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Eat for the Earth

June 14, 2011

Sunday 5th June was World Environment Day and we celebrated accordingly with an Earth friendly lunch inspired by Yuppiechef and supporting Soil for Life!

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.

Eggs, complete with chicken poop!

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.

Smoked angelfish: Once flaked, this SASSI green listed fish from Delicious fish was used to top wholewheat crackers spread with a little orange wholegrain mustard from Odeds Kitchen.

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.

Dessert:

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!

Everyone tucking in!

The lovely Emily :)

Ben helps get the message across :)

It's hard work all this eating!

No better way to spend a sunday!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Hepe permalink
    June 15, 2011 9:07 am

    I was really enthusiastic about all of this especially when I reached the picture of the guy ‘Ben’, I think he must have some really good genetic strains and I bet his parentage is excellent?

    How much garden space do you have? If you have an area 4’x4′ (no appology for Imperial measurements) you could build a ‘square foot garden’. It is just a container system, but it has a neat method of application that makes it easier to run. You don’t need to alter the owner’s garden. The theory is that 16 sqft can feed one person all the salad vegetables they need in a season and the method of doing it supports rotation of crops and composting. I am running two of these on my roof in Philippines to produce vegetables and as a green roof to shade from the sun. I can send you the information on SFG if you would like it.

    The meals that you have made look really good and I like your focus on the locality and sustainability elements. I will see if Philippines has fish types listed like you have in SA. Thanks for the WHO info and I have done some further research into diet, but at the end of the day, interpretation into apetising dishes will be important.

    • June 15, 2011 11:55 am

      Haha, he is a handsome chap I’ll agree :)

      It was a lovely day and a good chance to really showcase the best stuff from around here and to share what we think are sound environmental and ethical principles.

      Very interested in this idea of a square foot garden. Please send the information. It’s winter here at the moment and the idea of being in the garden fills me with terror (the rain is currently smashing down on our tin roof!) but soon I will be replanting the basil/sage patch which is probably about that size!

  2. June 15, 2011 11:59 am

    well done!

  3. June 15, 2011 12:55 pm

    This is an awesome post, nice one. And beautiful pictures!

  4. June 15, 2011 1:08 pm

    Wow, Hayley. What a lunch and what an awesome post.

    Well done. We’re inspired.

    I am Paul

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