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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Fly our own flag

Dr Frances Chandler

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Fly our own flag

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I had intended writing on another topic today, but having seen Richard Hoad’s excellent article on local agriculture and contrasted it with a response by Marcus Clarke (both  via email and published in the NATION) to my comments on the chicken wing importation, I felt compelled to repeat my call for loyalty to local industries and to support Sir Roy Trotman’s call to support local jobs.
Mr Clarke complains that local wings are “skinny, bony things with little meat on them which surely cannot appeal to Bajan appetites, let alone those of our important international visitors”. First, the local market demands a 3  1/2 pound chicken, not the huge chickens produced in the United States. Chickens, as opposed to many of us human beings, are proportionately built, so one wouldn’t expect a small to medium-sized chicken to have “wings that appeared like legs” as Mr Clarke described the overseas wings. Secondly, I can attest to the fact that Canadian visitors, especially, have commented several times on the good quality of local chicken and pork.
When I suggested to Mr Clarke that although he might enjoy the “big fat juicy wings” from overseas, he might be ingesting a good dose of hormones (the Food and Drug Administration has apparently given the US three years to phase out growth-enhancing drugs in poultry production)  he didn’t seem overly concerned. I certainly feel much safer eating local chicken, since I know that the only major feed company in Barbados does not add growth enhancers to its feed, only an FDA-approved medication for coccidiosis, in the starter feed. Our major poultry processor promotes its product as being free from hormones, preservatives and colourants. I hardly think our standards institution would allow false advertising. What do we know about the imported product? Perhaps Mr Clarke should also check  whether he was eating turkey rather than chicken wings!
Personally, I would rather save our foreign exchange to buy necessities and those items which we can’t produce locally, but maybe we need to suffer many more trials and tribulations before we realise that.
It’s good to see our Governor General inviting primary schoolchildren to Government House and also visiting a primary school. I noticed, too, that there were schoolchildren in the visitors’ gallery in the Senate recently. Of course, there was also the opening of the Youth Parliament a while ago. All this should help to educate children from an early stage about the governance of their country and maybe encourage greater loyalty and interest, although of course the parliamentarians need to set a good example for them to follow. 
On this subject, while I was taking my ten-year-old great nephew to his weigh-in for an upcoming karate tournament, we were listening to a BBC report on the violence in Iraq. He said, “There’s always war somewhere, that’s why I’m so glad I live in Barbados. We might have a financial war right now, but we don’t have those kinds of wars!” I was really pleased to see that even at that young age, he is taking an interest in current affairs. This should be encouraged by both parents and teachers.
A  recent event which made me proud to be a Barbadian was the kindness shown to my sister when she had a flat tyre with her fully-laden pick-up. Three gentlemen helped her change the tyre and one even took the spare tyre to the gas station to put air in it. One gentlemen reminded her that she used to give him a lift from St Joseph to the Alleyne School when he was a child. Although we’ve lost a lot of this “being our brother’s keeper” in recent years, it’s good to see that people will still stop to help you rather than harm you as would almost certainly be the case in many of our neighbouring islands.
It amazes and amuses me to see the hype that’s created by the World Cup football. Barbadians have gone to great lengths like wearing the national colours or flying the flags of the countries they support in the tournament. They  defend their favourites at all costs. Why not show the same  loyalty to your own country and fly our flag high?
• Dr Frances Chandler is a former independent senator. Email: [email protected]