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21 August 2014
During recent fieldwork on the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), investigating food consumption and supply, Dr Alastair M. Smith (School of Planning and Geography) and Dr Jessica Paddock (Sustainable Places Research Institute) were fortunate enough to attend an annual seminar examining education, culture and economic development in the Islands.
TCI imports well over 90% of all food available and a vast proportion is used to feed the stop-over and cruise tourists visitors that now arrive annually. Given this reality it is pertinent to engage with a debate that has echoed across the islands for decades: can TCI produce more food, as a means for the private sector to capture additional income from visitor spending, and/or as a way to better feed its resident population?
During the meeting speakers focused on broadening and deepening understandings of the composition and purpose of contemporary education. Alastair and Jessica made the case that educational reform can help lay the foundations for improving food security by including learning that is relevant for modern food production activities, as opposed to focusing only on education that helps tourism in the very narrow sense.
A fundamental part of this must be a commitment to embed food and how you feed people in the curriculum, so if nothing else, those with political influence in the next generation at least understand both the possibilities and realities for innovation in contemporary food production. It is only through this investment that the great economic, social and cultural benefits of domestically producing more significant amounts of food can finally reach the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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