We boarded the JCR on the morning of Friday, November 5th, and left port this morning around 7 AM. Our first science station is 3.5-4 days away (the JCR cruises at around 12 knots). Therefore our 7-day layover at the Falkland Islands is over (Stanley only,really,  since we didn’t go to “camp” and get a chance to see more of the Falklands. Areas outside of Stanley are called “camp”).

From the owner of the Lookout Lodge, we learned that more than half of Stanley and almost 100% of the farms on the other islands get their electricity from wind power; winds are strong year-round so electricity is cheap. The same company that sells phone and wireless internet access cards also sells prepaid electricity cards. That might sound like a monopoly but it is likely that the prices are somewhat subsidized from the UK, and thus not too bad (with so many overseas territories and so many subsidies, no wonder they had to cancel the Christmas party for the staff at the Buckingham palace this year). While there is very little variety of fruits and vegetables that can be grown on the island, almost every house in town has a small garden where cold weather vegetables are farmed and some have greenhouses for growing tomatoes. Over the period we stayed at the Lookout Lodge – usually eating three meals a day in their dining room- only once we were served fresh fruit (pears) and never had vegetables that did not come out of a can. Now, Lookout Lodge IS the cheapest place to stay on the island, but Granny Smith apples (from Uruguay) sell at a pound EACH (1 pound these days is 1.6 US dollars) at the local supermarket, and smaller, overripe red apples sell for about 70p each, so you get the idea.

One night we went out for dinner at the fancy restaurant of fancy Hotel Malvina (probably the best place to stay in Stanley) and the menu offered the proud note: “All main courses are served with fresh, homegrown vegetables” (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots that night).
Perhaps a rather rare example of broccoli being such a prized vegetable. The owner of the Lodge said that there is enough lettuce and tomatoes grown on the island for the population, but farmers chose sell their crops to cruise ships at three times the normal prices.  The soil on the island is acidic, allowing for easy growth of root vegetables like potatoes, radishes and carrots, but while we were there there were no potatoes on the whole island due to infestation (other than frozen french fries that were imported); fresh ones were not going to come for months. Meats, other than lamb, are mostly imported from the UK in vacuum packs — including chicken. Eggs however, are fresh since many people keep chickens just for the eggs, and they are particularly proud of the locally raised lamb, but the rest including some seafood is imported. Patagonian Toothfish, also known as Chilean SeaBass, is abundant locally but at the same time on the Greenpeace endangered species list due illegal fishing.

The six day experience at Stanley made me very angry towards our government’s new policy of allowing meat to be imported into Turkey with the assumption that it would bring down the prices in the domestic market. We are blessed with one of the most fertile spots on the planet, full four seasons and moreover, we are not a dependency or colony of another nation. Certainly with clever planning and optimized use of our resources, we can raise enough meat ourselves sustainably and stabilize the market price. Of course any kind of government subsidy to strengthen the farmers and give them a start ahead is unimaginable but would greatly help; had the intention really been to bring down the prices, a well thought out plan to regulate the local farmers would have been laid out before letting in the foreign meat at prices our growers can not compete at.

Well, to end this post with a smile, check out the amount of baggage the JCR scientists carried with them (more and much more was shipped ahead of time).

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