Monthly archives "March 2011"

Storms, marrows and lemons

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…
It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

Maybe the image doesn’t work as well in parched Africa, but the spirit still holds. There will always be storms, and it’s our choice how we react to them. With global media and the internet we can constantly be aware of a storm somewhere or other, but the are we sitting, numbed, or are we dancing our own dance? The world needs us to do what we love, nothing more, but nothing less.

Apologies to everyone who ordered marrows last week. We had two suppliers of marrows, but both were badly affected by pests, and couldn’t supply our full order.

Available this week
We have the last of the lemons available this week – if you miss out on Kleinjongenskraal’s lemons this time, it’ll be a few weeks at least before you can get more.

The good news is there are still ample watermelons available to enjoy the last of the warm weather.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Autumn watermelons

Autumn is here, ushered in by a glorious long weekend featuring a super full moon. Many of you, including myself, were rushing off for the weekend, so the newsletter is only arriving today. The cutoff time is still 2pm though, so get your orders in fast if you haven’t already!

The mosquitoes are out in force. Our warehouse was invaded en masse last week, and at one stage I could barely see the computer screen. Luckily there are alternatives to bloodstains and squashed mosquitoes on the one hand, or saintly sacrifice on the other. We tried out the mosqui lemongrass incense, and it worked impressively well. There’s also a lavender variety, and a longer-lasting Ayruvedic coil.

Prickly Pears
Apologies to everyone who ordered the prickly pears from Camphill last week. They didn’t arrive, but Camphill have promised a free replacement to everyone who ordered one last week, to be delivered with this week’s order.

New this week
We have watermelons again this week, from Kleinjongenskraal in the Cedarburg, as well as gooseberries, with their wonderfully tart taste. Our email volume will probably decrease drastically too as one of our most requested items, apple juice, is back again, at least for this week.

Have a wonderful week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Managing Perceptions or Changing Reality?

The Gulf Oil Spill
Remember the oil spill in the Gulf last year? It all ended well, and there were no disastrous newspaper images of oil washing up in front of those Florida beach condos. Sadly, that’s the perception, and the cost of this PR masterstroke has been dumping millions of gallons of toxic chemicals on the oil, making it sink to the bottom.

These highly toxic chemicals have already killed or severely sickened many involved in the cleanup, and caused utter devastation on the floor of the Gulf. BP would have had to foot a hefty bill to wipe down the condos, but dying fishermen and cleanup worker are much less of a PR disaster, happening as they do one at a time, months and years later.

It’s good to know though that Florida lawmakers are on the job. A law is winding its way through a new senate bill that would make it illegal to take photographs of farms.

Yes, some “farmers” are upset that, while their product labelling shows happy cows and pigs in the green fields, pesky investigators are snapping the reality, which in some cases resembles a torture chamber. Chickens spending their entire lives two in a cage the size of an A4 stamp, unable to move, pigs squashed in cages where their snouts become infected rubbing up against the mesh.

Again, the solution chosen is to manage perceptions rather than change reality.

Organic and small-scale farming increases yields

A large-scale multi-year study in 20 African countries has just released its results, and again indicates the benefits of small-scale and mostly organic farms, in particular those growing a mix of crops.

Over three to ten years, yields doubled. Over 57 developing countries, yields improved 80%. At the same time as growing more food, the approach cuts the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, saving farmers money, and allowing depleted soil to recover.

Farming is not a formula that you can apply from a laboratory. Each farm is unique, and there are a multitude of different factors at work. In Malawi, maize yields increased by planting a particular tree nearby. Locally, maize grown with pumpkin shows much higher yields.

All of our fresh and organic suppliers offer us multiple crops. It would seem strange to have a farmer contact us, and offer one crop only, but this is what much of the developed world’s farms are. Giant monocultures untrodden by people, seeing only planes wooshing over spraying poisons the crop has been genetically engineered to resist, and combine harvesters hacking away at harvest time. Slowly, these farms turn into deserts, and the food they produce becomes less and less nutritious.

New this week
We have a bursting warehouse this week. Admittedly, it’s getting a little cramped, and the lentils at the bottom don’t have much of a view, while the noodles are getting nervy at the encroaching olives, but we don’t think they really mind.

We have more new chocolate products this week. Honest Chocolates are offering something different – raw, organic chocolate spread, as well as two chocolate slabs – dark maca nad dark nibs to complement our conventional Rapunzel chocolate slabs. Of course, we’re still offering Gayleen’s raw ginger, mint and orange treats, as well as Euphoria Foiled’s peppermint and dark varieties.

We also have adzuki beans back in stock. There have been great debates over whether they should be called adzuki beans, aduki beans or azuki beans, but whatever they’re called, the beans that make up the main component of red bean paste, are an important component of Asian cooking, and are often eaten sweetened, are now available again.

There’s lots more new this week, from buckwheat to poppadoms, mesquite to prickly pear, so take a look at our Featured and New section.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Oils and fats

When we hear the word “oil” most of think of the gloopy black stuff we start wars over or pour into our oceans, but oils and fats are important for our bodies too.

Macadamia nut oil is becoming increasingly popular, especially as an alternative to olive oil. Olive oil has a distinctive taste not to everyone’s liking, while macadamia nut has a much more subtle, almost buttery taste. It has a long shelf life, and a relatively high smoke point, making it a reasonable choice to cook with, and is very high in oleic acid, which assists with artery health. Although fairly low in the essential fatty acids (omega 3’s and omega 6’s), as is olive oil, macadamia nut oil has an ideal balance between the two.

Hemp oil is one of the most balanced oils, high in essential fatty acids and one of the only oils that can be consumed over a long period of time without causing an imbalance. It certainly shouldn’t be used for cooking though, as it breaks down into harmful components quickly if damaged by heat.

Flax oil is an important therapeutic oil, mainly because it has a very high ratio of omega 3’s. Most of us are deficient in omega 3’s, as these are almost entirely absent in cooked food, and are vital for so many functions, including dispersing excess saturated fatty acids, which are a cause of blood clots. This modern-day plague of heart disease in modern society is made worse by eating too much refined sugar, which the body turns into saturated fats, and a deficiency in omega 3’s only makes this worse.

Sesame oil is high in omega 6’s and contains natural preservatives that make it last longer than other oils high in essential fatty acids.

Finally, coconut oil, being mostly saturated fat, stable at higher temperatures, is one of the best oils to cook with. It’s also great for the skin and hair, and I’ve even heard of it being used as a deodorant, although I haven’t tried this yet!

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to