Video Duration 25 minutes 00 seconds
From: South 2 North

The politics of food

South2North examines the connection between culture, politics and what we put on our plates.

Are we all addicted to sugar? Are culture and health starting to clash? And why is obesity linked to low-income societies?

In this episode of South2North, Redi Tlhabi is tackling the subject of food with guests: Professor Tim Noakes, who has many cardiologists and dieticians up in arms with his new high-fat diet; award-winning chef Dorah Sithole, who cooks up a storm in the studio; and writer Justice Malala, who explains the connection between culture, politics and what we put on our plates.

Noakes became famous for advocating carbo-loading for sportsmen wanting to up their game. His very public reversal of that opinion has made many cardiologist, dieticians and followers concerned. His high-fat diet is considered to be dangerous because of the risks associated with high cholesterol.

He says: “The diet I’m proposing people have been eating for 3.5 million years. The diet that is described in ‘Lore of Running’ as being healthy has been promoted for 30 years, and it has been in those 30 years the diabetes and obesity rates have taken off globally. And in my view, the evidence that we needed to change our diets 30 years ago is not enough. There isn’t enough evidence to prove that we should have changed to a high-carbohydrate diet and trying to restrict fat in our diet.”

Dorah Sithole explains her love for African cuisine and the inspiration she found whilst travelling around the continent for her cookbook.

“You know when you travel overseas you hardly ever see South African food, but here at home we just have like so much of international cuisine … I was amazed as to why African food is not known but obviously it’s because there are no books out there. There are no people out there talking about our food or people going overseas to open a restaurant, so I just thought if there’s a book that’s got African food. I mean if you can read you can cook.”

Justice Malala is a food critic as well as a political commentator and explains how food and politics are closely intertwined.

“So part of the culture that I try to expose is to say … here is a political leader who may have had a one thousand rand meal – that’s a hundred dollars about, a meal all on their own – while they cannot build a proper hospital in say Zimbabwe,” Malala says.

“Therefore the leaders of Zimbabwe have to get out of the country to get treated for whatever ailment they may have. I try to think of the food … but I try to show up the societal disparities that face us in Africa and South Africa that exist.”