We need to think about how we produce food, what we consume and what we discard, writes Georgina Crouth.
For aeons, parents have guilt-tripped children into eating their dinner because less fortunate children are starving somewhere in the world.
Judging by the bounty seen in restaurants, grocery stores, at markets and on the streets, it’s hard to believe half a billion people in the world are going hungry while the rest are either making terrible food choices or are gluttons.
By 2050, the world’s population growth is projected to be 10 billion (according to the EU Commission’s Health and Food Safety estimates).
Our resources are not infinite but the way we treat them, you’d think electricity comes from the plug, meat from the supermarket, our greens from the greengrocer and water from the tap.
It takes money to produce all that – money that could be used to drive development in other areas and help the needy.
Food production costs water, it produces emissions, reduces biodiversity and drives climate change.
Our marine ecosystems are being degraded, drought is wreaking havoc, forests are disappearing and millions of people the world over are hungry. We need to start thinking about how we manage and produce food, what we eat and food waste.
Worldwide, 2 billion people are obese while half a billion starve. In South Africa, the latest Discovery Health figures show 60 percent of women and 38 percent of men are clinically obese, with 14 million people going hungry daily.
Yet we throw away up to a third of all our food.
Dr Nadene Marx-Pienaar from the food retail division in the department of consumer science at Pretoria University breaks down some staggering figures about our throwaway society. “It’s estimated that 177kg of food waste is generated annually by the average South African (according to a 2013 study on it by the CSIR),” she said.
“Findings from the study done by the Department of Consumer Science at the University of Pretoria on food waste among Gauteng households done in 2014/15 revealed that fruit and vegetables outranked all the other food groups in terms of food mostly wasted by households. Second were cereals and breads (including pasta, rice, cakes and pastries) with dairy products (including milk, yoghurt and cheese) in third place. The fourth most wasted food type is meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
“The self-reported percentage of purchased food wasted indicated that 31 percent of respondents waste more than 30 percent of the fruit and vegetables that they buy, 34 percent waste more than 20 percent of cereals and breads, 27 percent waste more than 20 percent of dairy products and 20 percent waste more than 20 percent of the meat, poultry, fish and eggs that they buy.”
A 2013 CSIR study titled “The magnitude and cost of food waste in South Africa” found the costs to the economy were estimated at R61.5 billion a year or 2.1 percent of our GDP. “At the same time, 70 percent of poor urban households in South Africa live in conditions of food insecurity.
Food is treated as a disposable commodity, especially in developed countries.
“Yet almost one in seven people globally are estimated to be undernourished.
“Food waste does not only impact on food security, but has environmental impacts in the form of wasted resources and emissions,” they noted.
Food waste isn’t only what we throw in the bin though – it includes that which is lost during and after agricultural production; storage; manufacturing; distribution; and consumption, they say.
“The largest costs of food waste occur in food distribution (R19.6bn), followed by processing and packaging (R15.6bn), and agricultural production (R12.5bn). To meet the challenge of feeding growing populations and addressing food insecurity, massive reductions in the amount of food wasted across the food supply chain in South Africa are needed.”
Marx-Pienaar added: “Date codes are the most reported reason for wasting food. This is followed by poor product appearance and poor planning in terms of purchasing, preparation and storage.”
It’s important to note the difference between “best-before” and “use-by”: the former relates to quality and the latter to safety.
“Use-by” dates mean food can be consumed until that date – after that, if it hasn’t been frozen or preserved, it’s not fit for consumption.
If food has reached its “best before” date, it’s still safe to eat but it may not be at its best. Best-before dates are important guidelines to ensure food safety but they’re not cast in stone as many foods are still good to eat days – sometimes weeks – after they’ve expired.
Some foods, such as cold meats and ready meals, could become dangerous but other foods – such as honey, cornflour and sugar – don’t go off and the dates have the psychological effect of encouraging consumers to throw out perfectly good food.
Responsible retailers and manufacturers are doing their bit to mitigate this wastage: last year, their donations enabled FoodBank to feed 170 000 people with 3 350 tons of food and helped 550 non-profit organisations. That’s R23.5m worth of food reclaimed.
Lamees Martin, FoodBank SA’s marketing and communications officer, explained: “We collect edible surplus food from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and redistribute this food to verified NPOs that collectively feed thousands of hungry people daily.
“As a recipient of food donations, FoodBank SA has a responsibility to its beneficiaries to carefully check all products received at its warehouses.
“Hence we have quality checks for handling food donations, such as checking all dates on all products and rejecting expired stock.”
France and Italy have recently been in the news for introducing laws governing food waste. In France, retailers are fined for throwing away food; in Italy, they’ll soon be incentivised for donating unsold food.
As consumers, we have the power to vote with our forks to reduce waste. If we all put more thought into what we were eating (and doing so sustainably), preparing real food at home (rather than buying processed food) and wasting less, we’d not only save resources but we’d also be teaching our children to prepare for a future in which there’s enough to go around.
Wise up. Here’s how!
Helpful sites: Visit savethefood.com for food storage tips; www.slowfood.com for information on responsible consumption and local producers (or find your local Slow Food chapter) and follow Love Food Hate Waste; Stop Food Waste; Ugly Fruit & Veg; FoodTank; FoodInsight.org and others on Twitter.
Slow in Joburg: On Saturday, Slow Food Johannesburg will be at the Soweto Theatre, with three events: a conference (“Growing and Producing Food in Soweto and Johannesburg: Urban Farmers Speak” and “Buying Food in the City; how to get a healthy and fair deal”); a market, where urban farmers from Soweto and Orange Farm will be selling their produce; and an “eat-in” (an Nguni cow has been slaughtered for a nose-to-tail competition between teams of chefs and local gogos – pre-booking only). To book, visit www.webtickets.co.za or www.sowetotheatre.com.
Read up: Staff scientist at the US Natural Resources Defense Council Dana Gunders’s book the Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook offers suggestions to change behaviour around waste. Order at amazon.com. For a chef’s perspective, I can highly recommend Jamie Oliver’s Save with Jamie, which gives wonderful tips on shopping smart, cooking cleverly and wasting less.
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ANALYSISBy Marco Scholtz, North-West University
More than 30 million tourists visit Africa every year. Over half of the international arrivals are for business purposes, and may partake in tourist activities as well, while 15% travel for pure tourism and 30% visit friends and family.
Tourists select the continent as a destination for wildlife viewing and to enjoy the sunny skies. Africa is the world’s number one destination for safaris which range from the exotic to the very simple.
The tourism industry is one of the most important for the continent: it provided 12.8 million people with jobs, directly and indirectly, in 2011. Tourism in 2012 contributed over US$36 billion or 2.8% of the continent’s GDP.
The continent’s vast and diverse nature makes it complex and difficult to decide on the best region for a safari. But the east, central and southern parts of the continent are by far the preferred choices. These areas generally have well developed or fast developing tourism sectors. There is an abundance of wildlife as well as low to no visa requirements. Tourists to these regions mostly come from countries like France, the UK, the USA, Germany and Portugal.
Below is a quick guide to some of the safari hot spots on the African continent.
East African countries are strongly reliant on the tourism industry for generating income. Strong improvements in marketing and cooperation between these nations will help to ensure the success of this vital tourism sector.
Standardised criteria for hotels, restaurants and other services across these countries will make it easier for tourists to find suitable services. These countries possess various natural and cultural resources that make tourism possible.
The Serengeti wildebeest migration is the main reason Kenya and Tanzania have become popular safari destinations. This migration sees millions of wildebeest, accompanied by various other animal species, move between Tanzania and Kenya. The best places to view this migration include Kenya’s Maasai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. .
And while in the area, don’t forget to visit Africa’s highest mountain –Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park.
The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area is also a great choice with an abundance of big 5 – the African elephant, African lion, white/black rhinoceros, African leopard and the Cape buffalo – and will not disappoint.
Civil wars and terrorist groups have made it dangerous to travel to some countries in this region. Many tourists still take their chances, though, as Central Africa is an area of immense natural beauty.
Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda are great places to view the endangeredmountain gorillas. The best places for viewing them include theVirunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south-west Uganda, orVolcanoes National Park in north-west Rwanda.
Various factors have threatened the population of gorillas, including poaching, habitat loss, disease, war and unrest and poverty. Today, due to conservation efforts, the population of mountain gorillas is showing steady growth. The fact that many tourists want to get up close to these animals also drives conservation efforts, since with tourism comes economic improvement.
If you’d prefer to take part in Africa’s best on-foot chimpanzee encounters, visit Kibale Forest in Uganda.
South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi offer very diverse wildlife. This is because of the variety of biomes in the region.
Chobe National Park is home to the biggest concentration of elephants in the world – 70 000 of them. It lies between the Chobe River and the Okavango Delta in the north eastern parts of Botswana. Also in Botswana, the Moremi Game Reserve, in the iconic Okovango Delta, is the first reserve in Africa to be established by local residents.
The Etosha National Park in the northern arid region of Namibia offers great chances of spotting endangered black rhinoceros as well as flamingos in the salt pans.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park was the first site in South Africa to be awarded World Heritage status. It contains most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests and is Africa’s largest estuarine system, which is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water from rivers and streams mix with salt water from the ocean. The park borders Kosi Bay and St Lucia Lake which is the only place in the world where you can find sharks, hippopotamus and crocodiles in the same body of water.
Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape province is the only park where you can find the Big 7: the African elephant, Cape buffalo, African lion, African leopard, African rhino as well as whales and Great White sharks.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park consists of mostly unspoiled wilderness in the north of South Africa, crossing over into Botswana. This park is largely located in a desert area and is famous for animal species such as the Kalahari black-maned lions and the Gemsbok or Oryx.
Cape Town – South Africa’s appeal as a tourist destination is unique in the world. There is no other country that offers the diversity of experiences that can be found here.
Traditionally, visitors have come for the wildlife, the natural beauty and the sunshine. More recently, sports tourism and business tourism have taken hold as well.
And, in the Western Cape, wine tourism is also quickly becoming a major attraction. The wine farms have always been there and people have always visited them to taste their produce, but more and more estates are appreciating that it need not end there.
The shift has really occurred as wine producers have accepted that wine doesn’t have to be elitist. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy wine, and so you shouldn’t have to prove yourself an expert in order to visit a wine farm.
“I think the biggest mistake we as brand owners made over the years was to position wine as too snobbish,” says the CEO of La Motte wine estate, Hein Koegelenberg. “Ten years ago if you walked into a wine tasting facility and you knew nothing about wine they would tell you that you know nothing. But now we have the situation where people are more comfortable and relaxed. It’s about having a good time.”
This shift has led wine estates to reconsider their appeal. They have recognised that while wine should remain the central element of what they do, it need not be the only thing. Tourists are not only going to come because of the quality of the product, but the quality of the overall experience.
“Wine tourism is about brand extension,” says Monika Elias, the publisher of The Wine Tourism Handbook and founder of the Klink wine tourism awards. “Wine is a lifestyle product and there is so much that can go along with that.”
For many estates, the concept of wine tourism began with their tasting rooms and restaurants. Since wine and food are natural partners, this makes obvious sense.
However, it hasn’t stopped there. Estates across the Western Cape have extended their offerings to include everything from museums, to art galleries, to spas and hiking trails.
Visitors can now enjoy experiences such as the mountain bike trails at Oak Valley, or the Pierneef art collection at La Motte. They can visit Antonij Rupert for its car museum or Delaire Graff to view its diamond jewellery.
“The way to market yourself in the modern world is to focus on the experience and not just the product,” Koegelenberg says. “And the offering South Africa is putting on the table from a wine point of view is superior to anywhere in the world. We are way ahead in terms of the range of different experiences we offer and the quality of those experiences.”
Simply put, what is making wine tourism so successful in South Africa is that it has become about much more than just tasting wine.
“If you look at other wine regions in the world, they don’t have this same tourism pull,” says Katherine Harris, wine marketing and sales manager at Delaire Graff. “It’s not just a wine experience any more. It really is a whole package.”
Some wine tourism experiences to consider:
Wine and salt tasting at Fleur du Cap – a unique pairing of wines with foods enhanced with artisanal salt
Food and wine tasting at La Motte – an introduction to how to pair wines to the primary taste sensations
Tastings at the KWV Wine Emporium – including sparkling wine with nougat, sweet wine and liquer with cake, and chocolate with brandy
The Porcupine Trail Wine Walk at Waterford Estate – a two-hour guided walk through the estate’s fynbos, vineyards and wild protea fields
Wine bath at Mont Destin – soak with your partner in a sensual mixture of red wine and warm water
Franschhoek Wine Tram – a hop-on hop-off tour of the rolling Franschhoek valley
“Langtafel” at Mooiplaas – Dine with the estate owners, the Roos family, in the old Manor House
Underground cellar tour at Weltevrede – explore the estate’s historical underground tunnels and experience a candlelit wine tasting
Grand Provence Harvest Day – celebrate the harvest by picking and stomping your own grapes
Vergelegen Starlight Classics – light classical concerts on the lawns of one of South Africa’s oldest and grandest estates
24 Karat Gold Facial at Delaire Graff – A luxury experience at an exclusive spa