How much wheat are you consuming in a week? I was looking through list of foods that we at home, restaurants, and streets in Nigeria and I realize that wheat features more often than not. Some of the wheat we consume is obvious but some are not. Let me highlight some of them:
So, are you eating wheat every day? Or 4 times a week? Once? Or not at all?
Interestingly, wheat is one crop that we mostly import from other countries. The burden of wheat importation on our economy is huge. We consume about 4 million tonnes of imported wheat yearly according to a USDA report. Our government spent about $660m on wheat importation between January and September 2016 alone. Guess how much we produce? Just about 70,000 tonnes (according to FAOSTAT).
Unfortunately, our soil and climate does not encourage wheat production. So, unless we diversify our meals to include other locally available foods, we would continue to spend more on wheat importation (factor in population growth as well). This is unsustainable.
For a while now, I have been talking a lot about meal diversity and consumption of our local foods. It is important for our health and economy if we eat more of our local foods that we produce rather than consume more of imported foods.
I have seen some whatsapp messages being circulated about “wheat belly”. I am not going to say whether the content is fact or not. My focus here is to encourage and inspire you to include other foods that we have in your meals. We have a lot of food crops in Nigeria that are not controversial in terms of their contents or how they are processed. Why not focus on those and spare yourself some headache?
Also, I want you to remember that we mostly consume refined wheat and it contributes significantly to the rise of chronic diseases. Along with Sugar, refined wheat has contributed to the burden of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases in the world.
When you eat a variety of meals, you reduce over consumption of some types of foods (moderation). You also get access to more nutrients for your health and well-being. You surely can do this for yourself and your country.