Restaurants such as Urbanologi are realising the importance of locally sourced food and the impact it has on our daily lives. There is something so revitalising about eating fresh fruit and vegetables and this is a great benefit of locally sourced food—it is fresh. Besides the immeasurable nutritional value, locally sourced food is good for the environment and for the economy.

 

Health benefits

Locally sourced food has greater nutritional value than food that is sourced from large-scale agricultural operations. This is due to the fact that it has minimal amounts of pesticides and is preservative free. Since locally grown food doesn’t need to be transported across long distances, the farmers don’t need to use preservatives to keep it fresh and retain the taste. As Urbanologi chef Jack Coetzee notes, "Most of the food served is unsustainable. We transport fish and meat thousands of kilometres to reach the plate for the sake of demand." 

 

Environmental benefits

Sourcing food locally lends to environmental sustainability. Since sourcing food locally cuts down on transportation time, fewer fuels are emitted and a company's carbon footprint is reduced. Small farmers produce a variety of foods, which is important for the genetic diversity and lifespan of the produce. When food is grown and sourced locally, the consumer better sees how and where their food comes from. This awareness urges local farmers to utilise sustainable agricultural practices and be accountable to safe environmental practices. In essence, the more the consumer knows the source of the food, the more farmers will practice responsible farming. 

 

Economic benefits

Sourcing food locally creates economic opportunities for small farmers, thereby giving them a place to participate in the country’s economy and it further supports their farming pursuits. Since local farmers don't have to deal with major costs, like large-scale farmers, supporting them will mean that they can retain most of the profit to grow their businesses. Moreover, as their businesses grow, small farmers will then be able to hire more people, which means they will be contributing to job creation, something that is very important in the South African context. 

"We need to be aware of how we affect ecosystems where food is grown and what we use as a source. This responsibility falls onto chefs to bridge the gap between produce and consumer. It’s our job to use the menu to create markets for sustainable produce,” says chef Jack.

Urbanologi has started an initiative called Project 150. The upmarket restaurant has fully committed itself to source locally grown produce. According to Chef Jack, “Project 150 reforms how we think about farming and food. Project 150 was inspired by a desire to lend vigour to the wave of conscious living and sustainable practices around food, and to pursue culinary excellence.”

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