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Follow the ‘Ting: sorghum in South Africa

Pereira, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-4996-7234 (2021). Follow the ‘Ting: sorghum in South Africa. Food, Culture & Society, doi: 10.1080/15528014.2021.1984631


This paper follows sorghum, an indigenous, but currently underutilized, grain in South Africa, through six encounters to discover its potential to transform the country’s food system. By listening to stories from diverse perspectives, it shows that the re-inclusion of sorghum could not only diversify diets, but could also move toward breaking colonial stereotypes of what constitutes aspirational food. It employs a Follow the Thing method to unpack the multiple identities of sorghum and the role it could play in galvanizing a healthier, more diverse food system. By opening up to a radical following method that does not constrain the researcher, the underlying stories associated with sorghum are highlighted, which coincides with a shift in perception of the multiple potentialities that the crop embodies. The research highlights that a strong cultural link to sorghum remains in South Africa and that if innovation could be broadly interpreted, this might invigorate a richer engagement with sorghum, not just as a commodity, but as a culturally significant food.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Sorghum, South Africa, indigenous foods, follow the thing, food system, sustainability, cultural heritage, gastronomy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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