Growing up in Zimbabwe during various economic dispensations has seen us needing to adapt to the time at hand and eat what’s available.
However, one particular food that a number of us have been eating, unknown to many, is actually fed to cattle in the USA in order to fatten them and keep them healthy.
Image Credit: Patricia Ferguson
That food that we’ve come to know as a “staple food” is maize!
Yes, maize, in all it’s forms and variations is also used in non-food usages (cosmetics, adhesives, paints, varnishes). Maize starch and oil are also major products (Ecocrop, 2010). The maize grain is a major feed grain and a standard component of livestock diets where it is used as a source of energy. Other grains are typically compared to maize when their nutritional value is estimated. Many by-products of maize processing for flour (hominy feed, bran, germs, oil meal), starch (corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal) and alcohol/biofuel industries (distillers’ dried grains and solubles) can be fed to animals.
Maize is native to Central America (Oaxaca, Mexico to be exact) where it was domesticated. It later spread to Central America, the Caribbean, South America and North America eventually making its way to Europe. It arrived on Zimbabwean soil over 150 years ago, brought by the Portuguese and the climate locally has proved to be somewhat conducive for it to be grown here.
Image Credit: millets.wordpress.com
There are two grains that are native to Africa, Sorghum and Millet, and many agricultural experts have called for farmers to concentrate on growing these grains as they are more susceptible to drought. The nutritional value to be gained can not be denied either.
So, where many have come to believe that a meal is not a meal unless there is sadza in it, its rather interesting to know that the food we eat here is considered as cattle feed somewhere else.
Main Image: Empty plate; www.tofugu.com