From Rome to Timbuktu

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The distance between these two cities is less than two thousand miles, about the same distance as Seattle to Detroit. Separating these capitals, and their respective countries of Italy and Mali, are a sea, a desert, and a complex system of trade, aid, and political power. As a result, the differences to a common family’s weekly food supply are vast.
The Natomo family of Kouakourou, Mali is a fifteen member household who spend $26.39 on food for a week. Their diet is simple, built on staples of rice and legumes with small amounts of other ingredients such as fish, potatoes, and dried anchovies. The staples are likely supplied through aid programs, and may be the only consistent food items they receive. Their signature “Natomo Family Rice Dish,” is probably rice and beans and whatever else they are able to get.
Contrasting this, the Manzo family of Sicily, Italy are a household of five that spend $260.11 per week, ten times the expenditure of the Natomos. The Manzo diet is full of variety, with fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, bread, meats, as well as many different processed foods and beverages. Their favorites combine traditional dishes like “fish and pasta with ragu” with modern foods like hot dogs and fish sticks.
These families show great differences with more than simply food, as the influence of water is obvious, as are the methods of cooking; the Manzo’s contemporary kitchen compared to the Natomo’s outdoor fire pit.
Both Mali and Italy are members of global organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. Sadly, the contrasting worlds these families inhabit will perpetuate until the systems of these organizations are restructured in ways that no longer reward and subsidize industrial nations under the guise of “aid” programs.

Toy Food Aid Bags

2 thoughts on “From Rome to Timbuktu

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