The Surprising Benefits of Eating More African Foods in the Diaspora
As an African living abroad, you may sometimes miss the familiar tastes and smells of your home cuisine. You may also wonder how to maintain and enjoy your cultural identity and heritage in a foreign environment. Eating African foods can be a way to address these challenges and enjoy many benefits for your health and well-being. In this piece, I will discuss some of the benefits of eating African foods abroad as a diasporan.
1. Taste of Home:
Eating African foods provides a taste of home, fostering a sense of connection to one's cultural roots. It can be a comforting and nostalgic experience, especially when you are feeling homesick or lonely. For example, when I moved to Canada from Nigeria, I often craved egusi soup, a spicy stew made with melon seeds, vegetables, and meat. Whenever I cooked or ate this dish, I felt closer to my family and friends back home.
2. Cultural Identity:
Consuming familiar dishes helps preserve and express cultural identity. It allows individuals to share their traditions with others and maintain a sense of belonging in a new cultural context. Eating African foods can also be a way to resist assimilation and celebrate diversity. For instance, if you are to attend a multicultural potluck at your workplace, you could take some jollof rice, a one-pot dish of rice cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices. I bet it would be such a popular dish among your colleagues and would spark a lot of curiosity and conversation about your culture.
3. Nutritional Familiarity:
African cuisines often emphasize fresh and locally sourced ingredients. By sticking to familiar foods, individuals can maintain a diet that aligns with their nutritional preferences and health needs. Eating African foods can also help avoid food allergies and intolerances that may arise from consuming unfamiliar foods. For example, when Bi, a friend, visited China, she had a severe reaction to a soy-sauced noodle dish, which she had never eaten before. She realized that she was better off eating foods that she was used to and that suited her body.
4. Community Bonding:
Sharing African meals with friends and family abroad can be a way to create a sense of community. Breaking bread together fosters social connections, offering a platform for cultural exchange and understanding. Eating African foods can also help individuals cope with the stress and isolation that may come with living abroad. For example, if you find yourself going through a difficult time, you can join an African food club, where you will meet other Africans who share similar experiences and challenges. You can then cook and eat together and support one another.
5. Support for Diaspora Businesses:
Choosing to buy African ingredients from African markets and frequenting African restaurants abroad supports local businesses within the diaspora. This economic support helps sustain cultural communities and promotes entrepreneurship. Eating African foods can also help individuals access quality and authentic products and services that meet their needs and expectations. For example, if you need to buy some African groceries, African snacks, African drinks, and anything African food, you can simply visit the best African grocery store in the US and Canada- My Sasun African Market, where you will find everything African groceries, fresh, ripe and at a reasonable price. You will even get a doorstep delivery and if you decide to walk in, My Sasun has a warehouse in Celina, TX and Houston. Just contact us here and you'd get the best services.
Also Read: 30 COMMON NIGERIAN SPICES AND THEIR USES
6. Health Benefits of Traditional Ingredients:
African cuisines often incorporate a variety of nutritious ingredients like vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins which sometimes are alien to what is obtainable abroad. Embracing your traditional foods abroad can contribute to a continuing health-conscious lifestyle. Sticking to African foods can also help prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity that may affect the diaspora population. For example, if one is diagnosed with high blood pressure, one can switch to eating more injera, a thin, African sourdough flatbread made from teff flour. Teff is a gluten-free grain that is high in fiber, iron, and calcium, and can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Having access to our African vegetables, soups and ingredients abroad is simply a way to longevity and good health, if you ask me.
In conclusion, for Africans living abroad, eating African foods is not just about sustenance; it's a way to maintain a connection to one's roots, build community, and share the richness of their culture with others in a foreign environment. Eating African foods can also provide many benefits for one's health and well-being, as well as support the diaspora economy. Therefore, I encourage you to explore and enjoy the diverse and delicious cuisines of Africa, wherever you are in the world. Bon appétit!