These Islands Are Banning Imported Junk Food In Favor Of Local Organic Food

The South Pacific nation of Vanuatu wants to ban crappy foreign food to support the health of its locals.

February 28, 2017

Junk food—particularly packaged food that's high in preservatives and sweeteners—is never a good option for your health, or usually for the environment. But, as we all know, it can be hard to resist readily accessible (and often inexpensive) packaged meals and junk food. Most of us do our best to try and eat fresh, healthy, locally grown foods whenever possible."Try" is often the key word, though, especially when it comes to our favorite snacks (Think: pizza, pizza, pizza, and chocolate).  

But what if those "junk" foods simply weren't available? A group of islands in the South Pacific is taking it to the next level: they're seeking to ditch imported junk food all together. 


Concerned about the potential health risks of its local people becoming addicted to imported processed food, the Torba province in Northern Vanuatu, a group of islands off the coast of Australia, is planning to ban foreign food imports. In doing so they're also looking to shore up the islands' plentiful local, organic food supply: items like fish, crabs, shellfish, taro, yams, paw paw and pineapple. 

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

Vanuatu is a nation composed of around 80 islands, which are fairly popular for travel and tourism as they offer scuba diving of stunning coral reefs, underwater caverns and shipwrecks. The head of the local tourism council, Father Luc Dini, told The Guardian, “At the moment we have an infiltration of junk food from overseas." Concerned about the low nutritional value of these foreign food imports, he said a ban would improve the health and wellbeing of islanders, many of whom are farmers

Related: 3 Science-Backed Ways Organic Food Is Safer And Better For Your Health

They're not the first government to seek to ban products that are bad for their people's health. In order to curb smoking, the small, Himalayan country of Bhutan banned the farming and selling of tobacco products in the country (though smoking remained legal) in 2010. 

Related: 5 Ways To Boost Your Local Food Economy

Starting immediately, tourism spots in Vanatau will serve guests only locally sourced organic food, and they hope to legislate to officially ban all imported foreign food in the future. On the list of potentially banned goods are the most popular items currently eaten by the locals: rice, sweets, tinned fish, and biscuits. The country hopes to become a legally organic province by the year 2020.


“If you really want to live on a paradise of your own, then you should make do with what you have and try and live with nature,” Dini told The Guardian

It would be tough for us to give up donuts and chocolate chip cookies, but we have to say, we applaud the effort. And, truth be told, we probably wouldn't mind living on an island paradise with all locally grown and sustainably caught meals. When do we leave, again? 

Tags: local food