I’m not sure why, but a lot around here revolves around food. I keep quoting to the children, “The Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 14:17), but it seems that no sooner do we finish breakfast than one or more of them is asking what’s for lunch. While around the supper table, how quickly a conversation moves from Dad’s mission that day to how much we would love a McDouble from the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s. *Sigh.*
Previously, I shared some thoughts on what we’ve been eating since coming to Africa. And for some reason, my mind has been ruminating on food again lately. At first, I was happy with how much (comparatively) simpler things were as far as our diet is concerned, and that’s still true. However, we’ve also made some changes that I’m not sure I like so much.
Quite a while ago (still in America) I decided to switch from margarine to butter…just felt it was healthier, for a variety of reasons. Now here, we’ve switched from butter to margarine. Why? Well, to get butter we have to travel all the way to Kitale, which doesn’t happen that frequently. And without refrigeration, I don’t think it’s practical to expect to keep butter fresh for that long between trips. Then there’s cost (butter is expensive and we’re pinching our grocery pennies a little more than we used to). I suppose we could just eliminate butter from our diet, but…that’s hard!
Also, corn…of the GMO variety. It’s plentiful and cheap. Many Africans eat ugali (essentially cornmeal mush) three meals a day. In fact, “it’s not a meal without ugali!” seems to be the general sentiment. So, to be here and NOT eat ugali would really set us apart. Even though we’ll always be mzungus in Africa, there’s some truth to the saying, while in Rome, do as the Romans do. I don’t think there’s ANY non-GMO corn here, so we’re eating what they eat. We certainly don’t eat ugali every day, but a couple of times a week has become the norm. Something else I don’t particularly like, but…what to do?
And then there’s oil. People here don’t use oil, they use “cooking fat,” which actually is vegetable shortening. Another thing I’d streamlined out of our diet in America, in favor of healthier coconut oil. Getting coconut oil here? I don’t think we can…and if it were available, I’m quite sure it would be out of our budget in the amount that we use it. So, for lack of alternatives, we’re back to vegetable shortening.
Another preference of mine was apple cider vinegar over the distilled white variety–many health benefits there. And I was surprised to find that even white vinegar is rare here. What you usually find is a cleverly labeled vinegar substitute, which is just water and acetic acid. Even that is not particularly cheap.
Flour…used to be whole wheat only, and ground fresh at home. Now, white flour. Cheaper and easier. The wheat berries here are so dirty that I haven’t committed time to clean them in addition to the beans, corn and rice that we use on a daily basis. The last wheat bread I made actually tasted dirty, even though the wheat berries were cleaned as well as I was able. Bleck!
So for as many health benefits that I believe there are about living in this part of the world, there are just as many sacrifices that I feel we are making. Trying to find a good balance in this area has been difficult. We’re doing the best we can to be good stewards of our health, and there’s much that is out of our control. But, I figure, God is faithful and we’ll be around on this rock for as long as He wants us to be. So, it’s all good…