Arrowroots, finger millet porridge just fine for your family

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Read full article by Charity Mutegi@BusinessDaily Photo Credit: File Photo:NMG

SUMMARY

No child should be made to feel inferior or backward because they opted to pack a piece of arrowroot or finger millet porridge, or boiled maize or fried termites as their school snack.

To supplement such efforts, schools should provide a guide on healthy and nutritious food sources that guardians can use to prepare snacks for school-going children.

Additionally, we must put the same effort in promoting traditional food crops, such as green grams, sorghum, sweet potatoes, cassava and yams, as we do conventional crops, through research focused on crop improvement, favourable policy that promotes adoption and trade.

In my early days of schooling, I once arrived home for vacation and ranted to my father how the school was unfair to serve us githeri in almost all of our daily meals. It is a boiled mixture of maize and beans, with some variation among households.

Dad was firm that githeri is one of the most nutritious and affordable foods in school. He explained the nutritional elements of the meal and concluded the matter with finality that I never raised it again.

Fast forward to almost four decades later. My daughter, who loves sugar cane, recently came back from school distraught that her schoolmates had made fun of her because she carried the juicy cane to school as a snack. Since the humiliation, she no longer carries it to school, although it remains one of her all-time favourites.

While such incidents have occurred across generations, one thing that has remained paramount is the need to nourish with quality foods that sustain the proper functioning and steady growth and maintenance of our bodies.

My concern is the constant brainwashing of our children by the misleading perception that highly refined sugar and salt-dense foods with exceptionally appealing packaging are symbols of progression and class.

While the pressure may be from fellow schoolmates and friendly neighbours, the primary custodians of young children, including parents have sadly, contributed to this narrative.

While I have no intention of condemning processed foods since there are indeed several benefits of value addition, primary custodians must be the first educators of their children about the nutritive value of traditional food crops and locally prepared foods, without introducing prejudice.

They also need to walk the talk by including such foods in home menus.

No child should be made to feel inferior or backward because they opted to pack a piece of arrowroot or finger millet porridge, or boiled maize or fried termites as their school snack.

I was delighted to see topics on nutrition in my daughter’s textbook, providing traditional food sources as examples.

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Posted on

September 9, 2020

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