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

Edward Mutandwa Mississippi State University, United States of America
24.05.2013
Edward

Dear Forum members,

I would like to thank you all for the contributions made to this discussion to date. One striking observation is that people do not share the same opinion when it comes to the value of indigenous knowledge. Peter Steele's remarks are quite interesting. He argues that as we move into the future, we may not need to be stuck with archaic food preparation methods. He observes that urbanization, dynamic food preferences coupled with a technologically advanced food processing industry may imply that "old" methods may be abandoned. He however indicates that for food insecure communities, there is need for enhancing communication for better food security approaches. Here is the catch, can we abandon some indigenous food preparation methods, which are integral to social, cultural and traditional setups in the name of development? A lot can be said on this because there are different views to development (eg Amartya Sen's model). In my view, there is need to adopt some methods which continue to be beneficial to humanity. Development is context specific and what may fit for developed countries is usually not appropriate for less developed countries due to many factors such as income and geo-physical conditions. Gopi (India), Hiwot (Ethiopia), Manuel from Ecuador and Daniel (Uganda) gave some very lively examples for foods that have medicinal and culinary values such as Molinga Olifera, Injera (which is fermented), smoked meat with soda (which enhances shelf life to as long as 6 months) and plantain bananas. This does indicate that these methods still have economic, social, cultural, traditional and spiritual value in a wide spectrum of communities and contexts. Isabello also talks about Amaranthus and maca roots which have been integrated into household gardens. More importantly, she highlights that people have not forgotten about indigenous methods ( a point reiterated by Dr Kabirone from Guinea). Institutional support seems to exist for example efforts by FAO to document food recipes for high Andean products (Salcedo and Byron). However, there are challenges related to documented evidence on the efficacy of these methods (Hiwot, Ethiopia). This discussion is by no means exhaustive because the subject are is vast (Ronald). There are other dimensions such as ethnobotany from which many modern medicines have been created, which have not been discussed here.