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Tropentag, October 5 - 7, 2004 in Berlin

"Rural Poverty Reduction
through Research for Development and Transformation"

Food Security, Poverty Reduction and Gender the Debate on Food Security in Iran: Who Cares for Our Daily Meals?

Parto Teherani-Kroenner

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Gender Research in Rural Areas, Germany


By translating the English word “food security” into the Persian Language it sounds like „Aminate Gazai“. This means “security of the meals”. There is no equivalent for “food” in the Persian language. Human beings don't survive by food in the sense of raw products like rice, wheat, corn, barley, millet and others, but they live on prepared meals they eat on a daily basis.
Thus, „Aminate Ghazai“ means more than food security. It can be seen in the context of food sovereignty with respect to the whole processes of production and preparation of meals and the rituals that come together with the serving and eating habits. If we concentrate our food security debates on a topic like “the security of daily meals” we will discover new dimensions that have been forgotten so far. This will give us a chance to rethink our concepts and analytical frameworks concerning human maintenance.
If we look at the security of daily meals new aspects become quite clear, like the work load, time and energy used for food production, knowledge about food products and their quality, different recipies and the harmonious mix of various stable crops and spices, that affects people's health and well being. All these factors are part of the art to prepare the daily tasty meals.
In most of societies the preparation of daily meals are female tasks. Women in Iran decide what sort of meals should be cooked for invited guests. The way she select, taste, prepare, and organise all this is a complicated procedure of social interaction and gender relations. Human nutrition is deeply rooted in customs and beliefs present in everyday life. In this domain she has some familiar as well as political decision-making power, because most social interactions depend on the services and the hospitality that women offer. This should be reflected in the perception of food security as part of human maintenance. Thus, it is important to include the reflection on gender issues and power relations in private and public spheres as an important topic in the food security debate. Not food security or food policy, but engendered meal policy is the challenge for research and action.

Keywords: Cultural ecology, food security, gender, meal policy

Contact Address: Parto Teherani-Kroenner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Gender Research in Rural Areas, Philippstraße 13, Haus 12, D-10115 Berlin, Germany, e-mail: parto.teherani-kroenner@agrar.hu-berlin.de

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