Could this International Organic Day, 22 September 2014, be the day you go organic? With more and more high quality organic foods and wines to choose from in South Africa, it's getting easier to join the organic revolution...or rather revival, for there's nothing new about organic as a way of life.
"It's not all bananas, chocolate and coffee"
Organic is still the traditional method of farming employed in many non-industrialized countries. According to a recent study, 30% of the world's organic agriculture is in Africa. But, it's not all bananas, chocolate and coffee.
The vineyards in the West Coast Darling district produce the Earthbound range of 100% organic wines, which also happen to be Fairtrade certified. Conventionally grown grapes are sprayed with up to 15 different pesticides, exposing both consumers and farm workers to harmful chemicals.
Organic farming uses traditional methods, but: “One thing organic definitely isn't, is ‘Mother Nature farming’,” declares Samuel Viljoen, who is a 40-year-veteran of the wine industry. “You still need to offer guidance - it's certainly not a dream world that grapes fall by themselves; it takes labour to get the vine to produce what it needs to produce."
Innovative methods of organic farming
And out-of-the-box thinking too. The farm, Papkuilsfontein, actively looks for alternative ways to address potential harm to the vineyards. It has installed owl boxes to help control rodents, which can cause substantial damage to young vines in particular. A specialised weeding machine that utilises steam to eradicate weeds eliminates the need for harmful herbicides.
Organic wines are growing in popularity, and are now widely stocked by retailers nationwide, from large retail chains to smaller purveyors. Restaurants are also responding to customer requests for more organic, both on the menu and the wine list.
Organic and the consumer
"When it comes to the food and beverage industry, South African consumers are increasingly looking for natural and organic products," says Cara Birkett, Col'Cacchio Pizzeria Marketing Manager. "We’re proud to stock Earthbound Wines on our restaurant menu and be able to offer our customers the choice of enjoying both a good quality and earth-friendly wine.
A lot of merit goes to Earthbound Wines for its commitment to ecologically sustainable practices and producing wines that are truly earth-friendly."
As for the quality of organic wine: “It can stand alongside conventional wine," says Earthbound's Viljoen.
"Our organic wines compete in all the major competitions; we compete in the mainstream contests and we have brought home medals. Organic isn't an excuse to make a poor wine – if a wine is not up to scratch, the consumer won’t buy a second bottle, irrespective of the message," he says.
How Can You Celebrate International Organic Day?
Have a meal out at one of these organic cafes:
o Leafy Greens (Johannesburg)
o Plant café (Cape Town)
o La Boca (Port Elizabeth)
Stock up on organic produce and other products at these organic food markets and shops:
o The Bryanston Organic & Natural Market (Johannesburg)
o I Heart Market (Durban)
o OZCF Harvest and Market Days (Cape Town)
o Terra Madra (Gauteng – online)
o Dovehouse Organics farm shop (Howick)
Nurture your green thumb:
o Attend an organic workshop at Soil for Life (Cape Town)
o Pick up the book Jane’s Delicious Garden for organic gardening tips
Pamper your body organically:
o JuMe body products (sold nationally)
o Africology spa (Johannesburg)
Stay at an organic B&B:
o Rosedale Organic B&B (Eastern Cape, near Addo) -
o Samhitakasha Cob House (Muizenberg, Cape Town) -
Follow these organic voices on Twitter:
o @FoodWithAStory - Promoting artisanal and ethical food in South Africa, with a strong interest in food security and community resilience.
o @EcoDivaNicole - For all things Divalicious.
o @ChangeAgentSA - Change Agent: Humanitarian, Climate Change & Environmental Activist, Entrepreneur.
o Lead SA Executive & National Director of @missearth_sa
For more information about #Earthboundwines visit their website and join them on Facebook at EarthboundWines and Twitter @EarthboundWines.