Publication


Leveraging the potential of wild food for healthy, sustainable, and equitable local food systems: learning from a transformation lab in the Western Cape region

Author(s): L.M. Pereira, S. Boatemaa Kushitor, C. Cramer, S. Drimie, M. Isaacs, R. Malgas, E. Phiri, C. Tembo, J. Willis
Link to CST author(s): Dr. Sandra Boatemaa, Dr. Laura Pereira
Publication: Sustainability Science
Year: 2022
Full reference: Pereira, L., Kushitor, S.B., Cramer, C. et al. Leveraging the potential of wild food for healthy, sustainable, and equitable local food systems: learning from a transformation lab in the Western Cape region. Sustain Sci (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-022-01182-3
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-022-01182-3



Summary

Food insecurity and diet-related diseases do not only have detrimental effects to human health, but are also underpinned by food systems that are environmentally unsustainable and culturally disconnected. Ensuring access to a healthy, affordable, and sustainable diet is one of the greatest challenges facing many low- and middle-income countries such as South Africa. These challenges in accessing a diverse diet often persist despite biocultural richness. For example, South Africa is globally recognised for its rich biodiversity, an ecologically unrivalled coastline, and a rich body of traditional knowledge amongst wild-food users. In this paper, we explore the potential that coastal wild foods as neglected and underutilised species (NUS) can play in local food systems in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. Following a previously established transformation lab (T-Lab) method, here we report the observations and outcomes emerging from a two-day workshop held in May 2019 with a group of 40 actors involved in the local food system in diverse ways. Farmers, small-scale fishers, indigenous knowl- edge holders, representatives from non-profit organisations, chefs, bartenders, academics, activists, conservationists, and government officials were brought together with the aim of strengthening an emerging coalition of coastal wild food actors. Findings highlighted the existence of a fledgling economy for coastal wild foods, driven by high-end chefs. The T-Lab was essentially a tool of knowledge co-production around food system transformation and helped to surface deeply embedded issues on land, race, history, and culture that warrant engagement if a better food system is to emerge. In a country that is drought prone and vulnerable to climate change, a more resilient and sustainable food system is a necessity. But defining alternative governance systems to shift towards a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food system will require concerted effort across all stakeholders.