A new supermarket on the banks of the Mariana Trench in the Philippines may be a boon for health-conscious shoppers, but it is also a potential health hazard for the locals, who are now being encouraged to purchase healthier food.
The grocery store, named Caribbean Fresh, opened on Wednesday and is the latest in a series of initiatives to cater to the growing health-care needs of the Philippine people.
It is the first of its kind in the country.
Its website states that it will serve “food and beverage prepared with whole foods, minimally processed, with minimal sugar, salt and artificial ingredients”, which is what the locals will be able to buy at the new store.
“In the Philippines, we are living with a lot of food insecurity, where there are people who cannot afford the necessary groceries or who cannot pay their bills, so we have to do everything we can to try to help these people,” said Marisa Garcia, a community health worker and former community outreach worker for the health ministry.
Garcia, who has been working with the health department for almost a year, said the initiative has already proven itself to be a success.
Her community has seen a reduction in cases of colorectal cancer, as well as obesity, asthma and hypertension, among other illnesses.
Since the opening of the grocery store on May 11, people have purchased over 3,000 boxes of organic, locally sourced foods and over 10,000 bottles of juice, she said.
However, she added that some locals have complained about the quality of the fresh foods, which they have to order from a local market, where the fresh produce is not fresh at all.
There are also complaints about the convenience of using the same store from which people buy their groceries, as they now only need to pick up fresh produce from a different store and carry it home.
But Garcia said the new initiative has proved to be much more successful than she expected.
She said the initial plan was to only serve canned goods, but they have now expanded to all canned food items.
As of today, customers have purchased 3,100 boxes of canned food, which include fresh produce, juices, meat, seafood and dairy products, which will be sold in the store’s kitchen.
In the first week of the opening, Garcia said she saw an increase in demand for fresh produce.
According to the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, colorerectia cases have increased by 17.8 percent in the last three years.
Colorectum cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the colon.