Food pyramid. The picture with the layers of fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy products instantly pops into my head. The idea of healthy and balanced eating is something I have been educated about since a young age. If you mentioned the food pyramid to anyone in America they would more than likely know what you are referring to. This is not the same for Namibia.
Nutritional education is not an issue that is stressed in Namibia. Even if nutritional programs were implemented, the government or economy does not have the means to support them. I was surprised to discover that none of the institutions of higher learning in Namibia offer training in dietetics according to one source (eclp.com.na). Dieticians are limited throughout the country, and one report (www.dietnamibia.m.webs.com) stated that there are only 14 registered dieticians in all of Namibia. This realization really opened my eyes to one of the many cultural differences between the United States and Namibia.
While studying at the University of Namibia at Neudamm, we learned the difference between hunger and food security. Hunger is when you have no food to eat. Food security is when you have food to eat, but it is not always of the highest nutritional value or follows a balanced diet. Food security is a major issue for Namibians. Since Namibia is a very dry, arid country, they are limited on what crops they can grow here. Namibia is not food sufficient, and their imports are significantly greater than their exports. Most Namibian diets are dominated by staple foods, the foods they can grow and have local access to. Staple foods include various types of meat, dairy products, and some beans. Fruits and vegetables are very limited. In fact, most fruits consumed in Namibia are imported from South Africa. The majority of the population does not have the means to meet dietary requirements.
Namibian citizens are more concerned with having food to eat each day rather than making sure it is of the best nutritional value. Many citizens are extremely poor and do not have the economic means to acquire various foods that would help balance their diet. I have never had to worry about not having enough to eat, and have always had a varied diet without putting much thought into what foods I am consuming due to the fact that I have always had a variety of choices. I’ve always known our government stresses nutrition, but I never realized how much emphasis they actually place on nutrition until seeing first hand a government that does not. I feel grateful, but also very spoiled to live in the United States.
Jen Mawson says
Well written and informative Annelise. Hope you’re having a great experience!