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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Food labels – can you trust them?

             pig treatment not on food labels        food labels cage free, free range


The following article about being able to trust food labels is reproduced in its entirety from the website Antimedia.org with its permission:

“This article (3 Disgusting Reasons Why Why You Should Never Trust Food Labels) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish andtheAntiMedia.org.”

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(ANTIMEDIA) United States — You cannot rely on food producers to put food labels on products in a sufficient enough manner to describe what you’re actually buying, and — in the case of meat and animal products — what you’re allowing to continue through your purchase.

1. “Progressive Farming. Family Style,” pig ‘producer,’ The Maschhoffs, slogan boasts — but if the Hormel supplier truly believes what the pigs it raises go through is family-oriented, the company could easily qualify for psychological assistance. Disturbingly, though, The Maschhoffs are far from alone.

Newly-released undercover footage from an investigation by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which asEcoWatch noted, is “the nation’s leading legal animal protection organization,” proves The Maschhoffs slogan cannot be described as anything short of grossly deceptive. EcoWatch described the footage, though the details are no less disturbing in print than on video:

“Mother pigs and piglets alike are shown suffering and dying from a wide array of gruesome ailments. Undercover investigators documented pigs suffering for days or weeks with extreme prolapsed rectums, intestinal ruptures, large open wounds and huge, bloody ruptured cysts. The investigation also revealed that the pigs are left to go long stretches of time — up to three days — without food as the result of a failure of the electronic feeding mechanism,”and though workers were aware of the malfunction, they didn’t bother feeding the pigs another way.

Footage (included below *warning: graphic) also reveals the common industry practice whereby runt and sickly piglets considered unusable as product are killed by workers smashing their heads on the ground — known by the euphemistic term, “thumping.”

While commentary about the commonality of these problems in the U.S. pig producing industry could fill vast tomes, the inability of Americans to vote with their wallets in trusting food labels constitutes the most imperative aspect of this issue. Those inured to descriptions of arrant animal abuse on factory farms aren’t likely to change their buying practices to run such operations out of business.

But everyone should be able to understand a food product’s origins, quality, and manufacturing through accurate labeling — so those who want can choose ethically raised, organic, or other specific products to suit their desires. This particularly pertains to people just beginning to change their eating habits. But if food labels deceive people, how can anyone reliably move toward healthier or more ethical choices?

2. “Free-range”-labeled chicken illustrates this point handily. For those who don’t have time to research what that description means — or those who don’t even realize they should — the label suggests chickens milling peacefully about on the open ‘range,’ free from cages or any other constraints. In actuality, free-range generally describeswarehoused chickens who, though not in horribly restrictive battery cages, nevertheless might not set foot outside — or even see daylight — for the entirety of their short lifetimes.

Technically, the birds should have access to some outdoor enclosure, however, “no information on stocking density, the frequency or duration of how much outdoor access must be provided, nor the quality of the land accessible to the animals is defined,” writes the Humane Society of the United States. And, alarmingly, “[p]ainful surgical procedures without any pain relief are permitted.”

Clearly, the vision of chickens pecking around in a sunny meadow is not what the free-range label has in mind. Nor does the popular label, “cage-free,” another poultry product industry favorite term, also inaccurately summoning to mind chickens who — if they must be considered product — at least live somewhat normal lives. Again, not so much.

3. Eggs labeled cage-free come from hens who don’t have the misfortune, as typical industry hens, of being confined with five to ten other hens in wire-mesh cages where they’re given the space equivalent to an iPad. However, they don’t fare much better — and the label cage-free should be a matter of debate.

Though cage-free hens are able to actually spread their wings, up to 100,000 of them typically inhabit a single warehouse — where ‘overcrowding’ could be a rather laughable  understatement. Sure, they might not be confined in cruel battery cages, but the sheer number of hens occupying such warehouse spaces can severely stress the birds, who frequently lash out by violently pecking at others. To reduce injury to their product, such ‘farms’ are permitted to “debeak” the birds — an incredibly painful practice where the tips of chickens’ beaks are seared off without any pain-relieving medicine.

According to Michigan State University animal scientist Janice Swanson, who led a study about egg production techniques, as recounted by Gizmodo’s iO9, “cage-free birds have more feathers and stronger bones and exhibit more natural behaviors. But crowded aviaries also come with risks: reduced air quality, and twice the likelihood of dying. Over the course of their three-year study, less than 5 percent of birds in cages died, compared with more than 11 percent of cage-free birds. One of the most common causes of death was pecking by other chickens.”

On Friday, The Maschhoffs issued a statement about the investigation into the horrific footage published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which reaffirmed the company’s putative commitment to ensuring its pigs’ welfare. Though the company had previously said it would not allow such abuse to occur, The Maschhoffs now claim the manager in charge of the Nebraska facility in the footage has been terminated and all employees will be re-trained to uphold the rights of animals. While the undercover footage belies a different reality, The Maschhoffs President Bradley Wolter, said in a statement:

“As animal caregivers with a long-standing history of excellent animal welfare, we are appalled by the level of animal care depicted in the video at this sow farm. We are aggressively implementing improvements that will help to ensure excellent animal care every day and on every farm, and prove our ongoing commitment to the responsible and humane care of our animals.”

What’s most apparent in the vast variance of food labels now plastering our food is the inability to fully trust their accuracy in describing the processes and practices employed before the products arrive conveniently on store shelves. With descriptions like “Family Style,” “free-range,” “cage-free,” and many similar, it would seem the industry has striven to improve factory farming practices and overall food quality.

Such food labels deceptively grant consumers a guilt-free and time-saving method to buy products conscientiously — when, in actuality, the deft manipulation of language by the agribusiness industry constitutes just so much propaganda.

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As always though, do your own research and draw your won conclusions. And ever, “caveat emptor”!


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