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Stop playing with food

Jan 16 2013 07:33 *Adriaan Bester

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THE pace of our recovery seems hamstrung by downgrades, strikes, pending youthful arrests and rising political foxtrots for an approaching election year. Yet we remain resolved to live in worlds that appear blown apart by winds of distrust.

Are we becoming known as a nation with our own selfish goals? And how does this affect the way we see ourselves, and our roles, in our everyday tasks?

The healing of a nation that previously seemed to be on track for an award-winning performance now seems stitched together by bad movie lines and a thickening plot of a made-for-DVD movie script.

Yet it is true that my view is shaped only by the spot from which I view my piece of this paradise.

For many others, the potential of a higher wage – or the reflection of orange correctional dungarees against an ego that only knows high street fashion – provides a palate of alternatives that boost every step towards achieving - or avoiding - it.

Consider the alternatives to the people in the Boland that have been at the dripping edge of some of our finest exports.

We boast of our natural wonders, from gold to dragon-like mountains, from beaches to the Proteas in the same way that we are proud of our produce that fills fruit bowls across the planet.

Think of their expectation from the soil they labour. These are the particles of hope they see in the dust we drive by, clutching our fresh padstal purchases a few metres away.

The soil they work – either by science or faith – battles the harsh elements of changing climate, markets and demands. They produce the shiny marbles that slide down our throats, along with good table manners and wholesome conversations that aim to fix our own daily lives.

On the same earth, dreams are designed for a better life for generations to follow. With every drop of sweat falling into the mix, the sense of belonging stretches deeper and the satisfaction towards achieving a goal seems more possible.

The dreams of farmworker and farmer seem separated only by title deed that determines the size of their asset register and job descriptions - and ultimately their bank balance.

The facts are stacked neatly: people cannot live on peanuts (or dried raisins in this case). The cost of food production as an industry cannot be carried solely by farmers, without the support of a government that prioritises food security and paves the way to its achievement in a globally competitive market.

The self-appointed voices that offer to translate the aspirations of a nervous crowd of onlookers must be careful with our emotions.

Perhaps a better life for every South African requires a practised, calm and confident voice for every man and woman to tell their own stories.

The violence in our food chain is not felt in the lack of table grapes you think you may face at your convenience store. Chances are they will find some for you in Peru before you even miss it.

The real impact is felt much later when a broken food chain will lead to unpaid school fees, dreams unachieved and potential unfulfilled for future generations.

Perhaps it is time to stop playing with our food and get serious about seeing all the sides it take to fill the basket. South Africa is filled with clever patriots that can work towards better solutions.

 - Fin24

Adriaan also feeds himself on views from others as he eats his words on Twitter as @aiBester. Opinions expressed are his own.

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