We’re all familiar with the ‘you are what you eat’ slogan, but now we’re waking up to the reality that ‘the planet is what you eat’.
Without taking action, we risk significant dangers to climate change, animal welfare, and human disease from the antibiotics and hormones meat is pumped with.
On a mission to support sustainable living, a number of Caribbean islands are now revolutionising their approach to food and agriculture.
In particular, they are turning to homegrown ingredients rather than overseas imports, which reduces both a large carbon footprint and huge amounts of packaging waste.
Previously, the region had difficulty maintaining good farming conditions due to the effects of climate change and damage from tropical storms.
Yet with new tactics, they are hitting the hat-trick of eating fresh, supporting local produce and helping the environment.
The Cayman Islands, famed for its incredible wildlife and white sand beaches, are now embracing more farm-to-table restaurants and seeing a surge of eco-friendly practices.
They are also encouraging farmers to showcase their goods and sell products at artisan markets that both restauranteurs and the local residents are encouraged to attend.
In addition to this, there is a government initiative called Cayman Sea Sense. The programme promotes serving fish from only sustainable, stable populations and the use of fishing practices that minimise habitat damage and unintended by-catch.
Local executive chef, Massimo De Francesca, also plans to set up a programme in which kitchen and bar waste is sent to farms for animal feed or composting material.
Meanwhile, over in Curaçao, they are using groundwater pumped with wind energy and sometimes a solar pump to access water thorough deep wells.
Trailblazing farmers Femi and Joshua Peiliker, who also own restaurant Hofi Cas Cora, enforce sustainable living by growing fruits and vegetables on their land as well as raising livestock that then become the main ingredients for their menus.
Speaking about their evolution, Femi said: “We work with two local restaurants that save food waste for us. We feed it to our pigs and use it for compost.”
The couple say there is always room to do more, hoping to continue their venture with a zero-waste store to sell package-free farm goods as well as bulk items like grains.
And last but not least, Puerto Rico is flying the flag for a new future too.
Chef Juan José Cuevas is committed to working with local growers and producers to continue the island’s recovery after the devastation of Hurricane Maria two years ago.
Chatting to Lonely Planet, he explained: “We make a point to support these recovering farms by buying from them as often as possible.
“Across the property, farm-fresh eggs and fruit are the rule. At my restaurant 1919, we maintain social consciousness by having a menu that consists of 75% local products.”
His business also puts cash back into agriculture, helping local farmers with additional sustainability efforts such as installing solar panels for renewable energy.