When you know better, you do better, or so the saying goes. With food education emerging as a global trend, diners are concerning themselves not just with the taste and appearance of their food, but with the origin too.
Now, more than ever before, restaurateurs are ensuring that their produce is sourced locally and ethically.
As with most things concerning the curious human race, there are those who lead and those who follow. A handful of innovative chefs are offering the guarantee of 100% guilt-free, green dining.
In essence, farm-to-fork (or farm-to-table) is a direct channel between agronomist and consumer.
The people responsible for growing our food have in the past few years established an in-house community of professionals who ensure that all the ingredients pulled together to produce a plate meet certain ethical and environmental standards.
What many farm-to-fork fundis believe, is that if you know where your meal is coming from, you will have a greater appreciation for the entire dining experience.
Farm-to-fork restaurants tend to offer their guests access to the site of food cultivation. At most of these eateries, visitors are free to wander through the areas where produce is being grown.
These environmentally conscious restaurateurs give diners peace of mind knowing that the delicious food they are being served is produced locally and ethically. And it is organic, which means it is GMO-free.
A few local establishments have set the pace for sustainable eating, with some farms offering an encompassing experience of eco-friendly hospitality:
Since 2008, Babylonstoren has been cultivating as many as 300 plant varietals per season.
Set within the heart of the farm, a 3.5-hectare area of fruits, vegetables and legumes are surrounded by roughly 125 hectares of vineyard.
Unless you are fighting the plucky poultry employed to naturally take care of the pests interfering with the harvest, you can graze freely throughout the farm, picking the ripest portion from the tree of your choice.
Any foodie worth their salt will pay a visit to at least one of the farm’s restaurants. Babel offers a refined dining experience, while the legendary Greenhouse restaurant is situated at the tail of a must-see snake path and offers the same farm-to-fork experience, but in a fanciful setting.
Sneak behind the flowers and make use of the homeopathic herbs and spices growing in the Healing Garden.
Here you can experience fine dining in a rustic, charming space where nothing is wasted. Fermier is the product of its diverse artisans’ and the landscape’s natural offerings.
The mouthwatering sounding nine-course menu will pique your curiosity and win you over. An ode to traditional farm-style flavours, look forward to a carefully curated boast of all fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat that are available on the farm at the time.
The stated goal of this award-winning eatery, erected from the organic soil found on the farm, is sustainability.
You are promised that everything, from the food you eat to the crockery, cutlery and furniture you utilise, has been designed and made by the Karoo Yard family. Revel in a night of delicious and nutritious food, hearing crickets chirping on the Highveld.
Farm-to-fork eating is ideal when you value and appreciate the homeopathic qualities of food. Food has the capacity to heal or harm the body.
Leafy Greens is encouraging a return to restorative living by inviting those looking to nourish their bodies, minds and souls to “swap burglar alarms for birdsong”. Every morning, the holistic oasis situated 35 kilometres outside Johannesburg offers a freshly picked vegan/vegetarian spread for its guests to enjoy.
Lunch also offers the freshest local produce, and changes with the seasons. Weary diners can even spend a night or two to recuperate in the peace and tranquillity of the La Casa cottages on this idyllic farm.
If you are hungry for fresh, organic food, the plant-based menu at VegTable will excite you.
This cosy dining room is fully booked months in advance, and that can only be because Brett Garvie’s creations prove that he has a complete command of the kitchen. The chef and owner of this popular culinary cottage proudly plates produce he has grown and foraged himself.
For three days of the week, Brett generously showcases a four-course meal of his weekly finds. Knysna has its very own hospitable hobbit; one who serves up wholesome, hearty, organic fare.
“We follow the laws of the forest,” Evert Minnie explains. As the Earth Forest family, Evert, his partner, Caroline De Robillard, and other passionate food enthusiasts have committed themselves to subsistence farming, first in the Eastern Cape and eventually South Africa.
“By throwing your seeds and peels out into your garden, you’ll have more food in a few months, and it will be absolutely free,” says Caroline.
By using permaculture, these eco-warriors have been able to grow enough fruit and vegetables for their café in Cambridge, East London. Smoothies, juices, wraps, pizzas and plant-based burgers are made from the perma-patch that catches water from the eatery.
All the produce is accessible to the local community too. “If people are hungry, they can take something to eat. We can’t be selfish with the plenty that Earth gives us,” says Evert.
Words by Inga Sibiya