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African Anthropologist

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Maize and the Malnutrition Conundrum in South Africa

Johan BOOYENS

Abstract




In this paper, the author gives an overview of the factors leading to maize becoming a staple food among black people in South Africa. The purported relationship between maize consumption and malnutrition, proposals as well as experimental and practical efforts to correct the dietary deficiencies of maize are briefly sketched. With reference to the historical context in which maize became a staple food in South Africa, it is concluded that the consumption of maize is not to be blamed for malnutrition in South Africa.



Rappaport's theoretical principle of ecological logic and its relationship to culture contingency is used to indicate that the causal factors of malnutrition are to be found in the colonial political-economy of South Africa and in the monetary logic embedded in a racially skewed free market system of production. Currently, the South African Government is addressing the problem of malnutrition in a more integrated manner than in the past. However, the question remains whether a globally victorious and untransformed free market system of production affords an environment in which local efforts to solve the problems of malnutrition and poverty can be successfully executed.



JOURNAL OF THE PAN AFRICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION Number 2 Volume VIII October 2001, pp. 137-177



http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/aa.v8i2.23108
AJOL African Journals Online