In the bustling streets of Johannesburg, it is easy to get fruit and veggies for as little as R10 a pack. Think this is a joke? Buying fresh produce from local vendors may just be a life-saver for cash-strapped and health-conscious consumers.
Gwen Makhalima is a regular client of Kerk vegetable market on Rissik Street. She prefers the busy market over mainstream stores. “I get everything and more from my street sellers, and the vegetables are fresh,” she tells Health For Mzansi.
Makhalima earns just below R5 000 per month and has had to learn to live within her means without sacrificing her health. To her, every Rand matters.
In Jozi’s CBD, vegetable and fruit merchants abound in the lively marketplaces on especially Kerk and Rissik streets. Their stalls are quick moving, inexpensive, and shaded to ensure clients get produce as fresh as possible.
‘Feeding my family, feeding Mzansi’
Meanwhile, one of the vendors, Ishmael Musa, tells Health For Mzansi that he relocated from Malawi to Mzansi when he was just 18. To earn a living, he worked as an assistant to a fruit and vegetable vendor nearly seven years ago.
This is also how he managed to nourish his own family. “I was not privileged like other teenagers but working here at the market fed my family as I was and still is the bread winner,” he explains.
Today, he has inherited the very food stall where he was an assistant. He now runs it with his younger brother, Gift Musa, and Elisy Langa who are his sales assistants.
At Musa’s stall, high-end produce like baby cabbages, microgreens and a selection of peppers are sold for just under R20.
The reason they are so cheap? Musa’s produce is bought directly from a Diep City farmer.
“Our prices are really affected by the supplier. If the suppliers give them to us at the right price, I sell them at my usual, affordable price, but if the price is high, we also sell at a higher price. I am glad we have suppliers that sell them for these affordable prices. Otherwise, we could be out of business a long time ago.”
One belly at a time
Access to fresh fruit and vegetables should not be determined by which suburb you live in, adds Musa.
Musa is proud of his business. The dream is to grow big enough to hire even more assistants.
“All I can say is that I am proud to feed not just my family, but also others since I understand what it is like to be unable to purchase food. I can only tell my friends to start small with your meagre funds, get yourself a cart, sit by the robots, and sell, and you will be satisfied.”
Health benefits of fresh fruit and veggies
Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium. The NHS reports that they’re also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer.