Monthly archives "September 2007"

Spring is… not homogenised

Yes, spring has finally sprung, and even the most slothful of the trees is showing signs of bursting into a green song and dance.

With the warm weather, many of us head out into the gardens. Water consumption is a critical issue, and growing in importance, so having lush green gardens full of imported, water-thirsty plants, is not the way to go. It’s quite possible to create beautiful gardens full of plants that are adapted to our climate, and which the surrounding birds and butterflies will thank you for.

If you’re wondering how to go about it, or what plants to use, try Glenn Ashton’s book, called Fast and Easy Waterwise Gardens. It’s full of detailed practical information on indigenous gardening, with extensive plant lists for all types of conditions.

Many members have a staple in the Camphill milk. Sadly, Camphill have been forced to increase the prices of their entire range. Unfortunately, food in general is seeing some quite drastic increases in price, as food inflation outstrips base inflation.

Camphill’s milk reminds me of fresh milk as a child, with the thick layer of cream at the top, and the milk below quite watery.

Almost all supermarket milk, even the organic variety, doesn’t look like that. Camphill milk is not homogenised, and most milks are. This means that the milk is pumped at high pressures through very narrow tubes, breaking up the fat globules. The fat is then evenly distributed throughout the milk, in tiny pieces, giving it a uniform texture. It doesn’t taste as good, but feels and looks creamier, and lasts longer.

Unfortunately homogenised milk has been implicated in some nasty health effects. It seems that when the fat globules are broken up, an enzyme, xanthine oxidase, is freed.  Instead of being harmlessly digested, as happens with the fat in unhomogenised milk, this is absorbed into your stomach lining and goes straight into your blood stream, and from there, to the arteries. It’s fats in the bloodstream that cause the real havoc; heart disease and in particular arteriosclerosis.

It’s likely too that widespread homogenisation is partly resposible for increasing levels of milk intolerance.

The lesson is simple – the more processed something is, the worse it is for us.

Note that Zeekoegat’s range of goats cheeses are back on offer, after a good rest for the goats.

To order, go to www.ethical.org.za.

Happy gardening,
The Co-op team

My little cabbage

The reputation of the cabbage is an unenviable one. From being considered responsible for bad dreams and “sending black vapours to the brain”, to being a hardy staple eaten by most of central Europe over winter, this hardy vegetable has stood the test of time.

Researchers have learned that a phytochemical called indole exists in the cabbage which actively inhibits the growth of breast, stomach and colon cancer. Cabbage juice, which contains Vitamin U, has been successfully tested in curing peptic ulcers. Also, wrapped around an inflammation in the form of a paste, it makes a highly effective poultice. This is because is contains large amounts of glutamine, an amino acid which has anti-inflammatory properties.
And all breast-feeding mom’s know of the relief when placing cabbage leaves on engorged breasts!!

So versatile in the kitchen, eaten raw, cooked, fermented or juiced, the cabbage is one vegetable that we are seldom without.

After an absence, we have Earthmother chocolates, beluga, gourmet brown, and red lentils, tomato ketchup and puree, tortilla chips, and tahini back on this week.

There are also grapes and asparagus available again.

Apologies to those of you who couldn’t access the site on Monday morning – our server is Denmark was down for a few hours. There’s some more downtime scheduled by our hosts this week – 3 minutes they say, hopefully all goes well!

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za

Salads and sprouts

I have always been a big fan of salads. My mother told me once that if you can eat it raw, it can go into a salad, so we were experimenting from a young age with all sorts of ingredients. I have two favourite ingredients, namely avocado and sprouts.

Not only is avo most fantastic to eat, but highly beneficial in promoting eye health as we age. It contains almost 20 vitamins, mineral and phytonutrients, essential for preventing many chronic diseases as well as a plant sterol which maintains healthy cholesterol levels.
The avocado is simply an amazing nutrient booster and allows the body to absorb more fat soluble nutrients.

Sprouts are jam packed with enzymes. What fascinates me so much about these little guys is the change in their nutritional value from the dormant dry state (seeds) to when they are sprouted. We are fortunate in that we offer sprouts from two suppliers, namely a mixed pack from Kitchen Garden (with a very interesting website full of excellent information regarding sprouts and sprouting) and individual packs from Sunshoots.

A recent report from the Organic Center has found yet more evidence for the benefits of organic. Food scientists compared the nutritional levels of modern, chemically-grown crops with historic, and generally lower-yielding, ones. They found that chemically grown food produced 10 to 25 percent less iron, zinc, protein, calcium, vitamin C, and other nutrients.

Researchers, looking at wheat cultivars in particular, comparing those grown from 1842 to 2003, found an 11 percent decline in iron content, a 16 percent decline in copper, a 25 percent decline in zinc, and a 50 percent decline in selenium.

They concluded that organically grown crops “develop more robust root systems that more aggressively absorb nutrients from the soil profile, and produce crops with higher concentrations of valuable nutrients and phytochemicals.” Organic food can have up to 30 percent more antioxidants, and 20 percent more nutritional content for some minerals, the report concludes.

To get your hands on some of those nutrients, visit www.ethical.org.za now!

The Co-op team.

Ginger and patented broccoli

One of my favourite tasks upon receiving my weekly organic box is choosing from the array of ingredients to make my daily juice. Knowing that I don’t have to worry about any nasties makes it that much more enjoyable. Ginger is one of my key ingredients. I am always amazed at how much juice is produced from a small nodule.

Commonly called a root, it’s actually a rhizome (the underground stem), and it takes its name from a Sanskrit word meaning “with a body like a horn”. Its origins are in India and China and it’s held in high regard in the Koran and the writings of Confucius. Being one of the first spices commonly used in Western Europe, it was a popular article of trade during medieval times, and was widely used as a treatment against plague. In English pubs and taverns, barkeepers would put ground ginger out to sprinkle on beer, this being the origin of ginger ale.

It is the first thing I pull out of the fridge when any one of my family appears to be coming down with a cold. Blended with garlic, lemon and chilli, it makes for a potent flu buster! Also, the onset of nausea is quickly settled with a healthy dose of ginger.

Meanwhile the campaign by corporations to gain control of our food supply continues. In Europe, the European Patent Office is preparing to make a decision that has far-reaching consequences. Can ordinary (non genetically-modified) food be patented? In this particular instance, it’s broccoli, but if this is approved, the floodgates will open. Genetically-modified plants have been patentable in Europe since 2000. With consumers having turned against GMO’s the corporations are now trying to extend their grip by potentially being able to patent all types of food.

So why are patents on plants a bad idea? The main reason is that patents severely limit the rights of farmers, who cannot save their seeds, and instead have to buy each year from the corporation. A disaster for biodiversity, since local varieties are inevitable ignored in the massive economies of scale, and a huge risk to food security.

Visit http://www.no-patents-on-seeds.org to find out more about the campaign to stop this.

In the meantime, head on over to www.ethical.org.za to order.

The Co-op team