food

Spier biodynamic farming


As part of the Spier Secret Festival a few weeks ago, I attended a fascinating presentation by Spier Wine estate’s biodynamic farmer, Angus McIntosh, or Farmer Angus, as he has affectionately become known. At the crux of his presentation was the theory that malnutrition, which starts in the soil, manifests as obesity, starvation and infertility. It sounds dramatic, but it all harks back to the saying ‘you are what you eat’, and how we should be trying our best to make informed decisions about where our food comes from. Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (from R159, Large Print Press) promotes just that message and is a great read for anyone interested in food. According to a survey done in the UK earlier this year, more than half of young adults do not know that eggs come from chickens and milk from cows. I’d like to think that with agriculture being a large part of life in South Africa our statistics are better, though considering our issues with access to education, I don’t know. Many people, however, including a lot of the educated ones, are not aware of how so much of the food we eat is genetically modified, injected with hormones and antibiotics, and in the case of cattle and poultry, frequently reared in very bad conditions. Large producers will often engineer food so that everything from crops to animals grow bigger and faster, thereby working better for their bottom line. There are, however, many pioneers for food consumer awareness. Jamie Oliver, for example, launched an aggressive international campaign in order to promote the education of where our food comes from. Locally, stores such as Frankie Fenner’s Meat Merchants, and Braeside Butchery are big promoters of ethically raised, pasture-reared meats, and thankfully for Capetonians, Spier Wine Estate offers all manner of biodynamic produce and eggs, meat and chicken, nurtured by Farmer Angus. For Farmer Angus, the holistic nature of farming using biodynamic principles is the most important thing. And it does seem to be the most sustainable way of restoring, maintaining and enhancing ecological harmony. This video that was created for American fast food company, Chipotle Mexican Grill, to promote its use of food from sustainable farms, sums up the concept quite nicely:  

Source: content.usatoday.com While convenience plays a part in the fact that most of us (myself included) are guilty of relying on supermarket goods, at least if there is a better understanding and demand for ethically produced foods that aren’t full of things we don’t really want to eat, hopefully it would have an effect on how widely available those goods become. All of us make conscious decisions about whether or not we smoke, drink or take drugs – it should be no different when it comes what’s in our food! Peru officially passed a law earlier this year, banning genetically modified ingredients for a full decade, after which they will review the effects. With enough attention brought to the subject, perhaps we can follow suit? Text: Raphaella Frame-Tolmie