The more I do it, the easier it is getting, to eat only local.
Who would have thought? I don’t even miss couscous! So, we launch into week two of voting with my fork.
Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, “On the one hand there are a small few, with an enormous amount of money, and on the other hand there are billions of us with little money. To win this battle we must form new alliances, between artisans and citizens, farmers and chefs. We can’t think of ourselves as consumers anymore. That way of thinking about the world must be completely turned on its head. We have to know the truth behind the food we eat, be interested it, and demand it. That’s what the agri-industry is afraid of. They’re afraid of the truth behind the food they sell us.”
I started with a smoothie of naartjie, apple, banana and pecans at Karkloof Farmers Market with Tatsfield yoghurt. Then a neighbour’s backyard egg, boiled.
Fennel is my favourite, so I was thrilled when my friend Ntombenhle arrived to visit this morning with a bag full of fat bulbs from her incredible garden in Mpophomeni. Lunch was fabulous – a fennel salad with oranges grown by Norma Bode in Howick. So crunchy and juicy and perfect for the steamy day.
A juice from The Nectar Co was perfect on this hot day. I love that they know exactly where all the ingredients come from – even the ginger is grown locally. Alexa says that most customers do not care that her ingredients are local or organic, but she couldn’t do it any other way even though it would be cheaper (in cash terms, not planetary ones, obviously). I like Alexa.
For supper, my favourite fennel stew. To Ntombenhle’s fresh fennel I added the new potatoes I found at Karkloof Farmers Market grown in Crammond, a few cherry tomatoes that have started early in the garden and lots of lemon zest. It sounds simple, but is super scrummy.
Foraged mulberries (from the banks of Symmonds Stream) and strawberries from Dovehouse Organics set the tone for a bright day.
Lunch salad of red cabbage, oranges, fennel, carrots, micro-sprouts and radish flowers was delicious as well as colourful.
After lunch I headed to Durban for the Siyabuyisela Ulwazi Food and Seed Festival. After a spot of nurdling on the beach with my lovely friends Xola and Eidin, we decided on Ethiopian for supper. Habesha Café in Glenwood was wonderful and seriously delicious. Clearly the ingredients were not local. The charming host told us how, because they cannot get teff flour in SA to make the injera, they use rice and wheat flour. We did choose Nottingham Road Beer.
While we were in the neighbourhood, we couldn’t resist a little shopping at the famous Spice Emporium. Oooh the fragrance.
Day 10 and 11
After an early frolic in the ocean, we joined the farmers, foodies, cooks and gardeners at Sibuyisela Ulwazi and what a treat that was! Biowatch SA organised the festival to celebrate the diversity of our indigenous and traditional seed and food cultures, exchange knowledge and ideas and explore innovations in support of food sovereignity, social and environmental justice.
Presentations about all the things we are passionate about, inspiring people, and the real food was incredible. Legendary Permaculturalist John Nzira asked “What is the difference between seeds and money?” Amongst all these seed savers and defenders of our food diversity the answer was unanimous – seeds hold our future. The diversity of seeds is the key to life. Dietician, Mpho Tshukudu, inspired us with her talk African Food is Healthy, Beautiful and Delicious, singing the praises of our heritage foods (naturally low GI) and sharing new ways of preparing them. Agro-Ecological Farmer and activist Richard Haigh talked about the way Big Food has hooked us with their laboratory engineered ‘bliss point’ flavours, our addiction to sugar, salt and fat and urged us to de-colonise our palates. Forager and Wild Food Champion Loubie Rusch shared her knowledge of Cape wild food and encouraged us to look around, to eat and the plant indigenous edibles in our gardens. Gogo Qho followed with a passionate presentation about wild plants that are her food and medicine, the importance of traditional and indigenous food culture and the value of leafy greens for good health.
There were talks of seed and African spirituality, the Food Price barometer, GMOs, Climate Smart Agriculture (not so smart), the benefits of fermentation, Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, beautiful music made from the humble calabash and all my favourite food activists to connect with. I was in heaven.
Despite delicious vegetarian lunches, we also got to taste traditional umqombothi and umqusho, peanut soup, sorghum, celery and apple salad and too many other things to mention. My friend Ntombenhle shared her fantastic Rainbow Salad with all ingredients grown in her garden.
Small farmers from across KZN and beyond brought seeds to share and sell. There were demonstrations on modern ways to use sorghum, a whole lot of new ideas for maize, how to pickle and preserve and make fermented drinks.
A salad of naartjies, pineapple, apple (all KZN) and yoghurt (Currys Post) with sorghum I bought from a Zulu woman farmer yesterday.
Mid morning snack of Wild Bread (made in Hilton) toast with La Petite France butter and brie (made in Karkloof).
As I often do, I just munched carrots (Curry’s Post) while I worked at lunchtime. For supper I gathered a selection of greens including two types of amaranthus, fat hen, dandelion, msobo, black jack, Swiss chard, New Zealand spinach, chickweed and a variety of kale. Cooked with garden leeks, chillies and Kalahari salt and served with borlotti beans grown in Dargle by my friend Sharon Barnesly. I really appreciate Sharon sharing these beans with me as she is also doing the Eat Local Challenge and may well need them herself. Learn more about eating weeds here.
Determined to find more local food I headed down the hill at dawn to the Pietermaritzburg Farmers Market, which I have not visited for a few years. I ate freshly fried Chinese spinach and ginger dumplings for breakfast (didn’t question their provenance), before exploring the stalls. It was great to find my friend Friedericke still selling her delicious fresh pretzels.
Her neighbour was the enchanting Michel, a farmer from Baynesfield. I was excited by his produce, but even more thrilled when he told me he plants Amaranthus especially for the birds “because they need to eat too”. I bought bunches of cavalo nero, fat kohlrabi, both red and golden beetroot, and baby brinjals he bartered with a friend in Durban.
Brian,who farms near Albert Falls, told me he had had no frost this year when I expressed astonishment that he had patty pans, courgettes and beans already. “You just have to take a chance. If the seed is not in the ground, then you have no chance of a harvest.”
The Pope’s from Richmond sold me interesting pale sweet potatoes, bags of sugar beans (dried on the vine), lemons and just cut pincushions. James, who makes sweet potato and butternut crisps (and an assortment of chutneys), told me he grew the sweet potatoes and pepperdews himself and the grenadillas were from a neighbour. I was loving all the stories.
I bought biscuits for the dogs, made by Kate just down the road, and chatted to Tracy who grows happy ducks on the Wartburg road. I was really excited to find fresh ginger grown by Jeremy in Kamberg. He makes cheese as well as growing micro greens and carrots organically. Henry also makes cheese, using milk from a neighbour’s cow in Lions River. I could have got broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, potatoes, veggie seedlings, yoghurt and all sorts of other loveliness, but I had to restrain myself.
On the way home I popped into Karkloof Farmers’ Market to get some sunflower sprouts and Wild Bread.
Lunch consisted of Howick avocado and avo oil, Kamberg radish, Lions River pecans (thanks Gerhard), Curry’s Post sunflower sprouts, Karkloof lettuce, home grown Tulbaghia flowers and radish pod pickles.
Supper celebrated the fresh ginger from Kamberg I found at the market this morning. A curry that included Durban baby brinjal, Howick lemons and chillies, Dargle coriander seeds and curry leaves, Hilton turmeric, Weenen apples, garden spring onions and dhania, and mung beans I bought from a small scale farmer at the Sibuyisela Ulwazi Food and Seed Festival. Thanks Andrea Burgener of Lampedusa Pie for the apple/brinjal combo idea.
I had to go dancing at dawn – a Secret Silent Sunrise disco – so munched an orange on my way. Was hungry when I got home so the gift of eggs from my friend Charlene (laid by lovely Yoko), was quickly scrambled in La Petite France butter with fresh chilli, spring onions and coriander and served on toast. I think a picture of the actual hen is more appealing than another egg pic, so here she is.
For lunch, I roasted the rest of Ntombenhle’s fennel, cooked up some white beans grown by Sharon and sorghum bought this week, and made a salad dressed with orange zest and juice and fennel fronds. Enjoyed with a cold Mexican Cerveza brewed by my friend Quinten, who lives just a few blocks away.
We eat quite a lot of polenta. The smooth and vibrant yellow instant kind made in Italy. Clearly, that is out of the question now. So, using local maize, grown and ground in Swartberg, I will attempt to re-create this simple dish for supper. Not so quick and a lot more stirring. Topped with steamed cavalo nero (black kale) and fresh feta I hope it will be tasty and well worth the extra effort and lower food footprint.
Roll on Week Three. Roll on Life.