Content of a novel online collection of traditional east African food habits (1930s - 1960s): Data collected by the Max-Planck-Nutrition Research Unit, Bumbuli, Tanzania Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Knowledge of traditional African foods and food habits has been, and continues to be, systematically extirpated. With the primary intent of collating data for our online collection documenting traditional African foods and food habits (available at: www.healthyeatingclub.com/Africa/), we reviewed the Oltersdorf Collection, 75 observational investigations conducted throughout East Africa (i.e. Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda) between the 1930s and 1960s as compiled by the Max Planck Nutrition Research Unit, formerly located in Bumbuli, Tanzania.Data were categorized as follows: (1) food availability, (2) chemical composition, (3) staple foods (i.e. native crops, cereals, legumes, roots and tubers, vegetables, fruits, spices, oils and fats, beverages, and animal foods), (4) food preparation and culture, and (5) nutrient intake and health status indicators.Many of the traditional foods identified, including millet, sorghum, various legumes, root and tubers, green leafy vegetables, plant oils and wild meats have known health benefits. Food preparatory practices during this period, including boiling and occasional roasting are superior to current practices which favor frying and deep-frying. Overall, our review and data extraction provide reason to believe that a diversified diet was possible for the people of East Africa during this period (1930s-1960s).There is a wealth of knowledge pertaining to traditional East African foods and food habits within the Oltersdorf Collection. These data are currently available via our online collection. Future efforts should contribute to collating and honing knowledge of traditional foods and food habits within this region, and indeed throughout the rest of Africa. Preserving and disseminating this knowledge may be crucial for abating projected trends for non-communicable diseases and malnutrition in Africa and abroad.

publication date

  • March 1, 2007