‘Eat nutritious foods for healthy lives’ – The Herald

The Herald
Africa Moyo in SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt
The 27th climate change conference yesterday turned its attention to agriculture, with particular emphasis on the growing and eating of nutritious foods, particularly traditional dishes.
This emerged during a side event that ran under the theme, “Unlocking climate finance for resilient food systems and nutrition”.
The event was organised by Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, and attracted panellists from Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Pakistan and Djibouti.
Ms Gerda Verburg, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General and SUN Movement coordinator, said governments and non-governmental organisations should move to ensure people desist from the practice of eating food just to fill their bellies, but should eat nutritious food for healthy living.
“Gone are the days when people should eat food just to fill up their stomachs,” she said.
“It is now time that people eat nutritious foods that make them healthy.
“For a long time, the focus has been to have farmers produce more food, but there has been no effort to ensure nutritious food is produced for the people.”
A panellist from Djibouti said his government was working with other countries to get seed for the production of nutritious food.
Director for Climate Change Management Department in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Washington Zhakata, said the issue of nutrition has not been previously discussed during climate change conferences, despite being important.
“We were only focusing on agricultural production, no matter what we are producing,” said Mr Zhakata.
“Maybe we are just producing staple food, which is just one type of a starch that we are also eating every day.
“Now the meeting is saying why don’t we go a step higher and as we look at food production, why don’t we plant a diversity of crops that will complement each other in terms of ensuring nutrition for the people.”
In an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing COP 27, Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, told The Herald that food had since ceased to be what people “just eat”.
“Food is what you eat and what it does to your body. In Zimbabwe, we want to thank His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) for refusing us to have GMOs because in a lot of countries, GMO has destroyed traditional seeds.
“In Zimbabwe, we still have our own maize which we can harvest and still replant because we refused to have seed from outside. We are growing our own seed naturally and giving people our own seed.
“Secondly, we have promoted traditional grains which are more nourishing than maize. As you know, the First Lady has also promoted our traditional dishes. That has galvanised women to take care of our own vegetables, to go out and recall what our grandparents used to eat; that has revived the food we used to eat.”
Dr Nyoni said the African food, including that from Zimbabwe, was not just food, it has medicinal elements which heal those that eat the food.
She gave an example of the moringa from Binga, and sadza prepared from traditional grains (sadza rezviyo), which she said was “very rich in iron, and “amacimbi (madora/ caterpillars) which have the highest protein quantity of all the insects”.
“So, this whole way of Zimbabwe going back to our traditional food, and also for the First Lady encouraging us to cook and eat it, is good and commendable for the country.
“Now we want to ensure it (traditional food) goes to the hotels, it goes into boarding schools and then through that, we are going to grow a very healthy nation because we are what we eat.
“I have seen a lot of people live longer because of their lifestyles. A good lifestyle begins with what you eat,” said Dr Nyoni.
A campaign has already started in Zimbabwe where people are encouraging each other to eat healthy food that contains carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals and vitamins.
Highly processed cereals such as refined maize meal, white bread, white rice, margarine and/ or refined cooking oil, are being discouraged since they contain a few nutrients and little fibre.
Instead, less processed cereals such as millet, brown rice, brown bread, sorghum and whole wheat pasta, are encouraged.
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