March 2018

Spotlight on Shaker Maple Farm

To celebrate sap season in Vermont, we’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Shaker Maple Farm! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of maple syrup products from April 12th – 18th, so it’s a great time to stock up on liquid gold!

Shaker Maple Farm is owned and operated by Steve and Leah Willsey of Starksboro, VT. They have been sugaring for over 30 years and currently boil from 20,000 taps. Many of these taps are from maple trees on their beautiful farm in Starksboro and some taps reside on two neighboring properties from whom they buy sap. In 2013, they completed construction on a beautiful sugaring barn, complete with a small canning facility. Just this year, they signed a new land lease which will allow them to increase to 30,000 taps over the next two seasons!

The 2017 season yielded 10,300 gallons of syrup at Shaker Maple farm. The Willsey’s sell about half of their syrup wholesale and the other half is sold in bulk. You can find their syrup at a variety of local grocery stores, co-ops and restaurants. You’ll also notice that their syrup is certified organic, which may lead you to wonder, “isn’t all maple syrup organic?”. The answer might surprise you! Organic certification ensures that:

  • No pesticides or chemicals were used to manage the forest. Like any crop, a forest can be sprayed to control insects. The same organic standards for field crops apply to maple forest to regulate things like buffer zones and runoff and ensure that no fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals were used.
  • A healthy forest is maintained. Organic standards limit the number of taps allowed in each tree to sustain the health of the tree. Organic certification ensures sustainable management of forestland to promote tree health, biodiversity, and reduce erosion.
  • No lead, filtering agents, or chemical defoamers. Certified organic maple farms must adhere to strict regulation when it comes to things like lead in equipment and the use of filtering agents and chemical defoamers.

Spotlight on Sunridge Farms

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on SunRidge Farms this week! All of their products are 20% off for member-owners from March 29th – April 4th. Read on to learn more about their commitment to offering nutritious, ecologically respectful, and sustainable foods for more than 30 years!

The Company

SunRidge Farms is a family-owned business that has been producing high-quality foods for more than 30 years. Their organic and natural food offerings can be found throughout our bulk department and are a reflection of the company’s commitment to a healthier lifestyle – a commitment that extends to the environment, the supply chain, and their community. They carefully source quality ingredients from suppliers who share their values and source organic, non-GMO, and Fair Trade ingredients whenever possible. They choose to offer their products in bulk as a way to demonstrate the value of purchasing foods in a manner that reduces cost and waste. Their facility, located in Royal Oaks, California, is completely solar-powered and their fleet of trucks run on bio-diesel. They also pay an extra $5 per day to their team members who choose to bike to work. These measures add up to a greatly reduced carbon footprint for their company and a lineup of products that you can feel good about.

The Mission

  • SunRidge Farms is committed to providing the healthiest products to their customers by producing foods without highly processed or refined ingredients. We are dedicated to sourcing Non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients.
  • SunRidge Farms is committed to the planet and supports organic farming and sustainable practices.
  • SunRidge Farms sincerely believes that it is essential to aid in the conservation of ecological diversity, wildlife, and natural terrain in order to preserve our world. Their contributions include substantial donations toward the successful resolution of environmental, social, food related issues on both local and global levels.

The Vision

SunRidge Farms is committed to offering nutritious, ecologically respectful, and sustainable foods to their communities. Their complete line of certified organic and naturally grown products aids and supports an authentic lifestyle and display a commitment to food safety, ecological integrity, and excellence.
Their Green Commitment is centric to all of their business decisions. The manufacturing facility is solar-powered, and they support sustainable farming practices, energy usage, recycling, and freshness. Their goal is to enhance connections between consumers, retail stores, farmers, and suppliers.
They also embrace the many opportunities to contribute toward ecological diversity, wildlife, and the preservation of natural terrain. Reducing the impacts of global climate change and respecting the earth and its beings are vital to all that they do. Their support includes substantial donations toward environmental, social, food related, educational and world hunger issues.

 

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Interested in dying eggs the natural way? Check out this handy guide from our partners at National Co-op Grocers:

Here are some great plant-based dyes—fruits, vegetables, spices, and flowers:

 

Items Needed

White eggs (or try brown, keeping in mind color results will vary), egg carton, stock pan(s), water, white vinegar, slotted spoon and natural materials for dyeing (see table).
Optional: Tape, string, rubber bands, cheesecloth squares, natural beeswax crayons to create designs on eggs, and vegetable oil for an extra sheen.

Directions

Hot Bath Method

  1. Place uncooked eggs in a stainless steel stock pan. Add water 2-3 inches above eggs. (When using bottled juice, fill 2-3 inches above eggs. Do not add water.) Add natural dye ingredients and 1-2 tablespoons vinegar per quart of water.
  2.  Cover and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove eggs with a slotted spoon and air dry.

Cold Bath Method

The process for cold dyeing is much the same as the hot method except the eggs and dyes are cooked separately.

  1. Simmer the dye ingredients (water, vinegar and dye matter) for 20-30 minutes or longer, until the dye reaches your desired shade.
  2.  Allow the liquid to cool and submerge hard-boiled eggs in the dye for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove eggs with a slotted spoon and air dry.

 

Notes, Tips & Techniques

Color variation

Colors may vary depending on steeping time and foods used to dye eggs.

Deeper colors

The longer the eggs stay in the dye, the deeper the color will be; leaving the eggs in the dye for several hours or overnight (in the refrigerator) is recommended for achieving deep colors. Allow the liquid and eggs to cool before refrigerating and ensure that the eggs are completely submerged in the dye. Eggs will be speckled if the dye matter remains in the liquid. For more uniform colors, remove the dye matter from the liquid, by straining the liquid through a coffee filter, before refrigerating.

Egg flavor

The flavor of the egg may change based on the dye, so if you plan to eat your dyed eggs, a shorter dye bath and fresh ingredients may be preferable.

Drying

Make a drying rack by cutting the bottom off an egg carton and turning it upside down.

Decorating

Wrap onion skins around eggs, then wrap the entire egg with a cheesecloth square and secure it with string before placing the eggs in the dye.
Wrap string or rubber bands around eggs before dying to create stripes (use rubber bands for cold dyeing only).
Draw designs on hot, warm or cold hard-boiled eggs with crayons. When using hot or warm eggs, the crayon may melt slightly on contact with the egg (if eggs are hot, hold eggs with a potholder or rag to prevent finger burns). Crayon covered eggs should only be dyed in cold dyes as the crayon wax will melt in hot liquids.
Gently wipe dry dyed eggs with vegetable oil to give eggs an added sheen.

On Plastic Bags and Nude Food

“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic.”   Sian Sutherland

In the 1967 movie,  “The Graduate”, there is an often quoted line: “There’s a great future in plastics”.  Sadly, any plastic referenced during that conversation is likely still around. Plastic is just about indestructible and does have a great future in terms of longevity. Worldwide concern about the ubiquitous use of plastic is growing, however, and some locales have developed unique approaches to address the problem. A few factoids:

  • Scientists estimate that 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced worldwide since the 1950s when mass production began. Of that, roughly 6.3 billion metric tons have been thrown away, and only 9 percent of discarded plastic has been recycled.
  • A Dutch supermarket chain introduced what it billed as the world’s first plastic-free aisle in a store in Amsterdam. There, shoppers found groceries, snacks, and other items packaged in compostable materials or in glass, metal or cardboard.
  • The Church of England issued a Lenten challenge this year, asking people to avoid purchasing plastic products and packaging for a six week period as a way to raise consciousness about plastic shopping habits.
  • A number of countries have either eliminated plastic bags in grocery stores or charge customers for them. Follow-up suggests a significant reduction of plastic bags in the waste stream where these measures have been implemented.

A particularly good overview of the omnipresent plastic bag comes from Joseph Curtin, a member of the Irish government’s Climate Change Advisory Council, in the 3.4.18 edition of the New York Times. No matter how you feel about this, there is no question that the prevalence and permanence of plastic bags in our waste stream is a problem, and we can all do our small part to mitigate it. Plastic bags are not “free”. Stores pay for them and pass the cost on to customers. There are environmental and financial costs associated with the energy and resources required to produce, recycle, and/or remove them from the refuse stream.

In recent readings, I encountered the term “nude food”, i.e. food that is not packaged in any way. It is selected at the market, placed in a container you have brought with you, and remains unclothed until you get it home.  We have developed many automatic, unconscious food shopping habits that require some reflection. When buying fresh produce that is pre-packaged, or that we place in a plastic bag, we are actually purchasing two items. One we will use, the other will be thrown away. This makes little sense, as noted in a recent New York Times piece that quotes Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, an advocacy group that has pushed the concept of eliminating plastic bags. Ms. Sutherland notes, “There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic.”

If you want to do your part locally, there are many alternatives to using immortal plastic bags.  Google “alternatives to plastic bags” to become educated about an array of reusable products. Become mindful of bringing home some “nude food”. Some possibilities:

  • Bee’s Wrap, a reusable alternative to plastic wrap, is made in Bristol, Vermont and you’ll have fun discovering ways to use it.
  • Reusable silicone bags that have the see-through, flexible, and hygienic appeal of plastic
  • Heavy duty canvas or cotton grocery bags that can hold 40+ pounds
  • Linen bread bags touted to keep bread fresher than plastic
  • Muslin produce bags said to keep produce fresher than plastic
  • Nylon mesh produce bags that allow cashiers to access UPC stickers
  • Incredibly appealing cotton and polyester sandwich bags that would make brown bagging a much more esthetic experience
  • Bring a reusable tote bag with you when you shop and stash pre-used paper and plastic bags inside for produce or bulk products
  • Consider buying bread packaged in a recyclable paper bag
  • If you buy bulk coffee, those sturdy, lined brown bags that are provided can be reused, easily 10 to 15 times. Or just use an ordinary paper bag. It is better to store coffee in a glass and/or airtight container anyway, so you only need to get the coffee home and doesn’t using a new bag each time seems excessive?
  • If you have purchased something in one of those clear plastic “clamshell” containers, use it again and again for produce or bulk items.
  • To transport your “nude food” from store to home, enjoy the retro charm of shopping with a real basket from your home collection, or grab a small cardboard box from the array available at the front of the store. The latter is also great if you’ve forgotten your tote bag.

It’s our store, so let’s continue the conversation … it is an important one!

Louise Vojitisek is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member

Going Bagless for Earth Day!

Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day, and in honor of this fine holiday, we’re going bagless! The day will serve as a great reminder that there are many ways to bag your groceries, so why not choose the GREEN way? Please bring your baskets, reusable bags, repurposed cardboard boxes, or any grocery tote you prefer. If you forget, no problem; we’ll be giving away free reusable bags while supplies last, and we’ll also have repurposed cardboard boxes available.

Why bother with reusable grocery totes? Here are some interesting facts about disposable shopping bags:

While disposable paper and plastic bags seem awfully convenient, their cost to the environment can be hefty.

Plastic Bags

It is estimated that 5 trillion plastic bags are produced each year. Each plastic bag is used, on average, for about 20 minutes, though it takes a single bag over 1,000 years to completely decompose in a landfill. As it decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and releases harmful toxins into our soil and groundwater. Bags that don’t make it to the landfill litter the landscape and pose a significant threat to animal health and well-being; particularly for birds and aquatic life.

Plastic bags are quite commonly mistaken for food by animals, especially when the bags carry food residues, are brightly colored or are animated by the movement of water. A great variety of animals, land and especially marine, can choke to death on bags. If swallowed whole, animals may not be able to digest real food and die a slow death from starvation or infection. Plastic bags are responsible for the death of over a million seabirds and an estimated 100,000 whales, dolphins, turtles, and seals each year.

Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags annually. That is equivalent to dumping nearly 12 billion barrels of oil. But, what if you recycle them? That seems like a more environmentally-friendly way to go, right? Unfortunately, it takes 85 times more energy to recycle a plastic bag than it does to create it.

Paper Bags

Perhaps you opt for paper bags, instead of plastic. Those are better for the environment, right? Believe it or not, paper production creates 70% more pollution during production than plastic bags. One must also consider that paper bags are made from trees that could instead be absorbing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere if they weren’t busy becoming bags. The paper bag making process also results in 50 times more water pollutants than making plastic bags and uses more water during production.

While it’s true that plastic bags are made from crude oil, making a paper bag consumes four times as much energy as making a plastic bag, so the process of making paper bags consumes a good deal of oil as fuel for production, making both paper and plastic bags very oil-intensive products.

You can certainly recycle paper bags, though much like plastic bags, the process for recycling paper bags can be inefficient – often consuming more fuel than it would take to make a brand new bag.

In short, when it comes to the battle over which is greener, neither paper nor plastic has it in the bag.

 

Here are some great tips for remembering your reusable shopping bags:

 

  • Keep your bags in your car or purse so you have them every time you go out.
  • Make a note on your grocery list to grab the bags before you leave the house.
  • Get the kids in on it! Have them be the ones to get excited and bring the bags with them when you take them along shopping.
  • If you only have a couple of easy-to-carry items and are asked if you would like a bag,  say ” no, thank you”  If you are not asked if you would like a bag,  say “I don’t need a bag, thank you.” Simple.
  • If you do forget your reusable bags, check out the hallway area near the customer restroom. This area is often stocked with cardboard boxes from our deliveries, which are handy repurposed grocery totes.
  • Keep in mind, however, that to get the full greenhouse gas benefit from a reusable bag, it must be reused over 100 times. Reusable bags are energy-intensive to produce, but if you reuse them often over the years, the benefits really add up!
Bags to give away
Earth Balls Outside

Spotlight on Honeywilya Fish

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Honeywilya Fish! All of their succulent salmon products are 20% off for member-owners from March 22nd – 28th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business that brings high quality, hook-and-line-caught wild Alaskan salmon to our Co-op shelves and the angler that makes it all possible:

For angler Lynn Steyaart, this fish tale begins on the shores of Georgia where he grew up fly fishing with his dad and watching the shrimp boats come into port. His path eventually led him to school at UVM, then on to adventures in commercial fishing in Alaska. It was here that Lynn met his wife, Maria, who had grown up in Chester, Vermont, but was spending some time as a wilderness ranger in Alaska. It was also there that Lynn purchased a commercial salmon troller called the “Honeywilya”, marking the exciting beginning of a new livelihood.

 

 

Lynn and Maria are now settled in Duxbury, Vermont, though Lynn still spends 6 months of the year fishing the 500-mile stretch of ocean in Southeastern Alaska from Ketchikan to Yakatak. He returns home to Vermont with 700-800 pounds of salmon, which he sells to friends, neighbors, and a select few local stores, including our Co-op.

 

 

All of Honeywilya Fish’s salmon are wild, sustainably caught by hook-and-line, individually landed, immediately cleaned, carefully iced, and gently handled by Lynn and his deckhand, Ryan Mulvihill. Without the use of nets (that can be detrimental to other species), this small quantity catch method ensures an attention to detail and superior quality with each fish. Steyaart and Mulvihill put in long days on the boat, working from 3 or 4 am until 9 pm to bring in their haul. The fish are cleaned and filleted right away, then packed in ice. Another boat meets Steyaart’s every couple of days to take the fish to a packaging facility to be vacuum-sealed. This ensures that the fish arrives to you as fresh as possible.

 

Steyaart says it’s tough to leave his wife behind for half of each year and the days working on the boat can be long and strenuous, but it’s surprisingly easy to stay in touch. Because cruise ships frequent the southern Alaska coastline, cellphone coverage is surprisingly good where Lynn fishes, and she hears from him often. And occasionally, as her schedule permits, she has even joined him on the boat.

 

Spotlight on Seventh Generation

Are you gearing up for some spring cleaning? Keep it green with Seventh Generation! They’re basking in the glow of the Co-op Spotlight this week and member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of products from March 15th – 21stth. Read on to learn more about their energy efficient practices, socially responsible business model, and impressive efforts to bring labeling transparency to the cleaning product industry:

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For 28 years, Seventh Generation has been creating powerful plant-based solutions for your home & family. From their very first days as a company back in 1998, they have been on a mission to inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations. They aspire to:

  • nurture nature
  • transform commerce with honesty, responsibility, and radical transparency
  • enhance health through education, activism, and innovation
  • build communities advancing social justice and equality to unleash human potential.

As a mission-driven B-Corps business, Seventh Generation aims to pioneer a more mindful way of doing business. They developed a plan known as the Path to 2020  and began by examining their impacts as a business and considering the principles that matter to them as a company:  responsible sourcing; using materials from plants, not petroleum; ensuring the health of our planet and the people on it; having an engaged, motivated workforce; and caring for our community. To track their progress toward these goals and present them with total transparency, they post an annual Corporate Consciousness Report, which we invite you to check out.

Come Clean

Did you know that the law does not require ingredient disclosure on cleaning product labels? It’s time to tell the industry to come clean!  Seventh Generation firmly believes that you have the right to know what is in the products you buy, which is why they helped launch the #comeclean campaign. Through this campaign, they aim to air the cleaning industry’s dirty laundry. They support state and federal legislation to require manufacturers of both consumer household and industrial cleaning products to disclose all intentionally added ingredients, including fragrance components, on their product labels and on their websites.  Food and personal care products are currently required to have content labels, but there are no regulations in place for the ingredient labeling of household cleaning products – especially for the fragrances that scent those products. Chemicals of concern can hide behind the term “fragrance” in ingredient lists on your cleaning products – chemicals that have been linked to serious health effects including allergies, asthma, cancer, and reproductive harm. Want to take action? Click here for the latest updates on these critical pieces of legislation and find out what you can do to get involved.

Spotlight on Kimball Brook Farm

Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Kimball Brook Farm! Their full line of products are 20% off for member-owners from March 8th – 14th. Read on to learn more about one of Vermont’s finest family-owned organic dairy farms:

History

Kimball Brook Farm was first settled by Daniel Kimball in the late 1700s. Daniel and his sons continued running the farm until it was purchased by Edward Danyow in 1960.

The DeVos family purchased the farm in 1967 and on June 1, 1968, John De Vos Sr. and his son John De Vos Jr. moved their complete herd (50 cows), machinery and households from Monroe, New York to the Kimball Brook farm in North Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

John De Vos Jr. and his wife Sue operated the farm for over 30 years raising three sons and one daughter on the farm. The eldest son, John De Vos III (JD) and his wife Cheryl took over the business in 2001, expanding the herd from 80 cows to 200 and added a milking parlor.

In 2003, JD and Cheryl began transitioning the 220 cow farm to an organic operation and  Kimball Brook Farm became one of the largest certified organic dairy operations in the State of Vermont. The first shipment of organic milk was in September 2005. In 2010, they began the process of pursuing another dream of opening their own creamery in the former Saputo Cheese plant in Hinesburg. This would allow them to assemble, bottle, and package all of their own products. In June of 2011, they were awarded the VT Dairy Farm of the Year award and by May of 2012, they were celebrating the official opening of Green Mountain Organic Creamery.

At the Co-op, you can find a broad selection of Kimball Brook Farm’s organic products including Whole Milk, Cream, Chocolate Milk, Maple Milk, Mocha & Coffee Flavored Iced Cappuccino, Butter and Iced Teas. Also be sure to check out their newest addition to the lineup:  CBD Tea!

The Herd

The herd at Kimball Brook Farm consists of Holsteins, Jerseys and Jersey/Holstein crosses. During the growing season, their cows and heifers(teenagers) can be found happily grazing on the lush grasses their pastures provide. The cows that are being actively milked also get some mixed legumes and grains at the barn to provide them with the extra energy they need to produce rich, organic milk.

The Devos family believes that by maintaining the health of the land and the health of the cows, they can provide a fantastic organic milk free of Growth Hormones, GMO’s, Pesticides, Herbicides and Antibiotics for consumers to enjoy.

Check out this fun video showing how Kimball Brook Farm milk gets from the cow to your kitchen table:

 

Investing in Local Organic Dairy

You eat local and you drink local, but what about Investing local? Kimball Brook Farm has an offer for those looking to make a deeper commitment by investing in their organic dairy farm and creamery. This offer is for Vermont residents only. Click here to read more about it.

A polyculture of corn & sunflowers grown as food for the herd at KBF

Deli Delights

Our adaptable, helpful and enthusiastic staff approached the busy holiday season after months of construction and change without losing a beat, but one major innovation didn’t make its debut until the first week of January:  the Hot Bar!

First of all, due to its size, the enormous stainless steel piece of equipment for both hot and cold foods had to be brought into the building before all the walls were finished.  Then the salad and soup bar was brought back as soon as the dust settled, literally.  Finally, around 11 o’clock on  January 3, when I just happened to be checking out the daily offerings,  I heard “Hot food coming through!”  I was the very first customer who enjoyed the first hot entrée that day:  beef brisket, and it was worth the wait.  Subsequently, vegetarian and vegan dishes appeared, and the mac and cheese is one of the first casseroles to go.

You don’t have to wait for the lunch choices, however.  Hot breakfast sandwiches are available from 8-11am every day, currently cheddar cheese, ham and chicken sausage options.

One additional discovery for folks on a gluten-free diet:  all the mini pizza flavors in the deli case are available with a wheat free crust.  The crust is handled and baked separately with your choice of toppings.  Just ask the staff and minutes later you have a delicious wheat-free pizza.

Staff members encourage questions, suggestions, and other feedback.  They love hearing when things are good, but they want to hear when things could be better.  Thank you for your loyalty during this past year of transition, and please continue to help us serve you as best we can.

Ann LaFiandra is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member

Business of the Month: Middlebury Fitness

Are you looking to give your workout routine a spring makeover? We invite you to check out our Co-op Connection Business of the Month — Middlebury Fitness! Flash your Co-op member-owner card and you’ll receive 50% off the enrollment fee, 10% off a short-term membership, and your first class or workout is FREE! Read on to learn more about what this community wellness center has to offer:

 

 

Middlebury Fitness is a community health and wellness center founded in 1997 that puts their members needs first.Their facility features a wide variety of the most current strength and cardio equipment by the leading brands in the industry. Is group fitness your thing? They offer a variety of programs and group fitness classes to meet the diverse and ever-changing needs of their member base, ranging from ages 13-93. Click here for their class calendar and descriptions. Other services and amenities include personal trainingfree equipment orientationsathletic performance trainingDietician consultationssaunasmassage therapy, and more!

The crew at Middlebury Fitness is incredibly proud to be so active in this great community and annually receive recognition and awards for various initiatives. For the past three consecutive years, they have received the United Way of Addison County’s “Partner Award” for an annual event that has raised thousands of dollars for our local friends and families in need. In fact, their recent SPIN UNITED event raised $11,440 for United Way of Addison County. Wow!!

At Middlebury Fitness they understand that you have options when it comes to your health and fitness needs. They aim to meet and exceed their members’ expectations every day and believe they have some of the most attentive, caring, professional and knowledgeable instructors, personal trainers and staff you will find. Their ultimate goal at Midd Fit is to ensure that each of their members achieves their personal fitness goals while experiencing exceptional customer service in a supportive atmosphere of fun and camaraderie.

If you are a current member, they’d like to extend a sincere THANK YOU for being a part of the Midd Fit family! If you are not yet a member, please visit and let Middlebury Fitness guide you through your fitness journey today! And don’t forget to mention that you’re a Co-op member-owner!

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