffery Town Red Bull Farmers Association. And I am happy to announce that they will be supplying us with a variety of the produce that you’ll find listed on our website. It gives us great pleasure to support farmers and communities like these—we figure you may also, and that you may also want to have an idea of where your food come from. See the attached pictures to see some of the marvelous farm produce that may find its way on your table.
We now accept card payments upon delivery!
Farmgate E-Market is happy to announce that effective immediately, you can pay with your credit or debit cards upon delivery of fresh farm produce via our portable Point of Sale system through Sagicor Bank.
We are committed to making it easier and more convenient for our customers to access and pay for farm fresh healthy produce and this is just another step in that direction.
Visit farmgate-emarket.com today to order your fresh produce. No need to leave the house to run to the bank for cash. Simply pull out your card and swipe!
10% Student Discount
We know it's not easy being a college student. In fact, this might be some of your "brokest" years. But everybody's gotta eat, right? And cooking your own meals often works out to be the most cost effective way to eat and get through each semester if you're a student on a budget. Plus, we know how important good nutrition is in staying focused and being able to learn and pay attention--we wouldn't want you to skimp of your fruits and veggies. That's why we're extending a 10% off discount to all current students between the ages of 17-25 years on every qualifying order (a minimum of $700 is required for checkout).
Your discount will be applied upon the production of a valid student college/tertiary ID. You may do so by signing up for an account with us and using a picture of your student ID as your avatar, or by emailing us a picture with your ID at email@example.com. Please ensure that your name, date of birth, expiration date and name of the institution is legible. Once verified, a 10% discount will be applied to all orders placed through your account. Restriction: ONLY one discount can be applied per order.
Get started by signing up here for your account.
Farmgate Food Facts: Eating Right for Your Blood Type
Do you know your blood type?
If not, you might want to find out. The following is an excerpt from Web Md explaining the Blood Type Diet and how one's blood type determines the types of food they should avoid or consume more of to optimize their health. The original article can be accessed here.
Farmgate E-market will be bringing you weekly articles and write-ups about healthy food facts to inform your purchasing and consumption choices for the healthier. The following is the first of these. Enjoy...
The Promise of the Blood Type Diet
Could eating a diet based on your blood type -- O, A, B, or AB -- help you trim down and get healthier? That's the idea behind the Blood Type Diet, created by naturopath Peter J. D'Adamo.
D'Adamo claims that the foods you eat react chemically with your blood type. If you follow a diet designed for your blood type, your body will digest food more efficiently. You'll lose weight, have more energy, and help prevent disease.
What You Can Eat
That depends on your blood type. Here's what D'Adamo recommends for each type:
Type O blood: A high-protein diet heavy on lean meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and light on grains, beans, and dairy. D'Adamo also recommends various supplements to help with tummy troubles and other issues he says people with type O tend to have.
Type A blood: A meat-free diet based on fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains -- ideally, organic and fresh, because D'Adamo says people with type A blood have a sensitive immune system.
Type B blood: Avoid corn, wheat, buckwheat, lentils, tomatoes, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Chicken is also problematic, D'Adamo says. He encourages eating green vegetables, eggs, certain meats, and low-fat dairy.
Type AB blood: Foods to focus on include tofu, seafood, dairy, and green vegetables. He says people with type AB blood tend to have low stomach acid. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoked or cured meats.
Level of Effort: High
If you don't already know your blood type, you'll need to find that out. The results will determine exactly what you need to do.
Limitations: Depending on your blood type, you may need to severely restrict the foods you eat.
Cooking and shopping: Your blood type will determine your shopping list and your choices when eating out.
Packaged foods or meals? None required.
In-person meetings? No.
Exercise: The Blood Type Diet recommends exercises based on your blood type. For instance, it suggests yoga or tai chi for type A’s, and vigorous aerobic exercises like jogging or biking for up to an hour a day for type O’s.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Because the diet dictates that you eat very specific types of food based on your blood type, it doesn't allow much for personal tastes.
For example, if you're a big fan of meat and potatoes, you won't be very happy on the type A diet, which is mostly vegetarian.
There are even recommendations about the types of spices and condiments you can use.
If you're looking for a diet that's gluten-free, you should know that this diet doesn't ban gluten. You may be able to make choices that are gluten-free, if you read food labels carefully.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: D'Adamo recommends a lot of specialty and organic foods (such as soy milk and carob chip cookies), which can be pricey. Vitamin and herbal supplements are also part of the diet.
Support: You do this diet on your own.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Does It Work?
One study found that adults eating the type A diet showed improved health markers, but this occurred in everyone, not just those with type A blood type. In 2013, a major review concluded that no evidence exists to support benefits of blood type diets.
It's likely that you would lose weight, though, because the diet can be very restrictive.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
The Blood Type Diet makes recommendations based solely on your blood type. So, if you have a chronic condition (say, diabetes, you may be told to eat high protein, while another person with diabetes may have to avoid dairy or chicken. This may conflict with your diabetes treatment plan.
The American Diabetes Association recommends a more practical approach to your day-to-day eating. It also cautions against focusing on specific foods. In most cases it doesn't recommend cutting out any major food groups.
The Blood Type Diet also fails to address other conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or cholesterol. Any needed weight loss is sure to have a positive impact on these conditions. But no matter your blood type, you should follow the same guidelines issued by The American Heart Association (AHA) for a low-fat and low-salt diet.
Also, everyone should aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week and at least 2 days of strength training per week.
The Final Word
On The Blood Type Diet, you’ll avoid processed food and simple carbs. That may be enough to help you lose some weight. But any weight loss on this diet has not been linked to your blood type.
There’s also no research proving that this diet can aid in digestion or give you more energy.
Although you'll buy and prepare your own foods on this plan, your choices are limited depending on your blood type. So be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen.
The diet may quickly become expensive, too, since the author recommends you buy organics as well as his own line of supplements.
If the Blood Type Diet intrigues you, consider this: The science is stacked behind traditional recommendations for healthy eating for weight loss -- not restrictions based on the type of your blood.