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Category Archives: Supplier Spotlight

Back to school (and work)
Gear up with all the latest food and beverage storage containers in store now.

Eco kids

Send them back to school with all the non-plastic eco-lunchbox essentials. We’ve got a large selection of Keep Leaf and 4 My Earth reusable sandwich and food wraps in various sizes. A huge range of Cheeki stainless steel water bottles and lunch boxes. More food storage containers from Ever Eco, U-Konserve and Green Essentials including square and rectangular divided lunchboxes, bento and tiffin-style rectangular and round lunchboxes and stackable, nesting, mini and small round snack boxes. For thirsty kids there’s Earthlust, Klean Kanteen and Kid Kanteen water bottles and stylish and practical Ever Eco and Cheeki insulated smoothie tumblers and straws. In soft lunch bags we have 4 My Earth, U-Konserve and Keep Leaf insulated bags and totes and reusable bamboo cutlery by Ever Eco, U-Konserve and Rechusable.

And who said kids get to have all the fun. Our Commuter Pack will have you travelling in eco-friendly style on that long trek to the city for work or uni. Keep calm and caffeinated with the original glass Keep Cups, insulated stainless steel beverage cups and smoothie tumblers plus choose from the grown up range of lunch boxes, water bottles and lunch totes.

Shelf talk

Good news for the New Year is that we have secured a good quantity of Jasmine, Brown Basmati and White Basmati Rice which have been out of stock for a while.

Unfortunately, there’s no prospect of the Gluten Free staple Hulled Millet. Apparently following crop failures Australian farmers have not replanted this crop, likewise Puffed Millet is also currently unavailable.

Look out for some Paleo wraps from Ancient Harvest and Paleo breads from Venerdi. We’ve tried some samples and they certainly are tasty.

Also if you can’t see what you want please ask one our or friendly staff members. And although you may not necessarily see me in the shop I work Monday to Thursday and I’m always happy to help you with your enquiries.

Mike Patterson, Stock Coordinator

Fresh as

There’s lots of fabulous summer fruit and vegies coming in now!

Fruit – a variety of gorgeous berries available this week – we have blackberries, blueberries and strawberries in stock. Lots of exceptionally good cherries from Tasmania coming in too, and Farmer Hayden’s giant peaches from South Australia have been the yummiest peaches we’ve ever had. We also now have red (Flame) and white (Menindee) seedless grapes coming in.

Vegies – gorgeous multi-coloured carrots (orange, yellow, purple) available again and multiple varieties of eggplant (round, snow white and Angelina varieties).

Local fruit & veg supply is often intermittent but we had a large number of local cucumbers and zucchini coming in. Michael Hurst has been bringing in beautiful lettuce heads, but with this heat wave they probably won’t last long.

Sonya Byron, Fruit & Veg Coordinator

10 minutes with…The Herbiary creators
21st November, 2018

We are lucky to have some talented staff on the team at the Co-op. Relief worker and herbalist Maddison Pitt, who started in May this year, recently launched a range of herbal skin and body care products with her partner Del Woodland under the label The Herbiary. We asked Maddison to tell us a little bit about herself and the brand.

Q: What is your background and how did you come to be working at the Co-op?

A: I wanted to be a part of the Co-op as soon as I started to shop there. My background is in retail, most recently working in a community pharmacy. My partner and I joined the Co-op a few years ago and loved the ethos and focus on low environmental impact, supporting local growers and makers whilst providing needed resources for the community. After graduating from Western Herbal Medicine at the end of 2017 I wanted a workplace that was like-minded and was lucky enough to secure a position at the Co-op.

Q: What got you interested in herbalism?

A: I started to question the way we ‘do’ health. Complimentary medicine focuses on people as a whole being, an approach that resonated with me. The philosophy of herbal medicine, encompassing our physical, spiritual, and emotional health led me to study Western Herbal Medicine. I wanted to know what it meant to be a healthy and ‘well’ being.

I was particularly drawn to herbal medicine because of the connection to nature through herbs, plants, and natural materials. It was amazing to think a plant in my backyard may have the ability to heal if prepared in a certain way. The idea of making your own medicine, understanding the process of medicinal manufacturing, and using your hands to heal fascinated me.

Q: What is the ethos behind The Herbiary?

A: We wanted to take a holistic approach to our product range. To us this meant utilising the innate healing ability of herbs while operating kindly. We are committed to treading lightly, our packaging is plastic free, recycled or recyclable. Our ingredients are fairly traded, organic, animal cruelty free and vegan. Kind to your skin, the earth, people and animals.

Q: What products do you make?

A: Our herbal bath salts are currently in store at the Big Little Shop, they are magnesium and herb rich to soothe tired muscles and minds, while nourishing the skin. Our gentle exfoliating body scrubs will be available very soon along with our moisturising ‘mylk’ bath which is suitable for folks of all ages.

Q: What other services do you offer?

A: I also offer herbal medicine consultations where I can formulate personalised herbal preparations. Both Del and I have lots of projects on the go and even more ideas for 2019. You can follow our socials or head to our website to see more!

@the.herbiary

theherbiary.com.au

A dam good cause
17th October, 2018

Farm resilience

Local growers, Erika Watson and Hayden Druce of Epicurean Harvest, are throwing open the farm gates to future-proof their property. They took time out from farm chores to fill us in on life on the land and the hefty toll of drought.

Q: What got you into farming?

We both did horticultural science degrees at Sydney Uni. Trying to avoid being scuttled into conventional agricultural graduate employment streams we decided to take the skills we had gained and apply them in the most direct and fitting way we saw possible – growing vegetables responsibly for lovely people who appreciate them.

Q: What do you grow and who/where is your market?

A: We grow a very wide range of vegetables from eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers etc. to interesting herbs and unusual yams and things. We primarily grow for restaurants (including some pretty top-notch Sydney-based chefs) but also for a few local restaurants, grocers and co-ops in the mountains

Q: Can you describe your farming methods?

A: We grow chemical free, organic vegetables and we aim to farm regeneratively. This means taking into account the vegetable production as part of the whole farm ecosystem. The pasture, the animals and the vegetables all need to be accountable to one another, and biodiversity and ecosystem processes need to be moving forward. That is our primary aim.

Q: How has the drought affected the farm and what are the personal costs?

A: Lack of winter (and summer) rain has significantly reduced ground water flows (for bores) and also most dam water has been lost through evaporation over the period. Recent rains have been good for the pasture but have done little to top up dams or really recharge the groundwater system. Without enough stored water to operate the veggie farm we are needing to adapt in as many ways possible, but ultimately we will suffer significant losses due to restrictions in production if we do not get significant rainfall for an extended period of time.

Q: What are your plans and hopes for the future of Bula Mirri and agriculture in general in Australia?

A: We want Bula Mirri to be a productive living example of regenerative, multi-enterprise farming. We also want it to be a place for community to experience and learn and enjoy. Celebrating farming as part of culture rather than separating the two is essential to being more accountable to the land and ecosystems we farm on as well as having an enjoyable time doing it.

Erika and Hayden are throwing open the farm gates for a Farm Resilience Fundraiser on November 4. To read more about the event and purchase tickets click here.

 

There’s nothing “fake” about our local, unprocessed honey.

A recent investigation conducted jointly by Fairfax and the ABC revealed startling evidence of “fake” or adulterated honey on Australian supermarket shelves. Of the 28 jars of “pure” honey tested by German laboratory QSI, 12 were found to be adulterated with honey substitutes.

At the Co-op all our honey is pure, unprocessed and unpasteurised. And we’re lucky enough to have local suppliers including Malfroy’s Gold and Bruce Rogers of Rylstone. Both beekeepers practise natural methods of extraction and harvest from their hives which are placed in isolated areas of western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and central western NSW.

Tim Malfroy (pictured above) of Malfroy’s Gold stated recently on social media that imported “fake” honey “has been an open secret within the industry since at least 2004”. He also thanked supporters for taking an active interest in his “vision for ethical, sustainable Warré style apiculture and locally produced, 100% pure wild honey.” Thank you Tim.

Photo: Eric Tourneret The Bee Photographer

 

Eco-friendly spring cleaning

Ditch harsh chemical cleaning products in your home for these local, eco-friendly substitutes.

After the birth of her son, Archie (Archimedes), Natalie Beak was drawn to a simpler way of life. The freelance art director and television production designer had just made a tree change to the mountains and begun listening to The Slow Home podcast by local mountain’s mum Brooke McAlary. “Brooke spoke about simplifying cleaning products and habits, and I soon realised that we really didn’t need 15 different bottles of chemicals in the home,” Natalie explains.

“I started reading everything I could about natural living and slowing down, notably Rhonda Hetzel’s Down the Earth, Rebecca Sullivan’s The Art of the Natural Home and The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb.” This reading coupled with lots of internet research and even more making and testing, formed the background to a new business idea that was bubbling away in Natalie’s mind.

“Making eco-friendly cleaning products for my own family was one thing, but I wanted to share the idea that natural and simple is best,” she says. “Unless we work in high-risk environments where disease control is paramount, we don’t need to be using harsh chemicals in the home. The basics of vinegar, water and essential oils are really all you need to keep a clean and family-friendly home!” And so, Archimedes and Me was born.

Since then Natalie’s home-made chemical-free cleaning and personal care product range has increased to include kitchen and bathroom and general cleaners, salt scrubs, a magnesium bath soak and even a birthing blend.

Here she shares one of her basic recipes.

All-Purpose Kitchen Spray

In a 500ml spray bottle combine:

3/4 cup of vinegar

35 drops of essential oils (citrus oils like wild orange or lemon are great for dissolving grease, eucalyptus and lemon myrtle have amazing antibacterial properties, and clove is a fabulous mould buster)

Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled or purified water and shake.

NB: This spray is not recommended for natural stone due to the acidic nature of the vinegar and oils but is fantastic for timber or laminate surfaces, floors and cupboards.

For more fantastic eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products come along to the Co-op Thursday 20th September at 11am to Meet the Maker – Natalie Beak of Archimedes and Me.

Meat at the Co-op FAQs
23rd August, 2018

Meat at the Co-op – to be updated in November 

 

Meet the Maker – Nina’s Bees
9th August, 2018

Queen bee

Nina Tverskikh of Nina’s Bees shares the buzz on being an apiarist in this Q&A with the Co-op.

What got you into beekeeping?

Nina: A few years back my life took an unexpected turn after listening to an intriguing podcast that revealed the secret life of bees. On that same day, I made the decision to give these clever buzzing creatures a sanctuary in my own backyard, and my apiary has been growing ever since. To date, my little helpers and I have rescued countless wild swarms and given them a gift in the form of a second chance in the Blue Mountains.

How did you learn to use honey and beeswax?

Nina: My grandmother (babushka) grew up in an orthodox family of Old Believers, living in the wilderness of the taiga (boreal forest) in far eastern Russia. All of her family had to rely on natural medicine in their everyday lives. All through her life babushka Sasha would collect and use herbs, make tinctures and salves to treat literally every ailment. I learnt my basics from her.

What products do you make?

Nina: I make all-natural, botanical balms and soaps made with bee products from my apiary. I also make beeswax food wraps. All products are hand made with organic and/or cold-pressed oils, essential oils and are packaged in recyclable containers.

What is the best part about being an apiarist?

Learning new things about bees every time I open a hive. Working with bees and observing their environment made me a better gardener and passionate advocate for chemical-free living.

Nina will be at the Co-op Thursday 16th August from 10.30 – 12.30 for a Meet the Maker session.

Fishy business
10th July, 2018

We’ve all heard the adage we are what we eat, but what about the one that goes we eat what we wear?

Blue Mountains Food Co-op supplier Import Ants recently published an alarming story about Fish, Fibres and Food.

Here is an edited version.

When fish eat fibres, the fish and the fibres end up on our dinner plate. But there is more to the story!

Fish like eating microplastic fibres

Fibres absorb chemical pollutants and pathogens

Food that we eat from the sea has significant amounts of plastic in it

But why do fish eat these fibres?   

New research has found that the “scent” of plastic appeals to foraging fish just as much as the scent of their natural food. So fish are being tricked into eating plastic because of how it smells. And with all the plastics that are entering our oceans it is not just fish that are affected by them.

At Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus, Dr. Sarah Dudas leads a team dissolving oyster guts to leave behind the microplastics they have ingested and she is finding them in almost every shellfish.

Prawns, oysters and other molluscs are filter-feeders. When these filter-feeders are eaten by larger marine life they act as a gateway into the food chain.

So where are these plastic fibres coming from?

There has been a lot of research lately that is showing that much of this plastic fibre is coming from our laundry. Every load of synthetic clothing empties an estimated 1.7 grams of microfibers into the water stream, and these are not filtered out at treatment plants.

In 2013, Dr Peter Ross director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program, began sampling water off the coast of British Columbia for microplastics.  His study published in Science Direct found 9,200 particles of microplastic per cubic meter of seawater.

Using a spectrometer he found these microplastic particles originated from four main sources. Micro-beads common in toothpaste & cosmetics, polystyrene from packaging, nurdles the hard resin pellets used as the raw material for other plastic products, however the majority were from microfibers in synthetic fabrics.

Food we eat

Plastics and chemicals are finding their way into the food chain.

In a study published in the science journal Nature in 2015, marine researchers bought fish at public markets in California and Indonesia and examined their stomach contents. Around one in four fish at markets in both locations had plastic particles in their guts.

However, it is the chemical makeup of plastic that may be having a more harmful effect.

Rolf Halden, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Environmental Security suggests that the chemicals used to make plastic may migrate into the fish flesh and thus the edible parts of seafood.

We know that microplastics act as a sponge, absorbing chemicals in the water. These may sometimes be found “in accumulated concentrations that may be harmful to humans”, says Halden.

In Australia, researchers in a controlled laboratory study headed by Bradley Clarke, an environmental scientist at RMIT University, spiked microbeads from face cleaners with “environmentally relevant” concentrations of the pollutant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and fed them to Murray River rainbow fish. They found 12.5 per cent of PBDEs from the microbeads leached into the tissue of the fish.

It is already known that PBDE levels in seafood biomagnify up the food chain. PBDEs and other similar pollutants are linked to neurological health problems, impaired immune function and fertility problems.

So what can we do?

It is easy to feel that your choices make only a small difference to what is a very large problem. But we know that corporations and governments don’t change without financial incentive or public pressure. So you have more power as a consumer than you think.

  • Woolworths and Coles have now banned single-use plastic bags in stores across Australia.

  • Starbucks in the UK have removed plastic straws and cutlery from their shelves. Customers have to ask if they want them. March 2018

  • McDonald’s shareholders are considering a proposal to remove plastic straws in May 2018

  • Australian retailers are phasing out microbeads – April 2018 – a recent federal government commissioned assessment of 4400 relevant supermarket and pharmacy products found only six per cent still contained microbeads

Australia has been slow at legislating to reduce plastics in our environment, preferring voluntary agreements with the manufacturers. We can do better. However, with the growth of people power and some wonderful groups like Boomerang Alliance and Take 3 for the Sea pushing for government and industry to improve, change is on its way.

  • Switch to a non-plastic kitchen scourer like the Eco Max Kitchen Scrubber

  • Support companies that have policies to reduce plastics

  • Use a reusable cup and drink bottle

  • Take your own carry bag and say no to the plastic bag at the checkout

  • Don’t buy things packaged in polystyrene or excessive plastic packaging

  • Do buy natural fabrics and avoid synthetic fibres

  • Use a no phosphorus Bio-compatible laundry detergent then reuse your grey water on the garden

  • Say no to straws, plastic cotton buds, cutlery and lollies on plastic sticks

  • Use your own container and fill up at a bulk food shop

So be the change you want to see in the world and remember every little step we each take together makes a giant difference.

To read the full article from Import Ants click here.

 

10 minutes with…
5th July, 2018

Renee Tilley of Paudha Healing

Q: Briefly, what is your background and what prompted you to start making natural beauty products?

Renee: I worked in the legal industry for 20 years until recently; very far removed from the world of beauty! It was after the birth of my daughter in 2011 that I decided I wanted a change in direction and enrolled in a Bachelor of Heath Science (Naturopathy). My study of herbal medicine and further research I undertook led me to start making my own natural beauty products. I was fascinated by the benefits of herbs and natural ingredients and also blown away by the results I saw in using these ingredients in my own skincare.

I went on to study an Advanced Certificate in Cosmetic Chemistry, which really opened my eyes to some of the chemicals used in the beauty industry and ingredients I did not want to use in my products. I love making products that contain ingredients that actually have a purpose/benefit to the skin, not just a filler to make the product look or feel nice but with no real benefits. I was receiving requests from friends and work colleagues who had tried my products and wanted to buy them as presents, so with a little push from my amazing hubby, we decided to turn what was my hobby and passion, into a business. It kind of snowballed from there and I am so happy I can now share these products with so many people.

Q: What does ‘Paudha’ mean and how does it inform your business?

Renee: ‘Paudha’ means plant in Hindi and that is what I wanted the range to be about, using beautiful plant-based ingredients to create an affordable skincare range for everyday use. Since launching we have received our accreditation with Choose Cruelty-Free Australia, which means neither our final products nor any of the ingredients have been tested on animals, during the course of their production. This is something we are very passionate about. We also package all of our products in glass jars in order to reduce our environmental impact.

Q: What is special about living and working in the Blue Mountains?

Renee: The Blue Mountains is such a special place. I truly believe you can feel the energy up here. When I travel to Sydney and return to the mountains, it is almost as if a sense of calm comes over me and I can breathe properly! We are so blessed to be able to live in such a pristine area. We moved to the mountains seven years ago and since starting the business, my eyes have been opened to the wonderful, supportive community we have here. Our business wouldn’t be where it is today without the support and encouragement we receive, not only from our customers in the Blue Mountains and beyond but the local business owners also. That includes our stockists of course but also other Blue Mountains business owners, that really come together to lift you up, provide referrals and advice.

Q: Any new products on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?

Renee: I have so many new products in my head! As for what is ready to be released, we have a Shave Oil coming out for men just in time for Father’s Day and we are currently working on a face scrub, although we are still a long way off releasing that, as it needs to go through all the testing etc. Keep an eye out on our social media pages or subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about when our new products are released!

Come to the Co-op Thursday 26th July to meet Renee and learn more about Paudha Healing products in the first of our ‘Meet the Maker’ series.

Plastic-free July BYO competition
3rd July, 2018

BYO containers this Plastic-free July and win!

It’s a win-win situation when you ditch plastic for BYO containers and recycled produce bags at the Co-op. Not only are you helping to protect the environment, and your health, but you will go into the draw to win a fantastic Plastic-free Living prize pack.

During July, every time non-members use their own containers (reused or recycled produce bags, packaging, jars and bottles) to buy food or other unpackaged products they will:

Shop at member’s prices & go into the draw to win a fabulous selection of plastic-free living products

And, during July, every time members use their own containers (reused or recycled produce bags, packaging, jars and bottles) to buy food or other unpackaged products they will:

Go into the draw to win a fabulous selection of plastic-free living products

Don’t forget to fill in your entry ticket at the checkout!

Prize pack includes:

Coco cutlery (1 set of six)

Gingham & Wax natural reusable wraps (2 sets of 3)

Wire Pegs stainless steel clothes pegs

Earths Purities Bicarb Free Deodorant Paste

Clemence Organics Ultimate SOS balm

Ever Eco Stainless steel smoothie straws (pack of 4 plus cleaning brush)

Green Essentials Sustain-a-Stacker stainless steel lunch box

Earthlust 1 litre stainless steel water bottle

Laughing Bird linen shopping bag – locally made

Soaps by Heather – Goats, Oats & Honey 

Beauty and the Bees natural shampoo bar

Natural Value cellulose scrubber

Import Ants non-stick pan brush and palm body brush

Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler

1kg Organic Soapberries from That Red House plus wooden storage box

Organic produce bags

Nina’s bees lip balm

Mieco Bamboo toothbrushes x 2, toothbrush holder and hairbrush

 

 

 

 

 

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