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the smart foodie travels to Africa

I’m in Nairobi, Kenya, where I was born.

It is taking some time to adjust to the conventional food culture here after living in a real foods mecca like Vancouver, BC. Perhaps my experience will help us all appreciate how much being a smart foodie can help to transform local food movements for the better.

What’s the food culture like in Kenya?

Kenya (from what I’ve learned so far) is years behind places like Vancouver in conscious eating and care for the planet.

People generally assume that the produce and meats are naturally organic, but my research says otherwise. Conventional poultry, for example, is from chickens that are “raised indoors in a controlled environment.” Cryptic wording, and I didn’t get a response from Kenchic regarding my inquiry.


Nairobi City Market

I made some inquiries in local meat shops about the source of their products, and was met with blank looks or vague answers. When I eventually did find an organic meat store, I had already shifted to a primarily vegan diet.

It’s fairly easy to be vegan here because the local produce is incredibly diverse and delicious – more so than the organic kind in Vancouver. We shop for things like avocados, mangos, kale, coconut and okra at the Nairobi city market.

Whether the produce is organic or not, remains a question mark, compelling the smart foodie to give up control. So-called experts say yes and no – it all depends on which farmer (way out in the boonies) is growing the produce.

Is there a silver lining?

Yes! The conscious food movement may not yet be mainstream, but the local organic farmer’s market in various areas is growing slowly thanks to more informed consumers.

There are also a handful of organic/semi-organic restaurants scattered around Nairobi and the countryside that I have yet to check out, and I sense that there is more to explore in this field.

What really stands out again, is how important each of our choices are in determining whether we will have a healthy foods culture, or continue to be unconscious. So thank you, smart foodie warriors for paving the path towards a global real foods mecca!

Feature image credit: Olerai House Naivasha

City Market image credit: Big Cats Exploration Safaris



6 Comments Post a comment
  1. wonderful post! Thank you for sharing: ) It’s so important for us back in Vancouver to get out of our bubble sometimes and see what else is happening in the world. I am excited to see this direction in your blog. hugs,


    June 9, 2014
  2. Tasleem Bhanjee #

    So encouraged to see your feedback Andrea. Please keep it coming. Much love to you.

    June 9, 2014
  3. Nasim Abbany #

    You are truly a gifted writer…. What an interesting article….. Good job… And good luck in this new endeavor ….


    Sent from my iPad mini


    June 9, 2014
    • Tasleem Bhanjee #

      Thanks very much for your support Auntie. Much appreciated and hugs to you.

      June 10, 2014
  4. Loved it! Nairobi actually sounds like it is much more advanced that one of the cities I was staying in in Ecuador, with respect to organics, at least.

    The fruit stalls are always so tempting- would love to hear more about the specific answers you get. I’ve always been told that the farmers are “simply too poor” to afford pesticides. Good in a way… =/

    Ah I am so happy to hear you are mostly vegan!!!! THAT is some good news! Hope you are feeling great- I say, load up on the fruit! xoxoxo

    June 10, 2014
    • Tasleem Bhanjee #

      Hey Emma, thanks for your feedback. I just read a news/research article that the city market produce is heavily sprayed with pesticides and lead. :(( I thought too that the farmers would be too poor to afford pesticides but apparently not. There is also the concern of manure being applied at the wrong time and using contaminated water to make the produce shine. I may have to now start making the long trek to farmer’s markets…

      Not completely vegan hehehe. Just mostly! I do eat meat occasionally. Hugs to you! :))

      June 10, 2014

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