Reko farmers' market in Hilton, South Africa, endeavours to produce wholesome, organic fruit and vegetables; and many other edibles.
The concepts behind "organic" food are wonderful; grown without toxic pesticides and utilising natural fertilisers, but in today’s dishonest world, it has become an almost meaningless term. It is just another marketing-tool of dubious value.
Reko is a Finnish trading-movement meaning "fair consumption." It enables you to meet directly with producers so that you can assess for yourself just how nutritious and healthy these foods are.
In the main it consists of small-scale farmers, dairymen and bakers; beekeepers, home cooked preserves and so on. You can buy "organic" chickens, eggs and different cheeses; smoked meat and free range pork too.
You can pre-order on Facebook or a Whatsapp group, and in fact some sellers insist on it. Signing up is made very easy. A few have excess products that you can buy on the day, but it is certainly not assured. The farmer will bring say 65 litres of milk and fifteen lettuces knowing that he will not have to take any back home. Food wastage is greatly decreased.
In each case you will meet the producer yourself and you can ask ticklish questions like "where do you get the fat to put in your sausages?" And "have you used sodium-nitrite as a preservative?"
Is the flour used to bake this bread whole-grain.
One interesting question was, "is this honey organic?" Or to rephrase it, can you guarantee your bees only visited flowers that were grown without pesticides?
Well, of course not, the 'keeper has no control over which fields the busy bees has visited.
There is an administrative council that is not always popular as they try to negotiate this nightmare but the basic concept is that reselling is not allowed, but even there conflict is to be found. Was the sugar used to make the gooseberry-jam grown organically? They do their best to ensure that in the main it is a market where you can find fresh, nutritious local produce.
It is not perfect; that doesn’t exist, but my experience is that they are in the main honest people doing their level best to produce the best food they possibly can; and, where there are compromises, they will be candid about it. You can meet the farmers every week in person and ask your questions.
There are three Rekos in our area; in Hilton, Howick and Nottingham Road.
Type "Reko Hilton" into Facebook to find out what is available and who is producing it. Shopping out of doors means less threat from the virus. It is palpably a happy place.
By and large Reko farmers' market is not especially cheap. Do not come expecting to find bargains, though you will get them occasionally. Producing fresh vegetables, ethically-reared dairy and food grown in compost without inorganic fertilisers and toxic poisons takes attention to detail and hard work.
Expect to pay a little extra; it’s worth a lot more. In practice, prices have not risen substantially in the last two years; freshly-ground wholemeal for example is now substantially cheaper than the best commercially available flour.
No “Roundup Ready” seeds are planted by Reko farmers so the small producers actually weed their veggies themselves; obviously some have helpers. Genetically-modified foods are discouraged by the Administrators but in many situations it is difficult to be absolutely certain how the sugar, wheat and chickpeas are grown.
During the unrest in 2021 Reko really came into its own, providing huge amounts of good food and stretching producers to the limit.
Type "Reko Notties" into Facebook and click on "Join Group;" you don’t even have to answer the questions and your membership will be approved within a day. You have 3/4 hour on a Thursday to fetch your fresh-produce. Even if you do not buy initially, it is worth a visit just to see what is available.
Organic cheese, good-bread and natural honey are all to be found at Reko Farmers' market.
Reko farmers' market is based on a Finnish concept; mostly you need to pre-order online.
It is incidentally one of the few places where you will be able to purchase broad beans; they are tiresome though not difficult to grow. They are very rich in vegetable protein and the only common source of the precursor of dopamine, the happy hormone. Better still plant them yourself; they are only pleasant to eat when young and freshly-harvested.
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