All about local
“Food comes first”, “Eat what we grow, grow what we eat!”
by Melissa Rollock
With a high food import bill and the economic recession bearing down on Barbados, these words — the mantra of the late Carmeta Fraser — seem more pertinent now than ever.
Fraser’s passion was felt across the length and breadth of Barbados. And from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, there was hardly anyone in Barbados who had not coined the popular phrase: “Food comes first!” Her mission was to get Barbadians to produce more local food, which she maintained was of a better quality than what was imported.
She practised what she preached, using what “spoils” that she harvested from her small kitchen garden at home to make nutritionally sound local foods. Plantains and bananas, dried cassava, sweet potato, okra, breadfruit and carrots were transformed into an assortment of jams, jellies and preserves.
A former Government senator, Fraser organised numerous courses on Food Preservation as the Food Promotion Specialist at the Barbados Marketing Corporation, now the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation.
With her partners at the Barbados Marketing Corporation and the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, she taught courses on food preservation techniques that ensured longer shelf life of local fruits and vegetables.
Many years after her death, Fraser’s legacy lives on, not only through her many cookbooks, but also through two of the BADMC’s stores bearing her name — Carmeta’s Convenience Store at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Christ Church, and as of yesterday, January 30, Carmeta’s Retail Meat Shop, located at the BADMC, Princess Alice Highway, St. Michael.
Aimed at providing farmers with an outlet to sell their produce, Carmeta’s Retail Meat Shop will also provide its customers with a more accessible and affordable option of local meat and agro-processed products.
The BADMC plans to use the shop to improve its service to its stakeholders as it develops retail, wholesale and export opportunities.
“Carmeta’s [Retail Meat Shop] is the BADMC’s way of improving its customer experience at the most visible location for the corporation at Princess Alice Highway,” BADMC’s Marketing Officer, Trevor Roberts said.
“In addition to improving the retail visibility of BADMC’s fresh butchered meats and enhancing customer experience at the Princess Alice Highway branch, we want to provide a more sustainable customer-focused retail marketing channel for some of the farmers and agro-processors the BADMC serves through its Agricultural Services Department,” he added.
Roberts further noted that customers would be assured of good quality local agricultural produce at competitive prices, as well as the added value of making their own selections of prime meat cuts.
Chief Executive Officer of the BADMC, Glendene Bartlett, believes that the shop will enhance the public image of the BADMC and will motivate farmers to continue to produce quality animals as the Corporation provides retail options for various types of local meats.
“In addition to providing an opportunity for farmers and producers to increase their income, Carmeta’s will make local meats, produce and [other products] more readily available.”
To ensure quality, all processed products will be held to the standards of the Barbados National Standards Institute, and will also be subject to periodic testing.
Patrons will have access to a wide variety of fresh meats and local products such as black belly lamb, chicken, goat, rabbit, pork and beef products. Other offerings include cassava, breadfruit and sweet potato flours, jellies, jams, seasonings, preserved foods, pickles, beef-burgers, drinks and fresh juices.
As the shop expands its operations, it will be offering convenient ready-to-use pre-packaged seasoned meats, stuffed whole chicken, salad packs and assorted vegetable trays, pre-packaged and branded options.
The opening hours will be 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Over time, it is envisaged that Carmeta’s Retail Meat Shop will expand to other locations to accommodate consumer needs.