Do you know who produced the ingredients in your lunch?
Every meal I eat I am able to thank almost everyone personally for the contribution they made to my plate of food. Not forgetting the butterflies, rivers, bees, farm workers, sunshine and shop keepers that all played a role before the ingredients got to my table. This is perfectly natural to me now, but often surprises others.
How local is local? South Africa, KZN, 200kms, 25kms? The boundaries will shift and everyone will draw their own lines, but for the purposes of this blog the focus will be on Midlands sourced produce – that is from around Pietermaritzburg to the Drakensberg. Eating local in the abundant Midlands is really easy. For vegetables and dairy, 25kms is plenty, for flour and maize it is more, for salt we go all the way to the Kalahari (and stock up for years) and for olive oil to Gauteng or the Cape. True locavores will use salt bush leaves rather than salt and replace olive oil with avocado oil. You decide.
We all need to become more conscious about the small choices we make. One Action today, is all it takes. One step. Tomorrow take another one. Your friend might join you – then the ripples begin.
This list reflects my personal choices. I want produce to not only be local and in season, but ethically produced too. There are masses of local choices that I wouldn’t dream of supporting. However, if the horrors of industrial scale battery chicken operations don’t appall you, or you don’t mind a little endocrine disrupting glyphosate in your broccoli, then your choices are much wider. I don’t eat the animals, but my dog, who is not vegetarian, does.
- Ducks – Add n Love at Misty Meadows – Dargle
- Chickens, pigs – Bramleigh Farm – Fort Nottingham
- Koelbroek pigs, heirloom chickens, Zulu sheep – Enaleni Farm, Camperdown
- Wild animals – Zulu Waters – Mooi River
- Sheep – Essenwood -Curry’s Post, Zulu Waters – Mooi River
- Cattle – Essenwood – Curry’s Post
- Duck eggs – Add n Love at Misty Meadows – Dargle
- Chicken eggs – Bramleigh Manor Farm
- Quail eggs – Add n Love, Misty Meadows – Dargle
- Smoked Trout – Wayfarer Trout – Dargle
- Nottingham Road Brewery, Nottingham Road
- Lions River Craft Brewery, Caversham
- Old Main Road Brewery, Hilton
- Clockwork Brewhouse, Pietermaritzburg
- People Choice – Mooi River
- Bend down Boutiques on the street
- Clothesaholic – Merrivale
- Patchwood Elephant – Tweedie
- Rosehurst – Pietermaritzburg
- Hospice and SPCA – Howick, Hilton, Pmb
- Barter Markets
These farms vary in animal husbandry practice – you decide where you draw the line and ask the questions that are important to you. calf-at-foot? grass fed? retirement? rennet?
- Essenwood Micro Dairy – Curry’s Post – Calf at foot
- Tatsfield – Caversham – Calf at foot
- Wana Farm – Dargle – Calf at foot
- Swissland – Balgowan
- Gourmet Greek – Lions River
- La Petit France – Karkloof
- Longshadow Farm – Kamberg
- Just Cheese – Greytown
E EATING OUT
These restaurants use as much local produce as possible, but there may be others. Remember to ask about the ingredients on your plate. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- Café Bloom – Nottingham Road
- Rocket Café – Markets and Events
- Eat@Andrews – Tweedie
- Sagewood – Pietermaritzburg
- The Barn Owl – Curry’s Post
- Steampunk Coffee – Lions River
Seasons are shorter than the impression given by supermarkets. Feast while you can!
- Spring: raspberries, strawberries, kumquat, mulberries, ijikijolo, blackberries.
- Summer: blueberries, granadillas, gooseberries, plums, apricots, nectarines, pears.
- Autumn: apples, guavas, Chinese guavas, persimmon, Catawba grapes, dragonfruit, gooseberries, pomegranate.
- Winter: oranges, naartjies, tree tomatoes, gooseberries, grapefruit, kiwi,
- Wrap gifts without sticky tape, use ribbons and string.
- Scour charity stores for fabulous finds.
- Visit craft markets for individually created items made with love.
- Vouchers for haircuts, car washes and massages – these boost your community economy.
- Bee’s Knees by Paul Duncan – Karkloof
I ICE CREAM
- Francesca & Charlie by Jane Todd
- Rooi Nooi by The Farmers Daughter
- Steve’s Café at Karkloof Country Club
J JUICE, GIN, WINE
- Nectar Co fresh juices
- Earthen Tread Kombucha
- Homemade with Ethics – Jun
- Body Balance – kombucha, fruit drink, tonics, kefir
- Kish Mish cordials
- Thirsty Elephant cordials
- Rawdons Gin – Balgowan
- Abingdon Wine – Lions River
- Highgate Wines – Lions River
- Meander Fine Wines – Piggly Wiggly
Husbands and children are often a challenge in your local living efforts. Find the things they love (beer? Ice cream?) and go on adventures to learn more about the producer, meet the brewmaker or the cows. Before you know it, they will be finding new things for you to try.
- Love Bread
- Wild Bread Co
- Champagne Valley, Winterton
- Reichenau Mission, Underberg
Bread making classes:
- Carol Addis Lions River 082 825 1795
- Paul Hildyard Hilton 082 655 4369
Pasta Perfecta made in Kranskop available from Liesel Landsberg at Maritzburg Farmers Market
Eating local increases chances of eating seasonally. Food is fresher, often cheaper. Buying local means you automatically get the best in the area and contribute to community and environment.
- Karkloof Farmers Market – Saturdays 7-11 – Preston Farm, Karkloof
- Maritzburg Farmers Market – Saturdays 6 –10 PMB Botanic Garden
- Ambers Market – Tuesdays 8 –10 The Lakes Barn, Amber Valley
- Midlands Country Market – Third Sunday 9 – 2.30– Peters Gate Herbs, Lidgetton
- Rosetta Country market – Second Sunday 8.30 – 12 – Rosetta Dam
- Dargle Country Market – First Sunday – 08.30 – 11 The Haybarn, Dargle
- Market in the Midlands – Waste Free Market – Highgate at Piggly Wiggly
- Jesmondene Market – Saturdays, twice a month
Pecans (Weenen, Muden, Sand Rivier, Steampunk, Markets), Macadamias (coast)
O OLIVES & OIL
Use only SA oils, obviously!
- Olive – Makholo – Gauteng
- Olive – Blue Sky Organics – Western Cape
- Olive – Olyvenbosch – Western Cape
- Avocado – Everdon Howick
- Sunflower – Vergezocht HO – Free State
It is easy to do homemade local diets, choose ethical egg/meat for carnivores. See Animals and Vegetables. All those plastic imported toys? Knotted rope, food puzzles, walks.
Get to know your farmer – ask shops where produce is grown and how, what happens to baby boy calves, where do pigs spend the day, how does the farmer cope with an influx of aphids? Markets are a great opportunity to connect with food producers. Ask at restaurants too – how free are the free range eggs, where was the butternut grown, couldn’t local sorghum replace the imported quinoa in the organic courgette salad? It is conversations, often seemingly insignificant ones that will change the world.
REKO connects producers and consumers directly. Reko is a Finnish word which means Fair Consumption. Support small scale producers in the Midlands by joining the Facebook Group, ordering produce weekly and collecting from a set place and time.
- Reko Notties – Thursday 12.30- 1.30 Coffee and Life Centre
- Reko Hilton – Thursday 15.30 – 16.30 Church of Ascension, Brindy Road
- Reko Howick – Friday 11.30 – 12.30 Main St Common, Holmes Road
S STORES & STREETSIDE
- Dovehouse Organic Farm Shop – Main Street Howick
- Touchwood Veggies – Merrivale (next to Shell Garage)
- Hopewells Supplies – Harvard St Howick
- Notties Health Shop and Farm Stall – The Junction, Nottingham Road
- Trading Stores – unlikely to be organic, but good for community resilience
- Pavement hawkers sell a great variety of produce – mostly from the commercial market, but occasionally from small scale local farmer. So, if you want a box of tomatoes or sack of potatoes, sugar beans or peanuts that you would have gone to the supermarket for, buying from a small vendor gets you the same produce and makes a real contribution to keeping money (and strong relationships) in our community.
- Nutting but Goodness – Main Street Howick for seeds, dried fruit and nuts in bulk – take your own jar to fill. Few items are South African and none organic, but if you are going to buy a bag of cashews from Woolies anyway, it is better to buy plastic free here.
T TURMERIC, SALT & SPICE
We have got so used to a wide variety of spices, which are often aggressively harvested and not grown with any consideration to the natural environment. Spices are so common that they hardly seem like food. It is perfectly possible to make a delicious curry using locally grown flavours. Once you get used the the taste of fresh combinations, it will be hard to go back to those dusty bottles.
- Ginger – Longshadow Farm, Kamberg
- Garlic – Wana Farm, Chisomo Bean, REKO
- Turmeric – Chisomo Bean, REKO
- Coriander – Barter Markets, REKO
- Fennel – Ntombenhle Mtambo, Barter Markets
- Chillies – Barters Markets, REKO
- Horseradish – Chisomo Bean, Barter Markets
- Khoisan Salt – Wildbread Co. Karkloof Farmers Market
U URBAN FARMS
It does not get more local than your own back yard or verge.
• Start Small – a few pots or a door sized bed are good to begin with.
• Plant things that you like eating – salads, spinach and pumpkins are easy.
• Mulch, mulch, mulch. Cover the ground between your plants with straw, leaves or newspaper to keep the soil moist and cool and help insects do their work.
• Be gentle with earthworms, they do so much work for free.
• Make friends with manure – if you can get your hands on some, you are lucky indeed.
• Plant lots of comfrey if you have the space – it has so many uses.
• Mix veggies into your indigenous flower garden and vice versa
• Grow climbing beans up fences and around your garage
• Recycle weeds as weed tea to fertilize your plants
• Share your harvest with friends and neighbours
• Spend some quiet time in the garden watching the butterflies
• Save seeds for the next season
V VEGGIE SEASONS
When you start eating seasonally, you discover new foods.
- Spring: artichokes asparagus broad beans broccoli carrots cauliflower chard fennel kale lettuce mizuna mustard leaves pak choi peas radish rhubarb sorrel tatsoi
- Summer: amaranthus brinjal butternut celery cucumber garlic green beans marrows marrows mealies onions potatoes sweet potatoes tomatoes
- Autumn: beetroot brinjal broccoli carrots celery gem squash green beans horned cucumber jerusalem artichokes parsnips peppers pumpkin sou sou sweet potatoes turnips
- Winter: beetroot broccoli brussel sprouts cabbage carrots cauliflower cavalo nero celeriac horse radish kale kohlrabi leeks madumbe mizuna pakchoi peas spring onion swiss chard tatsoi turnips
W WEEDS & WILD FOOD
Local edible weed guide https://plantabundance.wordpress.com/2018/12/07/eating-weeds/
- Barter it Bru – First Saturday 09.30 Tweedie Junction Sarah 072 505 9110
- Hilton Produce Market – First Saturday 09.00 James Craib Park Karen 083 235 8628
- Howick Exchange – Second Tuesday 08.30 Miller Street Common Norma 078 973 1887
- Dargle Trade – Third Thursday 09.00 il Postino Pizzeria Sharon 083 289 3110
- Rosetta Barter – Third Saturday 09.30 The Wine Cellar Katherine 082 483 6415
- Howick Exchange – Last Saturday 09.30 – Miller Street Common Nikki 083 473 3074
Y YOUR BODY YOUR HOME
It is not only what you put inside your body, but what you put on the outside and in your surroundings that contributes to your personal health and a healthy environment. Dovehouse stock a great range of earth friendly pro-biotic cleaning and beauty products.
Some of these are available in bulk or to decant into your own refillable bottles.
- GudSheet toilet paper
- African Organics
- Nu Eco
- Londa Bio-Oxy
- Rondavel Soap
Z ZOATS, ZOODLES, ZUCCHINI FOR DAYS!
Collect recipes to make the most of those things that produce like crazy, so you don’t feel like you are eating the same thing every meal.
Mnandi a Taste of Mpophomeni has lots of ideas for seasonal eating and all proceeds from sales go to supporting community projects in Mpophomeni.
Check out these blog posts for some inspiration:
So there you have it, there is absolutely no need to visit a supermarket if you live in the abundant Midlands.
Also read the A-Z of Living Lightly , and even better, follow this blog for tastes of the inspiration that is so abundant in the KZN Midlands.