Local Heart, Global Soul

July 5, 2012

Taking Back Control Over What’s in Your Food…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are still leafing though the pages of my journal as I retrospectively detail our travels to New Zealand during December 2011 and January 2012.

I’m delighted to have discovered a wonderful organics shop in the small town of Maungaturoto and after explaining that I have a blog, am a foodie and have a deep interest in promoting the good news of small businesses making a positive difference in their communities,  the owner was delighted to let me take as many photographs as I wanted and for me to feature her business here.

As usual I didn’t waste any time getting clicking and asking as many questions as possible.  One of the food problems that has seen a massive rise in people suffering from gluten intolerance.

I knew a few rough facts about gluten: it comes from wheat and from my few attempts at bread making I knew that kneading the dough releases the gluten and in theory (if only I could get it right) would help my bread rise nice and high in the oven and produce a light fluffy texture inside the loaf.

Then some years back,  a long time Christchurch friend and her husband extended their family buy taking on long term care of a foster child… who turned out to suffer from Coeliac’s disease and can not tolerate gluten.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When their family and ours ate together it became apparent that gluten is in many products where you would least expect to find it and this young girl’s diet was far more limited than I ever expected. Did you know that soy and tomato sauce or ice-cream have gluten in them?

No? I  didn’t either. Apparently it’s stabilising agent and as such is added to a whole host of  food products, and my friend has had to become a label vigilante in order for this child to not have severe adverse reactions to things she eats.

Like asthma, the occurrence  of  Coeliac disease seems  to be rising at an alarming rate, especially in children, so finding certified and trusted gluten-free products is fast being a necessity for many families rather than a supposed fad amongst a few people that society first supposed were getting a little too fanatical about their food.

I hear that the demand for gluten free products in the shop is rising, and probably as word gets out about this new business, more people will come and shop here, knowing that they can get everything from their gluten-free flour and general gluten-free products and baked goods under one roof.

I also discover something close to my heart: organic cleaning products, something I’m currently experimenting with since several commercial washing powders and most commercial cleaners wreck havoc on my lung condition and asthma.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have also sported the “bloated lobster” skin reaction look after trying many  new commercial soaps and make-up products,  so I’m delighted to find an entire range of organic cosmetic product and toiletries here too.

It’s nice to see that a shop like this has won an award for Excellence, it becomes instantly clear that the owner shares my concerns about what the food industry is hiding in our food and that an ever increasing number of people are wanting to cook “from scratch” with healthy ingredients so that they can regain some control over what’s in the food they are eating.

Sadly gone are the days when we can just assume that the corporate food giants have our best interests at heart when they sell us their products as time and again investigations are proving that tricks like adding sugar to products that never traditionally contained any is causing many people’s bodies to become addicted to sugar. This has a knock-on effects of making healthy diets hard to stick to and obesity an epidemic.

Himself and one of our friend’s severe reaction to the pine-nuts that I documented in yesterday’s post tells me that even one simple product obviously contains much more than is first apparent, and that financial profit is a bigger motive for decisions within the food industry than concern for the health of the customers who consume it.

Getting “back to basics” as a home cook is the first step of re-taking control of  our waistlines, our blood pressure and our own life expectancy, but we also need to recognise the need to be very careful that we are not cooking from scratch with tampered ingredients,  and  therefore lulling ourselves into a false sense of security that we are getting healthy when we might not be.

Clearly ditching the supermarket is going to be near impossible, but at least having a greater awareness and changing our lifestyles one tiny product at a time should be possible both on a financial and practical level.

This place and places like it are a brilliant resource for getting back to basics with safer ingredients…  so let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. I often wonder if our diet impacts on my husband’s ME. He has given everything else up, however, and refuses to give up wheat and gluten. I’m working on it.

    Comment by Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife — July 5, 2012 @ 11:02 am | Reply

    • Himself has some stomach issues that he says aren’t serious enough to warrant changing his diet for…(he thinks always eating brown bread is healthy enough) but every now and again it’s really uncomfortable for him.

      Kiwi Daughter is really often constipated to the point of discomfort and I’m trying to figure out if she just doesn’t drink enough water (most kids don’t the Dr said) or if it’s something else.

      Once I’m mobile again I’m going to take charge of the shopping list and put our whole family on gluten-free for a trial period of six weeks. It would be interesting to see if this has any effect on either of these problems and if not, at least we would know one way or another.

      We are a big fresh fruit and veggies, cook-from-scratch family so things like grains are kind of the only thing left to seriously pin down.

      Maybe asking your family to just go totally gluten-free for 6 weeks would seem more do-able for them? and if the Hub saw big improvements in his ME he would have the incentive to make it permanent.

      You *would* have to do some serious label reading first though because gluten is added to many things as a stabilizing agent (maybe YOU could start this well before your six week trial) so that you get a master list of “good” products and “bad” ones to work with in advance.

      Tell everyone they have to do it 100% though, no sneaking in a pie or a pastry on the side that could derail the results… Going Gluten-freet 100% for six weeks straight might be an inconvenience but if he stands to gain significant quality of life… it’s worth a go right?

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 5, 2012 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  2. Really, kneading the bread releases the gluten? Two of our family require gluten free and I have found that the most difficult ingredient to omit.

    Comment by lulu — July 5, 2012 @ 11:26 am | Reply

    • Yes, that’s why gluten- free bread and cake baking present a real challenge… omitting gluten is omitting your chief rising asset so you get very heavy dense loaves and cakes… there are ways around it but it takes practice and a special way of working the recipe and ingredients.

      It’s a LOT of extra work so don’t be surprised if that gluten-free cake or bread costs extra to buy ready made, it’s really hard work to get it similar in taste and texture to a “regular” gluten flour loaf or cake that comes out all light and airy.

      People who bake gluten-free at home will often persist often because they have no choice… but I have yet to find anyone who’s not had a trail of baking disasters as they perfect the process.

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 5, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

      • I definitely relate to the disasters. I have found a flour and pancake mix from Miss Pamela that helps.

        Comment by lulu — July 5, 2012 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

        • There’s no doubt the gluten-free baking is hard work… EXCELLENT that you have found a local product that helps!
          Thanks too for mentioning the name of it, if anyone in your area has this problem and wants to experiment with going gluten-free this is really helpful information to share 🙂

          Comment by kiwidutch — July 5, 2012 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  3. I often thought that is tomorrow, I could no longer eat bread, pasta, etc. (and dairy) then you might as well just shoot me. I feel so badly for those who have a gluten intolerance because, yes, as you’ve said, it is found in products you’d least expect. Luckily, as time moves forward, there appear to be tremendous advances in this area. I’ve heard that spelt flour is a good alternative but does take some trial and error to get right.

    What a lovely little market! Looks similar to a place we have in town called “A New Leaf”. It always smells wonderful when I go in there!

    Comment by milkayphoto — July 5, 2012 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

    • Tracy,
      My biggest hope is that you would support YOUR little place, even just a little bit, but often.
      If EVERYONE could do this then organics would eventually become more mainstream and therefore more cost compeditive (win win for everyone). These little places can only negotiate on prices with their suppliers when they place orders in bulk and if each person in the community bought just one product or two as a bare minimum it would make a difference.

      I want to go one a 6 week gluten-free trial once I’m fit so that we can see if it makes a difference to our health… oh YES, like you I’m addicted to wonderful white flour… so it won’t be easy. And the males in our family are pasta addicts so “turning” them around for even just 6 weeks will be a battle I’ll need to prepare myself for LOL.

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 6, 2012 @ 5:12 am | Reply

  4. Wonderful shop! Glad you could share this with people. It’s good information to have out there in the world, kiwi.

    Comment by Kathy — July 5, 2012 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

    • I’m too guilty of going to the supermarket like a sheep … in the last year Himself has been going regularly to the Haagse Markt for our fruit and veggies and whilst you do have to be careful that there are not a few past-it oranges sneaked into the bottom of the bag etc the savings have been really eye opening.

      Now if Himself comes home with tomoatoes that are really too ripe for salad, I just wash them and dump them in the freezer… they’ll be fine for my next pasta sauce instead.

      In our case, living in an appartment with no garden, getting free(er) from the supermarket and more organic IS hard work but we are seeing benefits so it’s worth doing.

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 6, 2012 @ 5:04 am | Reply

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