Thursday, April 18, 2024

EDITORIAL: The price of the food of love


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The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy. – James Madison, fourth president of the United States.
SUCH?A?CLASS?OF?BARBADIANS able to feed and clothe themselves by themselves might be ideal – even utopian. Or it could be a worthwhile goal, given some effort, a little sweat, and a whole heap of consistency.
Not very long ago, Owen Arthur, when Prime Minister, was pushing the notion of the kitchen garden – at the back of the house, or at the sides. If you grew your own vegetables, you could save much money at the supermarket, he suggested.
And prices weren’t that high then.
Food items were definitely not as expensive as now.
Some people scoffed at the Owen Arthur idea of spending an hour or two after normal work hours, or on weekends, planting a little food. Not even his own example at home was influencing enough for Bajans.
And not for failure on his part; but for indifference by those who would prefer to prepare for the evening’s Days Of Our Lives or to gorge on pudding and souse every weekend.
You can go to mostly any supermarket and get the simplest of food, often alluringly packaged, at the highest of prices. Merchants know Barbadians don’t mind paying for their garden laziness – well, until now.
You could get thyme, parsley and marjoram, already trimmed and washed, ready for the pot – for a price. You could get garlic pods husked and washed – for a price.
Prices haven’t just started going up; they have been creeping up for a long time now – justifiably, and not so justifiably.
It’s just that with Barbadians now taking home less in their pay packets, they have stopped to think. It took Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and his mauby experience for Barbados to get on the price gouging bandwagon.
Let it be said, there is some price gouging. And now that the Government and the Opposition are agreed there is, and have pointed to instances of unreasonable markups, maybe Chamber of Commerce president Andy Armstrong can step back off the defensive step and join in stemming this unsavoury practice by those who would sully his organization’s good name.
That Mr Sinckler has extended a hand of cooperation – no “naming or shaming” wholesalers or retailers – is laudable. It behoves, therefore, Mr Armstrong and his fellow business traders, and those outside his ambit, to summon their every strength, sense and purpose to bring food prices under proper and decent control.
Greed and gamble won’t cut it.
The new war against high food prices, thank God, is no longer a partisan thing. It cannot be an issue of “them and not us” among Barbadian consumers.
Let us all together solve this most unsettling state of affairs – from the heart that we may all eat of the food of love.


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