Monthly archives "February 2007"

Launch of the blog

This week sees the launch of the Ethical Co-op blog, You’ll find old copies of the opening newsletter, and will also be able to post comments.

A reminder to those of you with an Ubu balance that these should be traded for Talents on the Talent Exchange, You’ll see that Ubus are no longer being displayed on the order form. Don’t forget that we’re offering T1 for returns of the large Camphill glass bottles, and T0.50 for the smaller glass jars. We also appreciate returns of old egg boxes (in good condition) and cardboard boxes.

Bottled water is one the scourges of modern-living. Millions of litres of oil is used to make unnecessary plastic bottles containing a liquid we get from our taps anyway. Tap water is often better-quality than bottled water, and that’s not saying much. One estimate sees 177 million litres of oil used annually in the production of bottled water in the US alone. The production of plastics according to some studies is responsible for more oil use than cars! Plastic is also not a good container for water. They break down with age, and may begin to leach chemicals into whatever they’re storing. There are many different kinds of plastics, all with different characteristics and effects, but they all have in common a certain unwelcome longetivity. They don’t biodegrade, so those plastic bottles we buy now will be around long after we’re gone. A much better bet would be to filter your own tap water, or use a distiller (we have two available in the home care section).

On a different note, children’s vinyl plastic lunchboxes are also under attack, as they’ve been found to contain extremely high levels of lead, a dangerous chemical. Again, there’s been a cover-up, but the truth finally seems to be emerging.

Enjoy the blog, and we hope to see some of your comments.

To order, head on over to

The Co-op team

Cashew Nuts

Many people bracket nuts into one category, and assume they’re all of similar nutritional value. Nuts are actually remarkable different, containing different types and levels of oils. Did you ever wonder why you never see a cashew nut in a shell? A colleague of mine loves to shell his own nuts, and is probably itching to get his hands on the cashew. Itching is probably the right word, as cashew shells are toxic, containing the same element as found in poison ivy. Painful skin rashes are not uncommon in processing workers, as the double shell is difficult to remove.

The cashew nut is actually a seed, and the ‘raw’ nut also isn’t quite what it seems, being slightly cooked. This heating process is necessary in order to remove the shell. Cashews are a tropical plant, originally from Brazil, although most cashews worldwide are now grown now in India. In South Africa, cashews grow mostly close the Mozambican border. The organic cashews offered by the co-op come from Sri Lanka. Also part of the cashew plant is the cashew apple, but these highly perishable fruit are extremely rare, and certainly wouldn’t have survived the heat of Thursday, the hottest day of the summer.

To order, head on over to

The Co-op team.

The End of Ubus

Organic Alive have no wholewheat flour this week, so none of their wholewheat breads are available. That may seem like bad news for those of you who prefer to avoid genetically-modified and nutrition-lite supermarket breads, but the good news is we have a range of alternatives. In the wholewheat line, Camphill Bakery offer their hearth loaf, made from 100% Organic stone-ground wholewheat flour, yeast, sunflower oil, salt and brown sugar. You can also try the wheat baguettes from Continental Bakery.

This week we’re announcing the end of Ubus. Many of you have been happily ordering without ever knowing what an Ubu was, but we used to get quite frequent queries, and if you look carefully you’ll notice they’ve been appearing in your account statements for a while. We used to pay customers Ubus for certain recycled goods. Now, however, we’re offering you something much better, clearer, easier to use, and which we know many of our members are already familiar with – Talents.

Talents are a community currency. You can pay for a wide range of goods and services, such as legal services, accommodation or massages. There’s also a frequent (usually monthly) market, where we’ve been selling a range of our products for a few months now. We’re offering 1 Talent for every large 1 litre glass bottle returned (such as the Camphill milk and yoghurt bottles), and 50c for the honey jars, or small Camphill glass jars. We hope in future to be able to offer Talents for other products too.

Here’s how it will work. Every week, you’ll hand back any returns when you receive your goods, and these will be recorded. You then log onto your Talent Exchange account, and enter a transaction. You’ll be asked to enter the Buyer (which is us, the Ethical Co-op, SANE1735), the amount (for example T1.50 for one large and one small bottle) and a description. The description must be as clear as possible, and include a full breakdown of the items, your Ethical Co-op customer name, the person who received the goods, and the date the goods were returned. For example “1 x large glass bottle, 1 x small glass bottle, returned by A Customer to Noel Marten, 8/2/2007”. Please make sure you enter all the details. Your transaction may be rejected if we can’t easily trace it.

For those of you who currently have Ubus, you’ll be able to redeem your entire Ubu balance for Talents. For example, if you currently have U20.10, you can log into the Talent Exchange, and enter a transaction for T20.10, for example: “Redemption of Ubu balance by A Customer”. Your Ubu balance will then be set to zero, and will no longer displayed on the Ethical Co-op website.

We’re very excited to be furthering our integration with what’s been described as an ethical currency!

If you have any queries about the Talent Exchange, please take a look at their informative website, If you have any questions about how the co-op integrates with the Talent Exchange, please email ces (at ethical dot org dot za).

Time to order, head on over to

The Co-op team

Valentines Day

This is your last chance to order before Valentines Day. But where did the ritual of exchanging gifts and cards come from? And who was this saint? The history is shrouded in mystery!

In one legend, Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome under Emperor Claudius II. Single men were thought to make better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered him put to death.

Valentine himself supposedly sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting. He fell in love with a young girl while in prison, believed to be the jailor’s daughter. Before he was executed, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is nebulous, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a romantic character. By the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France. In the spirit of the day, if you’re looking for a hot and steamy evening, choose foods which are high in zinc and selenium. Juice or blend watermelon and mint or try figs and berries with grapes. Live yoghurt, banana and honey will really set the mood, or for the more daring, apple, asparagus, broccoli and carrot.

Of course, there’s always the old faithful – chocolate. The euphoric state achieved by indulging in chocolate may be met from our divine selection of Swiss, Italian and Fairtrade chocolates.

To order, head on over to

The Co-op team.