From kale to quinoa to goji berries, more and more of us are constantly on the lookout for ways to eat ourselves healthy. But as the search for the so-called “superfoods” intensifies, many health food fanatics are now increasingly turning to nutrient-packed products originating from Africa.
For centuries, the continent’s fertile lands have provided a bountiful supply of indigenous plants for food and medicine. This shared knowledge, passed down through the generations, is now being tapped into by savvy foodies with an eye for business.
One of them is Yaganoma Baatuolkuu, a Ghanaian entrepreneur who’s using locally-sourced ingredients packed with nutritional goodness, such as hibiscus and tamarind, to bring a new twist to her offerings.
Baatuolkuu’s start-up, called Wanjo Foods, is built on the childhood memories of picking herbs and fruits with her grandmother, who would dry, boil and juice the leaves into their meals. Years later in 2006, inspired by her grandmother’s healthy cooking skills, the enterprising Ghanaian started her company.
“I process some of these indigenous crops, herbs and spices into something that we already know. I’m looking at these vegetables that we have one way of eating and I am reprocessing them into another way.”
Meanwhile over in the UK, Malcolm Riley, a Zambia-born chef is introducing his beloved homeland’s tastes and traditions to far flung foodies by bringing baobab to British shores. In 2008, he founded his line of African-inspired health products, The African Chef.
It’s this wealth of food, and the tantalizing tastes, that prompted British/Ghanaian filmmaker Tuleka Prah to start documenting popular plates across the continent and offer them up to the world through her online series, “My African Food Map.”
The 33-year-old food lover decided to embark on her self-funded culinary adventure after wanting to cook a dish her Ghanaian father used to serve up. Looking online, she was confronted with unappetizing lumps of green mush.
While Prah’s mission is to make beloved African dishes accessible to foodies around the world, local market sellers also provide her with the products’ medicinal attributes which she confirms before adding them to her blog. hg