Monthly archives "April 2009"

Superweeds, radishes and new collection times

The tiny little radish has been a domesticated crop since pre-Roman times, and is a popular crop as it’s relatively easy to grow, and matures rapidly, making it ideal for children’s gardens, or impatient gardeners like me. Summer radishes in the sun can mature in as little as 3-4 weeks.

The radish is a different plant, though related, to horseradish, which is used as an inexpensive replacement for wasabi in most sushi restaurants.

Radishes are very high in Vitamin C, Potassium and Folate, and are a very good source of Dietary Fibre. They also contains high levels of Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper and Calcium.

The Mexican city of Oaxaca celebrates a festival called the Night of the Radishes on the 23rd of December. Huge radishes (up to 50cm) are carefully grown and then carved into remarkable sculptures, often of saints, or with a nativity theme.

We have radishes on offer from both Naturally Organic, a small farm in Philippi, and Appelsdrift Farm, in Napier.

Superweeds and GM crops
It’s not only in South Africa that Monsanto have discovered unwelcome surprises with their genetically-modified crops. I’ve written before about so-called superweeds, plants that have developed resistance to the herbicides developed in conjunction with genetically-modified crops. The problem, a predictable consequence of the twisted, warlike method of industrial farming, is worsening in the US heartland. In Macon County, Georgia, in the US, the epicentre of the occurence, 10,000 acres of cropland have been abandoned.

Today, 100,000 acres in Georgia are severely infested with pigweed, one of the resistant plants, and 29 counties have now confirmed resistance to glyphosate, used in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and designed for use with it’s genetically-modified seeds.

Farmers are resorting to hand-weeding, and as the costs of industrial farming escalate, with expensive seeds, and now increasing labour costs too, some farmers are starting to rebel, and go back to more effective farming methods, working with, rather than against the land.

Monsanto’s solution has been to use higher and higher levels of herbicide, and now, a new study reveals that the herbicide is associated with brain, intestinal and heart defects in foetuses, another hidden and deferred cost of this method on farming, and one that falls heavily on rural farmworkers.

New collection point times
We’re moving to our new, bigger and better warehouse in Philippi this week, so some of our collection point times will be changing. Most Wednesday times have stayed the same, but Thursday times have all been set back by delayed by between 30 minutes and an hour. Hout Bay collections will now be on Thursdays instead of Wednesdays.

All details are on the site, please make sure you’ve checked and are aware of any changes

We’re also still looking for more home collection points, particularly in Rondebosch, Observatory, Sea Point, the upper City Bowl and Lakeside/Muizenberg.

Rasayana Prash and S.O.I.L essential oils
We’ve been offering Rasayana Prash, the rejuvanating herbal drink, for a while now. Originally developed by an Ayurvedic clinic in India, it contains a combination of herbs and spices chosen for the rejuvenating and immune-boosting effects. The good news is it’s now available in a smaller, more affordable 200g biobag.

Back in stock after a long break are the S.O.I.L. certified organic essential oils. There are over 40 varieties in our Body Care section.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week enjoying the best organic food around,
the Ethical Co-op team

A burst of energy


Great news this month is that NERSA, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, has approved some quite generous renewable energy feed-in tariffs. Based on the famous scheme pioneered in Germany, and which helped spark the solar industry there, this should result in a dramatic increase in renewable energy offerings here. Coming shortly after Eskom put its nuclear plans on hold, it’s good news locally on the energy front.

Organic honey

We have honey that’s certified organic by BDOCA available this week. Certified organic honey is rare, as even bees on an organic farm forage over a long distance, and will likely come across crops that aren’t organic. Fizantakraal honey is farmed in the Du Toit’s Kloof mountains. The honey is cold extracted and bottled in glass jars on the farm, preserving the enzymes found only in raw honey. The honey is fynbos honey, and so is ‘multifloral’ with each batch varying greatly.

Genetically-modified food

Two key developments this week. In the first, the German government has banned the cultivation of GM maize joining five other European countries doing so. And, a major study finds that claims of increased yields for GM crops in the US are false. It looks like the only thing that increases are pesticide sales.

A glimpse of the past, and of the future

This week’s video looks at a Vietnamese food forest that’s been in the family for 300 years, and, with minimal effort, provides much of their food and medicine. View it here.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Ethical Co-op team

As GM maize crops fail, US insists we accept more GM

Genetically-modified maize failures in South Africa

280 South African farmers growing genetically modified maize recently suffered extensive crop failures when three different maize varieties all failed to produce much seed. 82 000 hectares were affected by a problem Monsanto blamed on “insufficient crop fertilisation” in the laboratory. The plants looked lush from the outside, but upon opening the cob leaves they were seen to have little to no seeds, and were worthless.

Farmers have suffered millions of rands worth of damage, although Monsanto has offered compensation. Grain-SA, ardent supporters of Monsanto (and ardently supported by Monsanto), made a public statement saying they are still fully supportive of GM-technology.

The maize is designed to be infertile in its second generation, forcing farmers to continually buy seed from Monsanto – it looks like that useful trait skipped a generation.

Global Food Security Act of 2009

While Monsanto and their local friends endanger South African food security, the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee has unanimously passed a bill effectively forcing GMO’s on Africa. Ostensibly aimed at assisting with food security and alleviating global hunger (does anyone still believe these claims?), the bill mandated that agricultural research they fund must “include research on biotechnological advances appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified technology.”

Toxic baby feed

You may remember the outcry a while ago about melamine in Chinese formula, pet food, and so on. Much of the response centred around the lack of Chinese control, but we were reassured that elsewhere controls were in place. Well, in the US, 87% of milk-based infant formula sales in the U.S. have been found to contain perchlorate, a substance normally found in missile fuel, and a potent thyroid toxin. The problem was found to affect 15 different brands across 28 different states, and in particular stems from contamination of drinking water by the military industry.

Changing delivery and pickup times

We’re moving to a new warehouse later this month, and this will affect all our routes. Most of the collection and delivery times will be affected. We’ll announce more details closer to the time, but please remember to look carefully at the new times in 2 weeks time.

To order your perchlorate-free organic food, packed full of vitamins and minerals, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Ethical Co-op team

Fond farewell


It’s a shortened and sad newsletter this week, as we say a fond and respectful farewell to Alan Williams of Last Thyme Farm, who passed away last night. Beloved husband of Eve, Alan was loved and respected by those who knew him, young and old.

Alan, with his wife Eve, was a pioneer in the organic world, farming Last Thyme Farm organically before many of us knew much about organics. In the words of Eve, ‘He poured his heart and soul into our organic herb farm. He truly believed in the organic and sustainable development concepts.’

Last Thyme Farm proudly gained their certified organic status last year. In a welcome step beyond other herb farms, Alan farmed indigenous herbs and not only the traditional ‘European’ herbs. As far as we know, he was the only organic farmer doing this to produce essential oils and other cosmetic products.

Some of you who made the trip out to the Stellenbosch Slow Food market would have met Alan, who was often there manning the Last Thyme stall. You will know what a warm, open man he was, so willing to share his considerable knowledge, and give of his time.

Our condolences and supportive thoughts go out to all who were close to him, especially Eve, in their bereavement. Alan had been bravely fighting cancer for some time before his death. He will be much missed by all.

Hout Bay and Scarborough Collection Points

We have a new collection point in Hout Bay, Green PEAS. See the directions and details on the site, and remember you can update your default collection point, and any other details that need changing, by choosing “Update your Details” when you log in.

For this week only, the Scarborough collection point has shifted to another house on the same road. It’s 376 Rooibok Street, about half way down Rooibok on the left hand side, and the neighbouring house just before has a prominent green shade cloth.

Looking for Collection Points

We have some new collection points lined up, but are still looking for more, particularly in Observatory, Rondebosch and Sea Point. If you see your house as a community hub, and are interested in offering it as a collection point, read more details here .

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Co-op team