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

Peter Andersen Dept. Geography, Univ. Bergen, Norway
Peter Andersen

I want to stress the importance of one simple but important "indigenous practice", namely the soaking and/or sprouting of grains, especially pulse grains, before cooking. It used to be common practice in many countries, but with the advent of pressure cookers and commercialisation of split grains, vast numbers of people leave out this step in cooking preparations. It is well documented that soaking and sprouting reduces the content of antinutrients such as phytic acid, and thereby increases the bioavailability of important elements, for instance iron, zinc and calcium. In addition, soaking will reduce the content of oligosaccharides and enzyme inhibitors, reducing the irritation many grains can have on the intestinals. In some cases, it will reduce toxic compunds. And finally, the initial sprouting processes will normally increase the content of important vitamins and reduce the cooking time required. A very win-win situation which only requires a bit of planning ahead.

Although these issues are old established facts, I meet surprisingly many people who find this surprising, and I have very rarely seen any nutrition campaigns that even mention the issue.