Ugly food

One of the curses of the modern food economy is the massive wastage and rejection of “ugly food”. If a pear has markings on the skin, it’s rejected. If an apple isn’t a nice round shape, into the waste bin it goes. If a carrot looks like a fork, away with it!

Yet all of these foods are perfectly edible and nutritious. More so if you consider that the “beautiful food” has probably been sprayed to kill anything that comes near it. Sharing your apple skin with a bug or two is better in my mind than covering it with multiple layers of pesticide.

This week, in the spirit of ugly food, we’re offering garlic that in the words of the farmer looks “terrible” but still packs a punch.

Garlic is traditionally associated with healthy blood, and not just in warding off vampires. Salmonella, fungal, yeast and candida infections, and e-coli are all inhibited by garlic.

So, if you can handle separated cloves and a challenge to your aesthetic sensibilities, give our “ugly garlic” a try!

We also have garlic powder and garlic-stuffed olives available if you’re looking for further alternatives to a silver dagger.

New this week
We have a host of other new products this week, including raw muesli (cacao and goji varieties), mesquite powder, poppadums and shoyu soy sauce. We also, after a long absence, have vanilla pods back in stock, from both Soaring Free Superfoods and Good Life. The Soaring Free Superfoods vanilla is a hefty 50g (my jar contained 16 pods) and the vanilla floored me with it freshness. The pods were soft, spongy and aromatic. I don’t know how long they’ll stay in this state, but I’m burning out my blender going through vanilla-enhanced smoothies right now.

Tell us what we’re missing
The Ethical Co-op meets my needs perfectly. But does it meet yours? Almost everything I use in my house comes from us, but what are those products you make that special trip to the shop for? Tell us which products we are missing, and why they would fit our ethical criteria – are they cleaner, greener, healthier and fairer than anything else out there? Suggestions below and we’ll do our best to source the pick of those for you.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

To order, head on over to

Comments ( 8 )

  1. GK

    Hi Ian Thanks so much for the work and service you guys provide at the co-op. One of the main reasons we don't purchase Garlic at the Main Stream Super Markets is that it is imported from China and has been irradiated to "remove" the so called soil pathogens, essentially rendering it lifeless. The clove simply will not grow when planted, so one wouldn't really want to eat these anyway. Will we be able to plant and grow from the Garlic cloves you stock? Since it's being supplied by Sandveld Organics, I am assuming that will be possible(given there other seeds are excellent)

  2. Ian Gilfillan

    Hi GK I haven't tried it myself, and the farmer has just left for her first holiday in seven years so I can't get hold of her, but I'm certain it will grow.

  3. GK

    Hi Ian Thanks for the reply, we will give it a go(along with eating it as well of course), it will be a first time for us as well. No more Made in China Garlic!

  4. Jeandré du Toit

    Not a product suggestion, but a suggestion to update to the product listings: I've been buying from another Cape Town organic online shop instead recently (unfortunately they don't sell fresh fruit and veggies) because for every product they indicate whether it's vegan or vegetarian. That is always my first criterion: it must be vegan; local ingredients/production is the next, lesser, criterion; followed by organic or not.

  5. Lali Pellissier

    Hi, I recently acquired a dishwasher. But do not like the smell of the dishwashing chemicals(soap) also stains my glasses and leaves a residue on my cutlery. Do you perhaps have biodegradable dishwashing powder or any other suggestions?

  6. Hester

    Hi Ian I just returned from living in Switzerland for many years and was shocked to see how the supermarkets in South Africa stagnated over the last 7 years. Worldwide organic and ethical produce is seen increasingly on the supermarket shelves, even if it is just in one corner, but here it is completely missing. I was so relieved to find the ethical coop online! I enjoy shopping for wonderful food and other products with you guys. One thing I am missing a lot is pure sheep`s - and goat`s milk products. Things like creamy plain yoghurts (they have a nice one at Foxenburg estate...), sheeps`s milk haloumi, sheep`s milk pecorino, goat`s feta, etc. Well done and I wish you guys great success with this awesome business!

  7. GK

    Howzit Ian, We received the garlic today with this weeks order and its far from ugly! What a bonus it is to get garlic.

  8. Sandy

    Hi Ian. I LOVE the Ethical Coop! Thank you SOOOOO much. Products I would like to see added are: buttermilk and creme fraiche (which you sometimes have, but not every week). Also tahini - preferably in bulk (maybe a 1kg container). Another thing I would REALLY appreciate is less packaging or more refillable/reusable packaging. (e.g. it would be amazing to be able to return the 5 litre containers from Bloublommetjies to be refilled. I would be happy to pay for this extra hassle on your part.) Ever, Sandy