Co-op Connection December 2011

Co-op Connection

Food and Community News from Bloomington Cooperative Services

December 15, 2011

At the Co-op

Christmas Trees, Greenery, and Gifts
We still have a few Christmas trees and wreathes at the East and West locations, but they're going fast. Stop in soon for yours: they'll lend a very festive and fragrant air to your home this holiday.

As described in more detail below, the stores are offering a fine array of gift items this year, including lots of beautiful and useful items from local craftspeople. Can't decide? Consider a gift basket (perhaps one of our handmade, fair-trade African baskets?) filled with the work of local artisans. Of course, a Bloomingfoods gift card is always a welcome gift.

Holiday Hours
We'll be keeping somewhat abbreviated hours at all our locations over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Here are the details.

Patronage Rebates to be Issued for 2010-11 Fiscal Year
We're delighted to report that the Board of Directors has reviewed our financial reporting for fiscal year 2010-11 and declared a patronage rebate of $313,186. Consequently, we will be issuing a rebate to the more than 8,000 member-owners who were active shoppers at the co-op between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. All members qualifying for a $5 or greater rebate will receive their checks soon. Our cashiers will be happy to accept your checks at any of our stores. Feeling generous and as though you'd like to just return your rebate to your co-op? The best way to do that is by telling one of our cashiers you'd like to donate yours to the Bloomingfoods Cooperative Community Fund (BCCF), an endowment fund we've established to assist us in our own charitable giving to the community. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the BCCF.

Due to administrative costs, checks will not be cut for rebates less than $5. Rather, the co-op will retain the equity in an account, in the member's name. The Board may decide at some point in the future to return some or all of our retained patronage, and may choose to include these funds at that time.

Bee Free Gluten-Free Bakery Demo
Jennifer Weise from Bee Free Gluten-Free Bakery will be conducting special holiday demos at all three stores on Friday (Member Day) December 23, the day we launch her company's products in our stores. She'll have samples of bread, cookies, John Lemon cake, gingerbread, and other holiday goodies—all of them gluten free! The schedule is: NWS from 12-2, Kirkwood from 2:30-3:30, and East from 4-6.

Thanksgiving Report
Thanks to everyone -- shoppers, staff, and volunteers -- who helped make Thanksgiving such a wonderful holiday this year. As Bloomingfoods owners, you'll be pleased to know that we sold more than 800 turkeys and ducks, and approximately 200 vegetarian main course dishes. Volunteers, if you haven't yet done so, please let me know when you want your working discounts activated.

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard (MHC) Fund Drive Report
November is the month in which Bloomingfoods conducts its annual MHC fund drive, giving our shoppers the opportunity to make a donation, big or small as their wallet and conscience suggest, to that fine organization. We're very pleased to report that this year's drive raised a total of $5,285, which will help MHC provide healthy, nutritious food to people in need. On behalf of Bloomingfoods and MHC, thank you for your generosity.

December - January Member Days & Product Specials
Member day is Friday in December and Tuesday in January.  These are the December product specials, and these are the member-owner specials.

East Store
(812-336-5400; 3220 East Third St.)
In the wake of last month's visit by produce consultant Mark Mulcahy, we will soon implement a sweeping reset of the produce department that we hope will make it easier and more convenient for you to navigate and shop.

Christmas hams and turkeys are now in stock. Specifically, we have fresh Black Forest hams, Smoking Goose boneless city hams (also available sliced, in packages, and, according to reliable report, absolutely fabulous fried with a couple of eggs and toast), Virginia hams, and Black Forest ham nuggets. We also have frozen Bowman & Landes, Gunthorp, Schacht, and Organic Eberly Turkeys, as well as frozen Gunthorp and Bell & Evans ducks. No pre-orders: just first come-first served. Also, check out the Specialty Meat case, where you can find great holiday salamis and sliced specialty meats. These are great choices for holiday stocking stuffers, and will also be relished by you and your guests on a charcuterie platter. Try pairing them with Dunbarton Blue, the delicious raw milk cheddar-based blue cheese we brought in last month.

Throughout the grocery department you'll notice a number of new items we believe many of you will enjoy, including candy canes made by hand by the Martinsville Candy Kitchen, Trader's Point and Organic Valley egg nogs, Harvest Bay coconut water, Organic Pearled Farro (about which we're hearing rave reviews), and Oregon kombucha starter kits. Manager Martha Philion has the full story.

Here is great news from Christopher Bobbitt, in our Garden Center: this year we'll have an extremely wide assortment of garden seeds available in bulk, so that you can buy just the quantity you want, and you can forgo all the packaging and shipping expenses you typically incur when buying from seed catalogues. This will provide a very economical method of buying both large quantities of varieties you already know you like and smaller quantities of varieties that will be an experiment for you.

Near West Side Store
(812-333-7312; 316 W 6th St.
The NWS is awash in wonderful gift items: Andes winter wear; lots of neat coffee mugs from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild; kitchen tools such as tortilla warmers, muffin pans, chocolate graters, teapots, and French presses; Simple Soap Works dish clothes, soap bags. and socks and hand warmers; African baskets large and small; beautiful shawls, scarves, shirts, and tapestries; a large assortments of holiday candles; calendars, and a fine selection of locally made glass jewelry, patchwork bags, cards and pet beds.

Downtown (Kirkwood) Store
(812-336-5300; 419 E. Kirkwood Ave.)
Just as do our larger locations, so too does the Downtown store offer a nice selection of Christmas gift items, including Hunter's Honey candles, Maggie's socks and tights, soothing lavender gift sets, Bequet caramels (chocolate, sea salt, chipotle, and espresso), Zambeezi lip balm, and Helios quince-fruit wheels (great for the holidays with a cheese tray). So stop by for salad or made-to-order sandwich, enjoy it upstairs in our spacious dining area, and then spend a little time shopping for gifts. It's a nice way to pass a lunch hour.

We are delighted to report that our good friend and colleague, Chad Roeder, owner-operator of Pedal Power, has received a grant from the city that will allow for the purchase and installation of a cardboard baler. The baler will be located in the alley behind Village Deli, and will be the centerpiece for a "cardboard co-op" recycling operation that will include all the businesses in the adjacent area, including of course our own Kirkwood store.

Around Town

Solar Partnership With the County
Our member-owners have overwhelmingly urged us in the last few annual surveys to champion environmental and social causes in our community. Pursuant to that directive, Bloomingfoods partnered recently with the Monroe County Commissioners and several other community organizations in seeking a Community Conservation Challenge grant from the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED).  We are delighted to report that the proposal was accepted, and the county is the recipient of a $278,305 award. These monies will permit the county to install a 50 kWh solar photovoltaic installation on the iconic sawtooth roof of the North Showers Building, and to conduct a "Leaders of Today vs. Leaders of Tomorrow Community Energy Challenge," among other things. We've loaded a fuller account of this project to our website. Keep your eyes peeled this spring as ultra-modern panels adorn the skyline created over a hundred years ago by this splendid building. 

Winter Market News
Don't forget that the Local Growers Guild has kicked off its annual winter farmers' market, conducted on Saturday mornings from now until March 31st (with the exceptions of Dec. 24th and 31st) at Harmony School. The market offers fresh produce, meat, honey, dairy products, and the Brown Co. Coffee Bar, along with prepared foods, special events, and live music.  Come for breakfast, and find the ingredients for lunch and dinner.

Going Local 2012 Regional Food Events
As 2011 comes to a close, it's fun to look ahead to the great assortment of food-related events pending in the new year. Here's a preliminary list of festivals, classes and other events, from Going Local.

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard (MHC) Classes for Spring
MHC is offering a fine selection of cooking and gardening classes this spring, including the making of breads, soups, and yogurts, and the raising of chickens and worms. They're a great way to maximize your culinary pleasures during the upcoming years.

In the Co-op World

"Just Label It" Campaign
Bloomingfoods and the other food co-ops in NCGA (the National Cooperative Grocers Association) endorse the Just Label It campaign in support of mandatory labeling of GMO foods. The campaign currently has over 350,000 comments, and is aiming for 500,000 by January 15. You can go to the Just Label It website and add your voice to this effort: we believe that people have a right to know what is in their food.

Ski Resort Goes Co-op
Shames Mountain Ski Area, buried deep in the coastal ranges of northern British Columbia, is one of the most beautiful small ski resorts in the world. But its remote location, struggling local economy, and the desire of its owners to retire created a dilemma for residents. With no buyers in sight and the prospect of the resort's closure imminent, the local community found a solution in co-op ownership, the Friends of Shames Cooperative Ski Area. The story can be seen on Wikipedia and in this little video.

Food & Eating

Wood Pulp in Your Food
Cellulose (wood pulp) cannot be digested by the human gut, but that doesn't stop these companies from adulterating your food using this cheap filler, with the FDA's blessing, no less. We strongly urge you to read the full story of how and why this is happening, and acquaint yourself with the companies and products that are primary culprits.

Fresh Produce Consumption Bad for Economy
Earlier this year, the FTC, FDA, CDC, and the USDA proposed a set of guidelines for marketing food to children that recommended less sugar, fat, and salt and more fresh fruits and vegetables. A coalition of processed foods manufacturers, fast-food chains, and media reps has challenged the guidelines on the grounds they would kill tens of thousands of jobs in the country and would be an economic disaster to American consumers and farmers alike. They've offered up new guidelines that would, among other things, classify such items as Chocolate Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp cereals as "healthy."  Congress is folding like a house of cards under the pressure of industry lobbying, last month declaring pizza sauce a vegetable. Civil Eats has the whole sordid tale.

The 25 Cookies of Christmas
Among the many culinary traditions associated with the holiday season, one of the most popular is baking cookies. Whether they're to be given as gifts, shared with your office mates, or simply provide you an opportunity to share a fragrant kitchen with family and friends, it's a fine way to pass a few hours. Epicurious offers this selection of 25 of its readers' most popular cookie recipes: everything from biscotti to gingersnaps to brownies to thumbprints to stained-glass ornaments.

On the Health Front

Natural Remedies for Winter Ills
The winter season is upon us, with the cold, wet weather and seasonal ills that often accompany it. You may therefore appreciate this review of natural remedies and preventatives.

Insider's Look Into Lobbying
As we contemplate the role played by Congress in shaping the rules and regulations governing such aspects of our economy as food production, health care, and the environment, it is difficult to exaggerate the impact of corporate lobbyists.  This fact is brought painfully into focus in this 60 Minutes interview with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, of whom it was said, "he could sweet-talk a dog off a meat truck," and who was ultimately convicted of corrupting public officials, tax evasion, and fraud. (Interesting that the very folks responsible for making laws concerning such crimes are, themselves, so susceptible to their violation.)  According to Abramoff, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually by industry to curry favor with government officials are certainly powerful; even more effective though is the promise of lucrative jobs to members of Congress once they step out of government service. And who is the biggest player in the game? The pharmaceutical industry is heads and shoulders above the rest, spending in excess of $200 million each year, but industrial agriculture and the fuel industries are also prominently represented.  Reviewing the list of top spenders sheds an interesting light on much that we observe taking place and issuing out of DC. So take with a grain of salt that bright and flashy pharmaceutical ad you're watching. It might, indeed, contain an element of truth, but there may also be a dark and seamy story lurking behind it.

Environmental News

Most Fuel-Efficient Cars for 2012
Will 2012 be the year you trade in that old gas-guzzlin' jalopy for a shiny new fuel-efficient model? If so, you have a very nice assortment from which to choose, in a wide assortment of shapes, sizes, and prices.

Closing Thought

In the wake of the revelation concerning wood pulp being used as an inexpensive filler ingredient in food, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of the words of John Ruskin (long displayed in the dining area of Lennie's, by the way):

“There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey.”

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Bloomington, Indiana 47401
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