Organic food: reasons why it’s better for you

Organic food isn’t only pesticide and herbicide free; it’s non-GM, contains no hormones and antibiotics, preserves the ecosystem, sustains livelihoods and even improves your mood and sex life.

You are what you eat. So said French lawyer and politician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826, who, in an article written for Physiologie du Gout, declaimed that the food you eat influences your state of mind and health. One hundred and eighty nine years later, nutritional scientist Heidi du Preez agrees. “Your mood, weight, overall health and even sex drive is significantly affected by what you eat. And the more nutrient dense your food is, the better all the metabolic reactions in your body work.” Yet good, nutritious food is not as abundant as we would like. “A non-organic diet doesn’t supply all the nutrients that our body needs to function optimally and in fact places more stress on our detoxification pathways, further depleting our nutrient reserves,” says du Preez.

Fewer nutrients lower our resistance to disease, making us more susceptible to cancers, diabetes, mood disorders and even obesity. It also means we’re less likely to be able to deal with the excess of toxins that we are exposed to in day-to-day urban living.

Myriad benefits of organic

To help guard against illness and sustain overall health and longevity the ideal route is to choose organic produce wherever possible so doing, you’ll also avoid GM (genetically modified) foods, growth hormones, antibiotics and drugs found in the fat and tissue of meat and dairy products. Organic farming methods also preserve our ecosystems by reducing the use of pesticides and protect water and soil biodiversity.

“Organic is generally understood as being free of pesticides and herbicides,” says du Preez. “But in fact it means so much more, and is something about which consumers are largely ignorant. It is a holistic way of farming that considers the sustainability of peoples’ health as well as that of the environment.”

Working with nature

Fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and wine can be produced organically. But while this means farmers work with an area’s climate and use only certified organic control measures that protect and build the soil, it is not ‘Mother Nature’ farming, emphasises Samuel Viljoen, Winemaker for Earthbound Wines, which is certified both 100% organic and Fairtrade.

The quality wine is lower in added sulphites and has limited its impact on the environment during its production. This is good news if you enjoy a fruity Pinotage or a crisp Sauvignon with your meal.

“Organic produce is becoming more readily available in South Africa, although it is still a relatively niche product,” says consumer activist and food researcher Sonia Mountford. So while organic products can be found in select national supermarkets, she suggests that the best way to source truly organic foods is to buy directly from a trusted and transparent small retailer, organic market or producer.

“There is no organic legislation in South Africa and we rely on third party certification based on other countries’ legislation, which may not be 100% relevant to us. As a consequence of an unregulated organic market there is confusion about what organic produce actually is, she explains. Adding to this challenge is the fact that organic agriculture is not well enough supported in South Africa, making it harder for organic farmers to survive.

Where to buy organic?

To overcome this you could grow your own, says Mountford, or buy from PGS-certified (Organic Participatory Guarantee System) producers such as Green Road in Stellenbosch in Cape Town or Bryanston Organic Market in Johannesburg. PGS is a voluntary group of growers, retailers and consumers who support organic agriculture and local food production. “The best advice I can offer conscious consumers is to know their farmer. Find out how they produce their food, visit the farm, ask questions and choose your produce with the peace of mind that it is properly certified and truly good for you.” Such relationships between producers and consumers make consumers more confident about the product because they know where and how it was produced.

In the case of wine, organic certification is strictly regulated globally, and there are stringent rules that must be complied with. If wines carry an organic certification, they can be bought and consumed with confidence. Viljoen encourages consumers to choose labels that bear an organically certified stamp or the words ‘certified organic’ on the back label. “Organic wines are becoming more popular as consumers become increasingly more aware of what they put in their bodies, and also discover that they taste as good, if not better than non-organic wine.” They are also readily available in supermarkets and specialist liquor merchants.

The full range of Earthbound organic wines can be foraged from TOPS @ SPAR, Liquor City, and Darling Wine Shop, and Makro, Wellness Warehouse Cavendish and Kloof street, Pick n Pay and for between R45.00 (white) and R55.00 (red) RSP.

For more information about #EarthboundWines visit and join them on Facebook at EarthboundWines and Twitter @EarthboundWines.

Switch to organic without stress this spring

By Paula Wilson

Top tips on how to conveniently make your food and drink more nutritious

You are probably aware that the foods you buy from your local supermarket – even the fresh ones – are likely to be laden with hidden toxins, preservatives or hormones. This is because they are produced en masse, packaged, preserved and then transported long distances, compromising their nutritional value as well as your health. Despite knowing this, you may find that changing your diet to include fresh, organic produce remains challenging, especially from a convenience point of view.

To help you make the switch, without incurring added stress, here are eight tips on how to eat and drink better, as sourced from five South African organic and fresh produce enthusiasts.

Know your farmer: The mindless trip to the supermarket doesn’t necessarily inspire, nor does it leave you with a sense of knowing where anything in your trolley actually originated. To ensure you’re tucking into hormone, antibiotic, pesticide and herbicide-free foods, visit your local farmers market instead, suggests Sheryl Ozinsky from the Oranjezicht City Farm. There you’ll be able to buy fresh produce – including eggs, bread, cheese, veggies or fruits – directly from the producers, while soaking up the community atmosphere.

Sprout! If you’re a city-slicker and don’t have a lush garden in which to grow your own, try sprouting. A great way to add a nutritious, “organic” twist to your meals, sprouts can easily be cultivated in your kitchen, suggests Daniel Jardim, founder of Seasonal Cookery, whose sprout, flower and mange tout salad is a firm favourite on his menu. Some of the more common sprouts are mung bean, alfalfa, lentil and chickpea. Organic seeds can be bought from most health shops or online at

Eat seasonally: Different foods are in season at different times. So if you’re eating asparagus in winter, it’s likely to have been imported. “By buying directly from a farmer or a local farmers market, you’ll have access only to what is growing at the time, it will be fresh and local and you’ll benefit from knowing that you are helping to support small local farmers,” says Ozinsky.

Cheers to living lightly: Choosing fresh, organic produce rather than heavily preserved store-bought goods doesn’t only apply to food. It also includes wine and other alcoholic beverages. “For a wine to be organic, it needs to be produced in a particular way,” says Samuel Viljoen Winemaker of Earthbound, South Africa’s only organic and Fairtrade certified wine. “This includes ensuring the grapes are planted with enough space so that, when it rains, they can dry easily without rotting. Owls are used as alternative pest controls and sulphur is kept to a minimum.” Unlike organic foods which most retailers don’t stock, organic wine like Earthbound is much easier to find on-shelf thanks to an increase in demand from wine drinkers who’ve tried, tasted and loved it and made the switch.

Besides wine, spirits like gin, vodka and brandy can also be produced organically. At Jorgensen’s handcrafted spirits and liqueur distillery for instance, its products are also made in a sustainable manner. “Our potstill vodka is made the way it used to be before the process was industrialised in the 1900s, while we use unwaxed citrus in our limoncello,” explains Roger Jorgensen. You can conveniently order them online at and they will be delivered to your door.

Hold the salt (and sugar, corn syrup, GM and preservative): Among the many benefits of eating fresh produce is its lack of additives. “Anything in a packet or bottle that has been pre-made is likely to have added salt, sugar or other hidden ingredients in it,” says Jorgensen. “Where possible choose foods and drinks that have been produced organically, without the interference of added anything.” If there’s not a farmers market nearby, make use of online shops like in Cape Town, in Jozi or in Durban instead. Each week they deliver boxes or bags of seasonal veggies and fruits directly to your home or office door.

Grow your own: You don’t need a large property to start producing your own fresh veg, you just need a little place in the sun – in your kitchen, a small balcony or even your bathroom window! Take growing rocket for instance. “A pack of the delicious and versatile green stuff can set you back R20 in a retailer, yet, if you grow them from seed, you’ll produce months of rocket for the same price!” says Shannon Smuts from Pure Good Food, a Cape Town-based one-stop health shop. To get started, she suggests you choose the veggies you eat often – carrots, tomatoes, spinach – and grow those first.

Choose cows (and pigs, chickens and ducks…) that don’t do drugs: Commercially farmed meat is loaded with hormones and antibiotics, which are passed onto consumers through the animal’s fat and tissue. So if the only additive you’d like on your steak is sea salt, source your organic meat directly from the farmer, from markets or organic retailers. Eighteen ’94 CureSmiths makes a great charcuterie and can be bought from Beulah Farm Deli in Yzerfontein or The Flying Pig in Darling, while Angus McIntosh aka Farmer Angus’ beef and eggs are available from Spier wine estate or from participating retailers around Cape Town.

Make a date: It’s International Organic Day on 22nd September, the perfect time to kick-start your body’s spring clean. But start slowly, as you can easily feel overwhelmed by changing too many things too quickly and may easily fall back into old habits. Instead, source organic varieties of the foods you consume regularly, for instance eggs, milk, peanut butter and wine. This way, once you’re comfortable with one small step, you’ll feel confident to introduce more.

By actively sourcing fresh or organic foods and drinks directly from the producer, buying online or from select retailers, you’ll not only enjoy the abundance of health benefits that this lifestyle affords, you’ll also protect our ecosystems by limiting toxic run-off into our water table, enhance the welfare of animals that otherwise may live a life in bleak conditions, as well as support local farmers, thereby encouraging job creation. “Eating fresh or organic produce offers myriad health and environmental benefits. Spring time is a great time to start, and we encourage South Africans to consider switching from pre-packaged to as-nature-intended foods and drinks where possible and convenient,” concludes Ozinsky.

The fruits of one man’s labour


Ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple that gave them the knowledge to know they were naked, there has arguably never been a more iconic story about fruit ever written. However, an art professor in New York has given us somethintrees-3g to think about after creating a tree that produces 40 different types of fruit, all of which blossom harmoniously due to their specific nature.

trees-1 Professor Sam van Aken of Syracuse University has always had a keen interest in grafting trees. He was given the opportunity to acquire a 3-acre orchard from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station where he began to graft buds from the 250 heritage varieties found on the orchard onto a single stock tree. Over the course of five years like a delicately sewn tapestry, Aken grafted similar fruits together onto the same tree, creating the 40 Fruit tree project.

To see more about this incredible project, take look at the video below:


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Printing with a purpose

printgreen_11Each year, more than 300 million tons of paper is produced, and on average one office worker will print a staggering 10 000 pieces of paper per year, despite the widely used line that hovers at the end of many emails “think before y
ou print.”

Although the use of printing paper may be seen as a necessary evil, a group of students from the University of Maribor in Slovenia have taken the revolutionary concept of 3D printing to an entirely new level that could be seen as leveling out the playing field when it comes to paper waste.

Their design, Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project’s goal is to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

printgreen_15The “ink” in the machine is a combination of soil, seeds, and water, which can be designed to print in any shape or letter. After drying, the muddy mixture holds its form, and just like the bean sprout experiment many of us tried at school, buds will begin to appear. A play on the usual conservationist motto of “think before you print,” the students encourage people to print using the machine because it’s green.

To follow the progress of this marvelous design, visit Printgreen’s Facebook page at:
Original article sourced from: