Food Retail: Realities, Futures And Fictions
Big Issue|Issue 290
It has been over six months since COVID-19 upended life as we knew it in Cape Town and the country as a whole. Now, as we catch our breath, one word in particular keeps coming to mind: adaptable.
Sheryl Ozinsky

Farmers and consumers alike have had to adjust to new conditions and protocols, facing disruptions to nearly every aspect of daily life. As a team, we were grateful that we were able to open the Oranjezicht City Farm Market during level 5 lockdown and have been operating safely since. We have been humbled by the opportunity to provide a crucial service in a time of need and by the patience and flexibility of our customers whose weekly market shopping experience was turned upside down.

The Oranjezicht City Farm Market at the V&A Waterfront is a gathering and meeting place – but also an alternative grocery provider, offering a shortened supply chain between farmers and consumers, by reinstating small farms as the food source for the community. By choosing to eat what nature is offering – grown or produced locally in a transparent supply chain – consumers can support a new approach to food; a new relationship with cooking and eating that can be found in consuming responsibly. Our mission is to try and ensure that small farmers regain their economic foothold in the marketplace, and that the knowledge and choice of local food becomes the norm – not the exception.

We wish it didn’t take a pandemic for people to realise that a homogeneous, centralised food system is a weak one. This is a moment when we need to learn lessons, and learn them fast, about how we cover the basic needs of our population. We hope that one of the things we realise as a society is how we are too reliant on a handful of food producers that are mostly turning out products that harm us rather than heal us. Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.

What does a decentralised, healthy regional food system look like? It looks like small to mid-size farms, maybe one acre (less than half a hectare), perhaps 10, maybe more. They are run by people who care deeply about their community, about the health of the natural world, and about their peer producers.

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