Rhubarb rhubarb, is bigger better?

How big is too big?

We often hear about banks that are “too big to fail”, or car manufacturers that must “survive at all costs”. Usually, it’s for our own good. Only large, well-captitalised companies can implement the important changes we need to make to thrive in the 21st century, right?

Quite the contrary.

Real innovation so often comes from small groups and the young upstarts tuning into the times. Literary movements can be three of four highly influential people. Political tsunamis occur because of the works of one writer, or a few, seemingly chance meetings. History is written in terms of people, not only because we understand it best that way, but because huge social changes are so fundamentally affected by key people at key times.

As the now cliched Margaret Mead saying goes, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

That works both ways around. Where many see shadowy forces behind much of the world’s ills, you can equally say never underestimate the power of a few thoughtless and greedy people to change the world.

When it comes to the environment, we see the same pattern. While the large companies or organisations, with bloated bureaucracies, can’t seem to get the simplest things done, small, innovative people and companies are changing the world quickly.

Greenpeace regularly publishes a guide to greener electronics, listing the environmental efforts and sins of the various manufacturers. It caused an outcry when it first came up, with Apple Computer listed at the bottom, but Apple, to their credit, have implemented some of the most critical changes, and now sit at the upper end of the scale. Nintendo, Microsoft and Lenovo are at the bottom, Nokia and Sony Ericsson at the top.

However, a small Indian company, Wipro, has trumped everyone else and produced a computer completely free of hazardous PVC (polyvinylchloride) and BFR (brominated flame retardants), right down to their power cords.

In cars, while General Motors killed their electric car in 2006, and Chrysler canned theirs shortly after using it to get US government bailout money, a number of small companies have been successfully selling electric cars for a while, mainly in Europe and Asia. The most well-known is Tesla, with their sports car capable of going 217 km/h.

How are you making a difference?

Rhubarb rhubarb
I have a soft spot for rhubarb, as it was the first edible plant I ever grew, on a tiny plot in my parent’s garden. Not that I ever ate it. The tart, sour taste was too much for my custard and ice-cream trained pallette. One of the tragedies of a modern diet, high in refined sugar and other sweeteners, is that we lose our appreciation for the other tastes. Bitter, sour, astringent – these are tastes, not unpleasant horrors to be avoided at all costs.

Rhubarb is pleasantly tart, and a very good source of Vitamin K, calcium, potassium and manganese. The traditional way of describing the benefits of a food are in terms of their components. Vitamin A is good for the eyes, zinc for the brain, and so on. While this is in some sense true, there’s usually much more complexity, and it’s more important how things work together. Just as pesticides, tested individually, may seem safe, in untested combinations, it’s very unlikely the body welcomes them. Similarly, while the various vitamins and minerals, tested individually, all show certain effects, their effect together is is much more important.

Rhubarb however is perhaps an exception. While most think of calcium as being good for the bones, and it is, taken in isolation as a supplement it can do more harm, as the body may be unable to utilise it properly, leading to calcification in the wrong places, even while the bones remain weak. It’s all about that digestive system again, and how we utilise what we eat. A good dose of sauerkraut may do more good than popping lots of pills. Rhubarb, however, is really good for the bones. Vitamin K, calcium and manganese are all important for bone health, and rhubarb contains them in ample supply.

Perhaps more people though have heard of the phrase “rhubarb rhubarb” than have tasted fresh rhubarb. The term apparently began when stage directors would instruct crowds of extras to say “rhubarb rhubarb”, giving the impression of general hubbub. There was even a 1980 film, “Rhubarb rhubarb” where the only dialogue uttered was the word “rhubarb”, over and over (and over) again.

Talking of digestive systems, this week’s video is by the dynamic David Wolfe, on the topic of Candida. View it on the blog.

This week we have coconuts new on the site. They’re young green coconuts from Mozambique, which means they’re high in water, and low in the coconut flesh, perfect for drinking. We still have coconut oil available too. It’s one of the only oils to be cooking with as it has a very high heat point, and doesn’t have harmful side-effects when heated for cooking, like most other oils. Of course, you can have it raw too – it’s a great ingredient in smoothies.

Don’t forget
People are quite frequently leaving cold items behind at collection points. Remember, your cold items will be stored in a cooler box at the collection, and are marked separately at the top of your order sheet. Please don’t forget them!

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za.

Have a great week,
the Ethical Co-op team

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Anique

    YUMMY raw juice recipe for rhubarb: Ruby Red Rhubarb: 5 rhubarb stalks 2 apples Fresh strawberries, green tops removed Fresh raspberries Rinse well all the ingredients. Peel the outer skin of the rhubarb stalks with a vegetable peeler. Run the peeled rhubarb stalks, strawberries, apples, and raspberries through a juicer. Enjoy! Thanks to: http://rawepicurean.net/2009/03/12/ruby-red-rhubarb/