How to eat out and keep your food mileage low


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Of all the buzzy terms over the last few years, none have buzzed louder than ‘food miles’. The term – which relates to the distance that produce has to travel to reach the consumer – has been the centre of much discussion surrounding climate change, sustainability and seasonal eating for a while now, and for good reason. As the world moves towards eating more ethically, sustainably and consciously, the term refers to the encouragement of us all eating more in tune with the seasons and sourcing our food from local suppliers.


Of all the buzzy terms over the last few years, none have buzzed louder than ‘food mileage’.

The rule of thumb is to shop locally and seasonally, but it’s easy for some things to slip through the cracks. Avocados are one such item that you may expect to see on shelves all year round despite the fact that they are, in general, winter fruit. As such, it’s not uncommon to find people still buying ones imported from a tropical country like Spain, which means one avo flew about 8 325 kilometres to get to you.

Paying attention to where your food comes from, as well as the season you’re in (and what’s naturally available) will ensure that you’re eating the best-quality produce possible while lessening your impact on the environment. Consult a seasonal fruit and veg chart, and keep it in mind the next time you’re eating out.

Stay away from items that are out of season or imported from anywhere outside of South Africa. In the same way, you might only choose to buy free-range eggs or products with sustainably sourced palm oil, you should be opting for produce grown in South Africa. Keep in mind that a lot of exotic ingredients are also imported, including items like foie gras and scallops.

The next time you’re eating out and see an ingredient that seems a little foreign, stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the ingredient in-season?
  2. If no, can it be grown greenhouse-style (such as tomatoes, for example)?
  3. If no, ask the waiter the following: Can you tell me where this ingredient has come from?


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