A cultural ecological approach for meal security. A case study of the dynamics of the food habits in El Obeid, Sudan

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Worldwide more food than ever is produced these days. It would be enough to feed everybody by far. However, only a limited group of the global population enjoys an adequate food supply. About 854 million people are undernourished worldwide. The global situation shows that hunger cannot be fought by just producing enough food. The socio-cultural complex of nutrition and food habits cannot be reduced to the production and marketing of crops. To fight the problem of lacking food security, ecological and socio-cultural conditions have to be taken into account. This research focuses on the questions of ‘what is food’ and ‘why is certain food eaten in a specific way’ as prerequisites to understand the problem of malnutrition and food shortage as well as to fight food insecurity. Therefore, this research analyses the complexity of food habits, their dynamics, and how the food culture of a society interacts with the natural and socio-cultural environment. According to this, a cultural ecological concept of food culture - the cycle of meal - is introduced. It focuses on the interdependence and interactions of food habits within the natural and cultural environment. Moreover, the concept emphasises the importance of meal preparation as essential procedure of transforming natural raw matters into culturally bound products and as fundamental element to reach not only food but meal security. This study bases on research conducted in the town El Obeid in Central Sudan which is located in the remote and famine-prone environment of North Kordofan. The case study shows that food shortage can only be understood and fought if food culture is considered as a central element of meal security. Therefore, the research is based on the examination of food habits, their dynamics, and interactions within the socio-cultural context.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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