Local Flavors is Reborn as Yummy Local Foods

Yummy Local FoodsWhat is the Yelm equivalent of hearing your band’s song played on the radio? Maybe it’s walking into the Yelm Food Co-op and finding an entire section devoted to your products. That’s what happened for Susie Kyle, who supplies the Co-op with Garlic Basil Supersauce, peanut butter protein bars, garden burgers, and quinoa salad. “They gave me a whole shelf in their refrigerator, prime real estate,” she says.

Susie creates her concoctions at a rented commercial kitchen near Lawrence Lake that she also manages. Other food vendors, including Sandra’s Hot Babe Hot Sauce, Colleen Gondolfi of Blooming Artichoke Herbary, and Blu Helida of Blu Nynja Dogs, also use the space for their businesses.   

The kitchen is the fulfillment of a dream that began while Susie was still running Winlock Meadows Farm in Lewis County. She started experimenting with different products and one day, discovered that she had become a food processor. “I still had my farm but I was in the kitchen most of the time,” she says. “I finally realized that chapter was closed and it was time to move on.”

She opened Local Flavors Market and began selling to local businesses, including the Co-op, which eventually became her only retail space after she realized it was more cost effective to do less. “I stopped selling to other stores and just kept the Yelm Food Co-op,” she says. “It’s been good because it’s allowed me to experiment with products to see what people like. With larger stores I wouldn’t have that flexibility.”  Her next expansion phase includes commercial production equipment so she can increase her production capabilities before selling more.

Recently she completed an Enterprise for Equity training designed to help small businesses get off the ground and decided to rebrand her business as Yummy Local Foods. Customers can now order her creations online with pick-up and delivery options, and of course find them at the Yelm Food Co-op.

Most Co-op patrons are familiar with her products and have a variety of ways they like to use them. Here are a few ideas from Co-op shoppers and Susie herself :

Garlic Basil Supersauce

“It’s a salad dressing, a dip, a spread, and a marinade on any kind of beef, chicken, or fish,” says Susie. “You can use it as a sandwich spread or as a way to liven up any boring dish.”

Garden Burgers

“They’re made of whole grains and fully cooked,” she explains. “All you have to do is gently warm them.” Some people like to fry them, while others intentionally make them fall apart and put them on salads.

“My favorite is with scrambled eggs in the morning,” says Susie. “That’s my go to. You can put whatever you’d like on top. Sandra’s hot sauce would be great with that. Some people pack it for lunch when it’s still frozen and it thaws by lunch time.”

Peanut Butter Protein Bars

These gluten-free treats are “almost a meal replacement” according to Susie. “A lot of people will stack them in the freezer. They’re great for moments when you just need something.”

Quinoa Salad

These have become increasingly popular, she says. They make great alternatives for people who want something fast but healthy. “When someone knows that they want something non-GMO, they can just run in and pick it up at the Co-op.”
Making healthy alternatives to fast food available is all part of her focus on the bigger picture. “I’ve been working on preserving farmland and protecting our food supply for the last twenty years,” she says. “I decide to farm because I didn’t want corporations making my food choices. It’s important to have healthy communities with strong local food systems.”

One idea comes from a customer who loves Susie’s quinoa salads. She makes a delicious, easy dinner by sautéing favorite veggies or whatever she has on hand, adding some cooked chicken or favorite protein, warming it all up along with the quinoa salad (curry is Susie’s favorite to serve this way), and topping with some grated cheese and Hot Babe Hot Sauce. “This creates a yummy quick dinner that’s good for you,” says Susie.

To find her shelf at the Co-op, visit the refrigerated section, or just ask a staff person where her products are, then “taste to believe,” her new tag line.

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Shop Local This Christmas! Rainier Women Offer the Gift of Essential Oils

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 9.35.51 PM (1024x591)_1000If your workplace could use some holiday cheer, instead of calling a team meeting why not spray a little Citrus Sunshine throughout the building? Citrus oil functions as a natural anti-depressant, says Diane Binder of Nature’s Higher Healing. “Smell goes directly into the limbic system of the brain,” she says. “If you can use it to calm emotion and bypass the personality, that’s a good thing.”

Based in Rainier, Binder and her business partner Lori Drayson offer several lines of essential oils body butter and sprays that are currently available at the Yelm Food Co-op. All of their products are hypo-allergenic, organic, and cruelty free, and contain no synthetic fragrances or colors.

One of their first products was the Palo Santo Sacred Spirit Collection. Palo Santo translates to “Holy Wood” and the tree has been used by shamans in Ecuador in purification and cleansing ceremonies and as an aid to meditation and prayer.  “It was a dream of Lori’s to bring out a line of palo santo,” says Diane. “In this collection we offer the purification spray for people who are not in a position to burn wood for smudging. The spray is an alternative for people who might be in the hospital or other circumstances where burning wood is not feasible.”

The pair’s next effort was Citrus Sunshine which comes in both spray and body butter form and includes ruby red grapefruit, lemon, sweet orange, bergamot, and mandarin red oils. They also added a line of French Lavender. While citrus oil uplifts, lavender calms, says Binder. “It’s such a full spectrum oil and there are so many benefits to it,” she says. “You could diffuse lavender in the air and affect everyone in a very positive way.”

Nature’s Higher Healing was born after Lori, a massage therapist, met Diane, who at the time was running a bed and breakfast and taking care of Alzheimer’s patients. “My job was taking a toll on me,” says Diane. “We both knew we wanted to be of service but we wanted to do it in a way that made us happy. Lori encouraged me to quit.”

After learning about essential oils from her neighbor Anita Marriott, Diane became a certified aromatherapist through Bastyr University. “I wanted to know why the oils work and understand their chemical components,” she says.  These days, “I’m the alchemist and Lori is the motivator,” she says.  “She’s got that New York on fire energy. I’m more in my head. We balance each other out in a lot of ways.”

They’re achieving their goal of serving in a way that makes them happy. “If someone can feel really good after a full day and our products give them some tranquility, in the long term we’re being of service but also adding to the world,” says Diane. “We feel really good about what we’re presenting for people to put on their bodies.”

Visit the health and beauty section at the Yelm Food Co-op to find Nature’s Higher Healing products.  

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Smith Brothers Farms Delivers Fresh, Local Milk to Yelm and Beyond

Smith Brothers Farms Delivers Fresh, Local Milk to Yelm and Beyond

smith brothersYelm is a rural community, and there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you a) own a cow b) have a neighbor who owns a cow or c) frequently see cows while driving home from work. If the latter is true, you may not have direct access to fresh milk, unless you’ve made friends with that neighbor. While such relations are encouraged, you have another option: Smith Brothers Farms.
Located in Kent, Smith Brothers has been delivering milk for over 90 years. In 2006, after legislation was passed that forced the company to choose between dairy farming and processing and delivering milk, they chose to stick with the second option. “All of our milk comes from about five or six family farms,” says Sean Flaherty, Director of Public Relations and Marketing. “It comes in on a daily basis. We process it and deliver it within 48 hours.”
Increasingly, says Flaherty, customers care about values the company embodies. “Our milk has always been hormone free,” he says. “We’re local and we’re fresh. There’s more awareness and because of the internet, there’s so much information about products. We find that particularly in the Puget Sound area, people really like to support local business.”
Recently, the company has been getting a lot of attention. In 2014, Smith Brothers was selected Dairy Plant of the Year out of 12 processing plants throughout the U.S. by Dairy Foods Magazine.  That same year, Seattle Business magazine gave them aLegacy Award for “a company promoting multiple generations of family leadership.” In 2015, CEO and fourth generation family member Dustin Highland was recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 “top business leaders who excel in their industry and show dynamic leadership” by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
“I want the legacy to be that the idea of neighborhood and community still exists,” says Flaherty. “We make milk, but we’re also serving people. The milkmen are the face of what we do. They represent that community local spirit.”
Smith Brothers Farms milk is delivered fresh to the Yelm Co-op. The company also has a both every other week at the Yelm Farmers Market where you can sign up to have milk delivered to your door.

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Embrace Spring With Local Honey and Bee Pollen

Embrace Spring With Local Honey and Bee Pollen

beekeeping class

If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, consuming local raw honey and bee pollen is a great place to start getting your body in tune with the local flora. Bee Forever Apiary offers raw, unprocessed products developed in the Bald Hills area.

Thomas Mani, owner and operator of Bee Forever Apiary, explains why that’s important.  “A lot of stores offer honey that’s been ultra-filtered,” he says. “That process removes small particles like pollen.” But pollen, he says, has a fingerprint, just like people do, which reveals its origin. “Ultra-filtered honey loses its fingerprint, which opens the door for cheating or adulterating the honey,” he says. “A lot of honey that’s offered in grocery stores has corn syrup in it, molasses and water content of up to 25%,”

In contrast, Bee4ever’s honey has no corn syrup, and the water content is kept below 17% so that it can be stored for long periods.  No heating is applied during the extraction and bottling process, which means that all of the valuable ingredients like enzymes remain intact.

Additionally, some local residents have found that Mani’s honey helps them with issues that have plagued them for decades. “I have always experienced severe allergies not only during the hay fever season, but all year round,” says Judy Mezen. After trying Mani’s pollen and honey, she decided to give up he antihistamines ‘cold turkey’ and only use the pollen and honey, supplemented during the strongest part of the season with freeze-dried stinging nettle. “Beginning with day one, I was successful,” she says, “All I have to do is take a small pinch of the pollen and about a teaspoon (or less) of honey and within about 5-10 minutes I can breathe clearly, and it even takes away my sinus headaches. I have been able to do weeding in my garden and even mow the lawn.”

Bee4ever Apiary’s Raw Honey and Bee Pollen are available in the second aisle of the Yelm Food Co-op.

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Supporting Local Businesses

We ran across this on Facebook and although it is about shopping at family owned businesses, it is equally applicable to member owned businessess like the Yelm Food Co-op.

Thanks to the lovely ladies at Sound Learning who posted this on their FB page last month.

support local business

Shopping at the Yelm Food Co-op keeps your hard earned dollars circulating through the Yelm community. They don’t get sent to another state – they stay here to help Yelm.

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