Field Trip: Hidden Pond Farm
Several Bloomingfoods staffers recently took a field trip to examine the operations of Hidden Pond Farm, producers of kombucha, kraut, tonics, and, more recently, ketchup, salsa, and barbeque sauce. Tom Zeta files this report on their look at this fine local business.
The Place on the Corner
Don't miss board secretary Carol Bridges' insightful reflection on the vital role played by "third places" in our lives, those cultural centers that, along with home and workplace, mark "the heart of a community's social vitality and the foundation of a functioning democracy." It's gratifying to note the many ways in which our stores precisely fit the model.
Compete for a $150 Bloomingfoods Shopping Spree
Frontier Natural Products Co-op is hosting a Facebook-based promotion in which you are invited to post a photo of your favorite co-op, and then invite your friends to vote for your photo. The contestant with the most votes wins a $150 dollar shopping trip to the winning co-op. In addition, for every vote cast, Frontier will donate $0.25 to the Cooperative Development Foundation. You must enter by February 18th, and the voting will take place from February 19 through February 25, 2012, so don't delay.
February-March Member Days & Product Specials
Member day is Wednesday in February and Thursday in March. These are the February product specials, and these are the member-owner specials. Your Co+op Deals flyers are available here.
(812-336-5400; 3220 East Third St.)
The garden center is buzzing with activity. The "shack" is just about complete, and before the end of the month we'll have both our usual packet seeds and also an extensive array of bulk seeds.
The February Fischer Farms special consist of stew meat and tri-tip steaks, both at significant discounts. New items from Smoking Goose include one of the wonders of the Western culinary world, duck confit, as well as smoked duck breast. Coming soon will be 100% grass-fed beef, lamb, and goat, all from This Old Farm Meats, out of Darlington, IN. We will also soon be offering whole roasting chickens, and boneless/skinless chicken breasts and thighs from Gunthorp Farms.
From the grocery department comes manager Martha Philion's report on the array of new products she's brought in, including: Amore di Mona chocolate bars, from Bloomingfoods member-owner Mona Changaris; ketchup, barbeque sauce, and salsa from the masters of fermentation at Hidden Pond; bulk black and pinto beans from Fields of Agape (which recently received full organic certification); Inga's popcorn, from Zionsville; and, from Chocolate Moose, three new flavors of ice cream: vegan chocolate, cheesecake, and cinnamon brown sugar.
Finally, the staff at both the East and the Near West Side locations contacted me last week, asking me to let you know that Mr. Buck's Pet Food, now available in both those stores, has contracted with Stone Belt to place the labels on their products. So here is yet another reason to pick up some Mr. Buck's for your dog, above and beyond the facts that it's great pet food and supports a fine cause.
Near West Side Store
(812-333-7312; 316 W 6th St.
Last month the big news was the new register we installed in the deli area; this month it's a major reset of our grocery-wine area. We love the enhanced visibility and navigation is permits.
Be sure to check out all the new products we have from Kikkerland, including bike bells, plasma nightlites, and music boxes. In addition, we'll have a shipment of winter gloves, scarves, and hats arriving soon. We received a great deal on this stuff, and we'll be passing the savings along. Next, in what we believe may be a Bloomington exclusive, we'll soon have Cuppow canning jar drinking lids. And for all you bulk bin lovers, we'll soon have several new spices, whole curry leaves, wheatgrass powder, and green peppercorns. Finally, our entire line of adult, locally grown t-shirts is on sale until the end of February, so get 'em while they're hot.
A while back a customer requested we begin serving the Burrito Jr. (same as East store's), so we made it our February sandwich special to test interest. We think it's a great, inexpensive meal (wheat tortilla, warm seasoned pinto beans, brown rice, mozzarella cheese, toasted on the panini grill), but it doesn't seem to be capturing anyone's imagination. So, if demand doesn't pick up, it'll soon go the way of the dinosaur. Consider giving it a try.
Downtown (Kirkwood) Store
(812-336-5300; 419 E. Kirkwood Ave.)
Please check out the new, lovely, and highly functional Jaguar Moon organic cotton bulk bags. They're a great alternative to bagging your bulk items in the cheap, plastic throwaway bags. Summer really isn't all that far away, and we'll launch you into it beginning March 1st by offering ice cream floats, made from Chocolate Moose ice cream and Boylan's all natural fountain sodas. And speaking of ice cream, we are now selling pints of Chocolate Moose ice cream, including three new VEGAN flavors and 7 different regular flavors.
Cornucopia Institute's Mark Kastel to Speak in Bloomington
Mark Kastel is widely recognized as one of America's leading authorities on organic foods and the organic food industry, and his Cornucopia Institute is famous for being the country's foremost watchdog of the organic food world. Mark will be in town to participate in the "Up and Coming, Up and Running Co-op Start-up Conference (see below), and will also give a free public presentation at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Thursday evening, March 8th at 7:00 p.m. Please join us there to hear Mark speak on “Local, Healthy, Sustainable Food Systems: Hyperbole or Sensation?” a reflection on the ways our food choices affect our health, our environment, and the economic vitality of our region.
Green Drinks Bloomington
Here's our regular reminder that Green Drinks Bloomington meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Banquet Facility at Upland Brewing. A $5 donation is requested; some food is provided. This month, Ben Brabson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, will offer a presentation entitled “Climate Change and Bloomington” during the programmed portion of the evening, from 6 - 6:30 p.m. on February 22nd. The talk will focus on ways that we in Bloomington can take full advantage of our capacity to think, to understand, and to benefit from specific actions to both mitigate and adapt to our changing climate. Please join us for a snack, a drink, and a thought-provoking discussion.
Permaculture Course Announcement
As we drift into spring and begin contemplating the design and content of our gardens, it's an ideal time to investigate the role that permacultural practices might play. Local expert Keith Johnson will be offering a 2-hour introduction on Tuesday, March 6th, from 7 to 9:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the public library. Maple Heights, Near West Side, Prospect Hill and McDoel Gardens neighborhood associations sponsor this event.
The 2012 Trashion Refashion Show will take place on Earth Day this year, April 22nd. Fashion designs are now being accepted in two categories:
"Trashion" is the result of creatively turning discarded items into fashion.
"Refashion" is the result of modifying existing clothing into something more fashionable. Submissions are due by March 1st. The Trashion/ReFashion website has all the details.
Amy Countryman thanks all the participants who made last month's annual meeting such a grand time, and to announce the Orchard's eight new board members: Daniel Bingham, Claudia Brink, Tara Darcy-Hall, Josh David, Elin Grimes, Jon Jackson, Sarah Ryterband, and Paul Schneller. Keep your eyes peeled: the first spring planting day will be announced soon.
Update on County's Community Conservation Challenge Grant
Progress is rapid on the county's project to place an array of solar panels on the northern-most four sections of the North Showers Building roof. As of this date, Steve's Roofing has completed installation of a new rubber roof, and MPI Solar has begun installing the solar panels. In addition, installation of infrastructure necessary for energy-monitoring dashboards has been started in University and Fairview Elementary schools, at the Bloomington Project School, and in the Showers building, itself. And finally, the county was awarded an Energy Audit from OED last spring, and will soon receive a comprehensive analysis concerning its buildings and vehicles, including short and long-term recommendations and funding ideas. In many respects these audit results are just as significant as the new panels, since they will give the county the baseline data necessary for effective planning.
In the Co-op World
Bloomingfoods to Host "Up & Coming, Up & Running Food Co-op Start-up Conference"
For the third consecutive year, Bloomingfoods and the Indiana Cooperative Development Center will host a co-op start-up conference for folks from the surrounding region interested in launching their own community-owned grocery store. This year's event will take place from March 8 - 10, and will feature an open-to-the-public keynote presentation by the Cornucopia Institute's Mark Kastel, followed by working sessions focused on such matters as co-op governance policies, establishing a food service program, and growing a membership base. There is tremendous momentum nationwide behind the development of food co-ops, and this conference will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in establishing or growing a food co-op to learn and connect with board members and managers from other food co-ops and food co-op development experts.
Food, Eating, and Health
The True Cost of Bananas
The world loves bananas, and our member-owners are no exception: bananas are the most frequently purchased item throughout American grocery stores and in Bloomingfoods. But we face a dilemma: the vast majority of bananas are produced on plantations under truly lamentable conditions. (For a quick look at how this industry developed and operates, NaturalNews offers a nice snapshot.) We offer our shoppers fairly traded bananas when we can, but it is extremely difficult to find reliable sources, due to such lamentable circumstances as are described here by our good friend and fair trade champion, Phyllis Robinson of Equal Exchange. Read it, and then think twice about those Doles and Chaquitas.
Bloody Nose? Have We Got a "Cure" for You
During the heating season, we're all exposed to a lot of hot, dry air. For many people, this means desiccated sinuses and nosebleeds. Well, if this is a problem for you, worry no more. Doctors at the Detroit Medical Center recently successfully treated a young patient with hemorrhaging sinuses to a nasal tampon consisting of nothing more than good ol' fashioned cured, salted pork, and the girl was up and out of there in no time! Thanks to member-owner and news sleuth (normally reliable until about 6:00 p.m.) John Scully for this priceless tidbit... oh, and I'm urging our meat managers to run specials on all of our fine bacon selections during the heating season.
Genetically Engineered Salmon, and Your Right to Know
Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, and Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm, have created a petition on SignOn.org urging the FDA to require the labeling of genetically modified foods. Currently, more than forty countries, including Russia and China, require such labeling, but the U.S. does not. With the FDA poised to approve genetically engineered salmon, if you have concerns regarding the consumption of genetically modified products, it is more important than ever that you make your opinion known.
We're all concerned with the price of groceries, yet why do we cherish and care for them so little? According to Grist, "the average American family of four throws out an estimated $130-175 per month in spoiled and discarded food." Vegetables, being highly perishable, are the most susceptible: it is estimated that in 2009 U.S. consumers wasted a whopping $32 billion worth of tomatoes, potatoes, greens, peppers, and onions.
You Eat What?
Do you enjoy cheese, even some of the stinkier varieties? Many westerners do. But how far does your taste for fermented food go before delight turns to disgust? Does it extend to kimchee, the rotted cabbage dish from Korea? Most westerners abhor natto, the fermented soybean curd eaten with relish by the Japanese? What about gravlax, the fermented raw salmon of Norway? Or Hákarl, rotted and dried shark meat, enjoyed in Iceland? Or do you reach your limit at casu marzu, a sheep's milk cheese often referred to as "maggot cheese" because, well, it is actually riddled with live insect larvae when eaten, mostly by the residents of Sardinia. We raise this question by way of introduction to a fascinating article that appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal, in which is explored the cultural basis for disgust - thought by many to be the only one of the six basic emotions that is actually learned - as it pertains to our reaction to fermented foods.
Organic Wines: Sales and Quality Up
One of the "dirty little secrets" of the conventional wine industry is that it is just about as reliant on chemical pesticides and additives as is the rest of industrial agriculture. So, we have been very happy watching the organic wine industry growing at a rate of about 20% per year for the last few years, as wine makers have gotten progressively better at making high quality organic wine and consumers have increasingly demanded a cleaner product. Here's a fine article from BestNaturalFoods that explores this trend.
The Price of Big Agriculture
Whether you're new to the co-op and the industrial food wars or are an old veteran, you may find it useful to review the Organic Consumer Association's Ten Ways Monsanto and Big Ag Are Trying to Kill You -- and the Planet. Yes, the title is a bit hyperbolic, and if true would suggest an illogical, counter-productive intent. Still, it's a nice summary of the primary side-affects of industrial agriculture, and worth keeping in mind when you purchase groceries.
Maple Syrup and Warm Winters: Poor Bed Partners
It's mid-February, the time, traditionally, in our neck of the woods when the grip of winter begins to relax and the sap begins to flow, most notably in maple trees. Grist offers this interview with maple syrup producer Martha Carlson, looking at the changes warmer weather is having in the quality of maple syrup and the health of the trees that produce it.
Pharmaceutical Companies Guilty of Suppressing Clinical Trial Results
Here is a report from the Alliance for Natural Health on a study published in the British Medical Journal recounting the common practice of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of approving drugs whose clinical trial results have been intentionally suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry because it didn't like the results. Not surprising, perhaps, but disturbing because many of these drugs enjoy FDA approval in spite of it. For instance, GlaxoSmithKline apparently buried the unfavorable results from 35 of 42 studies it performed on the FDA-approved diabetes drug Avandia, in spite of the fact it knew use of the drug led to an increase in heart attacks and other cardiovascular deaths.
Swiss Town Builds First Solar-Powered Ski Lift
In addressing the problem of a dying ski lift, the residents of tiny Tenna, Switzerland didn't just patch up the old lift, they replaced it with the world's first solar-powered model. The lift generates about 90,000 kilowatt hours/year, roughly three times the amount needed by the lift. The extra power is pumped back into the grid, in that way generating money that can be returned to the local residents. It's a fine example of cooperation and sustainability working hand in hand.
Tar Sands: the Environmental Impact
Tar sands are all the rage these days. Grist offers this look at what tar sand extraction does to ancient boreal forest. Up to 740,000 acres may be destroyed over the next few years. "Cheap fuel"? Well, it depends upon what you place value.
10 Lessons from the World's Great Biking Cities
Grist writer Christine Grant just spent six months exploring some of the most bike-friendly cities on earth. She offers this review of the factors that make a city a wonderful place to traverse by bicycle, whether it be Amsterdam, where 47 percent of residents make at least one trip per day on a bicycle, or hilly Zurich, where many riders use electric-assist bikes, or Paris, where 130,000 trips are made each day on public bikes available through the Vélib bike-share program. Appropriate infrastructure, bike-share programs, and political activism are just a few of the factors figuring in the bike-friendly equation.
"Exercise hard and you will grow younger. Care about other people and you will grow happier. Build a life that you think means something and you will grow richer."
~ Henry S. Lodge, M.D., gerontologist and co-author of "Younger Next Year," a delightful book we are now reading. The book draws on the latest science on the aging process, and contends that through a strong commitment to regular exercise and decent nutrition, men 50 and older can become functionally younger every year for the next five to ten years, and continue to live like fifty-year-olds until well into their eighties. There's also an edition geared toward woman.