Monthly archives "November 2007"

Buy nothing – especially not batteries

It’s International Buy Nothing Day (IBND) on November 24th.

The day was started by a Canadian artist as ‘as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption’. Such a simple idea has proved surprisingly controversial. Numerous newspapers and television channels refuse to air ads about the day (as the organisers put it, ‘gangsta rap and sexualized, semi-naked school girls are okay, but apparently not a burping pig talking about consumption.’)

It’s also attracted much criticism about its effectiveness, and its target audience.

Whatever your feelings on having a day devoted to buying nothing, there’s no doubt we all consume too much. With the oil price shooting up, and peak oil, there’s no doubt that the days of our wasteful use of oil-based plastics, and shipping goods backwards and forwards across the globe with oil-powered engines are coming to an end.

Batteries are one of those ‘consumables’ that irk me. Perhaps my ears are still recovering from the battery-powered ‘CD-player’ my son was given recently. But either way, they’re highly toxic items that are dumped in vast quantities. Which is why it’s fantastic to be able to offer some items that conventionally use batteries, but instead rely on windup power.

The highly popular Freeplay torches are back, and they’re joined by an AM/FM radio, a cellphone charger, and a table lantern, all powered by windup.

As always, you can click on the product for more information, and a picture.

To order, head on over to

Stay warm!
The Co-op team

Fats are good for you

There is much ado about essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and healing fats at the moment. Quite a turnaround from the years when ‘fat is bad’ was the order of the day.

They’re called essential for good reason – our bodies cannot do without them, and they must be taken in from outside. EFAs work hand in hand with proteins, and are the building blocks of the body. They govern growth, vitality, and mental health. They hook up oxygen, transport electrons, and provide energy in the process of oxidation. Oxidation, the central and most important moment-to-moment living process in our body, is the ‘burning’ of food to produce the energy required for life processes. EFAs play a part in almost every function of our body, and entire books have been written about them.

So where do we find our EFA’s? Olives and olive oil are one source.

Olive oil’s protective function is excellent for stomach health and has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. It activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones which lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

Virgin olive oil is not, as you’d expect, from the first pressing – rather it’s from the second pressing.

Extra virgin olive oil is the one to look out for. It’s considered the best, as it’s the least processed and comprises the oil from the first pressing of the olives. Because of this, extra virgin contains higher levels of antioxidants and Vitamin E.

If your olive oil does not display one of these two labels, you can be sure that it has been cut with other vegetable oil, probably canola.

Remember to store your oil in a cool place. Light and heat lead to oils becoming rancid, after which they do more harm than good.

This week is Vondis pet food week (we only offer them every second week), and they’re offering a promotion. For every two packs of five of the dog food, Vondis will include half a packet of doggie biscuit treats.

We also have a large range of new products this week, so take the time to explore the site. We’ve always had a wide range of green, white, rooibos and other herbal teas, but until this week, never ‘ordinary’ black tea.

Other new products include corn chips and vegetable pies – but look out for more.

To order, head on over to

The Co-op team

Water is precious

As I write this newsletter I’m smiling at the irony of the situation. That beautiful sound of rain falling outside as I launch into ‘water is precious and we must look after it’.

Regardless of how much rain we have had this winter, summer is coming, and as we all know, it can be hot and very dry. This is a perfect time to look at your water situation/consumption and see where you can save.

My biggest water saving without a doubt comes in the form of our grey water system. All the grey water from our house is channelled into three pit beds in our garden providing our salad crops with almost all the water they need year round. To maintain the integrity of a grey water system, you need to be careful about what goes down the drain and cleaning and body products need to be scrutinised thoroughly.

You can pretty much guarantee that any supermarket products will contain a host of nasties, regardless of how green they claim to be.

These are just some of the beasties to look out for:
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulphate (SLS or SLES). This is the “foam up” ingredient and the same stuff you would find a garage using for degreasing engines. Common side effects include skin irritation, hormone imbalance, protein denaturing, and SLS and SLES are also potentially carcinogenic. Why would companies put this into their products? It’s cheap!!!

Propolene Glycol. Here’s a funny thing. The FDA claims that Propolene Glycol is “generally recognised as safe” but also “do not consume, and if you do, get to a hospital in a hurry”. Have we forgotten that our skin is the largest organ through which these so-called harmless chemicals are absorbed? Propolene Glycol is an anti-freeze, something we put into our motor cars. It is also found in many cosmetics, this story being that it is a binding agent. My research took me through a host of side effects including damage to the liver, the heart and the central nervous system.

I find it amazing that we would choose to put a carcinogenic caustic brake fluid onto our skin and into our systems because we are so caught up in the cleaning frenzy. That nice soft silky feeling…it’s a hoax to make us believe that what we are doing is providing our bodies with moisture and care.

The co-op offers an extensive range of alternatives, all of which are free of the above-mentioned chemicals. You will find them in the home and body care

Remember, we live in a closed system, so whatever you introduce into it is here to stay!

Happy gardening!

Magic potion

I was first introduced to herbs and their magical powers by Getafix, the wily druid of Asterix comics. His golden sickle seemed to invoke their wonders.

Although I no longer expect to gain the strength to lift fully grown trees, I still find herbs fascinating. I love that I can treat our family ailments with a healthy dose of something simple and natural, often from the garden, instead of charging off to the pharmacy.

We have such a wonderful selection, biodynamically grown from Bloublommetjies, and from Mike of Noordhoek Farm, grown right here inside our city boundaries. Wormwood (the name says it all) is a potent remedy against worms and parasites. It’s the second bitterest herb known (after rue), which probably explains the parasites desire to leave in a hurry when they get a taste of it. It’s also used as an aid to the digestive system and the stomach in particular. It can even be used in the house to repel fleas and moths.

Rosemary exudes a most luxurious fragrance when cooked, and is also effective in treating headaches and poor circulation. It also helps the memory, hence the European tradition of using it as a symbol of remembrance at weddings, and also funerals.

Rue is the bitterest herb of the lot, and in Shakespeare’s Richard II, it was planted to mark the spot where the Queen wept upon hearing news of Richard’s capture.

“Here did she fall a tear, here in this place
I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace.”

It can be added in very small amounts to cream cheese, egg and fish dishes, or infused to bathe tired eyes. Rue water, sprinkled around the house, is used to kill fleas.

Lavender grows prolifically in our climate, and has a beautiful purple flower. My grandmother had a garden full of lavender, and I am sure this was why her home always felt so peaceful.

Remember that herbs are powerful, so please take care, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding. Rue in particular should never be taken when pregnant, as it has been used in abortions.

Rozendal dairy are feeling the effects of the local dairy shortage, and are taking two cows from their herd to calf. Their stocks will be severely limited for a while, so you’l have to be quick to order any of their products.

We encourage recycling amongst all our suppliers, and we will pay you T1 (one Talents) for the return of the Camphill 1 litre bottles, T0.5 for the small Camphill bottles, the honey jars, and the large Rozendal bottles, and T0.25 for the small Rozendal bottles. See the Talent Exchange website ( for more about Talents and the Community Exchange System.

To place this week’s order, visit

Remember that you can change your order anytime until closing time on Monday 1.45pm.

The Co-op team