A Brazilian contrast, and time for tea

Last time I mentioned climate change in a newsletter, I got another of those emails telling me that climate change is all a scam by the global eugenicists to tax us, and to enjoy the cool weather Cape Town was experiencing. In fact, every time I mention climate change, the weather seems to cool. Well, when I started writing this newsletter on Tuesday, after a spell of 10 days that’s been more reminiscent of life on Venus (the planet, not the Greek goddess), I was willing to try anything for some more cool weather. It seems to have worked. As we move towards the equinox and some cooler weather, and with the lobbyists taking a break after their success at Copenhagen (business as usual), I hope to be mentioning it less frequently!

A Brazilian contrast

Brazil, so often featured in the news as football-sized swathes of tropical forest disappearing every second, has many positive stories too. One of the most well-known is Curitiba, often held as a model of green urban planning. 85% of the population make use of the widely-available and convenient public-transport, and there’s a whopping 54 square metres of green space for every inhabitant (up from less than 1 in 1970). 70% of the rubbish is recycled, and shanty town residents, living in areas where waste trucks can’t reach, are paid to bring their rubbish in.

Much for our cities to learn from.

While Curitiba is a public-transport utopia, Sao Paulo is its dystopian mirror. Brazil’s largest city, it’s notorious for having some of the world’s most choked roads. Ringed by highways, with traffic jams spreading out for up to 130 km, the rich have discovered a new way to get around. While the masses spend their day trundling around in first gear, Sao-Paulo has the world’s largest helicopter population.

In 2007, Sao Paulo took a small step forward in cleaning up its act. And one particular blight in particular. Whilst Cape Town is relatively unscathed, it’s one of the first things people notice on visiting Johannesburg. Yes, it’s the billboards plastered along every highway and on top (and sometimes on) every second building.

Sao Paulo was no different, with 50-foot lingerie billboards, and blinking neon ads selling the consumer dream everywhere. With the swish of a pen, all those had to go. Advertisers weren’t too happy – the city even made a few million dollars in fines from tardy advertisers who missed the deadline, but the citizens are overwhelmingly positive with their billboard-free city.

While that’s the easy part, we wish them well in implementing the rest of their Clean City Act, which, besides visual pollution, covers water, sound and air.

Time for Tea
I love drinking tea. Actually, if what you imagine by tea is black, ground up fine to fit in a bag (often bleached or glued), I don’t like drinking tea. I’ve been fortunate enough to taste some really wonderful tea though. Loose, green, high mountain tea, handrolled, slowly releasing its flavour, improving towards the 2nd or 3rd pot.

So I’m very pleased that we finally have some loose-leaved green tea. This high-grown, organic green tea is handpicked in the Uva Highlands of Sri Lanka, home to the world’s finest Ceylons. The leaves are rolled into ‘pellets’ said to resemble 19th Century gunpowder, hence its name. I haven’t tried it yet, and I doubt I’ll get a chance, as we have very limited stock, with hopefully more coming in soon.

But there’s more. China White (made from the very young tips of the leaves) is back in stock after a long break.

For the pedants, that’s all the tea we have, but for the rest of us, there’s lots more. Strictly-speaking, tea can only be made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Otherwise, it’s a tisane. But we all call any old plant tossed into hot water tea. Besides, try ordering a rooibos tisane next time you’re out, and see how far you get.

We also have rooibos espresso, darling of trendy restaurants across Cape Town, except that ours is certified organic, from Skimmelberg Farm near Clanwilliam. Skimmelberg also offer bagged rooibos and bagged green (unoxidised) rooibos.

There’s loose rooibos (and honeybush) from Cedarfruits, and sustainably harvested wild rooibos (as well as ordinary loose leaves) from Heiveld Co-op. Heiveld is certified organic and Fair Trade, and is a co-operative of 54 small-scale farmers. Heiveld Co-op hand harvests the plants every two years, helping to preserve the endangered flora of the Sandveld region, and is a great example of ethical and sustainable production. You can read about it in more detail on the site.

What’s new
There’s lots of new produce on the site this week, mostly in the Featured & New section, but there’s always a few gems, usually in short supply, lurking deep in the site. Remember that quite a few of our lines sell out, so by Tuesday they’re safely reserved for the early birds.

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

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical Co-op team

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Anique

    Quality of the Ethical Co-op box this week and of late was awesome. Really, winds hands down if I compare fresh veg and fruit to other stores! Thank you :)