Consumers lead the way when it comes to the Natural & Organic products
This year's Natural & Organic Product Exhibition, to be staged at the
Coca-Cola Dome, North Riding, Johannesburg from 26-28 June 2008, will see
another jump in attendance numbers. The last Show in Cape Town last October
enjoyed a 30% increase in its attendance figures, boasting a visitor total
of 14,646, and proving that there is overwhelming interest in this vibrant
sector. Clearly, organic & green are moving from a niche market trend to a
mainstream lifestyle choice. The growth of the Show mirrors international
statistics - which shows this market sector growing at 30+% globally.
Says Exhibition Director, David Wolstenholme, "This year we have decided to
stage the Natural & Organic Products Exhibition alongside our successful
Women's Show - where visitors will have free access to visit both shows.
Women have played a vital role in the platform's unprecedented development
over the last few years, as they make 92% of all decisions related to the
home and family. This is directly proportional to the increase in consumer
demand for organic products and eco-friendly services. Climate change and
the resulting global food and energy crisis have put an even bigger
spotlight on the need for sustainable economic solutions and environmentally
conscious lifestyle practices, making the organic industry the fastest
growing industry segment worldwide."
"The growth and popularity of the Natural and Organic Products Exhibition
provides an accurate gauge for the degree to which the average South African
consumer has evolved into a more environmentally conscientious and selective
buyer. What started out as an exclusive trend five years ago has grown into
a sustainable and global green movement that is reflected by the boom of new
organic product lines available in the marketplace. In parallel with the
widening choice of available organic and environmentally friendly products
via traditional mainstream retailers, consumers are also recognizing that
their Rand allows them to exercise their power to choose, and actively
support, brands that are not only good for them, but good for the
This year's Show will also host the 2009 PhytoTrade Africa Natural Product
Award. The award, now in its fourth year, is offered to a person, product
or business in Southern Africa that has demonstrated commitment to
developing ethical and environmentally sustainable products with natural
In addition to its representation of local organic products and natural
solutions that include food and beverages; the Natural & Organic Products
Exhibition will showcase natural, complimentary medicines and preventative
health care; environmentally friendly textiles and fashion; and body,
beauty, hair and cosmetic care.
Eco-fashion followers will be able to enjoy the 4th annual Environmentally
Friendly Design Competition and NO KAK! Fashion Show which will be featured
on the Food & Wellness Stage throughout the three day exhibition. This
competition-with-a-difference is geared to increase environmental awareness
of students and lecturers in the design sector, as well as calling the South
African clothing and textile industry to action!
The Natural & Organic Products Exhibition will take place in Johannesburg at
the Coca Cola Dome in North Riding from 26 - 28 June 2009.
The Opening Ceremony will take place on 25th June 2009 at 18h30 the
For more information contact SE SHOWS & EVENTS on 021 671 0935 or visit
Experiential marketing has been the deciding factor that has built the
largest women's event in South Africa
Ian McAllister, former Chairman of Ford Motor Company, stated that: "In the
1980's quality was a differentiator. In the 1990's, brand was a
differentiator. In the 2000's, customer experience is the differentiator".
We are living in the viral information age. Product choices are
increasingly influenced by the good experiences that friends and family get
while enjoying the brand. People love to share their personal discoveries
with others and face to face experiences leads to a satisfied customer.
The Women's Show to be staged at the Coca Cola Dome 26 - 28 June 2009 will
welcome over 20,000 women from diverse cultures, religions and languages -
making this event the largest female focused event in South Africa.
The range of exhibitors bears testimony to the interests of the
multi-faceted modern women with food, fashion, sparkling wine and travel
destinations sitting comfortably alongside medical aids, financial
consultants, business opportunities and community projects. Over 130
companies will be showcasing products and services tailored for the female
The Women's Show at the Coca-Cola Dome in June 2009 invites sisters,
mothers, career women, homemakers - all women - to be extraordinary!
Specially invited guest speakers and performers who'll be participating in
the Show's interactive Lifestyle Stage programme, which is host to over 100
live events throughout the weekend, will echo the call to action for women
to recognize their enormous value and make their voices heard!
Other Lifestyle Stage entertainment treats include hair and fashion shows,
great local music talent, movement techniques and trapeze artists, to
compliment the more serious discussions about money management,
relationships and career development.
Other interactive feature zones at The Women's Show include:
The Bokomo Wellness Zone for one - on - one health checks and practical
advice for personal and family health;
The Sunsilk Hairstyling Pavilion brings hair styling tips and inspiration to
suit every woman's character;
The Natural and Organic Products Exhibition, the largest authentic green
platform in South Africa, will be hosted alongside The Women's Show for the
first time, offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about how to
live a natural and sustainable lifestyle - two shows for the price of one!
So much more than just another expo, the 6th Women's Show promises to be an
informative, fun-filled inspiration destination to truly empower the women
of South Africa with the gentle reminder of their inherent magnificence.
For more information about The Women's Show at the Coca Cola Dome 26 - 28
June 2009 contact: SE Shows & Events at 021-671-0935 or visit our website:
Organic Farming Delivers Healthier, Richer Soil and Nutritionally Enhanced Food
Six encouraging conclusions on the impacts of organic farming on soil quality and the nutritional content of food were reached by a panel of scientists participating in a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A growing body of sophisticated research over the last decade has compared the impacts of organic and conventional farming systems on soil and food quality: Studies of apple production demonstrate that organically farmed soils display improved soil health as measured by increased biological diversity, greater soil organic matter, and improved chemical and physical properties. Enhancement of soil quality in organic apple production systems can lead to measurable improvements in fruit nutritional quality, taste, and storability. Organically farmed tomatoes have significantly higher levels of soluble solids and natural plant molecules called secondary plant metabolites, including flavonoids, lycopene, and Vitamin C. Most secondary plant metabolites are antioxidants, a class of plant compounds that have been linked to improved human health in populations that consume relatively high levels of fruit and vegetables.
Organic farming can, under some circumstances, delay the onset of the "dilution effect." In hundreds of studies, scientists have shown that incrementally higher levels of fertilizer negatively impact the density of certain nutrients in harvested foodstuffs, hence the name, the "dilution [of nutrients] effect." Specifically, tomatoes grown with organic fertilizers maintain constant concentrations of beneficial phenolic secondary plant metabolites and antioxidants, even as fruit grow larger, whereas concentrations of these same beneficial compounds decline with increasing fruit size when the same tomato cultivar is grown using conventional methods and fertilizer. Studies of 27 cultivars of organically grown spinach demonstrate significantly higher levels of flavonoids and vitamin C, and lower levels of nitrates. Nitrates in food are considered detrimental to human health as they can form carcinogenic compounds (nitrosamines) in the GI tract and can convert hemoglobin to a form that can no longer carry oxygen in the blood.
The levels of secondary plant metabolites in food appear to be driven by the forms of nitrogen added to a farming system, as well as the ways in which the biological communities of organisms in the soil process nitrogen. Compared to typical conventional farms, the nitrogen cycle on organic farms is rooted in substantially more complex biological processes and soil-plant interactions, and for this reason, organic farming offers great promise in consistently producing nutrient-enriched foods. Organic soil fertility methods, which use less readily available forms of nutrients, especially nitrogen, improve plant gene expression patterns in ways that lead to more efficient assimilation of nitrogen and carbon in tomatoes. This improvement in the efficiency of nutrient uptake leaves plants with more energy to produce beneficial plant secondary metabolites, compounds that promote plant health as well as human health.
Source: The Organic Center
Organic Foods In Demand, Despite Recession
World demand for organic foods is expected to grow by 46pc over the five years endin 2012, despite the world economic crisis. This bullish outlook is contained in a United Nations Trade and Development Agency (UNCTAD) report.
World sales from certified organic products are expected to reach $67 billion in 2012, up from $46 billion in 2007 and about $23 billion in 2002. Some specialist organic retailers are experiencing consumer resistance to paying more for organics. But UNCTAD says many consumers have weighed the higher cost of organic food against its benefits - and they've decided organic foods are worth the extra cost.
Australian organic producers are recording record sales in many markets, with meat and dairy produce leading the way. Australian Certified Organic meat wholesaler Cleavers The Organic Meat Company, for instance, has just recorded its highest ever sales season for organic lamb. Organic lamb wholesalers have reported a sales jump of more than 20pc over the past two months.
Similarly, Alister Ferguson, national sales manager for the Australian Organic Meat Company says Australian consumers are staying loyal to organic beef. “In fact, the outlook for organic beef is rosy - the domestic retail market has grown by about 40pc in the past four months," he said. "And the lower dollar (in recent months) has strengthened export opportunities.
"Organic meat processors says they were pleasantly surprised - typically consumers switch to white meat over the holiday period included in the four months. "One explanation for increased beef sales could be that in the good times consumers became used to eating out at top-end restaurants, but tighter finances have resulted in more home-cooked meals. "Consumers, however, seem reluctant to give up the last vestiges of high-quality, gourmet food - they want something a bit more interesting than your standard meat and three vegetables."
Organic produce is attracting a much wider demographic than previously seen - and this is highlighting the need for more farmers to start supplying organic. Because organic certification takes three years, there is a very present need for new farm recruits to organic farming, UNCTAD says. Organic dairy producers in North Qld have sold record levels of organic dairy products in past months, a result they put down in part, to increased product availability and increasing public awareness of organic dairy quality and taste.
In the developing countries, the increasing number of organic food consumers has a knock-on benefit for the prospects for farmers, UNCTAD says. Increased organic production and export opportunities offers them a real lifeline to the future, it says.
February 2008 - BioFach, Nuremberg, Germany.
The gap between supply and demand of organic products continues to grow. This is due to pressure on agricultural land for biofuels and to satisfy the demand for increasingly sophisticated conventional food in the Indian and Chinese markets and the time delay in converting to organic.
This high demand for organic products and recent crop failures has turned the world's attention to new production areas. The go-organic.co.za South Africa stand at BioFach 2008 was approached by many major manufacturers looking to secure supplies of organic raw materials and processed products. ''Consumers expect a regular supply of products and retailers are under pressure to source and supply these products,'' said Ian Robinson, the principal of go-organic, speaking from BioFach, the world's premier organic trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany.
Enquiries at BioFach 2008 covered a wide range of certified organic products. ''South Africa has such a diversity of climate and soil types that we can grow most crops. This makes our region perfect for companies wishing to invest in long term relationships to secure their supplies,'' added Mr Robinson. The company was approached to establish growing programmes for a number of products that over the last year were increasingly erratic in their supply or simply unavailable.
''This is an ideal opportunity for South Africa. Organic agriculture is one of the best means of alleviating unemployment and uplifting impoverished societies.''
''Take for example the canned organic vegetable order we are doing for a major US company as a result of a crop failure caused by adverse weather last year,'' Mr Robinson said. The product is being produced by a company that formed a cooperation with land claimants so that they gained title to the land but without losing all the skills and resources of the company that had developed the farming and processing infrastructure.
August 2007 - Business Report newspaper has over the last few weeks been carrying correspondence about the dangers of GM food.
This is a letter that we at go-organic.co.za have sent to the editor. If you would like to add your voice to the debate, please email their letters page at email@example.com
We at go-organic.co.za have been following the debate on GM food dangers between Hans Lombard and Andrew Taynton.
Recent studies on the longer term impact of GMO's are producing some alarming results which followers of the debate will find interesting. This information (pasted below) is from the Organic Federation of Australia newsletter.
I've included the report on the connection between pesticides and Parkinson's disease: it's significant because a Cornell University study of 481 GM farmers in China has found that after seven years their GM crops require just as much pesticide as non GM crops.
One of the concerns many people have about genetic modification is the fear of the unknown, of creating a monster. It would be wise for all to support the Precautionary Principle of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which in simple terms says don't release anything, including GMO's, into nature until we are certain of the consequences.
What a pity we didn't adopt this cautious approach 50 years ago before man created 100,000 substances to supposedly improve farming.
That's why so many people are turning to organic farming. It prohibits the use of harmful pesticides and has many long term benefits including personal health, sustainabilty and job creation. More and more people in the mainstream believe in its merits and are adopting an organic lifestyle. Half the toddlers in the UK now eat organic food. Hundreds of dedicated organic food stores have opened across Europe. Global sales of organic food and drink have doubled to $40 billion since 2001 and at this rate by 2009 the global organic market will be one tenth the size of the largest industry in the world - tourism.
If this is the sentiment of a well educated public and we should be exercising caution the question must be asked: who is promoting the implementation of GMO's and why?
GM Cotton Uses as Much Pesticide
Scientists from Cornell University, New York, conducted a study of 481
cotton growers in China and found that, although they did use fewer
pesticides in the first few years of adopting GM plants, after seven years
they had to use just as much pesticide as they did with conventional crops.
The study found that after three years, the GM farmers had cut pesticide use
by 70 per cent and were earning over a third more than conventional farmers.
But, by 2004, the GM cotton farmers were using just as much pesticide as
their conventional counterparts because of other pests. They were spending
far more because the GM cotton seed is three times the price of conventional
Studies from the southern United States have found similar results with the
emergence of new pests in GM cotton. Studies in India between organic and GM
cotton have found that the organic crops are the most profitable for
farmers. The fact that there are profitable farmers around the world growing
organic cotton without pesticides and herbicides shows that there is no need
for GM cotton.
Genetically Engineered Corn Producing Herbicides in the Digestive Tract
A widely cultivated variety of genetically engineered corn may be slowly
poisoning American consumers. Dupont's Pioneer Liberty Link corn was
bioengineered to withstand high levels of the toxic herbicide glufosinate.
Enzymes in the plant actually break down the herbicide, making it less toxic
to the plant, thereby allowing farmers to apply higher levels of herbicides
to the plant and surrounding weeds.
Scientists are now finding that enzymes in the human gut are likely to reactivate the herbicide within our bodies. A recent study on rats found that 10% of the chemicals were reconverted back to the toxic herbicide within the digestive tract of the animal. Another study on goats found a full 30% of the herbicide was rebuilt in the gut. Glufosinate is known to cause nerve damage and is a likely endocrine disruptor. Scientists are also concerned that by reactivating the toxic chemical in the digestive tract, it is likely killing off beneficial bacteria necessary for healthy digestion.
GM Devastated Hawaiian Papaya Industry
According to a May 2006 report by Greenpeace the introduction of a GM papaya
has devastated the Hawaiian Papaya industry. The selling price for the
papaya crashed from $1.23 per kilo to $0.89, after major buyers in Japan and
Hawaiian papaya growers who sell to Japan have to pay extra for segregating
and testing their papayas to make sure they are non-GM. The Japanese market
shrunk from $10.3 million in 1998 to $4.6 million in 2005. Canada accepted
GM papayas in 2003 however the price didn?t recover. In the 2004 and 2005
growing seasons, the selling price averaged less than 80 cents per kilo.
This is uneconomic for the farmers.
The USA has an application to export these GM papayas to Australia. It is
proposed that they will also be irradiated for quarantine purposes. Is this
the future of food?
Herbicide Resistant Weeds Causing Problems for US Cotton Growers
A US weed scientist says that weed resistance to glyphosate herbicide, used
widely on genetically modified Roundup Ready cotton and other crops, has the
potential to be a major problem for US cotton farmers.
North Carolina State weed scientist Alan York said that until now, herbicide
resistance has been dealt with simply by switching to an herbicide with a
different mode of action. But now, he says, there are no new effective
herbicides. Glyphosate-resistant horseweed has been widely reported in the
Cotton Belt, and York said the University of Georgia discovery of
glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth has caused a much higher level of
In tests at the University of Georgia, a 4X rate of glyphosate, applied
three times had little negative affect on Palmer Amaranth. ''If you grow
cotton in the Southeast, and you have Palmer amaranth in your fields,
looking at side-by-side comparisons of resistant and non-resistant pigweed
should scare you to death,'' York says.
Source: Southeast Farm Press http://www.non-gmoreport.com/
GMO Grass Found Growing in Wild
Creeping bentgrass that was genetically engineered to resist the herbicide
Roundup for golf courses is growing in the wild, posing one of the first
threats of agricultural biotechnology escaping from the farm in the United
The bentgrass variety is being developed by Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. in
cooperation with Monsanto. Spokesman for Scotts Miracle-Gro Co .Jim King
said seed from a test plot escaped several years ago while it was drying
following harvest in the Willamette Valley, home to most of the U.S. grass
seed industry and the world's largest producer of commercial grass
varieties. After several years of trying to eradicate it small amounts are
still surviving. As this was just an accidental escape during a trial, it
raises very serious questions as to what would happen if it were released
Scientists have stated that the modified grass could spread resistance to
more than a dozen other plant species that could also acquire resistance to
Roundup, or glyphosate
In 2003, the International Center for Technology Assessment in Washington,
D.C., filed a federal lawsuit seeking to halt development of genetically
Source: Associated Press August 17, 2006
GM Rice Contaminates US Food Supply
Traces of genetically modified rice have been detected in samples of
commercial rice seed and may have entered the food supply in the United
Bayer Crop Science notified the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the contamination in July. Called
LLRICE601, it was engineered for herbicide tolerance and has not undergone
the USDA regulatory process for commercial release.
The contamination will have an impact on rice exports. Around 50 percent of
the US rice crop is exported at a value of US $940 million.
Source: 2000/2006 Decision News Media SAS
World Leaders Vote Against the Terminator and GMO Trees
Leaders of the world have made some important decisions regarding
genetically engineered crops at the United Nations Convention on Biological
Diversity's (CBD) Eighth Conference of the Parties in Brazil. A majority of
world leaders voted against the release of genetically engineered trees,
referencing the possible spread of the plants into native forests.
there is insufficient scientific data regarding the biological impacts of
transgenic trees, as well as an absence of socio-economic and cultural
impact assessments, it is good scientific practice to invoke the
Precautionary Principle, which is enshrined in the CBD,'' stated Dr. Ricarda
Steinbrecher of the Federation of German Scientists. ''This means no release
of transgenic trees into the environment whilst this research is on-going,''
A majority of world leaders also voted to maintain the moratorium
on the ''Terminator'' technology, wherein plants are genetically engineered to
produce sterile seeds, forcing farmers to purchase seeds year after year,
rather than continuing traditional practices of saving seeds with each
year's harvest. The U.S. and other leading biotech nations voted in the
minority for the spread of these technologies.
Pesticides Link to Parkinson's Disease
Two studies, conducted independently have linked pesticides exposure to
Parkinson's Disease. Both studies have shown the link between the ability of
pesticides to alter production of the neurotransmitter dopamine and the
development of Parkinson's Disease later in life.
Pesticides Boost Parkinson's Disease by 70 percent.
A study published Dr. Alberto Ascherio, associate professor of nutrition and
epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and his
colleagues was published July issue of the Annals of Neurology found that
exposure to pesticides, but not other environmental contaminants, may boost
the long-term risk for developing Parkinson's disease by 70 percent.
The authors reviewed lifestyle surveys completed in both 1982 and in 2001 by
over 143,000 participants in the U.S. ''Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition
Cohort,'' launched in 1982.
Their research confirms earlier animal studies linking pesticide exposure to
motor function abnormalities and lower levels of the brain neurotransmitter
dopamine. Declines in dopamine have long been associated with Parkinson's.
''This is the first large human study that shows that exposure to pesticide
is associated with a higher incidence of Parkinson's,'' said Dr. Ascherio.
Source: Alberto Ascherio, M.D., associate professor, nutrition and
epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Robin Elliot,
executive director, Parksinon's Disease Foundation, New York City; July,
2006 issue of the Annals of Neurology.
Dieldrin Linked to Increased Risk of Parkinson's Disease
A study published in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental
Biology (FASEB) Journal has found that exposure to dieldrin in the unborn
and breastfeeding mice can cause Parkinson's Disease (PD) to develop later
in life. The findings are significant because most studies aimed at
determining the disease process in PD have been focused on events occurring
during adulthood, not during developmental stages.
A team of Emory University researchers has found a connection in laboratory
mice between developmental exposure to the pesticide dieldrin) during
gestation and lactation and an increased risk of developing Parkinson's
''We also noted that exposure to dieldrin during critical periods of
development may lead to the imprinting of genes that regulate the proper
formation and maintenance of function of the dopamine system,'' says Jason
Richardson, Ph.D., co-author and postdoctoral fellow in the Miller
laboratory. ''This alteration may induce a silent state of dopamine
dysfunction and an increased vulnerability of dopamine neurons later in
''The results from this study provide a potential molecular mechanism
responsible for the association between dieldrin exposure and increased risk
of PD and suggests that greater attention should be focused on the role of
early life exposures and the development of PD,'' says Dr. Miller.
Pyrethroid Pesticides Pollute Streams
A study published American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science
& Technology has found that synthetic pyrethroids have accumulated in many
creek sediments to levels that are toxic to important food chain species.
Synthetic pyrethroids are based on the chemistry of natural pryrethrins,
however unlike the natural pesticide that is extracted from a daisy and
rapidly decays; these new synthetic compounds are highly residual and toxic.
Donald P. Weston and colleagues at University of California, Berkeley have
found that the levels are high enough to kill amphipods and other species
that are important in the food chain for fish and higher animals.
Organic wine cops Veritas gold
Clinching a coveted gold medal for their Sensory Collection Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 at the Veritas Awards set a new benchmark for Stellar Winery, confirming that organically produced wine can compete with the best out there.
Of the ten Cabernet Sauvignons awarded gold, Stellar Winery's is the only organic wine in this elite group.
"We are delighted to receive this award, as the Sensory Collection is our flagship range," says winemaker Dudley Wilson.
"Bringing home gold shows that sustainable organic wine farming is most viable in terms of quality."
Stellar Winery also won two silver medals for the Sensory Collection Pinotage 2003 and Organic Colombard/Sauvignon Blanc 2005. The Sensory Collection Merlot 2003 and the Live-a-Little Rosé both took bronze.
Situated in Trawal, Namaqualand, Stellar is a joint venture between four farmers and the cellar, and makes use of a semi-arid climate, unrivalled refrigeration capacity and extensive in-house engineering skills to produce modern organic wines.
Part of its winning formula is its uncompromising adherence to fair labour practices and social and economic upliftment. Stellar Winery was also the first organic winery in the world to receive international Fairtrade accreditation.
The grapes used for the award-winning Sensory Collection Cabernet come from two farms, one in Trawal and the other in Vredendal. Both vineyards give relatively low yields with small bunches and small berries.
To determine the best wood style, the best blend of the various Cabernet tanks was used to fill new barrels from Toneleria Nacional. The best barrels were selected for the Sensory Collection. It's a Cabernet with brilliant fruitiness of clear black current flavours and a subtle note of strawberries.
The fruits are perfectly embedded in spicy notes of tobacco, cinnamon and vanilla. Additionally, typical green pepper and a hint of grass bring out the identity of the wine.
The mouthfeel is dominated by two dynamically competing characters, the strong minerality and the softly acting tannins. Together they create a dense and fully structured sensation in the mouth.
Continued mixing with oxygen gives complexity to this wine and slowly banishes its youthfulness, which is presented by a fresh (and wine life-prolonging) acidity in the aftertaste.
Stellar Winery is endorsed by the highly respected SKAL International, the Dutch Accreditation Council RvA, as following their very strict organic production methods.
courtesy of iAfrica.com
Detox Your Wardrobe - Why You Should Buy Organic Clothing
Jonano offers value added benefits without the environmental cost
Pittsburgh, PA, July 30, 2006 --(PR.COM)-- Everyone needs clothes. They shelter us from the elements and define our personal style. However we would be better off if we wore clothes made from organically produced fibre. Jonäno, a US manufacturer tells why...
DID YOU KNOW?
- A cotton t-shirt blended with polyester can release approximately one quarter of its weight in air pollutants and ten times its weight in carbon dioxide. Each organic fiber t-shirt you buy eliminates the use of 150 grams of agricultural chemicals. It takes approximately one pound of chemicals to grow three pounds of conventional cotton, while organic cotton is grown chemical free.
- Bamboo is a natural, renewable resource that can be made into easy-care fabrics. Made of the cellulose extracted from managed bamboo farms, this elegant eco-fiber is manufactured using a non-toxic process which spins buttery-soft machine washable fabrics. Bamboo grows very quickly and does not require fertilizers or pesticides. Jonäno manufactures only authentic spun bamboo of the highest quality and strength. It is comfortable, breathable, and kills bacteria that causes odor. The jonäno ecoKashmere™ line of base layer protective apparel feels like silken cashmere next to the skin, and will wick moisture at twice the rate of conventional cotton.
- Certified organic cotton is cotton grown without the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers. It is also free of formaldehyde finishes. Organic cotton wears well and is extremely breathable, unlike synthetics that pill, emit static electricity, prematurely age and trap perspiration. Non-organic cotton is commonly portrayed as natural, yet it is highly cultivated and processed which contaminates groundwater and ultimately drinking water, poisoning the food chain.
- Most people suffering from skin dermatological conditions can comfortably wear garments made from organic fibers such as organic cotton or bamboo. Depending on your level of skin sensitivity, you may need to wear hypoallergenic, dye-free clothing. Bamboo Fabric is naturally antimicrobial, and will not harm those with skin sensitivities. No chemicals have been added to achieve this value added benefit. For shipping, jonäno wraps unpackaged garments in unbleached tissue paper to protect them from residues that might rub off from shipping boxes and shipping envelopes.
- Natural and organic fiber clothing are processed with as few chemicals and harmful impact on the environment as possible. By purchasing natural and organic fiber clothing you are supporting environmental causes. By purchasing sustainable clothing that reduces environmental impact, clothing that supports and nourishes the earth and the lives of all people involved in the process of growing, manufacturing and distributing the clothing, you also support the principals of Free Trade worker conditions, earth and animal welfare.
- The Fair Trade Federation, FTF, is an association of fair trade wholesalers, retailers and producers whose members are committed to providing fair wages and good employment opportunities to economically disadvantaged artisans and farmers worldwide. Jonäno supports and follows the principals of the FTF. By adhering to social criteria and environmental principles, Fair Trade Organizations foster a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade that benefits people and their communities
Written by Bonnie Siefers
Comfort with Benefit™
A division of Sami Designs, LLC
Organic decor goes for green
As the hard-to-ignore evidence of global warming — like sales of air conditioners in the Arctic — fuels a long overdue concern for the environment, builders are going green. Here's one example from Milton, Toronto... Mattamy Homes, for example, has just released two demonstration homes in their new Green Initiative project in Milton. Fashioned after the "eco-tech village" model outlined in a study done for the Town of Milton by Ryerson University's urban planning department, they demonstrate the fusion of ecologically responsible, high-performance green buildings wired for hi-tech needs.
At first blush, the two models seem no different from any other: quartz counters, wood floors and cabinetry, luxurious baths, two-sided fireplaces, big windows; spacious front entry; formal living and dining room; great room with kitchen, family area and breakfast nook. But that's where the similarity ends. Wall cut-outs fronted by glass for displaying the home's internal workings — reinforcement beams, wiring, insulation and plumbing — are not all that common. Carolyn Gardy, who designed the models, incorporated as many environmentally friendly products into the design. "It's harder to get organic home products at the moment. In fact, it's a bit of a challenge," Gardy says. "That, I expect, will change as more people start requesting them. It's just like organic foods at the grocery store — 10 years ago they were hard to find, and very expensive. Now they're everywhere."
Even so, she managed to scout a number of decorative elements with ecological benefits: a tweed-effect polyester carpeting made from recycled plastic bags; cinnamon-hued bamboo floors on the main floor resist swelling and shrinking; and natural seagrass carpets in the great room. Gardy chose Hunter Douglas Ever-Wood blinds for the windows in one home. "Even natural hemp drapes can collect dust," she explains. "Besides, there's lots of architectural interest without drapery, and with such big windows, natural light floods the rooms." To improve air quality, live plants spill out of iron planters and water cascades gently over a slate and copper feature in the dining room. A host of natural materials include cork — the wall covering in the powder room, and on the kitchen stool seats. Because it's taken from the bark, there's no damage to the tree; other cork materials, Gardy points out, come from the scraps left over from the making of wine stoppers. Even the paint is eco-friendly. From ICI Dulux, it's durable and solvent free and forms the palette for the home — yellow, light sage, taupe, cream, grey. As Gardy says, when it was being applied, the trades commented on how nice and fresh it smelled. Vinyl-free wallcoverings that can be installed with water and don't leave a residue are breathable, and inhibit mould. Though the current selection is somewhat limited, Gardy predicts it will be the wall covering of choice in the future.
In the second demonstration model, Gardy used slightly fewer enviro-products, because she wanted to show a more traditional application of ecologically sound items. For example, there are wool carpets and silk drapes, and a stone fireplace. In both demonstration homes, a number of products keep electrical and water use low: ceiling fans to move air and minimize central air conditioning use; front-load washers in the second floor laundry area are Energy Star rated; and low-flow aerators in the bathroom faucets, and low-flush toilets keep water use to a minimum.
Austria: Organic Food Demand Outstrips Supply
Austria seeks more organic food supply after a surge in demand has caused undersupply. Even discount supermarkets are offering organic products because of high demand from Austrian consumers.
The largest association of organic farmers in the country, Bio Austria, said that despite more than 20,300 organic businesses in the country, not enough farmers produce 'bio' food. Bio Austria believes home-grown organic pear production met only 10 per cent of demand. Apple production satisfied just 40 per cent. Only organic grains and cereals supply exceeded demand.
Organic producers constitute 11.5 per cent of all Austrian farmers and generate turnover of EUR 500 million a year. Bio Austria aims to raise the number of organic farmers to 20 per cent by 2013. Bio Austria chairman, Johannes Tomic, said the 'Green Pact' of the agricultural ministry helps attain this goal.
"The pact gives us planning security and ensures that the development of land for organic farming remains anchored in the country's environmental policies," Mr Tomic said. He added that people's changing attitudes influenced the development of the domestic market. "The organic sector has gone from being a niche market to a mainstream one, as more and more discount supermarkets opt for a bio section. This is a very positive step."
Source: Austria Today
World leaders vote against the Terminator and Frankentrees
Leaders of the world have made some important decisions regarding genetically engineered crops over the past two weeks at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Eighth Conference of the Parties in Brazil. A majority of world leaders voted against the release of genetically engineered trees, referencing the possible spread of the plants into native forests. "Because there is insufficient scientific data regarding the biological impacts of transgenic trees, as well as an absence of socio-economic and cultural impact assessments, it is good scientific practice to invoke the Precautionary Principle, which is enshrined in the CBD," stated Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher of the Federation of German Scientists. "This means no release of transgenic trees into the environment whilst this research is on-going," she added. A majority of world leaders also voted to maintain the moratorium on the "Terminator" technology, wherein plants are genetically engineered to produce sterile seeds, forcing farmers to purchase seeds year after year, rather than continuing traditional practices of saving seeds with each year's harvest. The U.S. and other leading biotech nations voted in the minority for the spread of these technologies.
Consumer demand for organics explode whilst supply dwindles
Not enough U.S. farmers are finding it possible to make the transition to organic production, according to a January 2006 marketing report from the research firm Organic Monitor in London. Domestic consumers are buying record amounts of organic foods, but farmers are unable to meet that demand, resulting in $1.5 billion of organic crops imported into the U.S. in 2005. This means that 10% of all organic sales in the U.S. today are imports. In comparison, U.S. organic exports amount to a meager $150 million. In the European Union, government programs help conventional farmers make the transition to organic production with subsidies and technical assistance. In contrast, the majority of U.S. agricultural subsidies are earmarked for large chemical-intensive and energy-intensive farms and genetically engineered crops, making it difficult for family-scale farmers and ranchers to afford the expensive and difficult three year transition from conventional to organic production. "Unless more American farmers consider converting to organic practices, exporters are likely to capitalize on this lucrative market," the report said.
QUICK FACTS: How much fossil fuel is in your food?
An average of over seven calories of fossil fuel is burned up for every calorie of energy we get from our food. This means that the average 2000 calorie daily diet requires approximately two quarts of crude oil to produce, process, package and transport.
The processing of just one pound of coffee requires over 8,000 calories of fossil-fuel energy -- the equivalent energy found in nearly 30 cubic feet of natural gas, or around two and a half pounds of coal.
To reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed and greenhouse gases generated by the foods you eat, buy locally grown organic products, foods with minimal packaging, and avoid highly processed foods.
The current legal levels of fluoride in drinking water are dangerous
The National Academy of Sciences has released a report indicating that the current legal levels of fluoride in drinking water are dangerous and should be lowered. Although the U.S. government states that only 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter of drinking water is necessary to help prevent tooth decay, up to four times that amount is present in some municipal water supplies. Excessive fluoride ingestion is known to weaken bones. The fluoride debate has raged on for over 60 years, with opponents pointing to data showing that it's effective when applied topically but not ingested. Consumers can learn how much fluoride is in their tap water by asking their local utility, and most of it can be removed through filtration.
True job creation is directly linked to organic and sustainable farming
Brazil has already created over 700,000 new sustainable jobs and this will grow to more the 1 million in the next 4 years - why can't we do that here?
- it's time for the South African Government to take action
South African politicians and elected officials are very good at talking. They all sound good, say the right things, then nothing happens. This applies to job creation, housing for the poor, tackling HIV/Aids issue, eliminating corruption, taking action on crime, getting our hospitals to provide just a minimum level of service and so on.
Yes, I understand all of these are big and complicated issues and cannot be fixed overnight. But lets look at what Brazil, India, Cuba and Mexico have already accomplished. All have been incredibly proactive when it comes to real job creation.
We talk about creating ''call centres'' and other skilled jobs. They talk about going back to the land and growing things. What we are doing is moving people from lower paying jobs to higher paying ones. That's not job creation. What they are talking about is taking someone with no job and no skills and creating a sustainable paying job.
Brazil alone has already created over 700,000 new jobs by being creative with their bio-fuel programmes. They lead the way to becoming less dependant of oil importation. They have already displaced US$120 billion that would have gone to oil producing countries and invested this money in their own people. Fuels such as bio-diesel are renewable and can be made from agricultural products, like palm oil or soy beans, which can then be mixed at up to 30% with petroleum-based products such as diesel. Few countries can compete with Brazil as a bio-diesel producer. This is a vital project for ensuring more independence for Brazil, and they will become a large bio-diesel exporter.
Brazil's government also views bio fuel as a way of helping rural parts of the country out of extreme poverty. The use in bio-diesel of castor beans, from Brazil's arid northeastern Sertao, for example, is creating thousands of jobs in the impoverished region where tax breaks are being given to families producing the raw products used in bio-diesel production. The creation of jobs in rural Brazil by the sugar cane trade is reducing the strain on its overcrowded cities, many of which are dominated by tracts of shantytown housing.
Today bio-diesel, on sale in nearly 100 ''bio'' stations around Brazil and powering Rio's buses and refuse trucks, contains just 2% of vegetable-sourced diesel. But the plan is to achieve 20% by 2020, slashing carbon emissions, and, more crucially, the $1.1bn cost of importing 6bn litres of diesel each year. ''Flex fuel'' engines power 80% of all new Brazilian-built cars, up from 17% in 2004. This will be at 100% in two years.
Brazil has also embraced an organic faring programme that should be an inspiration to all of us. They currently have 7100 certified organic farmers. The government of Brazil has targeted organics as their national growth initiative. They are planning to capture 10% of the worldwide organic market by 2010 - a staggering US$3 billion. While the export potential and the inflow of cash is great. What really is great is that the programme creates jobs for people at the lowest economical level, it eliminates poverty, and it gives their people hope and instils pride that they too are making a difference for their families, their communities and their country.
Cuba launched a Greening of Cuba campaign over 10 years ago. They have been faced with political isolation, oil restrictions, trade embargos, and a lack of agri-chemicals. The Cuban government took a proactive stance. They converted the vast majority of their schools to solar power. They promoted organics as the only viable alternative. Today 80% of all their fresh produce is organic. Having been forced to make the ''mind-shift'' there is no turning back.
India launched a very innovative 9 Seeds programme. This is a community-based project that has been set up in 110 different sites all over India; this programme is 100% organic. It has created thousands of jobs, eliminated poverty, provided a healthy diet - but more than that has educated countless families, mainly those on the lowest rung of the economical ladder, to living a healthy lifestyle with a respect for the earth's natural resources.
Mexico's organic story is a little different. Their biggest customer base, the North American market, has over the past 10 years demanded chemical free production. It was a case of go organic or lose their customers. Today there are 35,000 certified organic farmers in Mexico and that number will continue to grow significantly.
Why are these countries all embracing organics? The worldwide organics industry is now 25 years old in the modern era. Actually it's how most of our crops were grown from the beginning of time until 1950. Since 1950 over 100,000 new chemicals have been introduced into our food supply - and now we wonder where the increase of cancer, bird flu and mad cow diseases have all come from?
The organic (chemical free) industry is the fastest growing industry segment worldwide - and is growing at 25% annually. Compare this with conventional produce using chemicals and GM seeds - this segment is only growing at 2% per year. But this is not just about making economic sense. Organics is about going chemical free. It's about soil health, which leads to plant heath, which ensures human health. But it's far more than even this; it's about creating a lifestyle for all economic levels of our society that is totally sustainable.
As a South African, look around you, what do you see? A culture of fast food consumption - high in fats and salts, washing it down with sugar based soft drinks and alcohol. What destroys the immune system the fastest? High sugar and fat diets - no wonder we have the highest HIV/Aids infection rate in the world; with obesity a close second. Then, when the Minister of Health talks about the nutritional value of fresh fruit and vegetables she is ridiculed. Why have we gotten it so wrong?
Each of these 4 countries mentioned all are tasked face with the exact same issues that we are challenged with in South Africa today - but they have taken action. So, where does South Africa stand?
The South African government has further confused the issue by supporting GMO programmes as a way to boost agricultural production. GMO seeds require chemical fertilizers. The GM seeds do not re-germinate and therefore must be purchased every year - along with many more supporting chemicals. This is tantamount to the multi-national chemical companies ''enslaving'' our African farmers - once on the treadmill; it's difficult to get off. The chemicals damage the soil - and that requires even more chemicals to fix the problem, and then at the end of this process most African countries are rejecting our GMO production - so most of it has to be consumed locally.
- We have millions of people who need work and live in poverty.
- We have huge tracts of under-utilised land.
- Our Department of Agriculture still does not have a clear bio-fuel or organic agricultural policy.
- There is no South African organic standard or certification legislation.
- We only have 200 certified organic farmers (against Brazils 7,100 and Mexico's 35,000)
- We have 5 active organic wine producers, and another 12 beginning programmes (Australia, Italy and the USA have more than 100 each. 80% of all France's vineyards are now chemical free)
GMO's do not create jobs, do not enhance the quality of our lives, they have not eliminated poverty - their use has just lined the pockets of the global chemical companies - just look at any of their balance sheets.
What our government needs to do is to take the lead from programmes that work in India, Cuba, Mexico and Brazil. Define an organic and bio-fuel strategy and implement a South African organic standard certification programme that will be recognised worldwide, and finally use our country's wonderful natural and people resources.
Empower our communities, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds to join community projects and become esteemed by becoming organic and bio-fuel farmers. We could create over 500,000 new jobs in the next 5 years, make a huge impact on eliminating poverty, and as a bonus educate our people to the values of good nutrition, and improve health by allowing South Africans to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Organics is the fastest growing market sector worldwide, it's about living a healthy, chemical free and sustainable lifestyle, it requires lots of land, employing thousands of people. There is huge international funding for a project like this and our government could not invest in a better programme.
It sounds like a win-win situation to me. Don't conference and workshop this to death - come guys, let's just do it.
Issued by: David Wolstenholme
Exhibition Director of the Natural & Organic Products Exhibition.
20-22 October 2006, Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg.
Organic Orchard Practices Found to Lower Nitrogen Pollution
STANFORD, California, March 8, 2006 (ENS) - Organic farming has been
promoted as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional
agriculture, and new research provides evidence to support that claim.
Writing in the March 6 online edition of the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences (PNAS) , Stanford University graduate student Sasha
Kramer and her colleagues found that fertilizing apple trees with synthetic
chemicals produced more adverse environmental effects than feeding them with
organic manure or alfalfa.
"The intensification of agricultural production over the past 60 years and
the subsequent increase in global nitrogen inputs have resulted in
substantial nitrogen pollution and ecological damage," Kramer and her
colleagues write. "The primary source of nitrogen pollution comes from
nitrogen-based agricultural fertilizers, whose use is forecasted to double
or almost triple by 2050."
Nitrogen compounds from fertilizer can enter the atmosphere and contribute
to global warming, adds Harold Mooney, the Paul S. Achilles Professor of
Environmental Biology at Stanford and co-author of the study.
"Nitrogen compounds also enter our watersheds and have effects quite distant
from the fields in which they are applied, as for example in contaminating
water tables and causing biological dead zones at the mouths of major
rivers," Mooney says. "This study shows that the use of organic versus
chemical fertilizers can play a role in reducing these adverse effects."
The PNAS study was conducted in an established apple orchard on a four acre
site in the Yakima Valley of central Washington, one of the premiere apple
growing regions in the United States.
Some trees used in the experiment were raised with conventional synthetic
fertilizers. Others were grown organically without pesticides, herbicides or
artificial fertilization. A third group was raised by a method called
integrated farming, which combines organic and conventional agricultural
During the yearlong experiment, organically grown trees were fed either
composted chicken manure or alfalfa meal, while conventionally raised plants
were given calcium nitrate, a synthetic fertilizer widely used by commercial
apple growers. Trees raised using the integrated system were given a blend
of equal parts chicken manure and calcium nitrate.
To measure nitrate levels during the experiment, water was collected in
resin bags buried about 40 inches below the trees and then analyzed in the
"We measured nitrate leaching over an entire year and found that it was 4.4
to 5.6 times higher in the conventional treatment than in the two organic
treatments, with the integrated treatment in between," says John Reganold,
Regents Professor of Soil Science at Washington State University and
co-author of the study.
"This study is an important contribution to the debate surrounding the
sustainability of organic agriculture, one of the most contentious topics in
agricultural science worldwide," Reganold says.
"Our findings not only score another beneficial point for organic
agriculture but give credibility to the middle-ground approach of integrated
farming, which uses both organic and conventional nitrogen fertilizers and
other practices. It is this middle-ground approach that we may see more
farmers adopting than even the rapidly growing organic approach."
Washington State produces more than half of the nation's apples. In 2004,
the state crop was worth about $963 million, with organically grown apples
representing between five and 10 percent of the total value.
Soft Drinks Found to Have High Levels of Cancer Chemical
Those soft drinks with added Vitamin C may not be so good for you, new tests reveal...
by Rajeev Syal - the Times / UK - March 2, 2006
Traces of a carcinogenic chemical have been found in soft drinks at eight
times the level permitted in drinking water, it was revealed last night.
Tests conducted on 230 drinks on sale in Britain and France have identified
high levels of benzene, a compound known to cause cancer, according to the
Food Standards Agency. There is a legal limit of one part per billion of
benzene in British drinking water. The latest tests revealed levels of up to
eight parts per billion in some soft drinks.
Benzene has been linked to leukaemia and other cancers of the blood. Traces
found in Perrier water 15 years ago led to the withdrawal of more than 160
million bottles worldwide. The disclosure has prompted food safety
campaigners to demand that the Government reveal which products contain
benzene. At present, the drinks¹ identities have not been revealed.
Richard Watts, of Sustain, a pressure group lobbying for better food
standards, said that this should be done urgently because the drinks were
being marketed to children. ³The scientific evidence is unclear about
whether there is any safe level of benzene. We see no reason why it should
be different from the designated safe level in drinking water. If it is
unsafe in drinking water, why should it be safe in soft drinks?² he said.
The Food Standards Agency, the government watchdog, said that the products
did not pose an immediate health risk, but called for further investigation
from the British drinks industry. ³Let¹s have further investigations and
regular discussions with the drinks industry to check what is happening. If
levels are high then the FSA will take action to protect consumers,² an
agency spokesman said.
Food scientists believe that high levels of benzene may have been produced
by the reaction of two commonly used ingredients ? sodium benzoate, a
preservative, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Sodium benzoate is widely used
in the drinks sector. In Britain, it is used in Britvic brands including
Britvic 55 apple and orange flavours, Pennine Spring flavoured waters and
Shandy Bass.It is not known if any of these products were included in the
latest tests. A spokesman for Britvic has previously expressed confidence in
A spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association said yesterday that the
industry was working to reduce the levels of benzene in soft drinks. ³There
is an obligation on the industry to have as low a level of benzene as
possible and we are looking at ways of reducing the levels ? and maybe even
removing the preservative ? if we can replace it with something else,² he
When minuscule traces of benzene were discovered in Perrier water 15 years
ago, it forced the French company to withdraw millions of bottles.
Tests have been carried out in Europe after US food watchdogs found benzene
in juices and sodas. The Food and Drug Administration registered its concern
about the possible long-term effects on health.
Professor Glenn Lawrence, of Long Island University, who first conducted
tests for benzene in soft drinks 13 years ago, said that the combination of
sodium benzoate and vitamin C was commonly used in drinks in the early
He said that drinks firms were now putting vitamin C back into drinks to
encourage consumers to buy the product. He said that this was being done to
encourage parents to buy the drinks to improve their children¹s health but
it might just be doing the opposite.
- Michael Faraday discovered benzene in 1825 when he isolated it from oil
gas to form a chemical, six parts carbon, six parts hydrogen
- It is produced during incomplete combustion of carbon-rich substances:
it is produced from petrochemicals, but occurs naturally in volcanoes,
forest fires and in cigarette smoke
- In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was used in aftershave, for its
pleasant smell, and to decaffinate coffee. It is now used as an anti-knock
agent in petrol
- It is an aggressive carcinogen and may lead to leukaemia and other
cancers of the blood
- In 1993, Professor Glenn Lawrence, of Long Island University, published
research showing that the sodium benzoate and vitamin C found in soft drinks
could react to form benzene. He suggested that drink companies were putting
vitamin C into drinks to encourage customers to buy them
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.
FDA finds benzene in soft drinks
by David Goldstein - Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - When small amounts of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical, were found in some soft drinks 16 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration never told the public.
That's because the beverage industry told the government it would handle the problem and the FDA thought the problem was solved.
A decade and a half later, benzene has turned up again. The FDA has found levels in some soft drinks higher than what it found in 1990, and two to four times higher than what's considered safe for drinking water.
Both the FDA and the beverage industry said the amounts were small and that the problem didn't appear to be widespread.
"People shouldn't overreact," said Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. "It's a very small number of products and not major brands."
"The issue here is not something that should cause anyone alarm or terrific concern," said George Pauli, a top food safety expert at the FDA, "but if there's something that can be reduced, we want to reduce it."
Neither Keane nor Pauli would identify the drinks being tested because the investigation is still under way.
Pauli said that people ingest more benzene by breathing than they would if they drank a can of soda containing the chemical. Small amounts of the chemical also are naturally present in some foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products.
Still, Pauli added, "You want to avoid it in any degree you can."
Of the 60 or so varieties of sodas, sports drinks, juice drinks and bottled waters that the FDA has tested so far, benzene levels have ranged from two and three parts per billion to more than 10-20 parts per billion.
The Environmental Protection Agency's safety standard for benzene in drinking water is five parts per billion. If it exceeds that, authorities are required to notify the public.
Keane said it was "tough to compare" the safety standard for water with soft drinks because the water rule is based on the fact that people drink more water each day.
Benzene is an industrial chemical that's found in tobacco smoke, car exhaust and vapors from household products such as paint, detergents and furniture wax. Long-term exposure can cause leukemia and other cancers of the blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Benzene can show up in soft drinks when two common ingredients react: ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C, and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. Both are preservatives used to prevent the growth of bacteria.
But the presence of these chemicals doesn't necessarily produce benzene.
"It's not as simple as looking at the label, and if you see those two, there will be problems," Keane said.
Pauli said that a catalyst such as temperature or light is needed to trigger the formation of benzene. That's what scientists suspect occurred in 1990 when authorities found benzene in products made by Cadbury Schweppes and Koala Springs, an Australian beverage company.
But a health safety watchdog organization said the FDA should inform the public, particularly since so many soft drinks are marketed to children.
"Most people would prefer there are no known human carcinogens in what they drink," said Jane Houlihan, vice president for research at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific research group that studies toxic chemicals. "This is a case where industry agreed to get it out of the products, and all the evidence says they didn't."
Soft drink manufacturers PepsiCo and Coca-Cola declined to comment and referred calls to the American Beverage Association.
When benzene first turned up 16 years ago, FDA officials met with representatives of the beverage industry who "expressed their concern about the presence of benzene traces in their products and the potential for adverse publicity associated with this problem," according to an internal FDA memo from December 1990.
Keane said the industry told the FDA that it was reformulating its products to alleviate the problem. Adding sugar, for instance, or replacing the vitamin C, can inhibit the chemical reaction that produces benzene, Pauli said.
An FDA official who asked not to be identified said that the agency didn't inform the public about the benzene problem 16 years ago because it didn't consider it a public health concern since the levels were low and the companies were reformulating.
He said the FDA conducted follow-up testing in the early 1990s, but not since because "we thought the problem was gone and over. Then it resurfaced."
The current investigation began when an activist concerned about soft drink machines in schools tried to get the FDA interested in the issue. He then sent lab results showing some soft drinks with higher-than-normal benzene levels.
"Our first reaction was, `Yes, we looked at this in 1990 and essentially there was nothing there,'" Pauli said. "Then he came up with some numbers and we said, `That's not what we came up with back then. We have to go back and look.'"
Asked why the problem would resurface 16 years later, Keane said the industry took the necessary steps at the time, but it's possible some manufacturers just didn't know.
"It's a very fast-growing industry, both in terms of companies and new brands, so a lot has changed in the last 16 years," he said.
Food safety authorities in Great Britain and Australia also are testing soft drinks for benzene.
For more information, go to:
China joins soft drinks benzene probe
07/03/2006 - China has launched an inquiry into benzene in soft drinks after authorities in the UK and US found drinks containing benzene above the countries legal limits for drinking water.
Chinese food safety authorities have been studying the potential for benzene residues to form in soft drinks containing ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate, according to local media reports.
A public statement is expected soon. Benzene is listed as a carcinogen by public health authorities.
Food safety bodies from several countries around the world have, in recent weeks, attempted to learn more about the potential for benzene formation in drinks.
Their interest was sparked after the US Food and Drug Administration revealed to BeverageDaily.com it had found some drinks in the US that contained benzene above the five parts per billion legal limit for water there.
Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it would conduct its own investigation after industry testing on 230 soft drinks found average benzene levels above the UK's one part per billion limit for drinking water.
The tests, done on products at the end of their shelf-life, found benzene levels up to eight parts per billion in some drinks. Benzene is listed as a known carcinogen.
The FSA re-iterated that levels found to date were not a public health concern.
The UK has no limit for benzene in soft drinks, and a spokesperson for the country's soft drinks association said the water limit was not applicable.
Yet, a UK food legislation expert told BeverageDaily.com any court would likely look to the drinking water limit for guidance if considering benzene in soft drinks. Water is still the main ingredient in most soft drinks.
A BeverageDaily investigation over the last couple of months has confirmed from several industry and government sources that benzene can form in drinks when two common ingredients sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) react.
Both the FDA and the US soft drinks industry has known this for 15 years, as testified by an internal FDA memo date January 1991. The issue was, however, never announced to the public.
The industry told the FDA it would get the word out and reformulate, according to FDA chemist Greg Diachenko. Yet, now the issue has returned. Diachenko said authorities were still evaluating results, but "we certainly want to make sure there is some reformulation".
The safety body has come under pressure from campaign groups in recent days to release results from its recent testing on soft drinks.
It was originally alerted to the continuing presence of benzene in drinks by independent laboratory tests in New York.
Results of those tests, passed on to BeverageDaily.com, show a couple of soft drinks in the US up to two-and-a-half and four times above the 10 parts per billion legal limit for drinking water set by the World Health Organisation.
Perrier bottled water was recalled for containing lower levels of benzene in 1990.
Kevin Keane, of the American Beverage Association (ABA), assured consumers there was no health risk, but said some brands may not be aware of the potential for sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid to form benzene. "15 years ago it was under control, but this is a fast-growing industry. There are a lot of new companies, a lot of new brands and things have changed,"
ABA scientist Mike Redman said companies had learnt to control benzene formation by adjusting levels of the two ingredients in their drinks.
But, Glen Lawrence, a scientist who helped the FDA with testing in 1990, said in an interview with BeverageDaily.com soft drinks firms should not use sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid together.
He was concerned that producers might be adding more vitamin C into drinks as to target consumer health trends. "There is no good reason to add ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to soft drinks, and those that may have ascorbic acid naturally in them (juices) should not use sodium benzoate as a preservative. So it is really very easy to avoid the problem."
Lawrence co-authored a 1993 article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, detailing how benzene could form in the acidic conditions of drinks when sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid were present.
Negative health impacts from junk food costs the UK more than twice as much as smoking related illnesses.
UK Study Shows Bad Diets & Toxic Food Are Doing More Damage to Public Health Than Smoking
11/15/05 - Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
for the full paper
Study objective: To quantify the burden of ill health in the UK that can be attributed to food (the burden of food related ill health).
Design: Review and further analysis of the results of work concerned with estimates of the burden of disease measured as morbidity, mortality, and in financial terms and with the proportion of that burden that can be attributed to food.
Main results: Food related ill health is responsible for about 10% of morbidity and mortality in the UK and costs the NHS about 6 billion annually.
Conclusions: The burden of food related ill health measured in terms of mortality and morbidity is similar to that attributable to smoking. The cost to the NHS is twice the amount attributable to car, train, and other accidents, and more than twice that attributable to smoking. The vast majority of the burden is attributable to unhealthy diets rather than to food borne diseases.
STUDY CONCLUSIONS That food related ill health is responsible for about 10% of DALYs (disability adjusted life years) lost in the UK and costs the NHS about 6 billion annually are obviously crude estimates. Nevertheless they are probably reasonable. The estimates suggest that the burden of food related ill health is large, compared with say smoking, and suggest that food related ill health has been neglected by health and food policy makers. For example while there are specific government targets for smoking in England there are no equivalent dietary targets, the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease has a specific standard for smoking cessation but no equivalent standard for dietary improvement. The estimates could be improved by more sophisticated and systematic methodsfor example by calculating appropriate PAFs (population attributable fractions) and applying them to the burden of specific diseases rather than ICD (International Classification of Disease) chapters. The estimates should be refined, as without quantifying the burden of food related ill health we cannot say whether it is a problem worth worrying about or not.
Health-conscious step into crisp world of organic food
Wendy Hall - Consumer Industries Reporter - Business Day: 02 November 2005
South African consumers are following the world trend to eat food that is free of harmful pesticides, and demand for organically grown produce has increased dramatically.
Organic fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, wine and nonedible products such as cotton can be bought at supermarkets across SA.
Woolworths, which calls organics ''a significant 21st century lifestyle trend'', has experienced a marked, consistent growth in consumer demand, with organic food sales growing more than 50% year-on-year over the past two years.v
Pick ’n Pay CEO Sean Summers predicts growth in the niche market of organics consumers in higher living standards measure groups.
''Pick ’n Pay has predicted that the potential market for organic produce will constitute 5% of total produce sales in the short term, 10% in the medium term, and up to 20% in the longer term,'' Summers says.
He says customers are more aware of food safety and nutritional value of products they buy.
Organic web portal go-organic.co.za cofounder Ian Robinson says although market growth in SA has been ''phenomenal'', the country is five years behind the organics trend in the UK.
Organic crops are grown and produced without synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilisers, while organically raised livestock is fed food that is free of genetically modified additives.
This minimises pollution, builds soil fertility, supports sustainable farming and produces food that is free of chemicals or artificial additives. Animals are treated only with homeopathic remedies.
Research by the UK-based Soil Association says organic food is healthier because organic crops contain higher vitamin C, magnesium, iron and other minerals.
Organics SA chairman Leonard Mead says that his organisation expects that R135m worth of organic produce that is grown in the country will be sold and exported by the end of the year.
Says Mead: ''Woolworths has driven growth in organic foods demand, and with Pick ’n Pay clearly stating its intention to expand its organic product range we expect to see a leap in this figure in the next few years.''
Woolworths introduced an organic range of only 10 products in 1999. In the past five years, though, it has expanded it to more than 200 organic food products, with plans to increase this. The store also recently launched a range of organic garments using cotton from India.
Lee Griffin of Stellar Organic Winery, which supplies wine to Woolworths, says demand for organic wine in SA has increased.
The cellar, which is in Western Cape and 300km north of Cape Town on the road to Namibia, produces organic and sulphur-free wine sourced from four farms in the region that produce organically grown grapes. About 85% of its wine is exported to Germany and the US.
Griffin says that the winery is looking for a new distributor with a view to expanding its supermarket footprint in SA. “Our cellar sales have grown 400% for the six months from January to June.
''We’ve budgeted for growth of 300% for the next year, but we’re already ahead of our targets,'' he says.
Woolworths will label a product as ''organic'' if a minimum of 95% of its ingredients have been certified organic. Farms have to be managed according to organic principles for up to three years before they can be accredited.
A new version of the Agricultural Products Standards Act of 1990, which will control sale of organic products in SA, is in its second draft.
Organics SA says there has been a significant increase in organic producers over the past year. There are 515000ha of organic farmland in SA, 77% of which has been certified in the past four years.
Organic farming is more expensive than conventional farming, due to start-up costs, conversion and accreditation. Organic farmers are vulnerable to adverse weather and pests because chemical pesticides may not be used, often resulting in lower yields and erratic supply.
The factors add to the cost of the produce, which can be between 20%-30% more expensive than conventionally grown products, Robinson says.
He says consumers pay the premium because yields during the conversion process and the first few years of organic farming can be low.
JODY SCHECKTER TALKS ORGANICS TO IAN ROBINSON
Jody Scheckter and I have a few things in common: we've both done over a hundred laps of Kyalami Grand Prix circuit, won the odd race or two, and spent some time at Maranello, the home of Ferrari near Modena in Italy. However, there are some
marked differences. He was a Grand Prix World Champion (the last one for Ferrari before Michael Schumacher came along), he actually drove for Ferrari (the best I've been is a passenger in one), and he was hero worshipped by many around the world, whereas my handful of hero worshippers mostly share my surname.
An exclusive interview for go-organic.co.za
However, we now have something else in common - a drive to promote the use of organic farming.
This brought us together at the recent Organic and Natural Exhibition in Cape Town, and we spoke about organics and Scheckter's involvement.
I started by asking him whether organics can play a role in alleviating poverty and starvation and his reply highlighted how much work there is to be done but that there's no shortage of opportunity. He started by describing some examples:
JS: There are these little communities in the bush that are bringing in fertilizers when they could be making their own compost.
I was invited by two charities, and they took me to Soweto where they were giving out food in a hall. But I noticed these vegetable patches outside that I was more interested in and noticed that there were no trees around the houses, and I thought there are children that are starving and if they can just have a couple of fruit trees and a small
vegetable patch they could probably treat themselves to much more than they are getting at the moment. I said to those charities I'll put some money up to do some trees and get this going but they never took me up on it.
Then I came across a charity - it was Trees for Africa and I phoned them up and said that's exactly what I was thinking of doing and if you think I can be of any use to you I can get involved. Then Farm Africa sent me a proposal and that made sense and the last time I came out I went to see one of their projects in the Transkei, because it's a massive problem out there in the bush. Whether it's a big farm or small farm you're working with nature so organic is a very important part for people in the rural areas for alleviating poverty. You can do a lot with a little - I went to see another place when we were on holiday in the Wild Coast and my wife wanted to show our children how the locals
lived, and there was this guy who had some animals and they werenn't using the manure for fertilizer, there were weeds they could have made compost out of and there were a whole lot of things that could have made their farming much, much better.
IR: This seems like a simple thing to do. Do you think that it's a cultural thing that those communities just haven't been brought up from a young age to be aware of these benefits?
JS: Well I think so for those communities and for conventional farmers. The sons were brought up with the father spraying all these chemicals over the crops and that was as natural as the sun coming up. However they then went and taught the communities. I went to Nelspruit because I was looking to do a farm because I thought that if I could work with these research agencies that would be fantastic. So I went down there and met with these heads of departments
and they laughed at organics!
IR: I understand that with your farm overseas you have very much adapted yourself and your family to an organic lifestyle? Is it a personal motivation to live healthily or are you trying to do something for the greater good?
JS: No, I'm trying to produce the best tasting healthiest food for myself and my family; that's how it all started. Then I couldn't produce enough so I bought a farm and started producing more. I thought I could get it to be self sustaining quite easily, well, it's been much much harder and taken much more capital, and then when I drank a lot of whiskey my ideas got a lot bigger and bigger and bigger, and so now it's like other things I did in life, it's a massive challenge, it's the hardest challenge I've ever had, it's got a good chance of failing and I've got to go in there and make it work. So that's it; I normally get myself into situations where I'm going to lose and I have a fear of losing.
IR: Do you still have strong emotional ties to South Africa and do you feel good about putting something back into this country?
JS: I've had a lot of requests from charities in England, and it's very hard for me to justify putting money into charities in England when you see what's going on in the country here. So now I suppose if I'm going to put it into anywhere in Africa, it'll be into South Africa. I'm South African, and although
I haven't lived here for a long time, I still eat biltong and boerewors!
IR: Are there any particular areas in South Africa?
JS: Let me give you another reason I got involved with this. In fact it was the first reason I got involved, there was a conference in Pretoria and there was one day on organics, and I accepted for one reason. My idea was to do a farm in the Transkei, and my idea was to do a charity teaching organic farming. But if I take it further, I'm looking at a project of doing some houses on the beach. I was going to do it around East London, and then this opportunity came up with the Wilderness Group and they do very high end, very environmentally friendly camps all over Africa. So I went to have a look and I said I'd like to do something with you there (East London) because I love it. And there would be an organic farm and there would be an outlet and they would sell their produce at a profit. And then we could teach locals
how to farm organically and we could have some kind of enterprise that could bring in money. And I would move that into a charity. I've done a talk at this conference today because I need to know South African organic farming people if I'm going to do this because I could not do this on my own. I could maybe give it some money and stature and some
movement but I would really need some help from the local community and the local farmers.
I tried to do another farm near the Kruger Park and spent two years trying to do it and it didn't happen and my feeling is the one in the Transkei won't happen either - it may happen, if it does it will be good, if it doesn't I'm so busy in England the reality is maybe I shouldn't take anything else on.
IR: What is the attitude in the UK towards organics generally?
JS: I think organics is getting more popular, regional food is getting more popular. This is food that farmers sell at regional markets and these are probably half organic produce.
IR: And what do you think is the attraction to people of these markets?
JS: It's the way it should be: direct from the farm. There's traceability, one can speak directly to the people from the farm, people that are interested in food go to those type of things. Of course they need to be strict because
there could be people going and buying from wholesalers and pretending to be farmers.
IR: Do you think there is a desire of people, almost like a romance, to get back closer to the earth and the produce because we've become so distanced by supermarkets?
JS: Maybe that's a feeling that one gets, but I think people go there to get fresh food.
IR: Looking at the South African situation, outside of organics for a moment. Would you have foreseen 10 years ago that the economy would be so healthy? What do you see as the outlook for South Africa?
JS: Well you wouldn't have thought so. The government has obviously done a very good job and made the environment for the country to grow well.
IR: How often do you get back here?
JS: About four times a year.
IR: If you were president of South Africa what would you do?
JS: I'd fight poverty and crime. I'd make the whole country organic and ban conventional farming over a period and food processing too, how's that? They would certainly never put me in that position!
Click here to view a bio on Jody Scheckter & Organics
Organic wine goes big league with Stellar’s Veritas gold
Stellar Winery - October, 2005
No compromise on ethics or quality. Clinching a coveted gold medal for their Sensory Collection Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 at the Veritas Awards set a new benchmark for Stellar Winery, confirming that organically produced wine can compete with the best out there.
Of the ten Cabernet Sauvignons awarded gold, Stellar Winery’s is the only organic wine in this elite group.
''We are delighted to receive this award, as the Sensory Collection is our flagship range,” says winemaker Dudley Wilson. ''Bringing home gold shows that sustainable organic wine farming is most viable in terms of quality.'' No compromise on ethics or quality. Clinching a coveted gold medal for their Sensory Collection Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 at the Veritas Awards set a new benchmark for Stellar Winery, confirming that organically produced wine can compete with the best out there.
Stellar Winery also won two silver medals for the Sensory Collection Pinotage 2003 and Organic Colombard/Sauvignon Blanc 2005. The Sensory Collection Merlot 2003 and the Live-a-Little Rosé both took bronze.
Situated in Trawal, Namaqualand, Stellar is a joint venture between four farmers and the cellar, and makes use of a semi-arid climate, unrivalled refrigeration capacity and extensive in-house engineering skills to produce modern organic wines.
Part of its winning formula is its uncompromising adherence to fair labour practices and social and economic upliftment. Stellar Winery was also the first organic winery in the world to receive international Fairtrade accreditation.
The grapes used for the award-winning Sensory Collection Cabernet come from two farms, one in Trawal and the other in Vredendal. Both vineyards give relatively low yields with small bunches and small berries. To determine the best wood style, the best blend of the various Cabernet tanks was used to fill new barrels from Toneleria Nacional. The best barrels were selected for the Sensory Collection. A Cabernet with brilliant fruitiness of clear black current flavours and a subtle note of strawberries. The fruits are perfectly embedded in spicy notes of tobacco, cinnamon and vanilla. Additionally, typical green pepper and a hint of grass bring out the identity of the wine.
The mouthfeel is dominated by two dynamically competing characters, the strong minerality and the softly acting tannins. Together they create a dense and fully structured sensation in the mouth. Continued mixing with oxygen gives complexity to this wine and slowly banishes its youthfulness, which is presented by a fresh (and wine life- prolonging) acidity in the aftertaste.
Stellar Winery is endorsed by the highly respected SKAL International, the Dutch Accreditation Council RvA, as following their very strict organic production methods.
Dudley Wilson - Winemaker
Cell: 082 786 6336
Lee Griffin - Brand & Marketing
Tel: 021 979 1441
Cell: 082 900 8989
The Ethics of Fish
The ethics of fish-eating is becoming murkier. Species depletion, mercury and other toxic contamination, and yet recommendations from nutritionists that fish is good for you. Take the case of salmon: There are those that say it's best to purchase wild salmon, which spends its life in the ocean, feeding naturally, and thereby has less toxic residues in its body. It's like ''free-range'' fish, they say. And then there are the aquaculture proponents who note we're over-harvesting the ocean's fish to the point of extinction. On this side of the issue, they'll tell you it's best to raise salmon on coastal fish farms. They'll tell you it's the only way to produce enough fish to feed hungry North American consumers. But the coastal farms have their problems, as well. Concentrated production of fish creates aquatic clouds of feces that literally kills the coastal waters, while diseases and parasites run rampant and spread to wild fish. Feeding captive fish antibiotics, concentrated fish meal, and slaughterhouse waste also increases toxins in their bodies.
Now a new breed of fish producers claims to have the ''ultimate'' environmentally conscious method. By raising fish in massive closed tanks, large numbers of fish can be produced without the spread of disease into the wild and the feces is collected and used as compost. But what about the well-being of the fish? Is it possible to assess whether or not our finned friends are content with swimming in such close quarters? Or is it simply time to dramatically cut back on these types of fish in our diets? Download your pocket seafood guide here
New Government Study:
U.S. government scientists from the Centers for Disease Control have released a new study revealing that switching to organic foods provides children with ''dramatic and immediate'' protection from toxic pesticides. The scientists tested the urine of elementary school children for 15 days. Children ate conventional foods for ten of the days and ate organic foods for five days. During those five days, researchers saw the toxins malathion and chlorpyrifos in the children's urine completely disappear. These chemicals are two of the most commonly found pesticides on non-organic foods, and are associated with nerve damage in children. Pesticide levels increased five-fold in the children's urine as soon as conventional foods were reintroduced to their diet. The study concludes, ''An organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposure to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production''.
High Levels of Pesticides in Kid's Diets
Organics and Excessive Packaging
Eco-conscious consumers are increasingly suffering ethical short-circuits while shopping. Yes, those organic crackers were made from organic wheat that was not doused with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Good for the environment and worth the extra cost? Yes... But what about the packaging? Neatly lined up in a plastic tray that's shrinkwrapped in more plastic and then swaddled up in a sealed plastic bag, these ''organic'' crackers suddenly lose their environmental edge. So what's a consumer to do? Well, if you're from the UK, things are looking up. This week, the British Government announced a new funding program that will reduce waste from packaging of organic products and create new guidelines wherein producers seeking organic certification must also meet stringent packaging waste standards. For organic consumers outside of the UK, the OCA recommends choosing organic products with minimal and/or recycled packaging.
Kick Start Your Day
Eating a healthy sized breakfast actually decreases obesity trends, reports a new study. ''We think it actually kick starts metabolism,'' said one of the study's authors, Bruce Barton. Skipping breakfast actually leads to higher levels of unhealthy and ongoing snacking later in the day and into the evening, due to the body's resulting compensatory hunger for high sugar, fat and carbohydrate foods. In addition, eating a high sugar breakfast actually shocks the body into unbalanced increases in hunger levels throughout the day. Nutritionists claim part of the obesity epidemic is due to the fact that the vast majority of Americans eat small or high sugar breakfasts, part of which is programmed in youth. Over 90% of the cereals directly marketed to children are sugar coated.
Scientists Warn of Genetically Modified Superweed Risk
The Guardian (UK) - Thursday August 18, 2005 - Reported by Paul Brown, environment correspondent.
Full story at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,1551238,00.html
Scientists have identified 15 weed species that are resistant to a herbicide
widely used on GM crops and are warning farmers they may become a serious
problem unless a strategy for dealing with them is developed.
Some of the most common weed species, including types of ryegrass, bindweed
and goosegrass either have some strains with a natural resistance to the
widely used GM herbicide glyphosate or have developed one.
Writing in the journal Outlooks on Pest Management, four scientists argue
there is a danger that by ignoring the threat these weeds pose, farmers may
be giving them a huge advantage over other plants which are killed by
Even where they did not previously thrive on farmland or were in a minority
of weeds, farmers may be creating a new niche for them among arable crops
which would allow them to multiply rapidly.
The paper is published alongside an assessment of the three-year farm-scale
trials of GM oilseed rape, sugar beet and maize in Britain. All three crops
are glyphosate-resistant and, if the American researchers are right, would
be troubled by glyphosate-resistant weeds if grown commercially in the UK.
Glyphosate has been used by farmers to kill off weeds for 30 years but since
the 1990s, when GM crops were modified to resist glyphosate, its use has
The paper says that worldwide use has increased from 5,000 tonnes a year in
1995 to more than 30,000 tonnes in 2002, and has increased since.
However, intensive use of the herbicide combined with the non-rotation of
glyphosate-resistant GM crops is expected to increase the problem and it
will develop on "a global scale," the paper says.
The researchers, based at the State University and the Southern Weed
Research Unit in Mississippi, are concerned that the widespread usefulness
of an extremely efficient weedkiller will be lost if farmers do not take
"The problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds is real, and farmers have to
realise that the continuous use of glyphosate without alternative strategies
will likely result in the evolution of more glyphosate-resistant weeds. Even in the short term no one can predict the future loss of glyphosate
efficiency due to weed species shifts and evolution of glyphosate
resistance," says Vijay Nandula in the conclusion to the paper.
He advises farmers to treat land with additional herbicide to kill off the
weeds before they multiply sufficiently to cause a problem.
Mainstream Retailers Driving Organic Juice Sales in North America
DUBLIN, Ireland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 15, 2005--Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c22461) has announced the addition of The North American Market for Organic Juices to their offering.
Consumer demand for organic beverages continues to strengthen in North America with organic juice sales projected to expand by 21.4% in 2005.
Increasing distribution in mainstream retailers is driving market growth. Most organic juice sales have traditionally been from natural food shops, however increasing volume is going into supermarkets, club & discount stores and mass merchandisers. Although natural food shops comprise most sales with 59% market share, they are projected to be overtaken by conventional grocery channels in 2007.
The growing market share of mainstream retailers is partly due to conventional juice firms entering the organic sector. Companies have gained high market share by utilizing their distribution infrastructure to roll out organic variants of their juice products. Retailer private labels are also driving sales growth with a growing number of supermarkets launching organic juices. Retailer private labels have been highly successful in the Canadian market where they account for over 30% of organic juice sales.
Undersupply has been a feature of the organic beverages industry for a number of years due to demand exceeding supply. Production of organic citrus juices has been hit by the Florida hurricanes, which devastated citrus groves in 2004. Retail prices of refrigerated organic juices have risen as producers struggle to find raw material. The study predicts undersupply to continue for a number of years with the shortfall met by imports.
Organic juice revenues are predicted to double over the forecast period. The market share for organic juices is expected to remain low however due to the high price premium and competing products limiting consumer appeal. Organic juice producers are advised to undertake strategies based on product differentiation and brand-building to overcome such market barriers.
This report analyses the shelf-stable and refrigerated juice segments in the North American organic juices market. Market & competitive information includes market sizes, revenue forecasts (2005-2011), market drivers & restraints, distribution & pricing trends, market shares and profiles of leading producers & retailers.
For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c22461
Fax: +353 1 4100 980
Widely Used Pesticide Killing Frogs - What's It Doing To Us?
Monsanto's Roundup, sprayed on millions of acres of crops and weeds across
the U.S. has been found to be ''extremely toxic'' to amphibians. A new study
in the journal Ecological Applications reveals that applying the
recommended manufacturer's dose of Roundup unexpectedly caused an 86%
decline in tadpoles. Researchers initially conducted the experiment to
test the effectiveness of Roundup, an herbicide, on algae, but discovered
that the chemical actually promoted the algae growth by killing off the
frogs. According to Rick Relyea, the study's lead biologist, ''The most
shocking insight coming out of this was that Roundup, something designed
to kill plants, was extremely lethal to amphibians.''
Food, Consumer and Environment News Tidbits with an Edge! - Organic Bytes #55 - 12 April 2005
Stellar Winery wins Gold at Swiss International Air Line Wine Awards
Stellar Winery, makers of organic wine from Trawal in Namaqualand, added
another bow to their string of awards, by clinching a gold medal for their
Sensory Collection Organic Shiraz 2003, at the recent Swiss International
Air Line Wine Awards.
''We are delighted to receive this award, as the Sensory Collection is our
flagship range,'' says winemaker Dudley Wilson. ''This award confirms our
belief that our organically produced wines can compete with the best
The Wine spent 18 months in new barrels. It was selected from a trial of
French vs American wood, 2 year vs 3 year air dried wood and MT vs MT+
toasting levels. The barrels were evaluated blind and the selection made.
The only treatment to stand out was that 3 year air dried wood (Mistral
barrels) showed better than 2 year air dried. All barrels were from
Tonilieria Nacional. The grapes came from a single vineyard in Trawal.
''Being one of the medal winners of only thirteen Golds awarded is not only
a powerful motivator for us to continue producing top quality wine, but
also shows that sustainable organic farming is most viable in terms of
According to Derek Smedley, UK based Wine Master, and President for the
2005 Swiss International Wine Awards, the competition's judging criterion
complied to international levels, with very strict judging standards. ''A
gold medal awarded at the Swiss International Air Lines Wine Awards is
equivalent to a double gold awarded at a South African competition.''
The Stellar Organic Sensory Collection Shiraz sells for R59.28 (incl VAT)
at the cellar. The range also includes Organic Pinotage 2003, Organic
Merlot 2003 and Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2003.
More at... www.stellarorganics.com
Errieda du Toit (082 547 6153) - March 2005
UK Schools Going Organic
Due to overwhelming pressure from parents of school-age children in the
U.K., Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced the establishment of a new
government based ''School Food Trust,'' wherein junk foods will be removed
from schools while organic ''made-from-scratch'' meals will be instituted.
According to Blair, ''If changes are made it will only be a matter of
months before British health, education and farming could be affected for
the better. It could be one of the biggest food revolutions that England
has ever seen.''
More at... www.organicconsumers.org
Woolworths Links Up With International Body To Promote Use Of Organic Cotton
21 January - 2005
Having taken the lead in the introduction of organically grown produce in South Africa a number of years ago, retailer Woolworths has now turned its attention to one of the world’s most important agricultural crops – cotton – and has announced its intention to incorporate a minimum of 5% organically grown cotton into basic cotton textile items by July 2006. This follows Woolworth’s successful trial of a limited range of organic cotton garments in 2004.
Towards this end, Woolworths has joined other major international brands including Marks & Spencer, Nike and Timberland as a sponsor of Organic Exchange, a non-profit, U.S.-based organisation which promotes the use of organically grown cotton throughout the world, and has invited experts from Organic Exchange to participate in a 2-day Organic Cotton Conference
in Cape Town along with major local suppliers and industry decision makers.
Through the conference, Woolworths aims to bring its supply partners on board and assist in facilitating the growth of an organic cotton industry in South Africa. Among the experts presenting at the Conference is Rebecca Calahan Klein, President of Organic Exchange. ''We are excited to be moving into the South African market,'' says Klein. ''Having worked with leading
brands around the world, I believe there is a natural synergy between Organic Exchange and an innovative, forward-thinking company like Woolworths, and look forward to helping to develop a local organic cotton industry.''
Currently, no organic cotton is grown in South Africa. Conventionally grown cotton consumes approximately 25% of the insecticides and over 10% of the pesticides used in the world. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is produced using only natural fertilisers, pesticides and phosphates, making it much healthier for the environment and safer for farm workers. The growing awareness among consumers of these advantages has sparked a worldwide move towards organic cotton.
Says Richard Butt, Director - Product, at Woolworths, ''Our on-going organic strategy is integral to the business as a whole and is one of the ways in which we continue to meet the changing needs of our market. We believe we have a responsibility not only towards our customers, who have embraced our philosophy towards organics and have welcomed our initiatives
in foods, but towards the world at large, to promote the use of environmentally sound production processes and sustainable farming techniques.''
While the organic cotton Woolworths currently uses is sourced from outside South Africa, Woolworths remains strongly committed to the local textile industry and believes that South Africa, together with the rest of the continent, can play a major role in the production and promotion of organic cotton.
Woolworths’ introduction of a limited range of 100% organic cotton garments in April 2004 – a first for South Africa – was eagerly received by customers, leading to the decision to expand the use of organic cotton into basic t-shirt and underwear ranges. Because supplies of organic
cotton worldwide are limited, a 5% organic cotton content is the international accepted starting point. The inclusion of organic cotton will not affect pricing, quality or feel of the garments.
Woolworths is also expanding its offering of 100% organic cotton items. Made using only permissible low-impact dyes and prescribed finishes, these will be available in the women’s ''Pure'' range and selected baby wear items at selected stores.
Woolworths - 21 January 2005
Woolworths Trust Eduplant 2005 Launched
February - 2005
Educators throughout South Africa can now sign up to attend the annual Woolworths Trust EduPlant Permaculture workshops. For many, it will be that first important step taken to transform their school grounds into healthy, greened environments, as they learn to develop food gardens that yield much-needed food for hungry school children.
Woolworths Trust EduPlant in association with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Landcare SA and SABC Education, is the leading schools food gardening and greening programme that promotes and supports schools in the growing of food in a sustainable, natural way. Over the past 10 years, EduPlant has helped thousands of schools to enhance food security in their communities and to improve the nutrition of their learners.
Ms Mokokga of Moriteng Primary, last year's runner-up in the Woolworths Trust EduPlant Advanced Category, commented: ''The difference that EduPlant has made in our school is that our learners are no longer starving... Now that we have the Permaculture project we are able to cook some vegetables - some maize, some sweet potatoes at breaks.''
54 one-day EduPlant workshops will be held in February and March in all the provinces. These workshops provide the necessary instruction and resources so that educators can initiate or further develop food gardens at schools. As many educators can attest to, taking part in a Woolworths Trust EduPlant workshop is a rewarding experience where they gain valuable knowledge of Permaculture, acquire hands-on gardening techniques and learn how to integrate their food-garden projects into the outcomes-based learning curriculum.
The Woolworths Trust EduPlant workshops are the first stage of the exciting year ahead. Once schools have developed gardens, educators enter their projects into a national competition. They receive ongoing support and advice from Permaculture experts, who travel the country and then select 63 finalists. These outstanding schools attend a fantastic three-day event in September, where they present their schools efforts to a panel of judges. More than R200 000's worth of prizes can be won, and schools are invited to enter now.
Woolworths Trust EduPlant is managed by Food & Trees for Africa, and the other partners are the Department of Water and Forestry, Landcare SA and SABC Education.
''As the country's leading supplier of organic and free range foods, Woolworths sees EduPlant as a way of making more South Africans part of our Good Food Journey,'' says Woolworths CSI Manager, Zinzi Mgolodela. ''"There are many who cannot afford to buy food from Woolworths, and EduPlant is an effort to teach those people the life skills of growing good food for themselves.''
Improving food security in impoverished communities is at the core of Woolworths Trust EduPlant. It is aligned with the aims of the government's national school nutrition programme, and is widely recognised as a successful partnership of businesses, NGO's and government making a valuable difference by helping to alleviate poverty in our country.
For further workshop information, to sign up and enter, contact:
Joanne Rolt at FTFA on (011) 8039750, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.tree.org.za/eduplant Woolworths Trust EduPlant page.
Woolworths Trust - February 2005
Two new offerings from Stellar Winery:
December - 2004
Sauvignon Blanc 2004 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Stellar Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2004 a splash in the face
Stellar Winery, Namaqualand's wine visionaries, recently released their first Sauvignon Blanc from the 2004 vintage.
This fresh Sauvignon Blanc is like a cooling splash of water to the face, says winemaker Dudley Wilson. It has an unbelievably tart entry of lime sorbet drizzled with ripe granadilla juice. It seems almost too tart and intense to bear, but the long lingering aftertaste has one quickly reaching for another sip.
Everything came together with this vintage. A cooler growing season allowed the vineyard to realise its potential. Situated on the highest vine-covered hill closest to Vredendal, it catches the cool Atlantic winds coming from the West every afternoon, tempering the bright sun into which it faces.
Hand picked into small crates, the grapes were chilled to zero degrees Celsius. Air contact with the crushed grapes was kept to a minimum and liberal use was made of wet CO2. After a few hours skin contact in the press, the whole-bunch pressing programme produced the cleanest, freshest juice imaginable, bursting with lime and granadilla.
After cold settling and a racking the juice was fermented at a slow a steady pace with Vin 7. Cold stabilisation and filtration preceded bottling under the modern screw cap closure.
Screw-cap fits the style
According to Wilson Sauvignon Blanc is probably one of the cultivars that benefit most from using a screw-cap. Sauvignon Blanc is often made in a reductive manner and the slightest oxygen pick-up or taint would impact on its freshness. Generally this style of Sauvignon Blanc is at its best when young and so the screw-cap is ideal.
Especially popular with waiters in busy restaurants, screw-caps are fast becoming more acceptable. The use of this closure on a quality wine sends a message to the educated consumer that the winery is modern, moving with the times and not willing to compromise on the quality of the product for the sake of tradition.
More than 50% of wine coming out of New Zealand is under screw-cap.
Stellar Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Says Wilson: ''This wine exhibits all the muscular components typical of a young Cabernet. Those looking for this firmness will enjoy this wine immediately. Those who prefer a smoother mouthfeel should cellar it for a year or two.''
The wine shows a deep dark colour with a bright cherry red rim. On the nose, a complex mix of cinnamon, allspice, dried (guava) fruit roll and candied orange peel ends with hints of vanilla ice cream.
The palate is more serious than the nose would suggest, with good acidity and ripe fruit well supported by equal parts French and American Oak.
Stellar's Cabernet Sauvignon comes from two farms, both vineyards giving relatively low yields with small bunches and small berries. The grapes were harvested after skin and pip tannins had ripened. Temperatures were carefully controlled to keep the ferment going steady to the end and the yeast was given lots of air during the pump over.
''We are trying out different yeasts each year and will probably continue to use more than one yeast per vineyard as it builds complexity in the finished wine,'' says Dudley.
About Stellar Winery:
It may come as a surprise to learn that boutique quality organic wine is flourishing in one of the world's only semi-arid Biosphere hotspots - Trawal, Namaqualand, 275km north of Cape Town. Stellar Winery processes around 2 000 tonnes of organic grapes from five farms straddling the northern boundary of the Olifants River wine region and Namaqualand.
Fair labour practices and social and economic upliftment are inseparable to the Stellar way of life, earning them the highly acclaimed international Fairtrade accreditation; the first organic winery in the world to receive this status.
Stellar Winery is supervised by SKAL International, an organic inspection body accredited by the Dutch Accreditation Council RvA, whose very strict production criteria must be met for organic certification.
What is Organic Wine?
Organic means that no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides were used in the growing of the grapes. Only compost and organic materials are used, with indigenous vegetation for mulching. In the cellar the maximum allowable quantity of sulphur dioxide is half that of conventional wines and certain chemicals are forbidden. A wine is to be independently certified to be an organic wine.
Schools going organic
September - 2004
Eating Healthy Popular Among Elementary Kids
The tempting smell of pepperoni pizza drifted through the air as students poured into the cafeteria. But 11-year-old Cameron Landry walked straight past the cheesy slices and started piling organic lettuce, pita pockets and blueberries on his tray.....
Sounds like a nutritionist's dream. But it's reality at Lincoln Elementary. The school's organic salad bar has proven so popular -- and surprisingly economical -- that all Olympia grade schools now have one.
While fried chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers still reign supreme in most cafeterias, a small but growing number of schools are turning to organic food as a way to improve children's health and fight obesity.
The Seattle school district recently adopted a new policy banning junk food and encouraging organic food in school cafeterias. California school districts in Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Palo Alto have organic food programs. And through a program sponsored by the organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, schools in Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and Connecticut have or are getting new vending machines stocked with all-organic treats.
"This is the beginning of the sea change," predicted Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association. "Unfortunately, it's coming at the same time school districts all over the country are squeezed by a fiscal crisis."
But Lincoln Elementary has managed to cut its lunch costs, by two cents per meal, while offering a full organic menu. Eliminating dessert covered most of the added cost of organic meals.
Rebecca Cook | Associated Press - 16 September 2004
Life Is Looking Greener For Organic Farmers
August - 2004
San Francisco - From alfalfa to oats to wine grapes, prices for organic produce and products have held steady for more than half of North America's organic farmers, and more than a quarter said they are seeing prices inching up, a new survey shows.
But about 27 percent also predicted falling prices, as more farmers, including big businesses, try to grab a share of the sector's success, according to the survey by the Santa Cruz, California-based Organic Farming Research Foundation.
More than 1 000 growers - roughly 16 percent of country's certified organic farmers - were queried on a variety of subjects related to the fast-growing, $9-billion (R55.7-billion) marketplace, including genetically modified organisms.
The survey gives ''an incredibly detailed snapshot of a tough, hard, but generally profitable way to farm,'' said Bob Scowcroft, the foundation's executive director.
Organic was not the buzz word it is now when Dennis Dierks and his wife Sandy started working their 1.4 hectares (3.5 acres) 30 years ago. Dierks, owner of Paradise Valley Produce in Bolinas, has seen organic awareness spreading immensely in the ensuing years.
As organic sales surge an estimated 20 percent annually, the Dierks prefer to stay small, selling the bulk of their cool-weather vegetables like kale, chard and lettuce locally.
Some of it is sold through a subscription service and to restaurants, but most sells at neighborhood farmers markets, where they interact face-to-face with consumers.
More than 75 percent of their sales comes from repeat customers, ''people trying your stuff and becoming regular because they like it so much,'' said Sandy Dierks, 57.
Like the Dierks, many of those surveyed say they rely on a direct connection with consumers to stay in business, with 79 percent of them unloading products within 160 kilometres of their farms, and a majority of them using word of mouth as their main marketing tool.
Unlike conventional agriculture, the organic marketplace boasts that flexibility because it attracts customers who are willing to pay more for products they trust from a grower they know.
''It's a different kind of consumer,'' said Erica Walz, who analyzes data for the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
Other growers are dealing with increased competition by becoming bigger and more innovative. About 58 percent said they wanted to expand the amount and type of organic products they offer, while 50 percent said they were planning to increase acreage.
Vanessa Bogenholm, who owns VB Farms in Watsonville, went from 11 hectares to 20 hectares about a year ago. Like 51 percent of those surveyed, Bogenholm was once a conventional farmer who went organic about eight years ago because she wanted to produce pesticide-free products.
She grows mostly strawberries and raspberries, as well as the occasional vegetable, and grosses between $1 million and $1.5 million a year through diversified products.
She supplies yogurt companies like Dannon, picks berries specifically for high-end restaurants and hotels, and grows specialty produce, such as a cauliflower the size of a fist that chefs can plop on a fancy plate.
''It's a lot more labor,'' Bogenholm, 38, said. ''It's a lot more packaging. But it's something that brings in money. I can't compete with a guy who can produce 500 acres of cauliflower when I can do eight. So somehow my cauliflower has got to be special or different.''
Bogenholm said she is going head to head not with small farmers at the local farmers market but conventional growers who devote a small portion of their lands to organic. ''That's the guy that causes me problems,'' she said.
Besides competition and flat prices, growers also pointed to the threat of pollution from genetically modified organisms as a looming concern. Forty-six percent said they believed the risk of contamination from GMO products to be moderate to high, with 48 percent singling out contaminated seed stock as the greatest threat and 42 percent worried about pollen drift.
Sapa-AP - August 2004 Business Report
Organic Baby Food A Growth Area
Sep - 2004
Organic farmers have identified baby food as their biggest growth area, equal to vegetables and meat.
Delegates at the Biological Farmers of Australia conference have been told that while shoppers are interested in organic food, those who eat it most are normally being pushed around in the shopping trolley.
East Gippsland farmer Robyn Grant says one speaker claimed organic baby food had increased market share by 30 per cent, in line with growth overseas.
''In Germany, 75 per cent of the baby foods there in the supermarket shelves are actually organic now, and similar figures in England as well.''
This is a transcript from the ABC National Rural News that is broadcast daily to all states on ABC Regional Radio's Country Hour and in the city on ABC News Radio.
Organic Burger Restaurant for Babes
5 - Sep - 2004
The first organic burger restaurant in London to have the Soil Association's Seal of Approval will open in Notting Hill on 19 September.
Babes n' Burgers will have 50 covers and serve a full organic menu which includes chargrilled burgers, home-grown potato fries cut on the premises and a range of salads.
Aiming to tap into the family market, the restaurant also provides a play area for children.
The brainchild of William and Samantha Sarne, the restaurant has attracted EastEnders' actor Nabil Elouahabi who plays Tariq as a partner to the scheme.
Chefs at Babes n' urgers include Angus Scott, previously of Groucho Club and Albert Clarke, the former private chef to Richard Branson.
Fashion Gets the Organic Touch
23 - Aug - 2004 by Di Caelers at the Cape Argus
Beetroot and turmeric dyes, pumpkin seeds, cork and palm leaves and re-used bubble wrap took their place in the fashion world after South Africa's young designers showed that fashion can be environmentally friendly.
They did it with flair, fun and finesse, turning their expertise into a fashion spectacle that was nothing to do with used black rubbish bags for the design challenge - No Kak! Designs to Save our Environment.
Central to many of the designs, shown last week as part of Cape Town Fashion Week, was the popular Wild African Silk, made from the silk of moths which spin their cocoons in the camelthorn trees which grow around the villages of Ganyesa and Morokweng in the North West.
Only the empty cocoons are gathered and cleaned into fibres, which are then processed into the richly textured, honey-coloured Wild African Silk.
Gavin Rajah, mastermind behind Cape Town Fashion Week, hailed the concept as ''an innovative and exciting initiative which adds a completely new dimension to the collections showcased here''.
It's actually the brainchild of Cape Town's Clothing and Textile Environmental Linkages Centre, a joint venture between South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry, and the Danish government.
It promotes environmental awareness among local textile designers, clothing manufacturers, buyers and retailers.
The centre's Pat Foure said the idea was to sensitise the new generation of designers to materials and products that are environmentally-friendly.
''It's about natural organic goods, recycled materials, minimum chemical usage and waste, and supporting local community initiatives by integrating their products into designs that are functional and striking,'' she said, enthusing over the results.
Rightly so too; there was everything from formal evening-wear made of the wild silk, raffia, hemp, and decorated with henna and tea leaves. Others got functional, fashioning their offerings from recycled Shoprite bags, shells and seaweed.
The winners took home prizes that included cash and all-expenses paid training courses at some of Europe's most prestigious design schools.
Designers competed in a number of categories, including designs for environmentally-friendly textiles for home furnishings
Combating Breast Cancer - Go Organic !
23 - Jun - 2004
Jonathan V Wright, MD, wrote about using specific foods to help prevent breast cancer in the December 2002 issue of his Nutrition and Healing Newsletter. Observing that breast cancer risk may be increased by a high intake of saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids and trans fatty acids, Dr Wright noted that good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease risk.
Dr Wright offers these specific dietary recommendations for lowering breast cancer risk:
- ''Eat more fish, which is the No 1 source of cancer-inhibiting omega-3 fatty acids''. But to avoid high mercury content, Dr. Wright suggests that these fish be avoided: tuna, tilefish, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, red snapper, moonfish and orange roughy.
- ''If you can, buy organically raised, 'grass-fed' beef and pork and free-range chicken and turkey.'' Dr Wright explains that organic and free-range meat contains less omega-6 and much more omega-3 fatty acid content as well as less residue from pesticide, insecticide and herbicide (all of which have been linked to breast cancer).
- ''Whenever possible, eat organic food''. Dr Wright says that if you can't find or afford organic, ''you can still decrease your breast cancer risk by at least cutting back as much as possible on 'regular' sources of saturated fat and animal protein - mostly the sort you find in supermarkets, such as grain-fed beef, chickens raised in cages, etc.''
- ''Get rid of the margarine!'' Margarine is made from hydrogenated oil, which is rich in trans fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
- ''Avoid cow's milk.'' Studies have shown an association between milk intake and an increased risk of breast cancer.
New Labeling Laws for Transgenic Food
22 - Apr - 2004
Europe this week introduced stringent rules for the labelling of food that contains genetically modified organisms. But in most countries the labels will take months to appear - and questions remain about how they will be implemented. The rules, which are imposed by the European Union and came into effect on 19 April, are intended to aid consumer acceptance of genetically modified food in Europe. They may help to defuse a US complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that Europe is unfairly blocking imports of transgenic food.
Food containing more than 0.9% genetically modified ingredients must be clearly labelled as doing so, the rules say. If the ingredients are awaiting final approval as being safe to eat, that threshold falls to .05%. "This is the biggest piece of legislation in the food industry for 20 years," says Richard Werran, head of Cert ID, a firm based in Fairfield, Iowa, that is offering to test food for its transgenic content. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are expected to implement the regulations in stores within a few months, but other nations may take longer.
The rules require food to be tracked from its source through manufacture to the point of sale. Manufacturers and packagers will also have to test food directly for traces of genetically modified organisms. A network of laboratories set up and operated by the European Commission (EC) has developed a series of standard tests.
The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection, part of the EC's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, has led the development of these tests, which use polymerase chain reaction technology to search for modified DNA.
But the tests do not work with the refined products, such as oil or sugar, of some genetically modified organisms because they may contain no transgenic DNA, so figures for food containing these will depend on manufacturers' supply-chain records. Many retailers doubt that customers will buy food products labelled as genetically modified, and some refuse to stock them. Analysts are unsure whether the new rules will make any difference to consumer acceptance - or to the United States' complaint to the WTO.
Source - Organic Association of South Africa Newsletter issue 3
7 - Jun - 2004
Stellar Organics has launched a easy-drinking range of wine called Live-a-Little. A 'Wildly Wicked White' and a 'Really Ravishing Red'.
Organic Wine implies that no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides are used in the growing of the grapes. Only compost and organic materials are employed with indigenous vegetation for mulching. In the cellar, the maximum allowable quantity of suplhur dioxide is half that of conventional wines and certain chemicals are forbidden.
Stellar Organics are certified by SKAL International following their very strict organic production methods.
JODY SCHECKTER TALKS ORGANICS TO IAN ROBINSON
An exclusive interview for go-organic.co.za
Jody Scheckter and I have a few things
in common: we’ve both done over a hundred laps
of Kyalami Grand Prix circuit, won the odd race or
two, and spent some time at Maranello, the home of
Ferrari near Modena in Italy. However, there are some
marked differences. He was a Grand Prix World Champion
(the last one for Ferrari before Michael Schumacher
came along), he actually drove for Ferrari (the best
I’ve been is a passenger in one), and he was
hero worshipped by many around the world, whereas
my handful of hero worshippers mostly share my surname.
However, we now have something else
in common – a drive to promote the use of organic
This brought us together at the recent
Organic and Natural Exhibition in Cape Town, and we
spoke about organics and Scheckter’s involvement.
I started by asking him whether organics can play
a role in alleviating poverty and starvation and his
reply highlighted how much work there is to be done
but that there’s no shortage of opportunity.
He started by describing some examples…
JS: There are these little communities
in the bush that are bringing in fertilizers when
they could be making their own compost.
I was invited by two charities, and
they took me to Soweto where they were giving out
food in a hall. But I noticed these vegetable patches
outside that I was more interested in and noticed
that there were no trees around the houses, and I
thought there are children that are starving and if
they can just have a couple of fruit trees and a small
vegetable patch they could probably treat themselves
to much more than they are getting at the moment.
I said to those charities I’ll put some money
up to do some trees and get this going but they never
took me up on it.
Then I came across a charity it was
Trees for Africa and I phoned them up and said that’s
exactly what I was thinking of doing and if you think
I can be of any use to you I can get involved. Then
Farm Africa sent me a proposal and that made sense
and the last time I came out I went to see one of
their projects in the Transkei, because it’s
a massive problem out there in the bush. Whether it’s
a big farm or small farm you’re working with
nature so organic is a very important part for people
in the rural areas for alleviating poverty. You can
do a lot with a little – I went to see another
place when we were on holiday in the Wild Coast and
my wife wanted to show our children how the locals
lived, and there was this guy who had some animals
and they weren’t using the manure for fertilizer,
there were weeds they could have made compost out
of and there were a whole lot of things that could
have made their farming much, much better.
IR This seems like a simple thing
to do. Do you think that it’s a cultural thing
that those communities just haven’t been brought
up from a young age to be aware of these benefits?
JS: Well I think so for those communities
and for conventional farmers. The sons were brought
up with the father spraying all these chemicals over
the crops and that was as natural as the sun coming
up. However they then went and taught the communities.
I went to Nelspruit because I was looking to do a
farm because I thought that if I could work with these
research agencies that would be fantastic. So I went
down there and met with these heads of departments
and they laughed at organics!
IR: I understand that with your farm
overseas you have very much adapted yourself and your
family to an organic lifestyle? Is it a personal motivation
to live healthily or are you trying to do something
for the greater good?
JS: No, I’m trying to produce
the best tasting healthiest food for myself and my
family – that’s how it all started. Then
I couldn’t produce enough so I bought a farm
and started producing more. I thought I could get
it to be self sustaining quite easily, well, it’s
been much much harder and taken much more capital,
and then when I drank a lot of whiskey my ideas got
a lot bigger and bigger and bigger, and so now it’s
like other things I did in life, it’s a massive
challenge, it’s the hardest challenge I’ve
ever had, it’s got a good chance of failing
and I’ve got to go in there and make it work.
So that’s it… I normally get myself into
situations where I’m going to lose and I have
a fear of losing.
IR: Do you still have strong emotional
ties to South Africa and do you feel good about putting
something back into this country?
JS: I’ve had a lot of requests
from charities in England, and it’s very hard
for me to justify putting money into charities in
England when you see what’s going on in the
country here. So now I suppose if I’m going
to put it into anywhere in Africa, it’ll be
into South Africa. I’m South African, and although
I haven’t lived here for a long time, I still
eat biltong and boerewors!
IR: Are there any particular areas
in South Africa?
JS: Let me give you another reason
I got involved with this. In fact it was the first
reason I got involved, there was a conference in Pretoria
and there was one day on organics, and I accepted
for one reason. My idea was to do a farm in the Transkei,
and my idea was to do a charity teaching organic farming.
But if I take it further, I’m looking at a project
of doing some houses on the beach. I was going to
do it around East London, and then this opportunity
came up with the Wilderness Group and they do very
high end, very environmentally friendly camps all
over Africa. So I went to have a look and I said I’d
like to do something with you there (East London)
because I love it. And there would be an organic farm
and there would be an outlet and they would sell their
produce at a profit. And then we could teach locals
how to farm organically and we could have some kind
of enterprise that could bring in money. And I would
move that into a charity. I’ve done a talk at
this conference today because I need to know South
African organic farming people if I’m going
to do this because I could not do this on my own.
I could maybe give it some money and stature and some
movement but I would really need some help from the
local community and the local farmers.
I tried to do another farm near the
Kruger Park and spent two years trying to do it and
it didn’t happen and my feeling is the one in
the Transkei won’t happen either - it may happen,
if it does it will be good, if it doesn’t I’m
so busy in England the reality is maybe I shouldn’t
take anything else on.
IR: What is the attitude in the UK
towards organics generally?
JS: I think organics is getting more
popular, regional food is getting more popular. This
is food that farmers sell at regional markets and
these are probably half organic produce.
IR: And what do you think is the attraction
to people of these markets?
JS: It’s the way it should be:
direct from the farm. There’s traceability,
one can speak directly to the people from the farm,
people that are interested in food go to those type
of things. Of course they need to be strict because
there could be people going and buying from wholesalers
and pretending to be farmers.
IR: Do you think there is a desire
of people, almost like a romance, to get back closer
to the earth and the produce because we’ve become
so distanced by supermarkets?
JS: Maybe that’s a feeling that
one gets, but I think people go there to get fresh
IR: Looking at the South African situation,
outside of organics for a moment. Would you have foreseen
10 years ago that the economy would be so healthy?
What do you see as the outlook for South Africa?
JS: Well you wouldn’t have thought
so. The government has obviously done a very good
job and made the environment for the country to grow
IR: How often do you get back here?
JS: About four times a year.
IR: If you were president of South
Africa what would you do?
JS: I’d fight poverty and crime.
I’d make the whole country organic and ban conventional
farming over a period and food processing too, how’s
that? They would certainly never put me in that position!