Township residents urged to eat healthy food

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

As consumers across the nation battle soaring commodity prices, some Khayelitsha residents, all members of Umoya we Khaya gardening project, are basking in the glory of their harvest.

On Saturday May 28, they held a food market day, at their garden, at Khayelitsha’s A section, to inspire residents to start eating fresh produce – and to show off what they had grown in their garden.

Different chefs from the community sold their delicious plant-based meals and advised those who attended on ways to prepare them.

Event co-ordinator Aabida Davis said they discovered that people living in impoverished communities did not understand the importance of eating plant-based meals.

She said most people were not equipped with the skills and knowledge to start the gardens.

Ms Davis said the event formed part of her Master’s degree research which required her to analyse better ways of ensuring that organic food was accessible to everyone, particularly to people who come from impoverished communities.

“I’m doing my Sustainably and Development thesis at the University of Stellenbosch to determine why people living in townships areas are not regularly eating plant-based meals.

“And there is a belief among them that eating plant-based meals is expensive, but in reality, it is cheaper,” she said.

“I discovered that most people are eating a lot of meat and that puts them at risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure. It is crucial that we encourage people to start their own gardens because the country is caught in a drought and the economy is not stable. Gardens can provide an extra incentive to their families. People are now battling to cope with the ever-rising food prices and those who have gardens are at least able to feed their families from what they produce.”

Site C resident Nompumelelo Majova, 54, who exhibited her vegetables and samp, said she had seen the benefits of having a food garden.

When she was seven years old, said Ms Majova, she was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and had spent most of her childhood in hospital.

“That was when I was introduced to eating plant-based meals,” she said.

“And in 2003 I was diagnosed with arthritis, but because I had been eating healthy food I managed to overcome that as well. And I decided to start my own food garden towards the end of 2003.

“Since then I never looked back and I am reaping the benefits of having a garden,” she concluded.

Event organiser, Xolani Bangani, who also runs his own food garden at Isikhokelo Primary School, in Site C, said it was the first food market day in Khayelitsha. He said they were hoping to move to other areas as well.

“Our prices were between R1 and R20. That shows that organic food is not expensive.

“We wanted to create a platform where buyers meet the sellers and cutting out the middle man.

“ We wanted to show people that they can make a living through having food gardens,” he said.