Eat egg during pregnancy, get a stupid baby

The title sounds very strange but it is a perception in some regions in Africa including the upper region of Gambia. Taboos during pregnancy are one of the many forms of food taboos present in Africa, influencing consumption pattern and food habit. Therefore, it is imperative to consider the cultural elements of the people in every intervention to ensure optimal impact. This thought was considered in Céline Termote’s research on “Role of Biodiversity in Improving Dietary Diversity and Quality of Complementary Foods for Infants and Young Children in Southern Benin”.

Céline assessed local biodiversity and conducted an ethnobotanical survey which identified 146 plant species and 148 animal species known as food sources. The result shows a huge opportunity for local food ingredients that can be used to enhance food and nutrition security. However, only a handful of the species are currently consumed as food in spite of the nutritional gaps present in the region. But why are people only eating few plant species available? Says one of the participants. According to Céline, some local foods are tagged “food for the poor” hence nobody wants to associate with them even though they are nutritious. Obviously, there are class and subclass of poverty among poor communities and, the definition of poverty is subjective in the eyes of the people. The distance away from the source of the plant species is also a major problem. Most species are located far in the forest, making it difficult for people to reach. The knowledge gap is also a major issue. This was address through nutritional education using media such as videos, posters, a food calendar and a recipe booklet to address negative food habit and perception. Over 20 optimized recipes were developed using local ingredients but at the moment the rate of adoption, which is the ultimate measure of the success of the project, has not been tested. 


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