Are Our Kitchens Killing Us?

I’m standing with a supermarket attendant at the fresh produce weighing station weighing garlic.

“Shew, this garlic is expensive,” I say, shocked.

“It’s from Brazil,” the attendant states.

“Oh.”

“Yes,” he continues with a tone of mild disbelief, “everything is imported. The bananas are from Greece. The potatoes from Kenya. And the garlic, from Brazil, Spain.”

Spar’s fresh produce travels more than I do. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m a little jealous of the garlic. I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil. Not to mention the potatoes.

So, it seems that while we were sleep-shopping, Spar has been running a serious carbon emissions tab under the table that we, the consumers, will inevitably have to pay. I know that they’re not the only ones. But at least Woolworths prints country of origin on packaging. They’re carbon-heavy and proud.

If you’re not familiar with the scientifics of carbon footprints, head on over to Food and Trees for Africa and give their CO2 calculator a go. If I fly to Brazil today from Cape Town, my flights would cost about 3 trees. Plus a bit of a tree for the drive to the airport in my bakkie. What would a garlic bulb need to get from Brazil to Cape Town? And is the flavour really worth it?

Back home with garlic clove in one hand and knife in the other, I begin to wonder if in fact our kitchens are killing us. Is it Professor Plum Tomato or Mrs White Cabbage? Or Colonel (preservative-packed) Mustard with a candlestick polished with toxic Brasso?

A note about the photo. Taken on location of Day Zero. Watch it here.