Contact us:

Re: Indigenous methods of food preparation: what is their impact on food security and nutrition?

Edward Mutandwa Mississippi State University, United States of America

Dear Forum members,

I appreciate the dimensions that have been added to this discussion. Perhaps one of the most crucial comment is from Prof Tim Williams from the University of Georgia. I must start by saying that literature does acknowledge the difficulties of showing the difference between "Western" (modern or scientific) and indigenous knowledge (traditional, local, cultural). I had to scramble for a few clarifications. Chambers (1980) attempted to differentiate between the two forms of knowledge by suggesting that Western knowledge is typically centralized and linked with the state machinery (research institutes and universities) while traditional knowledge is dispersed and "associated with low prestige rural life". Traditional food processes include methods like soaking, fermentation, cooking, pounding, and sprouting (Lipski 2010). Another distinguishing feature of traditional knowledge is the "organic relationship between the knowledge and its community" and subsequent harmony with nature. It will be interesting to see what other forum members have to say on this. When does a food preparation method cease to be traditional? still lingers on...

Traditional food preparation may seem inefficient but they are symbols of a culture (Gill). In order to characterize these methods, there is always need for further context specific research due to variations across cultures (Dr Abedin and Pitam from India). Documentation of these practices is important particularly in semi-arid zones (Gill). I am not sure if any of our forum members could give examples of cases and situations where yeast and bacterial cultures are treated and mainitaned (Heslop-Harrison) but certainly there food safety issues to talk about here. On a related note, soaking is a common practice used in many cultures. There is "science in this practice" because it helps remove antinutrients and enhance bioavailability of nutrients (Andersen). Finally and very interesting, KV Peter observes specific aspects of food preparation that reduce nutrient loss like cutting and cooking without adding water at low heat levels.