The other day we all eagerly hopped onto a minibus to go to “Shoprite”; Mongu’s grocery store (looked a lot like a warehouse, or an MTF store). In our cooking groups we strolled our shopping carts up and down each isle, enthusiastically reading labels and throwing things into our carts. This was an exciting experience for me, as my fear of having to live off of granola bars and fruit leather for the next 6 weeks was elated by the isles of familiar produce, canned and boxed goods. This feeling of relief was short lived, however, and quickly replaced by feelings of guilt and shame. Here we were, two “Makuahs” giggling and grabbing whatever our hearts desired off of the carefully stocked shelves, and tossing them into our cart without the thought of money even crossing our minds; we both had our wallets full of Kwacha bills, and the security of a few stocked bank cards and visas as backup. Our “Need list” with only a few items written on it, lead quickly to a cart heaping with luxury treats, comfort foods, and non-necessary items. It did not even occur to me (as excited as I was), how our ignorance might have perceived by the locals, until we made it to the checkout. As we eagerly placed our future meals and indulgences on the cashier’s table, I noticed for the first time the meager baskets of the other customers. The man behind us in line had a basket with only a bag of rice. The mother down the aisle behind him, was choosing between a bag of rice in one hand, and a bag of beans in the other. We noticed a few teenage girls beside us who had been following us around and ogling at our cart. I looked back down at the cashier ringing our cold cream soda cans through the till, and suddenly felt sick with embarrassment and shame. This is probably the first time I have ever experienced feeling ashamed of my culture. I think being here for two months will alter my views on food. I’m truly hoping this attitude does carry forward to life at home after this trip as dining in restaurants, indulging in treats, over-eating and wasting food are common occurrences in my life in Canada.
On a happier note, I ended the night kicking a soccer ball around with the neighbourhood kids under a beautiful African sunset! Life is good!