In a move to eliminate the risk of health problems from eating junk food, a group of islands in the South Pacific have banned the importation of processed foods, and are promoting local, organic, nutritious products. Located in the northern part of the state of Vanuatu, Toba is a relatively isolated province with a population of around 10,000 – the majority of whom are subsistence farmers. By focusing on what’s derived from their rich natural resources, they aim to replace things like rice and noodles which have “almost no nutritional value” with the abundance of locally sourced foods including fish, crabs, shellfish, taro, yams, paw paw and pineapple.
Father Luc Dini, a community leader and head of the local tourism council, commented that health has “stayed pretty good until now” but they want to continue to be healthy. He feels that a ban on foreign food imports would “certainly improve the health and wellbeing of islanders” and tourists as well. “At the moment we have an infiltration of junk food from overseas… there is no need to eat imported food when we have so much local food grown organically on our islands.” With the backing of other leaders he has also ordered tourism bungalows to serve only locally grown organic food to their guests. Torba aims to be Vanuatu’s first organic province by the year 2020. Father Luc concluded: “If you really want to live in a paradise of your own, then you should make do with what you have and try and live within nature.”