Mapping Out and Quantifying Fresh Food Availability in Local Stores

Fern Lehman, Biology teacher at the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) is working on one more angle in understanding health and nutrition in the Marshall Islands. She and her class are mapping and quantifying the availability of fresh food in local stores.  The study so far confirms that not many stores in Majuro sell fruit, for example.  The lack of easy availability of fruit translates to a lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet, adding to the problem of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other non-communicable diseases that plague the Marshall Islands. Because most fruits here on Majuro are imported—often flown in, they cost more and are unaffordable to the average citizen who then buys less healthy, but also cheaper, food.  In addition to health problem, Fern’s project identifies another negative aspect of importing fruit here–environmental pollution.  The ships and planes that deliver the fresh fruit to Majuro not only use fossil fuel to get here, but the packaging for the food often ends up in a landfill or floating in the lagoon.