Jamaica and the Pineapple

I am sure you will agree that Jamaica is a Caribbean island with a lot of personality. Just think of its – people: oldest living and fastest persons; music: reggae; food: savoury jerk spiced cooking; beverages: Appleton Estate rum, Blue Mountain coffee, Red Stripe beer, Ting and ginger beer.

A Ripe Pineapple

To add to the list, even though you might think of Hawaii when it comes to the pineapple, most of those pineapples in Hawaii can actually trace their lineage to Jamaica.

Although considered endemic to Jamaica the pineapple was brought to Jamaica by the Tainos. Use of the pineapple profile from the 1660s along with Symon Benning’s initials SB on his Jamaican made pewter dishes shows the historic association of the pineapple with Jamaica. After all pewter was the material of choice for domestic utensils in 17th-century England and her early colonies.

Not only was the pineapple a symbol of Jamaica and the wealth the island brought to England, but the image became synonymous with elegance and royalty. Considered an exotic, exquisite natural marvel, the pineapple was treated as a delicacy in Europe.

Pineapple growing

The Pineapple has had many uses.
• Its bromelain enzyme makes a fantastic meat tenderiser. This enzyme breaks down proteins in your mouth, so when you eat a pineapple, it is eating you back. Once swallowed your stomach acids break down the bromelain enzyme, so no need to worry about being eaten inside-out. Folklore has it that workers on pineapple fields often do not have fingerprints, a result of this enzyme attack on the skin.
• It is an exceptionally good fruit to bring on long sailing voyages because it helps to prevent, just like oranges, the often lethal disease scurvy.
• It is said to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
• The mix of pineapple and sand was a great cleaning agent for the large wooden ships used to cross the oceans in year gone bye.

Jamaican Coat of Arms

The pineapple thrived in Jamaica because of the favourable environmental conditions, and was used as both a food and symbol of Jamaica.

The Jamaican Coat of Arms shows a male and female member of the Taino tribe standing on either side of a shield which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples, the indigenous fruit. The crest shows a Jamaican crocodile mounted on the Royal Helmet of the British Monarchy and mantling. The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, based on the population’s multiracial roots, completes the Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms, considered a legacy from the British with slight modifications, was granted to Jamaica in 1661 under Royal Warrant. This Coat of Arms appears on one side of all Jamaican coins.

2017 Independence Celebrations

On Sunday 20 August we held our 2017 celebration of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence.  It was great to see so many faces, all enjoying the dancing, reggae, steel pan music and yes, most definitely the food and beverages.

Appleton Estate Rum
Appleton Estate Rum

We know that all those who came felt like they were immersed in the Caribbean, right here in Australia.  The stalls meant we could take a part of the Caribbean home with us.  Congratulations to all who won prizes in the raffle.
Our major sponsors who donated iconic Jamaican beverages included:

Red Stripe Beer
Red Stripe Beer


Other sponsors included:


Thank you to:

  • the entertainment crew including:
    • steel pan players,
    • the dancers who showcased both traditional and contemporary dancing,
    • the DJs who made us dance and ‘shook the house’
  • the chefs who made the food possible
  • the bar folk pouring our iconic beverages and
  • other invaluable helpers.
Jamaican Products Sale
Julian Leeser MP – the first sale

The stalls:

A portion of proceeds was donated to Beyond Blue.  In line with the mental health theme, Jessica McLeod-Yu shared her video clip on depression.

Thanks to everyone.  We will see you at next year’s event.


Photos attached.



Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Independence

This year the Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence celebrations will be held on Sunday 20 August from 2:00 to 8:30pm at Thornleigh Community Centre, Thornleigh NSW 2120.

Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago Flags

The entry prices to this function are:
Adults (18+): $55
Teens (10 – 17): $25
Kids (under 10): FREE

$2.50 from each ticket sold goes to beyondblue .

Come for an afternoon of entertainment for the entire family with special activities for the kids.

The function will be opened by federal member for Berowra, Mr Julian Leeser MP.

Celebrate 55 years of Independence with a Caribbean style party showcasing the  history, music and food of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

Dance to Reggae, Soca and other Caribbean music.

Stanley Steer and Folk Singers

Enjoy our folk singers, steel pan, dancers, DJs.

Errol Renaud and Steel Pan

Experience an assortment of Caribbean foods that include patties, roti, jerk chicken, curries and rice and peas. Salad, dessert, tea and coffee will also be served.

A licensed bar will sell our iconic beverages of Red Stripe Beer, Appleton Rum, Ting and Old Jamaica ginger beer.

Patties, Ting and Ginger Beer

Remember a valid Government issued ID is required confirming you are 18+ if purchasing and/or consuming alcoholic beverages.

Stalls will be promoting some of our Caribbean organisations and selling various products.

There will be raffles and door prizes.

Teens and Kids must be accompanied by an Adult.  Group bookings of 10 or more receive a 5% discount with online/over the phone pre-payment.

To purchase tickets visit our website:  www.jamaicanproducts.com.au/events

*If you have trouble purchasing online, call to order over the phone:

Organiser:  Hope Kidd
Email:         [email protected]

Phone:        0409 596 655

Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago independence celebrations Proudly Sponsored by:

Backing Small Business

Who better to discuss the recently published Australian Government “Backing Small Business” booklet with than The Hon Michael MacCormack MP, Federal Minister for Small Business.

Hope Kidd with Michael MacCormack

I attended a free breakfast organised by John Alexander MP, Member for Bennelong, at Ryde Eastwood Leagues Club on Friday 2 June 2017 where Mr MacCormack was the guest speaker.

As a small business owner I take every opportunity to attend talks, workshops and seminars on factors that affect my operations. So it was a pleasure to hear of Government initiatives to support me in my dream of building a successful Jamaican Products business. It is heartening that my 3 person team of me, myself and I, with occasional help from others, is a component of small business making up 99%of all Australian businesses. Even more astonishing is that together we contribute more than $380 billion to the Australian economy. I will remind myself, when the me part of the triad wants to take a break of the importance of pursuing our dream.

My triad is reading their way through the 33 page ‘Backing Small Business” booklet. I appreciate the Federal Government’s backing of small business through lower taxes, simpler paperwork and other initiatives to keep us small businesses in the driver’s seat. I plan to take up Mr MacCormack’s challenge to take advantage of the support offered by Government and see my dream become a reality.

For an audio capture of the breakfast speech visit: http://www.rydebusiness.com.au/pHZ52

Oldest and Fastest Persons – From Where?

Have you heard of Mrs Violet Brown of Trelawny, Jamaica? Born on 10 March 1900 and affectionately known as Aunt V, she is now the oldest living person in the world whose age has been documented. So Trelawny Jamaica boasts of being birthplace of not only the oldest living person in the world at 117 years young but also the fastest man on the planet. Yes, Usain Bolt was born in Trelawny a few miles from Violet’s birthplace.

Mrs Violet Brown

Aunt V still lives in the same house where she was born and which has been in her family for 200 years. Her son Harold Fairweather, died last Wednesday 19 April 2017 a few days after his 97 birthday at their home in Duanvale, Trelawny. Prior to his death, Harold held the record for being the oldest person with a living parent.

Harold’s 97th birthday coincided with the day his mother Violet became the world’s oldest living person following the death of previous world’s oldest, Emma Morano of Italy.

Aunt V and son Harold

Aunt V is the first ever verified supercentenarian from Jamaica and the oldest verified Jamaican person EVER. She was born when Jamaica was a part of the British Empire, making her the last living former subject of Queen Victoria who died in January 1901.

Queen Elizabeth II sent her a congratulatory letter for her 115 birthday.

Aunt V attributes her longevity to her faith in God and living life as a devout member of her local Methodist Church. Undoubtedly genetics may have something to do with it too as her parents both lived to 96 years of age.

Aunt V worked as a plantation worker cutting cane for her masters and also as a maid in their homes. Eventually she was able to buy property to grow her own sugarcane and would walk two days from Duanvale to the town where she could sell it. She would carry the cane on the back of a donkey or on her head.

Aunt V, the entrepreneur, also opened the only bread shop in town, was a music teacher and seamstress. She clearly remembers seeing her first plane and car. Aunt V enjoys her Bible, but isn’t above appreciating the poetry of the rakish Lord Byron and can recite The Vision of Belshazzar from memory.

Aunt V and Granddaughter

Aunt V was married to cemetery keeper Augustus Gaynor Brown until his death. They had six children. She is a great-great-grandmother and has descendants in Jamaica, the United States of America, Europe and Africa.

Aunt V likes to eat fish, mutton and the occasional cow foot. She also likes sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, breadfruit, and fruits, especially mangoes and oranges. But which Jamaican does not like mangoes and oranges? She does not eat pork. Unlike her fellow parishioner Usain Bolt who loves chicken nuggets, Aunt V does not eat chicken. ‘

Congratulations Aunt V on your amazing achievement from Hope Kidd of Jamaican Products, Australia.

Jamaican Castor Oil

Castor oil is a vegetable oil commonly tagged as a “cure all” remedy. The oil is extracted from the seeds of the castor oil bush. This bush can be found all over Jamaica.

Castor Oil Bush

Castor oil has a long history of being used, as a source of fuel to a tonic for the hair and body. In ancient times castor oil was used by the Egyptians to fuel lamps because of its slow burning nature. The Greeks also used castor seed oil for lighting and body ointments.

In present times castor oil has both industrial and domestic uses.

In World War I castor oil was used as an aircraft lubricant because of its consistent viscosity and anti-freeze features. Other industrial uses include racing oil for high-performance engines, a primary raw material in the production of nylons and a component in perfumes, plastics, feedstock and insecticidal oils.

Domestically castor oil is used both internally, as a strong and effective purgative and externally to treat skin disorders and improve hair growth and texture. If you are old enough, you may remember your grandmother recommending castor oil to cure what ails you. Surely grandma thought castor oil was the Earth’s most versatile healing gift.

I remember two rituals when I got home from boarding school. I was given a spoon of castor oil to keep the system clear and my suitcase and its contents were left in the sun for a day or more to ensure I did not bring home bedbugs. Castor oil with it’s unpleasant taste was a remembered bane of my childhood.

Castor Oil Beans

Tips for using castor oil for hair and scalp:

Wet hair before applying Jamaican Black Castor Oil: Water on the hair helps dilute the castor oil and spread it easily.
Use less Jamaican Black Castor Oil than you think you need — except in hot oil treatment: The scalp easily absorbs small amounts of castor oil; too much only forms a thick layer, causing distribution problems.

Want to relive that age old remedy for your hair or body, then get your Jamaican castor oil from Jamaican Products. We offer both the Jamaican Black Castor Oil and the Jamaican Virgin Castor Oil.


Bournemouth Baths, a Kingston, Jamaica icon, was a popular recreational venue. Join Doug Bird as he reminisces about the baths and his swimming achievements.

Bournemouth Baths was built by Captain Lindsay in early 1900. The swimming pool was 10 metres wide, with a deep end (approx. 3.75 metres) and a shallow end. The deep and shallow ends were separated by a rope with floats attached, and a large round raft that floated at the deep end. The pool was filled with sea water pumped from Kingston Harbour. You had to pay an entrance fee to get in.

Bournemouth Baths, Kingston Jamaica

Across the pool was a steel cable with platforms on each side and a set of rings suspended from the cable. This provided an endless source of entertainment for young people who used them to swing across from side to side. On the eastern side of the pool was a two storey building. Downstairs were the changing rooms and showers, one side for men and the other for ladies. Upstairs was a dance hall, bar and juke box. As youngsters we would gather there with girls to dance to the then popular music such as “In the Mood”, “Red Sails in the Sunset” and “Begin the Beguine”. On special occasions such as Christmas and New Year there were balls for grown-ups with live bands. Sometimes various celebrities gave performances in the dance pavilion. In 1940, world famous Lithuanian (then part of Russia) violinist Jascha Heifetz gave concerts in the Caribbean and when he came to Jamaica, he played at both Carib Theatre and Bournemouth Pavilion. I remember a Doctor Howard Inch giving a talk there on teenage acne.

In its day, Bournemouth Baths was not just a place to go swimming, but also a hub for socialising, and a place of entertainment! When swimming Galas were started, it was obvious that diving in the shallow end of the pool was not possible. A timber structure was erected 33 and a third metres in the deep end. To swim 100 metres would be 3 laps and 200 metres would be 6 laps. School Swimming Championships between Jamaica College, Kingston College, Wolmers and Calabar were held at Bournemouth Baths annually. When I was 15 years old I represented Wolmers in the 200 metre breast stroke, which, to the surprise of my teacher, I won in record time. I was given my School Colours and permission to wear the school emblem on my blazer! Around this time or shortly after, my club, (The Jamaica Amateur Swimming Association) set a new record for the 3 x 100 Medley Relay with Busta Haase swimming backstroke, followed by me (Doug Bird) swimming breaststroke and finishing with Keith Melhado swimming crawl. These were exciting and competitive times at Bournemouth Baths.

In 1940, Bournemouth Baths almost became famous for all the wrong reasons. It was late afternoon and the pool was unoccupied except for two brothers playing on the raft. Their mother and little sister were poolside watching. My friend Gordon Dear and I were upstairs in the pavilion overlooking the pool and as we watched, the boys fell off the raft and it quickly became apparent that they were non-swimmers and were in trouble. I dashed downstairs and across to the far side of the pool, took off my watch and shoes and dove in to haul them out. By then, the youngest was on the bottom so I got him out first then went back for his brother who was struggling to stay afloat. Afterwards I had a shower and then had to wait for my friend to bring me dry clothes.

A lot of fuss resulted from this event. In May 1941 The Royal Humane Society presented me with a Parchment Certificate and medal at a function held at Bournemouth Baths, and the KSAC (Council) gave me one year’s free entry.

Bournemouth Baths, the gathering place of friends, a place for healthy exercise and entertainment, is still in existence today. The Baths have been renovated but sadly
remain closed to the public because Kingston and St Andrew Council say they have no funds with which to run it. All that history locked away to deteriorate again.

Have a story to tell about the Caribbean? If so contact the Team at Jamaican Products: https://www.jamaicanproducts.com.au/contact-us/

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee

We are excited to announce that due to popular demand we now stock Jablum, 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee .

If you haven’t heard of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, it is one of the most sought after coffees in the world. Grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, the coffee beans are well nourished by the fertile soils and ideal climatic conditions found in that region.

Jablum 100% Blue Mountain Coffee

Not only is this delicious coffee well known for its flavour, the name itself is protected by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. This means that only coffee grown at elevations between 910 metres and 1,700 metres can be called “Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee”. Pretty special coffee huh!!

Just in case you think you have never tasted or heard of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, it is the flavour base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur.

The Jablum, 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee comes from the Mavis Bank Central Factory and has been grown and processed by 4 generations of the Munn family. Jablum pride themselves on the quality and development of the coffee they produce.

This coffee would be great in the morning or as an after dinner delight.

Why not buy Jablum 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee as a gift or as a treat for yourself.

Want to know more, then contact the Team at Jamaican Products: https://www.jamaicanproducts.com.au/contact-us/

The Three Generations – Notable West Indians by Jamaican Products

Tanya McLeod-Yu, her mother Odette and daughter Jessica are the final Notable West Indians featured in 2016. The stories of those featured will be told in the form of an interview.

Tanya, Jessica and Odette
Tanya, Jessica and Odette

The three generations of Odette, Tanya and Jessica are bound by love with a faith in God that propels them into community activities. So let’s hear the story of these women, as told by Tanya.

Where were you born?
My Mum Odette was born in Trinidad while I and my daughter Jessica were born in Australia. I was born in Queensland then travelled to Trinidad via Europe as an infant. I spent most of my formative years in Trinidad although I did go to boarding school in Canada as a teenager.

When did you arrive in Australia?
Mum first came to Australia in 1960. She married my Dad Bruce in April but didn’t get to Australia until December because of her work commitment. Mum described her arrival in Fremantle at a time when no one knew where Trinidad and Tobago was. So she sat in the immigration office for what seemed like days, of course it was just hours. Mum returned to Trinidad during the depression in 1963 and returned permanently to Australia in 1986.

I returned to Australia in July 1984, got married here and had my daughter Jessica.

Jessica and Tanya
Jessica and Tanya

What features of the West Indian life could benefit Australia?
For Odette it is the assimilation of the various cultures.

For me it is the unforgettable memory of swimming in the Caribbean Sea. I wish that swimming in the Pacific was as enjoyable as I remember swimming in the bath water warm waters surrounding Trinidad.

We’ve tried to share Trini life with Jessica as much as possible. It used to be that she was so picky not wanting to try various fruits because she wouldn’t like it. Now…. I can barely get my share of mangoes or roti. She enjoys Mum’s cooking especially the Trini dishes and identifies with Trinidad in a way I can’t describe.

What features of Australian life could benefit the West Indies?
Mum was of the opinion that while Trinidadians loved the sea and visited the sea often she felt that they were not encouraged to learn to swim as kids in Australia. She felt it was important that the people swimming in Trinidad waters should have the same opportunities that others internationally enjoyed. With this conviction in the 1980’s Mum got Amoco Trinidad to sponsor the Trinidad and Tobago Surf Life Saving Society. The sponsorship included a small motorised life boat that came to Trinidad when the Australian Surf Life Saving Society was visiting.

When people describe “Trini time” that’s how I seem to roll. Really there is no disrespect intended. I always have to give myself extra time or trick myself by setting multiple alarms if I need to do something in a timely manner. I wish that I was able to be more punctual not for only important things.

Jessica hopes to visit Trinidad one day to experience the way of life that we’ve tried to share with her.

Odette and Jessica
Odette and Jessica

Any funny stories of cross cultural differences especially noticeable in your first years here?
Mum describes her first years in Australia as absolutely beautiful. She met many people who were generous and kind and because of this she felt that her assimilation in Australia was a very happy time.

When I came to Sydney in 1984 so many people commented on my accent. Now in 2016 they still comment on my accent.

Jessica is thrilled that people don’t guess that she is Australian. She gets people asking where she is from. We attribute that to the fact that she hears our accents regularly.

What are some of your sporting related achievements?
As a young woman Mum played tennis, basketball, netball, badminton, baseball, cricket, swimming, boating and athletics which was her passion. Mum was always good at whatever she attempted and even today she can still speak with great enthusiasm about the various cricket teams and hold a strong conversation about byes and LBW’s and six’s. Me, I’d switch off after the first ten minutes.

As a child I was always a strong swimmer and for a time I was a life guard. I even trained at Mayaro Beach, Trinidad with the Trinidad and Tobago Surf Life Saving Society and subsequently with the visiting Australian Surf Life Saving Society. Sadly I don’t swim much anymore because the water is just too cold in Sydney for me to enjoy it. Bike riding and lots of walking prepared me for my next enjoyment – soccer. I played defence and goalie well into my 20’s.

Jessica at Graduation
Jessica at Graduation

Jessica is accomplished in Tai Kwon Do, currently a “black tip”. She also enjoys exhibition Latin Dancing and loves Salsa and Bhachata! She definitely has some groove! Mum has some moves as well; but sadly I have the two left feet! Jessica was part of an ensemble which performed in the Gold Coast and Canberra earlier this year. Another of Jessica’s loves is travel and languages. She visited China, Hong Kong and London; immersed herself and studied in Japan for over a year, also studied in Rome and Paris. She plans to travel the Europe during this coming year to further her career as an animator.

Community Activities?
The ties that bind us are our love for each other and our strong faith that propels us to serve our parish for many years in various capacities.

Our hope is for each generation to be better than the last. Jessica and I were on our way to visit with my Dad Bruce when she decided to go back to the University of Newcastle to the Honours program. Jessica had an idea brewing within her for some time and she decided that the time had come. Unfortunately he never knew because when we got there Dad had already passed. Dad was a great champion for Jessica despite half the time he didn’t understand what she was about.

Jessica’s idea was to use her artistic ability to describe what it is like to have depression.
She noticed that depression was described by doctors and lawmakers and policemen and everyone who felt they knew someone with depression. She noticed that friends and family would often say “snap out of it”; but there was no description of what it felt like inside. So this year Jessica created a 5½ minute hand drawn animated film with the aim of uplifting other sufferers and know that with the right support system things can get better. Jessica also wanted family and friends to have a glimpse into the mind of what it means to be depressed.

You asked earlier what binds us? Well… we had to be there for each other through thick and thin. We had to encourage each other no matter what. We had to love each other in spite of. It was the way Mum brought me up and it was the only way I knew to bring Jessica up. Being West Indian is in our blood. We have other ways of doing things but we choose a way that speaks volumes about who we are and our heritage! In December Jessica had her work viewed in the Watt Gallery in Newcastle also the Maitland Regional Art Gallery until the end of February 2017.

We encourage you to view and share Jessica’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjS3Vmlsx8Y&sns=em

Fabian Alistair – notable West Indian by Jamaican Products

Fabian Alistair is featured as the notable West Indian for October 2016. The stories of those featured are recorded by Jamaican Products in the form of an interview. Fabian, a relatively new comer to Australia, is an engineer by profession and a born traveller. This is Fabian’s story.

Fabian Alistair
Fabian Alistair
When did you arrive in Australia?
I arrived in 2010. I applied for an engineering visa while I was in Trinidad which took 1 year to get through because of the global financial crisis. Originally I intended to stay for 18 months and ended up becoming a permanent resident.

Where were you born?
I was born in the United Kingdom. My parents were agricultural professionals so I moved about a bit. I grew up in Ghana for a couple years, when I was too young to remember. Then I lived in Jamaica until adolescence. We had a large citrus farm in Clarendon and I went to St. Thomas Moore Preparatory School. My teenage years were spent between Trinidad and Guyana, where my parents were from. I would go to school in Trinidad (Arima) and spend the holidays in Guyana with my dad in Georgetown. I got to travel into the rainforest a lot when I was there which was a great experience.

What features of the West Indian life could benefit Australia?
I believe the food and music culture. Caribbean people miss the dancing culture of the Caribbean here in Australia especially in Brisbane. Also the few places that served Caribbean food have closed down so the closest we can get is Mexican, which is a good option. I tend to get a bit bored with the nightlife here so nowadays will more hang out with friends and just chill at home and play music.

What features of Australian life could benefit the West Indies?
That sense of pride in terms of taking care of the country and standing up against corruption. Australians are quite welcoming as long as you respect their rules it seems. They also seem to want everyone to have a fair shot and they don’t like anyone person having everything.

Any funny stories of cross cultural differences especially noticeable in your first years here?
I found that Aussies have many slang terms. I could not understand my first boss when I got a job. I had to keep asking my colleagues to explain what he said after meetings. I felt quite dumb but it was just hard to understand the slang at first. Now I find myself fitting in and I am using the slangs as good as everyone around me.

Who do you admire and why?
I admire Richard Branson. He is a successful entrepreneur that focuses on providing great customer services and community support. He is self-made and has many charities and tries to give back wherever he can and also open doors for people to offer them advancement.

My Alma Mater
My Alma Mater
What are some of your achievements?
The University of Idaho was my alma mater which I attended having won a tennis scholarship. Then I had hopes of winning Wimbledon.

I bought my first property here in Brisbane after only being here a short time. I think when you are not used the certain opportunities and then you have access to them you tend to take advantage more than the people who always had them.

How has your family contributed to your success?
From an early age they taught me responsibility and to keep an open mind. They also encouraged me to travel throughout my early years which gave me the confidence to try new things and go to new places. They sent me to a reputable institution, the University of Idaho in the USA. This allowed me to apply for a visa here, it made my application for residence much easier as well.