Local Heart, Global Soul

July 4, 2012

A Ray of …. Sunshine Organics.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you stumble on a brilliant small business in an unexpected place.  We are now in the small Northland town of Maungaturoto situated on Provincial State Highway 12 and in front of us is a wonderful small business called Sunshine Organics.

If you’d asked me as a teenager what I thought of organics I’d have shrugged and said “nothing much”, but as I’ve gotten older and especially after having children I’ve become increasingly concerned about what’s in what we eat.

It’s a shocking fact that girls these days are routinely entering  puberty at far younger ages than earlier generations;  the fact that some nine and ten year old  girls are menstruating already is accepted at school as “not the rule, but certainly no longer an extreme exception”,  seriously makes me wonder at the cumulative effect on our bodies and those of our kids of the hormones, antibiotics, additives and preservatives  in our food.

I’m shocked that when I try and roast a supermarket chicken that if I didn’t use a rack to elevate the bird off the bottom off the roasting pan, that so much water leaks out during cooking that it would be swimming rather than roasting.  They are pumped full of hormones and water and goodness what else. I’ve stopped buying supermarket chickens for this very reason.

I look at the fact that when I was at school there were maybe one or two asthmatic kids in the whole school, a few kids had food allergies and the biggest group of kids with a “health problem” that needed surveillance were the kids like me who were allergic to the bee and wasp stings they got from the playing field grass.

Nowdays some kids have life threatening  food allergies, peanuts are a massive problem, eczema and asthma cases in kids have exploded not only in number but in severity too.

I started reading food labels more carefully and to my horror I’m finding added sugar in almost everything these days, it’s in canned tomatoes, sauces and too many other products to mention. Even the bran flake cereal that looked healthy at first glance contains as much sugar in the packet as some of the products from the biscuit (cookie) isle.  It seems there are “E” numbers everywhere too, with some products sporting more “E’s” than a pocket dictionary…

Escaping this barrage of processed food is hard when you live in a city and have no garden of your own.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’d love to grow veggies of my own but our balconies are mostly in deep shade catching only late afternoon sun and we’ve had extremely limited gardening success using pots. A few years ago the Dutch government put out a health warning for broccoli, saying that due to chemicals present in the plants it was no longer considered safe to eat broccoli too often. Our family discontinued eating it for almost a year before we gave in and now have it occasionally.

I’ve become more interested in finding out where my food comes from and what’s in it.We’ve made the financial decision to try and increase the amount of organic fruit and veggies we eat but are finding it’s not always possible to get around mainstream mass produced veggies especially at certain times of the year.

We had good friends for dinner once and combined our cooking efforts, they had most of the ingredients for a salad and Himself was on a pine-nut kick at the time so added some extra veggies and topped it off with a good helping of pine-nuts from a new large packet he’d been delighted to score at the supermarket earlier that day.

The pine-nuts came from China and we thought nothing of it, until Himself and one of our friends contained after the meal that they didn’t feel so good, their skin was turning read and they started to scratch because it was so itchy. Himself know’s he’s allergic to hazelnuts but is ok with other stuff and since the symptoms didn’t get worse they just decided to put up with it, but it lasted a good few days before they were both properly better again.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We never suspected the pine-nuts until a week later Himself made another salad and wanted to put pine-nuts in it, I declined as I didn’t fancy them so he added them just to his. He was so sick that evening we had words about him needing to see a Doctor.  (Agggh, men are stubborn!) He refused to go and rode out some horrific itching and rash which lasted more than three days and it was clear he was really feeling lousy even though he played it down as much as possible.

The mostly full large packet of pine-nuts got swiftly deported to the rubbish bin,  but interestingly we later discovered that pine-nuts originating elsewhere than China don’t pose any problem for him at all.

I’m fast coming to the conclusion that our food is being tampered with to a degree that should be causing us far more concern than it does.

A good friend once said that the price of organic veggies would drop considerably if only every single shopper would buy just one organic product in their weekly shop… I think there’s a deep element of truth to this.  I’m therefore delighted to find an organic shop that appears to be making a mark in a small community outside of the perceived traditional  organic market of the big city.

There’s a beautiful shop here with even a veranda  at the back where you can take a chair at a table and relax looking the the hill view behind the shop. If this isn’t the epitome of  “green” shopping I don’t know what is!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. Great Post! As you probably know I love to grow as many of my own fruit a veg for this very reason. Nothing tastes so wonderful as carrots straight from the garden,,,and lettuce hmmm. You may be able to grow lettuce in pots as I’ve tried grwoing some in a shady corner and they did well. The pot can be shallow but must be wide. As the baby lettuces grows you pick off the baby leaves, from the outside of the plant.

    I’ve never heard the “alarms” over broccoli, in fact quite the reverse and it is listed as one of the super foods.

    I seriously wonder what they do pump inot our foods sometimes. When we first moved here I could not get over the chickens. They were not pumped up with water! GM crops are a big worry

    I follow Rady

    This is such and informative site and well worth a visit.


    Comment by Piglet in Portugal — July 4, 2012 @ 7:51 am | Reply

    • Piglet, sorry not to have gotten back to you sooner… there was is so much interesting reading in your link I got distracted 🙂

      You have inspired me to try again with lettuce on our balcony, and whilst I have no space for carrots, beans, peas I have WONDERFUL memories of them fresh from the garden .. oh heaven! I used to stand in my parent’s garden and grandparents garden and just eat these veggies raw! (carrots went under the garden tap first of course LOL … but I never even peeled them)

      One of the biggest worries of GM crops is not only what’s in what we eat bit also that genetic VARIETY is being knocked out of nature, making the crops we will be left with, mega susceptible to any new plant disease that come along. Think of the devastation of the Irish potato blight on a global scale: THAT’s frightening.

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 5, 2012 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

      • Hey, no problem 🙂 I think Rady’s website is great, but scary!
        I thought you might find it interesting!

        Comment by Piglet in Portugal — July 5, 2012 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

        • Piglet, a few of the items I thought I’d need to do some more research on to see it were a balanced view or not for some some of the topics (are plastic container *really* bad?) but the bee topic at the top IS a REALLY serious problem that we need to be taking far more seriously.

          Comment by kiwidutch — July 5, 2012 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

          • Last year I was really concerned as we had very few bees. Apparently the farmers spray thir crops with pesticides which kills the bees. This year I planted lavender and lots of flowering plants near my vegetables and there have been more. However, this year, I’ve also noticed many hives in several fields close by.

            Comment by Piglet in Portugal — July 5, 2012 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

            • Piglet,
              The decemation of the bee population is REALLY worrying me… YEAH that you planted lavender and flowers near your veggies AND that people are investing in hives. I’m REALLY allergic to bees but I LOVE the hard work they do and I try to never kill one.

              Comment by kiwidutch — July 6, 2012 @ 5:25 am

  2. Wonderful post! We also pay close attention to what we buy. We try to buy organic as much as we can but sometimes, it just isn’t feasible. I love growing my own herbs (mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, parsley, chives) and am fortunate enough to grow some veggies in the summer (tomatoes, rhubarb, cucumbers, snow peas and zucchini). We have wild raspberries and blackberries in our yard that, occaisionally we get to harvest before the critters do! Also in the summer, our city has a local farmer’s market which I’ve begun to shop at. Local farmers with good harvested that morning – how can you beat that?

    I have often wondered about all the food allergies kids seem to have nowadays. Nuts are no longer allowed in schools and I’ve even been on an airplane where they’ve asked the passengers to NOT bring any nut items on board. Neither me or my husband have any food allergies (thank goodness!). I imagine here, in the states, we might have access to better foods than you over there. Our local grocers due a great job at offering produce that is locally grown. Our next big thing will be meats. It is so difficult to know what is in meat and poultry. We stick to brands we know in the hopes they are okay. So far so good.

    Have you considered an inside garden that uses a grow light? I believe my husband has used the Aerogarden with success. Compact and self-contained. http://www.aerogarden.org.uk/shop/aerogarden/annual-kit/

    Comment by milkayphoto — July 5, 2012 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

    • Tracy,
      I know that buying organic isn’t always feasible… for us it isn’t always either It’s about making small changes as often as you can and seizing an opportunity to select the organic option when and if you can.
      Your garden sounds wonderful! The Aerogarden look like a great idea, I’m just not too sure where we would fit it inside our apartment either.

      Kiwi Daughter has a peanut allergy and it’s severe enough that she needs to carry an epi-pen, luckily she’s always been proactive in avoiding nuts whereever possible even as a toddler as she hates the taste with a vengence. A friend fed her a home made biscuit (cookie) with peanut butter in it (before we knew she was allergic) and she instantly said “yuk” and spat it out.

      Meat.. and the hormones and antibiotics the beasts are fed is another issue we need to be paying more attention to, it’s going to come back to haunt us sooner than we think, I fear.

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 6, 2012 @ 5:23 am | Reply

  3. Beautiful landscapes! My best friend lives in Australia, in Point Cook…I am anxious to visit and see the country!

    Comment by texanaskitchen — July 6, 2012 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

    • Australia is at about 2230 kilometres (1380 miles) away from New Zealand… and is beautiful but in a very different way to New Zealand. You have to make a stopover in New Zealand to see this country too 🙂
      Point Cook is close to Melbourne I haven’t been to either but Melbourne’s on my travel list as it’s a Foodie paradise.

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 6, 2012 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

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