Monthly archives "June 2011"

Yesterday’s naive idealism…

Kumi Naidoo, arrested last week for protesting Cairn’s oil prospecting in the Arctic circle, was released this week after four days in prison.

Upon his release, he spoke of Arctic drilling being one of the defining environmental battles of our age. Twenty years ago, oil multinationals and their government allies were eyeing out Antarctica, preparing to exploit the vast riches in the last relatively untouched continent on earth.

However, after a long campaign, with many seeing the whole idea as naive idealism, Greenpeace and others saw in the current reality, with the entire continent now protected as a global commons, a World Park for all.

This campaign will also be challenging, as eight countries have territory inside the Arctic circle, many of them rather maverick when it comes to balancing their citizens concerns with corporate interests. However, with the bravery of people such as Kumi Naidoo and others, and support and action from many around the world, we can turn naive idealism into reality.

Who moved the cheese?
Sandford Dairy have been a staple, offering us great quality and reliable cheeses, but this week is the last chance to order any from them. They’re closing down the dairy next week. The cows will be moving to a happy new home in Camphill Village.

Newlands Collection Point
We haven’t had a collection point in Newlands for a while, but from this week you’ll be able to collect your boxes from Kwalapa Organic Wholefoods deli. They also offer a warm and friendly venue for a bite in the mid-winter cold.

New this week
Our warehouse is also feeling the cold and is piling on the layers to keep warm. It’s bulging with new stock and old friends returning. The mid-winter citrus is out in force, and from Kleinjongenskraal farm near Citrusdal we have kumquat, shaddock and rose grapefruit back again to add to the mix. Shaddock is a citrus variety that tastes something like a sweet grapefruit, while kumquats are the small citrus with a sweet rind and a sour interior. Don’t make the mistake of peeling them and eating only the inside – it’s really sour, and sweet and sour contrast between the rind and the inside makes for an unusual taste. Some with a sweet tooth have been known to eat only the rind.

Other products new this week include oatcakes and rice cakes, and returning after a hiatus we have tomato and basil cracker oat bread, artichoke hearts, a real labour of love as they are very time-consuming to produce, mushrooms and even more seeds for those burgeoning home gardens.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Father’s Day in prison

It’s Father’s Day today, and while many were celebrating, one father, South African head of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo spent the day in prison.

Naidoo was arrested for boarding a Cairn’s Oil Rig in the Arctic, holding the latest 50 000 signatures in a petition to end Arctic drilling, and demanding to see their oil spill response plan.

Cairns Oil is the same oil company that, in their attempted injunction against Greenpeace, saw the judge agreeing that BP’s skimping on a second valve cost the world billions in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that safety is in everyone’s interest, and asking why Cairns don’t simply release their safety plan.

They still haven’t, and it was this plan that Naidoo was demanding be released when he was arrested.

Many recovery plans have been made public, but this one hasn’t, and many feel it’s because there isn’t a viable plan – cleaning up an Arctic oil spill is almost impossible.

It’s one of the unfolding tragedies that as the Arctic ice melts thanks in part to our oil economy, oil companies are moving in to the newly exposed territories and drilling for oil. As Naidoo says, “I’m an African but I care deeply about what’s happening up here.”

View the video of Naidoo boarding the oil rig here.

Food inflation
Food inflation is sky-high right now, and it seems that with almost every new batch of stock we’re seeing a price increase.

The causes of this are numerous – high petrol prices are key, but international markets also play a role in food prices.

This week the US Senate voted to end ethanol subsidies. Subsidies are a controversial topic – what’s seen in a local market as supporting local farmers and securing local food supply becomes unfair trade when the same food arrives on the other side of the world, now cheaper than the local produce thanks to huge subsidies, particularly from Europe and the United States.

The US has until recently subsidised maize farmers to grow maize, not for food, but for bio-fuel – ethanol. Maize is a terrible choice for bio-fuel. It’s far less efficient than the sugar-cane primarily used in Brazil, or a host of other crops, but was selected due to the political influence of large agricultural companies in the so-called “corn-belt” in the US.

Unfortunately, with farmers now growing maize for ethanol and not for food, thanks to 6 billion US dollar in subsidies, maize prices have increased drastically. Taken together with monstrous fires in Russia and Eastern Europe, destroying much of the world’s wheat crop, and now Thai politician attempts to stop rice exports (Thailand is one of the major sources of rice worldwide), prices in the three most commonly eaten grains have skyrocketed.

Dropping the ethanol subsidy makes sense (although the Senate vote alone is not enough to implement this yet), but unfortunately the US has no plans to drop its subsidies for oil. Even the most rabid of cost-cutting politicians, aiming to slash healthcare, environmental protection and the like, claiming these are all unnecessary and wasteful and that belts must be tightened, draws quiet when it comes to the two big taboos – oil and the military.

It was only in 1961 that outgoing US president Dwight Eisenhower warned of the rise of a military-industrial complex, and the disastrous potential for misplaced power, seeing the “total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — being felt in every city”.

With the US spending more on weapons and its military than the rest of the world combined – far more – it’s clear his warning has gone unheeded.

Not everything is going up
Amidst all the increases, some prices have come down. Our Featured and New section this week lists specials on avocados, cinnamon sugar, white pepper and raw chocolate, amongst others.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Greenpeace head boarding an Arctic oil rig

Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo was arrested for boarding a Cairn’s Oil Rig in the Arctic, holding the latest 50 000 signatures in a petition to end Arctic drilling, and demanding to see their oil spill response plan.

Bigger and better?

It’s often said that we need large-scale commercial farms to feed everyone. Even in South Africa, the flawed argument is often raised that large-scale commercial farms are inherently better than small farms.

I was interested to hear recently that China, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and one that’s self-sufficient in food, is almost entirely fed by small-scale farmers. Beijing, a metropolis of just under 20 million people, is fed by 80 million small-scale farmers (German link).

All this at the same time as the forest cover in the country is expanding rapidly.

Unfortunately, the western hemisphere sees a different story. The rate of deforestation in the Amazon, after a number of years of decrease, is on the increase again. The loss is mostly due to soya plantations, usually genetically-modified and mainly used for livestock feed. And most of those eating the resultant hamburgers have no clue of the chain of destruction they’re supporting.

The Brazilian government isn’t helping – their congress has recently approved an amendment to the forest code that will likely expand logging if it gets through the senate.

Although the developed world is seeing its forest cover expand rapidly, this doesn’t compensate for the loss of wild primary forest, with its rich biodiversity.

There’s still hope though. Our 2009 video featuring Willie Smits – A 20-year tale of hope: Re-growing a rainforest has been one of our most popular. This week we post another Willie Smits video.

Cardamon is well-known spice with a unique, strong taste. It’s commonly-used in Indian cooking, and also as a medicine in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, mainly to improve digestion and to assist with bad breath and mouth infections. We sell both the powdered form and the pods, but I’d recommend getting to know your mortar and pestle and grinding them yourself. Like most spices, cardamon loses flavour and effectiveness quickly once its ground.

Collection points closed
Thursday June 16 is Youth Day, and a public holiday. Many of our collection points will be closed, and it’s also the start of school holidays for some. Please remember to cancel your order if you’re not going to be around.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Nuts and fenugreek

Fenugreek is a staple spice for curries, and is believed to help reduce indigestion, as well as normalising glucose after meals and improving the body’s insulin response. For that reason, it’s been used as a natural remedy for diabetes along with the more well-known and well-tested cinnamon.

We’re going nuts again this week, with new stock of local pecans as well as Valencia almonds to add to our local macadamias, local almonds, brazil, hazel and pine nuts.

We also have couscous, pearled barley and vegetable stock powder for those winter soups.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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