May 2019

June is Dairy Month

Since 1937, Americans have been celebrating June as National Dairy Month. As we take this time to heartily celebrate our dairy farmers this month, it’s hard to avoid mention of the many challenges that dairy farmers in Vermont and across the country continue to face as they endure the fifth consecutive year of low farm-gate milk prices. This means that the price farmers are paid for the milk they produce is well below the cost of production. As a recent press release from Rural Vermont states, “our agricultural heartbeat is in threat, as is our farmland. With an average farmer age of 58 and consistently inadequate milk prices, the future for our dairy community, and its accompanying 80% of Vermont’s agricultural land is in jeopardy as it goes through a formative transition.” 

The Local Scene

Our local dairy farmers need our support now more than ever, though some recent developments give us reason to feel optimistic.  In April of 2019 over 50 Vermont dairy farmers and eaters gathered for a meeting geared toward developing strategies for viability. The overwhelming sentiment shared throughout the meeting was one of hope and gratitude for the local support they’re receiving. The six dairy farmers on the panel that day, along with many other conventional and organic dairy farmers in attendance, underscored the value of having strong local support. They recognized the need to provide ongoing education for the community about the impact of supporting local dairy. As George van Vlaanderen of Does’ Leap Farm in East Fairfield stated, “It’s contingent on us to educate friends and neighbors about where our food comes from and the impact of voting with your dollars. We can support a prosperous agricultural future by supporting our farmer neighbors today.” Amber Machia of Red Barn in HIghgate echoed his sentiments, reminding those in attendance that impact of spending food dollars locally extends well beyond the farms, affecting the multitude of other local businesses connected to local dairy farms, including feed supply stores, trucking companies, label and package makers, and distribution hubs.

Happy grass-fed cows at Butterworks Farm

National Support

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, played a key role in forging the 2018 Farm Bill’s dairy priorities and, as a result of his efforts, the Farm Bill dramatically expanded support for dairy producers, providing flexible, affordable coverage options through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. The goal of the Farm Bill is to benefit producers of all sizes, but offers up to five times more support for the smallest farms, as those farms tend to be hardest hit during times of crisis. This is particularly good news for Vermont dairy farmers, as most manage herds of less than 200 cattle, qualifying them as small dairies by national standards. Leahy, along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and others, penned a bipartisan letter in April asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize the implementation of the dairy provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to help provide some much-needed relief to dairy farmers without delay. Leahy followed that up with an additional bipartisan letter on May 17th urging Perdue to increase trade war relief payments to a level that more accurately reflects the damages dairy farmers have faced, as the current trade mitigation program has failed to fairly compensate dairy farmers slammed by retaliatory tariffs. It sure is nice to have a local Senator fighting so hard for our farmers.

Milk with Dignity

A bright spot in local dairy news this year was the adoption of the Milk with Dignity program by local dairy giant Ben & Jerry’s. In a recent article in VT Digger, Marita Canedo, Migrant Justice staff member and event panelist representing the Milk with Dignity Program, reflected on Ben & Jerry’s adoption of the program as a human rights victory. “It took more than two years in a public campaign and 4 years in conversation. We had to have translators and it took a long time, but we finally had everyone at the same table. There are human rights in that ice cream.” The Milk with Dignity Program brings together farmers, farmworker, buyers, and consumers to ensure dignified working conditions in the dairy supply chain, asking the corporations making the most in the dairy industry to pay for a higher standard of human rights for workers.

This came as part of a larger Values-Led Dairy Vision adopted by Ben & Jerry’s, which specifies that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s in the manufacture of its products will be sourced from dairy farms which have:

  • Thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers
  • Exceptional animal welfare standards for cows
  • A flourishing ecosystem in which feed is grown ecologically, without the use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity
  • Farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil.

Ben & Jerry’s sources most of the milk and cream from members of the St. Albans Cooperative. 

Grass-fed Organic Dairy Offers Solutions

The US milk glut and the accompanying drop in dairy prices over the past few years have wielded a tough blow for conventional and organic dairy farmers alike, though organic and grass-fed dairy farms are still faring better than their conventional counterparts. Consumers are beginning to recognize the importance of supporting organic dairy production that utilizes traditional pasture-based systems of rotational grazing. Not only does this system of natural grazing aid the environment in terms of soil restoration, increased biodiversity, improved water quality, and flood mitigation – but it also it guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they, in turn, produce meat and milk that is healthier for us than the grain-fed alternatives. Soil scientists have determined that grazing animals are critical to the process of building soil organic matter. According to Jean Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm, who presented at the recent Real Organic Project Symposium at Dartmouth, a mere one-percent increase in the soil organic matter on the four billion acres that are used for agricultural production on our planet would allow for the sequestration of 102 billion tons of carbon dioxide. When raising livestock using managed rotational grazing, it is possible to sink more carbon than one is producing, making organic agricultural production an active part of the solution to the ongoing threat of climate change.  

Happy grass-fed cows at Larson Farm & Creamery

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on American Flatbread

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on a company with humble roots here in Vermont – American Flatbread! From May 30th – June 5th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off American Flatbread’s products (applies only to frozen flatbreads here at the Co-op, not at their fabulous restaurants). Read on to learn more about the history and mission of this locally-born company:

 

George Schenk, the founder of American Flatbread, believed that food is more than what’s on the plate, which he shares in “The Five Faces of Food” and his simple phrase, “Food Remembers the acts of the hands and heart.”

“Food is important. What we eat and how it’s grown intimately affects our health and the well-being of the world.” He created American Flatbread based on the philosophy of food for the greater good, and the company remains committed to building upon that legacy.

American Flatbread was born in Waitsfield, Vermont, but demand for frozen flatbreads soon outgrew the humble kitchens of their flagship location. Rustic Crust, the company that now produces American Flatbread frozen pizzas, took over the reins and says that they’re proud that George entrusted them with his mission and they remain committed to upholding it. 

Headquartered in New Hampshire, Rustic Crust continues to work with fresh, all natural ingredients to bring you the authentic flavor you’ve come to know and love. According to Rustic Crust CEO Brad Sterl, “Our two good-for-you pizza brands make their home in the beautiful New England countryside, and are made by real people and using real ingredients. American Flatbread frozen pizzas feature 100% organically grown wheat crusts and topped with fresh herbs, vegetables and the finest of cheeses (no rBST growth hormone!). They’re all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.

Truly nutritious, light, crisp, and flavorful — convenience without compromise – American Flatbread pizzas are honestly delicious, the best premium frozen pizza bar none, for people who care about pizza and the planet.

 

Spotlight on Blue Ledge Farm

We’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals Spotlight on a local cheese-making family that produces incredible award-winning cow and goat’s milk cheeses, while also keeping a strong focus on environmental stewardship. All Blue Ledge Farm cheeses will be 20% off for member-owners from June 6th – 12th!  Read on to learn more about their farm in Salisbury, VT and the steps they take to care for their land while also producing fabulous cheeses :

 

 

Blue Ledge Farm is a first generation, family owned and run goat dairy and cheese-making operation established in 2000 by Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt. Their mission is to create a high-quality product built on the cornerstones of respect for consumers, land, and animals as well as their local community.

They initially started milking four goats at Blue Ledge Farm and began processing cheese two years later. Today they milk over 100 goats twice daily and produce eleven types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to harder cheeses aged three months.

The 150 acres of Blue Ledge Farm consists of woods, hayland, pasture, and wetland. Recognizing the ecological value of the wetland ecosystem, they recently preserved the fifty acres of wetland on their farm through the Vermont Land Trust. Their 125 goats spend spring, summer, and fall days browsing in the woods, return to the barn for 4 pm milking, and lounge around in a grass pasture as evening sets. It’s no wonder that they recently became certified as an Animal Welfare Approved Farm!

Sustainable farming practices are a top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby completing the nutrient cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave” which is naturally cool and moist, conditions that the cheese likes, and being underground it takes less energy to keep the temperature and humidity at desirable levels. They have partnered with Efficiency Vermont on several projects over the years, from a variable-speed efficient milking machine to more efficient cooling compressors, to newer fluorescent light bulbs, all in an effort to lower their impact on the environment. At the heart of their operation is the clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, which allows them to heat their home, cheese-house, and barn, as well as all of the hot water used in the cheese plant, with locally-produced wood pellets! In 2015 they covered the south facing roof of their barn with solar panels which provide nearly half of the farm’s electricity usage all summer long!

On the Co-op shelves, look for Blue Ledge Farm’s goat’s milk cheeses, including La Luna, Crottina, Lake’s Edge, Riley’s Coat, and four varieties of fresh chèvre. You’ll also find a cheese called Riley’s 2 X 4, which is made with a blend of cow and goat’s milk. Additionally, be sure to try their cow’s milk cheeses, including Camembrie, Middlebury Blue, and their newest cheese – Richville! Which one is your favorite?

 

Spotlight on Newman’s Own

This week, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Newman’s Own as a tip of the hat to a man who decided to launch a food business that gives away 100% of its profits to charity. All of Newman’s Own products will be 20% off for member-owners from May 23rd – 29th  Read on to learn more about how Paul Newman accidentally found himself at the center of a successful food business and the impact of his incredible philanthropy:

 

Paul Newman’s craft was acting, his passion was auto racing, his love was his family and friends. But his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place. His commitment to philanthropy was clear — he used his influence, gave of his financial resources, and personally volunteered to advance humanitarian and social causes around the world. While Paul Newman was a Hollywood star of extraordinary celebrity and a person recognized for exceptional commitment and leadership for philanthropy, he lived his life as an ordinary person, which he always considered himself. He was a man of abundant good humor, generosity, and humility.

Newman’s Own began as a bit of a lark. In 1980, Paul Newman and his pal A.E. Hotchner filled empty wine bottles with his homemade salad dressing to give as gifts for the holidays. After friends and neighbors came clamoring for refills, Paul and “Hotch” were convinced that the special recipe was good enough to be bottled and sold.

Newman’s Own Salad Dressing was officially launched in 1982 and, surprisingly, became an instant success. The first year of profits exceeded $300,000 and Paul declared, “Let’s give it all away to those who need it.” Without ever taking personal compensation, Paul shared his good fortune. It was a unique concept at the time –  giving away all after-tax profits, but he believed that helping others was just the right thing to do.

Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have now been “giving it all away” for 35 years and recently reached a milestone of $500 million in donations, helping thousands of charities and millions of people around the world. Newman’s Own Foundation is an IRS-recognized charitable corporation, which carries on Paul Newman’s commitment to using all the money it receives (royalties and profits) from the sale of Newman’s Own products for charitable purposes. The Foundation is governed by an independent Board of Directors which is obligated by law to use the Foundation’s resources only to advance its charitable purpose. The Foundation makes grants to charitable organizations, pays for other qualifying charitable expenses, and sets aside reserves to cover future payments on pledges, establish a rapid response fund in case of disasters, make program-related investments, and cover unanticipated contingencies. The Foundation believes that each of us, through the power of philanthropy, has the potential to make a difference.

Click here to read more about the beneficiaries and impact of the Newman’s Own Foundation

Today, Newman’s Own produces over 200 individual products across 20 categories. Always great tasting, always top quality, just the way founder Paul Newman insisted. The enterprise remains true to Paul’s original mission and values, using only all-natural, high-quality foods and donating 100% of profits and royalties to charity. Who would’ve thought that so much good could come from a simple idea? As Paul said, it has been “a heck of a ride.”

Spotlight on McKenzie

This week’s Member Deals spotlight shines brightly on McKenzie. All McKenzie meats and cheeses are 20% off for member-owners from May 16th – 22nd. Read on to learn more about this Burlington-based company that’s been providing all-natural meats to our community for well over 100 years:

 

History

In 1885, John married his beloved Nellie an Irish farm girl. In 1898 they immigrated to rural Vermont to fulfill their dream of running their own farm. It flourished and included smokehouses for slow curing country hams. Nellie began giving hams as holiday gifts to neighboring farms. Word got out of their extraordinary quality and flavor. Soon the orders started coming and they never stopped.

Much has changed in this world, but some things are too good to change. Today, the McKenzie folks are still going to extraordinary measures to bring you the best meats made the old-fashioned way – based on John and Nellie’s farm methods for naturally hardwood smoking hams and using pure Vermont maple syrup for authentic flavor. They continue this tradition of bringing you authentic flavors with simple, wholesome food values. Attention to the little details served their family well back then, and that same integrity in their process and product continues to serve as their compass today.

The McKenzie Promise

At McKenzie, they believe in paying attention to all the little details, that meats and cheeses should be crafted with care, that every batch should be sourced from independent farms and trusted purveyors, and that a recipe with natural ingredients is always better than one with artificial ingredients or preservatives. To that end, here is there promise to you:

  • 100% natural
  • Raised without the use of antibiotics
  • No nitrates or nitrites
  • No growth hormones
  • Gluten-free
  • Sourced from independent farms

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Acure

Is there a special mom in your life who could use a bit of pampering this Mother’s Day? Or maybe you’re looking to shake up your own skin and body care routine? Acure is featured in our Member Deals Spotlight from May 9th – 15th and member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of natural body care products this week! Read on to learn more about Acure’s mission and charitable partners:

The team at Acure believes that each and every one of us can make an enormous impact on the world by making small changes in the items we use, the purchases we make, and the way that we approach each day. With that in mind, they offer a lineup of skin, hair, and body care products that are as gentle to your body as they are to the planet. 

Acure is made up of skin & hair wellness enthusiasts who believe in the power of purity to uplift the way you feel. They source the highest quality ingredients for your skin, which means no parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, paraffin, mineral oil or animal testing allowed.

Their mission is to take skin and hair from blah to brilliant by boosting their performance with powerful combinations of amazing ingredients. They hope to steer people toward healthier and more accessible skin care & hair care that will allow them to shine their brightest.

As a company, they also try to make an impact by pursuing a triple bottom line. They believe people and planet are just as important as profits, so they support organizations that share these values. Their charitable partners include:

 

UNITE FOR HER is a breast cancer nonprofit organization whose mission is to bridge the gap between the medical and wellness communities by providing accessible resources through complementary therapies that supplement medical treatment, caring for the physical, emotional and financial needs of the breast cancer patients they serve. They enhance the lives of patients and empower people of all ages to make healthy lifestyle choices through wellness education and breast cancer awareness. 

 

 

TURNING GREEN is a student-led movement devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools, and communities. TG seeks to engage youth in the transition from conventional to conscious, empowering the next generation and mobilizing action to sustain our earth.

 

Spotlight on Tierra Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Tierra Farm this week to highlight the socially and environmentally responsible practices of this employee-owned business. They provide an array of healthy products to our bulk department that are certified organic, gluten-free, kosher, and GMO-free, all of which are produced in small batches in their solar-powered facility in nearby Valatie, NY. They’re featured in our Member Deals program this week, so member-owners can enjoy 20% off their delicious fair-trade coffee, dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and other healthy snacks from May 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this fantastic small business and their commitment to responsible practices throughout the supply chain:

Tierra Farm is a Certified Organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts, dried fruits, and coffee located 20 miles south of Albany, New York. Their customers consist mainly of cooperatives and independently owned grocery stores that value working with an employee-owned, environmentally conscious company that manufactures its own products.

Tierra Farm started as a diversified organic vegetable farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The organic nuts & dried fruit portion of the business started in 1999, as a way to generate income in the slower winter months. That portion of the business has continued to thrive and evolve into a year-round operation, though they still maintain their original farm.

Tierra Farm offers their customers exceptional value through unbeatable quality at prices that are fair both to the consumer and to the farmer. Their products are made without preservatives, added oils or refined sugars, in their own peanut-free facility. They manufacture the products they sell: dry roasting and flavoring nuts and seeds, blending trail mixes, grinding butter, covering nuts and fruits in fair-trade chocolate, and roasting fair trade coffee. Everything is made in small, hand-crafted batches for freshness.

One of their core values has been to cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world. They work directly with the farmers from which they source their nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and have worked with some of these farmers for over a decade. Being in direct communication with their farmers allows the preservation of their organic integrity and ensures fair business practices throughout the supply chain.

Tierra Farm handles only Certified Organic products which are grown without synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or chemical fertilizers. This helps sustain biodiversity, conserves fresh water, and enhances the soil. They generate over 70% of their electricity from solar panels and recycle over 60% of their waste. Their boxes are made from recycled cardboard and their deli cup containers are made from over 50% recycled material – both are recyclable after use. They’re continuously looking for better ways to protect the planet.

Tierra Farm also values the importance of investing in their staff. They have an in-house gym, an in-house chef who cooks daily organic, gluten-free meals for staff – often using fresh produce directly from their farm, a staff masseuse who visits weekly, and they offer many employee health initiatives such as a smoking cessation program that allows their staff to be 100% tobacco-free.

If you’re passing through the Albany area, they invite you to check out their retail store at Tierra Farm’s headquarters in Valatie, NY, where local customers are able to purchase all of their (almost 200) products!

Featured Co-op Connection Business: Danforth Pewter

Danforth logo with lion

With graduation, Mother’s Day, and wedding season on the horizon, it’s likely that you’re in search of some special, locally made, handcrafted gifts. Look no further than Middlebury’s own Danforth Pewter! They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business and we’re reminding you that Danforth offers 10% off to card-carrying Co-op member-owners! Visit their workshop and store at 52 Seymour Street where you might catch a glimpse of their pewter crafters in action, thanks to the workshop viewing windows. They also have a beautiful retail store on Main Street in the heart of downtown Middlebury, or you can visit them online.

Danforth-Middlebury-Storefront-cropped-for-Web

The Danforth family has a rich history of working with pewter, dating all the way back to 1755 when Thomas Danforth II opened a pewter workshop in colonial Connecticut. Several generations of the Danforth family followed him into the pewter trade. The last of the colonial-era Danforths stopped working in pewter in 1873. There is colonial Danforth pewter in the Smithsonian, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum Collection at Colonial Williamsburg, and many other American museums.

One hundred years later, Thomas Danforth II’s great-great-great-great-great grandson Fred Danforth, and Fred’s wife Judi Danforth, revived the family tradition when they opened Danforth Pewter in Vermont in 1975. Over the next 33 years, the company grew to include four retail stores, a web store, a wholesale business providing products to several hundred independent gift stores around the country, a custom design business, and a corporate gift and recognition business.

Today, every piece of Danforth, Shirley and Pewter Port pewter is crafted by hand from 100% lead-free fine pewter in our Middlebury, Vermont workshop. Our line includes everything from miniature pocket charms to one-of-a-kind oil lamps signed by the artist, and our more popular categories are jewelry, holiday ornaments and key rings.

Here’s what Fred & Judi have to say about their pewter:

Judi&Fred Ferns

We are passionate about our craft and proud of our family’s longtime involvement in the rich history of pewter making in America. We strive to keep artisan pewter alive and well in the 21st century by offering a wide range of items, with both original contemporary designs and classic pieces.

Our pewter is 100% lead-free and meets or exceeds all FDA food-safety standards. Our designs and products are all hand crafted right here in Middlebury, Vermont.

We strive to make your entire experience special. From learning about pewter to receiving your final purchase, we want your every interaction with our company to be a reflection of our passion for beautiful pewter gifts. Our goal is your complete satisfaction, and to ensure that your ordering experience is timely, convenient, and enjoyable.

 

Click here for a full listing of Co-op Connection businesses and discounts.

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