By Victoria Ross:
St. Vincent & the Grenadines are multiethnic communities and is the combination of the native culture as well as the French and British settlers who brought slaves to the island. The food is primarily sourced from the island, ocean, and its neighboring islands. The national dish includes roasted breadfruit with fried jackfish. Juices that are homemade may include fruits from mango, tamarind, ackee, coconut, and soursop. Some drinks are considered very sweet, and others are very bitter. The rainwater that is collected and filtered can limited therefore the juices can be very refreshing.
Prior to arrival we expected to be able to source most of our meals from the grocery store. We quickly discovered that could not be the case most small grocery stores only had the bare necessities including flour some local snacks and soap. Our food was catered with the different restaurant that sourced their products from other locals or from the ferries. Breakfast was often sourced from a local bakery. We asked how most residents source their foods and our dive boat captain told us that they get fresh produce from the market and both meat and seafood are sold fresh so there is no need to freeze it. Some seasonings and condiments are all they really need from the local stores. Packaging is very different than in the US you don’t compare brands or pricing because there is only one. In packaging it is the basics with very little advertising which was different from what I had been used to. Trash can be found through the streets but because packaging is so minimal and there is little waste our carbon footprint was very low. Bottles are aggressively recycled because there is a system in place to return them to the manufacturer. We were also told many small businesses including the restaurants on the island closed because of the lack of business caused by both covid and the hurricane season. Overall, it was very rewarding to know that our food was sourced from the island, and we tried many popular native dishes.
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019 and 2021, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.