Sprouting Health, Wealth & Wisdom

Dawn Kennedy gets on the same wavelength as Cape Town ecopreneur Joseph Feigelson.
Joseph Feigelson is passionate about sprouts and eats nearly three hands full a day. It’s no wonder, 13 years ago they cured his debilitating heartburn. The alternative was acid reflux surgery, a rather unpleasant procedure. Since incorporating sprouts into his diet, Joseph has abundant energy and hasn’t spent a single day sick in bed.

As well as giving him back his health, sprouts have been sustaining Joseph financially and he has feathered his nest in the most novel way – with a home sprouting kit called Kitchen Garden. It’s ingenious in its incredible simplicity: a cardboard box containing six jam jars, some gauze, elastic bands, six packets of seed, a metal structure and a tray – everything you need to grow sprouts in the comfort of your kitchen – and it’s yours for R400. Within three days, having rinsed
your seeds twice daily and allowed them to drip-dry on the tray, you will have an abundance of edible sprouts; your very own garden in a jam jar. The magic of sprouts is that they are rich in enzymes and that, unlike vegetables that start losing their nutritional value the moment they are harvested, sprouts are still growing as we eat them and practically buzzing with vitamins and minerals.

Somehow the conversation takes a detour and we talk about cloud-busting. How we got onto the topic is a mystery. It’s like that with Joseph. He’s a matrix of information. Poised between a flat-screen television emitting a low volume stream of misery about the oil spill in the Mexican Gulf and a computer that draws his attention compulsively, I’m struck, as always, by people’s
glorious contradictions. Shouldn’t Joseph be living Robinson Crusoe-style in a beach hut rather than in suburbia? Shouldn’t he be watching grass grow rather than satellite television? The conversation takes another 180 degree turn back to food, this time nuts, and I’m on safer, more solid ground.

Joseph tells me about the time he was flying business class with his wealthy ex-wife and found himself seated next to the tycoon Ed Azar, owner of the second largest nut company in the world. With characteristic forthrightness Joseph asked him: “Why do you put so much crap on your nuts?” Azar replied: “Hell, I really don’t know but I’ll pay you to find out.” Three months later, Joseph, by now divorced, was knocking on Azur’s door to see if his offer still held good. It did. The tycoon paid him generously to spend several months researching the potential market for organic nuts in the United States.

What Joseph discovered was that the list of chemicals as long as your arm in commercial nuts could be attributed to one thing: salt. “You must know what a scary thing salt is,” he tells me. Joseph has watched the production of salted peanuts and was appalled to discover that vats of salt are bleached to disguise rat droppings and packed with anticaking agent and aluminium oxide to make it run from the container like powdered sand. Joseph advised Azur to remove the salt and sell his nuts dry roasted, natural and organic. He lets me sample his unquestionably delicious dry-roasted nut mixture, joking, “As they say, you are what you eat. I’m nuts.”

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