Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Food management

One issue that the Ik struggle with every year is retaining food from one harvest to the next. They usually grow enough to last for months at a time, but I've rarely seen them grow what they need to last a whole year. There are many reasons for this: not enough seeds, not enough time and manpower for tending a garden, no modern equipment to help them, large families and continual family growth aided by resources from well-meaning NGO's who make the large families reliant on them. Then, when the NGO's pull out and no longer provide food relief, the Ik are left with families they can't support because the land can't support them all. You get the picture. This issue is a concern close to my heart because we hate to see our friends struggling with hunger. 

Well, one way the Ik may develop themselves in regards to their food supplies would be learning to be better managers of their food. Many days I'll see people eating way more food than they'd need to consume in one meal and I'd wonder to myself why they don't eat in moderation so their food supplies last longer. The answer could be startling. It's possible that people eat all they can at one meal because they don't know when their next meal will be...or they don't know if they'll be around for another meal. In years past, famine taught them that nothing is guaranteed. What a different mindset than we Americans have! Imagine having to eat for the moment with so much uncertainty about your future survival. I'd like to think that circumstances have changed for the Ik so much so that they can now plan for their future. I don't see it often, but my neighbor is an excellent example of how the Ik mindset is changing. 

Below, Nachem Esther is cutting up pumpkin to save for a future meal. She knows that having too many ripe pumpkins is a risk and she doesn't want to lose any of her harvest. So, she enlisted the help of her children and she's cutting pumpkins to dry on the fence. 
Her oldest daughter, Rosemary, is trained in the domestic arts of Ik life and she'll be excellent at food management when she gets married. Hope for the future!
The pumpkin is hung on the fence to dry and will be stored once it is properly dehydrated. Since it is dry season right now, we have plenty of wind and sun to dry it out. They'll still get low on food right before harvest time...but this is a start. And they're doing it all on their own.
I also wanted to include a picture of these gourds they grow. They eat the flesh out of the small ones, but they mostly grow gourds to use as currency. They are excellent water containers once they've been dried out. When the gourds are fully dried, they'll be carried across the border into Kenya to be traded for other goods and services.'s original and it's Ik. I'm thankful for the ways they are empowered to help themselves.


Jimmie D. said...

Jesus had 7 loaves and two fishes to work with to feed four thousand families and was grateful for them. God can do much with little when we are grateful for the little that we have. Praying for a good planting season.

Notinthewild said...

What stunning colors those gourds and pumpkins have!!
It's interesting that are bodies are in a way designed to plan for that next meal being potentially far off--which 1st-world people find out when they try to diet by skipping meals--only to have their bodies store up the calories at a rate they normally wouldn't.