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: http://blog.ethical.org.za/?p=1175

Xylitol
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 www.ethical.org.za 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.