I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fed up with supermarket shopping. I know I have to do it, but visiting supermarkets is not a pleasurable experience for me. I would do anything to avoid it really. In fact, it was this article I read recently which really got me thinking about the role supermarkets play in South Africa, a country where millions are malnourished because they can’t afford healthy food, where farmers are so badly paid for their produce that they cannot afford to be in business any more, and where farm workers are some of the worst off out of everyone.
I will readily admit that I have not researched this topic myself, plus I know that retailers themselves provide a lot of people in this country with jobs. But I do think it makes sense that the middlemen need to be making less of the profit, so that the producers, the end consumers, and the environment, benefits more. So I’ve started shifting my purchases, so that not everything I buy is from supermarkets. Of course, I still buy a lot from the shops because it’s convenient, but there are some things that work out at a similar price, and are better quality, if bought from smaller producers.
Here are some companies I’m supporting at the moment, in my efforts to do this (this is probably only interesting for Cape Town folk!):
- The Newlands Good Food Club
This only works if you live near the area, but the NGFC is basically a group of households who club together once a month to source good food in a way that supports those who produce it. In short, it’s about making more conscious purchasing decisions. Most of the meat products we eat are bought through small local producers that supply the NGFC, including the chicken and pork. I also buy my honey and almond butter, free range eggs, organic nachos and other goodies from them.
2. Mother City Fish
This was started recently by two friends of mine, Renee and Liz, who crossed paths with a fisherman one day who has a passion for sustainability, but mostly exports his fish.
They were both disgruntled by the poor fish selection available from local supermarkets until they were introduced to this friend of a friend, who owns an export fishery. The fishery is absolutely committed to sustainable fishing practices and the fish they supply is all line caught.
“Feedback on our fish has been fantastic so far. It’s been an easy sell, as the product really speaks for itself,” says Renee.
I have food intolerances to some game fish, so although I haven’t been able to sample the tuna, silverfish or yellowtail sold by Mother City Fish, I am a regular purchaser of their frozen hake. I stock up once a month and it’s the perfect thing to have in the freezer for those last minute dinners (or better planned ones!). It’s very delicious, and much better than any other frozen hake I’ve tasted. Also, it costs R125/kg, compared to R180/kg which is the price online currently at Woolworths.
3. BB Boxes
I saw this on the Instagram feed of Jules from Heart Mama Blog and I’m so glad I did! Ever since we moved back from the UK back in 2009 I’ve been looking for a company that delivers fruit and veggie boxes packed with seasonal items that are locally produced. And BB Distributors does just that. At R125 per week you get a box of goodness delivered to your door for free (Southern Suburbs and Helderberg). I like the way you are encouraged to use and try veggies you may not usually buy (i.e I have never given my kids gem squash because I don’t really like them – but it turns out they are huge fans!).
Each week I may need to buy a little extra fruit for lunch boxes, but it’s definitely enough veg in each box to last all four of us, unless we’re having people over. I like the way BB Distributors know me by name, that there’s less plastic packaging, and that the cardboard boxes we use are returned and recycled each time. I like supporting local producers and eating seasonally and imaginatively. The best part is that I don’t have to think about it- the box just arrives at my door each Wednesday;). They also do various other products like milk, cheese, meat etc.
Those are just some small companies I’m supporting with my grocery and household shopping – send me any others you like too, so we can start supporting the small guys more!