Andrea Goldson (4th Quarter, 2008)

4th Quarter, 2008
Minority  Scholarship Winner
Andrea Goldson

My name is Andrea Goldson. I am currently enrolled as a graduate student at the University of British Columbia where I am pursuing doctoral studies in the area of Food Science. My life ambition is to become a food technologist assisting in the development of the agriculture sector of my home country Jamaica. In my spare time I enjoy photography, reading, volunteering and sightseeing. I look forward to further opportunities to harness and enhance my knowledge in the area of Food Science as well as mentorship of the younger generation by sharing my own life experiences and encouraging them in their own individual aspirations.”

A Portion of Andrea’s Winning Essay:

Andrea Goldson

In Jamaica the economy is founded on three key sectors: tourism, bauxite and agriculture. Important agricultural crops include coffee, sugar, banana, pimento, sorrel and ginger. Over the last several decades, Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee has developed a reputation in which it is one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world commanding extremely high prices. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a classification of coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains are generally located between Kingston and Port Maria. Rising to 7,402 feet above sea level, they are some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean. The climate of the region is cool and misty with high rainfall, averaging about 198 cm (78 inches) and temperatures in the region of 27 C (82 F). The combination of climate and excellent soil conditions are considered ideal for coffee cultivation.
While Jamaica does not have much of the world market in terms of production, the beans are well known for their exceptional quality and are also used as the flavor base of the coffee liqueur, Tia Maria.
The Sugar Industry is the oldest continually operating industry in Jamaica generating the third largest foreign exchange earnings after tourism and bauxite. It offers a large source of employment for more than 50,000 workers. The industry utilizes renewable agricultural raw material base which is utilized in energy generation.

Jamaica has a number of sugar estates throughout the island which include Frome, Monymusk, Bernard Lodge, Hampden, Long Pond and Appleton Estate. Rum is produced from sugar cane by fermentation with yeast.

Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is the finest rum in the world and dates back to 1749. It is said to be the world’s second oldest spirit. J. Wray and Nephew Co. Ltd., is the largest producer and bottler of rums and spirits in Jamaica. The company was reported to have exported over US $20 million worth of products in 1996.

Jamaica was the first commercial producer of bananas in the Western Hemisphere. Commercial exports commenced in 1900. Thanks in part to shipping and refrigeration, bananas were able to be sent long distances. In 1936, of the 355,000 tonnes produced, 259,000 tonnes were exported to the United Kingdom (Von Loesecke, 1950). Bananas rank second only to sugar in economic significance within the agricultural sector. Export trade makes a valuable contribution to foreign exchange earnings. Bananas are grown for export mainly in the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary.

World-wide, ginger is among the most important and valued spices. The plant is grown in tropical regions all over the world and plays a part in local cuisines. Ginger is thought to have been introduced to Jamaica in the year 1525. By 1547 exportation of ginger was reported as amounting to over 1.2 million kilograms. Between the years 1930’s and 1960’s, Jamaica was listed as one of the three largest producers of ginger in the world, along with India and Sierra Leone. Christiana, Jamaica, was identified as the region which grew the finest ginger in the world. Since then the production has fallen significantly, from close to 2 million kilogram of ginger in 1953 to around 0.4 million kilos in 1995 (Lancashire, 1995). Jamaican ginger, which is pale buff, is regarded as the best variety. Some recipes for Jamaican jerk paste use ginger, which is not surprising since Jamaica’s ginger is of extraordinary quality. Jamaican ginger beer is a genuine ginger flavored soda which has an exquisite and unique taste imparted by Jamaican ginger.

Over 40 phenolic ompounds have been identified in ginger, which are believed to have roles in disease prevention. The primary known constituents of Ginger Root include gingerols, zingibain, bisabolenel, oleoresins, starch, essential oil (zingiberene, zingiberole, camphene, cineol, borneol), mucilage, and protein. Gingerol, scientifically known as [6]-gingerol, has been identified as the active constituent of fresh ginger. Studies have shown that [6]-gingerol and its homologs have a wide array of pharmacological and physiological activities ranging from reducing symptoms of morning sickness, nausea, motion sickness to decreasing inflammation (Ali, et al., 2008).

Sorrel was first brought to Jamaica by French and English settlers in the early 1600’s. Scientifically Jamaican sorrel is known as Rumex acetosa. The calyx-covered fruits are brewed in water to make a refreshing, cranberry-colored tea. They are also used in salads, jellies (such as Jamaica’s famous rosella jam), sauces, soups, beverages, chutneys, pickles, tarts, puddings, syrups, and wine.

Powdered dried red sorrel is added to commercial herb teas such as Red Zinger for flavor and color. The fruit is known to have several medicinal properties aiding in reducing inflammation, lowering elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Researchers have confirmed that sorrel is high in vitamins and minerals with powerful antioxidant properties (Mantle, et. al., 2000).

The pimento tree is indigenous to the Caribbean Islands. It was found growing in Jamaica by early Spanish explorers in about 1509 and later discovered in Cuba were it is presumed that the seeds were taken by migratory birds which had eaten the berries. Attempts to introduce pimento to other parts of the world have not been successful with trees failing to produce fruit. Jamaica has the longest history of the fruit and remains the largest producer of pimento. The pimento berry has the flavor and aroma characteristic of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper, all combined in one spice and is therefore called allspice (Green & Espinosa, 1988).

Jamaica is a rich mixture of diverse cultures inclusive of people of African, Indian, European and Chinese descent. The fusion of these different cultures has led to the immergence of a variety of unique flavorful cuisines such as escovitch fish, (a Spanish and Portuguese method of marinating seafood), ackee and saltfish, bammie, (a toasted flat cake made from cassava and eaten with fried fish), mackerel run-down, (whole salted mackerel simmered in coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, scallions, thyme and hot peppers), rice and peas (kidney beans and rice with coconut milk) and Jamaican jerk seasoning to name a few.
Jamaican jerk is an authentic special style of cooking offered by Jamaica to the rest of the world. It is believed to be approximately 250 years old and may have been started by the buccaneers or African immigrants. Jamaican Jerk sauce is a special mixture of fresh spices from Jamaica, which are world famous for their natural oil and aromatic content.

What contribution will you make to the world? There is significant potential for growth in a number of different agricultural sectors in Jamaica. Jamaica has a wide variety of tropical fruits such as pineapples, melons and mangoes. The potential exists for the production of value added products in the form of dehydrated fruit snacks which could be sold locally or exported.

Solar energy could be harnessed and utilized in the dehydration process. Solar dryers are an attractive alternative to sun drying in harnessing energy from the sun. Drying time is considerably shortened by approximately 65% in comparison to sun drying. The quality of the dried products is also improved in terms of hygiene, cleanliness, safe moisture content, colour and taste (Sacilik, 2007). Solar dryers have been utilized in the drying of tomatoes, chillies, mushrooms, sultana grapes, currants, figs, plums and apricots (Sharma, et. al., 1995).
The islands of the Caribbean are a rich storehouse of natural products and are home to a number of important agricultural crops and flavorful cuisines. Flavor extracts rank highly on the world market. There are tremendous opportunities for the further development of this industry. I therefore see this sector as one way in which I can make a significant contribution to the development and economy of my country. My life ambition is to become a food technologist assisting in the development of novel food products.

I am currently enrolled as a pH D candidate at the University of British Columbia where I am pursuing doctoral studies in the area of Food Science. My research project involves the investigation of the bisubstrate activity of the enzyme phenylalanine ammonia lyase with the aim of enhancing its tyrosine activity. The byproduct of this reaction is of interest in the production of food additives, flavors and is the monomeric unit of a number of industrially important polymers.
Upon the completion of my degree I plan to return to Jamaica. There I wish to play an integral part in the further development of the agriculture industry by assisting in the development and marketing of Jamaica Specialty Products.

I look forward to further opportunities to harness and enhance my knowledge in the area of Food Science as well as mentorship of the younger generation by sharing my own life experiences and encouraging them in their own individual aspirations.

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