Food Stories - JUST Power Gari


So when I see or hear about foods of West African origin being transformed into something new, I get really excited, and very interested to find out more about what is being done and why... (Image above: cooking with Power Gari)

A few days ago, I received a link to the JUST website (an American company) which featured one of their products being introduced to Liberia. Its called Power Gari, and my reaction was, hhhmmm.... I became curious, worried and excited all at once..

Gari is a West African food ingredient made from cassava, an indigenous root vegetable that serves as a staple source of carbohydrate.
Frying/Roasting Gari - Photo credit: http://pedagogie84.pagesperso-orange.fr/g-gari.htm
Gari is processed by grating peeled cassava tubers, soaked/steeped for a few days, strained and fried/roasted to drive the moisture out. Check out the entire process of making Gari here. The resulting flakes or granules is referred to as Gari and this is further cooked in hot water to make a paste which is served with a variety of soups/stews.

There is no doubt that Gari is the most commonly consumed food ingredient in the whole of West Africa, particularly by the common men, women and children. The popular dish called eba is consumed once a day by the average West African...!

Nutritional Data
Gari is very high in carbohydrate with about 4% fibre per content. Based on 100g serving of uncooked gari granules -
Calories - 365.8 kcal
Dietary Fibre - 4g
Carbohydrates - 86g
Protein - 2g
Fat - 0.2g
Vitamins - N/A
Minerals - Iron Calcium, Phosphorus

Its not surprising to see that the major vitamin found in cassava (which is Vitamin C), is lost during processing. There are however, still some minerals present in the final product, though it has to be said, very minimal.

Gari on its own is far from being a balanced meal. Traditionally, it is cooked with some hot water (almost like polenta) and served with a variety of vegetable soups/stews. The soups usually contain fish and/or meat, so this way, a balance can be reached. However, the truth is, in most West African countries, due to poverty, most people are unable to afford fish/meat or certain other vegetables, to ensure they eat a balanced meal.

Health Concerns
A diet based solely on carbohydrate rich foods such as gari, pose health risks such as development of type 2 diabetes and obesity. For this reason, I have been very keen to see how best gari can be fortified to ensure its consumers gain the most nutritional benefits. I have created recipes adding fresh vegetables to gari during the process of cooking. See recipe here: Veggie Eba

Power Gari - by JUST
Introduction of Power Gari is promising, in terms of the potential advantages it can offer consumers. According to JUST, Power Gari is fortified with vitamins and minerals; and they have also increased its protein content to about 12g per serving. Their aim is to ensure that consumers of their product will be assured of their daily intake of the vital nutrients they need; pretty much similar the malt drinks introduced to African many years ago...!

Check out the video below:



Insight
The fact is, the idea of fortifying gari is not new, its just that we have not taken it as a serious prospect...! I personally believe, that as the primary consumers of Gari, we should be in forefront of innovation ...

So I am really keen to find out more about this product and to explore the possibilities of what can be done with it. And also to investigate if truly it can meet the aims for which it was developed. The success of Power Gari will open a floodgate of similar products, which I believe will have major economical implications particularly for local producers of traditional Gari, who would now have new avenues to increase revenue.

According to JUST, this is already the case in Liberia, and they have their sights on other West African countries, such as Nigeria, as mentioned in the video above.

One last thing, I am looking forward to seeing the actual nutritional data breakdown and content.

Power Gari made in form of a porridge









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