Monthly archives "June 2007"

Complementary pet food and the collapse of the bees

Unfortunately with the word ‘organic’ becoming associated with big money, rather than the love for earth that initiated the idea, there has been a watering down of organic standards, especially in the United States.

For example, the USDA has approved a proposal (at least in the interim) allowing 38 new non-organic ingredients to be allowed in products bearing the “USDA Organic” seal. The proposal will allow organic beer to be sold without any organic hops at all, or certain other products to contain intestines from factory farmed animals raised on chemically grown feed, synthetic hormones, slaughterhouse waste, and antibiotics.

As always, the best way to approach this is to keep yourself informed, and don’t hand over your authority to anyone, not even the organic authorities!

We’re doing the best we can to ensure you have all the information you need when choosing your products. This week we’ve just added a whole lot of pictures, but there’s still lots to do ensure blanket coverage, and improve the descriptions.

This week Vondis are offering a single complementary packet of either the dog biscuits or the catnip crunchies to customers who order either dog food or cat food.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the collapse amongst bee colonies, particularly in the US. Ongoing research into this potentially catastrophic occurrence hasn’t managed to finger a single cause. However, organic hives seem to have been unaffected, adding to the speculation that it’s a combination of pesticides, genetically modified crops, and moving colonies over long distances that’s exacerbating the deaths.

A reminder that it’s always possible to change your order up until Monday 2pm. Until then, after placing your initial order, you can log in, and your existing order will appear. You can then make any changes, adding or reducing items as required. Some of our customers generally log in twice – once as early as possible to catch the goods in short supply that go out of stock, and then again updating the order on Monday afternoon with any changes, to get the benefit of ordering as close as possible to delivery.

With our new method of allowing customers to choose any collection point, some accidentally chose the wrong one. You’ll see the region confirmed when you place your order, and it will also appear in your confirmation email. You can always change it yourself up until Monday 2pm, but should you spot an error after that, please let us know as soon as possible and we’ll try to rectify. Remember that it’s your responsibility to collect from the collection point you choose.

To order, head on over to


Once I was explaining to someone why I prefer organic food. Instead of hearing me sharing something important to me, the message was heard as “your food isn’t good enough”. The internet and email makes misunderstandings even more prevalent, as we connect to each other in quite a remote way, and at high speed.

Email and forum flame wars erupt all the time, often over misunderstandings, or careless words spoken from the safety of distance, and can be draining on the participants.

Healthy food is just one small part of a healthy lifestyle – wasting energy on needless conflict can be a much greater cause of dis-ease. Someone once said “thinking too well of people often allows them to behave better than they otherwise would”. Sadly, the reverse applies too.

But I believe there’s a positive side. The Internet can be a vast mirror, exposing us as humans for what we really are. And the mirror may not be pleasant, but it speaks the truth, and the only way to deal with it is acceptance – from there we can move on.

Which brings me to bananas. Yes, we have bananas on offer again, at long last. Bananas are sometimes called “the good mood food”, as their high levels of Vitamin B6 and potassium can help relieve stress and anxiety. They’re also one of the most energy-boosting fruits – if you had to eat only one item of food a day, a banana is about as good as it gets.

That’s not the only stress-reliever on offer. Some of you may have received a free sample of Tulsi tea with your last order. Tulsi (the name means “the incomparable one”, and it’s also known as “Holy Basil” in the west) is one of the prime herbs used in Ayurvedic treatments. It’s used for a remarkably wide range of ailments, such as diabetes, headaches and malaria, and one recent study has even shown its use in protection from radiation poisoning. So whether your stress is due to your online activities, or your dairy going missing, tulsi can help!

There are a number of Tulsi tea blends available, as well as just plain tulsi. It’s available with ginger, with green tea, with chai masala, and with gotu kola. Gotu kola is itself a great herb for stress relief, revitalising of both the nervous system and brain. It has also been used by yogis for its calming and clarifying effects.

To order, go to
Have a stress-free week!
The co-op team

More flexible ordering

This week the ordering process just got a little more convenient. Many of you have asked for the flexibility to collect at different locations each week, depending on your circumstances.

You could always do this by changing your profile page, but it just got a whole lot easier. You can now choose whether to have your order delivered to either your work or home address, or to collect from any of our available collection points, from the dropdown at the top of the order form. Clicking the little question mark next to the dropdown will give you full details of the collection points, the available times, and who to contact.

By default, you’ll be asked to choose each week, but you can save yourself this step by setting a default. Go to your profile page (click ‘Change details’ from the menu at the top after placing your order to access this) and choose a default delivery method.

With the cold weather, warm foods and soups are looking very appealing. It’s not a coincidence that the foods in season now are those that are best for us, and many of them make great soups. Ginger (also dry ginger slices), turnips, onions, butternut, sweet potatoes are all in season and available, and go well in soups.

Many of us are lead to organics in a negative way – horror stories about pesticides, toxic ingredients in personal products, genetic modification and so on. Although it’s wise to be informed, sometimes it’s good to look at the positives for a change.

Organic food is healthier, not any for negative reasons, such as lack of pesticide residues, but also for positive reasons – it contains more minerals and vitamins. Any farmer can tell us this. Plants gain most of their value from the soil, and just a casual glance at the vibrant living soil on an organic farm, compared to the dying soil of a chemical farm, should tell us what to expect.

But many of us are far removed from the farms where our food comes from, and prefer to listen to what the scientific research has to say. Well, the research is pouring in about the greater nutrient levels in organic foods. Some interesting recent research has indicated that it’s not just the better soil quality that leads to more nutritious food, but that pesticides actually reduce the nutrient level of food they are applied to, regardless of soil quality.

Avoiding pesticides is much more than just a personal health decision. With an estimated 3 to 5 million people being affected by pesticide poisoning each year, mainly farm workers, this huge industry has a terrible impact on the most vulnerable people. Now isn’t that a good-enough reason to switch to organic food?

To order, head on over to Hurry if you want to get any eggs!

Enjoy the soups, the Co-op team

A humble sprig of parsley

One of those humble foods I’ve rediscovered since moving to organics has been parsley. As a child, I remember parsley being the limp green thing put on top of the toasted cheeses I used to eat by the dozen. Probably passed down from customer to customer, on the rare occasion when I did eat them I soon saw why I didn’t normally.

Cultivated since the third century BC, it was once believed that that plucking a sprig and saying a persons name would lead to their death. While, thankfully, this is not the case (although I can’t say I’ve tried), it does a have a few, more benevolent uses.

Fresh, organic parsley is something entirely different to the limp hand-me-downs of my childhood. It’s a great breath freshener at the end of a meal, and is high in vitamins A and C, and contains good amounts of iron, iodine, and copper.

Some of the oils in parsey are being investigated for their role in tumour prevention, and show articular promise in lung tumours. The oils seem to neutralise the carcinogenic benzopyrenes from cigarette or braai smoke, and on top of all that, were once worn around the neck as a form of deodorant, the same smoke and fume-absorbing quality probably being the cause.

The co-op is offering parsley from both Bloublommetjies, the biodynamic farm, and Abalimi, who support local township and urban gardens.

Those of you lucky enough to have seen the documentary on Cuba this week will have been interested to see that 80% of Cuban farms are organic, and that a large proportion of the food supply for the capital Havana (a city of similar size to Cape Town) is supplied by urban farms and gardens from within its municipal border.

It’s fantastic to see that, in the food production sphere at least, there are thriving examples of the way things should be.

To order, go to

Wishing you a warm weekend,
The Co-op team