It’s no secret that eating lower on the food chain can have a significant effect on reducing your impact on the planet. On World Environment Day, 5 June, hundreds of caring people hosted meals for Eat for the Earth. Food activists invited their friends, families, and neighbours to join them for a low-impact meal and make a donation to Soil for Life in return.
Our lunch included cupboard ingredients gathered for a delicious salad of chickpeas, sundried tomatoes and mint. Followed by a simple dish using our favorite local pasta – Spirelli, made by Past Perfecta in Kranskop. Other Midlands’ meals I heard about included a delectable quiche which featured local cheese, fresh farm eggs, and a just picked butternut. Isijingi and imifino yenthanga – perfect ways to use the pumpkins and greens so prolific and brinjal roasted with middle eastern spices, chickpeas and couscous was also a winner.
Eating locally grown food, in season, is an easily way to reduce your impact on our planet’s resources. “Locavores” (as local consumers are known) are actually quite trendy now and seeking out seasonal produce can be great fun too! The ‘Maritzburg Farmer’s Market held on Saturday mornings in Alexandra Park or the Karkloof Farmer’s Market in Howick are good places to start if your usual greengrocer doesn’t know where his lettuces come from. You’ll get to know the farmers and producers of goat’s cheese, real free range eggs, organic vegetables, pasta and mushrooms and help make their businesses more sustainable, adding to food security in our community. If you can’t make it to the market, things we should be eating right now in winter are: beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, kohlrabi, parsnips, pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, naartjies, tree tomatoes, grapefruit, granadillas and gooseberries. Yum. Quite likely these are the less expensive options in the stores at the moment, so you’ll save money while you save the planet.
Much of our supermarket food is shipped from far away, generating “food miles” which add to your ecological foot print – quite unnecessary in the abundant KZN Midlands. Ask your usual store what is locally produced and make a point of buying that, you’ll very likely influence the manager to think about supporting local more too.
Of course, you could always grow some of your own food – it doesn’t get more local than your back yard. Start with easy things like lettuce, spinach, spring onions and parsley (plant them right now) and pop in some pea and broad bean seeds for a tasty spring treat.