My childhood memories of vanilla were, of course, of vanilla ice cream and vanilla essence, both of which unfortunately very rarely contain the real thing.

Real vanilla is the only only edible fruit of the orchid family, and only grows in hot, moist climates, originally coming from Central America.

Vanilla is extremely labour-intensive to cultivate. It takes around three years after planting for the first flowers to appear, and each plant must be hand-pollinated. It was a 12-year old slave from the island of Reunion that in 1841 discovered hand pollination, after years of attempting to cultivate the crop.

The ancient Totonaco Indians of Mexico were the first people to cultivate vanilla. They didn’t have to hand pollinate, as there is only one insect in the world known to pollinate vanilla – a Mexican bee. The Aztecs conquered the Totonaco, and were in turn conquered by the Spanish, and the secret of Choclatl, a beverage of cocoa, vanilla, maize and honey was out.

We have both the pods available and a powder, offering great value (mine has lasted for months and I use it almost daily in my smoothies).

What’s New?
We have lots new this week – for the autumn moms there’s baby formula and baby porridge, baby wipes as well gluten-free rice pasta and an old favourite, tomato sauce.

We’re also very happy to have Soaring Free Superfood’s spirulina back this week. You may have read recently about the heavy metal contamination of some Chinese spirulina. Six out of eight brands tested by the Chinese government found dangerous levels of lead. Ours is produced locally, and although it’s not certified organic it’s produced according to the old organic standards, and is not irradiated.

A reminder that your feedback would be greatly appreciated for the veggie box survey – please complete it at if you haven’t already. It’s anonymous, quick and easy to complete, and the information is used for research only.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

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