“SEED: The Untold Story” Comes to Yelm Cinemas

“SEED: The Untold Story” Comes to Yelm Cinemas

Q & seed-picA with Directors and Seed Savers Follows One Weekend Only Showing

When filmmakers Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel began shooting “SEED: the Untold Story,” they faced a challenge. How could they take a subject that many people don’t know much about and make it important and inspiring enough that viewers would leave wanting to plant seeds of their own?

“Our focus is to get people to take the plunge,” says Betz. “We have a campaign going with the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance to create a million new seed savers.” The directors also hope the film will inspire people to get involved both locally and globally in creating accountability within the agriculture industry. “Seed” provides a historic overview of mankind’s connection with seeds, sounds an alarm about the loss of diversity in the past century, and highlights the efforts of those working to preserve what remains.

The stories featured in “SEED” span the globe, from activists marching against GMOs in Hawaii and native people of the Hopi nation working to protect ancestral corn to the challenges facing villagers in rural India. “We wanted to look at the cultures and the people who brought us ancestral seeds, to map the history yet tell the current story about the loss of diversity and the forces at play,” says Betz. “Once you start peeling back the onion, the story gets complex.”

The film comes to Yelm Cinemas this weekend for a two-night screening  and a Sunday matinee, followed by panel discussions. On Friday, October 28th Betz and co-director Taggart Siegel will be joined by a. Researcher Laurie McKenzie of the Organic Seed Alliance for a question and answer session after the movie. On Saturday night, Evergreen State College Professor David Muehleisen, Dave Mitman from the South Sound Seed Coalition, and Yelm’s own longtime organic farmer and entrepreneur Susie Kyle will be on hand.

Betz and Siegel had already made “Queen of the Sun”, a documentary about colony collapse among bees, when they came across a startling infographic: 94% of commercial seed varieties had been lost in less than a century. “We were no strangers to stories about eco-crises,” says Betz. “We thought, if we don’t know about this, that’s an impetus to make this film. We want to get the word out.”

The filmmakers were consistently amazed by the people they met in the course of the project. “These people are part of the fabric of our food,” says Betz. “They’re a really important part of a secure food future. We found that they took so much joy in the act of seed saving, and it was infectious. This is not some obscure, arcane thing. It’s pragmatic and fun.”

Aside from the seed savers they met activists and professionals working to counteract the influence of agricorp giants like Monsanto. “These are reluctant heroes who are fighting for our rights,” says Betz. “Small farmers and lawyers are on the front lines fighting for the people in Hawaii, in India, and in Mexico. This really is a global issue.”

Other countries have much stricter standards than the United States when it comes to monitoring GMOs and pesticides. “They sense the dangers of large chemical companies owning the majority of the world’s seeds,” says Betz. “People in the U.S. are waking up but it seems to be a slower process. The level of disconnect with our food in this country is very extreme.”

They hope to change that, especially for people who have never grown anything from seeds in their lives. “We’ll send you emails on how to grow your first bean and get the seeds from it,” says Betz. “You can do it with children. Just dive into an understanding of what makes nature and our food so amazing.”

Currently the filmmakers are one year into a two-year outreach and community engagement  campaign connected with the film. For more information or to find out how you can get involved, go to www.seedthemovie.com/take-action/ .

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Natural Cosmetics + Wine Tasting = Extra Happy Hour

503_wine_bottlesAs a general rule, Florence Vincent hates cosmetics. In fact, she hasn’t worn them in years. But recently she discovered a Seattle-based company that creates organic, vegan, and gluten-free products. “I researched Gabriel Cosmetics and their products before bringing them into the store,” says Florence. “Their ingredients are very clean. After seeing how fabulous everyone else looked I felt I needed to give it a try. I’m wearing makeup for the first time in a long time.”

On October 28th, representatives from the company will be giving product demonstrations in the store. At the same time, the Wine Cellar of Yelm’s Anne Marsh will be hosting Chris Smeaton of Holloran Vineyards for a special Pinot Noir tasting. “People can enjoy the makeup and come taste the wine,” says Marsh (to be clear, the makeup would come first, followed by the wine).

Gabriel Cosmetics was founded by aesthetician Gabriel DeSantino who was first introduced to the natural approach by a grandmother who used botanical seaweed from the ocean for skin care. “Growing up with someone who was passionate about makeup and skin care was a big influence on him,” says Janaea Riddle, co-owner of P3 Connections which represents the company. “When he started in the business 24 years ago, there wasn’t anything natural on the market. He was one of the pioneers.”

She often hears from people who are allergic to most brands of cosmetics. “They find our makeup and realize that they can use it,” she says. “One of the greatest rewards is to know that we’re not only fashion forward but changing lives by giving people opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

In a similar vein, the Pinot Noir that Smeaton will be introducing on Friday was created ‘without intervention.’ “That means the grapes go in and the wine comes out on in its own time,” says Marsh. “There are no additives and no filtration, which means no animal products, sawdust or junk. This is pure wine, made by nature and the love of a very great winemaker.”  The Happy Hour will run from 4:00 – 7:00.  

Like Florence, Anne has also become a convert to Gabriel Cosmetics. “I prefer a very natural look,” she says. “This makeup is so good for the skin and even makes your skin look healthier. It doesn’t accentuate lines, and for the first time in my life I have mascara that stays on my lashes and doesn’t get smeared under my eyes, yet washes away easily with soap and water.”  
On the 28th, Janaea and one of her colleagues will be on hand from 3:30 to 5:30 to provide makeup tips, color matches and advice on holiday lipstick as well as answer any questions. “We think makeup should include elements of fun and education, and we like to offer both,” she says.

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Core Co-op Board Members Move on After Years of Contribution

board-membersIf you’ve been to any Co-op event, you’ve seen them in action – hammering nails, setting up tents, organizing volunteers, putting up signs, and schlepping turkeys from place to place. But what you haven’t seen is all the work that Co-op Board President Bill Wyman, Secretary Marilyn Reardon, and former Vice-President Barbara Morando put in behind the scenes.

In their combined 17 years on the board, they have pored over finances, made difficult decisions, and spent countless hours making sure the Yelm Cooperative would not just continue but expand. Now all three have moved on, either because their terms expired or life took them in a different direction; Barbara as of May, Marilyn as of August, and Bill as of September. They leave a legacy of practical contribution and strong vision.

Farmers Market Manager Suzanne Santos noted their exceptional level of commitment. “I always felt like they were invested in the organization and that they contributed above and beyond,” she says.

“Bill made a major commitment to this store that has secured a strong future for the organization,” says Co-op General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. “From relocating to a better location for YFC to helping find an effective general manager to developing the Farmers Market, Bill has improved the access and education of sustainable food for the Yelm community.”

Current board president Tom Dewell notes that Bill was “always holding a long term vision, keeping us four or five years out in our thinking.”  He also did whatever was necessary to get the job done. “Bill was always willing to jump in and contribute to every project that we had going,” says board member Terry Kaminski. “Behind the scenes, in front of the scenes, in the middle of a hot dog stand, wherever, he just did it.”  

Marilyn, meanwhile brought “an extraordinary level of attention to our overall workings,” says Terry. That often meant taking on projects like Beer & Brats or the Working Members Holiday celebration. “Marilyn is unlike many community organizers that I’ve met,” says Barnaby. “Some of them will say, ‘Something needs to be done,’ but when given the opportunity to help, they say, ‘Anyone but me.’ Marilyn would always say, ‘Something needs to be done and I have experience with this type of work. How may I help?’”

During her tenure, Barbara took responsibility for the annual Gift of Gobble event, which grew to serve 126 families. She also organized the Working Member celebration for several years running. “You could always tell if Barbara was involved in something because not only would it be very well organized, everything would be visually amazing,” says board member Heidi Smith.

Terry agrees. “She was incredibly organized with attention to detail and she always made everything look great. No one can top the turkey feather headbands she came up with for the Gift of Gobble. We had to wear them or we weren’t allowed to participate!”
A thousand thanks to Bill, Marilyn and Barbara for all of your energy and focus on making our community a healthier and more vibrant place!

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Betsy’s Best Bar None Offers Nutrition with a Side of Social Justice

When B20160730_152253etsy Langton started Betsy’s Best Bar None in 2011, she had no idea how business worked. “I’d been a midwife for twenty years,” she says. “There were never any nutrition bars on the market that I liked, so I decided to make my own.”

Her motivation for starting the company was unusual; after completing an internship with the Oregon Department of Corrections to become a nurse practitioner and as a volunteer in a men’s prison, she saw firsthand the frustration of prisoners who were unable to find work once they were released. “I wanted to create some kind of company that would be able to offer them something.”

She developed a nutritional bar recipe and began testing it. At a trade show, two men who had recently been released from prison represented the product, in the process coming up with the name ‘Bar None.’ Today the bars are sold from Portland to Seattle as well as online.

They provide a great balance of nourishment for strenuous activity like hiking or backpacking, says Betsy. “It’s a perfect combination of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. There’s a whisper of coconut palm sugar that keeps your blood sugar going,” she explains.

Bars are made out of chia seeds, flax, hemp, and pumpkin seed butter, with hemp providing the protein. “What makes us different is that there are no isolates,” she says. Isolates are concentrated forms of proteins that have been separated from other components of products like soy. In recent years more attention has been focused on the negative health impacts of isolates. “It’s a highly processed form of a given food,” says Betsy. “The body processes it differently. My personal belief is that our bodies use unprocessed foods better than processed ones.”

The only processing in her bars involves the butter, which is stone ground, and the rapid cooking procedure at low temperatures. “The ingredients we use are fundamentally the way they are in nature,” she says.

While she remains committed to easing prisoners’ transition back into society, for now she has let go of hiring them directly. “Because we don’t have the money to hire money people, we donate a certain amount to the Insight Prison Project,” she says. The project offers trainings and courses for those impacted by crime and incarceration, using the restorative justice model.

For more information about Betsy’s Best Bar None, visit www.betsysbestbarnone.com. Look for Bar None bars at the Yelm Co-op in the snack section.

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Rawk Star Creations: Healthy Fuel for Your Outdoor Adventures

rawk starLeland Harmell is never quite satisfied. Despite developing an ever-growing line up of healthy products, participating in six local farmers markets, and organizing a cooperative kitchen that is home to multiple small businesses, the co-founder of Rawk Star Creations is always looking to improve. “I’m constantly cooking in my house, but I want to make something better for my family,” he says. “That’s what drives me to succeed – a healthier, more creative recipe for my family than I made the day before.”

Fortunately, the rest of us also benefit from his dissatisfaction. Along with his wife and co-founder Sydney, Leland has created a bevy of unusual and creative products that pack a nutritional punch and taste great. Now that hiking season is upon us, here are two that are perfect for remaining hydrated and maintaining energy:

Sparkling Probiotic Kefir

This sparkling drink offers a probiotic, immune system, and vitamin B boost while containing no caffeine. “It’s really refreshing and will help by rehydrating your body,” says Leland. Drinks that contain caffeine have the opposite effect, ultimately exacerbating the problem. Rawk Star Kefir also is high in electrolytes, but unlike so-called ‘sports’ drinks like gatorade, it doesn’t contain huge amounts of sugar, additives, and food coloring. “We really want people to enjoy it,” says Leland. “Kombucha is amazing.”

Fast Taste Sandwiches

These ‘grab ‘n go’ sandwiches are created with simply processed bread from sprouted nuts and seeds. “Our idea of sprouting is to create higher levels of proteins and easier digestion,” says Leland. “That will help you through a hike and create energy in your body to last through a long, healthy day.”

Hiking and getting outdoors are all part of a healthy lifestyle, and co-ops like the Yelm Cooperative are in a great position to support that, he says. “There’s this feeling about co-ops that just about everyone in them has gone through some kind of change and now they’re eating organic and supporting each other. You can walk up to anyone at the co-op and ask them about their favorite products. By shopping locally, you’re supporting yourself and you also have a support group.”

Ask the Co-op staff about Rawk Star Creations and enjoy your next outdoor adventure!

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Create a Quality 4th of July Barbecue with Heritage Meats

heritage meatsDo you remember mystery meat, that odd conglomeration of unidentified animal parts that passed as food in cafeterias around the country? Good news: that trend is dying, says Ellen Smith, Operations Manager at Heritage Meats in Rochester. “We feel very positive about the direction the meat industry is going,” she says. “There’s been a real switch from mystery meat to people wanting to know exactly where their meat comes from and even meet the farmer who raised it.”

Heritage Meats owner Tracy Smaciarz has played a significant role in that switch regionally, creating one of the few USDA meat processing plants in Washington in 2009 and co-founding the Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative. He also developed the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the state with Full Circle Farm, distributing locally grown beef, pork, and lamb to their members in Seattle and Alaska.

The biggest change in the industry has been the desire for transparency, says Ellen. “People are becoming more educated about what they eat and they really want to know where their food comes from,” she explains. “Our meat is grass fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free and handled humanely from birth to harvest.”

Tracy first began cutting meat at the age of four, helping his father in a converted garage. “They started a custom meat shop,” says Ellen. “It provided processing for farmers and mom and pop operations.” Eventually, Tracy took over East Olympia Meats, the family business, and ran a WSDA mobile slaughter truck.

Today Heritage Meats employs 15 people and supplies restaurants in Seattle, Montesano, and Bainbridge Island as well as co-ops and stores throughout the region, including Yelm Food Cooperative.
For 4th of July, Co-op shoppers can enjoy all-natural hamburgers from Heritage.  “Our goal is to be able to provide a very high quality locally grown product that’s affordable,” says Ellen. Look for Heritage products in the frozen section at the store.

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Beer & Brats 2016: Blu Nynja Dogs Joins Yelm Co-op for Festive Event

Recently UpdatedHealthy hot dogs. Does this sound like an oxymoron? Probably, but that’s just what you’ll get when you drop by the 4th annual Beer & Brats Fest from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the Prairie Days Parade.

In previous years the event has been staffed entirely by volunteers from the Yelm Cooperative, but this year Blu Nynja Dogs will be providing smoked sausages, chips, and cold drinks. The traveling smoked sausage cart is becoming a staple of special events and farmers markets around Thurston and Lewis counties. “I believe in using the best quality meat that I can find,” says owner Chef Blu.

She’ll be offering German sausages, Polish dogs, bratwursts, and kids’ dogs, all from Hempler Meats, a family-owned business since 1934 based in Ferndale, Washington. “Every sausage is either all beef, all pork, or a combination of the two with no filler, no msg, and no gluten,” she explains. “My goal is to provide people with a healthy version of the American classic.”

Within the beer garden, parade spectators can also enjoy three types of beers and a selection of wines from the award-winning Wine Cellar of Yelm. This year will include several raffle items and possibly even some lederhosen amid the customary festive atmosphere.

“We want to provide the community with a fun way to watch the parade and also let people know about the Co-op and what we have to offer,” says Heidi Smith, event coordinator. “Beer & Brats exemplifies the fact that you can enjoy your usual pleasures but in a way that is healthy, locally sourced, and sustainable. That’s really what the Co-op is all about.”

The event is one of the largest festivals of the year for the Co-op, with proceeds after costs going to support Co-op programs like the Yelm Farmers Market, as well as making equipment upgrades for the store. “A lot of people don’t understand the distinction between the Yelm Co-op and the physical, brick and mortar store, which is the Yelm Food Co-op,” says Smith, who is also a board member for the organization. “The Yelm Co-op is the governing body that oversees the store, the farmers market, and eventually we hope, community gardens.”

Memberships cost $40.00 a year with dues supporting programs and priorities within the store. “I think if people understand that their dues are enabling this larger vision of sustainable, organic, local food in our region through multiple channels, they’ll feel really good about where their money is going,” says Smith.

Visitors will have an opportunity to become Yelm Cooperative members at this year’s event, which will again be staffed by volunteers in the wine and beer garden. “The volunteers we have are amazing,” says Smith. “They work really hard and have great attitudes, come rain, shine, or blazing heat like we had last year.” Fortunately, the weather report for this year’s event is a mild 78 degrees, perfect for parade watching.

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At Nisqually Springs Farm, Happy Cows = Better Beef

cowsGlenn Schorno started farming at age three, when his grandmother gave him 20 laying hens to care for. “We had an old chicken coop at the house, and it wasn’t too secure,” he says. “My business wasn’t very profitable between the raccoons and the coyotes. I learned about losses right away.”

Undeterred, he grew up raising dairy cattle on the 253-acre farm that has been in the Schorno family for several generations. In 2007, the property now known as Nisqually Springs Farm became certified organic, and Glenn bought it from his father last year. “We were looking at how to best use the farm without making it a burden as it passes from one generation to the next,” he says.

Between hosting events like auctions and the Yelm Farmers Market, the farm offers the public a chance to get more involved with where their food comes from, he says. “People care about the how the animals were raised as well as the quality of the meat.”

The farm also functions as a Certified Humane facility for other local farmers to slaughter their animals. “The alternative is driving for hours, which is more stressful for the animals,” says Glenn. “The next closest site is in Snohomish County. We lease out a section of our barns for small producers.”

Cattle at Nisqually Springs Farm literally come straight to the field to the facility. “From a humane handling standpoint, it doesn’t get any better than that,” says Glenn. The beef is then processed at Heritage Meats and sold to local companies like the Yelm Food Co-op. “We started supplying the Co-op last year,” he says. “This year, we’re hoping to have product there year-round and keep the store fully stocked.”  

Ultimately, he hopes the farm helps to educate children and adults and inspire the Yelm community to get involved with farming. Every October, he collaborates with Crossroads Community Church to offer a pumpkin patch for school groups. Unlike many similar sites, Nisqually Springs Farm also includes educational activities about what crops need, how it ties in with other local farms, and what being organic means. “I grow sweet corn next to decorative corn, and the cross-pollination gives us some really funky-looking hybrids,” he says. “Hopefully when the kids get to the age where they learn about Mendel and genetics, they’ll remember it.”

He also encourages people to call him if they have any questions. “There’s a lot of confusion between being grass fed, organic, hormone-free, etc.” he says. “There are all of these different segments. I hope that if someone has a question, they’ll contact me directly.”

You can find Nisqually Springs Farm beef in the frozen foods section at the Yelm Food Co-op.

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