Foodways of the poor in South Africa: How poor people get food, what they eat, and how this shapes our food system
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Foodways are the set of strategies shaping what food people choose as well as how and where they access and consume it. Informed by culture and social context, the foodways of the poor simultaneously respond to and influence food systems change. South African food systems are in a process of change. These changes are caused by many factors, including urbanisation, consolidation and concentration in food value chains, and changing dietary patterns. These transitions have important consequences for the nature of poverty and food insecurity. However, poor people are not simply passive victims of food systems transition. They make concrete and deliberate decisions about what foods they eat, where they get the food they want and need, and how to deal with the difficulties this involves. These strategies are often complex and are informed by local knowledge, cultural preference, economic considerations and many other factors. In addition to responding to price and convenience, foodways express peoples' aspirations, their sense of identity and belonging. These foodways play a role in influencing the strategies of ‘Big Food’ - powerful food corporations which are transforming food environments.