“The food we eat is part of an integrated whole, a web of relationships, that cannot be reduced to single ingredients” - Dan Barber
Food. It’s what many of us think about for most of the day, let’s be honest. Where shall we go for lunch? What do I need to buy for dinner? I’m hungry; I need a Kit-Kat! Yet, we never think about the cows on the farm in the midlands that produce our milk, or the soil our strawberries grow in. Our modern world has created these strange silos; someone else produces, farms, supplies, manufactures…and we consume. And, boy, are we good at consuming!
City dwelling, supermarkets, fast food restaurants; we increasingly manage to distance ourselves from the source of our food. And, we’ve been living like this for so long, we think it’s the way things should be; we think we’re happy. But not only have we forgotten what milk should taste like and what carrots actually look like, but we’ve also forgotten the pure joy of eating tomatoes straight from the garden, and the deep sense of gratitude and humility that comes from knowing the beautiful creatures behind the products you buy.
Here at the Munching Mongoose, we have the amazing privilege of getting to know, by name, the beautiful jersey cows that make our milk, the spunky chickens that happily sit on your lap, and the brave farmers who produce our fruit and veg. We are learning, day by day, how small subtleties in approach to small scale farming techniques can improve a crop or the yield of a farmer, without harming you. Just by introducing companion planting, pests can be deterred. Sporadically planting spring onions and chives through your veg patch will not only reduce the amount of harmful insects, but also give you a constant supply of chives for cooking.
It is these and so many more lessons learnt from the small scale local producers that we work with that make us realise just how intricate, but also simple things can and should be. And for us, it gives us a deeper appreciation of the food we’re eating, and we enjoy it that much more!
So if you’re wanting to embark on this journey of rediscovery, an easy way is to start growing some of your food yourself. Lettuce and rocket grow almost all year round in Joburg, except during the colder winter months, and both are easy to grow from seedlings or seeds, in the ground or in containers. Not only do you save yourself some money, but you are also going to see just how sexy a salad can be with some homemade additions.
So we encourage you to think further than “What’s for dinner?”; start investigating the journey your food takes from, well, farm to table. You may be surprised what you learn along the way!