How to fight desertification and reverse climate change

Allan Savory once promoted culling elephants to preserve rapidly degrading grasslands. He’s realised what a tragic mistake this was, and is now devoted to restoring grasslands in a manner that actually works, and in this video presents his more recent findings.

Slow manifestation

A few weeks ago, it seemed that there had been relatively few price increases, and even some decreases, this year, in contrast to the dramatic food inflation of last year.

And then everyone made plans to put up their prices up at the end of the financial year.

To make sure your mixed box still lives up to its promise, with the large box providing enough for 3-4, and the small box for 1-2 people, we’ve had to increase their prices as well. The small box is now R100, and the large box R155. They’re still excellent value for money, containing approximately R110 and R167 worth of produce.

Public Holiday
Remember that Thursday is Human Rights Day, so not all collection points will be open. If you want delivery, please make sure someone is at your premises to receive the order when it arrives. As always, you can adjust or cancel your order up until 2pm on Tuesday.

Tomato Sauce
Many years ago in our appearance on Free Spirit, I mentioned that one of our aims is to encourage the local production of organic food, and specifically used tomato sauce as an example. It’s taken a little longer to manifest than I’d hoped, but we finally have a local, organic tomato sauce to offer. This is not a commercial tomato sauce, made from sugar and tomato paste (in that order!), but a mild tomato sauce using some of our own fresh tomatoes. Please send feedback on the recipe, as Tania is still experimenting.

Tania’s Voluptuous is also offering a corn and pepper relish, ratatouille chutney and a butternut chutney.

Egg Boxes
We love re-using, so please return eggboxes, punnets, 1 litre and 500ml glass jars and the cardboard boxes, and we’ll put them to good use again.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Fire in the orchards

Kleinjongenskraal
Kleinjongenskraal is one of our earliest suppliers, offering mainly organic citrus and introducing me to all sorts of unusual citrus I’d never encountered before. We’re sad to hear that a fire has hit the area and crossed much of farmer Les Abraham’s orchards. Les hadn’t yet had a chance to inspect all the trees when he spoke to us, but it’s likely that some of the trees were killed or be unable to bear fruit again, and will need to be replanted.

Citrus trees take many years to reach fruit-bearing maturity, so this is a heavy blow to the farm. We wish him and everyone on the farm well, and hope that they can recover quickly.

Soaring Free Superfoods
Soaring Free Superfoods have recently released a range of new products, pre-made mixes for lazy people like me. There’s a Supergreen shake, consisting of African baobab, green grasses, hemp seed protein, African moringa and spirulina, a concentrated way to get those greens in.

There’s also a superfoods shake, consisting of lucuma, mesquite, raw cacao powder, maca, taheebo, cinnamon and vanilla.

Both are designed so that you can simply add water and shake, or use as as ingredients in juices and smoothies.

Peter and Beryn are passionate about their superfoods, and have visited most of the farms they buy from. Last year they visited a thriving organic goji farm in China, and sourced supplies. However, upon the batches arrival, they tested the berries and found, in spite of Chinese organic certification, two pesticide residues. They sent the entire batch back and were without gojis for much of the year, then a key part of their range. They struggled for a long time to secure proper organic gojis, finally doing so at the end of last year. Conventional gojis that they tested, and which are now widely available locally, contained nine pesticide residues.

It’s great dealing with farms and suppliers run by people who are offering products that are passionately investigated, that they enjoy themselves and are excited to share with others, and this is a key part in ensuring only the most authentic produce for us all.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Leopards and little peas

Tierhoek Organic near Robertson is a family business and one of the few local farms that not only grows certified organic fruit, but also processes it, packs it and markets it from the farm.

The farm is supplied by fresh mountain water and use green technology where they can; an electric cart for transport, solar geysers, solar power and recycled old cooking oil to produce bio-diesel for use on the farm.

This week we’re offering yellow cling peaches, yellow sungold plums, quinces and plum tomatoes from Tierhoek, as well as their range of dried fruit; apples, plums, bananas, naartjies, mixed fruit and their “Zooty Fruit Strip”, five small packets of mixed fruit, ideal for lunchboxes.

For the sweet-toothed, there are also chocolate apricots and chocolate naartjies, as well as quince jam, apricot jam and peach jam.

Man of the organic farms supplying us love visitors, and Tierhoek are no exception, offering holiday accommodation in their cottages at the foot of the Langeberg mountains. The farm is also leopard-friendly, so if you’re lucky enough to visit you may even get to hear the call of a leopard in the mountains.

I am a little pea
As we move into March, it’s time to start planting broad beans, peas and turnips and we’re happy to be able to expand our organic garden seed range even further by offering more varieties. Theresa’s “I am a little pea” range of seeds are produced in the Cederberg and her family has been harvesting seed as long as she could remember. She started harvesting her own after she moved to the area in 2008 and realised how difficult it was to find organic seed. We’ve added celery, gooseberry, flat-leaf parsley, sunflower and victory lettuce to the mix.

Hopefully there’ll be enough to go around, as quantities are limited!

Friday collections
Please note that we’re no longer offering Friday collections at any of our collection points. Although this means the collection hours in some cases are more limited, we’d like you to get our veggies as fresh as possible. We receive them right up until Wednesday evening and pack through the night, ready to deliver them on Thursday morning, so we can’t bear the thought of them sitting uncollected for a whole day!

Returns
We love to get boxes and bottles back so that we can put them to good use. A reminder that many of our collection points and our couriers accept returns.

Have a beautiful week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm

We’ve been offering Bloublommetjieskloof products since we started in 2005.

Bloublommetjieskloof was started in the 60’s by Jeanne Malherbe, a single woman in a conservative and male-dominated farming environment, and quickly became well-known in Cape Town organic circles. It’s still going strong under farmer Wendy, and is now certified biodynamic by Demeter.

Organic certification is mostly exclusionary (prohibited chemical pesticides and so on), while biodynamic farming requires much more, and is always organic by default.

Based on the anthroposophical principles of Rudolf Steiner (also responsible for Waldorf Schools), it sees the farm as an organism with its own individuality that needs to be nurtured to get the best results. Fermented herbal and mineral preparations are used as compost additives and field sprays, and an astronomical sowing and planting calendar is used.

It’s a diverse farm, providing everything from fresh vegetables, herbs, eggs and dairy to body and cleaning products, with most of the ingredients grown on the farm.

There’s lots of fresh produce available from other suppliers too this week, including watermelons, sweetcorn, purple beans and cucumber, but with the first signs of autumn leaves, the summer harvest won’t be around for too much longer.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Claudius and Valentine

This week is Valentine’s Day, where, in one version at least, we remember the day named after the priest Valentine. Roman Emperor Claudius believed young men were less keen to sacrifice themselves in the Roman legions if they were married, and outlawed the practice. But the disobedient Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret, but was put to death, though immortalised in memory in the process.

Valentine supposedly fell in love with a young girl while in prison, believed to be the jailor’s daughter. Before he was executed he wrote her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression still in use today. Though I think it’s much more helpful to follow Valentine’s example and sign your real name.

Another Roman ritual, less popular today, involved a feast on February 14 to honour Juno, the queen of Roman gods and goddesses, and the goddess of women and marriage. The following day a priest would sacrifice a dog and a goat, and boys would slice the hide up, dipping the strips in the sacrificial blood. They’d then roam the streets, gently slapping women with the animal hides.

Being slapped by a bloody hide was seen as a great honour, and believed to confer fertility. Later, all the lucky young maidens would place their name in a big urn. Bachelors in the city would each then take a name out of the urn, and became paired with the girl for the rest of the year.

One ritual I enjoy a little more is giving and receiving (or perhaps just eating) chocolate. Gayleen’s Decadence have produced a limited edition range of heart-shaped Valentine’s chocolates, and there are also chocolate delights from Honest Chocolate, Earthshine and Montezuma.

Whether you’re after chocolate, spankings by animal hide or just good food, I wish you a week filled with love for all you encounter.

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Blue Sky Olive Farm

Liz Eglington’s Blue Sky is an organic olive farm in the Klein Karoo. Liz has farmed organically since day one, and certified in 2001. The Klein Karoo is quite different to the usual Mediterranean olive environment and Liz has been a pioneer in the area, and helped start the Klein Karoo Organic Initiative, with up to 60 member farms sharing skills and information.

There are new Blue Sky olive products available this week, including a smoked olive tapenade to add to the regular basil and chilli varieties. Tapenade is essentially a pureed or finely chopped olive dish, often eaten as an hors d’œuvre or spread on bread, or in my case, oatcakes.

There are also smoked olives, and dried Manzanilla and Mission olives to add to the mix, while Liz’s olive mixes, olive marmalade, olive leaf tea, olive chutney and popular olive oil are all still available.

Website Tip
We aim to share as much information as possible about our offerings, and you can click on the “More Info” button to see detailed product information, including ingredients, certification details and best-by dates.

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Silent Autumn

Our empty warehouse looks a lot plumper this week, as quite a few of our delayed orders arrived. All sorts of old staples are back in stock again, such as basmati rice and jasmine rice, so enjoy browsing the expanded order form.

We also have a more steady supply of butter from Camphill in Hemel en Aarde.

Pesticides
If you’re buying organic food, you’re probably well aware of the effects of pesticides, particularly when concentrated. Farmworkers and their families have been exposed to all sorts of dangers, and suffered serious health consequences.

Recently, a family of pesticides has been fingered in the epidemic killing honeybees in the US and Europe, while the pesticide manufacturer still assures us that their testing has shown no danger.

This week, new research has shown the lethal effects of common pesticides, at the regular, recommended dosages, on frogs and amphibians. One third of all known amphibians are endangered, and their numbers are declining precipitously. The cause hasn’t been known. Now, a relatively simple set of tests, exposing frogs to regular dosages of pesticides, has had dramatic results.

Some frogs died within an hour of exposure. The most harmful appeared to be pyraclostrobin. Another, dimethoate, when applied at only 10% of the standard dosage, killed 40% of the amphibians within a week.

It’s fifty years since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought the effects of pesticides to global consciousness. We learn slowly, still applying barely tested pesticides in high dosages to our crops, still unthinkingly buying them, even now inserting them into the very DNA of our plants.

We’re oversleeping and it’s time to wake up!

Have a healthy week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Unwanted fishing records

Catching a whopper
A record was broken for a fish catch this week in Japan. Nothing to do with size though. As the ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima continues to release radiation into the ocean, a fish a whopping 2500 times over the legal radiation safety level was caught this week.

While Japan debates whether to move away from nuclear, Fukushima, the area devastated by the disaster, has made up its mind. They’re building the world’s largest wind farm.

Germany has also made the decision to move away from nuclear and has hugely expanded its wind generation capacity. It’s struggling though with transmission issues, as the windy northern coastal areas are far removed from the southern industrial areas that use most of the power, and it hasn’t yet equipped the grid to deal with surges on windy days.

Fukushima suffers no such problems, already being close to existing power infrastructure.

South Africa is also slowly expanding it’s renewable energy offerings, but is still forging ahead with destructive new coal power plants. Sadly our dabbling in renewable energy seems nothing more than lip-service at the moment, and it’s still business as usual.

Organic grapes
The grapes last week came in boxes labelled as “containing sulphur dioxide”. Regular grapes are one of the more heavily sprayed crops, so this was alarming, but we’ve been assured by Naturally Organic that these are the same certified organic grapes that are exported, but the farm simply provided them in regular packaging. Thanks to everyone who pointed this out to us.

Snapping up sesame snaps
We have lots of specials again this week, including sesame snaps. The certified organic sesame snaps are popular, but we ended up with an extra carton of them, so a pack of four is going for R31 instead of the usual R44 until Tuesday only.

Head on over to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter

Remember you can adjust your order anytime up until the time 2pm cutoff time, so even if you’ve already placed an order there’s still time to avoid the queues in the shops.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Trust

If you were lucky enough to take a holiday, or even better, are still on holiday, I hope you’re feeling rejuvenated and excited for the new year.

Trust
We live in a society where it’s expected to lie. We expect adverts to mislead in order to sell products, we expect political leaders to twist the truth to suit a particular agenda, we expect that people we meet in the street asking for money are making up a story, we expect that studies distort their findings in order to suit the viewpoint of their funders.

Most religions have precepts against lying, but it turns out, in a world of lies, the most harmful are those that we ourselves tell. Numerous studies into lying have found that even those supposed “white lies”, answers to questions such as “How do I look in this dress”, or “How did you like my cake?” are harmful.

We believe that small lies are acceptable, are expected, but besides the damage to society, groups that lied less showed significantly fewer harmful mental and physical health effects too. Lying is bad for our health.

If we know we can’t even trust ourselves to tell the truth, how can we possibly trust others? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to trust our families, our colleagues, public figures, strangers we meet? The way to start is with ourselves.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical team

Go to www.ethical.org.za to place your order before Tuesday 2pm, and remember that you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.