Co-op Connection November 2011

Co-op Connection

Food and Community News from Bloomington Cooperative Services

November 15, 2011

At the Co-op

Annual Meeting
The annual meeting held last month was a very pleasant celebration of food, wine, friendship, and the success of your co-op business. Our special thanks to chefs Kai Bookwalter, Dan Borders, Alan Simmerman, and the entire Bloomingfoods kitchen team that assembled such a bountiful and delicious assortment of curries, roasted meats, vegetables raw and cooked, cheeses, deviled eggs, and desserts.  Thanks, too, to the folks at the IU Fine Arts Museum for making their splendid facility available to us. And congratulations to our gm, George Huntington (pictured left), a most worthy recipient of this year's Krejci award. Here's a look at the people, food, musicians, and beverages that made our little soirée so pleasant.

Thanksgiving News and Volunteer Request
With the Annual Meeting passed, Thanksgiving is our next big event, and the inventory and spirit in the stores reflects it: wonderful food and good cheer abound. Haven't ordered your centerpiece dish yet?  Don't despair, but don't wait too long. We have quite a few extra turkeys, hams, ducks, and vegetarian alternatives, but we'll be moving them on a first come, first served basis beginning Sunday morning, the 20th. In addition to meats, our delis and bakeries will be offering a nice selection of side dishes.

I'm told, too, that we could use a few more volunteers at the East store, Sunday through Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. Drop a line to our front-end manager, Tom Zeta, if you're interested in being part of the fun during this wild and exciting week. As always, volunteers will earn a week of 10% off shopping for each two-hour shift they work.

Annual Survey: First Report
We've now closed our annual survey and begun reviewing the results.  We'll dole out the findings a little at a time over the course of the next few months.  For starters, over 90% of respondents said Bloomingfoods should champion social and environmental issues, and the top three issues you urged us to get behind were local, sustainable agriculture (93%), efforts to protect-improve the environment (43%), and recycling (32%).

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard (MHC) Food Drive
We're now in the midst of the "Share the Harvest" campaign, our annual drive in support of Mother Hubbard's Cupboard. MHC is the wonderful organization in our city that provides food, gardening and nutrition education, and life skills support to clients needing a helping hand. This is a "donated dollars" campaign, during which we have coin containers placed prominently at all our cash registers.  Please give, as your conscious and pocketbooks suggest.

Fall Truckload Sale Report
Thanks to everyone who made last month's truckload sale such a rousing success.  Not only did everyone appear to be having a great time, but also we enjoyed record sales.  Over $112K in merchandise was sold in the fall sale, breaking the previous record of $100K taken in at the spring 2011 sale. We'll continue to listen carefully to you and to work closely with our vendors to ensure that these sales offer you the best possible deals on the products you desire the most.

November - December Member Days & Product Specials
Member day is Thursday in November and Friday in December.  In addition, as a token of our appreciation and thankfulness for our members-owners, we'll offer you discount-day prices on the Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  These are the November product specials, and these are the member-owner specials. Co+op Deals flyers will no longer be distributed in the monthly newsletter, but will be available in our stores and can be found and printed here.

East Store
(812-336-5400; 3220 East Third St.)
Grocery manager Martha Philion has plenty to say regarding the many new products she has brought in, including Muddy Forks Farms breads, Vigilant Eats organic Superfood, Texas Tamales, Siggi’s Icelandic style yogurts, La Brea ready-to-bake sourdough baguette, Italian round and petite Tuscan doughs, Kinnikinick gluten-free frozen pie crusts, and Musgrave Orchard’s apple cider vinegar. We also have several new cheeses, including Dunbarton Blue (pictured left), a delicious raw milk, blue-veined cheddar from the Roelli family of Shullsburg, Wisconsin.

The Smoking Goose meats we began offering last month have proved very popular with our shoppers, and everyone loved the tasting we did of their products last Saturday. Consequently, we've added both chorizo and Italian sausage to the pastrami, lamb bacon, tasso, merguez-cased sausage, and duck pear sausage with which we began.
With winter and the holiday season approaching, the garden center has moved its remaining flowers and shrubs into winter storage, and will be replacing them soon with Christmas trees. The garden center is also very pleased to now offer a wide range of excellent bird feed. Chris Bobbitt fully describes them here, as well as provides a number of tips for making the most of your bird feeding activities. Chris also files this report on the Earth Machine compost barrels (pictured left) we just got in, and offers all the guidance you'll need to spend this winter easily producing "black gold" for next spring's gardens.

And lastly, in the wake of numerous customer requests and much internal discussion, we have at last clearly labeled all the gluten-free items throughout the East store. We hope this will help you identify the g-f products you're seeking.

Near West Side Store
(812-333-7312; 316 W 6th St.
Just in time for cool weather, we again have "pet nests, fabricated locally from recycled sweaters. We also have great smelling candles from Tru Melange, beautiful winter mittens, and socks made with an old-fashioned crank sock machine by our Simple Soap lady, Pate Hale. These are all lovely items that would make great Christmas gifts or personal indulgences.

In produce, the cranberry bog is back, and we also have plenty of potatoes, onions, green beans, celery, carrots, and everything else you'll need for your holiday meals.  We're also very pleased with a new line of specialty items from FungusAmongUs. This line includes seven varieties of dried mushrooms, three mushroom soup mixes, olive oil infused with white truffle, truffle gatherer's sauce, black truffle butter, black truffles whole, black truffles sliced, truffle mustard, truffle salts, three mélange blends, and balsamic vinaigrette infused with white truffle.

Downtown (Kirkwood) Store
(812-336-5300; 419 E. Kirkwood Ave.)
The big news this month is breakfast, 8 to 10:30 a.m. daily. We'll offer such items as roasted potatoes, creamy grits, biscuits, vegan and sausage gravy, breakfast sandwiches, and bacon.  We're also very pleased with our new line of Jaguar Moon bags, complete with Bloomingfoods logo. Also new this month are high protein drinks from Orgain. They're a fine way to get a protein boost without a lot of calories.

Around Town

Terre Foods Co-op Hosts Local Food Discussion
Terre Foods Co-op, in partnership with Bloomingfoods, Clabber Girl, and the Local Growers Guild will host a panel discussion on the topic “Local Food: If It's Local, Why Is It So Hard To Find?” This free event will take place on Thursday, December 8th at the Clabber Girl facility on the corner of Wabash and 9th Street in Terre Haute at 6:30 p.m.

Community Orchard News
There are but four more work days scheduled at the orchard for 2011: Nov. 20, Dec. 4, Dec. 11, and Dec. 17. Please drop in to help put the garden to rest for the year. The orchard can still use a few slightly bossy-but friendly workday leaders, as well as a volunteer coordinator.  Please contact Keith (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) regarding the former and Stacey (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) regarding the latter if you'd like to learn more.

In the Co-op World

Produce Department Training
Designing and managing a first-rate produce department is a subtle combination of art and science.  To help us keep ours looking their best, Bloomingfoods recently hosted a conference headed by industry expert Mark Mulcahy and attended by members of Bloomingfoods' produce teams and staff from Lost River, in Paoli, Pogue's Run in Indianapolis, MOON Coop in Oxford, OH, and Common Ground in Urbana, IL.  Mulcahy's presentations covered tools and systems to enhance department operational results, pointers on enhancing work with our local growers, inspirational and practical tools to help us better merchandise products for shopper convenience, and ideas for creating clear expectations and a culture of creativity and accountability.

Co-op Summit
It was a big year for food co-ops at the Indiana Cooperative Summit last month. Kelly Smith, director of marketing for the National Cooperative Grocers Association, talked about what food co-ops are doing to celebrate 2012, the International Year of Cooperatives, and Ellen Michel talked specifically about Bloomingfoods. Debbie Turner of Lost River Community Co-op in Paoli won the 2011 Community Cooperator Award, and George Huntington, our general manager, won the 2011 Cooperative Hero Award.

Food & Eating

Cornucopia Institute Exposes Shenanigans in Cereal Marketing
The world of breakfast cereals is awash in products claiming to be "natural." But whereas organic products are produced according to very specific and relatively stringent standards, there are virtually no controls over what can be labeled "natural." As Cornucopia puts it: "The term often constitutes nothing more than meaningless marketing hype promoted by corporate interests seeking to cash in on the consumer desire for food produced in a genuinely sustainable manner. In it's recently published study, "Cereal Crimes," Cornucopia looks at these products and offers a full report, a "cereal scorecard," and a short video summarizing its findings.

Hell's Angels Turf War Erupts at Starbucks.
Several dead, wounded, and missing, according to this report.  Get a 21st century biker gang loaded up on Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Lattes and you just know there's gonna be carnage. 

Thanksgiving Recipes
Whether you're looking for traditional standards or innovative ideas for your holiday dinner, you'll find them in Epicurious' collection of top-rated Thanksgiving recipe, as judged by its readers. And if you'd specifically like to skip the meat course at this year's dinner, you'll never miss it with these vegetarian and vegan dishes from the Daily Green, including cream of pumpkin soup topped with curried pecans, butternut squash-chestnut soup with caramelized pears, corn bread, tofu spinach lasagna, Chesapeake tempeh cakes, and Moroccan couscous with saffron.

Hearty Vegetarian Soups
"Hearty fall soups" doesn't necessarily mean meat.  Here are some very fine examples of vegetarian alternatives, including potato & kale, roasted root vegetable & apple, Alice Waters' cauliflower, and easy minestrone. Saveur, too, offers a nice collection of vegetarian soups.

You can carve their rinds for Halloween or an art project, roast their seeds for a snack, or cook their flesh in a dozen different ways to create either a dinner center piece or side dish. Winter Squash are among the most delicious and flexible late season crops.  You'll find several nice ideas here.

Confessions of a Former Big Food Exec
Bruce Bradley spent years as a food marketer for the likes of General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco, but then saw the light and now maintains a blog designed to expose food industry deception. His primary messages?
* Big Food is profit-driven. Food companies don't care about you or your health.
* Read and think critically. Most Big Food advertising is designed to manipulate not educate you.
* "There is no free lunch. Over the long-term, you always get what you pay for. Cheap food is very expensive once you add up the true costs -- like the taxes you pay to subsidize Big Food companies, health problems such as obesity and diabetes, destruction of the natural environment, and the inhumane treatment of animals raised within the industrialized food system."

Monsanto to Introduce GM Sweet Corn
By this time next year, fresh, frozen, and canned versions of Monsanto's genetically engineered sweet corn could be hitting grocery shelves around the country...with nary a word on the label to indicate genetic modification.  The Center for Food Safety, CREDO Action, Food Democracy Now!, and Food and Water Watch are leading the fight to stop it, and the website links I've provided to these groups will transport you directly to their takes on the subject, including what you can do if your object.

Organic Growers Win Major Court Victory
This just in: a Minnesota court of appeals has found in favor of an organic farmer seeking damages from the contamination of his fields by the pesticides and herbicides of the gmo farmers whose fields surround his. This is regarded as an enormous victory in an arena traditionally featuring Monsanto suing farmers whose crops were inadvertently contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified material.

On the Health Front

Researchers Focus on Genetic Basis for Long Life
Here's a look at research being done on the role of genetics in human longevity.  Specifically, researchers are attempting to identify and understand the role of DNA in human aging. One thing they're observing is that the DNA of many centenarian’s seems to contain protective features that overcome less-than-ideal lifestyles. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York reports that the centenarians in his study group include many who have done all the wrong things: they're overweight; they are or have been smokers; and few have exercised or followed a "healthy diet."  His oldest participant, who died just short of her 110th birthday, smoked for 95 years. One of her sisters died at 102, and one of her brothers is 105 and still manages a hedge fund. Fascinating stuff.

Healthnotes Resource
Looking for a great source of information concerning health and nutritional supplements?  Spend some time with Healthnotes.  It's convenient to access on the PCC Natural Markets' website, offers a search engine that is easy to use, and provides a great wealth of valuable information gleaned from over 600 of the top scientific and medical journals.

Environmental News

Cave Homes
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." We think Professor Tolkien would have thoroughly approved of these modern cave dwellings, and so might you.

Save Vanishing Species Postage Stamp
A new "Save Vanishing Species" U.S. postage stamp was unveiled recently. They cost 55 cents apiece, versus the standard 44-cent rate, but the 11-cent surcharge goes toward the protection of endangered species by supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Multinational Species Conservation Funds. Alas, it's probably too late for the Western Black Rhino, declared extinct in the wild last week by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Condit Hydroelectric Dam Dynamited
On October 26, 2011 the Condit Dam in Washington was breached with a dynamite blast, freeing the waters of the White Salmon river for the first time since the dam's creation in 1913.  The destruction of the dam and the rapid draining of the reservoir behind it were captured in this video.  Opinions concerning the action were predictably mixed: local county governments objected on the grounds that it would result in a loss of lake front property, water recreation, wetlands, and water habitat; conservation groups, on the other hand, celebrated the return of the river to its natural state, and believe this case will serve as a precedent for restoring other rivers.

Keystone Pipeline Update
Have you been following the Keystone Pipeline Project? It's a $13 billion project that would transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen via a 36" pipeline from the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta south to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma, and eventually the U.S. gulf coast. It is a project of TransCanada, which alleges it "will play an important role in linking a secure and growing supply of Canadian crude oil with the largest refining markets in the United States, significantly improving North American security supply." Environmentalists and some climatologists disagree, declaring it could be the "last straw." The White House has now postponed a decision until after the 2012 elections. Grist provides this review of the matter, concluding it will probably all come down to money.

Closing Thought

According to Time magazine, in 1950, the average American household spent 3% of its income on health care and 22% on food. Last year we spent 16% of our income on health care and 7% on food.

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