Written by: Mickella Anderson
Jamaicans were out in their numbers to attend the ‘Eat Jamaican Day’ Expo on the lawns of Devon House in Kingston, on Friday (November 25).
The annual event, which was staged by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) under the theme: ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart: Let’s Eat Jamaican’, formed part of Eat Jamaican Month activities.
Several agencies and entities mounted booths and displays. They included the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Bodles Research Station, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Jamaica Dairy Development Board, National Irrigation Commission (NIC), Clarendon Blends, JP St. Mary’s, and Singer Jamaica Limited.
Some exhibitors provided samples of various Jamaican foods to the scores of patrons.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., in the keynote address, highlighted that the occasion “is an opportunity for all of us in Jamaica to get the taste of Jamaica, but also to remember why we are here.”
“It is about ensuring that we are supporting our farmers and our fishers, and that we are giving them an opportunity to showcase their brilliance, their excellence, and all that they do for us every single day,” he said.
The Minister reminded participants that the agriculture sector has recorded six consecutive quarters of growth, pointing out that all major crops reflected an increase for the current quarter.
Notable among these, Mr. Charles said, were plantains, up 21.9 per cent; fruits, up 20.8 per cent; yams, up 19.1 per cent; vegetables, up 18.5 per cent; and condiments, up 16.9 per cent.
Against this background, he thanked farmers and fishers for their gallant efforts and acknowledged the hard work of the JAS, which has been spearheading the ‘Eat Jamaican’ campaign for 19 years.
The day’s other activities included the final of the inaugural ‘Many Moods of Tilapia’ cooking competition, organised by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA). Finalist, Sasha-Kay Gooden Petrie’s coconut callaloo steamed tilapia and bammy bites emerged the winning dish.
Another feature of the event was an ‘Out of Many One’ celebrity cook-off, which saw popular personalities, D’Angel, Kush, Rameish DeSouza and Razor B going head-to-head.
Kush, who impressed the judges, copped first place with his combination of coconut jelly pasta, spicy sweet potato wedges, west African peanut stew, green banana salad and Taino banana tart with cassava crust.
In an Instagram post following his win, the chef remarked that his goal was “to demonstrate that a full gourmet meal can be made from scratch using 100 per cent pure local ingredients; no imported flour, sweeteners, canned food, processed seasoning, or imported oil.”
Kush said his preparation was also intended to “celebrate and pay homage to the groups that have influenced Jamaican cuisine the most – the Africans and Tainos.”
Meanwhile, several patrons told JIS News that they were impressed with the day’s proceedings.
Fifth form Food and Nutrition student at Mona High School, Daniella Blake, said she and her classmates visited all the booths, resulting in them learning “a lot about agriculture and the different occupations in the sector.”
“I sampled a lot of different foods. My favourite was the tilapia fish; it was delicious. It wasn’t spicy, but you could taste the spices inside it,” she said.
Kaylah Harris from Florida, USA, said the event increased her knowledge of Jamaican foods.
“I’ve been watching, trying to learn about Jamaica’s agriculture. I love it. It’s very diverse, very green and very tied to our earth,” she said.