Why a food cluster?

 Why a food cluster?

More than 60% of households in Cape Town were unable, even before the Pandemic, to afford an adequately nutritious diet.

This even though there are over 45 000 ha of agricultural land under farming in the Cape Town metropolitan area alone.

Partly, this discrepancy is because we are a globally oriented food production hub. While it means local farming makes a considerable contribution to GDP, it also means the local food system has historically concentrated and consolidated the value chain into a few hands. So the system is vulnerable, and the barriers to entry for small and new producers are prohibitive.

The outcome is that we literally have in our region a tale of two cities: one affluent, well-fed, enjoying the bounty of the land; and the other – often including food producers themselves – unable to afford even the basics.

Clearly, the system is broken.

But, as they say: We are all farmers. The choices we make contribute to a specific farming economy.

SOLVE’s Food Cluster is about exploring those choices, innovating and prototyping better ways of thinking about provenance, supply chains, and the challenges faced by small-scale and independent producers.

There is a growing awareness globally that collectively, we can turn back the clock on the industrialisation and commodification of food that has been the outcome of political and economic forces operating in self-interest, and we can build back better, looking to reshape our food system into one that fosters well-being, health and equity.

The landscape of the V&A Waterfront

Food lies at the heart of who we are as a neighbourhood.

More than 22.5% of the area of our shopping centre is dedicated to food and food-related products – that is more than 80 food outlets, (excluding grocers).

Our two successful food markets – the V&A Food Market and the Oranjezicht City Farm market – together have given access to market for 150+ small food operators.

Makers Landing at the Cruise Terminal is home to a shared industrial kitchen space, where innovators can test products on scale without the crippling overheads of conventional commercial kitchens.

The overarching vision for the food ecosystem at the Waterfront is:

To co-develop a sustainable, locally-biased, ethical, authentic and culturally diverse food ecosystem that supports lives and livelihoods, health and wellbeing.

What the food cluster stands for

As we conceptualised how SOLVE could and should engage with the food-conscious community of Cape Town, we sat down with closesstakeholders and food friends to hammer out what this food vision actually says:

  • When we say “sustainable, ethical, locally-biased” we mean food that is socially sustainable – it supports and is supported by communities of origin. It is environmentally sustainable – drawing from regenerative practices, seeking the lowest possible carbon footprint, questioning the use of plastics, and committing to sustainable fishing practices. It is ethical, addressing matters of provenance like feedlots, cage-raised animals, long-distance sheep trucks, and abusive employment practices. Finally, it means waste is minimised and handled with creativity and social responsibility. It reflects a commitment to transparency and openness across the food value chain
  • When we say it is “culturally diverse and authentic” we default to representation of the “home food” of the people of the city and of the region, but reflect also the rich cultural environment of the region – visitors and diners should see a marker of themselves in the menus. Mostly, it means it is sold/produced by people with knowledge and passion; and it respectfully honours and recognises the richness of our diversity
  • When we talk about “livelihoods”, we mean producers have good labour practices and offer fair pay to workers, and themselves receive fair compensation for their produce and products. It means a short supply chain and the minimising of barriers to entry. And it means food retailers are able to do the right thing and still be commercially viable, while consumers can afford and can be informed of good choices
  • By “health and wellbeing”, we’re talking about more than eliminating harmful ingredients, and striving for health-promoting foods rich in essential vitamins, minerals and micronutrients to be affordable across the social spectrum. We’re also seeking to contribute to food security initiatives and awareness, including promotion of good foods in communities which otherwise typically may not seek them. We’re acknowledging that malnutrition and under-nutrition mean life-long disadvantage

So that’s our brief, and as we progress on the journey to give life to this, every project we work on will be measured against these principles.

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