Kamut wheat

Kamut is the brand name of the ancient wheat grain khorasan, useful to some people with wheat sensitivity; ancient legend says that it is the grain Noah took with him onto the ark. The health properties of the wheat are possibly down to the fact that Kamut is organically grown and has never been genetically modified or hybridised. However, Kamut does contain gluten, so it’s not suitable for coeliacs.

The flavour is naturally sweet and nutty with a smooth buttery taste. It is used as an alternative to durum wheat in Lima’s Pastas, and in Nature’s Path Cereals (Optimum Power and Organic Heritage Flakes). Dove’s Farm now stock Kamut flour as well.

The grain has more protein than modern wheat and many more minerals too, including selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Selenium is recognised particularly for it high antioxidant properties. A high proportion of lipids means that the wheat delivers more energy to the body than common wheatgrains and it also has more vitamin E.

What is Ethical?

The term ETHICAL is banded around alot these days. It is one of those words that has become part of our everyday speech, everyday marketing and everyday product descriptions. Consumers say they want ethical, and ethical purchases have increased year on year according to the polls, but what does ethical mean?

According to the dictionary, ethical is an adjective:
1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
2. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, esp. the standards of a profession: It was not considered ethical for physicians to advertise.
3. (of drugs) sold only upon medical prescription.

I’m sure today’s more general definition is closer to No 1. of these in that it is the method and morals of a producer as much as the product, not ‘the end’, but the means to it.  The end product must also be in line with the best of eco and people consciousness too to qualify.

Ethical Junction have sumarised the ‘What is ethical?’ question very clearly.  So rather than debate it further I will give you their take on it in these excerpts from the Tale of Two tomatoes.

The Tale of Two Tomatoes

Ethical” is fast becoming a brand name – a cleansing agent that can be strapped to a product or service to alleviate the guilt of consumption. Does it mean that the mythical ethical consumer is emerging, a consumer who tries to act and buy ethically in all aspects of their life? Or does there simply exist a growing demand for “ethical” products? For the two are not the same.

The hidden ingredients

…But what about everything else that went in to producing that product? Where are the raw materials sourced from? In what conditions are they grown, mined, raised, fished and processed? What about the number of miles it travelled to get on the shelf? What about what the producer does with the money? What about the “ethics” that brought that product to market?

What is ethical?

Ethical practice is about more that just fair-trade, it is more than organic, it involves holistic appraisal of every aspect that goes into the trade and industry behind a product or service, in Marxist terms it is the “means of production and distribution”. There is no one definition for “ethical”, as an adjective it’s very nature is open to interpretation, although there is no doubt that to be ethically led means to be trying to “do the right thing” at all points of the supply chain. As of yet, however, the consumer cannot easily get a fair appraisal of the ethics that lie within and behind a product as easily as they can find the ingredients that lie within it. So the question must be: Do consumers really know in what proportions they are demanding “ethical”?

What measures the ethical quality of a product? Minimal environmental impact? I think so. Respect for fellow living creatures? Probably. Fair treatment of all labour involved in the production process? Definitely. So the key to a truly ethical product lies in the production process and the “worker” is core to that as we are, mercifully, not entirely mechanised yet. It would be fair to say then, based on ethical demand requiring suppliers to adhere to these practices, the worker is going to come off quite well. Fair wages, workers rights and limits on the amount of hours worked are just some of the benefits available. However, we haven’t addressed price yet.

Addressing the price

Price, whilst the least tangible of all costs that we can relate to a product, is more often than not, the deciding factor in the relative success of any product or service. Price, traditionally, drives both demand and supply. Price as a financial measure is ultimately a measure of the relative cost of a product. It is a generic summary of the resources that have been consumed bringing the product to market; it is not necessarily related to or indicative of the “ethical” cost of a product.

Read the full article here

In conclusion then, ethical is fair on people, fair on planet, made fairly, done fairly – against greed, against exploitation, for everyones best.  It is indeed an ideal that cuts against so much of traditional trading. Can we suceed in making this ideal a reality?

Buy Fairtrade

Fairtrade Foundation

The sunshine vitamin

“Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone!”

No. No horrid threat about kneecapping here but advice from the Baz Luhrmann song, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“. (You might know Luhrmann as the Australian film director of Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and most recently Australia.)

Get out in the sun for vitamin DBut now more Australians are coming out with the same advice. A university in Melbourne reports that if you’re not getting much vitamin D you’re more likely to lose your knee cartilage and, in doing so, will develop arthritis twice as fast as people with normal levels of the vitamin.

But how do you get vitamin D? From the sun (which makes a song about sunscreen a little ironic).

In the UK most people get all the vitamin D they need from spending a few minutes in the sunshine each week. But if you don’t eat meat or oily fish, if you have a dark skin complexion, you don’t get outside much or always cover up when you do, you may be getting less of the sunshine vitamin than you need. And the suggested benefits of vitamin D include reduced heart disease and cancer risk, less depression, diabetes and obesity and an improving the immune system.

Experts reckon you should have about 5 micrograms a day if you’re going to take the vitamin as a supplement (especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or elderly), but you can also find vitamin D in fortified cereals and drink. Other sources include oily fish (like salmon, sardines, herring or tuna), liver, milk and dairy products and egg yolks, but these will never give you as much as you get from the sun.

So, basically, spend lots of time outdoors (and wear sunscreen if you’re going to be out too long). Which leaves us to ponder further advice from Luhrmann’s song:

“Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.”

Frustrated insomniacs just need to stay cool

Have I mentioned before that I don’t always get a good night’s sleep? I tend to swear by Natrasleep which doesn’t knock you out but delivers a blissful slumber once you finally drift off. I usually wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day; and, of course, I like it because it is made from herbal products (valerian and hops) and it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans.Insomnia - waiting for dawn

However, American scientists have found that a ‘cooling cap‘ can help insomniacs to sleep better, because it lowers activity in your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain thought to help you switch off for a good night’s sleep. But British academics are not so excited. Professor Jim Horne, of Loughborough University, suggested a fan at night might help as much.

If, like me, you’re an insomniac you will probably have tried a lot of things already. And there are some great natural things to try. Some of us are better with teas and others with tablets. But it might interest you to know that the much talked about new kid on the block, acai berry, is thought to improve sleep as well. I haven’t tried this one yet. If you have, please post a review. It comes as a vegicap, a drink and a tea. It is also reported to be excellent to aid weight loss, to help fight stress, to improve digestion and to help maintain good skin! Wow, and all as I sleep?

According to one survey, one third of people in the UK have trouble sleeping  about three times a week so I’m not alone.

Here’s a list of things that I find useful when I’m trying to nod off.

  • Get up, do something downstairs, go back to bed when you feel tired.
  • Stay cool, but wear something to keep your chest warm.
  • Write down the things in your head onto a notepad – empty your mind.
  • Black out your windows.
  • Avoid chilli, bananas and cheese (or anything high in protein).
  • Exercise earlier in the day.
  • Change your bed sheets.
  • Use in-ear earphones to listen to the radio (they fall out when you turn over and then you can’t hear it anymore).
  • Drink some cocoa.

At the end of the day (or should that be in the early hours of the morning?) you just have to do what works for you…

Have I mentioned before that I don’t always get a good night’s sleep? I tend to swear by Natrasleep which doesn’t knock you out but delivers a blissful slumber once you finally drift off. I usually wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day; and, of course, I like it because it is made from herbal products (valerian and hops) and it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

However, American scientists have found that a ‘cooling cap’ can help insomniacs to sleep better, because it lowers activity in your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain thought to help you switch off for a good night’s sleep. But British academics are not so excited. Professor Jim Horne, of Loughborough University, suggested a fan at night might help as much.

If, like me, you’re an insomniac you will probably have tried a lot of things already. And there are some great natural things to try. Some of us are better with teas and others with tablets. But it might interest you to know that the much talked about new kid on the block, acai berry, is thought to improve sleep as well. I haven’t tried this one yet. If you have, please post a review. It comes as a vegicap, a drink and a tea. It is also reported to be excellent to aid weight loss, to help fight stress, to improve digestion and to help maintain good skin! Wow, and all as I sleep?

According to one survey, one third of people in the UK have trouble sleeping about three times a week so I’m not alone.

Here’s a list of things that I find useful when I’m trying to nod off.

Get up, do something downstairs, go back to bed when you feel tired.

Stay cool, but wear something to keep your chest warm.

Write down the things in your head onto a notepad – empty your mind.

Black out your windows.

Avoid chilli, bananas and cheese (or anything high in protein).

Exercise earlier in the day.

Change your bed sheets.

Use earphones to listen to the radio (they fall out when you turn over and then you can’t hear it anymore).

Drink some cocoa.

At the end of the day (or should that be in the early hours of the morning?) you just have to do what works for you…

Top 10 uses of the polystyrene temperature controlled boxes

As a general rule GoodnessDirect no longer use polystyrene boxes to transport our chilled and frozen foods around.  They have been abandoned in favour of biodegradeable cardboard that is specially treated to make them thermally suitable.  However, on the really really really hot summer days (and you know just how many of those we get) we do use the polystyrene options.  Aundrea, one of our customers actually really appreciates the boxes and has written to me with her Top 10 uses.

Top 10 uses for polystyrene boxes:

  1. Bringing on seeds  –  put seedlings in a pot inside and put a sheet of glass on top – ready made glass house that never looses its stable temperature.
  2. I bring my chilled and frozen food back from the supermarket in them to keep it cold.
  3. A hot box,  fill the box with straw and put a part cooked meal in put the top on and the meal carries on cooking,  saves fuel , totally eco meal.
  4. I’ve even put poorly animals in them , without the lid of course as it helps to maintain their body temperature.
  5. Use them as planters in the garden.
  6. Nest boxes for hens.   If laid side on they are just the right size for hens to lay in ( the box side on , not the hen)!
  7. Storing kids building bricks without all the clattering noise of getting them out of  a plastic box.
  8. Packing boxes for  small special valuables when you move house.
  9. I store cat biscuits in them  – they stop the smell getting out.
  10. Keeping food the right temperature on picnics – both cold or hot.
  11. Taking hot meals to my mum. They are still hot when I get there.
  12. Kids used nappies on a journey – they are smell proof as well as heat proof.
  13. Punch a hole in the bottom of the box low down,  bung it with a wine cork and fold  a piece of chicken wire in the bottom.  It makes an excellent wormery and tight enough to keep the worm tea* in.
  14. A window box that keeps plants warm through winter so you can have vegetables all year.
  15. Bring on leeks  and carrots.  If they are planted in the box it makes them straight and tall looking for the sunlight.
  16. A good selection of mixed herbs will fit in one box.  Grow on a  kitchen window, you need never miss out on fresh herbs.
  17. The boxes can be decorated with acrylic paint or anything else really  for all the above uses to match your decor / needs and look great.
  18. Grow mushrooms in them

* Worm tea is the liquid form of worm casting.  Earthworms produce castings, worm tea is produced as water runs off or drips through the castings in the worm beds and absorbs the nutrients from the castings which in nitrogen, phosphate, calcium, magnesium an potash.   Worm tea is a great organic plant foods as well as being a repellent for aphids, spider mites, scale and white flies.  In fact worm tea is so popular you can buy it ready made.

Ok thats 18 and not 10,   but I couldn’t choose between them.   My friends beg them from me, they are specially popular as hot boxes .   So
I will always be really really happy to get my order  in these boxes as its a bit like the ‘a dog is for life not just for Christmas’ slogan – ‘a cold box is for years not just one delivery’.     If other  people moan,  save the boxes for me I am endlessly happy to get them.

Thanks Aundrea, there are some great suggestions here.  I’m especially keen on the worm tea idea, it’s brilliant.

Mud, mud, magical mud

There are few things more wonderful than getting gloriously messy. So what better idea than to turn your hometown into a mud festival for a week?

It has to be one of the craziest events on earth, but right now, between 12-20 July, over a million people are flocking from across the globe to Boryeong, Korea, to wash themselves in pure, slovenly, rejuvenating mud. The festivities have been taking place annually for the last twelve years and have proved to be a massive boon to Korea’s tourist industry.

Cleansing mud!

What makes this so different to a trip to Glastonbury? The mud is supposed to be of a superior quality and rich in germanium, bentonite and other minerals (bentonite is said to be highly effective in reducing wrinkles but I can’t identify a good use for germanium). However mud has long been used for its healing and restorative properties; for example, visitors have been appreciating the health and cosmetic benefits of mud found at Dead Sea baths for centuries.

But I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you about the therapeutic blessings of the mucky stuff. If you’ve ever tried a mud-pack you’ll know all about it. And, if you’ve taken a look at the Boryeong or Dead Sea websites, you will be hankering to travel there straight away. But, for something a little more immediate, you could try Dead Sea Spa Magik treat which consists of shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and lotion or enjoy one of their more modest mud masks or soaps. The Spa Magik guys actually do a huge range of products aimed at delivering health benefits to your skin so it’s worth looking them up to see if there’s anything you like. That way you can enjoy your own little moment of being one of the great unwashed.

Lemon & date tofu cheesecake – gluten & dairy free

Tofu Date Cheesecake

A vegan, gluten free cheesecake. You could easily replace the rice flour with wheat flour if gluten is not an issue for you.

Ingredients

Pie crust
* 65g rice flour
* 85g walnut oil
* 43g rolled oat
* 2-3ml water

Filling
* 60g dates
* 60ml lemon juice
* 3 tbsn apple juice
* grated lemon rind, to taste
* 50 ml water
* 300g tofu (preferably soft or silken)

Directions
Mix together dry ingredients and slowly add liquid. Mix with a knife to form a soft mixture that is not too wet. (You may not need all the water).

Roll out pastry and press into a pie tin and bake for 10 mins at 180C/350F/gas mark 4.5

Filling:
Simmer dates, lemon juice, apple juice, lemon rind and water for 5 minutes.
Blend tofu with date mixture until smooth and creamy and pour into the pie crust.
Bake for 20 mins at 180C/350F/gas mark 4.5