Monthly archives "May 2007"

The gravy’s on us

It’s Vondis pet food week again (we only offer them every second week), and this week we’re running a promotion on a new product. It’s a Vondis gravy, for pouring over the food, and for every 2 packs of 5 frozen dog or cat food that you order, you’ll get a free gravy. It’s ideal for weaning pets used to the flavourants in commercial food onto a healthy Vondis diet. And of course, it’s healthy in its own right, and great for boosting your four-legged’s mineral and vitamin intake.

With winter upon us, it may be tempting to curl up at home, but there are some worthwhile reasons to get out. The Labia is showing a documentary on Cuba’s transition to organic agriculture, renewable energy, and large-scale mass transit. After subsidies from the Soviet Union dried up, Cuba faced a collapse in imports of oil and food, in effect a ‘peak oil’ event that many are predicting is inevitable for the rest of us in our lifetimes. It’s entitled ‘The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil’. It’s showing on Sunday 3 June at 6.15pm, on Monday 4 June at 8:30pm and on Tuesday 5 June at 8:30pm.

Then there’s ‘The Good, Bad and Ugly of Packaging’, an informal talk looking at packaging, taking climate change and the growing waste problem into account, and at how, even though we complain about there being too much packaging, we are very much part of the problem. Tom McLaughlin, a technical manager from Woolworths Foods and an Honorary Life member of the Packaging Institute of SA will be presenting by what all accounts is an excellent talk. It’s at the Footprints environmental centre (corner of Camp and St. John’s Road, Wynberg) on the 6th June 3pm to 4pm. For further information please contact Michelle at 021 7945586 or Rodney at 021 4622040.

A reminder that we’d love to encourage recycling. Not only are you reducing waste, but we pay 1 Talent for the large Camphill glass bottles, and 0.5 Talents for the small Camphill glass bottles and Bloublommetjies honey jars. Feel free to return the cardboard boxes, egg boxes and fruit nets (untorn preferably!), as we re-use all of these.

To order, head on over to

The Co-op team

Probiotics, digestion, and product information

The eagle-eyed may have noticed a number of new products added to the site recently.

One of these is the 150g Prime Directive, a certified organic mix of 22 wholefoods (which means no extracts or synthetic chemical ‘vitamins’). It’s a probiotic containing robust lactobacilli derived from certified organic fruits and vegetable (in the manufacturers opinion, the only such product), all of which means its great for the digestive system. It can also be added to smoothies, juice, water, or even to a bread recipe.

Antibiotics, stress, alcohol and many food additives kill the organisms that live in our digestive tracts, helping to absorb the food we eat, which is why so many of us suffer from digestive problems. As any good nutritionist will tell you, ‘you are what you eat’ is wrong, ‘you are what you digest’ is much closer to the truth! Which is why lactobacilli, which are extremely acidic, both aiding digestion, and inhibiting harmful bacterial growth, are so important.

The product is pricy at R326 for 150g, but the reports we’ve been hearing from those using it have been good!

Other new products include wheat grass and barley grass powders, ‘green power’ (a blend containing wheat, barley and alfafa grass, as well as sea vegetables and chlorella), and a blend of six medicinal mushrooms. Don’t forget you can click on the product names on the order form for more detailed information.

While many of us have seen fresh wheatgrass, it’s unlikely we’ve seen that of the best quality! The best quality fresh wheatgrass is not the quick-growing kind normally found here. It should grow slowly through the winter in its cold natural climate of Kansas. It has a dark green colour, and contains much more nutrients than the pale, quickly-grown kind we may be familiar with. But since we’re unlikely to see top-quality fresh wheagrass here, enjoy the locally-grown fresh or the dried varieties where you can.

Many of you have been disappointed by the quality (or quantity) of the extra information available for products when you click on the name. This is a priority for us, and we’re working on improving the descriptions, as well as adding new information. You’ll already notice that about 200 of our products have been labelled with the place of origin. It’s an important part of our principles that this information is available. We’re committed to sourcing as much locally as possible, but some goods are imported, and this is now clearly marked for many of our products. Labelling can be ‘Cape Town’, ‘Western Cape’, another South African province, or the country of origin. We aim to have pictures, clear and useful descriptions, and as much information as possible for all of our available products. Many also have web site URL’s where you can look for even more information.

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Winter fruits

With winter moving in, it’s time to start looking at some of those winter foods.

Oats are a fantastic breakfast food. Unlike your typical, high-sugar cereal, which releases its energy in a spurt, resulting in a slump around lunch time, oats are a low glycaemic index (GI) food, releasing their energy slowly, so they keep feeding you for longer. This also means they’re great for people watching their weight.

We have rolled oats (1kg and 500g) from Organic Alive, as well as 750g from Wensleydale, and 500g small-leafed flakes from Earthmother Organics. There are all available in the breakfast section.

The winter fruits are in full cry. Apples and pears are of course the old favourites. We have a number of apple varieties from Elgin Organics. Braeburn, which is red, with a sweet-tart taste, Golden Delicious, yellow and sweet, with a rich, mellow flavour, and a good all-round cooking apple, and Ruby Gala, red, with a fragrant and sweet taste. As for pears, also from Elgin we have Packham’s Triumph (green-yellow and juicy, with a rich musk flavour) and Bon Rouge, a red variety which originated in South Africa, which are softer and smaller than the Packham’s.

Guavas are most well-known as a winter fruit by those of us lucky enough to have trees, but they’re much more commonly found in the shops these days. Guavas have unusually high calcium for a fruit, good for growing children, as well as around five times more vitamin C than an orange. They’re also believed to help diabetics reduce their sugar count. Not many know that they’re an integral part of braais in Cuba, where the leaves are used to give the food a rich, smoky flavour.

We have 500g packs (of the fruit, not the leaves!) from Bloublommetjies, and 1kg packs from Camphill.

Don’t forget it’s Vondis pet food week. My cats, after a few days of turning up their noses and grumbling, now wolf it down every day. Proof that pets too don’t need flavourants and other gunk in their food.

You can go straight to ordering at

The Co-op team

The rapture of the bees

Honeybees are disappearing at a rapid rate in North America and Western Europe. 70% of bees along the East Coast of the USA have simply disappeared. Starting in November, the collapse has been sudden and catastrophic for northern beekeepers, and will be equally so for the crops that rely so heavily on bees to pollinate them.

The problem hasn’t (yet) hit South Africa, but has spread to South America as well. With little evidence, speculation has run rife over what could be the cause. Genetically-modified crops, cellphones, pesticides, inbreeding, viruses, fungicides, the dwindling variety of wild flower, and even ‘the rapture of the bees’ have all been cited as possible causes. As local blogger theantidote so aptly put it, ‘this seems to be a case of Bee Cluedo – Dr. Monsanto in the apiary with a Motorola 3116’.

With much of the focus on the breeding practices and genetic variation of US and European bees, it’s interesting that Rudolf Steiner, in a lecture in 1923, said that ‘that the modern method of breeding queens (using the larvae of worker bees, a practice that had already been in use for about fifteen years) would have long-term detrimental effects, so grave that: “A century later all breeding of bees will cease if only artificially produced bees are used”.’ Are we seeing the fulfillment of his prediction?

Local and international bloggers have been doing a great job of covering the story, although it’s been hard to find in the mainstream press. With most of the other pollinators sprayed into oblivion (so even if chemical farms aren’t directly responsible, they’re still responsible in an indirect way for some of the consequences – yet another reason to go organic), the disappearance of the honeybees could be one of the most important events in our lifetime.

And now for the good news. Local honey is in fine shape, and although it’s in great demand by the US and Europe, we still have a wide selection of raw honeys to choose from. Currently on offer is honey from Bloublommetjies, a biodynamic farm (one which uses principles first formulated by Rudolf Steiner), from Brian Docke, from Pixieland farm and from Honeywood.

Honey has many health benefits, and, amongst others, it has been credited with strengthening the immune system, improving digestion, lowering cholesterol, preventing colon cancer and being a great source of antioxidants. Perhaps less well known is that it’s a great antiseptic/antibacterial agent when applied topically to wounds and the like.

So what are you waiting for? To order, head on over to, and to comment on this or any other topic, visit our blog,

The Co-op team

Welcome back, and Foxenburg awards

Welcome back after the long weekend. We hope that you, like many of us, had a rejuvenating break.

A reminder that the Vondis pet food is back again this week. Since it’s only available every second week, you should stock up if you don’t want your pets to get caught short before then.

Congratulations to Foxenburg, who did extremely well in the 2007 South African Dairy Championships. Their Shepherd’s cheese won 3rd place in the Goats Milk Hard Cheese category, and their Gouda and Asiago won 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the Goats Milk – Semi Hard Cheese category. All but their Asiago, as well as a whole range of other goats cheeses are available.

We also have other goats cheeses and products from Zeekoegat, and Cloud Cottage, so dairy-lovers are well-catered for.

Unlike most commercial dairy animals, the Foxenburg goats will shortly have the luxury of 3 month’s maternity leave. That means there’s only about 3 weeks supply of goats milk left. If you wish to have goats milk beyond then, you’ll need to order more, and freeze.

We have a new collection point available for Muizenberg customers. It’s Creeds, Shop B5, Steenberg Village, Reddam House, Tokai. This may not be ideal for all Muizenberg customers, as it’s further away than our previous collection point. Please contact Jessica Collins, the Muizenberg distributer, at 078-502-5356 if you’d like to collect from an alternative venue.

We often get requests to collect from an alternative venue. We know the new shop in Tokai will appeal to Southern Suburbs customers living in the southern part of that region. We’ll soon add the facility for customers to choose any of our collection points when they order, which we hope will make everyone’s life that much easier. For now, please collect as usual from the designated supply point for your region.

After the public holidays of last week there’s a whole range of new and returning this week, so the Featured & New category is chock-o-block. Some of these include Prime Directive, a powerful probiotic, barley grass and wheat grass powder, ‘green power’, a blend of barley grass, wheat grass, alfafa and sea vegetables, and medicinal mushrooms. Returning favourites include tortilla chips, tahini, oyster mushrooms, carrot juice, cereals from Organic Matters, and Jamaka mango products.

All-in-all we have a huge range of mostly organic and biodynamic products. We know the order form looks overwhelming when it loads up, but do take your time browsing – it’s worth it!

You can place your order at

The Co-op team