Melting coconut oil, biodynamic vinegar and natural paint

Summer’s here. I may be stating the obvious, but if, like me, you spend too much time indoors, and are in danger of letting it slip by, one sure-fire way of noticing is that the coconut oil starts melting. It has a melting point of 26 degrees, so in winter you need to dig it out with a spoon, while in summer it can surprise you by turning into a liquid.

It’s also the time to be spent soaking up some Vitamin D with sundowners on the beach, rather than inside surrounded by electronic smog. At least that’s the message I seem to be getting, with my landline down, my cellphone misplaced, my TV broken, and my car in for repairs. I barely managed to get this newsletter out after having baptised my laptop with a smoothie when being bitten by a mosquito.


I wrote last year about the moves to declare leaded paint a group-one hazardous substance. Most paint manufacturers have ignored the voluntary commitment, made in the 1970’s, to minimise lead in their paints. Unfortunately there’s been little progress since last year.

Last week you would have seen a sample of one of EnviroTouch’s ProNature paints in your box. Lead gets most of the bad press, and as a result you’ll see quite a few “lead-free” paints. However, even these paints usually contain a host of unpleasant chemicals, such as petrochemical solvents, formaldehyde emitting biocides, acrylic polymers with TEA and N-Methyl Pyrrolidone – fingered for negatively affecting foetal development, ethylene glycol derivatives, alkyl phenol ethoxylates – endocrine disruptors, and many more. ProNature paints contain none of these, and a wide range, suitable for most conditions, is available to order.


Some of you would have noticed a sample bottle of Rozendal vinegar in your boxes this week. Rozendal is a small, family-run farm, situated on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. They’ve been farming without artificial fertilizer or pesticides since 1994 and biodynamically since 2001.

The word vinegar comes from the French words “vin”, or wine, and “aigre” meaning sour. It’s made when yeasts convert natural sugars into alcohol, and then a bacteria is added to ferment the alcohol into acid. As with other fermented foods, such as yoghurt and cheese, the bacteria culture is important, and provides much of the characteristic of the vinegar. Rozendal use an indigenous “mother?, originating from the first vinegar made on the farm in 1988, and used a blend of Merlot and Cabernet grapes.

Vinegar has a long history, being one of the most ancient drinks. It’s been found in Egyptian urns from around 3000BC. The Roman legionaries used vinegar, blended with water, and, if they were lucky, honey, as a basic drink.

According to legend, vinegar was an effective prevention for the plague. One version has it that, when the plague was raging through France, and many houses lay abandoned, many cities were beset by looters. In Toulouse, four looters were caught. It turned out they had been looting many abandoned houses, and the judge, rather than punish them, offered to set them free if they would share their secret for avoiding the plague.

They claimed a medicine woman sold them a potion of garlic soaked in vinegar, and variants of their recipe, called Four Thieves Vinegar, has been passed down till today.

You can view a video of their passionate vinegar maker on the fascinating process of making vinegar biodynamically on our blog.

To order, visit

Have a great week,
the Co-op team

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Anton

    Hi We have a client that is looking for a 1000 tons of coconut shells per month.If you can supply this, please inform price per ton

  2. Patrick Durkin

    My partner and I are attempting to make vinegar in our restaurant but do not have the 'mother' required to start the process. Can you please give me some ideas. Regards Patrick