Where's Your Food From?

woman & home South Africa|April 2020

Where's Your Food From?
When you buy that lush bunch of spinach or a plump chicken, do you think about where it came from? We look at why ‘provenance’ is such a buzzword in food these days
Charlotte Haigh, Andrea Cresswell

Most of us want to feed ourselves and our families the best-quality food possible. At one time, that just meant fresh, nutritious and tasty. But these days you might also think about its provenance. That refers to where a food actually came from, and more of us are taking an interest. South Africa imported around R110 billion in agricultural and food products in 2019, including rice, palm oil, wheat, chicken, and maize, with the result that many products on supermarket shelves travelled a long way to get there.

But it’s hard to know exactly what has happened to your food before it reaches your plate. We’ve lost a lot of our food knowledge – in fact, how many of us really know when fruit and veg are in season locally? Plus, when you’re at the supermarket, you may not always stop to check a food’s provenance.

Does it matter?

So your bagged salad was picked a few days ago and washed with chlorine to keep it crisp – but while that may not be as appealing as thinking of a farmer in a nearby village digging it up and dusting off the leaves, does it cause any problems? For starters, safety shouldn’t be an issue, because South Africa has food safety laws in line with the World Health Organization to ensure the foods we buy are safe to eat. So that not-so-fresh fish may not be quite as firm or tasty as it should be – but it’s unlikely to do you any harm.

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April 2020