Food and Nutrition ISP World cuisine Egypt Alex Easton The news of the Egyptian or lotus revolution has headed the media world-wide a few months ago. An uprising of the middle class Egyptians has led to overthrow the notorious Hosny Mubarak who had reigned Egypt for 30 long years. The Egyptians have overcome their fear of authority and had reached the point of no return. Unemployment, poverty, hungry and poor Egyptians now seek a better future for their country and for themselves. The Arab Republic of Egypt is a link between Africa, Europe and Asia.
Egypt is located in the northeastern region of the African continent. Egypt has three major water resources, the river Nile, the longest river in the world, the Mediterranean Sea and the Red sea, however, only the river Nile provides palatable drinking water. Despite this, Egypt’s climate is arid and dry and most of the country receives less than one inch of rainfall each year. The Mediterranean Sea may offer Egypt’s northern coastline up to eight inches of rainfall each year, and keeps year –round temperatures cooler than the inland deserts.
The widespread lack of rainfall makes it extremely difficult to grow crops. Egypt has no forests and only 2 percent of the land can be farmed. The river Nile runs from the south to the north of eastern Egypt and empties into the Mediterranean Sea at the delta, the most fertile land in Egypt. Around 95 percent of the countries population lives alongside the Nile River, including about 3 percent of Egypt’s population in its capital, Cairo. This overcrowding is threatening Egypt’s wildlife, recourses and water supply.
The Egyptians still have a love of food inherited from their ancestors. Living on a fertile land that yields different fruits and vegetables all year round has enriched the Egyptian kitchen with a variety of food. Animals also show a variety, with different types of meat present; beef, veal, lamb, poultry and even camel meat is popular. The unique Egyptian cuisine has been influenced by other neighbouring cuisines, Middle Eastern Turkish, Greek and Roman cuisines have influenced some of the Egyptian dishes available now. The Egyptian cuisine is also affected by the season’s products.
Bread and rice are present all year round as the wheat is made into flour and together with rice is a strategic grain in the kitchen. The varieties are in the selection of fruit and vegetables. Oranges, tangerines and citrus fruits are abundant in the winter starting from November, while watermelons, melons, mangoes and apples are available in the summer. The main vegetables available in summer are okra and molekheyia-a leafy green vegetable that is shredded and made as a soup. Potatoes, eggplants and other vegetables are available all year round.
Despite the fertile land and the variety of crops, the Egyptians mostly are in poverty and in hunger . Food prices are at record levels partly due to population growth and increased demand from a recovering global economy, tight supplies, high oil prices, and weak agricultural planning and production attributable to climate change-induced natural disasters and crop loss in key producing nations. The Egyptians are now trying hard to change the policies that were available in Mubarak’s regime. The Egyptian revolution was ignited by a poor mans own will to burn himself in front of parliament as he could not feed his family anymore.
Thirty years of government corruption, bribery and suspicious alliance with outside nations caused the Egyptians to rebel as they repeated “enough, enough”. The previous policies of Mubarak’s government had impovered the Egyptian farmer and peasant, abolishing wheat farming, and accepting wheat from the USA, caused this uprising as bread prices had raised. In 1999, agriculture made up approximately 16 percent of Egypt’s economy, employing about one-third of all Egyptians. However, Egypt’s agriculture is also contributing to the slowing of economic growth. A shortage of arable land (land that can be farmed) has become a serious problem.
The lack of farmable land has caused Egyptian farmers to move to other countries. Egypt, struggling to consolidate a revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak in February, now faces what could be even worse turmoil because the country is running out of food as well as the money to buy it. Food prices went up 10. 7 percent in April compared to the same month in 2010, government statistics indicate. According to Al-Ahram, Egypt’s leading daily, hoarding of rice by wholesalers has pushed prices up by 35 percent this year. Egypt is reported to have only four months’ supply of wheat on hand and only one month’s supply of rice.
Egypt faces daunting challenges as it prepares for broad presidential and parliamentary elections within a year. Ongoing volatility in global food prices will strain resources during this critical transitional period. Still quite vague what the new government will do, the present change to democracy and the upcoming parlimental and presidential election is giving the Egyptians hope to a better future. Egypt is entering a new era, an era of real democracy and the will of its people, especially the youth to transform their country and create a new environment for prosperity.
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