Local Heart, Global Soul

July 9, 2012

Welcome to My Afternoon Tea Party …(Oh I wish!)

In my final post about Sunshine Organics in Maungaturoto I’m looking at some of the backing on offer… I’ve caught them on their first day open after the Christmas/ New Year holidays so they don’t yet have their usual selection up to speed, but what I do see looks very tempting.

There are savoury muffins,  a fruity carrot cake that’s dairy and egg free, coconut and orange syrup cake, a health slice and chocolate muffins… YUM!  It’s inspiring me to see that “organic” doesn’t have to mean plain or boring and would be welcome at any first class afternoon tea party!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 8, 2012

They Really ARE Good Enough to Eat!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m the sort of gal who could care less about handbags and shoes but could stand and happily drool over a window display of kitchen gadgets or a green grocers window.

I LOVE grocery shopping because it’s chance for the Foodie in me to find something new in one of the isles to take home and getting my cooking teeth into. I also find fruit and veggies very photogenic and love the colour, texture and form of even ordinary veggies.

Doesn’t everyone find a head of garlic beautiful in form, function and isn’t it just a wonder of natures design?   No? (sigh) Ok, maybe it is just me.

Here in the Sunshine Organics shop in the small town of Maungaturoto I’m getting  the glazed over look of appreciation that  Himself knows only too well as he shrugs his shoulders, doesn’t “get” , but humours me.

These organic fruit and veg are probably even more appealing because you know they really are good enough to eat, no pesticides here!

Yes, I probably am  suffering from a mild form of madness… but come on, look at these photos and tell me that they aren’t images of beauty? And if you don’t think so…   take pity on my insanity and indulge me LOL.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kumara…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 7, 2012

Blues and Red Hot Blues… WOW!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sunshine Organics in the small town of Maungaturoto in Northland New Zealand is the place where I found these next gems

Blue tortilla chips are made from blue organic corn  (ALL new  discoveries for me!) and are to die for!

We tried the Blue chips first and thought “ooooh Bliss!!” … Then we tried the Red Hot Blues and I had to pinch myself to see if I hadn’t actually died and gone to heaven.

Just enough heat to make you go weak at the knees and have your taste-buds soar but  not so much that it rips your insides to bits… perfection!

I’m not mobile enough to go looking for these here in The Hague, but once I am this is the item I’d hang just out of arms reach in front of the treadmill and be prepared to walk kilometres for. … or just say heck and grab the bag and make myself decadently comfortable with the bag on the sofa LOL.

Annoyingly I was sure I’d photographed the makers details on the back of the package but can’t find the photo anywhere at the moment… but if I find it later I’ll  be sure to slot it into this post.

I dare you to find the nearest organics shop to you JUST for the hope that they stock THESE CHIPS   (at the very least) … you won’t be sorry!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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)

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)

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