We often hear the saying “We are what we eat”, but are we really? Would you say that the same saying applies for people who are out of options – people consuming food merely because it is the only food that they can afford. Each and every individual is aware of the importance of nutritious food yet you still find people consuming unhealthy, unsafe and culturally inappropriate foods. Many poor people are out of depth when it comes to eating healthy and maintaining or living a healthy lifestyle as result of poverty. This article sets to identify what I consider to be food-related challenges and also, as a journalist, how I could play a role in seeing that Capetonians move from poverty to fostering a healthier and a more conscious food system in Cape Town.
Study conducted by the Oranjezicht City Farm in the Food Dialogues report speaks on the importance of shaping the food system, providing an opportunity for food growers, academics, activists, writers, nutritionists, food lovers and anyone interested in sustainable approaches to engage in key issues intimately connected to the food we eat and the future of food in Cape Town. However, I have gathered that this report does seem to take light consideration about the core issues behind the unhealthy and unsafe consumption of food in the area.
Cape Town is a diverse city, consisting of black, coloured, white, Indian and other races – to an extent the Food Dialogues report seems to carry little relevance to the poverty-stricken majority being black and coloured people. We must remember that Cape Town is also a highly classist society, meaning that people coming from Cape Town cannot be sowed with the same needle and that is what this report seemingly does. A socio-economic profile of the City of Cape Town 2016 shows that the poverty headcount lies at 2,6% with 13,9% of households having no income. Also, the poverty intensity lies at 39,3% in 2016 – meaning that already 39,3% of the city’s population cannot relate to the content of the food report. That constitutes as almost half of the people cannot access healthy foods but have to eat what they can afford which is pretty much maize meal, samp and beans, and other low-priced foods that are commonly bought at affordable supermarkets and street vendors. With all that being set and stone, this is the headlining challenge faced by Cape Town’s people. Poverty opens the flood gates to non-nutritious eating, being the leak to other challenges like obesity, diabetes and huge array of health-related problems through unsafe eating habits.
As a journalist, it is important that I inform and educate the masses about the dangers of unhealthy eating. Also, I carry the responsibility to research and analyse the common practices of food-related activity. Part of this task includes breaking down and re-evaluating the problems faced and educating the public about sustainable ways to eat healthy individually as per class and social standing – reflecting how you as someone from Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Mitchell’s Plain can live a healthier lifestyle with what you can afford.