What is Food Security? by Sarah Davis

Seeing coconut trees, the Indian Ocean, spice farms, Darajani market, and other farms made fresh eating seem like a breeze. Darajani market has the freshest seafood I have ever seen; everything was taken right out of the Indian Ocean and displayed for buying. Not only is their seafood at Darajani, but there’s also fruits, vegetables, grains, spices, household necessities, and more. This market is the pulse of Stone Town, as it is its only true market or grocery store. Darajani is so accessible to the residents and has so many necessities; it is the perfect grocery palace for a bustling small town. 

"Fresh food can be so inaccessible to impoverished communities in the United States."

Not only was Darajani amazing, but the spice farms were too. Fresh spices, fruits, roots, and beans were everywhere. Aloe vera, coffee, ginger, cardamom, and so much more were at the hands of the locals. The difference in this situation is that these items were being shipped out and sent overseas for high-end perfumes, exotic fruit consumption, and more. A hope of mine, because I did not confirm, is that these spice farms are making an abundance of profit from these exports. 

A reason I am so uninformed about fresh food prices in Zanzibar is that many things are negotiable, and if you’re not an obvious local, you will not get the best deal. Bargaining with tourists, especially ones who don’t know the language, is a fantastic way to oversell things and make a huge profit. Negotiation is a considerable part of life in Zanzibar because many stores do not have set prices. I learned a bit about bargaining while I was there.  It has its pros and cons, but hopefully more pros than cons for the store owners from day to day. 

Tourists in Zanzibar are advised not to eat fresh fruit, vegetables, street food (a version of fast food), or drink fresh juices or water. The water is not clean, therefore not safe for people to drink. Many people boil their water, and restaurants serve bottled water. All of this is to say that tourists are not taking away from local fresh food sources as often as they could because one, they don’t have a way to sterilize it, and two, restaurant eating is prominent. Seeing the accessibility to fresh food in Zanzibar is fantastic, but reminds me of the differences in availability to some populations in America.

Fresh food can be so inaccessible to impoverished communities in the United States. Some examples include the decline in home gardening over time, food deserts developing in once thriving areas, high unemployment, limited resources, and cheaper processed foods. A significant difference between the U.S. and other countries is the proliferation of processed foods. Because processed food is practically a non-issue in Zanzibar, there are less chronic medical problems like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more. The accessibility, low price, and proximity to fresh food are impressive and common from what I’ve seen both on mainland Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar.   

These points I’m making are not to diminish the food insecurity in Tanzania or anywhere else, it is only to highlight the accessibility to fresh food from many Stone Town residents. While Zanzibar and many other economically underdeveloped countries have access to such fresh food for reasonable prices, they don’t have access to clean water. My blog post on freshwater(week three) explains the struggles, the causes, and the effects of inaccessibility to fresh water. This problem is a considerable focus of GAEA, but it is helpful to know that although fresh water is a struggle, fresh food is less of one in this one town.

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