Monthly archives "October 2012"

Good news on GMO’s, and quark’s, souls and stars

Good news on the GMO front
There’s good news from three different parts of the world regarding genetically-modified food. Locally, draft amendments have been published indicating that all food containing 5% or more GM ingredients must be labelled as such. Until now, the food industry has claimed that the regulations are ambiguous, and has mostly not labelled GMO’s, but this latest amendment removes all ambiguity, and labelling will be mandatory.

In India, thanks to widespread opposition and the work of activists such as Vandana Shiva, genetically-modified organisms have been banned. This is not permanent, but means they are banned until independent long-term studies have been done, and a controlled release plan implemented.

Finally, in the US, where GMO’s have gained the most foothold, California will soon be voting on Proposition 37, legislation to enforce mandatory labelling. Supporters of the proposal still lead in the polls, but companies such as Monsanto, Nestle, Pepsi, Coke and Kelloggs have pumped millions into a huge campaign against labelling, and thanks to their saturation of the media, support for the proposal has dropped from 67% to 48% in just two weeks.

Here’s hoping that our friends in California, as well as us locally, will soon be able to enjoy the same rights to know what’s in our food as much of the world takes for granted.

View Vandana Shiva’s Sydney Peace Prize lecture on our blog, where she describes influence such as the above as “corporate weapons of mass destruction”.

From village to quark
Camphill Village is an eco-village up the west coast working to provide care and employment for adults with disabilities, particularly those at risk within their families and communities. In the past they mainly cared for children with autism, while now it’s mostly children who have suffered abuse or neglect.

It’s a model eco-village, with residents working on the land, consuming what they produce, recycling much of their minimal waste, and producing seasonal products for sale.

Thanks to them, I also learnt this week that quark is not just a tiny element in the nucleus of an atom, but also a type of cheese!

Camphill have rebranded their cottage cheese as quark, the traditional German term. It’s the same cheese, although traditionally quark is made without rennet, while many commercial cottage cheeses do use rennet. It’s similar to Indian paneer, and is also called curd cheese, or white cheese.

Camphill are also offering a new, matured cheese.

Soul Food
Soul Food is the name of the jams and chutneys bottled by the Jolly Jammers, a group of women from the Lavender Hill communities Soil for Life works with. All are trained in Soil for Life’s natural growing methods and given in-depth training on preserve-making.

Currently we have plum jam in stock, as well as new additions mixed citrus marmalade, and a raw chutney made mostly almost entirely from Ethical Co-op ingredients.

Star Anise
There’s much to explore this week, with a host of new additions, but I’ll end with a mention of one of my favourite spices, the beautiful star anise. With a licorice-taste similar to regular anise, and a star-like appearance, it’s actually an unrelated plant related to magnolias. Traditionally used as a treatment for rheumatism and for digestion, it’s recently been in short supply after stocks were bought up, as an extract from star anise is a key ingredient in a particular medicine.

In the newsletter I didn’t mention the name, as it would have triggered every spam filter out there, but star anise is also a key ingredient in Tamiflu. After the shortage of star anise due to the bird flu scare, a synthetic alternative derived from e-coli was produced instead!

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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

Vandana Shiva’s Sydney Peace Prize Lecture

“If commerce starts to undermine life support, then commerce must stop, because life has to carry on.” This is the central premise Dr Vandana Shiva’s passionate address for the 2010 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, in which she lambasts global corporations for waging war against nature in the name of profits.

If you want to skip the introduction and go straight to Vandana Shiva’s talk, her lecture begins at the five minute point.

Vandana Shiva : Sydney Peace Prize Talk from WisdomKeepers Productions on Vimeo.

Small is the new medium

In my world, things are simple, and when describing the size of something, there’s small, medium and large. Anything else is a real extreme. But it turns out that in the world of eggs things aren’t quite so simple. I’d always believed that when available eggs went from “small, medium and large” to “large, extra-large and jumbo” this was simply a dubious marketing upgrade, but it turns out there is actual legislation relating to descriptions of egg sizes.

Just as compelling as the legislation is the story of someone telling me their baking would be ruined because the recipe called for a “medium” egg and our supposedly medium egg was actually large!

So, we had to listen, and the egg descriptions have changed to match the legislation and convention. The Kleinjongenskraal eggs we were offering as “small” are now “small to medium”, and the medium are now “medium to large”.

Besides Bloublommetjies eggs, which are certified biodynamic and which feed entirely on produce from the farm, none of our eggs are certified organic. This is mainly due to the lack of certified organic feed available in South Africa, and the excessive cost of imported feed. But our eggs roam on organic farmland and, as you’d realise if you’ve ever tried to have a phone call with Les from Kleinjongenskraal when the chickens are in the house, are truly free range. Free range is sadly a term open to abuse and watered down standards, so it’s always preferable to know where your eggs are coming from rather than just relying on a label.

Easy Living with Earthshine
Earthshine, who supply us with raw crackers, kale chips, muesli and chocolate florentines, are Natalie and Noel, two old Ethical friends, who left to start their own business. They’re hard at work on a book, Easy Living Food, packed full of delicious raw recipes, and are looking for help to publish it. You can support the project by pre-buying a book, or contributing in various other ways, earning everything from three emailed recipes, to a dinner for four personally prepared by Natalie and Noe in return. Visit the website at for more details.

We were down to our last few bags, but the crisis is averted, and we have new stock of King Soba rice noodles. Gluten-free, they make a quick and tasty meal, and the black rice noodles are visual treat on a white plate!

Have an easy living week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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

Happiness is…

While most countries in the world measure their progress by various economic indicators, such as GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the Himalayan country of Bhutan does things a little differently. Best known for its Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, where progress is measured by people’s well-being, in Bhutan, all policies are assessed according to their effect on GNH.

Can you imagine a society where fracking, or the introduction of genetically-modified crops are assessed according to whether they actually improve people’s wellbeing, rather than line someone’s pocket?

Farmworkers labouring in pesticide-ridden fields is no-one’s idea of wellbeing, so it’s inevitable that Bhutan is aiming to become the first modern country to produce 100% organic food.

Already estimated to be 90% organic, Bhutan has developed a ten-year roadmap to achieve its goal, a step-by-step process to manage the transition without the disruption that immediately switching a chemically-farmed farm to organic can entail.

Available this week
Unfortunately for avo lovers our avo supply has been disrupted by the truck strike. We had very limited stock last week, and won’t have any this week, and that’s sadly it for the season.

We do have beetroot, broccoli and cauliflower, but all in relatively small quantities, so get your orders in fast if you’re in the purply cruciferous mood.

Asparagus is coming on fast, so the prices have dropped for two consecutive weeks now, resulting in a dramatic decrease from the initial price, as well as greater availability.

Finally, for those of you just back from holidays, a reminder about our two new collection points, Organic at Heart in Wynberg, and AllisOne in Claremont.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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

Growing Season

It’s growing season, and just in time we have a huge new batch of organic seeds from Sandveld, including many new varieties we’ve never stocked before. Purple basil, peppadews and purple cauliflower are just some of the new varieties to try out. It’s critical to keep supporting local and organic seed suppliers, especially given the recent takeover of South Africa’s Pannar seed company by Du Pont, leaving almost all local seed supplies as a duopoly in the hands of chemical and biotech giants Monsanto and Du Pont. Sandveld have done fantastic work bringing in new varieties of organic seed, and then starting to cultivate them locally.

Sandveld’s habanero and sweet chilli sauces have also returned, and the sweet chilli sauce, which used to be 90% organic, is now 100% certified organic, without any change in price.

New Wynberg Collection Point
After the opening of our new collection point at AllisOne in Claremont last week, this week we have a new collection point in Wynberg, Organic at Heart restaurant, where you can have a freshly prepared organic meal as you collect your week’s order.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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