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Page: Main.Food - Last Modified : 2017-04-05

Diverse foods and foodways

Diversity in foods and food culture have been an interest since I was young, but this has taken on new dimensions as I've had the chance to live and travel in diverse parts of the world, especially West Africa and China. Much of that has been personal - in our own kitchens and vegetable garden - but there has been some writing and publishing as well:

In the early 2000s I had the chance to research and write an article on uses of soybeans in West Africa, with focus on a traditional condiment called daddawa or sumbala, and a local version of beancurd/tofu. This included a conference presentation, and eventual publication as a book chapter:

Osborn, Donald. 2008. "Soybeans and Soybean Products in West Africa: Adoption by Farmers and Adaptation to Foodways." in Christine DuBois, Tan Chee-Beng, and Sidney Mintz, eds. The World of Soy. University of Illinois Press.

In 2015 I wrote a 6-part series of blog posts on Multidisciplinary Perspectives (MdP) about millets (and also an article on LinkedIn). This is a subject I had in the back of my mind since being introduced to pearl millet in West Africa, and encountering different kinds of millet on return to the US and eventual living in China. My goal was to bring some clarity to the diversity of grains involved, which we in the Anglophone world lump under the single term "millet."

The MdP series highlighted the four main millets in terms of production and consumption, while also discussing other grains in the "millet spectrum":

The LinkedIn piece summarizes the above, focusing on how the term "millet" constrains thinking about the diversity of grains covered:

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