I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts

April Fools
Thanks to everyone who wrote in to reprimand us for stocking Coca Cola Herbal. The good news is that it was an April Fools joke – I’ve been waiting years for the Thursday newsletter to fall on April 1!

Peak what?
Most of us have heard of peak oil. Peak oil is not when oil “runs out”, but when production starts to drop as the oil wells reach full capacity. As production drops, with demand still high, prices increase, and oil becomes unaffordable for most people who want to use it. We’re likely to have just passed, or be fairly close to, that point. Oil prices were increasing steadily until they dropped at the start of the recession, when demand plummeted. However, prices have recently picked up again, and the dependence on oil so many of us take for granted – importing foods from all over the world, plastic wrapping, driving our cars, will soon be coming to an end. The pessimists predict chaos, the optimists a smooth transition to more a local, less wasteful society, but, as the famous 60’s bard said, ‘the times they are a changin’. Willingly or not, we’ll be weaned off our high oil lifestyle.

But peak oil isn’t the only “peak”. Any resource we use more quickly than it gets replaced will peak. Some predict uranium, used in nuclear reactors, will peak in 2035. But there’s another “peak” that is far more serious for the world as it’s structured currently. Peak phosphorous. Phosphorous is one of the three key fertiliser additives in conventional farming, but by 2030 production may begin to drop. And that’s based on current trends. If Africa makes the mistake of moving to conventional chemical farming, and mimics the farming wastelands of much of the developed world, phosphorous reserves will be depleted very quickly.

However, there are alternative sources of phosphorous – compost and manure. And this strange system, the spirit of organic farming, involves waste from what’s taken out added back to the soil, and the system sustains itself in perfect health. Simple really.

Pesticide-free pasta
The list of fruit and vegetables with the heaviest pesticide residues are quite well-known now. The most heavily contaminated foods include peaches, apples, peppers, celery, nectarines, pears, spinach and potatoes. Non-authentic farms are warzones, toxic waste dumps for the workers and other creatures living nearby, and the smorgasbord of pesticides served up the produce isn’t great for your body either.

But what about grains, they don’t feature high on the list? Grains aren’t as highly contaminated, but while many of us can eat one sweet pepper a week, we can graze through bags of grain in the form of bread or pasta, and the end result is the similar.

For the pasta lovers, we’ve been expanding our pasta range, and have organic lasagne, macaroni, penne and spaghetti, in both wheat and spelt. To top it off, there’s even pesto to go with it!

There is also a range of gluten-free noodles.

New produce
While I’m waffling on about marauding oil companies and farming wastelands, there’s a growing list of new products being added to the site. One of my favourite fruits, satsumas, are back, and in recent weeks the list of organic produce we’ve added includes dried apricots, apple rings, currants, a range of mueslis, including gluten-free, snack bars, a great range of herbs and spices, and coconuts.

But for some of us, getting coconuts from Mozambique in a box is not good enough. Beryl, who’s been with us from our Diep River days, is off to Mauritius to laze under a palm tree for a few months, occasionally getting up to pick her own coconut. We’re fortunate to have Bhanoo leaping aboard to take her place, and she’ll also be the person who helps you when you ordered potatoes and got smash, or were charged for a 25 litre coconut oil instead of a bag of mint.

Thanks and fare well Beryl, and welcome Bhanoo.

Happy shopping at www.ethical.org.za.

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