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Something Fishy! (Words from the mouth of the Organic Tart)

July 18, 2011
sustainable fish ocean conservation

‘There are lots more fish in the sea’ is an old saying which simply does not ring true anymore. The real facts are that sea life is threatened and dwindling and that the number of fish in the sea are far from infinite. Looking back to our childhood, many of us may remember walking along the beach picking up buckets of sea shells of a wide variety or exploring rock pools filled with star fish and sea anemones – all of which seem to be so scarce today. The truth is that, try as we may, it is getting more and more difficult to find Nemo these days … and in fact we may be well on our way to losing him.

The sea provides us with an abundance of life as well as many, often unseen economic, social and cultural benefits. It acts as a transport route, contributes to national economies, provides a place for recreation and, most importantly, it supplies food or income for 2.6 billion people worldwide. Unfortunately, particularly since the advent of large scale commercial fishing and the pollution of our oceans, marine life and ecosystems have been severely compromised and many species have either been declared extinct or are dangerously close to extinction. This includes a number of key species, whose disappearance from the ocean would have a devastating effect on marine life in general.  Here are some alarming statistics from the SASSI website:

  • 85% of the world´s fish stocks are either overexploited or exploited to their maximum (2010 United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation report).
  • No fishing gear is completely selective. As a result, many non-target fish or #endangered species of albatrosses, sharks and turtles are accidentally caught as bycatch. Globally, it is estimated that approximately a quarter of what is caught is thrown back, often dead, and wasted (2010 United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation report).
  • Some fishing techniques pose a threat to marine habitats which are the life support system for marine life.
  • Marine ecosystems exist in a delicate balance – therefore harvesting a species can have implications for the function of the entire system.’

So to get back to the question of where to find Nemo. On Saturday night I was dining out with the Great White who, as his name and sharky reputation might suggest, cares a great deal about the welfare of marine life. We were visiting a restaurant at the Cape Town Waterfront and I ordered Kabeljou from the menu. Being a responsible tart (well most of the time) and also, I must admit, wanting to find out how clued up the restaurant was on the SASSI sustainability index, I asked the waiter for more information …. and as usual met with a blank stare. In fact, the best he could do was to assure me that the fish was ‘very fresh’. For a restaurant on the Waterfront with an international clientele, an extensive fish selection and a high turnover, this is an epic FAIL!

The SASSI sustainability index? Do you know about it?

SASSI is an acronym for the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative and was initiated by WWF South Africa in 2004 to inform and educate all role players in the seafood trade from the fishing indistry, wholesalers and restaurants right through to the end consumers of seafood (that’s us if we eat fish). According to SASSI, they have three main objectives:

  1. To promote voluntary compliance of the law through education and awareness
  2. To shift consumer demand away from over-exploited species to more #sustainable options
  3. To create awareness around marine #conservation issues

One of the very useful things that SASSI has done has been to introduce a colour coded index of fish according to their sustainability levels. Designed to help and educate consumers to practice responsible fish habits, it works something like a traffic light and fish are classified as either green, orange or red. If the fish is on the green list – it means that resources are plentiful, harvesting is responsible and the fish is good to go! Fish on the orange list may have some issues (e.g. problems with bycatch) and need you to think carefully before ordering. Those on the red list are endangered and red means STOP and do not order them! As a consumer, you can use this knowledge in order to make responsible choices for yourself in your daily life. You can also make a point of questioning restaurants about the colour code of the fish on their menus and educating those who ‘do not know’ like a good eco-warrior. If enough people do this, restaurants may begin to inform themselves and so make more conscious and responsible choices when deciding which fish to feature on their menus.  

SASSI also offers a fantastic service which makes it really easy to find out the colour code of any fish you may be about to buy or order. (Thanks to Linda, one of the Organic at Heart Facebook fans for posting this great bit of information), There is a cell phone number (go on save it to your phone NOW) you can dial, sms the name of the fish and within seconds you will receive an sms with not only the colour code (gree, orange or red) of the fish in question, but also some really useful info to help you make a responsible choice to the benefit of the marine environment as well as to your tummy. The number is ‎079 4998795.  I did exactly that on Saturday night before placing my order. I sms’d ‎079 4998795 with the word ‘kabeljou’, pressed ‘Send’. Within minutes I received my answer and placed my order. What a pleasure! Try it – it works like a dream! They call it a Fish ms 😉

(For more info on SASSI and ocean conswervation, go to their website http://www.wwfsassi.co.za

With lots of love from the heart of the Organic Tart!

Organic Tart

Organic at Heart

 

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Turn your life to GOLD and SHINE! Words from the heart of the Organic Tart.

June 29, 2011
Laugh and be happy

The Irish say a good laugh & a long sleep are the best #cures in the doctor’s book. It’s 10.22 am and I am still in bed with the Great White after enjoying both! We are sitting up in bed having coffee – each with our own laptops and working away. What a beautiful view of a rainy Kalk Bay harbour and the misty sea! Now this is what I call a home office! Technology has mixed blessings and sometimes I feel like throwing my cell phone off the balcony (which incidentally is just what the Great White did this weekend while exploring the similarities between cell phones and frizbees) …. but more and more I appreciate the way technology sets me free to work in a creative way and in spaces that I enjoy. In bed on a misty winter morning is one of those spaces. Next to the fire at Organic at Heart is another!

In medieval times alchemists tried to convert base metal to gold. Later, people like Carl Jung applied the principles of alchemy to human beings. Take your physical body and add various elements like laughter, dreams, good friends and family, love, healthy food, beauty, good works and a positive outlook on life and you can create something truly magical! Using this paradigm, food is not just food, sleep is not just sleep, laughter is not just laughter and time spent with loved ones doing things you enjoy is not just a pastime. They are the elements that lift the base metal (your physical self) and turn your life into pure and precious gold!

SO choose to fill your world (the cauldron) with love, laughter, good works and healthy #organic food, be kind to others and SHINE! 🙂

Lots of love from the Organic Tart 😉

Where are all the amazing waitrons!?

June 20, 2011

Organic at Heart restaurant in Plumstead, Cape Town is growing from strength to strength and we are looking for some very special people to serve our very special customers. We have searched and searched and somehow we still haven’t found what we are looking for.

So we are appealing to the Universe (with a little help from the internet of course!) to help us! To make sure we get just what we need, here is our WAITRON WISH LIST……..

  • You MUST have previous work experience, preferably as a waitron.
  • You MUST have contactable references
  • You MUST be able to work weekdays AND weekends (you won’t work every weekend but on a 5 day a week rotating shift)
  • You MUST be reliable and have a good work ethic
  • You should be mature and well balanced – unflappable really. 
  • You  need to be friendly and sociable and have excellent people skills
  • You must be neat and presentable at all times
  • You need to be an early bird – work begins at 7 am and ends when the restaurant closes around 4.30 – 5 pm.
  • Hopefully you are able to start immediately (please please Universe!)

We offer you a permanent position including a shift allowance of R100 per day and you get to keep all your own tips. This means that our good waitrons who make their customers happy and sell lots of yummy food should make at least R4000.00 per month without much problem.  We also offer you a happy and pleasant working environment, lovely people to work with and a successful, growing restaurant full of love and yummy food. PS staff get a 50% discount on food anytime (even when they are off duty!)

If you think you fit the bill, please email us your CV to feelgood@iafrica.com. If you don’t receive an answer within a week or two, please take it that you were not successful this time. If we like what we see, we will contact you for an interview.

So, dear Universe – that is our wish list. We know you will send us the people we need. Thank you as always and lots of love from the Organic Tart! 

Our Organic Garden and your Carbon Footprint

March 30, 2011
Organic Gardening

Organic at Heart Garden

At Organic at Heart we are not only passionate about bringing you yummy organic food with no artificial preservatives, colourants and other harmful chemicals, but we also know that, like us, you care about the environment and sustainable living.

I guess we all love food, don’t we? It is a part of our daily lives. We eat to survive, we eat to be healthy, we eat to comfort ourselves, we eat when we socialise and we eat sometimes just because …… we love food!

But because food plays such an integral part in our everyday lives, it also has the potential to be part of our strategy to reduce our carbon footprints and thereby reduce our negative impact on the environment.

How is that?

Coffee from Brazil….. chocolate from Belgium ….. cherries from Bloemfontein ……. kiwifruit from New Zealand ……. strawberries from England ….. oranges from Israel ….baby spinach from the slopes of Mount Kilamanjaro ….. you get the picture? Food travels all over the world every day and many people do not realise that the plate of food in front of them contains ingredients from all over the globe and that means …. what you are eating can affect the environment and add to global warming.

Eating in a conscious way not only means thinking about your own health, but also about the health of your planet!

So here are some ways that YOU can make a difference!

1. Grow your own! It’s easier than you think and even a few tomato and lettuce plants and herbs in a pot will make a difference (and save you money too!)
2. Prepare food using as many seasonal ingredients as possible. If you use fruits that are out of season, for example, it invariably means they have been grown in another country and transported to your area.
3. Buy from local farmers and businesses. Put pressure on your supermarkets to identify which foods are locally sourced and which are not (this also benefits the economy in your area)
4. Patronise businesses and restaurants (like Organic at Heart!) that have a policy of local sourcing

Do you have any tips to share on how your relationship with food can contribute to a healthier planet?

Sneak Preview/Dress Rehearsal!

February 1, 2011
Organic at Heart Restaurant

Tomorrow is the day! We are opening our doors and our hearts and because you are special and have been following our progress week by week, we are inviting you to pop in and give us a spin! From 2 – 4 February we will be offering a 10% discount to all our customers because we will be practising. We are sure we are going to get everything right and the food is going to be awesomely delicious as always, but we may have a wrinkle or two that we need to smooth out and need your valuable feedback!

The Organic at Heart team has been super busy. Julia, our chef, has calmly put together the most amazing kitchen, which already smells delicious and is full of smiling happy people!  Ben from Urban Harvest Edible Gardens and Keni, our resident gardener, have created an organic vegetable and herb garden that is practically bursting with healthy veggies and salad for the table, not to mention bumble bees, bees, lady birds, dragon flies and wriggly earthworms. Farren has been working night and day, using her magic touch to create a space that is beautiful and welcoming. Storm has been training waitrons and baristas and sorting out tables. Rasheed has made sure that the lights and the music work. Michele, the owner and resident tart has been waving her wand and rushing around on her broomstick doing all sorts of odd jobs, even painting the pond (almost finished, so please excuse her if her nails are a little black!)

So we still have a few loose ends to tie up, more plants to put in the garden, extra outside chairs and tables to come, fishpond to fill and probably one or two things we have completely forgotten……. but we are 99% there and want you to share the first few days with us, while we cross our i’s and dot our t’s, or is that the other way round?

And guess what? Despite lots of stress and pressure and last minute computer crises, no one has lost their temper, no tantrums, hardly any tears and still we are laughing and smiling and SO looking forward to welcoming you to Organic at Heart! 🙂

Organic at Heart restaurant: Countdown to opening!

January 27, 2011

Organic at Heart Restaurant

We are rushing around like mad things in this exhausting heat – furiously buying espresso machines from gorgeous Italian men called Nemo (yes, we found him!) choosing china, arranging fences and garden gnomes (essential in any garden) and of course battling to get Telkom to come the party (how boring it would be without Telkom to fight with!)

You are going to LOVE what we are doing and we know you are going to love making Organic at Heart your second home. We can’t wait to see you there!

So hold your breath….. opening on Wednesday 2nd February, my mother’s birthday – and also, as she tells me, Candlemas  and Witch’s Day. Being both a proudly lapsed Catholic and a confessed witch, she should know. Here is what Wikipedia says about 2 February by the way – just in case you are interested!

‘Modern Pagans believe that Candlemas is a Christianization[4][5][6] of the Gaelic festival of Imbolc, which was celebrated in pre-Christian Europe (and especially the Celtic Nations) at about the same time of year.[7][8] Imbolc is called “St. Brigid‘s Day” or “Brigid” in Ireland.[9] Both Brigids are associated with sacred flames, holy wells and springs, healing and smithcraft. Brigid is a virgin, yet also the patron of midwives. However, a connection with Roman (rather than Celtic or Germanic) polytheism is more plausible, since the feast was celebrated before any serious attempt to expand Christianity into non-Roman countries.

In Irish homes, there were many rituals centered around welcoming Brigid into the home. Some of Brigid’s rituals and legends later became attached to the Christian Saint Brigid, who was the Abbess of Kildare and seen by Celtic Christians as the midwife of Christ and “Mary of the Gael”. In Ireland and Scotland she is the “foster mother of Jesus.” The exact date of the Imbolc festival may have varied from place to place based on local tradition and regional climate. Imbolc is celebrated by modern Pagans[citation needed] on the eve of 2 February, at the astronomical midpoint, or on the full moon closest to the first spring thaw.

Some[who?] have argued that the Roman church introduced Candlemas celebrations in opposition to the Roman Pagan feast of Lupercalia.’

Sounds like a good day to me!

Hello world!

January 26, 2011

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