I had been told several times that ADD and ADHD were “world-wide problems,” however I did not believe it. Thus, I looked for a country which did not experience these. By chance I read an article about Cuba leading the world in organic farming and it mentioned there were no food-chains there. Wow! That made me curious regarding children’s behavior there, so I wrote several letters to the Cuban authorities, but did not received a reply. Consequently, in 2005 I went to Cuba, hoping to find a family to board with, because as a tourist it would have been virtually impossible for me to dig around for the kind of information I wanted.
Fortunately, I found a family that was very helpful, and they had excellent connections. One of them gave up one week of her forth-coming holiday to help me and another introduced me to some pediatricians at the local University, who in turn arranged an interview for me with the Cuban Professor of Nutrition. The Professor kindly advised me of the following:
1. 80% of the food produced in Cuba is organic and there is no GE.
2. There is no KFC, no MacDonalds or Burger King etc
3. No child needs lunch money as they all receive a FREE freshly cooked organic mid-day meal. There is an emphasis on fruit and vegetables and FREE milk, up to the age of 7 year.
The schools I visited were small and had modern equipment. I did not see any obese children or any “playing up.” This was confirmed by a teacher.
Cuba has a population of more than 11 million people and enjoys one of the best medical systems in the world. It is high on the list regarding medical tourism. It is one of the safest countries to visit for tourists. There were many things that impressed me about Cuba.
Comment: Why can’t our Government put kitchens into schools and provide healthy meals, instead of the parents giving them lunch money? The Czech Republic does the same thing. School meals which parents pay for, which are very cheap, and the dining room is open to senior citizens also at a cheap rate.
Note: Watch the film: ‘Power of Community’ about Cuba. It won the Peoples’ choice award at the NZ Film Festival in 2006.
By Betty Hooper