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)

February 24, 2010

Is there something unwittingly missing from your menu?

Filed under: FOOD — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I heard the other day on TV that the biggest kid favourite meal at the moment is Spaghetti Bolognese.

If my kids are anything to go by, it might be better said that it’s not their actual favourite meal, but rather just the one that gets thrust under their noses most often at meal times because I know that in spite of their grumbles they will eat it, and Nooooo there is NO possibility in this house of getting  the rubbish that they really want:  chicken nuggets.

I never ever had Spaghetti Bolognese as a kid, or Lasagna, Chili con carne or Pizza.  Ok, Yes I did have Pizza on odd occasion when I was much older,  ….home made efforts with a slightly too thick crust that always was a bit undercooked and  doughy in the middle.  That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to get enthused about Pizza as an adult.

Did my mother have something against Italian cuisine? , well, no, not really, the answer was  plainer and simple than that: she was severely allergic to tomatoes.

Subsequently I grew up only ever expecting to see my tomatoes raw, on the side of salads. I had no clue until I left home that tomato  were something you could cook with, put into sauces and meals with (as opposed  to squirts of the stuff on the side of the newspaper wrapping  of your fish and chips, that you dipped your chips into)

Our family has a history of food allergies and I unhelpfully carry on the tradition by being allergic to mould, fungi and  a few sorts of shellfish.  For me, things like blue cheese, truffles, truffle oil and  mushrooms are strictly off limits  but whilst  I  realise that I can’t eat them myself, I have resolved to prepare them every now and again for Hubby and the kids.

I don’t wish to repeat my childhood experiences  where the rest of the family missed an entire taste possibility simply because  the cook couldn’t eat  it too.

I can clearly understand that  trying to make a Lasagna  without tomatoes is a bit like trying to make hamburgers without the meat…  you can work around some things but in these  type of dishes the omission of tomatoes isn’t really one of them.

My allergies on the other hand are polite and not at all disruptive to the daily cooking routine. The one thing that I have to be extra careful of  are shop-bought veggie soups and packet mixes for sauces or gravy. Even a small amount of ” mushroom powder” is  a no-no.  …as found out  when Hubby tried a new gravy mix on a surprise meal for me years ago…  hmmm  it turned out to be  far more of a surprise than either of us bargained on or wanted.

Since then Yes,  he has cooked surprise meals for me but we have both become expert at reading ingredient labels on packets before we buy them, and at asking in restaurants what’s in the meal so that the surprises stay as nice ones and not the nasty ones.

If you are the cook in the house and you have food allergies, then you too will have to ask yourself if the thing that is restrictive for  you might also be unwittingly restricting the eating habits and experiences of your family… and maybe,  like me you need to make a separate meal every now and again to compensate them for the things you can’t enjoy.

My sister was the lucky one, she managed to be the only one in the family without any food allergy, and my poor  father copped the easiest one to avoid but probably the unluckiest… he’s allergic to strawberries.

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