Beans in the bag

In case some recent blog entries had you confused, we do in fact know that food is not synonymous with corn. (Though in the local language Chichewa, there is a significant overlap in common usage of the terms). Food of course is what is necessary for a person to have good health, energy, and growth. Corn alone is not sufficient. Beans go a long way toward fulfilling the spectrum of nutrients required for a balanced diet. Beans contain high levels of proteins, especially those lacking in rice and maize.
The seeds loaned out for our beans seed-bank at Chibanzi are now producing fruit. Farmers began the harvest this month, yielding around 33 times the weight of the seed. The 6 kilograms of seed per farmer is coming in at 200 kilograms of harvest. Another way to look at it is that on average each bean planted produces 33 beans at harvest.

Another aspect of a good diet, often overlooked, is the role of appetizers (and I don't mean deep-fried tidbits you eat before dinner). Appetizers are ingredients that make food taste good. Some of the best appetizers are energy packed foods like sugar, butter, and oil. But these are usually expensive. Easily grown, onions have strong flavour. While their energy and nutrient content is mostly washed out by the common practice of boiling or frying, they do taste good. The good taste in tern promotes good appetites. And having a balanced diet on the plate is one thing, but eating sufficient quantities of a balanced diet is something else. For the sick, young, elderly (i.e. those most vulnerable to malnutrition), making food taste good is as important as any other aspect of the dish.

The onion nurseries pictured here will play a big role in making sure no one suffers malnutrition or hunger at Chibanzi this year.