Sonia Mountford lived as an expat in the Middle East for a number of years and enjoyed travelling and exposure to third and first world cultures. Her interest in food security began while visiting in Sri Lanka after floods and discovering the politics around Food Aid.
FARM TO FORK or SOIL TO GUT BIOME
As a co-founder of Grass Consumer Action and the only full time member, she spent four years researching the dysfunctional food system in South Africa, investigating, questioning and exposing misleading claims. Although her interests range from food politics to toxins in our food, including harmful ingredients in processed foods and Big Food influence; she soon came to realize that the most important part of the food journey begins on farms. For that reason she spends much of her time visiting farms, learning and talking about constraints and concerns in production methods with farmers. Passionate about nutrition she believes higher animal welfare farming practices are not only necessary for ethical reasons but also for human health.
After spending so much time uncovering the many concerns in our dysfunctional food system, she feels it is time to direct her attention to where the positive energy lies. For her that is amongst the people she has had the privilege of meeting and working with over the years. These are the people and groups that are diligently working to bring real food and food sovereignty to South Africans who are the real food heroes.
Helping You Find Integrity in the Food Chain
EATegrity wishes to showcase the true food heroes in South Africa that believe in truth and transparency, which empowers citizens and suppliers of food to make informed choices.
WHY TRANSPARENCY IS VITAL
Nutrient dense soil, bees and healthy water are resources that are vital to our food supply but are under threat in South Africa due to conventional and harmful farming practices.
We need a commitment to transparency. If there is a lack of transparency then everyone is at risk, particularly farmers and the real food movement. We are increasingly losing our organic farmers and smallholder farmers. Organic milk supply cannot meet demand.
Let’s focus more on building trusted relationships through transparency because it is easier to maintain trust and confidence in your product than to restore it.
South African consumers must realize that we need to protect our farmers who grow food sustainably because they believe in safeguarding and improving soil health. Without nutrient dense soil we don’t have nutritious food.
Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy Humans
Sonia believes that it is not only the impoverished in South Africa that are nutrient deficient but also wealthier households who are food secure but nutrient poor. Every South African citizen should have the right to nutritional food security and even the United Nations has stated that subsistence and family owned farms is the solution to the world’s food dilemma.
Brazil managed to reduce the number of people living in poverty by 20 million between 2003-9 through investing in small-scale farmers. (OXFAM) Our government needs to show political will to do the same by supporting traditional farmers, emerging farmers and organic farmers. It is critical that government realise the urgent need to move towards sustainable farming practices that enriches instead of depletes our soil of nutrients.
Mountford advocates for short food supply chains (Know Your Farmer & Buy Local) as a clearer path to traceable transparency for conscious consumers. Through media, talks and social media she is enthusiastic about informing and guiding consumers as she is confident that this will grow a conscious informed consumer voice to match that of Europe in the near future. In particular, educating consumers to have a clear understanding on the importance of supporting and protecting our smallholder and organic farmers.
(please see here for more on this subject and about TRACEABLE TRANSPARENCY).