Keeping it local and seasonal underlies the Slow Food philosophy. So what does it mean to eat local and seasonal?
Eating local is an active commitment to find and buy foods grown or produced as close to where you will eat them as possible. Local foods also refers to foods and food communities that are unique to an area or region, like the West Coast bokkoms, or Jo’burg’s Portuguese greengrocers.
Eating seasonally means making an effort to purchase foods (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy) when they are in season, in your area.
Though it’s possible to buy foods produced virtually anywhere in the world (all year round), this isn’t a sustainable option.
Choosing to eat local and seasonal may require a bit of homework initially, and people are often intimidated by the idea of having to seek out their food, or purchase only foods available within a certain radius. After all, why should you have to make some tough food choices, when a convenient supermarket is just around the corner?
Because the effort is well worth it. Eating locally means your Rand goes directly to the pocket of the farmer or the small producer who made the food, so you’re supporting the local economy.
Commercial food operations often can produce food more cheaply but smaller producers can produce a more diverse range of foods (good for biodiversity and culinary creativity), in a sustainable manner, and get them to market faster.
When you buy direct from a producer or farmers market, your food has travelled fewer kilometres which reduces the environmental damage caused by shipping foods, not to mention the extended storage periods, and the chemical additives that are required to transport food long distance.
Eating local and seasonally means enjoying the health and taste benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed food, when it’s at its best, is abundant, and usually cheap.
Moreover, eating local is exciting and rewarding. Finding out the story behind your food makes you a better informed consumer, and makes preparing and eating food far more pleasurable. Often, you’ll get to meet the person who produced your food and you’ll learn how and where it was produced.
Local food is seasonal fresh food with a face and a sense of place.
Eating locally and seasonally also builds awareness of important issues confronting our food supply like the loss of farms and farmers, biodiversity, and food sustainability.