Eat for the Earth
Beyond raising money for this great cause which helps provide knowledge and equipment to establish small-scale sustainable, subsistence farming projects, we designed our lunch around the best environmental foodie principles we know. Each dish we made was designed to satisfy one or more of these criteria:
1. Local produce: Eating local reduces the carbon footprint associated with your food, supports local small-scale farmers and should result in fresher, more seasonal tastes.
2. Better meat: Eating meat is more environmentally damaging than eating plant based foods. But the entire world is not going to go vegetarian any time soon, no matter how successful this might be in reducing emissions and resource use. With this in mind, we included a lot of vegetarian and even some vegan dishes in our lunch. To help encourage positive change in the meat industry, we bought only local and free range meat for use in our lunch. Buying local and free range is naturally a little more expensive, a good reason to have quality not quantity. Again supporting the small scale farmer and instigating positive change towards reducing meat consumption.
3. Fish: Overfishing is arguably the issue amongst the suite of environmental issues that is most vehemently banging on our door right now. Luckily in SA we have SASSI to combine the latest in scientific research with the needs of local people and give us a simple to understand list of which fish we can buy to encourage best practice and not let our money go towards depleting threatened fish stocks or increasing bycatch of endangered species. Buying less but buying better represents the best way forward to encourage change whilst helping maintain livelihoods.
4. Sustainable development: It’s all good eating environmentally friendly produce, but sustainability is about people too. So we also tried our best to gather produce from local, small enterprises, particularly those which support previously disadvantaged communities.
5. Grow your own: As an international student blessed to have landed up in SA, I don’t have much of a garden and what I do have isn’t mine to dig up and turn in to a vegetable patch. But whatever we can grow, we do.
To showcase as much of the best produce as we could we opted to hold a multi-dish pot luck style lunch including the following dishes and drinks (click links for more information or links to recipes):
Devon Rarebit: A homage to my home, we made these posh cheese on toast bites with a local cheddar from Constantia Cheesery and local cider by James Mitchell from Elgin.
Spinach and feta parcels with a homemade tzatziki: These puff pastry parcels were made using spinach from a Harvest of Hope vegetable box, combined with feta and offered with a tzatziki made with mint from my garden.
Butternut and buckwheat salad with sage: The butternut from the Harvest of Hope vegetable box was roasted with sage from my garden and combined with organic buckwheat from by nature and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Goats cheese, onion and thyme tart: A local goats cheese from cloud cottage was used to top this quick and easy tart – great with a lightly dressed side salad.
Hungarian chorizo: From Martin Raubenheimer of Cure Charcuterie – I couldn’t bare to put this with anything that may detract from its wonderful flavour.
Bacon and egg cups: Using Harvest of Hope free range eggs and maple smoked bacon from Cure these cups are the perfect easy brunch.
Bruschetta with tomatoes and basil and chimichurri pesto: A ciabatta from the guy with the trailer at the Neighbourgoods market formed the base for these toasted breads, rubbed with garlic and topped with plump tomatoes (again from Neighbourgoods market)
Chicken curry with wild rice: Made by Janine from WWFSASSI with free range chicken
Homemade vegetable and bean broth: Laurens perfect winter warmer – made using an organic soup mix of pulses from Woolworths – store cupboard essential.
Sugar and wheat free fruit bread, carob and coconut coated sticky date squares and florentines from Martin’s Bakery in Diep River – Sweet and good for you – I couldn’t believe how great these tasted.
Also delicious cups of banana, coffee cream. Made with coffee ground in Robertson.
Washed down with large helpings of gluhwein, we all finished our sunday thoroughly stuffed and had satisfied not only our hunger but relieved a little of the guilt normally associated with eating. Everyone agreed that the lunch was a great idea and something we should repeat regularly. To this end, we are aiming to have a “local lunch” once a month to showcase our findings in pursuit of the very best in local, ethical and sustainable produce – watch this space!