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organic veg at the constantia country living market

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2007-04-20 15:39

The Constantia Country Living Market is on again this Saturday (tomorrow!) and so I get to adopt my alter ego, Organic Veggie Guy, once again. If you're in the market for some ultra-fresh (picked this afternoon), locally grown, organic produce then you know where to find me. If all goes according to plan I'll be selling sweet potatoes, spinach (swiss chard), spring onion, brinjals, green pepper, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and if you arrive early you could even find a turnip or two! I should also have a few pamphlets from SafeAge on why organic food is a better idea than GMO's.

The Constantia Country Living Craft Market will be held between 9am and 2pm this Saturday (21 April) at the Cape Academy (Old Constantia School for Boys) in Firgrove Way, Tokai (off Spaanschemat River Road).
For more info contact Jen on 021 712 2124.

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greening it up – thurs 19 apr 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-04-19 10:19

No clear solution to massive disposable nappy problem. Studies show that an infant goes through between 7 000 and 8 000 nappy changes before starting potty training. World Watch estimates 450 billion disposable nappies are used each year and contribute nearly 77 million tons of waste to landfills. A disposable nappy takes around 500 years to degrade.[sustainableisgood] There are alternatives to disposables. [revenge of the cloth nappy]

Yahoo! to go carbon neutral by the end of 2007. In a bid to fight global warming, the internet giant will reduce its energy use and invest in emissions-fighting projects, so that by the end of the year it can call itself completely carbon neutral. Yahoo! has already begun looking at projects in which to invest in the wake of measuring its carbon footprint. [yahoo] The big search engines are now warring on the green front, as Google already boasts a massive rooftop solar installation [urban sprout] and free bicycles for employees. [urban sprout] For more on Yahoo’s green policy [joel makower blog]

Cloned meat and milk about to become a reality? It’s possible that a bill pending in the California Legislature will undermine the FDA’s recently announced draft ruling that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe for human consumption. [urban sprout] If passed, any cloned food would have to be very clearly labelled. Organic farmers and supporters were clearly visible at a news conference last week carrying placards that read ‘Not Milk – Cloned food is coming but you can stop it.’ Let’s hope they can! [IOL]

ethical co-op on cherrypicka

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2007-04-12 16:30

If you're in Cape Town and you've not yet had organic veggies (and more) delivered to your front door by the Ethical Co-op here's your chance. In fact you can become a "cash test dummy" on Cherrypicka and receive a whopping R200 worth of organic goodies for a mere R80. And we're not just talking spinach. As a long-time purchaser with the Co-op (April 2005) I can really recommend them for a great variety of everything organic. Their vast range is continually growing, their service is good and for a bunch of earth-friendly, organic folk they've embraced the digital age - which is very cool. You can place orders online and checkout their blog too.

More about the Ethical Co-op at mothercityliving. More about Cherrypicka at urban sprout.

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urban legend - steve botha

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-04-12 09:59

The first thing that strikes you about Steve is his passion. Steve has abounding enthusiasm for everything, but most particularly his Micro Greens™ – the Porterville farmer is the micro herb and micro green fundi of the Cape, and winner of the SA Produce Innovation prize in the Eat in RMB 2006 awards.

He also calls his mini leaves ‘Magic Greens’, hence his nick name, and he really can magically grow just about anything from French tarragon and Japanese parsley to lemon thyme – and that’s just his herbs. His range of 40 Micro Greens is all the rage among chefs in the Cape, and top restaurants like Le Quartier Francais, Showroom, Ginja, Haute Cabriere and Caveaux are listed amongst Steve’s top clients.

Steve believes he is the first person to grow Micro Greens commercially in the country, and he commutes from the Swartland dorp into Cape Town a number of times a week to personally deliver his micro leaves still in trays of organic medium ready to harvest. They’re all organically grown on five hectares of agricultural land – ‘why would I use pesticides or chemicals when everyone knows toxins cause diseases like cancer and liver dysfunction?’

What inspired you to go organic? It’s in my soul. Mom taught me how to grow pees when I was a lightie, and I knew that spraying anything on them just wouldn’t make sense. I’ve always had a herb garden and have never sprayed things. We had lots of fruit trees when I was growing up and my dad, even though he sprayed, was incredibly careful. I think this developed a fear for chemicals and toxins in me, so I’ve never liked it. I’ve always had the attitude of ‘no spray’.

What is your convenient truth: Erosion. If you don’t protect the land, what do you have? Organic isn’t just about chemicals, it’s about the health of the soil. We have some very bad farming practices here, especially in the old homelands where farmers weren’t taught how to work the land. Do you know that in Germany you need a permit to move top soil?

What’s the greenest thing you’ve ever done? Releasing my aunt’s parrot from captivity, when I was a child. Since then, I’ve been releasing everything – cows from paddocks, horses from stables. But probably the greenest thing I’ve done is starting Magic Herbs. If I had enough land, I would plant a tree every day for the rest of my life. Look at China, they’re busy planting trees in the Gobi desert to stop encroachment – as far as you can see there are trees. [forests of the world are slowly disappearing – IOL]

What is your favourite food and where do you buy it? I grow all my favourite foods – chives, thyme, oregano and Italian parsley; brandy wine tomatoes, onion de Florence and shallots; and figs and mangoes. My favourite meal is a salad of Micro Greens with or without cheese. But I’ll go to Ginja, in Cape Town, for their veal.

Desert island scenario: what would you take with you? Seeds to plant.

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greening it up – tue 10 apr 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-04-10 10:48

Transport: leaving a smaller footprint. Possibly the one area in which South Africans are most guilty of contributing to global warming is our single-occupancy driving to and from work. Whilst we can throw our hands up in the air and blame the government for a bad public transport system, there are other options. The Rea Vaya rapid bus system, or BRT as it will be known, which has already begun implementation at a fraction of the cost of the Gautrain, [M&G] will run routes from Lenasia to Sunninghill; Alexandra to Regina Mundi; Dobsonville to Troyeville; Nasrec to Ellis Park; Randburg to the CBD and an inner city circle route.

Durbanites have the Mynah bus, and Capetonians have the train - during peak hour safety guards have been stepped up, so it’s a lot safer. And if you can’t do either trains or buses then there is always the car pool option. is one of a number of car pool websites on the Net that allows you to link up with other travellers living close to you who also work close to you. See the page for SA. []

Which veggies and fruits are most exposed to potentially harmful chemicals?. We know that continuous small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, but did you know that there is a US ranking of fruits and veggies, based on work by a not-for-profit organisation of the results of some 43 000 tests, that show those most exposed to those least exposed to pesticide load. [foodnews] Nectarines had the highest percentage of samples test positive for pesticides, followed by peaches and apples; sweet bell peppers (similar to green peppers) had the most pesticides detected on a single sample, whilst celery had the highest likelihood of multiple pesticides on a single vegetable. Avocados and onions were among those least affected. It makes deciding which foods to buy organic that much easier. [read about those most contaminated]

Monsanto asks FDA to ‘punish’ dairies labelling their milk ‘rBST-free’. Could Monsanto be threatened by the increasing consumer demand for rBST-free milk? The company has a long history of trying to intimidate independent minded dairies and bottlers who do not want to use their growth hormones. [organic consumers] Why is rBST-free milk better for you? [urban sprout]

easter the organic way

Submitted by sproutingforth on Sat, 2007-04-07 09:59

Organic chocolate contains no artifical ingredients – no corn syrups or added sugar and those who study organic foods say when a food is not all natural, toxins are stored in the fat, so that gives you an excuse to buy organic chocolate this Easter!

The great thing is that we not only have organic chocolate in SA, we have options. Chocolateries like Robert and von Gesau, the recent arrival of Green & Blacks in South Africa, and Woolies' own organic chocolate bar mean we are now spoilt for choice.

Chocolaterie Robert is created from scarce and highly prized Trinitario and Criollo Cacao beans, organically grown in Madagascar (you can also pat yourself on the back if you buy this chocolate as fewer air miles are involved than say, Green & Blacks) Only natural and additive-free ingredients such as genuine Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla are added to Robert’s chocolate. [find your nearest chocolaterie Robert stockist] or [buy online]

Von Geusau’s chocolate is meticulously made by hand using only the finest, freshest and original ingredients, and organic chocolate is his most recent addition to ingredients that include roasted nuts, exotic liqueurs, orange peel and marzipan. You can buy Von Geusau chocolates in Greyton in the Overberg.

And for those of you who have spent time in the UK, you will appreciate the luxury chocolate brand, Green & Black’s organic chocolate – the green represents the organic principles whilst black signifies the use of dark chocolate (the more cocoa is present in chocolate, the healthier it is for you!) I know Pick 'n Pay stock Green & Blacks.

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greening it up – thurs 05 apr 07

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-04-05 10:20

Kigali-Kinshasa gas project to provide 500 megawatts of energy from gas under Lake Kivu. By extracting methane gas that is in danger of exploding if allowed to reach strong concentrations, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda not only defuse a time bomb, but lead by example in producing environmentally-friendly energy.[IOL]

Eat In magazine introduces a new ‘best organic producer’ category in the Eat In RMB Private Bank SA Produce Awards. Vote for your favourite food product, producer and outlet online. The Eat In RMB Private Bank Produce Awards were initiated last year in order to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding SA producers for their contribution to our food culture. It aims to recognise the small independent producers whose integrity, care for the environment, passion and innovation are putting SA on the international food map. [vote online for your choice of best organic producer]

Avaaz online campaign persuades leaders to make tackling climate change a #1 priority. In an update on our earlier Avaaz story campaigners hand delivered 100,000 signatures to the environment ministers of the G8 summit, who have now agreed to make climate change the #1 issue for the summit in June. Avaaz are calling for further votes in order to reach a goal of 150,000 signatures to show their call for action is growing. [avaaz]

Further evidence of ‘we’ll only do it, if they do’ in the global warming arena. A day after the Supreme Court ruled that US federal government has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases [greening it up], Bush says his government is doing enough, and points a finger at the Chinese in what can only pass for a two year-old’s reasoning power – ‘Unless there is an accord with China, China will produce greenhouse gases that will offset anything we do in a brief period of time.’ [nytimes]

our daily bread

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2007-04-02 21:25

Or what you didn't know about mass produced white bread.

flour + water + yeast = bread, right?

Wrong - when it comes to the ingredients of your average supermarket white loaf. Have you looked at what goes in there? And why all the other stuff? Do we actually need it? This is what goes into a loaf of SaskoSam toasie white bread ("Delicious. Nutritious. Slice after slice.")

white bread wheat flour (gluten), water, yeast, salt, brown sugar, soybean flour, preservative (calcium propionate), emulsifiers (vegetable origin), partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, enzymes (non-animal origin), flour improver, mineral salts (electrolytic iron, zinc oxide) and vitamins

I thought I'd take a closer look at the ingredients...

The wheat flour, water and yeast are obviously expected and are all you would need to use if you baked the loaf yourself. The irony, though, with using refined white bread flour, is that it is totally stripped of any goodness. It's so refined that government requires certain vitamins and minerals be added back in chemical form. In fact the vitamins and minerals bread manufacturers advertise on their packets - vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, iron & zinc - are the exact same list of minimum requirements as stipulated by government, no more no less.

Whole grain wheat flour, in contrast, contains close to 20 vitamins and minerals, so by eating fortified white bread you are still missing out on at least 10 vitamins and minerals. Actually vitamin and mineral fortification of food is in itself a contentious issue, with absorption rates, recommended daily allowance (RDA) etc disputed by many experts. [Science in Africa]

So what is soybean flour doing in white bread? I speculated that it's cheaper than wheat flour but after digging around found that it has "emulsification, fat absorption, moisture holding, thickening and foaming" properties. [ACS Publications] A lot of handy properties in the industrial breadmaker's toolkit, but the fat absorption property is of particular interest...

Let's take a look at "partially hydrogenated fat" as this is where it gets interesting.

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rBST – harmless hormone or frankenfood?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-03-27 11:06

rBST or recombinant bovine somatotropin - also known as bST, bGH, rbGH, and Monsanto’s brand name for the hormone, Posilac - is “a naturally-occurring protein produced by all dairy cows and a necessary component of milk production”, or so the opening lines on Monsanto’s website go [monsanto dairy]

What they’re not including in their information is that rBST is a controversial, genetically engineered version of this growth hormone, used for increasing milk production in cows – by between 5-15%. And that the increased milk output translates to an average increase in net profit for dairies of $100 a year per cow.

It has been banned for use in the EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and all but 19, mostly non-industrialised countries (read: South Africa) - mainly due to consumer demand - and has been linked to increasing rates of breast and prostate cancer, precocious puberty and obesity.

There are a number of regulatory, academic and scientific bodies – WHO, FDA and the European Commission Directorate for Consumer Health among them – who have found milk from rBST-supplemented cows to be safe for humans, and that there is no difference between milk from cows that do or don’t receive these supplements.

Monsanto repeatedly claims that 'the amounts are too small and digestion too complete for them (growth hormones) to have any direct effect in humans.'

But then Monsanto is the only company approved by the FDA (food & drug administration) to manufacture and sell rBST within the US. The hormone was approved by the FDA in 1993 – 14 years ago.

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sa goes organic

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2007-03-26 11:18

Tired of waiting for the government to stop dragging its heels about the organics industry in South Africa, David Wolstenholme has been the main force behind creating a sustainable organics programme – the Organic Freedom Project (OFP) – that promises to provide jobs, free South Africans from poverty, provide a food supply that will go a long way towards combating Aids, and be a viable export programme – no mean feat!

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited by the news – and Wolstenholme and his colleagues have been really clever about it too. They’ve got Pick ‘n Pay - who are aggressively focused on the organic market sector - and Anglo Coal - who are using this opportunity to create new jobs for miners after mine closures and on retirement, as well has rehabilitating land that was formerly used for mining (just in case your eyes had widened at their choice of sponsor, as had mine) – to co-sponsor the programme.

Jody Scheckter (he of formula one fame) is to chair the non-profit organisation. Get a good ‘front man’, with international cloutJody is one of the top five organic beef and dairy farmers in the UK – and your vision is bound to become reality!

OFP intends to ‘free South Africans from chemical dependency and poverty through the promotion of commercially sustainable organic production’ and these guys aren’t wasting any time - they’ve already started facilitating ventures.

Their aim is to identify and activate around 20 000 hectares for emerging farmer development, divided into geographical zones, and includes organic farming training and consulting with ongoing mentorship. OFP intends to create 100 zones within 7 years – many of which have already been identified.

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