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Kenyans urged to embrace local foods to tame lifestyle diseases

By John Shilitsa
Iren boss James Shikwati and Veni Swai, of Fur Die Freiheit, at the launch of a book on indigenous cuisines. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kenyans have been urged to embrace indigenous foods to curb growing lifestyle diseases.

The local foods are not only beneficial to the consumers but will boost the economies of rural areas and promote food security.

Speakers at the 15th Bukura Trade and Culture Exhibition at Kakamega Gold Hotel grounds outlined several benefits of these foods to upcountry residents as well as those in urban areas.

During the event held on November 28, a book on indigenous cuisines from Western was launched. The book titled Chakula Chetu captures popular foods from the region.

“The book outlines the nutritional benefits of each of these meals with the aim of unlocking the potential of the region’s food culture by encouraging people to embrace the growing and eating of indigenous foods as a way of promoting food security,” said James Shikwati, director of Inter Region Economic Network (Iren).

Mr. Shikwati said rural economies have a lot to offer their constituents as well as their urban counterparts.

“Individuals with cash in urban areas may not necessarily have the knowledge of how to prepare indigenous dishes. This book is meant to activate a conversation between rural producers, experts and the urbanite on how to prepare best cuisines from their produce and eat healthy,” argues Shikwati.

Nabongo Maurice Wambani, the traditional King of the Wanga community in Kakamega County was part of the team that compiled ‘Chakula Chetu’ publication authored by Iren in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

“Lifestyle killer diseases are rampant in the society because we no longer eat traditional foodstuffs like our forefathers did,” said Wambani.

Iren Kenya has been sponsoring training targeting young innovators and farmers as well as trade and exhibition events where local communities showcase indigenous foods and smart innovations in agribusiness. Some of the traditional delicacies are mushroom stew (obwoba), dried termites (tsiswa), and smoked beef (shihango).

 

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