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Agenda ; : 1-15, 2022.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1967758


Existing literature suggests that increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is not only important for general health but is also critical for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. However, consumption of fruit and vegetables in South Africa remains low and gendered, with women consuming more vegetables because of social and cultural reasons. Using the gender and development approach as a theoretical lens, this paper explores the consumption of fruit and vegetables during the COVID-19 epidemic, drawing on qualitative research (focus groups and key informant interviews) conducted among communities and stakeholders in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga. The paper draws out key themes emerging from the discussions on consumption of fruit and vegetables in the selected communities through content analysis. Consistent with the literature, the study findings suggest that fruit and vegetable consumption is low and that gender and cultural beliefs affect consumption. Although communities know about and consume indigenous vegetables, perceptions of these as foods of the poor and their unavailability in major retail stores limit their consumption. Retailers as dominant players in the food system dictate the fruits and vegetables that are sold and consumed, and rather than reflecting the diversity of the population, these tend to reflect the interests and tastes of the owners of the means of production. Social media obfuscated the gender differences in the consumption of specific vegetables and fruits. This paper underscores the gendered attitudes, while unravelling the embeddedness of cultural mores, values, and taboos on the consumption of fruit and vegetables in a time of COVID-19. Policies and programmes for improving consumption of fruit and vegetables need to be culturally appropriate and need to decolonise the food system, to improve access to and consumption of indigenous varieties.