Monthly archives "August 2008"

Slowing down, and the Pacific gyre

The importance of slowing down

It’s a symptom of our times that so many of us are ‘busy’, always on the run, rushing from one activity to another.

There’s a social pressure against slowing down. In so many offices, a contribution is measured by time spent at the computer rather than what’s actually being done. We’re all running so fast on the treadmill that we don’t think about where we’re going, much less why.

One of the most useful pieces of advice I got was, at least three times a day, to stop and question whether what I was doing right then was the best use of my time. So often the answer was no. Usually the culprit was my email, where I was mindlessly delving into my continually-growing inbox, churning out thoughtless responses to trivial issues.

Inspiration and innovation comes from the quiet moments when we take a breath, not the frenzy of action.

Our body gives us the same message.

Rushed meals while performing some other activity don’t suit our body, and lead to digestive problems. It all starts with chewing. Not only does chewing break the food into smaller, more digestible pieces, it also produces digestive enzymes that aren’t found in the stomach. Food should be liquid by the time it’s swallowed, which usually involves chewing each mouthful at least 30 times.

Nutrionist Patrick Holford describes the importance of breathing before eating, saying that the mere anticipation of food, simply pausing and breathing, improves the food’s digestibility. Another nutritionist, Gabriel Cousens, wrote about how he could never quite get himself to chew as much as necessary (he recommends 40-100 times), even though he had an intellectual understanding of the benefits. It was only when he began to cultivate a more subtle awareness, consciously tasting each individual taste in the food, experiencing the texture, listening to the sounds, noting the different subtle tastes as the food moved over different areas of the tongue, that he managed to achieve his goal.

Couzens describes eating consciously as “a way of opening one’s heart to God [and] a way to feel the Divine Presence”, and that eating provides “a regular opportunity for the conscious eater to take the time to receive and read God’s love note, rather than toss it into the garbage can of the stomach”.

It’s certainly not possible to appreciate a divine love note if we’re eating while watching the soapies, taking in negativity from a newspaper, or running to the office to meet someone else’s clock-watching schedule!

The Plastics Battle

I was watching Super-Size Me yesterday, the documentary of Morgan Spurlock’s near-fatal month-long experiment of eating only McDonalds foods. The movie showed an animation of all the waste produced from McDonalds eateries in the US. Each day, an area the size of the Empire State Building is filled with plastic waste from that fast-food chain alone.

About 10% of plastic waste ends up in the sea, where it collects and breaks into smaller pieces, forming a toxic soup for marine and birdlife.

An area larger than the entire land mass of South Africa, 1000 miles from the US coast, is covered in plastic, containing six-times more plastic than plankton. It’s growing all the time. Two in every five albatross chicks born on Midway Island, in the remote Pacific, die, mostly from consuming too much plastic, fed to them by their mothers who collect it from the ocean surface. View a video on this marine garbage dump here.

It’s not just McDonalds. So much of what we buy is wrapped in plastic. Last year’s winner of the Friends of the Earth One Minute Film Competition, which you can view here, was on just this theme. There’s still time for budding filmmakers to enter the 2008 competition.

We’re committed to reducing plastic waste and packaging, and are working with all of our suppliers to achieve this. Many are switching to bio-plastic, made from plant material, and which is compostable, as a step in the right direction. Reducing is always first prize, and producing your own food, or buying locally, so that the food does not need to be excessively packaged as it’s transported around the world, helps with this. If you must buy plastic, rather choose bio-plastic, which is compostable. Much of the oil in the world is used for plastic, so using bio-plastic doesn’t involve involve supporting the oil companies.

We’re offering small and large bags from Green Home, and, if you must choose disposable cutlery, there’s also cups, forks, knives and spoons available.

To order, go to

Have a great week,
the Co-op team.

Synthetic Sea

In the Pacific Ocean there’s an area, 1000 kilometres from the US coast, larger than the entire than the entire land mass of South Africa, covered in plastic. It contains 6 times more plastic than plankton, and is growing all the time as more than 10 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the sea each year.

See the Greenpeace page, The Trash Vortex, for more information, as well as an animation showing how the plastic spreads and ends up in the giant garbage patch.

rBGH update, honeybees, and raw food for children and pregnant moms

rBGH has a new owner
Last week I mentioned that Monsanto was dumping it’s bovine growth hormone business. It didn’t take long, but they’ve found a buyer. Eli Lilly, a large pharmaceutical company, and the company which has been selling rBGH outside of the USA, is now taking over the entire business.

In some senses it’s a perfect fit. Genetically-modified rBGH is associated with a host of ailments, including, amongst other things, diabetes. Diabetes drugs are a highly profitable line for Eli Lilly. Monsanto also used to profit financially from diabetics, as one of their creations, aspartame, is used by some as a sugar-replacement.

But of course that may all be coincidence. Naturally, the first thing you see on Eli Lilly’s website is their committment to helping people ‘live longer, healthier and more active lives’.

If you’re looking to replace refined sugar in your diet (and you should be!), there are much better options to use in moderation, such as honey, dates and xylitol.

Honeybee losses worldwide continue to rise, with the UK situation particularly catastrophic. 1 in 3 honeybees did not survive winter and spring, and there will be no British honey available from the end of the year until the northern hemisphere summer. Still, all the suspected causes, such as pesticides, genetically-modified crops, and electromagnetic radiation, are on the increase worldwide.

Raw Food for pregnant mothers and young children
We’re featuring a video this week by one of my favourite inspirational speakers and nutritionists, David Wolfe. He talks about raw food for pregnant mothers and young children.

Unfortunately we’re out of stock of some of the foods he mentions, but do keep your eyes out for them.

Visit to order.

Have the best week ever!
The Co-op team.

Raw food for pregnant mothers and kids

One of my favourite inspirational speakers and nutritionists is David Wolfe. Here he talks about raw food for pregnant mothers, and young children.

Unfortunately many of the foods he talks about in this video are out of stock or not available. Maca, which we had in a few weeks ago, sold out quickly, and won’t be available again for a little while. But do look out for those that are available!

Monsanto concedes defeat

rBGH up for sale

Some great news from the US this week. I’ve written in the past about Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). After intense consumer pressure, Monsanto have announced that they are putting the business up for sale, having given up themselves. Although they will still market and sell rBGH, in spite of Monsanto’s huge campaign, including backing agriculture department officials in exchange for them passing laws banning labelling of milk as rBGH-free, it’s clear they’re realised the writing is on the wall.

This genetically-modified growth hormone (given to most dairy cows in South Africa) has been the subject of intense consumer pressure in the US. Banned in much of the world, it leads to mastitis in cows, which is then treated with increased antibiotics. These antibiotics remain in the milk and end up in our bodies, suppresing our immune and digestive systems. Cows also produce milk with increased levels of IGF-1, associated with increased likelihood of human cancers.

While Monsanto is still claiming their product is safe, and ‘no different’, the evidence is against them, and few believe them any more. Most retailers in the US have turned their backs on it, and most consumers look out for rBGH-free milk.

Monsanto have said though they’re refocussing on their successful seed business. Genetically-modified seed crops are also ‘no different’, they say, so there’s no need to label them. Except that they’re ‘better’ because they’re pest resistent (already containing pesticides!), or pesticide-resistent. Somehow, I’m not convinced. On that note, is running a petition against the introduction of a genetically-modified potato. Sign online at the site.

Let’s hope this small victory is the start of a shift, where technology comes out from behind the closed doors of profiteering corporations, suppressed and distorted for financial gain, and is put to work for the good of all humanity.

Delivery Fees

On to more mundane matters. Some of our delivery fees are increasing this week. We’ve had an odd anomaly where some regions paid less than others. From this week, we have a standard delivery fee of R45 across all regions.

New Collection Point

Look out for more collection points though, as our truck expands our network. This week we have a new collection point in Mouille Point.

Cara Cara

No, not the latest dance craze, cara cara’s are a breed of oranges. They’re pink-tinged, sweeter, and richer in Vitamin A than most other oranges. Find them in the fruit section, supplied by Kleinjongenskraal Farm.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Co-op team

A truck, a root and an apology

New truck

We’ve bought a truck! Unfortunately it’s not electric (yet), and we’ve had to leap through hoops to sort out the financing, as in a world of Pty limiteds and closed corporations, no one seems to understand how to deal with a co-operative, but we hope this it enable to us to share our organic goodies with more people, and offer a better service.


It may not have seemed like it this week though, as unfortunately our paper plans didn’t survive the realities of our roads, and some of our deliveries and collections were very late this week. We apologise to everyone that was inconvenienced, and we’ll do our best to ensure it all goes more smoothly next week. Thanks for bearing with us as our new baby truck finds its feet, er, wheels.

New delivery times and new collection points

The truck will enable us to open up more collection points in the near future, so many of you, especially in outlying areas, may soon see a collection point closer to you.

Collection point times will also be changing for some existing collection points:

Go Natural (Somerset West) – Thursday, 11am – 5pm
Jacqui Daya (Wynberg) – Thursday, 8am – 8pm
Health Path (Hout Bay) – Wednesday, 3pm – 5.30pm

We also have a new collection point in Scarborough, open on Wednesday from 4pm – 7pm

These are the correct times, and not the actual times this week, which were due to our bad planning!

New faces

We have two faces this week. Welcome to Pia Taylor, who will be delivering in Wynberg, and Robbie Sarracino, who’ll be delivering in the City Bowl, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and possibly Milnerton.

Daniel Baum, who many of you will have met before with a box of veggies at your door, is our new distribution co-ordinator. Which means he spends lots of time driving the truck!


Maca has been cultivated and used as a food plant and medicinal herb for centuries in the Andes. The root, which looks similar to a turnip, is starting to gain popularity worldwide as it’s purported stamina-enhancing and aphrodisiac qualities receive attention.

Maca faced going down a familiar path as a United States company was granted patents on maca’s key active compounds, and people in the Andes faced the risk of an international pharmaceutical company profiting at the expense of their indigenous knowledge that had been shared for centuries. In other words, wealthy shareholders benefit, while the people who gained and shared the knowledge gain nothing.

The company that was granted the initial patent was bought by another company though, and while they still maintain possession of the patent, they opened up the patents freely for Peruvian companies, meaning that small local companies in the Andes could at least still legitimately sell and benefit from the crop.

Clinical trials are now underway on Maca’s effectiveness in helping to reduce hot flushes and night sweats in menopausal women, and it’s likely the plant will see even more of a surge in popularity.

It’s got a malty flavour, so put it into your smoothies, or add to desserts.

Head on over to order at

Have a great week,
the Co-op team