Cultural Connectivity to Local Food Networks

This summer I will be going to South Africa to do research in a township on how people connect to food. In South Africa, over 2 of 3 people are ‘food insecure,’ meaning they lack regular access to safe and nutritious food.  I want to understand how one’s culture, ideology, and background influences their decisions about where, when, and how they get food, ultimately, determining their food security.  Food security is largely determined by one’s class.  However, there are are parts to the equation as well.  To unravel another layer of the puzzle,  I will be interviewing residents and recent immigrants about how they are able to connect to their local food sources.  By this, I am interested in seeing what ideological and cultural factors affect how one is able to access and use food sources in their area.  That is to say, what determines one’s capability of acquiring food beyond their financial means alone.  Given that townships in South Africa have a very limited number of food suppliers, I want understand the mental process people go through when deciding how to get food.  This is particularly important when deciding whether to use food-aid.  Many food-aid programs exists in townships, but not everyone uses them, for various reasons.  I want to investigate the critical factors which determine how South Africans decide to get food, and for what reasons.  I want to see how the food suppliers in townships, including food aid programs, are either being culturally sensitive to the people they serve or not.  This is a important part of solving the crisis of endemic food insecurity in South Africa today.