What do we mean when we encourage our members to eat local?
Eating local is a geographical concept related to the distance between food producers and consumers. Just because you live in Johannesburg, an urban rather than an agricultural environment, doesn’t mean you can’t make sustainable, healthy and moral food choices.
Some of you may have heard of the 30-mile or even the 100-mile diet. This isn’t a long distance weight loss program, but the radius within which locavores (people who prefer to eat locally grown/produced food), should try and source the majority of their food.
In Johannesburg, it’s simply not practical for most of us to restrict our food sources to a radius of 30 miles (50 kilometre), because the bulk of our food comes from outside Johannesburg, and beyond the province.
Slow Food Johannesburg recommends trying to source as much of your food as you can, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, from within a 100-mile (160km radius) of the centre of Johannesburg.
Within 160km, you have access to the small producers and farmers (and there are many) in the Magaliesberg, the Vaal Triangle, the East Rand, Mpumalanga, and parts of Limpopo.
The best place to start connecting with your local producers is at weekly or monthly farmers’ markets. Another way is to ask your local supermarket to show you what sustainably produced or organic produce they stock. If enough people ask questions that indicate their desire for sustainably raised products, shops will respond by stocking them.
Even if you don’t want to change any of your eating habits, you can commit to at least buying local produce when it’s available, rather than purchasing the same type of food imported from thousands of kilometres away! Try to eat foods only when they are in season, or can, freeze or preserve seasonal food in order to eat and enjoy it all year round.
Slow Food Johannesburg suggests the following Local Food Pledge as a guide to knowing what produce to buy, and from whom.
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED or FAMILY FARM , then organic;
If not ORGANIC, then local business;
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then South African;
If not SOUTH AFRICAN, then Fair Trade.
Take a look at the directory of Local Producers we are busy compiling, and if all else fails, at least don’t eat processed and fast foods.
Click here for more tips on how to make the most of seasonal local foods and sustainable eating habits that are easy to put into practice at home.