Monthly archives "March 2009"

A satsuma by any other name

You can fix all the world’s problems with a garden

With so many of us despondent, fed a diet of bad news by the media and those around us, good news can make a welcome change. And the world abounds with great news, if we just open our eyes and ears.

This week’s video is a wonderful demonstration of making the impossible possible. The area around the Dead Sea, bordering Jordan and Israel, has little rainfall, 50 degree temperatures in summer, and parched, highly salinated soil. Watch Geoff Lawton demonstrate how to turn it into a flourishing green garden using permaculture principles.

Autumn satsumas

One of my favourite fruits, and a sure sign autumn is here, are satsumas, also called naartjies, mandarins, tangerines or mikans. And sometimes, just to confuse things, satsuma tangerines, satsuma oranges, or satsuma mandarins. I haven’t yet seen any marketed as mikan naartjies, or tangerine mikans, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time. Even more confusingly, there are a host of citrus species that share the terms, so a satsuma that’s a citrus unshiu may be identical to a citrus unshui tangerine, but different to a satsuma that’s a citrus nobilis. The word most commonly used in South Africa, naartjie, comes from the Tamil word nartei, meaning citrus.

Confusing as it all is, I love them. As part of a detox last year, there were days where I ate nothing but one kind of fruit. Many people I met were sympathetic, feeling I was depriving myself horribly. Instead, the days I spend eating nothing but satsumas were some of the most blissful I’ve experienced.

There’s a persistent myth that citrus peels shouldn’t be put in compost, but in practice they work well, especially if cut or broken into small pieces.

Looking for a warehouse co-ordinator, distributors and collection points.

We’re still looking for an energised warehouse co-ordinator to lovingly ensure all our boxes are packed and ready to go on Tuesday’s and Wednesdays. See the full description here.

We’re also always looking for more collection points, and more distributors.

Green Shop

A reminder that it’s Green Shop week. We offer their products once a month, since we prefer to keep our truck parked in the shade, and doing one large monthly order, rather than burning fuel collecting a small order each week. There are toys, solar chargers, solar lights and more available. As always, click on the product for more information.

To order, go to

Have a great week, and enjoy the time out from the bright city lights during Earth Hour this Saturday at 20h30,
the Co-op team

Related posts

Autumn change

Range Change

We’ve been receiving many plaintive pleas for the popular Elgin Apple Juice, which hasn’t been available for a while. Don’t worry, it hasn’t disappeared along with the Arctic Ice. As soon as the first pressings are available, we’ll have it back in stock, so hold tight.

Enchantrix have relocated their production from Kwazulu-Natal to Cape Town, and some products will be intermittently unavailable while their production gets back to normal.

The Soap Lady’s soaps, hand made in Fish Hoek, are back in stock again, and we also have a wider range of Meadowsweet herbs and teas.

Wellbeing Natural Medicine’s breads have moved, and changed names. They’re now La Petite Boulangerie, situated a few doors further down in Muizenberg, and Hasan Gauld has decided to focus more on his handmade artisanal breads.

After the drought comes the floods. We’re overflowing with honey again, as Honeywood are back in stock after their devastating fire, and we’re also offering Bloublommetjies honeycomb, a real delicacy. Honey from Docke Farm, from right here in Noordhoek, is also available again in limited quantities.

Finally, organic cornflakes and organic oatmilk (both sadly from a little further afield) are also back in stock again.

The Cuban Example

After the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba went through a localised “Peak Oil” experience. It’s come out of it a model for organic farming worldwide, as this week’s video shows.


We support a number of small suppliers, the kind who don’t get bailed out by governments during a downturn. Many are struggling with cashflow, and are asking us to pay sooner than before. Help us help them, and ensure you continue to have access to a wide range of local products, by making your payments in good time. Remember that payments are due when your order is placed – late payments have an impact on everyone down the line.

Health Path

Grateful thanks to The Health Path, who, until last week, were our Hout Bay collection point. Even though you can no longer collect your box there, you can still enjoy a healthy breakfast and lunch buffet, as well as a range of other services, including body stress release, cranio sacral therapy, naturopath and hair analysis, kinesiology and brain gym.

Visit The Health Path at 41 Victoria Avenue, Hout Bay, and at

To order, head on over to

Have a fantastic autumn week,
the Co-op team

Standing orders, getting involved, and kohl-whatbi?

Standing orders
Do you place a regular order every week? Tired of having to log onto the website every week to place your order?

A few weeks ago we launched standing orders, allowing you to place an order once, and have the same order automatically placed for you each week when the site opens.

To place a standing order, choose “Place a standing order” from the dropdown after your password when you log in. It’s very important to note that your standing order won’t apply to this week – so even if you place a standing order now, you will also have to place an order as normal to get your box this Thursday.

Not all products are available as a standing order – only those our buyers think will be available more often than not. If there’s something you desperately want on there, please let us know!


You may have noticed another of those weird veggies on our list recently. Kohlrabi, available from Abalimi and grown right here on the Cape Flats, is also known as German Turnip. Kohlrabi is a cabbage cultivar, and is only known by its common name because of its resemblance to turnip, not because of any family connection.

As a member of the cabbage family, it’s a descendant of wild cabbage, just like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and brussels sprouts and shares similar nutritional characteristics. It’s a very good source of Vitamin C (one cup contains 140% of the RDA), vitamin B6, potassium, copper and manganese, and a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium and phosphorus.

Once very popular in Europe, it found its way to northern India, and has become quite well established in parts of Asia. Fairly unusual elsewhere, it has been superseded by its more well-known cousins in Europe although it’s making a comeback.

It can be eaten raw or cooked, and the stems and leaves can be chopped into a salad, or used as an ingredient in raw soup. They can also be used on the braai, sliced or chopped, dipped in oil, sprinkled with salt wrapped in foil. The tough base is normally cut off. Smaller kohlrabi are generally tastier, while larger ones may need the outer layer peeled, and will be more woody.

Best as always is to grow your own, and we’re lucky enough to have kohlrabi seed from Sandveld Organics.

Want to get involved with the Ethical Co-op?

Do you share our vision of inspiring community growth by promoting authentic foods and products? Want to get involved? We’re looking for a warehouse co-ordinator, for more distributors as well as more collection points.

More information on the roles and how to apply is available at each of those pages.

To order, head on over to

Have a great, and hopefully slightly cooler, week.
The Co-op team

Related posts:

Looking for new collection points

We’re looking for more collection points to share our beloved ethical and organic products with more people more easily.

As a collection point, you’ll get free delivery of your order, as well be able to order at a reduced rate. When our new website is up (and yes, it’s coming soon), you’ll be able to advertise your shop (or yourself, in the case of a home collection point) on our website.

The ideal collection point:

  • is looked after by someone who shares our vision of being a thriving Co-operative which inspires community growth by promoting authentic foods and products.
  • is open during the day and after hours.
  • accepts recycling, and stores it for return the next week
  • is run by a sparkly, friendly person who enjoys meeting with interesting people from their local community
  • is pro-active in following up mistakes, boxes left behind, etc
  • is already a customer

If you’re interested (and don’t worry if you can’t meet all the criteria – most of our collection points aren’t open all hours, please email your details to admin at the domain, with the subject line “Collection Point?.

Looking for distributors

We’re looking for more people to deliver our boxes each week, in particular in the Southern Suburbs. The role involves timeously delivering our boxes to customers in your area, all while treating them with the utmost love and care.

Until we can afford to kit you out in a refrigerated truck, you’ll be driving your own vehicle, and you’ll be paid a flat rate for each box you deliver.

If you’re interested, please email your CV to admin at the domain, with the subject line “Distributor”.

Looking for a warehouse co-ordinator

The Ethical Co-op is looking for someone to take on the part-time role of warehouse co-ordinator.

The role involves:

  • Working from 8am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as very frequent overtime until the pack round is complete.
  • Overseeing and training the warehouse staff.
  • Quality control of products arriving at the warehouse; ensuring that accurate records are kept of delivered goods, and any errors immediately reported.
  • Completion, accuracy and quality control of the packing process
  • Suggesting and implementing improvements to the packing systems
  • Ensuring all goods are stored and handled in the best manner to maintain their quality and freshness
  • Ensuring that all warehouse equipment is in good order, and that there are always sufficient supplies, such as cardboard, tape, netting, packaging, with the aim of reducing, re-using and recycling as much as possible
  • Ensure recycling returned to relevant suppliers
  • Remuneration will be R38.77/hour cost to company, paid monthly.

The ideal person will share our vision of being a thriving Co-operative which inspires community growth by promoting authentic foods and products, have lots of energy and stamina, be highly accurate, be good at working in a team under time pressure, and will take pride in ensuring all the little details are taken care of.

If you’re interested, please email your CV to admin at the domain.

GM soy in retreat, hokkaido squash and a home for the orang-utans.

The turning point

In 2008, 92% of all soybean planted in the US was genetically-modified. GM soybean has claimed a greater share in the US every year since their introduction in 1996.

2009 is a turning point. Low commodity soybean prices, attractive premiums, and rising prices for genetically modified soybean seed are leading American farmers for the first time to plant more acres of non-GMO soybeans this year.

A key factor is that the cost for Monsanto’s GM soybean seeds has jumped from $35 to $50 per bag , while the necessary herbicide has increased from $15 to $50 per gallon. At the same time, crop resistance to the herbicide is now widespread, and farmers are having to use much more to get the same results. Farmers are beginning to realise how vulnerable they are with all the control that’s been ceded.

Non-genetically modified seed is in short supply as the biotech monopolies have become seed monopolies, and done away with the alternatives, but small seed companies, and, interestingly, US universities, are proving key providers of non-GM seed.

Restoring the damage

Climate change is often seen as an exclusively negative term, a one-way ticket to the coming apocalypse. But humans, as part of this great creation, can play a positive role and turn things around.

In this week’s video, biologist Willie Smits tells an inspiring story of not just walking more lightly and causing less harm, but actually helping to restore the damage. He devotes his energy to re-grow clearcut rainforest in Borneo, increasing rainfall, enhancing diversity, saving local orang-utans, and creating a blueprint for restoring fragile ecosystems. He describes how in this week’s video.

Hokkaido Squash

One of our goals is to increase the range of foods that we offer, and we can do this by supporting farmers who produce relatively small quantities of unusual food plants.

The Hokkaido Squash certainly qualifies, as it’s not a food many of us have encountered before. It’s origins are obscure, and worldwide always seem to refer to somewhere else. It’s commonly called Hokkaido Squash in the US, referring to its supposed origins in northern Japan. However, there, it’s referred to as ‘Chinese Squash’. It has a chestnut-like flavour that appeals to people who may not like pumpkin soup, and the summer variety has a soft skin and is particularly tasty. Hokkaido squash is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, B and C.

You can view a recipe on our site by clicking on the product name for more information.

Red Globes

This week we’re also offering 4.5kg boxes of Red Globe grapes. Red Globes are the largest red table grape. They’re very popular worldwide, but have fallen from favour in the US as they’re a seeded variety, and seedless grapes are increasingly in vogue there. However, I wouldn’t want to eat grapes any other way as grape seeds are highly nutritious, with particular benefits for older women and as prevention for atherosclerosis.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Co-op team

A 20-year tale of hope: Re-growing a rainforest

This week’s talk from TED features Willie Smits, who has devoted his life to saving the forest habitat of orangutans.

Climate change is possible in a good way, and in this talk Willie describes how clear-cut forest is being regrown, and the effects on rainfall, livelihood and diversity.