Factors affecting the management and use of traditional foods. A case study among migrants in Naivasha, Kenya
Rachele Ellena (University of Gastronomic Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
This study used ethnographic and ethnobiological methods to investigate changes in foodways among work migrants of different ethnicity in Naivasha. Results show that exchange of food and knowledge through migrants' informal networks increases dietary diversity while reinforcing culinary identity.
Paper long abstract:
The basin of Lake Naivasha in Kenya has been for a long time theatre of an intense movement of people. Most Masaai who historically populated the area have been displaced by British settlers at the beginning of the XXth century. A century later, a multitude of people from different ethnic backgrounds are moving to the lake town in search of job opportunities, represented to a large extent by work in the flower farms that surround the lake. This study used ethnographic and ethnobiological methods to investigate the traditional food system and changes in foodways among migrants of different ethnicity that inhabit the compounds built to host the flower farms' workers. On the one hand, results show that urban migration, livelihood commercialization and internal migration indeed pose challenges to accessing traditional foods, with implications for dietary diversity, food and nutritional security. On the other hand, migrants' coping mechanism of bringing food back from their shamba (farms) located in their counties of origin increases household resilience, contributing to the maintenance of ethnic culinary identity and dietary diversification, thus counteracting homogenization of diets. This diversity is generated and supported by a rich social fabric, comprising networks of neighbors, kin and friends within which traditional knowledge and skills are shared, seeds are exchanged, relationship built and values negotiated.
Unsteady food in a migrant Africa [Anthropology of Economy Network]