Monthly archives "March 2008"

‘Organic’ personal care products

Welcome back after the long weekend. We hope those lucky enough to have a break had a safe, healthy and enjoyable time.

A recent study in the US indicated the presence of 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogen, in various US personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, and not only is it bad for you, it’s terrible for those sharing the planet with you – it’s a leading groundwater contaminant.

The presence of yet another poisonous chemical in personal care products may not come as a surprise. Dishwashing detergent is according to some sources the number one cause of child poisoning, and the toxic effects of parabens present in most hair products are well-documented. What’s worse in this case though is that the chemical was found in a number of products labelled ‘natural’ and ‘organic’.

Unfortunately, a similar situation applies in South Africa. Biophile magazine last year exposed Unilever’s ‘Organics’ brand as being nothing of the sort, rather containing most of the usual chemical culprits.

All we can do is continue to work on the individual level, educating ourselves as to the effects of everything we do and consume, as well as the systemic level, by working towards government legislation, or pressurising the shops and corporates that do stock and produce these products.

There are of course products that don’t deceive. Our body care section contains conditioners from Enchantrix and Bloublommetjies, shampoos from Bloublommetjies and Hemporium, as well as a wide-range of other products.

In home care, we have dishwashing liquid from Enchantrix, as well as a new one from Bloublommetjies.

Enjoy the browse. To order, visit

The Co-op team

Marjoram and Jasmine

Our email system decided to take an early long weekend, and due to a glitch in the system, people who ordered last week wouldn’t have received an email copy of their invoice. A reminder that you can always log into the site and click ‘View Statement’ to see exactly where you stand.

Sadly Marjoram, one of the goats on Zeekoegat Farm, died this week from reflux pneumonia. They have a new goat, Rambo (a ram if you hadn’t guessed), but he isn’t living up to his name, and is apparently quite gentle. Perhaps he’s still settling in, although that never appeared to trouble the human namesake. Zeekoegat cheeses won’t be available this week, although there are Cloud Cottage goat’s milk logs, as well as Tereva and Bloublommetjies cheeses available.

Where some are leaving, others are arriving, and Jasmine the Jersey cow from Rozendal biodynamic dairy is expecting a calf.

We also have 3 new breads from ‘The Artisan’, the new name of Wellbeing Natural Medicine’s bread. They’re offering three sourdough breads – a wheat baguette, a wholewheat loaf and a mixed rye/wheat loaf.

Please remember that the site still closes on Monday at 2pm. To order, visit

Have a great long weekend,
The Co-op team

Growing your own food

There’s nothing better than eating food from your own garden. It’s the most nutritious, and the planet would certainly appreciate not having our food shipped from another hemisphere.

To help you get started, we offer an extensive range of seeds. In our Garden section, there are seeds from Camphill Farm, a farm based on biodynamic principles, and from Permaculture Education Africa.

This week we’re offering a new range of certified organic seed from Sandveld Organics, based in Lambert’s Bay. They have been a registered grower, cleaner and seller of seed since 2002, and are offering seed that they have found performs well in the tough conditions of the West Coast.

There are 12 varieties of seed, including Lollo Rosso, which I suspect will be as unknown to many of you as it was to me. Lollo Rosso is a vibrant red lettuce, with frilly, crinkly leaves and a slightly bitter flavour. It’s also fairly pest-resistant, perhaps due to the colour. Hopefully we’ll be offering the fully grown counterpart on the site in a few months!

One I do have personal experience with growing is Swiss Chard, and I can vouch for the fact that Swiss Chard (commonly but incorrectly called spinach), eaten straight from the garden, tastes far superior to anything you could buy in a shop, organic or not. Food starts to lose its vitality when picked, and leafy plants such do so especially quickly.

See our Featured and New section for the full range of seeds.

A reminder that you can update your order up until around 1.30pm on Monday. If you place an order today, every time you log in up until Monday, you’ll see your current order, and can make any changes you wish to it. After 2pm on Monday, we close the site for orders, and place the orders with the farmers and suppliers.

Finally, a plea to please return your boxes, as well as Camphill, Rozendal and honey glass jars. We know not all collection points accept recycling, but if at all possible, please return them. We’ll put them to good use, promise! Ask your distributor if you’re unsure.

Tto order visit

Free Spirit and peanut butter

Thanks for the great response to our “We’re hiring” cry. Applications closed today, and we’ll be getting back to everyone who replied shortly.

Welcome also to everyone who’s joined us after seeing our appearance on Free Spirit on Sunday. I sadly forgot to let everyone know about it, but we’ll be uploading a clip onto our site soon for those who still want to see it.

Peanuts are originally from the semi-arid areas of South and Central America, and are believed to have first been cultivated in Brazil. The Spanish took peanuts to Africa shortly after they discovered them, and the major producers today are China and India (who consume most of their peanut crop as peanut oil), and Nigeria, the USA, Sudan and Senegal.

The Incas were known to have used peanuts to make a peanut paste, the fore-runner of today’s peanut butter. Slaves in North America commonly grew peanuts on small subsistence gardens, which is probably where the meaning of ‘having peanuts’, or ‘being worth peanuts’ comes from.

Peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut, and, like legumes in general, bind nitrogen to the soil. Farmers were encouraged to grow peanuts in place of cotton in the US for this reason, as cotton depletes the soil’s nitrogen levels, and peanuts help to restore the soil.

Peanuts are extremely nutritious, with very high levels of niacin (which contributes to brain health, circulation and blood flow). Their antioxidant levels rival that of many fruit, and they’ve recently been found to have extremely high levels of resveratrol, an antioxidant that’s associated with healthy hearts and lowered cancer risks. They contain 30 times as much resveratrol by weight as grapes, which were previously thought to be one of the few good sources, and high levels of protein and monounsaturated fats.

Peanut allergy is fairly common in the west, though almost unheard of in India and China. There’s some evidence that consuming soy products increases the likelihood of peanut allergies (childhood consumption of soya milk has been associated with all sorts of health risks, including soya allergy and eczema), and that using skin preparations containing peanut oil as a child also increases the likelihood.

The main reason though seems to be that peanuts are usually roasted in the west, and roasting peanuts inhibits the digestive enzymes from absorbing the cooked peanuts properly, leading to them slipping into the bloodstream where they can cause an allergic reaction.

As always, the best food is food that’s fresh, organic, and in its most natural state, preferably picked from your own garden.

Having said all that, we’re now offering co-op branded peanut butter made from (yes, roasted!) organically grown peanuts.

To order, go to