Each one of the teachers at our school has a plot of land that is owned by the school but that they are allowed to grow food. Our neighbors grow “maize” or a type of corn on their farm. Since we have arrived at our site, they have had hundreds of ears of corn drying in their front yard. Last week, they rented a machine to turn all of their ears of corn into corn flour. Corn flour is used here to make the Tanzanian staple food called ugali. Essentially, it is just corn flour and water over heat that is mixed over and over until the right consistency. It simply looks like mashed potatoes and doesn’t taste like much of anything. You eat it with a sauce that brings on the flavor.
There were about 15 students helping bag up the corn to bring to the machine to process it into corn flour. It takes about 3 men to operate the machine and 4 women to help with the job. There is one man who stands nearby the machine and hands the bags of corn to a man on top of the machine. The man on top of the machine inserts the corn into the machine. Meanwhile, there is a man underneath the machine catching the flour into huge sacks. The four women are on the side of the machine catching all of the cobs of corn being spit out by the machine. They carry the bags of cob to the side of our house and make a pile.
The process went on for about one hour until all of the corn was processed. I helped the students bag the corn to bring to the machine. While working in the pile of corn, we came across easily 10 rats living in the corn. I think I have a great idea where our rat problem stemmed from. The students initially thought it was hilarious that I was assisting with bagging the corn. But, they found even funnier every time I lifted up some corn, found a rat, and screamed at the top of my lungs.
One of the teachers who was also helping asked me if this is how we get corn flour in America. I explained that I don’t think we really have corn flour, but even wheat flour, I have no idea how it’s made. We are so disconnected from our food in America. I often am asked about food processing in the USA and I basically just look really stupid because I can never answer their questions. I have no idea where our food comes from whereas people here know exactly where the food comes from.