11 Jan 2017
- By Christy Sakaziro - firstname.lastname@example.org - Project Director, Micronesian Humanities
EDNA Orak, a native of Palau and a long-time Saipan resident, likes to eat taro and fish every week. She boils taro with fish soup, coconut fish stew or fish with salt and oil known to many as “Sar ma Eluch.”
Culinary influences reached Micronesia about 4,000 years ago. Several groups brought with them pigs, rats and dogs, all of which were used for food. Others brought plants including taro, rice, yam, breadfruit, banana, lemon and sugarcane.
With the arrival of new settlers, the diet changed, but to what extent is still unknown. Since the previous century, the influx of unhealthy imported processed foods continues and lifestyle changes include decreased physical activity.
With more tourists coming in, there are also new restaurants offering Korean, Chinese and other cuisines, but throughout the islands, few people have abandoned their traditional diet for Western or Eastern food.
Today, health has become the great issue on the islands. World Health Organization’s Jane Parry says Pacific islanders pay a heavy price for eating imported, processed food which has contributed to the high prevalence of obesity and related health problems in the Pacific.
Personal and family commitments as well as government and non-government programs can all help promote healthy food and lifestyle and may help decrease health problems.
One of the islands’ health advocates is Kathy Metauii Tellei who promotes local and healthy food online.