1. We have two new GoodBelly Probiotic drink flavors. Organic Blueberry Acai and Mango have 20 billion probiotics. Give them a try.
Practical Ideas for Co-op Meals From Chef Blu

Practical Ideas for Co-op Meals From Chef Blu

pasta1Several weeks ago, Manager Debbie Burgan stated a goal: for more customers and members to shop first at the Co-op, and look elsewhere only if they couldn’t find what they were looking for. So how does that translate into regular meals for everyone from vegetarians to people who are new at trying to eat healthy? We asked chef Blu Helida to take a look at what the Co-op offers and consider the issue from a meal-planning perspective.

In her eyes, the store has the right inventory for a diverse group of shoppers.  “The Co-op offers so much to choose from for everyone from vegans to people who want roast dinners,” she says. “There’s everything from the simple to the exotic.”

She looked at potential meals according to which type of customer would be doing the shopping. “If you’re gluten-free,vegan, or vegetarian, there are a lot of options for you,” she says. “For people who are new to the Co-op, look for things that are similar to what you normally buy. It’s all there. If you’re going to make pasta, it’s all the same ingredients, but the penne might be gluten-free, the tomato sauce is probably organic and you can use a substitute for meat if you want to.”

Meat lovers who care about locally-sourced food can find pork sausage that goes well with Olykraut sauerkraut or whole chicken that can be roasted with vegetables.  “They could also do curries, many different beef dishes or roasts,” she says. Those who are feeling more adventurous can find the ingredients for Asian chicken noodle soup, fajitas and a variety of other less common fare.

Vegetarians also have a lot options. “They can use locally made sauces, dressings and salsa or buy fresh ingredients and make their own.  If you’re looking for ways to add flavor or spice, there are plenty of choices for you to create your own fusion dish,” says Blu.

She is a global traveler who’s had the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of cuisines from far-flung places, including Japan, Sri Lanka, Morocco and many more. She has also participated in the organic food movement as both chef and gardener, and she knows what it’s like trying to shop for specific diet preferences. Her conclusion: “There’s enough at the Co-op that you can make the meal that you want, whatever your tastes.”

We hope this encourages you to plan your next breakfasts, lunches and dinners with the Co-op in mind. Thank you Chef Blu!


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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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Sneaky’s Takes the ‘Junk’ Out of Junk Food

Sneaky’s Takes the ‘Junk’ Out of Junk Food

tish and sneakysThere you are, strolling the aisles of the Co-op and virtuously filling your cart with fruit, vegetables, and a few products whose names you can’t pronounce but they look healthy. Your intentions are good, your heart is pure – and then you get home. “If you’re like me, you buy all of these healthy foods but then the first thing to go is a bag of potato chips,”says Tish Watford. “Where we tend to break down a lot is in the snack department.” Her solution was to invent Sneaky’s, popcorn dusted with nutrient rich spirulina powder that is made of all organic, non-GMO, gluten-free ingredients.

“I hope that people will see it as a way of creatively incorporating  superfoods in something other than smoothies,” she says, “especially parents. Maybe it will light a creative spark.” She also hopes that Sneaky’s will help people “rethink what they’re buying; each ingredient and the purpose it serves. In the broader sense, it’s about understanding what’s in our food. Why is this in here?”

“Where we tend to break down a lot is in the snack department.”

Tish’s first taste-testers were her parents. She was living in a small town in Alabama that didn’t really have any healthy food options. After a visit to neighboring Tuscaloosa, she brought home some spirulina. Her son wanted popcorn, so she decided to experiment with it. “It was a little salty at first,” she laughs. Since moving to Olympia, she’s perfected the product and introduced it into local health food stores, including the Yelm Food Co-op.

Before launching Sneaky’s, the only business she’d owned was in tax preparation. Tish holds a master’s degree in accounting and financial management. “The food world is so much different from offering a service,” she says. “It’s so good to be in this area. I’ve learned a lot on my own but also from other Olympia-area foodpreneurs. Everyone is ready to share their knowledge.”

Her next step is an alternative version of kettle corn “without the corn syrup,” she says. For now, look for spirulina Sneaky’s in the snack section of the Yelm Food Co-op. You can put it right next to your vegetables.
Photo by Jennifer Crain

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[Video] GMO Labeling Protest in Yelm

no GMOGMO labeling is now more on the minds of Yelm residents after the public demonstration held at the corner of 1st Street and Yelm Ave on Saturday, May 25th. The basis for this is Washington State Initiative i-522.

The Initiative concerns labeling of genetically-engineered foods. This measure would require most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stocks, if produced using genetic engineering as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale.

The issue for most people is that we have the right to know what’s in our food and how it is created. Seems like a simple request, but the push back by the GMO-industry and their supporters in the FDA, USDA and the US Congress is amazing. and that is what is disturbing to so many people.

Watch this great short video on the demonstration is Yelm:

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GMO – Are we winning the battle?

no GMO

GMO are in the news more and more today as consumer awareness rises as to the potential dangers of ingesting genetically modified organisms that are untested and unregulated by our government.

For a long time, both shoppers and retailers ignored the issue and the number of products containing GMO increased. But as always, continued research and continued pressure to bring the truth out at some point begins to win the day.

Recently, Whole Foods reversed a decision made in 2011 to stop pushing for labeling of products with GMO. That marked a change in the battleground. Now, some of the best know retailers are saying they will not sell fish that has been genetically engineered.

In other words, some of the retailers are starting to listen to their customers instead of their industry buddies or their shareholders. Maybe customers count after all.

Huffington Post carried an article recently about the move away from GMO fish:

March 20 (Reuters) – Whole Foods Market Inc, Trader Joe”s and other food retailers representing more than 2,000 U.S. stores have vowed not to sell genetically engineered seafood if it is approved in the United States, a new advocacy group said on Wednesday.

Your Co-op is also working hard to make sure any products we carry are free of GMO ingredients. But since labeling isn”t required, we have to depend on the trustworthiness of our suppliers to make this happen.

Europe lives without GMO

Can we live without GMO products? The final paragraph from the above article:

Dozens of countries already have genetically modified food labeling requirements, with the European Union imposing mandatory labeling in 1997. Since then, genetically modified products and crops have virtually disappeared from many of those markets.

If they can do it, so can we. We just need to remember the old 70″s slogan:
Power to the People!

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Ag Gag Bills – A Threat to Food Safety

ag gagAn “Ag Gag” bill is a piece of legislation designed to keep agriculture industry whistleblowers from documenting questionable operating practices on farms and ag factories in the US.

So far several states have passed this type of legislation making it illegal for an employee to document, with photos or videos, abusive animal handling practices. And, not surprisingly, many of these bills are heavily supported by agri-business interests.

A recent article on the Common Dreams website had this to say:

“Ag gag” bills seek to prevent the documentation and exposure of safety violations and atrocities in animal industries by criminalizing them and labeling them “obstruction.” In other words, turn off the tape and bury the evidence rather than reforming the system.http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/13-1

As always, it is up to us to “Know our Farmer” and to take action to insure our food supply. By not buying the products from abusive food producers, the retailers who sell those products will slowly stop stocking them. We vote with our dollars!

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More on Whole Foods support of GMO labeling

No GMO
One of our favorite websites is the one from the Cornucopia Institute (http://www.cornucopia.org), an organic advocacy group that favors labeling. Whole Foods decision to require GMO labeling starting in 2018 was covered in a recent article on the site (see excerpt below).

The institute, plus most food activists, are excited about this change in strategy on the part of a major food retailer. But not everyone is happy. This is an excerpt from a recent article on the Institute’s website:

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. “These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,” Louis Finkel, the organization’s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.”

Industry not happy about GMO label laws

And although this is not a statement against GMO labeling, it is one that we have come to expect from the food industry. When will enough testing be enough to satisfy them?

Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for <http://www.bio.org/> BIO, a trade group representing the biotech industry, said it was too early to determine what impact, if any, the Whole Foods decision would have. “It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non-G.M.O. lines,” Ms. Batra said. “The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of
food for marketing reasons.”

She contended, however, that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues, labeling was unnecessary.

If we feel that we have the right to know what’s in our food, including if it contains GMO, then we should have that right. We just have to fight for it!

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Whole Foods Caves on GMO Labeling under Public Preswsure

whole foods
Back in 2011, Whole Foods caved into Monsanto and agreed to stop their push for mandatory GMO labeling. Here’s an excerpt from a report at the time:

After 12 years of battling to stop Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s organic farmland, the biggest retailers of “natural” and “organic” foods in the U.S., including Whole Foods Market (WFM), Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm, have agreed to stop opposing mass commercialization of GE crops, like Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa. In exchange for dropping their opposition, WFM has asked for “compensation” to be paid to organic farmers for “any losses related to the contamination of his crop.”

Now after Proposition 37 came very close to passing and over 20 other states are considering requiring GMO-labeling, Whole Foods has caved to public pressure instead of to corporate pressure. Here’s an excerpt from a recent article on their change of stance:

“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”

Whole Foods deadline 2018 a long way out

Of course a deadline of 2018 is making this move a weak one, but Whole Foods is now positioning themselves to be a leader in this GMO-labeling war and no longer a co-conspirator.

It would be nice to think that the management and shareholders were coming from a moral perspective, but I think it is more a pragmatic, startegic one. In either case, if they don’t flip-flop again, this will be a great development. As someone wrote recently, this is akin to Wal-Mart’s move several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormones. That move has led to the almost complete disappearance of the recombinantly derived bovine growth hormone (bGH).

Consumers just need to keep fighting for what they think is right, and now and then we get an unlikely ally like Whole Foods to come over to our side!

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SeattleOrganicRestaurants.com

We just ran across this site, SeattleOrganicRestaurants.com, on Twitter and it carries some interesting articles about organic food.

Here’s what they say about themselves on their “About” page:

We are SeattleOrganicRestaurants.com, an advocacy group with 14,000+ avid and highly involved community members as well as 40,000+ devoted and engaged twitter followers. Our articles and community interactions provide highly essential health information regarding organic food and organically made products, nutritional facts and data for improving health and well-being, a wealth of knowledge on vegan, raw foods, superfoods, herbals, and tips and latest research studies on fighting obesity, malnutrition, and a range of other health and nutritional choices.

We also promote healthy food options in restaurants that offer diners a wide range of choices from organic salads, to vegan and high-nutrition dishes.
Our website is one of the most popular websites dedicated to the natural and organic living with more than 50,000+ unique visitors per month and followed by some of the most recognized industry leaders, TV personalities, and online nutritional magazines and advocates.

As always, use your own judgement when you read any of their articles. The most recent one about soy we found quite interesting and seemingly full of facts.


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Report: Organic Farming (Agroecology) and the right to food

organic farming
The argument about the benefits of organic farming over industrial non-organic farming has been going for years and will continue for more years. One reason is that it appears that the facts about the benefits of more natural means of farming to include crop rotation and cover crops, mulching and maintaining wildflowers and native shrubs and trees are overshadowed by the marketing muscle of the big agri-businesses that are tied, at least in the US, to the chemical industry.

Those techniques of organic farming listed above have been shown to improve water retention and stabilize soils and reduce the vulnerability to harsh weather patterns. In addition, these farms have a greater bio diversity of life – birds, insects, other plants, wildlife – than the conventional farms. Fossil fuel consumption is up to 50% less on organic farms than on the conventional farms. Nutritional values of the food produced on organic farms are higher considerably higher.

And the list goes on and on and still great resistance and lack of education of world populations continues. However, there is hope as this short article summary show.

UN report on organic farming (agroecology)

[8 March 2011] GENEVA- Today, the Special Rapporteur presented his new report “Agro-ecology and the right to food” before the UN Human Rights Council. Based on an extensive review of recent scientific literature, the report demonstrates that agroecology, if sufficiently supported, can double food production in entire regions within 10 years while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty.

The report therefore calls States for a fundamental shift towards agro-ecology as a way for countries to feed themselves while addressing climate- and poverty challenges.

It’s up to all of us as consumers to keep pushing for food that is nutritious and healthy. It is our food supply and we have a right to the best we can get!

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Organic Eggs

Their scorecard of egg producers includes 2 local farms, one of whom we buy our eggs from, Stiebr Farms in Yelm. The other is the Wilcox Farm in Roy. They both qualify with a 3-egg rating which means the following according to their website:

“3-egg” rating (1501-1800): “Very Good”—Organic, Complying with Minimum USDA Standards:

Brands with a three-egg rating are very good choices. Eggs from brands in this category either come from family-scale farms that provide outdoor runs for their chickens, or from larger-scale farms where meaningful outdoor space is either currently granted or under construction. All producers in this category appear committed to meeting organic standards for minimum outdoor space for laying hens.

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Organic: Food Justice for the 99%

-organic-food2
Beating Back the Straw Man

Charlotte Vallaeys, The Cornucopia Institute

As Americans become increasingly aware of the story behind conventional
foods-ecologically destructive monoculture fields, petrochemical
fertilizers, toxic pesticides and dangerous fumigants- agribusiness has
launched an all-out media offensive against the booming organic food
movement.

Their public relations firms have apparently found willing partners in
nationwide media outlets like The New York Times and Time magazine, which
have recently published articles discouraging people from buying organic
foods. The message is nearly always the same, as the harm caused by
agrochemicals is downplayed, or outright ignored, while the spotlight falls
on the lack of differences between a handful of cherry-picked nutrients.

It seems that the only way for industrial agriculture to score their prized
“organic no better than conventional” headline is by convincing friendly
reporters to look no further than the nutrition panel and ignore serious,
well-documented dangers lurking in conventional food.

But this straw man approach is destined for failure. First, studies
repeatedly do find higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic foods.
But more importantly, simple nutritional arithmetic is not the primary
reason consumers turn to organic foods. Americans can no longer ignore the
mounting scientific evidence that pesticides, herbicides, fungicides,
hormones, antibiotics and other drug residues are harming us, even at
extremely low levels, and especially our children.

And after mainstream organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics
and the National Institutes of Health reviewed the science and concluded
that consumers should avoid exposure to pesticides, the agrochemical
industry’s myth that their pesticides are safe-or at least that the residue
levels commonly found in foods are safe-has been entirely debunked.

With their paternalistic message-to shut up and eat our food-no longer
working, the agribusiness PR specialists and their mouthpieces have turned
to a more sinister tactic. They have now brought the 99%’s animosity
against the 1% into the food fight, likening a diet of conventional foods to
“The 99% Diet” and a chemical-free organic diet as “elitist.”

Time magazine’s cover on December 3 stated: “What to Eat Now, the Anti-Food
Snob Diet” amidst pictures of blocks of frozen fruits and vegetables. The
story, by celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, stated, “the American food
supply is . comparable to the most elite organic diets. Save the cash; the
99% diet can be good for you.” Toward the end of his article, Dr. Oz called
organic consumers “snooty.”

Suddenly, consumers who pay extra for a safe haven from toxic agrochemical
contamination, for our families’ health and for the sake of the farmers who
produce our food and for the environment, are reproached for being “snobs.”

The health benefits of organics are indisputable, and many consumers find
this long-term investment in health to be well worth the extra cost.
Americans who prioritize personal finances, choosing wholesome organic
foods, should be proud of their decision.

We need to recognize the media’s name-calling (“elitist,” “snooty” “snobs”)
for what it is: a last desperate attempt by the agrochemical industry to
pull Americans back to blissful ignorance about our food.

Charlotte Vallaeys is the Director of Farm and Food Policy for The
Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group that acts
as an organic industry watchdog.

Re-published with permission of http://www.cornucopia.org/

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