Doing it naturally
Food words are used far too freely. I'm talking about the ''good" words: artisanal, organic, farm-fresh, ethical (a mine-field of a word used as glibly as if one were saying ''now with extra nuts") and for ultimate opacity, the word "green".
Big food brands, supermarkets, farmers and health shops use these words wherever they can. Of course they do: it helps them to slap a higher price onto the item, and boost sales with consumers who consider themselves ''green" (and of course ethical). The times when these words synch up to hard facts in real life - meaning an actual difference in the way the ingredient or item is produced - become increasingly rare. The truth is we know less about what's going on with our food than we ever did before. And there are lots of people happy to take advantage of this.
If you feel increasingly like the victim of a food conspiracy (and you probably should), then Organic Emporium will restore your faith. Debbie Logan's small but packed shop is not just another ''health" shop. First of all, the angle is not vegetarian. There are no depressing packets of tofu ''cheese" loitering in the fridge, no ayurvedic tonics around, and no mystic crystals for sale.
What you'll find here, as her logo explains, is ''natural and whole food". What this translates into is everything from good dark chocolate and fudge, to a fridge full of reasonably priced, organically grown vegetables, another fridge glowing with raw dairy products and really free-range eggs, another filled with enormous really free-range chickens (as big as turkeys and entirely different to any free-range chicken you've ever bought in a supermarket) and charcuterie (from seriously free-range pigs), plus a fridge boasting delicious, gloriously fatty beef from a farm in North West. The meat is from indigenous cattle, fed on indigenous veld. The beef is truly sustainable because both the cattle and the veld are hard-wired to survive African heat and cycles of drought.
There is much more besides, from ice cream and fudge to naturally fermented bread. As far as animal products are concerned, Logan won't stock anything until she's personally inspected the farm or production set-up. As far as nutrition, ethics and eco-issues, she's without doubt the most well- informed food retailer I've met. And her passion is infectious. Go to the shop's site, www.organicemporium.co.za for thoughtful articles about soil husbandry, the tenets of organic farming, and other information-packed entries which are the polar opposite of the one-liner bulls**t which has spread like a fungus over most of the ''green" food world.
- Organic Emporium, Bryanston Shopping Centre, William Nicol Drive, 011-514-0958.