7 Pages

Dimensions of Sandawe Diet

WithJames L. Newman

Diet is an integral part of culture and consequently it was considered in a study of subsistence change among the Sandawe of Central Tanzania. Due to lack of funds and personnel and the general prevalence of illiteracy it was impossible either to weigh foods or to conduct a systematic sample survey. Instead data were collected by schoolchildren who kept family intake notebooks, and by interviewing key informants. Based on these sources, it emerged that the overwhelmingly dominant staple throughout the year was a stiff porridge-like substance made from maize, sorghum or bulrush millet. Accompanying relishes were many, including wild plant and animal products, and showed marked seasonal variations. Of note was the overall high frequency of consumption of meat and milk. Supplemental between-meal snacks were usual, with honey and locally brewed “beers” being particularly important. Special foods were available for famine periods. The general nutritional status of the Sandawe was judged good, though increasing population pressure and the spread of “modern” attitudes suggested a likely decline in dietary quality.