A South Pacific Island Tries to Create Paradise by Banning All Junk Food

© Stephan Roletto / Getty Images

Next time you’re considering living a healthier lifestyle, sure, you could choose to hit up your local organic produce store, but why not splurge with a trip to a beautiful South Pacific island instead? Officials in Torba Province, part of the island nation of Vanuatu, have recently been looking to combat potential health problems by banning junk food – and the plan is starting with tourists.

Torba Province is two groups of islands that make up the northernmost province of Vanuatu, a sprawling archipelago about 1,000 miles off the coast of northeast Australia. According to The Guardian, the region is sometimes referred to as the “forgotten province,” but that hasn’t stopped Western diets from finding it. “At the moment we have an infiltration of junk food from overseas,” Father Luc Dini, described as a community leader and head of the local tourism council, was quoted as saying. “It is easy to boil noodles or rice, but they have almost no nutritional value and there is no need to eat imported food when we have so much local food grown organically on our islands.”

Related: 8 Island Vacations You Can Take Without Leaving the Country

Instead, Dini has been leading a charge to ban all imported food in an attempt to improve the health of the area’s 10,000 residents – the majority of whom are already subsistence farmers. But tourists appear to be the first to bear the brunt of Dini’s healthy ways. Starting this week, the tourism head has started requiring all his bungalows to serve only local, organic food. His hope is to get legislation passed within the next two years officially banning any foreign food important. And then by 2020, he wants Torba to be Vanuatu’s first organic province.

According to Dini, Torba is well-stocked with foods like fish, crabs, shellfish, taro, yams, paw paw and pineapple. However, there’s been some debate over whether foreign alcohol should be allowed to be imported or not. Vanuatu is known for its “kava” bars – which serve up the local alcoholic drink of choice. But sometimes you just want to pair a nice white wine with your taro.

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