Monthly archives "August 2010"

Must have coffee…

We have a range of new coffees this week. All Bean There’s coffees are single-origin arabica, and hand-roasted in small batches. Certified organic and fair trade, their Ethiopian Sidamo claims a fleeting floral aroma with soft acidity and citrus overtones.

Arabica and robusta are the two main commercial varieties, with arabica considered far superior. Arabica beans contain around half the caffeine of robusta, and are generally seen as having a more aromatic, flavourful taste. However, the best is grown at an altitude of over 2500 feet, and only 10% meets speciality coffee standards. The best arabica conveys a unique “taste of place”, and Bean There’s goal is to allow coffee connoisseurs to know a country through its coffee.

The Ethiopian Sidamo is from the home of coffee (coffee was first drunk and cultivated in Ethiopia), and is produced in partnership with the Fero Co-Operative.

Our Malawi Arabica is out of stock at present, although we still have our two instant coffees.

Asparagus is back in season again, and we’re happy to be offering certified organic green asparagus. A component of many Ayurvedic remedies, it’s a great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and folic acid (particularly important for pregnant women) and contains inulin, loved by bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, the friendly bacteria in our digestive system.

It’s rare that buckwheat makes the news. Commonly confused with wheat, buckwheat is unrelated. It’s the little gluten-free pyramid-shaped grains, and in its sprouted form is a staple of our luxury raw muesli. However, thanks to the Russian wildfires, the price is going through the roof, and it’s likely to be hard to come by.

To order, head on over to There’s only 1 day left to nominate entries for the SA blog awards, so if you like our blog, please nominate it at

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

Worth one’s salt

If you ordered this week, you would have noticed a sample Olgani tooth brushing salts in your box. If you haven’t already, do give them a try – brushing with salt may seem strange at first, but it leaves your teeth feeling well-cleaned, and salt brushing is a tried and trusted traditional remedy.

Twenty-five years ago, more than 2000 people became ill after eating watermelons that had been contaminated with the pesticide aldicarb. An aldicarb-based rat poison is banned for household use in the US due to its toxicity, but for 25 years this has been sprayed on our foods, in particular citrus and potatoes. The good news is that the US Environmental Protection Agency is on the ball, and in only five years time (2015), this chemical will no longer be used as a crop pesticide.

“Aldicarb no longer meets our rigorous food safety standards and may pose unacceptable dietary risks” says the EPA, having realised that aldicarb levels reach 800% higher than the “level of concern” for infants.

The EPA has not laid down the law, and banned the pesticide. Rather, the company manufacturing it, Bayer, and the EPA have “reached an agreement“, with Bayer kindly consenting to phase it out over the next five years.

It’s good to know the pesticides sprayed on our foods are so well-regulated!

I like it raw
Thanks largely to the efforts of Peter and Beryn and the team from Soaring Free Superfoods, the benefits of raw food are becoming more widely known, and more popular. It’s great then to see local enterprises popping up to fill the gap that mass-produced or imported supermarket food just doesn’t come close to filling. Last week, we added two new, locally-produced raw foods to our range.

Chocolate medicine
Euphoria Foiled might be categorised under chocolates, but maker Jane rightfully calls it a medicine. With ingredients such as maca powder, ginseng, barley life and FO TI it certainly is, not to mention raw cacao powder and raw cacao butter. It comes in two flavours, identically produced except for a dash of peppermint essential oil hidden in the green foiled one.

Raw muesli
Next up is a luxury raw muesli from Earthshine, who are also offering raw food preparation classes. Dates, soaked almonds (soaking nuts, especially dark nuts, vastly improves their nutritional profile), sunflower seeds, apricots, sprouted buckwheat, pomegranate, and more. I finished mine in a day, and the week looms long until the next batch arrives!

We hope to be offering more lovingly locally produced foods soon. To order, head on over to

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

Vai Portugal

When thinking of countries that are green leaders, I think of Denmark for its wind power, Germany and solar, a number of US states, China in some ways for its ambitious targets. Certainly not sleepy Portugal. But in five years, Portugal has increased the percentage of electricity from renewable sources from 17% to 45%. And next year it expects to roll out a national network for recharging electric cars.

How did they get there? It’s a complicated process, relying on heavy government involvement, and getting the regulatory environment right. But mostly it took vision, and persistence, and enduring the scorn of less visionary leaders, with Prime Minister José Sócrates remembering how Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi mockingly offered to build an electric Ferrari.

Groot Marico nickel mine?
Closer to home its land in demand. The pristine Groot Marico river is under threat after a nickel corporation applied to start prospecting on almost all the farms along the riverfront, including a number of permaculture farms. Open caste mining is highly destructive, and the lifeblood of the community, the Groot Marico river, would be devastated. Read more and take action.

40 Bornean rhino…
Further afield another land grab is underway, with a piece of Malaysian rainforest, home to the 40 last remaining Bornean rhinos, as well as endangered orangutans being under threat of turning into a coal power plant. Read more and take action.

Russian fires
A piece of land nobody wants is the contaminated land around Chernobyl. The Russian fires are on a truly unbelievable scale. Snowy Moscow experienced 28 consecutive days over 30 degrees celsius, and the extreme heat and dry weather fuelled the immense fires.

However, the fires have spread beyond Russia, into the Ukraine, and the highly contaminated fallout area around Chernobyl. 24 years after the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl melted down, if the fires remain unchecked, there’s the possibility of small doses of radioactive material being burnt and spreading through the air again, a mini-replay of the main disaster 24 years ago.

A reminder we cannot simply act without consideration for the future.

Gorgeous Gojis
Earlier this week we posted a video of Peter from our supplier Soaring Free Superfoods tasting some wild gojis from the Tibetan plateau. View it on our blog.

Crazy quinoa
It’s time for some spring cleaning on our shelves, and you’ll find a few crazy prices in our Featured & New section, with more to follow in the weeks ahead.

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

Wild gojis

A video featuring Peter, of Soaring Free Superfoods, who supply us with goji berries and other superfoods, sampling the wild gojis of the Tibetan Plateau.

Hot air

For much of the world this year looks like the hottest on record. And while the differences are less extreme in the tropics, closer to the poles things are a little different.

Russia, a land many of us picture as covered in snow and tundra, has been experiencing extreme heat and drought this year, and regular temperatures above 40 degrees. Four of the first five days of August saw record high temperatures. And now, in the culmination of a dry and hot summer, the country has experienced devastating fires.

Dry forest and peat, which cover much of Russia, are far more susceptible to destructive fires than the grasslands prevalent here, and some estimates have have seen fully one third of the entire country’s arable land burnt. Russia is the largest country in the world – South Africa can fit inside about 15 times – and with the loss of so much farmland, wheat prices in particular have soared, and the country has banned grain exports.

More hot air
Meanwhile, a short distance away, another giant country – the United States – has problems of its own. The release of 2 million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants into the Gulf perhaps? Its addiction to oil? The fact that it’s one of the most unequal societies in the world, or has the largest prison population? No, it’s bicycles.

According to Republican candidate Dan Maes, a rollout of a bicycle rental scheme in Denver is all part of an insidious plot to take away “our personal freedoms” and sell Denver out to the “United Nations”. The bicycle rentals could even be “against the constitution”. Perhaps its the fact that the bicycles are red that’s stirring up the bullish Republican candidate, but it seems Russia is not alone in experiencing waves of hot air.

Chocolates and peanuts
We have mange tout and sugar-snap peas available again after a long break, as well as chocolate bars and peanut butter. We’re also running out fast of the Whole Earth line, including the carbonated drinks. Our supplier has indicated they won’t have available for a number of months.

To order, head on over to

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