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Grenada: Superior Organic Food

Grenada: Superior Organic Food
Organic food is paramount for an increased healthy lifestyle and also benefits our general well-being.

In 2018, I was privileged to have met with Grenadian local honey producers, as well as spice and cocoa farmers; it was an incredible experience I am truly delighted to have experienced. I now understand exactly why the nation is nicknamed the Spice Island of the Caribbean.

Grenada has a rich cocoa producing legacy, dating way back to the days of British and French colonial rule. The nation was the top exporter of nutmegs until the devastating Hurricane Ivan wiped out all nutmeg crops in September 2004. This disaster had a very overwhelming effect on the country’s economy, export market and farmers’ incomes.

In late 2004 I visited my family in Grenada after the hurricane. The devastation was evident throughout the Island. Homes and power supplies were wiped out while the environment was changed dramatically. It was clear Grenada would never be the same place I fondly recalled. The financial gravity of the disaster was estimated at over US$900 million – more than double the nation’s GDP.

The Grenadian community rose from the devastation and chose to band together through this incredibly challenging time. Nonetheless, Grenadians are resilient, as are many Caribbean folk owing to the dearth of resources that we so thoughtlessly take for granted in the UK.

I visit with family each year in Grenada; my 2018 trip was unique from the many other trips throughout my lifetime. My partner and I have just set up a business assisting small scale farmers in Grenada, providing a link for them to sell their produce to the UK market. Our visit gave us a firsthand insight into this process; it was humbling to witness how our business aids so many local producers.

Grenada: A tri-island state
Grenada is a tri-island state, the other two islands being Carriacou and the tiny island of Petite Martinique. Most of the windward islands of the Caribbean share the same volcanic origin, and while several of these volcanoes are long extinct, many of these islands still have some active volcanoes within their territories, Grenada is no exception. Over the centuries, most of Grenada’s volcanoes have been reduced to eroded remnants, which have been taken over by rain forests. 

The extinct volcanoes that made up Grenada have enriched the island with fertile soil that makes it an ideal place to grow incredible organic produce. The name ‘Spice Island’ is given to Grenada due to the varied array of spices grown in the islands rich soils.

As a British-born woman of Grenadian heritage,
As a British-born woman of Grenadian heritage, I actively seek to blend my cultural identity by showing UK consumers what Grenada has to offer. 2018 was the year we saw much change in the UK regarding consumers habits, plastic straws are being banned across the country and consumers shopping habits are changing for the better. More consumers are searching for ethnical, nutritious foods and transparency in food production and Grenada is the answer they may be looking for. Farmers in Grenada offer high-quality, naturally-grown and non-genetically modified food products, tended without the use of pesticides or harsh chemicals.

During my recent trip, I visited cocoa farms that use their cocoa beans to make exceptional chocolate. Grenada has a growing chocolate cottage-industry due to its unique, high quality fine-flavour cocoa. Spices such as Turmeric, Cinnamon & Cloves also continue to be some of the county’s lucrative exports.

The major challenge is that Grenada’s farming community is aging fast. The average farmer is in his/her 50’s. The Island’s youth no longer choose to be farmers, if this trend is to continue Grenada’s economy and farming traditions may disappear permanently. However, as more consumers continue to search for ethnically grown food that is free from artificial additives and pesticides, there is now an opportunity for farmers in Grenada to supply the needs of consumers living in the UK, and thus, farming could increase rapidly to meet with consumer demand.

A sweet spot – Grenadian Honey
If you want to taste some of the world’s best honey then you should head to Grenada! Grenadian honey is of a superior quality compared to adulterated counterparts found in Europe. The European market is being flooded with adulterated honey. In a study published in December 2016 by the European Joint Research Centre, artificial sugars were found 1.4 times in every 10 honey samples tested. This research was carried out in reaction to a report by the European Parliament on the most faked foods, in which honey was ranked 6th.

A total of 2,264 honey samples collected at all stages of the supply chain were tested by researchers from all the EU member states (plus Norway and Switzerland). Approximately 20% of honey declared as blends of EU honey or unblended honey bearing a geographical reference to any member state were found to be more likely to contain some added sugar. Europe eats more honey than it produces, and so Grenada’s honey produce would be well received due to its purity and distinct superiority.

Jessamine Eden Apiary of Grenada has again won the highly regarded Medal of Ukraine Gold Award at the 87th edition of the UK National Honey Show held in Surrey, England each October. There were 21 entries from 13 countries, including New Zealand, USA, Kuwait, Singapore, and Trinidad and Tobago competing in the International Class for clear honey, the most difficult class of the three-day competition.

Jessamine Eden Apiary is the only beekeeper in the Caribbean to win the award and the only one in the world that has won the Medal of Ukraine more than once. Grenadian beekeepers have won many prestigious awards, and the rainforest terrain is the ideal environment for bees to produce superior honey.

Grenada has a large community of beekeepers. These beekeepers make their living by producing honey for local retail. I was privileged to meet a couple in this business when I returned in 2018, I met an inspiring couple Mr Gary and Mrs Zorita Bajanskin Worrell-Charles, who are living in St Paul’s and producing high-quality honey in the natural rain forest environment of their farm land.

Visiting the Rain Forest
Deep in the Grenadian rain forest I met with many farmers and their families. I spent time with them listening to their fascinating stories and witnessing their daily tasks around the farm. I come away from the trip with a greater understanding of their work and struggles. Farmers in Grenada place so much care and passion into their work and this was evident through their end products. It takes a driven individual to ensure their products are organically grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals like the Grenadian farmers I met. This was a highlight of my trip and I found the whole experience to be incredibly fascinating.

I am truly passionate about supplying food products that have been grown organically, free of genetic modification and also supporting the Grenadian economy in doing so.
2019 brings an exciting prospect, I would love to assist the farmers and beekeepers that I have met by offering their high-quality, ethical and healthy produce via our subscription box which we will be launching later this year.

I would love to use this opportunity to wish the farmers and organic producers that we met in Grenada a Happy New Year!

If you would like to know more about the Caribbean organic spices and cocoa products within our subscription boxes you can sign up below. Make sure you’re subscribed as participants will be the first to know about our launch dates in 2019.

Merging cultures, joining hearts

Kebera Baptiste
Co-founder: SunSpice UK Limited

We’re Getting Ready to Launch

We are excited about our new subscription box dedicated to delighting your taste buds with quality organic spices from the Caribbean, delivered to your door

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Bringing My Cocoa Heritage from Grenada to the UK

Posted by: Kebera Baptiste
Co-Founder:SunSpice UK Limited

Cocoa history

Cocoa beans were prevalent in Central American cultures, specifically the Mayan civilisation, for hundreds of years. The Mayans worshipped the cacao tree and cocoa was often thought of as being the “Food of the Gods”. It was used for many different purposes. The Mayans created a ritual beverage made from ground cocoa beans, vanilla beans and other spices. It was shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies. It was also used as a form of currency between their own civilisation and those they traded with.

Eventually, the Spanish discovered cocoa beans and began to covet them for trading. Initially, the Spaniards kept the secret of production to themselves, which gave them a monopoly on the chocolate market in Europe.

Around the mid-1600s, the Spanish no longer monopolised the chocolate market. The cocoa bean and all its versatility became very popular. The wealthy people of France loved it. In the 1700s, a Frenchman opened the very first hot chocolate shop in London.Not long after, “chocolate houses” were easily found all over London.

How cacao trees ended up in Grenada

Cacao trees were first introduced into Grenada in 1714 by the French who had settled on the island since 1650 (to then cede it to the British in 1763). The geography of the island was perfect: fertile land to grow cacao and a great location to export it to Europe. The industry achieved great success and, by the 1760s, Grenada was the largest producer and exporter of cocoa, responsible for about 50 percent of British West Indian cocoa exports. In 1772, Grenada exported 343,400 pounds of cocoa. The French and British plantation owners used slaves from the transatlantic slave trade to work on their cocoa plantations.

My Grenada ‘Isle of Spice’ heritage

I’m a British-born woman of Grenadian heritage, due to my parents having been born on the island of Grenada, known as “the Spice Island” of the Caribbean’ because of the extensive selection of spices grown on the island. Being the world’s second largest producer of nutmegs, this precious spice naturally tops the list of fragrant spices produced here. The exotic spice array includes cinnamon, pimento, cloves,bay leaves, turmeric, ginger, and mace, nutmeg, vanilla and cocoa that flourish in its fertile volcanic soil.

My parents came to England when the government was recruiting Commonwealth citizens during the 1960s to rebuild Britain after the World Wars. My mum worked as a nurse and my dad as a factory engineer at McVities. I visited the factory where my dad worked and was amazed by the amount of chocolate that was manufactured using large industrial machines.

Drinking hot chocolate was a childhood ritual every Sunday. My parents made it from cocoa that had been grown in Grenada, then ground and turned into balls. During the summer holidays, my parents took me and my siblings to Grenada, where we saw the cacao trees growing in the incredibly fertile soil.

My mum would often visit the spice market in St George’s with its history of offering the finest spices and cocoa produced on the island. I was obsessed with the idea of making hot drinking chocolate, using the spices that were grown on Grenada, especially cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg.

My partner and I now visit Grenada on a regular basis and we are fascinated to see how cocoa is grown.
We discovered that the flavours of chocolates made by a local chocolatier are truly out of this world, due to the use of the unique blends of local spices used to make the chocolate.

The volcanic isle of Grenada’s soil creates conditions so unique that cocoa grown in it assumes a distinct flavour. This is mainly due to the topography of the island that produces the perfect climate and altitude for cacao trees to thrive. Also, the natural biodiversity of the farms makes it possible for cacao trees to receive exceptional nutrients from the soil, as well as appropriate shade and water. This is why Grenadian chocolate is known for having such unique spicy and fruity aromatic components. Additionally, being an antioxidant, cocoa has potentially important health benefits.

Grenada is recognised by the International Cocoa Organisation (ICO) as one of the 23 countries that produce “fine” or “flavour” cocoa,as opposed to “bulk” or “ordinary” cocoa. Grenadian cocoa farmers are striving to grow the finest cocoa beans in the world, yet they are battling climate change and struggle to obtain a fair price for their cocoa.

2.1 million children work in the cocoa fields in West Africa

Some 2.1 million children work in the cocoa fields of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Companies like Nestlé, Hershey,
Cargill, ADM, and Barry Callebaut have all admitted accountability. I totally condemn anyone exploiting children to work on their cocoa farms to feed consumers who enjoy eating chocolate in wealthy areas like Europe and the US and make substantial profits for large chocolate companies that have no ties with the local communities in those countries from where they get their cocoa beans.

SunSpice UK brings you authentic flavours from Grenada without using child labour

My partner and I have recently formed SunSpice UK Limited to offer you distinctive organic spices and chocolate flavours from Grenada.You can be assured that the cocoa and spices that we import from Grenada are ethically source and have not been produced using child labour. We make it our responsibility to visit Grenada on a regular basis to meet the farmers and their families from where we source our products and to develop a strong and transparent partnership to ensure we produce high quality products for our UK customers.This, in turn, enables our farmers and their families to receive a fair price for their products and, therefore, improve the quality of their

We’re getting ready to launch our range of organic spices and cocoa products, offering you healthier foods, beverages and supplements that have been ethically sourced from Grenada.