Grocery Shopping on Ebeye

May 3, 2020

Many people think that the solution to the  very high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in the Marshall Islands is as simple as changing how the people here eat.  It seems so straightforward- just eat more vegetables and less carbohydrates and processed food.  But what do you do when there are no vegetables?  Or if there are, they cost three times as much as rice?
  Let's take a little tour of the main grocery store on Ebeye, to give you an idea of the broader scope of the problem.  Earth and I had to pick up a few things so I took pictures of some typical things that you might want to buy along with their prices.  I've also looked up the prices for the same item at the Kroger near my home in the US and listed that under each picture.
My shopping helper
 
Toilet paper: Ebeye $1.99 a roll, US: $0.75 a roll

Ramen noodle bags: Ebeye $0.95 (on sale), US $0.25

Coffee Mate powdered creamer:  Ebeye $8.99, US $3.79

Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal: Ebeye $8.65, US $3.29

Gerber's Banana baby food: Ebeye $3.75 for two, US $1.39 for two

Huggies diapers: Ebeye $18.99 for 19, US $8.35 for 19

Spam: Ebeye $7.95, US $3.29

Canned chicken: Ebeye $1.69 for 5oz, US $4.19 for 10oz

Spaghetti noodles: Ebeye $2.49, US $0.99

Spaghetti sauce: Ebeye $3.89, US $1.79

Canned vegetables: Ebeye $2.15, US $0.65

Dawn dish detergent: $1.99, US $1.29

Crunchy peanut butter: Ebeye $5.55, US $1.50

The produce selection at Triple J:

Red delicious apples: Ebeye $2.99 per pound, US $1.29 per pound

Colby jack cheese: Ebeye $5.99, US $2.29

American cheese slices: Ebeye $9.99, US $3.79

Smoked sausage: Ebeye $6.95, US $3.49
Bar S hot dogs: Ebeye $ 8.99, US $1.19

Tostitos chips: Ebeye $5.95 (on sale), US $3.49

  White rice: Ebeye $10.99 (on sale), US $8.48

    As usual, there are no easy answers for Ebeye.  The minimum wage here is only $2.00 and most workers are feeding 5 people besides themselves.  Traditional foods are labor intensive and can't be grown in the urban areas where the majority of the population now lives.  Food from the stores is expensive because the cost to ship it here in a container added to the price and many fresh fruits and vegetables spoil soon after arriving because they've already spent two weeks getting here. 
  What would you do in this situation?
 

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