Traveling down the bustling streets of Kumasi, one is confronted with a vast array of sights, smells, and foods. From the perfectly chilled sachets of water to the freshly fried spring rolls all precisely balanced atop the heads of Ghanaian merchants, one cannot help but feel the effort and perseverance that it takes to earn that well deserved cedi.
After our first dance class at the Centre for National Culture, we were greeted by the warm smile of a woman selling FanMilk and spring rolls that she hand made. Immediately we made a connection that will last for the duration of this experience and was initiated by the affordable and delicious spring rolls.
Determined to find her again, our group scowered the streets surrounding the center to purchase even more spring rolls. Instead of spring rolls, we found Mr. Earnest who is our guide while here in Kumasi. Thanks to the tight nit communal society of Ghana, Mr. Earnest happened to know exactly where the woman who sold us spring rolls lived and we embarked on a quest to find them!
Welcomed into her home, we were surrounded by the smell and sound of freshly fried food. This experienced sparked an interest in the development and incorporation of spring rolls into Ghanaian cuisine. The transfer of cultures due to migration has influenced Kumasi to have a wide variety of food from across the world. This phenomenon is very prevalent in larger cities like Accra and I wish to learn more about Ghanaian culture through their food. To learn more about how to make spring rolls the “Ghanaian way”, click here.
On our way there, it was hard not to notice the excessive amount of discarded plastic sachets of water that littered the streets. According to the Ghana Standards Board, the plastics used in these sachets are “oxo-biodegradable” which are defined as plastics that “develop cracks and small holes in the plastic” (Luz et al.) when exposed to sunlight and oxygen. These plastics can then serve as a source of energy for a species of fungi known as oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus).
However, has been an increase in suspicion surrounding these plastics ability to degrade when exposed to UV light and other natural factors. Since these processes take a large amount of time, sachets continue to litter the streets and clog gutters dues to “a lack of organized waste collection and removal” (Stoeler et al) in Kumasi. These clogged gutters pose a danger as they increase the chance of flooding during the rainy season which damages infrastructure and facilitates the transfer of waterborne illnesses from the accumulated sewage.
Although they come with some challenges, one cannot ignore the benefits and accessibility to clean water that these sachets bring to communities like Kumasi where availability to running water is hard to find. An increase in knowledge of the environmental issues that these sachets bring, there is no denying that they are an integral part of this culture and allows vendors like our spring roll merchant to earn a living. I look forward to continuing my appreciation of water sachets, spring rolls, and ideally increasing the efforts to decrease the harmful effects of excess sewage!
Luz, José Maria Rodrigues da, et al. “Degradation of Oxo-Biodegradable Plastic by Pleurotus Ostreatus.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069386.
Pulse Ghana. “How to Make Spring Rolls the Ghanaian Way.” Pulse Ghana, Pulse Ghana, 1 June 2018, www.pulse.com.gh/lifestyle/food-travel/pulse-food-how-to-make-spring-rolls-the-ghanaian-way/rmvrw5v.
Stoler, Justin, et al. “Sachet Drinking Water in Ghana’s Accra-Tema Metropolitan Area: Past, Present, and Future.” Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development : a Journal of the International Water Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842094/.