Community Supported Agriculture project launches, and the notorious cowcumber

CSA

We’re very happy to be part of the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project that we know of in the country, along with Slow Food Cape Town, and the Sustainability Institute. A CSA is simply a partnership between consumers and farmers, and one of the primary aims is to close the gap between farmer and consumer, and to share the rewards and risks. The consumers pay upfront, enabling the farmer to establish his or her farm. In our case, the farmer is Eric, and he will of course be growing organically. He’s aiming to produce interesting lettuces, carrots, beetroot, cucumber, beans, sweetcorn, onions, butternut, spring onions and sweet melons.

Every week, those who’ve sponsored the project upfront will receive a box of mixed vegetables, depending on what is ripe and ready for picking at the farm. Each box will contain at least seven items (which could be a bunch of carrots, a bag of lettuce, etc).

Sponsors will also have opportunities to visit the farm, as well as receive regular feedback from Eric.

You only get one chance to join the CSA – at the beginning. It costs R715 (not payable to the co-op), and you will receive 13 boxes, which works out at R55 each – very good value we think. We aim to start with the first delivery on February 5th, though this may be delayed a week or so if not enough people join.

Eric’s box will be delivered to your house or collection point along with any other produce you order from us, as per usual.

Please note that the scheme is being co-ordinated by Slow Food Cape Town, so you need to make payment to them, not to the Ethical Co-op. For more details, and to make payment, contact Kate Schrire at kateschrire@gmail.com

You can read a more complete overview here, as well as download more information here.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a much-maligned food that’s often tossed in to salads as an afterthought. Cultivated for 3000 years and originally from India, cucumbers consist mostly of water. The good news is that the water is naturally distilled, making it far better than most of the water we drink. They’re very high in the mineral silica, which, put simply, holds us together. Bones, teeth, tendons, muscle – they all need silica. Together with water, silica also helps condition the skin, improving its complexion and hydrating it.

The English cucumber is probably more well-known here – it’s longer, thinner, and usually wrapped in plastic. The Mediterranean cucumber is another variety, usually shorter and slightly fatter, while what many of us commonly call gherkins are yet another, smaller variety of cucumber.

In Europe in the 1700’s a prejudice arose against eating uncooked foods, probably due to poor hygiene as the population became increasingly urbanised. Habits such as using saliva to clean foods probably didn’t help much. Cucumbers, not being the best candidate for cooking, were named cowcumbers, “fit only for consumption for cows”. They took on an even more fearsome reputation, with the famous diarist Samuel Pepys writing “Newburne […] is dead of eating cowcumbers, of which, the other day, I heard another, I think Sir Nicholas Crisp’s son.”

Luckily we’ve moved on from the 1700’s, and cowcumbers are no longer seen as murderous. Cucumber, especially the skin, is recognised to be highly nutritious, rich in Vitamin A, B-complex, C, folic acid as well as potassium, manganese and sulphur. Cucumber is one of the most alkalising of foods in the bloodstream (most of our blood is far too acidic in a modern diet), and especially when juiced, reduces uric acid, a cause of rheumatic ailments.

Cucumbers bruise and spoil easily. They’re best stored in a breathable bag in the fridge. Some conventional cucumbers are waxed, in order to protect the cucumber from bruising and spoilage. You’ll notice the wax by the cucumber’s excessive shininess. The wax is a food-grade additive, but, if you have to eat a waxed cucumber, rather peel it!

We have a limited number of Mediterranean cucumbers available on the site, so order quickly.

Update your orders

A reminder to our new customers that you only place one order a week, and it goes through at 2pm on Monday. You can order now, and then make any changes to your order right up until Monday. In short, if you’re one of the majority who wait until Monday to place your order, the chances are you’re missing out on lots of our limited availability produce!

Place your order at www.ethical.org.za.

Have a great week,
the Co-op team