Accepted paper:

Meal Sovereignty in Urban and Rural Kenya: Consumption Practices of African Indigenous Vegetables

Authors:

Meike Brückner (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the sociocultural, gendered and geographical context in which the consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables in urban and rural Kenya is embedded. Further, the aim is to introduce the approach of ‘Meal Sovereignty’ that links the concept of ‘Meal Cultures’ and ‘Food Sovereignty’.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the sociocultural, gendered and geographical context in which the consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) in urban and rural Kenya is embedded. Traditionally, AIVs were part of the Kenyan's daily diet but due to the introduction of exotic vegetables during the colonial period and their thus following stigmatization as poor people's food the consumption declined and with it also knowledge on how to cultivate and cook those traditional varieties. An increasing urbanization, changing lifestyle and consumption patterns have supported the declining consumption. Whereas in former times, the AIVs were wild-collected species, more recently, the market demand is increasing and the vegetables are promoted due to its nutritional benefits and agroecological advantages. Simultaneously, the process of commercialization is being stimulated. The paper presents results of a qualitative study addressing consumer practices and preferences of AIVs in Nairobi (urban) and Kakamega (rural). The study is based on 'cooking-along interviews' to explore and unravel consumption practices and its multiple logics on a household level. Further, the aim is to introduce the approach of 'Meal Sovereignty' that links the concept of 'Meal Cultures' and 'Food Sovereignty'. While the 'Meal Cultures' approach by Parto Teherani-Krönner unfolds the sociocultural, gendered and ecological dimensions of preparing, sharing an eating a meal, (re)politicizes the approach of 'Food Sovereignty' food production and consumption. Therefore, the approach of 'Meal Sovereignty' allows to gain contextual knowledge on meal practices engaging with concerns for a democratic and sovereign food system. In sum, the paper attempts to discuss the consumption of AIVs from an empirical and theoretical viewpoint.

panel P110
Food cultures in Africa: food production, consumption, and prestige ranking in the age of development