Monthly archives "January 2007"

Problems in Denmark

Good morning to all you wonderful people. Hope you are keeping cool during this very hot period. Unfortunately, we have had some problems opening up the site last night for business due to the line being down from Denmark. The site is up and open for ordering now but sorry Ian’s very informative newsy newsletter will be forwarded to you later in the day as he worked all night to rectify the site and is now sleeping peacefully.

Enjoy what’s available.

Have a warm wonderful, organic eating weekend.

Amaranth grain

Amaranth is a grain that probably didn’t feature on our childhood dinner table. It’s becoming more well-known in South Africa though, and, like quinoa, warrants the term superfood.

Originally grown by the Maya in central America, amaranth has been cultivated as a grain for over 8000 years. As a staple part of the Aztec diet, and used in religious ceremonies, it was banned by the Conquistadores, but luckily survived in the wild. It’s highly nutritious, gluten-free, a significant source of protein, and has even higher levels of lysine (an amino acid rare in other grains) than quinoa. It’s also high in iron, with a 1/4 cup containing 60% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance.

Since it contains high levels of poly-unsaturated fats, it’s best stored in the fridge, although it doesn’t degrade as quickly as quinoa. Amaranth can be cooked as a breakfast cereal, ground into flour, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted. It’s delicious with tahini or dates.

On that note, we’re offering dates from Kleinjongenskraal, grown in the Northern Cape. The tahini though comes from a little further afield, imported from Germany. And if popping amaranth sounds too adventurous, you can always fall back upon conventional certified organic conventional popcorn.

To order, head on over to

Be Well, Support Organic

The Co-op team

Welcome back

It’s been a long wait, and we’ve had many frantic calls and emails asking when we’d be back, but here we are. I hope those of you fortunate enough to have had a holiday feel feel rejuvenated, that we’re all going to have a happier and healthier 2007. My cupboard is looking particularly bare right now, so I’m looking forward to stocking up again!

Unfortunately some of you will notice that we’ve had to increase delivery fees in most regions, and will be doing so next week for other regions, as the old fees weren’t sustainable. However, they’re still far below what most similar services and supermarkets charge.

Last night an item I’d bought from the co-op came in particularly useful. We had a power failure, but luckily I had my Freeplay battery-free torch, which stores a charge though winding. It never needs batteries, or bulbs. I remember blundering around looking for batteries in the past, so it was a relief not to have to do this. The torch even looks good – click on the product name (kito flashlight) on the order form for a picture.

Batteries are particularly toxic. According to one study, the average person throws away eight batteries a year. Although battery manufacturers have improved their processed drastically in recent years, many still contain a host of heavy metals, which leach into the soil and water supply from the landfills, the final resting place of most batteries. Some batteries, especially rechargeable ones, contain mercury, which is particularly toxic, especially towards unborn children and infants.

A recent issue of the Economist had a cover story entitled ‘Why ethical shopping harms the world’. The article attacked organic (as well as local and Fairtrade food) as being harmful. The Economist’s arguments caused a stir, but are not difficult to refute. Their argument against organic boiled down to “yields are lower, so more land is required, ‘there’s less space left for the rainforest’, and energy usage per unit food is higher”. Firstly, yields are not always lower. Most farmers moving to organic do experience lower yields at first, but in some cases organic yields are higher. A 22-year study from Cornell University discovered that maize yields were 22% higher during drought years, and the same in general. Yields were one-third lower over the first four years, but then steadily caught up and pulled ahead. At the same time, they used 30% less energy, less water, no pesticides, had between 8 and 15% more soil nitrogen. The organic farms were also shown to ‘conserve more water in the soil, induce less erosion, maintain soil quality and conserve more biological resources’. So while chemical farms are using up the land’s reserve, exploiting it for the short-term in the same way many failed societies in the past have done so, such as the Norse in Greenland, or early British settlers in Australia, only to end up having to abandon the land later, well-run organic farms are doing the reverse, enhancing the soil’s richness while producing sustainable foods. Other staple grains showed similar results. But even for those crops where yields seem to be systematically lower, such as monocultural fruit farms, the Economist ignores the effects of the pesticides, long-term soil quality, soil erosion, and other biological resources that are undisputably so much healthier under organic conditions.

So don’t be put off by the misinformation. Organic farming is certainly better for the environment.

For those of you who’re inspired to start your own organic farm, or at least strip in the garden, we’re offering vermicompost, earthworm castings and liquid growth tonic from Quentin Green (in the featured section), and there’re other items on offer in the garden section.

To order, head on over to

Be Well, Support Organic

The Co-op team