A little eggsplanation
When I moved to North Carolina, I was totally in awe of the vast amount of organic, small farm, community-based food efforts, and was even inspired enough to begin writing about them. Learning about your food and tracking down its source can be difficult in the states, but oftentimes utterly impossible in places like Tanzania.
In general, people here are (understandably) just concerned with HAVING food to feed their families, let alone knowing if it was grown with pesticides or made from genetically modified seeds (in fact, Monsanto has a nice hold on many African countries because of this desperation). I quickly came to the realization that any restaurant or grocery store inquiries like, “Do you know where this fish came from exactly?” or “Are pesticides used on these apples?” would yield fruitless results. I would just have to accept the fact that I probably would not be fully in the know in regard to my food while I was here.
But to my surprise, it seems that when it comes to chickens, the local farm vs. big farm debate has evidently entered the discussion in Tanzania too. People here are very aware of the difference between “kisasa” and “kienyeji” chicken and eggs, and in general the latter, though more expensive and more difficult to procure, are favored over the former for most uses.
I had heard these terms being thrown around in dukas and restaurants, and from my own experience, I knew that I much preferred the small kienyegi eggs with rich, orange yolks to the somewhat nauseatingly pale yolked, bigger kisasa eggs, but not until recently did I discover that these names weren’t referring to different breeds of chickens but essentially to the methods in which they were raised. “Kisasa” in kiswahili means “modern” (a.k.a. factory farmed chickens), while “kienyeji” means “local” (a.k.a. chickens you find running around all over the place).
This discovery I found not only heartening, but interesting because maybe people here are giving more thought to their food than I realized. Then I started thinking more about all the other available food sources here: for instance, because Maasai have a full-time job grazing their goats, sheep, and cattle and because many of the chickens running around are technically “free range,” eating these animals sits quite well with me on the whole. They have pretty sweet lives relative to their penned up, grain-fed cohorts.
So all in all, Tanzania has a LONG way to come compared to places like North Carolina (and even Colorado, as I’ve recently discovered) who are fervidly paving the way for many organic and local food endeavors, but perhaps this tiny bit of awareness is a step in the right direction.