Thursday, September 29, 2011

Garbage Dump Beach

I remember being a little girl walking on the beach with my family. Walking into forever. Frolicking in pools of water. Running away from the huge scary-looking waves chasing me back onto the sand. Picking up sea stars and putting it back in the water (not always though - I never said I was a saint.) Being delighted at the sight of multi-coloured shells of all shapes and sizes. Delighted. Smelling of salt and sun when I got home. Hair tangled. Face slightly burned. Filling the kitch jars my mom insisted on having with shells and placing it on top of the toilet. On top of a coffee table. In the guest bedroom. Taking a big shell and placing it against my ear to listen to the sea. Falling asleep with the shell still stuck on the side of my head. Bliss.

Those were the days my friend!

I didn’t ever think that one day the shells and the sea stars would be gone. GONE.

Don't you think that is incredibly sad? I do.

Let me explain.

Last weekend I volunteered to be part of a clean-up crew on Milnerton Beach. I met about 10 other people who also didn't have anything better to do on their Sunday morning. And hey - who doesn't want brownie points with karma? So we broke up into groups of two, armed with clipboards, data sheets from Ocean Conservancy and plastic bags.

I couldn’t take one step without spotting something. A lone straw. Sweet wrappers. Chip packets. Cigarette butts.

Another step. Another straw. Another sweet wrapper. Another chip packet. Another cigarette butt.

One more step. FUUUCK.

I realised that it was going to take forever to get the beach back to its natural pristine state. The way it used to be. The way it’s meant to be. I didn’t have forever and I don’t owe karma all that much. But we were there and pretty determined to do a good job. And so on and on it went. “Look a tyre!” “Eeeew a dirty nappy!” “Holy fuck. A condom.” “Shit. Is this a syringe??”

The thing that really got me (other than the dirty nappy I had to pick up using a pencil, arm outstretched and trying not to vomit while little bits of brown dripped back onto the sand) were the little kids. They were playing in sand littered with cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, used condoms, broken glass…building sandcastles using discarded plastic bottles.

Teenagers lying on beach towels catching a tan in their latest Mr Price bikinis. Surrounded by trash. Lying on top of trash.

And the parents? They seemed blissfully unaware that their kids were playing on a garbage dump. Can’t they remember the big sea shells? Smelling of salt and sun? Falling asleep listening to the sea?

Couldn’t they see it? The garbage scattered all around them? Or was it by choice that they just didn’t want to... cause then they’d actually have to pick it up.

Humans are lazy, dirty, disgusting creatures of dirty, disgusting habits. There. I said it.

I wish there's a good conclusion to make from my day on Garbage Dump Beach. But there just isn’t and unfortunately 10 volunteers are not going to make a difference, cause apparently no one else gives a shit.

Shame on you.

Friday, July 2, 2010


So, my search to green my life and live more sustainably continues. My first stop? Wild Organics Trading Store. Since finding this place, it’s changed what I eat, when I eat it and how I think about food. Lately, when I walk down the gleaming supermarket aisle or ponder over a menu at a restaurant I have this nagging green monster in my head asking questions like, “where does this food come from, how was it farmed, what is the effect on the environment and will you have "Pet Sematary" themed nightmares if you eat it?”

Wild Organics is in Woodstock, conveniently down the road from my house. One of the best things about this place is that there are no screaming children, no one hacking the living shit out of your heels with their trolley, no disgruntled, underpaid cashiers , and in fact – no cash register at all! Brilliant!

On my first visit I felt a bit shy, not completely understanding the process of organic shopping. But the smell of fresh herbs and niceness made me feel at ease. I picked up one of the baskets by the door and looked around, taking in the array of colour and smells. A store that doesn’t have that dog-food smell definitely makes it on my list!

One thing that really impressed me was that if it’s not in season, you won’t find it on the shelf – exactly the way nature intended. I did a 360 of the store and filled my basket with deliciousness, including balsamic vinegar, cheese, olive oil and veggies – all organic. I was completely unaware of the wonderful surprise waiting in the deep freeze. Now I’ve been searching high and low for free-range pork – especially after a friend described how in normal pig farming, pigs eat other’s pigs’ arses. (You know, one of those “just before dinner” stories...)

Anyway, this freezer revealed a thing of beauty! Free-range pork ribs! Heaven! Have you ever had a rack of ribs on your plate, where after one rib you’re actually full? If you haven’t, you’ve not had the real deal my friend!

So, with my basket filled with goodies enough to feed two people for at least two weeks, I went to the friendly guy standing by the scale. It was great. Instead of scanning products he weighed them and wrote down the values in a little book. It was great for two reasons. One is that I don’ t trust scanners – they give me the same feeling I get when I stand with my nose pressed against the microwave door to check if the milk is boiling yet. The second reason is that it felt old-school...almost farm-like. I like old-school charm and I love farms. I nervously shifted from one foot to the next, waiting for the verdict of the renowned more expensive organic food. Everything I bought was less than R200! I don’t think I’ve ever spent less than R300 on a normal weekly shopping trip.

With a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye, I made my way home and can vouch that every single thing I bought at Wild Organics was pure delight! I go there once a week now, and so far I’ve not been disappointed by the quality, the freshness and the charming service. Oh, and just so you know...if you ask where your food comes from, they can tell you which farm, the farmer’s name and even the method in which it was produced! Now THAT to me, is guilt-free indulgence!

Wild Organics Trading Store is based in Woodstock, but has collection points all over Cape Town.
For more information, visit

The Proof is in the Cheese Burger

On Monday, I strolled to a beloved deli down the road from my office. It’s one of my favourite places because everything is made from scratch every day, including wraps, chicken pies, spaghetti meat balls and soups. When you walk inside, it smells like love.

So there I was, facing the friendly girl on the other side of the counter and I ordered one of their bests– a cheese burger. Now, call me an idiot, but I presumed because they care enough to make everything from scratch, they definitely care about the environment and what they feed their customers. But with my new philosophy, I had to ask the question.

With a shaky voice, not wanting to sound like a drip, especially with a queue of other nine-to-fivers behind me, I asked the question: “Where does your beef come from? Is it free-range?” I could hear the yuppie behind me stop her super-fast sms-ing as she let out an irritated sigh.


The deli girl, who was so friendly at the beginning, shifted uncomfortably as redness crept up her neck, turned around to ask the owner. To my surprise, not even the owner could give me an answer!


So, fully aware of what felt like an icy silence (even the radio stopped blaring!),I dared to ask yet another question. “Ahem. Where does your chicken come from?” This time more confident and strangely, almost proud, deli girl answered: “We buy normal chicken in the supermarket, because it’s double the price for free range”.


I cancelled my order, turned around and walked out (a little red faced and pissed off). I felt betrayed! How can someone put so much love into making food, yet care so little at the same time?

This incident made me start wondering about the contents that are in my own fridge. And with a Bridget Jones smile (you know, the one where she walks to her office the morning after a night of intense shagging) I walked to my own office, knowing that although I was really hungry and bummed, that I’m doing ok.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Big Shi(f)t

I’ve been called a tree-hugging hippy more times than I care to remember and I resent it. I love Gucci. Guess. Diesel. Armani. And nice things. I don’t have the dreaded dreads. I don’t wear homemade rainbow- spiral tie dyed tees with sandals made of grass. I believe in personal hygiene. And having at least four different designer perfumes in my wardrobe. And cutting my toenails. And using Listerine everyday. I do not have Billy-Bob teeth and my underarms are shaved EVERY DAY!

Yes. I do live in Woodstock. And, ok... in that house there be two rescued cats and two rescued dogs. I’ll admit to living in a bit of a zoo. But it’s a clean and happy zoo, and that’s ok.

I’m not vegetarian either. I have quite sharp teeth and they’re great for biting into juicy meaty goodness. And there is nothing worse than vegetarians evil-eyeing you, just as you’re about to cut into your made-to-perfection medium-rare fillet. It’s annoying, so stop it.

I’ve become an anti-corporation individual with strong beliefs about the food we eat and where it comes from. This mind-set didn’t happen overnight. It took a several hard-hitting truths from documentaries like Supersize Me, Food Inc. and The Cove – to name but a few – to really make me start questioning the evolution of the unsustainable (and clearly unethical) human diet.

Many reports will tell you the same thing: It is the consumers – not the producers – that drive the way our food is produced making us, indeed, what we eat.

What I’d like to know is when did this gigantic shift happen where society no longer cares what they eat and what they feed their families? When did genetic modification become ok? What happened to Potjiekos or Grandma’s famous shepherd’s pie made from scratch? What’s up with this hurry-and-stuff-your-face trend? When did farms turn into mass producing co-ops? And how do people who run these so called “farms” sleep at night? I wonder if they even eat the shit they produce.

When did humans become the animals?

I love the web, but there is virtually (ha-ha- get it?) no information or resources for South Africans on where to find real organic produce, where to find free-range meat and restaurants that support sustainable farming. So with a little help from my friends, finding the resources we so desperately need has become my new mission...and perhaps part-time obsession.