South Africans love their food. They also love the environment in which they live since they come from a place that is full of natural beauty and resources. These two distinct South African passions—food and the natural environment—have been instrumental in changing food consumption patterns in the country. Food awareness has become an international trend, and since the numerous food labelling scandals that occurred in the country in 2013, South Africans have become more concerned about where their food is grown, how it is grown, and the various processes it undergoes before being served up on their plate. With these kinds of concerns swirling around the consumer consciousness it comes as no surprise that urban farming would take root in South African food culture.
WHAT IS URBAN FOOD FARMING?
Urban farming—or urban agriculture—involves the sustainable, organic cultivation, and processing of food in an urban environment such as a village, town, or city. It involves a broad range of disciplines including aquaculture, beekeeping, and horticulture to name but a few of the popular practices. Recently, the urban farming movement has experienced considerable growth since various food movements around the world have contributed to its popularity.
In the globalised, Western world where a lot of food contains additives which have been shown to have negative long-term implications, urban farming is represented as a social movement which promotes sustainable communities and organic growers. It has even sprouted its “locavores” movement, a group of consumers who exclusively consume locally produced goods. It is also seen as a way to integrate nature into the urban sprawl. It is driven by new farming innovations; affluent, informed consumers; and institutional support channelling extensive funding into urban based farming initiatives.
In the developing world, however, quite the reverse is seen: food security, nutrition, and poverty alleviation are some of the driving factors behind urban farming’s topical relevance. It is a way for poorer communities to produce food for themselves and gain some kind of income. In Cape Town, an urban farming project that shows this is the
, a township-based development organisation that encourages the residents of Nyanga and Khayelitsha to grow their own vegetables. This is a perfect example of the opportunities that urban farming provides. Harvest of Hope empowers families to grow their own produce for their families and to sell any excess produce by using a common box scheme which guarantees the micro-farmers some kind of income. Urban farming such as this showcases the economic advantages presented by empowered communities who are able to produce their own food.
THE SOURCE CONNECTION: FROM ROOT TO PLATE
Part of urban farming’s successful implementation in South Africa seems to be consumers responding to the ripple effect of the aforementioned worldwide trend: the basic need to ensure that food is readily available and healthy, from root to plate. But it is also spurred on by the need to reduce the carbon footprint of the food process and to achieve a sustainable and holistic method of food production where communities of passionate food growers are connected with enthusiastic consumers.
This remarkable shift in taste can be seen in the numbers of organic food markets that have sprung up across South Africa within the past five years. In the Cape Town area alone, the
in Stellenbosch, and the
, are just some of the avenues that provide local growers with an opportunity to sell their local produce in any given week.
With local ingredients becoming more accessible at markets like these, it is possible that the increased availability of fresh ingredients could lead to a consumer base that cook and demand healthier ingredients and promote a better micro economy.
SOURCE FOOD: RECIPES AND LOCAL INGREDIENTS
One of the most misunderstood aspects of food farming is that it has to be a big undertaking or that it is expensive. But even something as simple as an herb garden falls within the ambit of urban farming and empowers participants by enabling them to control some aspect of the food production process. For example, a small herb garden comprising of mint, basil, fennel, rosemary, and thyme is more than sufficient to provide your kitchen with fresh, home-grown herbs that will add a special touch to every meal.
At Source, we love food and believe in cooking with the freshest, tastiest ingredients. Food does not have to be fancy (although we do certainly love to spoil ourselves every now and again!) to be enjoyed and this is why our Monday Made Easy recipes provide the perfect avenue for our readers to use some of the produce they might be growing in their gardens. Our
beef tagliata recipe
for instance, uses
basil, tomatoes and rocket
which can be grown in any small garden. With a little effort, any consumer can grow, produce, and prepare food in a cost effective and personally involved manner.
It is empowering to cook a whole meal, but it is even moreso to produce your own food. With urban farming set to become more than just a social bubble, it is possible that we could see a burgeoning South African food culture that is dependent on its own home-grown ingredients.
For more information on growing a herb garden, you can visit these two sites: