Green shoots

I’m lucky enough to exist almost entirely on Ethical Co-op food, and I’m very grateful to have access to all this fantastic food without having to run around all over the city, or make compromises by settling on the sad selection available at most shops. Normally, when produce I like is out of stock, I mumble and grumble, send a few reminders, but eventually make do without. There are a few exceptions though.

The most important of these is cashew nuts. I’ve nothing against pistachio, pecan and pumpkin seeds, but I feel something is missing when I don’t have cashews.

My favourite nut, it’s not a true botanical nut, rather a seed. They’re quite different nutritionally to other nuts, and have a much lower level of fat than others. Since it’s the fats that go rancid, cashews can be stored for longer than most other nuts.

The cashew shells are toxic, and not because of pesticides! The cashew shell contains the same element as poison ivy, and, since the double shell is difficult to remove, workers can quite often get painful skin rashes if they’re not taking care.

Because of its relatively creamy texture, cashews are ideal when blended into a vegan “cheez” sauce, and are a great source of copper and magnesium. Cashews are a tropical plant, originally from Brazil, although India grows the most worldwide now. In South Africa, cashews are mostly grown close the Mozambican border. The organic cashews offered by the co-op come from the Philippines.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I’m very happy we have organic cashew nuts back in stock. At the rate I’m going through them, I don’t know how long they’ll last.

Docke Farm
Docke Farm in Noordhoek is one of our more popular fresh suppliers. Much of his farmland floods in the winter, leaving it out of action for part of the year, but the soil rich and healthy when the waters recede. We’ll be offering more of his produce again now that his supply is coming back on stream. This week we’ve got carrots, marrows and peas from his farm.

Oranges and Lemons
If you want oranges and lemons from Kleinjongenskraal, make sure you order this week. Farmers have to take holidays too, and his produce will be unavailable for about three weeks.

How food shapes our cities
This week we’ve posted a TED presentation by Carolyn Steel on how food shapes our cities. She mentions permaculture as one of the necessary solutions. Compared to some of the mega-cities in the world, Cape Town is relatively sparsely populated, and the green shoots are breaking through everywhere. We’re lucky enough to have farms such as Docke, the numerous farms in Philippi, right in the city limits, township plots such as those supported by Abalimi, growing urban gardens thanks to the efforts of groups such as Soil for Life, and green schools thanks to organisations such as EarthChild and Seed.

To order, head on over to

Have a great week,
the Ethical Co-op team