Teach your children to fish literally and figuratively-speaking.
I am so glad my parents taught me to fish. Actually that is not entirely true; I was of an age when I knew everything and was unteachable, and learning about gardening was very low on my agenda.
But I did know that the green peas and freshly-squeezed orange juice straight from their organic garden were without equal.
It did not take an epicure to establish that the food produced by commercial companies was not even vaguely in the same league when it came to flavour. Whether it was nourishing or not was not important in those naive, heady-days.
Watching long queues of desperately hungry people in the media waiting for food parcels awoke in me a long-dormant appreciation of the love of the garden that had been gently planted deep in my psyche without my even knowing it; my parents left a legacy that is without equal.
Today our suburban garden produces a mountain of food that astonishes us; can you imagine that we have just harvested 150 butternut this winter?
And it's not just food; it is of the highest calibre in terms of nutrition and the rich flavour of freshly-picked veggies is without equal.
Of course it is not just about having plenty of food when others are
starving; the taste and nutritional content and the absence of toxic
pesticides are just as important.
We have at least 10 different fruiting bushes and trees growing in our garden. On any one day our family would be enjoying at least three. Right now it is avocados, gooseberries and limes. In summer it might be mulberries, oranges and plums. Yes, you might have the conundrum of finding half a worm in your peach but that is a lesser evil compared to being diagnosed with leukaemia.
I have lost so many farming-patients over the years from one of the malignant neoplasms of the blood.
“Hunger is not a natural phenomenon. It is a man-made tragedy. People do not starve because there is not enough food to eat. They are famished because the system which delivers it from the fields to our plates is broken.”
- Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner
Then there are mountains of fresh vegetables at our green home. Plenty of greens like kale, spinach and lettuce are enjoyed daily; and thick butternut soup with slices of real bread and butter are daily on the platter. There will be three different kinds of beans for protein today and the peas are coming up strongly. Herbs like parsley, dhania and spring-onions are what turn a dull lettuce-salad into a delight to the senses.
Freezing broad beans so there will be enough for a whole year is high on our agenda.
Corn on the cob has daily been on the menu for lunch for three months, but alas they are now over and we were amiss in not planting enough potatoes in February so it’s just freshly-baked bread for lunch every day for our carbohydrate this winter.
Fresh honey straight from the hive actually is the legacy that my grandfather left behind. Three of his offspring are avid beekeepers. Cynical nutritionists say it’s just as bad for us as sugar; scientist have shown that is true of the processed stuff you buy from the supermarket but our natural unprocessed nectar is rich in pollen and over thirty important micronutrients; and does not spike blood-glucose. Still, we do limit ourselves to a few teaspoons a day. It is the refined and processed carbohydrates and do the damage.
My parents did dabble for a time with chickens in cages, but soon realised that was not part of our philosophy of abundant living. Still that seed too was planted and today we enjoy fresh free-range eggs daily and the occasional young cockerel.
Teach your children to fish or is it better learned by simply watching you at work and play? I never realised that I was imbibing a love of tasty, good food.
Baking fresh bread was the legacy that my nanny left behind, bless her. Four large sacks of wheat from a Winterton farmer are safely stored away from weevils. First they are sifted of the dust and chaff and then frozen for two weeks,;so for six rand we have daily the very best sourdough loaf in the world; the taste is to die for.
And lastly we have no need of a gym contract; shovelling compost and digging out mealie-stalks, for example, provides us with the exercise that our bodies need. We would like to walk more; that is in the planning, especially after a starchy meal.
Teach your children to fish; and to bake. They will always have food and will bless you long after you have passed on to the next world.
Personally I feel that the six pillars necessary to achieve food security, advocated by the FAO of the United Nations, only address half of the problem.
Two factors are not clearly and emphatically addressed. Firstly teaching our children to fish; they must be shown how to grow their own food. Then the source will be both stable and sustainable.
And secondly the chief of cause of the permanent stunting of over a quarter of South Africa's children is not because they do not have enough food, but because that which is available is of extremely poor nutritional quality.
Children fed on bread and putu made from highly-refined wheat and maize can be nothing other than stunted, no matter how many loaves there are.
Teach your children to fish; to plant mealies and bake bread using whole-grain flour. Add an egg a day and a bowl of spinach from the garden and stunting would soon be a distant memory.
Each village and town should have a mill where whole freshly-ground grain can be purchased.
Notice the synergy of green living as one harvests the rain to provide pristine soft water for the home and garden; then the food source is truly sustainable.
Every village should have a mill to provide freshly-ground grain; it contains all the protein, vitamins and minerals. A mealie a day in the summer and whole cornmeal throughout the rest of the year would do much to stop the stunting that is blighting the beloved country.
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Teach your children to grow these foods and they will never be hungry, and certainly not stunted.
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