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 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”


(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.


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

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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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Home & Garden Show Volunteer Opportunities

Home and Garden ShowThe 2016 Home & Garden Show is coming right up on and several time slots are available to volunteer at the Yelm Cooperative booth. This is a great opportunity to let people know about the natural foods market right here in Yelm and build excitement about our vision for a sustainable food system in our area. 

Here are the available slots: 

      Sunday, May 1st  – 11 am – 2 pm ( 1 or 2 people)

      Sunday, May 1st  – 2 pm – 4 pm (2 people)

      Sunday, May 1st  4pm – 5 pm  (1 or 2 people to help our board president Bill Wyman with teardown)

If you would like to help, contact Marilyn Reardon at (360)400-8030. Thank you!  

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New Manager Brings Wisdom and Experience to Yelm Farmers Market

Hat_latest_verShe’s only been here a short while, but Suzanne Santos has already identified one key difference between Yelm and her former home of Austin, Texas. “The seasons are immediately noticeable,” she laughs. “In Texas, almost all of the farmers markets are year round.”

As the new Yelm Farmers Market Manager, Suzanne has been learning the ins and outs of our local food system, and she’s impressed. Because of the short growing season, Pacific Northwest farmers have to be resilient, she notes.  “I’m really amazed and in awe of how they make it work,” she says. “They produce beautiful, tasty, nutritious fruit and vegetables in a short window of time –  and the community buys them.”

Suzanne brings a wealth of experience to the role, managing not only multiple markets in Austin but also serving as Executive Director of the Sustainable Food Center, an organization that works with all three ‘legs’ of the food system. “If you think of it as a stool, the legs are gardening, cooking, and farm direct sales,” she explains. “We worked on all three, and would facilitate farmers selling directly to institutions, as well as setting up smaller neighborhood markets for clients that had traditionally been underserved.”

Experience has taught her the importance of including the community in conversations about sustainability. “Do a check in with the stakeholders,” she says. “It helps to do an assessment of their needs and ideas of what a healthy community looks like. Have workshops at assisted living centers, go to where youth and parents are congregating.”

In the past several weeks she’s had the opportunity to meet local business owners and sponsors, and finds the business community very supportive as a whole. “There’s a direct and enthusiastic buy in by the small businesses to support the farmers market and other things like Dollars for Scholars,” she notes. “It makes a huge impact to get that support.”

Before moving to Austin, Suzanne spent several years as a hillside agriculture Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and later trained agriculture volunteers in Costa Rica. Regardless of where they live, farmers are change agents in their communities, she says. “It’s important to understand their struggles and achievements. The most important part of my job is getting customers to be aware of the great things they have to offer,” she explains. “I can be their advocate, and they can have enough confidence in me to know that I can bring them customers. We can do this together.”

This year the market will be opening on Sunday, May 22nd, a day Suzanne is already anticipating. “I’m looking forward to watching it unfold,” she says. “You can see it blossoming every Sunday morning as the tents pop up in a festival-like setting. The music starts and you smell the coffee and you can hear the kids chattering away and listen to farmers exchanging recipes or cooking methods with somebody who doesn’t know how to cook a kohlrabi. That’s when it all comes to fruition.”

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Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions and Kickstart Your Immune System With Herbs

herbsAs winter turns into spring, our resolve may be starting to waver around all of those great resolutions we made at the beginning of the year. Losing weight, stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, exercising more, being kinder to our dog/ neighbor / spouse – all worthwhile goals, and all based around habits that can be hard to break unless we have an effective strategy in place.

While individual herbs may not be the answer to specific habits, different herbs can help with managing the stress that accompanies change, says Dr. Glenn Nagel, lead Naturopathic Doctor at Oregon’s Herb Pharm. “We have 170 products in different combinations,” he says “We can’t diagnose or treat people, but we can provide nutritional support for what you’re trying to achieve.”

This is also the time of year that nasty colds and flus can circulate in the community – in fact, a particularly unpleasant strain has been making the rounds for the past month in Thurston County. For those who appreciate natural remedies, Dr. Nagel also has recommendations.

The Yelm Food Co-op carries the following Herb Pharm products that can be helpful in supporting immune systems and dealing with stress:


Native Americans have long known the value of this ‘superhero’ herb, and used it for everything from life-threatening illnesses to snakebites. “They would take the root and chew it, suck the juice out of it and put in on snakebites,” says Nagel. “They survived.”

After early settlers were introduced to the herb, it developed into a bestselling remedy in 1905 among physicians of the day who were trained to use botanicals. Later its popularity declined, only to resurface in the 1980’s. “Now studies show that it supports the upper respiratory tract during the winter,” says Nagel. “It has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial aspects.”  


Like echinacea, goldenseal is a native plant, but grown on the opposite coast in the Appalachian forest. Its name comes from its golden root, which is due to several types of alkaloids. It is also know for sustaining the respiratory tract and its antimicrobial effects. “It’s the king of the mucus membrane tonics,” says Nagel. “It works with the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.” It can be taken as a tea or in an extract for gargling.

Goldenseal contains secretory IGA, an immune globulin which flushes membranes to make healthy mucus, Nagel explains. “It helps to make new, immune-rich mucus that will suppress infection.”

Stress Manager

“This is one of our better sellers,” says Nagel. It combines rhodiola, reishi mushroom, the holy basil leaf, eleutherococcus and schisandra.  “Eleutherococcus comes from Russia and northern China,” he says. “It’s a root bark that is considered to be an adrenal and immune support.”

What makes rhodiola unique is that it deals with stress “but also provides cognitive and mental clarity support,” he says. “It boosts energy and adrenals while helping people focus and remember more.”

The reishi mushroom provides strong, long-term immune support. “It is considered by the Chinese to be an herb of immortality,” says Nagel.  “It’s used to help stress diseases and cardiovascular diseases and provide blood pressure support.”

Holy Basil is a leaf grown in India. “It contains eugenol, which tastes like cloves and makes a really pleasant tea,” says Nagel. It is considered sacred by Hindus and used to support natural fertility, concentration, and memory.

For endurance, muscle recovery and optimal oxygenation of tissues, schisandra can help. The Chinese berry also provides liver support, says Nagel.

Adrenal Support

Adrenal support is similar to stress manager except that it contains licorice, says Nagel.”They can be used somewhat interchangeably but some people can’t take licorice if they have high blood pressure.”


The ashwagandha root is a traditional adaptogen from India and the Mediterranean that is in the tomato family. “The name is associated with the smell of a horst and it’s supposed to give you the vitality of a stallion,” says Nagel. “In the Indian model, it’s often boiled in milk and drank.” The extract is used to enhance moods and endocrine function and support a healthy thyroid. “It’s calming and relaxing,” he says.


The root of a Polynesian herb comes from the pepper family. The extract is 85% alcohol, and is helpful in supporting healthy muscle tone and managing stress and anxiety. “It works really quickly,” says Nagel. “It’s kind of like a day at the beach.”

Kava does come with a warning, he adds. “There’s a history of liver problems based on some studies that show it can be an issue. It’s probably best not to take it long term.”

Anxiety Soother

Herb Pharm offers a blended formula that includes kava but mixes it with passion flower leaf, albizia, bacopa and lavender. “It provides broad spectrum support for mild and occasional anxiety,” says Nagel. “Bocopa is more for mental focus and brain health. It helps to be calm and alert. The lavender flavor cuts the pepper in the kava.”

Good Mood

Like it’s name, this formula promotes a healthy mood. It contains ashwagandha, St. John’s Wort, skullcap, and prickly pear and helps with stress, poor sleep, and bad moods. Nagel emphasizes that St. John’s wort by itself should not be taken with prescription drugs, because is can reduce by up to 50% the effect of the drugs. “If you’re taking antibiotics, you want them to work,” he says.

Smokers Replacement

For those attempting to quit smoking, Smoker’s Replacement contains green oats, which function as a nervous system tonic, and lobelia. “Lobelia has alkaloids that are similar in structure to nicotine,” says Nagel. “They affect the receptors and give people a calming and relaxing sensation. You can take up to a dropper full when you feel the desire for a cigarette.”

Lung Expectorant

This product support healthy expectoration and immune response, and can also be helpful for those attempting to quit smoking. It contains yerba santa, usnea, thyme, lobelia, and ginger which loosen and promote release of mucus.

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Child Slave Labor: The Bitter Side of the Chocolate Industry

chocolate_slavery_mainThe truth about chocolate is not so sweet.

In 2015, three California residents filed a lawsuit against three of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers, alleging that Nestle, Hershey, and Mars are guilty of false advertising for not disclosing the use of child slave labor on their packaging. Their failure to do so made their customers unwitting supporters of slavery, the lawsuit alleges.

What they are referring to are widespread child labor abuses in West Africa, which supplies over 70% of the world’s chocolate. A report published by Tulane University in July, 2015 found that 2.1 million child laborers working in cocoa production in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, an increase of 21% in just five years. It also found a 46% increase in the number of children working in hazardous conditions in the Ivory Coast alone during the same time period.

Those conditions include the use of machetes to pry open chocolate pods, which leave the majority of children with scars all over their bodies from inadvertent slips. In Ghana, children as young as ten wear no protective clothing while spraying highly toxic insecticides over crops.

Living conditions are often stark, consisting of windowless buildings and no sanitation or clean water. Children forced to habitually lift 100 lb. sacks are fed the cheapest possible food, such as corn paste and bananas. Ten percent don’t attend school, in violation of the International Labor Organization’s standards.

“America’s largest and most profitable food conglomerates should not tolerate child labor, much less slave child labor, anywhere in their supply chains. These companies should not turn a blind eye to known human rights abuses, especially where the companies consistently and affirmatively represent that they act in a socially and ethically responsible manner,” the lawsuit maintains.

While the average person may not want to take on huge conglomerates in court, there are simple actions we can take to combat such practices, like looking for chocolate that is one of the following: single-origin, bean-to-bar, or bearing a third-party verified label ensuring ethical production practices.

At the Yelm Food Co-op, the chocolate we carry comes through humane and sustainable practices and is sourced from small farms in around the world. Stirs the Soul Conscious Raw Chocolate comes from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. “We had to search,” says co-owner and chocolate maker Daren Hayes. “I have a friend who travels the world and brings back cacao from different sources.”  

Seattle-based Theo Chocolate was the first organic, fair trade certified bean-to-bar chocolate in the United States, and remains committed to deliberate and thorough stewardship at every stage in the agricultural and manufacturing process.  They strive to be the most progressive chocolate maker in the country, according to a spokesperson.   

Although they’ve received almost every other certification imaginable, including non-GMO, Verified Vegan, Green American Business Network, and Certified Kosher, Righteously Raw Chocolate says they prefer to put the thousands of dollars they would spend toward a Fair Trade certification directly into the pockets of the people they advocate helping. According to Dan England, Vice President of Sales, all of their beans are sourced from small organic farms in South America.

As actions like the lawsuit brought in California continue to bring awareness to the dubious origins of our sweets, more of us can vote with our pocketbooks – for change.


The Daily Beast. 09/30/2015 “Lawsuit: Your Candy Bar Was Made by Child Slaves” Abby Halgage

Take Part. 07/31/2015 “Chocolate’s Child Labor Problem Keeps Getting Worse” Willy Blackmore

The Huffington Post 10/31/2015 “Chocolate and Child Slavery: Just Say No to Human Trafficking” Amanda Gregory

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Why Raw Chocolate is Good for Your (Sweet) Heart

righteously raw roseDuring the week of Valentine’s Day, Americans will buy 58 million pounds of chocolate. What they may not realize is that not all chocolate is created equal; most commercial bars contain high amounts of sugar, milk, saturated and hydrogenated fats, and flavorings.
On the other hand, raw chocolate, which is never heated above 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) contains more than 300 nutritional compounds and is rich in magnesium, heart-healthy fats, and other essential minerals.
If you or your Valentine have a sweet tooth, there’s still time to explore the raw chocolate options the Yelm Food Coop has to offer before the big day arrives.
Stirs the Soul Conscious Raw Chocolate
At Stirs the Soul, cacao is sourced from organic, fair trade family farms in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and stone ground. “It’s minimally processed, so the chocolate preserves beneficial heat-sensitive properties,” says Daren Hayes, co-owner and chocolate maker.
Their products use five different sweeteners and have a low glycemic index. “Our sweeteners are carefully chosen after a lot of soul searching,” says Hayes. “People with food sensitivities seem to be very attracted to it because of their challenges. We avoid a lot of common allergens like soy, dairy, gluten, nuts, sunflowers, and sesame seeds.” Flavorings include lavender, orange, cayenne, goji berries, and cinnamon.
Righteously Raw Organic Raw Chocolate
All of the cacao at Righteously Raw comes from proprietary small organic farms in South America. “In the cooking process, we never let it reach over 107 degrees,” says Dan England, Vice President of Sales. “The longer process helps to preserve the antioxidant rich properties of cacao.”
Instead of white sugar, the company uses organic raw agave as a sweetener. All products are certified organic, non-GMO, gluten free, vegan, and kosher. The inspiration for Righteously Raw came from Earth Source Organics President Audrey Darrow’s battle with cancer and subsequent search for high frequency foods that could aid the healing process.

Surprise your valentine this year with chocolate that not only tastes delicious but is also actually good for you! Check out the candy aisle at the Coop this week.

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Yelm Farmers Market Now Hiring

farmers marketIn the past two years as manager of the Yelm Farmers Market, Karen Rae has done a fantastic job of increasing attendance and sales, attracting sponsorships and implementing new programs. In 2016, Karen is moving on to her next adventure and the Yelm Cooperative is seeking a new Farmers Market Manager.

Every Sunday from late May until the end of October, the market is a community gathering place, attracting families from around the South Sound. Live music, a popular children’s program that allows kids to interact directly with the farmers, and more than 25 unique vendors create a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who enjoys fresh, locally grown food and locally produced crafts.

The Market Director is the master of ceremonies, coordinating with vendors, sponsors, musicians, and volunteers to make the market happen every week. The role is demanding, rewarding, and ideal for an individual who combines people skills, big picture thinking, and organizational ability. 

The market’s mission is to build community and to create a place for local farmers, producers and artisans to build relationships with their community and open up new outlets for their products. The Farmers Market also strives to:

  • give support to small farmers who want to develop new skills of direct marketing to their customers
  • provide a place for the community to become directly involved in local food and the farmers who grow it
  • bolster community spirit and excitement about local seasonal produce and sustainable food practices
  • cultivate an atmosphere of learning to the public by providing customers with free educational opportunities, how-to information on farming, and advice on storing fresh foods
  • encourage giving through donations of excess product to local charities

To view a full job description, download an application and learn more about the position’s scope of work, click here.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thank You for a Great 2015! Co-op Year in Review

To all of our members, volunteers, shoppers, and supporters,

Yelm Food Co-op2As 2015 closes we want to thank everyone who has made the continuing effort to sustain the vision of the Yelm Cooperative.

On December 6th the board hosted its annual celebration to recognize working members who put in time as volunteers in multiple capacities. “Many of them have been here for long periods and continue to make the commitment to keep the store going,” says General Manager Barnaby Urich Rintz. Yelm Farmers Market Manager Karen Rae also hosted an end-of-season gathering for all of the vendors and volunteers that made the 2015 market possible.

Barnaby also acknowledged the store staff, many of whom have been part of the co-op for many years.  “They keep us moving in a positive direction,” he says. But perhaps most importantly, the members and customers are what drive the evolution of the co-op. “Without them, it really doesn’t matter what effort we put in,” he says. “It’s their decision to sustain our store by buying their groceries here.”

The year saw changes and improvements on multiple fronts. Here are a few of the highlights:

Yelm Food Cooperative

Facilities and Equipment

The store installed a new misting system for the produce case and brought in a new two-door freezer. Anyone driving down Yelm Avenue can now enjoy new signs with the co-op logo on the front and back of the store. Currently efforts to provide new lighting for the signs and better lighting for the entire facility are underway.

Growth and Recognition of the Wine Cellar of Yelm

“Probably the biggest surprise for 2015 was the growth in the Wine Cellar,” says Barnaby. “It’s starting to reach the levels that Anne Marsh has anticipated.” The Wine Cellar was voted 4th out of 105 wine shops in King 5’s Best of Western Washington Contest.

Training and Development

In an ongoing effort to improve training throughout the store, the staff began meeting on a semi-regular basis with working members to discuss changes in store operations, recent improvements, and goals for the store. “We been working at improving our material internally for employees and volunteers,” says Barnaby. “We update them and reinforce the updates through meetings. Both new and seasoned working members have the opportunity to review those manuals for improvement and input.”

What to Look For in 2016

In the year ahead, says Barnaby, there is the potential for a full remodel, dependent on funding. “We hope to be able to provide better service by adding a full-service deli, fresh meat section and a beverage section,” he says.

Yelm Farmers Market

Power of Produce

Over 600 children signed up for the new Power of Produce Program at this year’s market. The program encourages children to make healthy food choices and have more awareness of where their food comes from and what they’re eating. Every week flocks of children showed up with their red shopping bags to claim their $2.00 worth of tokens that they can spend on fruit or vegetables or a plant that grows food.


Both the business community and individuals stepped up and supported the market through sponsorships this year.

More Vendors and Live Music

The market included weekly live music this year, creating a wonderful atmosphere for browsing, tasting and interacting with all the treats on offer. Several great new vendors joined the seasoned veterans as well, contributing to a greater variety of offerings.

Record Breaking Attendance and Sales

On opening day the market broke last year’s record with over 1,000 people in attendance. Despite this summer’s heat wave, attendance and sales both exceeded previous year’s totals.

Events and Projects

Beer and Brats

Sales were up from at this year’s event, where volunteers braved the sweltering heat to serve over 400 bratwursts to the community.

Gift of Gobble

The Gobble team exceeded its fundraising goal this year, raising over $8,000 and feeding 126 local families.

Thank you for your support and Happy 2016!

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Community Comes Together to Support Gift of Gobble

gobble 2015Since it began six years ago, the Gift of Gobble has been helping families through rough patches when they may not be able to afford a Thanksgiving meal. This year, one of those families turned around and donated, says Project Director Barbara Morando. “Now they’re doing very well and they wanted to contribute. They’ve also become members of the Yelm Food Co-op.”

The project fed 126 families this year and a team of volunteers exceeded their fundraising goal, raising over $8000. “We had an excellent response from the business community,” says Barbara. “Most of the people we contact contribute and that’s a big part of it. Co-op members and shoppers and the general public are also very supportive.”

Over time, local businesses and shoppers have become familiar with the project, which helps when it comes to not only raising funds but identifying families that could use a little extra support around the holiday. “I think that we have really been able to create good connections with the Yelm and Rainier Schools, the military and local churches,” says Barbara.  “The outreach has evolved very nicely so that we can include a broad spectrum of the community.”

Barbara says it couldn’t happen without a huge collective effort. “I want to thank everybody who participated: the Co-op staff, because Gift of Gobble creates an extra burden for them and they’re very helpful, the volunteers, the businesses who donated and all of the contributors from the community,” she says.View Photos

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Nali Naturals = Great Gifts for Procrastinating Holiday Shoppers

IMAG1373 (1)Anita Jones didn’t want to make soap. Her passion was naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, which she’d studied since the early 70’s. In her Nali Natural Body Care line, she offered high quality European soaps along with her own creations.

But a little voice kept telling her to make her own, and one day as she was leafing through a merchandising catalog, she turned the page and there was a soap making kit. “I decided to try this and see what happens,” she says.

Nine years later, Nali Natural Body Care includes 24 varieties of 100% glycerin soap along with five butter lotions, scented dead sea salts, body and facial salts, and bath salt soak bags.

She started her business in 2006 because she wanted a small ticket item to sell in her downtown Tacoma antique store. Instead, “The skin care outsold the antiques,” she says. “The antiques are in the garage.”  Eventually she began selling her products online and next year is looking to expand around the country into markets like Chicago.

Anita’s formulas and recipes are all proprietary, as is her process. She combines ingredients that helped her cure acute eczema after her doctor couldn’t help her. “I learned how to cure it myself,” she says. “I was finding that people were coming into the store asking for something for eczema.”

Both online and in person, she has a strong base of repeat customers. “What keeps me doing this is the customers’ feedback,” she says.  “When I see them again, tell me that whatever issue I recommended a particular soap for, it’s resolved or resolving. It’s getting back to nature and using stuff that’s good for you. I see the results on my own body. I test everything on myself, but I test it across a wide demographic as well.”

After beginning life as small ticket items for her now defunct antiques store, many of her products are still the perfect inexpensive gift for a co-worker or friend, she says. For the procrastinating shoppers among us, there’s still time to pick them up in the health and beauty section at the Yelm Food Co-op.

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