Monthly archives "August 2012"

Ethical and Organic

Loess Plateau
The Loess Plateau in China has been described as the most eroded place in the world, and has been for over a thousand years. This video on our blog looks at the remarkable restoration efforts in parts of the plateau:

Our xylitol has been listed as originating in Finland and deriving from birch bark. We were alerted recently that this was incorrect, and, following it up with Health Connection, have established that the xylitol is now derived from maize, and is imported from China, as Health Connection were having supply issues with the Finnish supplier.

Although derived from maize, the xylitol is highly unlikely to be genetically-modified. China has plans to grow genetically-modified maize, but these are on hold and none is currently grown in the country, the 2nd-highest maize producer after the US.

China also currently outlaws the import of genetically-modified maize, so, although the product is not organic and is therefore not audited, it’s unlikely to contain any genetically-modified material.

Thanks to everyone who acts as our eyes and ears and alerts us to changes or prompts us to investigate things more closely than we could alone.

Ethical and Organic
As our name indicates, making the most ethical decision is core to everything we do. Sometimes the decision is easy. Do we stock an imported conventional product or a local and organic one? But most decisions aren’t quite so clear-cut.

A few years ago we dropped an imported olive oil to offer two local olive oils. Recently we’ve had requests to stock an imported organic olive oil, with a noticeably lower price.

Farms in the European Union are heavily subsidised, leading to relatively cheap food as well as excess production, that then ends up in other countries around the world, impacting on local producers. But at the same time, our goal is that organic become the default – not an expensive, exclusive label for a few, but simply the way good food is produced.

Should we stock an imported organic product if it’s noticeably cheaper than an equivalent local alternative?

Another example is the case of non-organic vegan products. We’re constantly notified of new products, such as nut cheezes, where an organic alternative isn’t available at all. We don’t currently stock most of these, and encourage suppliers to produce an organic variety that we’d be happy to list. Should we offer something that’s not organic if there’s no alternative?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – let us know on Twitter or on Facebook

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Head on over to to order. For Cape Town orders you have until Tuesday 2pm, and if you want to add or remove products after you’ve ordered, you can make changes right up until the cutoff time.

Restoration of the Loess Plateau

The Loess Plateau in China has been described as the most eroded place in the world, and already 1000 years was suffering the ill-effects of poor land-use.

In this video, John Lui and his Earth’s Hope project look at the dramatic restoration of parts of the plateau.

How are you being magnificent today?

There is such a strong pattern in the business world of seeing other entities as competitors, of seeing other’s failure as a good thing, an opportunity to profit.

I read a wonderful quote today, which I’ve shortened and paraphrased slightly:

“Imagine a world where we are not in competition with our fellow humans, but where we truly, madly, deeply celebrate when they actualize some part of their sacred purpose. Imagine that. A world where we get excited for each other, where we do not see another’s accomplishments as a reminder of things we have not yet actualized, but as living proof that it is possible for all of us. Lets invite each other higher, lets encourage each other to believe in our shared magnificence!”

How are you being magnificent today?

La Rhine Organic Farm
We say goodbye to La Rhine organic farm this week. They’ve been reliably supplying us with beautiful greens, swiss chard and bright light spinach from our very early days. Hennie and Sally are off to the fertile soils of Zambia this week – we wish them all the best with their new venture.

As one supplier leaves, we welcome another. Rawlean will be supplying us organic sprouted buckwheat from this week. Sprouted and dehydrated , it makes a great addition for a snack pack, or for cereals, salads or soups.

Buckwheat is unrelated to wheat, and contains no gluten, so is much easier on the digestive system. It’s actually not even a grain, being the seed of a fruit, and related to rhubarb and sorrel. It’s very high in manganese as well as magnesium, a co-factor in many enzymes in the body, and commonly deficient in the modern diet.

Be warned though. I went straight for the chilli flavours, and Rawlean is certainly not shy with the chilli!

Have a magnificent week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Woman’s Day, Food Prices and Seeds

It’s Woman’s Day on Thursday, and a number of our regular collection points are closed for the holiday, and a number of those that are open have different times. Home deliveries will of course take place as usual. Please make sure you’re aware of any changes to the times – they’re all listed on the website.

Food Prices and Climate Change
With the extreme drought in the US leading to a shortage from the world’s largest maize producer, food prices are skyrocketing, and maize prices are 44% higher in South Africa than they were last year.

With climate change leading to more frequent extreme weather, the time is perfect for organic farming, where the greater biomass and health of the soil means that organic farms, besides a higher nutrient level, also produce higher yields during drought and during wetter seasons.

At a time when conventional farmers should be doing well, the takeover of local seed company Panaar by biotech giant Pioneer (owned by chemical company Du Pont) means that South African farmers could be facing a virtual seed monopoly, with local seed supply almost entirely controlled by Monsanto and Pioneer, leading to a drastic reduction is the variety of seed available, and an increase in prices.

We’re very grateful that there are still small local suppliers producing a wide variety of organic seed, and we offer seeds from Camphill Farm, up the West Coast near Atlantis, Soil for Life in Constantia and Tierhoek Organic near Robertson.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.