$2.85 for a lime!

By George Alleyne
Wednesday, May 13 2009

LimesIf one is to judge from the relatively high prices for food at supermarkets then Trinidad and Tobago must be the only place on the globe that has not been affected, price wise at least, by the international economic downturn which has seen food prices tumbling worldwide, for example, the United States of America, China, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and South Africa. Nonetheless, the answer must lie, not in complaining, but in starting a kitchen garden in which fruits and vegetables can be grown on a modest scale, or if you have adequate land space then yams, eddoes, carrots, pigeon peas, corn, bananas, ochroes, green figs and dasheen as well as the seasonal sorrel.

However, you do not need a great deal of land space to plant such items as celery, lettuce, tomatoes, cassava peppers, bhaji, patchoi, cabbage, cauliflower, bodi, chive, parsley, basil (for seasoning), peppers and ginger as these can be grown in drums or otherwise relatively small containers some of which can fit in porches, under your eaves or in comparatively tight backyards. In turn, the required seedlings can be purchased at plant shops at a modest cost, or instead of gracing the lunch table with every grain of corn you have bought or cook all of the ochroes, you can utilise some for a kitchen garden, along with ends of carrots or pigeon peas from a couple of pods.While it may be difficult for the average Trinidadian or Tobagonian to plant all or most of these, as many of them today, live in gated communities or in apartments or in areas where the houses are close on each other, nevertheless, families can be selective in their crops.

This does not mean that the crops would be full grown overnight. Indeed, some crops will come to full term in 12 to 18 months while others such as ochroes will take as little as six weeks and yet others like limes and others of the citrus family begin bearing after a few years. A pollock pear tree will have its first yield in approximately three years while the ordinary pear tree will take somewhat longer. Pear trees, however, not unlike mango trees, whether calabash, teen or doux doux, among others, except they are grafted, like the julie, also must be viewed in years for the first crop. Whatever the restrictions, size wise, in terms of crops which can be planted in land space, what is important is that we begin now, however small.

Few things I find more distasteful than the saying of persons seeking to justify paying high prices for food items: “What ah go do? Ah cyar eat de money.” Almost as though that was justification enough for forking out money for clearly overpriced items, many of which they could readily have grown at home. There is no justification, whether in consciously charging clearly higher than necessary prices for food items or in shoppers not wishing to convey the impression that they cannot afford the prices.

When recently I went shopping at a grocery some of the prices were not merely high but distinctly absurd. Limes were being sold at $2.85 for one and ochroes carried a shelf price of more than $19 a pound, quantified in kilos. While there was and is no need for me to buy limes, because years ago I had planted a lime tree I, pointedly, refused to purchase ochroes at that price, although my ochro plants ceased to be productive some time earlier and had been uprooted.

Even though wheat prices have fallen, internationally, the cost of a sandwich loaf has not shifted from the $10.50 to which it was readjusted some time ago, and that of a loaf of hops bread stands at the better side of one dollar. Trinbagonians should return to the planting of kitchen gardens as did earlier generations.

When I was a child growing up in San Fernando there was a troubling food shortage during World War 11. Flour, among other things, was scarce and among the crops we grew in our kitchen garden was cassava from which the family made farine or flour, and with this baked salt bread and sweet bread. A crisis had arisen and we, along with many other families, dealt with it in a practical manner. Why not respond in like manner today?


6 thoughts on “$2.85 for a lime!”

  1. FYI.. The price quoated for bread in Trinidad is CDN$1.95. It is the same price and more in Canadian supermarkets and we grow wheat!!

  2. Many people don’s understand that the World is shifting back to basics. In america inflation have not caught with the economy, but with the huge defict that piled up ($11trillion in debt), inflation is going to hit the world unexpectly very soon. Many people in today’s world dont have an idea where their food is grown. If people learn to focus their time on leaning value things, they will benefit alot.

  3. Food prices,in the part of the US where I live have not dropped. All the basics are higher. flour, rice, olive oil, green vegetables have all gone up,(sometimes doubled) because the price of shipping has gone up.

    What people are doing is buying only what they need,eliminating waste, and growing a few vegetables. Now, the cost of growing vegetbles in a small garden plot, or in pots is not cheap. Some people have to buy everything including the soil and seeds.

    A suggetion for coping is buying only what is plentiful, because plentiful generally means cheap.Buy nothing that you do not absolutely need. If driving in the countryside, check out the small vegetable stalls, they are cheaper. The airconditioned supermarket adds the cost of the AC to the cost of the produce. Maybe its time to form food buying co-operatives,which could simply be a group of friends shopping together.

    A lime lasts longer if it is not cut.If you need only a few drops of lime juice, stick a fork into the lime, and squeee out the drops you need. Then put the lime in the refrigerator until next time.

  4. Speaking of foods , prices, and the unstated issue of health as it is linked to the consumption of natural products. Six days ago , I joined about fifty or more wonderful ,socially conscious folks to do a Lopino Health Walk . At the end of an exhilarating walk ,the organizer preached the virtues of proper diets, focus on the environment and other mechanisms aimed at halting the encroachment of devastating diseases such as cancers, and diabetes that perennially destroys lives.
    She then admonished us to partake in several of the products that she was pushing from the international conglomerate Network Marketing giant Amway/ Nutri-System that she guaranteed would ensure long, healthy lives. To cap off the event she even paid tribute to a recently departed friend of the group, and ardent product user that recently died after battling cancer for the past five years. Got to commend the good folks, and would encourage others to push for a natural back to nature way to good health via locally produced fruits, and vegetables as well as avoidance of all processed foods where feasible.
    Thanks for a good time , and good luck guys if any might be reading. I forgot to take the email or contact number of the rotund inspirational spokesman , and Nutri System consultant that did not finished the walk , unfortunately.

  5. I wish that foreigners would stop comparing their prices to local trini prices, the reality of the situation is that we are not paid in Us or Cdn currency . The little me earn does not go as far as it does for you

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