A Cape Town-based company has taken organic food online, allowing customers to choose an ethical shopping option from the comfort of their own homes. In the process they are supporting small organic producers, like a township collective who grow vegetables for sale to the suburbs.
Customers of The Ethical Co-op, the largest online seller of fresh organic produce in the Western Cape, can have their orders delivered directly to their door or collect them at a pre-arranged distribution point.
Besides organic fruit and vegetables, the Co-op offers a range of other items, from dairy to household products. It focuses on educating members on the nutritional value and growing cycles of food, plus allowing members to know who the farmers are and where the food actually comes from.
General coordinator Sonja Niederhumer said new members registered with their email and contact details, after which they would log in with their email address and password to access the order page.
Every Thursday, the Co-op emails members reminding them to place orders, but they have until 1.30pm on Monday to place orders. Members who have not paid for their previous week’s order are not able to order the following week.
Niederhumer said the Co-op was supplied by large and small organic food projects, as well as community projects like Abalimi Bezekhaya, a community-based non-profit organisation.
Abalimi Bezekhaya, which means ‘Planters of home’ in Xhosa, has encouraged suburban households to buy organic food from township gardeners, who deliver freshly picked produce twice a week to Cape Town schools.
It is spread throughout the township communities of Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Phillipi and Gugulethu. The project encourages self-sustainability by training unemployed community members to grow their own vegetables.
Niederhumer said in terms of food scarcity, it was important that people started growing their own food in their homes, be in harmony with nature and appreciate the energy that went into making food.
The Co-op bank details can be found on their website, but arrangements can be made for cash payments on delivery. Deliveries are made on a Thursday between 9am and 5pm.
Members can also collect their products at distribution points, which can be found on the website.
* Visit http://www.ethical.org.za/ for more information.
* Reporting by Brenda Nkuna. Published in MindShift Magazine, Spring 2008.