Monthly archives "June 2010"

Hot or not

Tea-drinkers have probably noticed our increasing range of teas, especially the Qi range of black and green blends. Certified organic, well-priced, the range now includes a golden black tea, Earl Grey, ginger green tea, jasmine green tea and, added this week, a spicy chai black tea.

Add to that our wide range of herb, rooibos and honeybush teas, and tea drinkers are certainly well-catered for.

Coffee drinkers may however have been feeling a little disgruntled. We used to have a good range of coffee, but haven’t been able to establish a regular supply, and have recently been limited to two instant coffees, one of them decaf.

However, back on the site after a long hiatus is a “real” coffee, Chipunga’s Arabica ground coffee. Grown in the highlands of Malawi on terraces of deep brown-reddish soils and surrounded by protected indigenous forest, Chipunga supports the social and educational upliftment of the local community through a worker-governed fund.

Hot-hot or not
We haven’t had chilli sauce available for a while, and the habanero sauce we offered a few weeks ago sold out extremely quickly. So we’ve stocked up again and can now bring you 4 varieties to heat up your winter meals.

The Ethical Co-op’s Bhanoo brings you her hot-hot-hot habanero sauce. In case it’s not clear from the description, it’s hot. Very hot. One of our tasters very impressively did manage to taste the peach inside, but us lesser mortals were left scrambling for the kuzu root to reline our intestines.

There’s also a mild, if such a word can be applied to habaneros, one of the hottest of the chillies, habanero sauce, and two sauces actually befitting the term mild – a sweet chilli sauce and a green jalapeno sauce.

The joke about stomach lining is actually not correct. Regular chilli-eaters have lower rates of peptic ulcers than those who avoid them, and the increased blood flow to the stomach lining caused by the active ingredient, capsaicin, may actually help in healing the lining of the stomach tissue.

Where’re the oats?
But enough of the tea and chilli I hear you cry! Where are the oats? A staple, and one of our best sellers has been unavailable for the past few weeks, courtesy of a minor hold-up in the harbour, but, to a collective sigh of relief, we have oats available again.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical Co-op team

Celebrate Life

We shouldn’t need a soccer tournament to celebrate. Life itself is a celebration, no matter what our circumstances. But sometimes, it helps to have an excuse. So while, yes, the billions could have been better spent, the stadium built elsewhere, and a vuvuzela at 7am may not be everyone’s ideal start to the day, the party is here.

It’s been great to watch the energy pulsing through people, even those who aren’t normally soccer fans. Philippi, where our warehouse is based, was one huge party last night. It’s been a long time since most of the country reverberated with a similar energy. 1994, 1995, 1996. Nothing since then.

So I’ll save the news about the new pesticide campaign for another time!

If you do plan to celebrate with a chocolate smoothie or three, one of the key ingredients, coconut oil is now available in an unfiltered form. Certified organic, the unfiltered coconut oil is a yellower colour and has a slightly different, stronger taste than virgin filtered coconut oil. And costs a lot less too!

Have a blissful week,
Ian and the Ethical Co-op team

The beginning of the end of the Age of Oil

Its been 5 weeks now, and the oil is still gushing from the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. All attempts to cap the well have failed, and there’s no doubt that it’s now a major disaster.

BP’s PR campaign is in full swing. They are buying up key internet search terms, so that if you search for information about the oil spill you’re more likely to come across a BP-controlled site, or be able to “Learn more about how BP is helping”.

BP’s taken control of the cleanup, but they’re not having much success cleaning up. They’re having more success in keeping pictures of dead fish, birds and animals out of the headlines, as they’ve forbidden any of their contract workers from taking pictures, and there’ve been remarkably few visuals of the devastation.

A BP worker secretly snuck out a media team, who got a picture of an oil-filled dolphin washed up on the rocks. He talked of seeing a group of five sea turtles covered in oil, three dead, the other two mortally ill. Of brown pelicans, highly endangered, but successfully re-introduced and thriving on an offshore island, covered in oil as their home is engulfed by the slick.

Not much of the spill has washed up on the US mainland yet – it’s still been mostly confined to various small islands offshore, which is why BP has been able to control access. That’ll change as the oil reaches the US mainland.

There are doubts about BP’s survival. It’s share value has plummeted from $122 billion dollars to $80 billion dollars. A US-led consumer boycott is in full swing. And legal minds have already found ways to ensure BP is liable for unlimited damages, and a criminal case opened.

Ironically, BP usually ranks at the top of various green oil company charts. With so much of its oil located in the US, it follows higher environmental standards than other companies. Shell’s devastation in Nigeria continues to this day, even as we remember the death of human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed by the then Nigerian military regime in 1995 after leading a non-violent campaign against Shell’s activities in his homeland.

Or Chevron (owners of Caltex locally), whose devastation in Ecuador under a compliant military regime have now come back to haunt them with the civilian government not proving so compliant.

Or ExxonMobil, branded the number 1 climate criminal, and most conspicuous with their efforts to sabotage attempts to deal with climate change.

It’s a mistake though to imagine the problem is all “out there”, all the fault of those evil companies and governments. Doing so denies our own shadow, our culpability. G.K. Chesterton once responded, when asked what was most wrong with the world, “I am”. An enlightening and empowering view – what are we doing to create the problem? And conversely, what are doing to solve it?

The catastrophe offers us a great opportunity. The US government is now looking at removing oil industry tax credits, and directing them towards renewable energy. The European Union is now agreeing standards on the recharging of electric cars. To date each manufacturer has done their own thing, meaning systems aren’t compatible.

It can be done – all of our own produce is packed in compostable bags, we encourage all of our suppliers to do the same, and our vehicle, although it still runs on diesel while we wait for the electric version powered by solar-generated electricity, makes use of small-scale biodiesel.

While that’s no consolation to the thousands of creatures affected by the oil spill, there are signs this is the beginning of the end of the Age of Oil.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical Co-op team