Everybody would like to cut back on preservative-packed, sugar-loaded candy and snacks and eat a healthier diet wouldn't they?! In Torba, a province of the South Pacific island archipelago of Vanuatu, a ban on junk food will take things to the next level.
The province, which comprises the Torres and Banks islands, is planning to stop imports of western foods in an effort to increase dependence on the regions natural resources and prolific agriculture. "At the moment we have an infiltration of junk food from overseas," Father Luc Dini, who heads the local tourism council, told The Guardian. "It is easy to boil noodles or rice, but they have almost no nutritional value and there is no need to eat imported food when we have so much local food grown organically on our islands."
Fish, shellfish, taro, yams, paw paw, and pineapples are among the plentiful local food options says Dini. And farming or fishing for them provides work for locals; the majority of Torba's 10,000 residents are subsistence farmers. And yet currently some of the most popular foods are imported candy, rice, and cookies.
Luckily, Dini says that, because Torba is the northern part of Vanuatu and more or less isolated, the area has managed to remain relatively healthy. This ban will be the way to ensure that this remains the case. "In other provinces that have adopted western diets you see pretty young girls but when they smile they have rotten teeth, because the sugar has broken down their teeth," Dini said. "We don't want that to happen here and we don't want to develop the illnesses that come with a western junk food diet."
It remains to be seen how locals and tourists are going to respond to the ban, that variable definitely isn't stopping Dini and other government leaders in Torba from setting lofty goals in the interest of public health. Right now, the plan is to get foreign food bans implemented within the next two years and by 2020, Torba aims to be Vanuatu's first totally organic province. That's quite a commitment to wellness.