July 2022

Featured Co-op Connection Business – Royal Oak and Lost Monarch

Great coffee shops offer more than a good cup of joe, they provide a pleasant sensory experience for their patrons. It’s hard to deny the allure of the aroma and energy emanating from a great cafe. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing space to pull a caffeine-fueled remote work session or you’re seeking an inviting atmosphere to meet up with friends over a great cup of locally-roasted coffee, we invite you to check out Royal Oak and Lost Monarch! These sister coffee shops are the newest members of our Co-op Connection lineup and they offer responsibly sourced, high-quality artisan coffee in a welcoming atmosphere along with a sweet 10% discount for card-carrying Co-op Member-Owners. Read on to learn more about these two vibrant local businesses named to the list of the nation’s best coffee shops by Food and Wine Magazine, and the family that brings them to life:

Armed with 20 years of combined experience in the coffee industry, Matthew and Alessandra Delia-Lobo opened the doors to Royal Oak Coffee on Middlebury’s Seymour Street in May of 2019. Six months later, they added a sister location, known as Lost Monarch in the Stone Mill Public Market in Middlebury’s Frog Hollow. The couple met in a Connecticut coffee shop back in 2011, so it only seems fitting that their lives together since then have revolved around a shared passion for coffee. 

Royal Oak Coffee at 30 Seymour Street in Middlebury
Royal Oak Coffee

Despite having traveled the world exploring coffee and cafe culture from Boston to Italy to Sweeden and the UK, the couple (thankfully) chose unlikely Middlebury as the home for their shops. Why Middlebury? The couple shares that over the course of six years visiting Matt’s mother, who lives here in Vermont’s shire town, they fell in love with the town, the pace, the gorgeous landscape, the kind people, and the sense of community. They decided it would be a great spot to settle, open up shop, and eventually start a family. 

Matt behind the counter at the Lost Monarch Cafe in the Stone Mill Public Market in Middlebury’s Frog Hollow

So, why two shops? As Seven Days describes it, “The two shops embody different versions of how Aless and Matt do coffee. Royal Oak is an approachable, unpretentious introduction to coffee nerdery with strong living room vibes, while Lost Monarch is an exploration of tasting profiles and rotating micro-roasters amid the bustle of the market, which also offers food, wine, books and more.” At Royal Oak, Matt and Aless exclusively feature beans roasted in Winooski, VT, by Vivid Coffee Roasters. At Lost Monarch, they explore a different model, using a rotating roster of guest roasters, including Woodstock, VT’s single-origin-focused Abracadabra Coffee. Regardless of the roaster of choice, the couple prioritizes supply chain transparency and equity. They feel that the agricultural roots and vibrant local food scene in Addison County foster a community that understands the importance of supporting specific farmers and sustainable methods of production.

The smiling team at Royal Oak
The Lost Monarch Cafe conveniently shares a space with the Dedalus wine and cheese market

As for the names of their cafes, Aless shares that the Royal Oak moniker was a nod to her late father’s business — a reference to the tree where Charles II of England hid during a battle. Lost Monarch, a sequoia in California’s Grove of Titans, is another celebrated tree that inspired the name for their second location. Both locations are artfully curated to create the kind of welcoming, unpretentious vibe that they feel is more in keeping with the rural Vermont scene. When the locations initially launched, Matt and Aless were a team of two, handling all aspects of the business and serving each cup of coffee with a conversation and a smile. This gave them the opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and get to know their patrons. As the business and their own family grew, they recognized the need to hire a small team to support cafe operations. 

According to Aless, “our whole shtick is to do things intentionally, consider everything and be nice. That’s it. We want people to feel like they’re welcome, that their order isn’t wrong or bad because they want decaf or something with sugar in it.” And clearly, they’re onto something. Despite the challenges of opening not one but two new businesses in the midst of a pandemic, Matt and Aless have managed to keep both cafes afloat, keeping their community blissfully caffeinated and elevating the coffee conversation along the way. 

The Scoop on Vermont’s Organic Label

You’ve likely seen the logo on some of your favorite local products, but have you ever given much thought to the values behind Vermont’s organic certification label? Who is VOF? And what exactly does that label entail? We’re happy to peek behind that curtain and share what we’ve learned about the Vermont organic certification body known as VOF (Vermont Organic Farmers) and the standards that set their products apart. 

Your choices make a difference! Nearly 800 Vermont farmers and processors that makeup Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) know that local and organic always count. VOF believes that organic production enhances soil, plant, animal, and human health to protect the environment for current and future generations. Organic certification is needed to verify these production practices and to ensure that organic products are produced with integrity and transparency. VOF provides consumers with a process and a label they can trust. Seeing their label takes the guesswork out of your shopping experience, allowing you to feel confident that the products you’re purchasing are healthier for you and your family, supportive of your community, better for the land, and grown without GMOs or harmful agrochemicals.


In the fight against climate change, efforts that strengthen natural resources, bolster the self-sufficiency of local communities, and improve resilience to the extreme and the unexpected are key. Long associated with environmental protection, the practices used on Vermont organic farms do just that. They lean on the right side of the scale, they contribute to the vitality and resilience of natural systems, anchor local economies, and can even mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.

While organic practices may be known best for what they don’t do: namely, pollute airways, waterways, and soils with toxic fertilizers and pesticides, there’s just as much to be celebrated for what organic practices are actively doing to strengthen natural systems. In other words, while organic practices abstain from the bad, they also contribute to the good. It’s a double whammy in the fight against climate change, and a model for the kind of systems society will need in order to combat it.

While organic practices contribute to the reduction of climate change in many, many ways, we’ll focus on five of the heavy hitters here–you’ll notice some aren’t just focused on reducing climate change, but on building resilience to it as well:

  1. Organic practices protect natural resources. The stronger our natural resources are, the more capable they are of preventing, absorbing, and reconfiguring the effects of climate change, like a system of checks and balances, re-attuning to Earth’s happy homeostasis. Because organic practices steer clear of environmentally hazardous petrochemicals, our airways, waterways, and soils are that much less polluted. Our local flora and fauna are that much stronger, too. But organic practices like cover cropping, crop rotation, and integrated pest management go a step further to actively support air, water, and soil quality, as well as biodiversity. And of course, it’s all connected–the healthier the soil, the stronger the waterways; the stronger the biodiversity, the better the air quality; and so on. For Vermont organic farmers, the goal is to fuel this virtuous cycle: to strengthen our natural resources through our practices. And we know that, in the fight against climate change, those healthy natural resources are some of our best allies.
  2. Organically farmed soils release fewer greenhouse gasses. A healthy, vibrant soil ecosystem teems with life and decay. This rich food web produces nutrients that are readily bioavailable for farm crops, reducing their need for external fertilizers–some of which are major greenhouse gas contributors, both in their production and their application. Because organic farms abstain from using petrochemical fertilizers, they rely on biological soil processes more than their conventional counterparts. And as such, organic farmers really invest in our soils–from minimizing soil compaction to applying green manures, incorporating livestock, and maximizing soil cover, much of their work revolves around giving our soils their very best. Not to mention the fact that the healthier the soil is, the more capacity it has to actually sequester greenhouse gasses, but more on that later.
  3. Organic farms are more resilient to extreme weather events. One of climate change’s forecasts for Vermont is an increase in both the frequency and intensity of heavy rain events. For our local food system, that means on-farm flood mitigation measures are more crucial than ever because the more resilient a farm is to flooding, the more consistently it will be able to provide food for its community when transportation and communication are impacted. That farm’s mitigation measures will also result in fewer incidents of run-off and erosion, aiding our waterways when they’re stressed. Organic farmers’ soil-boosting, biodiversity-encouraging, water-conscious organic practices ensure we’re better equipped to stay afloat when waters are high.
  4. Organically farmed soils store carbon. The organic practices listed above all serve to improve our soil’s chemical composition and structure, facilitating the kind of vibrant soil ecosystem that draws carbon and other greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere. This process, called sequestration, transforms hazardous greenhouse gasses into soil nutrients that allow for even healthier soils, which can then sequester more greenhouse gasses. Soil sequestration is one of the most cost-effective ways we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and thus decelerate climate change. 
  5. Organic farms are good for communities. In our globalized, industrial age, Vermont organic farms represent something different: a core component of localized food systems, localized communities, and localized economies. These more self-sufficient traits are key to climate resilience. The organic farming community is invested in community resilience, and also invested in providing healthy, toxin-free food for their communities–that’s what Vermont organic farmers do! They also support the notion that all Vermonters deserve nutritious, local, climate-friendly food, and are big proponents of NOFA-VT’s Community Food Access Programs, which subsidize CSA costs, facilitate SNAP-EBT sales at farmers’ markets and farm stands, and get Vermont organic food into senior housing facilities.

Environmental stewardship has always been baked into our Mission and ENDs at the Co-op, but now, in this era of climate change and consequences, we feel doubled down on this commitment. Supporting organic farmers is a way of fortifying a team of our best allies against accelerating greenhouse gas emissions, extreme weather events, and the destruction of natural resources. While human activity spurred this vicious cycle through the exploitation and abuse of natural resources, human activity can, and must, be responsible for spurring the corresponding virtuous cycles that will restore equilibrium and preserve this place we call home. Organic farming is one such virtuous cycle, and we’re proud to be fueling it here in Vermont.


How to Find VOF Certified Producers

VOF maintains a database of over 800 local organic producers to help you find certified organic farms/processors and their lists of products. You can search by product or by location. They also produce a Vermont Organic Farm and Food Guide annually, which can be accessed in print and digital versions. And when you’re shopping at the Co-op, just look for the VOF seal!

A Lament for Vanilla

This article first appeared in the Addison County Independent on March 17, 2022, as part of the Climate Matters: Perspectives on Change weekly column.  There is no denying that food and the climate emergency are intertwined, a relationship made even more complicated by the geopolitical relationships between governments.  I find it daunting to consider how my daily choices are affected by things happening thousands of miles away and in turn, how my choices might ripple outwards.  I offer a reprint of this piece as a road map for considering how the foods we love and enjoy at the MNFC are situated within a deeper, global context.  For an excellent, in-depth exploration of food and climate, I also recommend this article from The Guardian.

Each time I make a dessert that calls for vanilla, I cringe a little.  A whole teaspoon, I find myself thinking, but that’s so much!  And then after I wince, I feel a twinge of sadness, because I think that in a few decades it is possible that vanilla, real non-synthetic vanilla, might be gone, or at least extremely rare.  We’ll only know it as something produced in a chemical factory, the taste becoming ever more like the smell of candles and body lotion.  I imagine how birthday cakes will seem slightly…off.  

As someone who cooks for a living, I think about food a lot, and I believed that I had considered how climate change would affect agriculture. I mean, I’m open to protein alternatives like insects, support local food systems, and try to make ethical consumer choices.  That’s good, right?  But I had never thought about what foods I would lose because of climate change until the fall of 2017. Around October that year, I placed a call to a vendor from work, looking to order a backup quart of vanilla, and I was warned that the price had gone up some. Now, price increases are normal in food service, an inevitability like taxes, but for vanilla to triple in price so quickly was unusual. Was this price gouging? An issue with shipping?  No, nothing so mundane as the logistics of commerce. It was the weather. Cyclone Enawo in Madagascar, and then Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico had decimated what some estimates placed at almost half of the world’s vanilla production.

We are going to lose some foods we currently find ubiquitous to the point of being boring —think about the last time you described someone as “vanilla.”  Or consider how every grocery store in America, whether it is in Miami or Minnesota, has bananas.  And coffee. And chocolate.  All of these foods are grown in a specific swath within 10º-20º latitude of the equator, an area that is going to look drastically different within the next few decades.  Vanilla extract is already an incredibly tricky thing to produce.  It comes from an orchid that takes years to grow in specific tropical climates and requires hand pollination for every single flower. There are lots of synthetic varieties, but none is as complex to our nose and palate as the real thing. The reality is that modern food systems often supply the majority shares of individual crops, like vanilla, from relatively small regions.  The production of many foods eaten worldwide is coming from just a handful of places. When those places are devastated by storms, rising sea levels, or drought, it means there is no other growing zone to pick up the slack.

And it won’t just be our diets that are affected. There are thousands and thousands of people working to grow, harvest, and process these foods so we can eat them year-round.  Imagine what their lives are going to be like when their jobs and homes are further impacted by climate change. We know that we are going to see devastating storms more frequently in tropical areas, and as temperatures rise, those areas closest to the equator will become the least habitable. The countries located in this area are among the poorest in the world, and they will be forced to bear the brunt of our pollution. It is a stark picture that can unspool from baking brownies in a warm kitchen and worrying about the cost of a flavoring.

It saddens me further to say that there is nothing we can do about this. Even if we as a species were to make climate the single biggest priority for every world government today, we are still going to see many of these foods become rare. That damage has already been done, and we can’t stop it from happening. Columns like this one often include a “call to action,” some step or policy that could make a difference. But in addition to pressuring world leaders and changing our lifestyles, we need to confront—often and publicly—that we have made irrevocable changes to our planet that cannot be fixed.

See, it’s not just about taking action now, though there is lots of room for that, too. We have to begin to make plans for the future that we are guaranteed to have, a future with large groups of climate refugees. The same people who now produce our vanilla and bananas and coffee have been placed in an untenable situation and we have to figure out how we are going to take care of them because we helped create that situation. Currently, it is a lengthy and expensive process to immigrate into the U.S., one plagued by bureaucracy and red tape. Climate refugees are an unavoidable part of our future, which means we need to work now to change immigration. In some ways, this idea does give me hope, because if we can finally be moved to take care of each other, then maybe we can take care of the planet.

A friend and I joke that if we were to transport our spice cabinets to the 15th century, we would be the picture of wealth and riches.  But I’ve started to change that daydream to imagine the riches my spice cabinet will represent to someone in just a few decades. Maybe it is silly to grieve for vanilla extract. But when I pour out each dark, fragrant spoonful, the flash of heartache I feel also comes with an awareness of what is to come, and what needs to happen.

Samantha Langevin is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member


Spotlight on Aqua ViTea

This week’s  Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Aqua ViTea! All of their non-alcoholic Kombucha and Selzer are 20% off for member-owners from September 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business with humble beginnings on a Salisbury Farm!



Aqua ViTea began in 2007 in the Salisbury, Vermont farmhouse of Jeff Weaber and Dr. Katina Martin, based on the naturopathic principle of “food as medicine.” Weaber and Martin had just relocated to Vermont after 9 years in Portland, Oregon, where Katina pursued medical degrees in Naturopathy, Midwifery, and Acupuncture and Jeff served as the brewer for The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. Honing the craft of fermentation at work and learning about functional foods and the governing role of the digestive system from Katina at home led Weaber to discover the wonders of Kombucha.

Aqua ViTea founder Jeff Weaber with his wife Katina Martin at their Salisbury home where they first began brewing kombucha

By 2007, he was selling his Kombucha to the happy crowds at the Middlebury Farmers Market under the Aqua ViTea brand and in 2008, he began bottling his product and selling wholesale to our Co-op and a handful of other local markets. By 2014, demand began to outpace production capacity, and plans to move Aqua ViTea’s production off the farm began to ferment. They first moved to a state-of-the-art facility in Bristol, VT, followed by yet another upgrade in 2017 to an even more impressive facility — the former home of Woodchuck Cider just off of Exchange Street in Middlebury. Today, the rapidly growing company is the largest Kombucha producer on the east coast, employing a team of 30 full-time employees proudly brewing low sugar, alcohol-free, organic kombucha with naturally abundant probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants, whose balanced blend of sparkling refreshment and bold flavor makes it the perfect substitute for juice or soda. 

Giant vats of kombucha brewing at Aqua ViTea’s state-of-the-art facility in Middlebury

As the business grew, Weaber called on Mike Kin, who was a close friend of Weaber’s in Oregon, and convinced him to move to Vermont with his family to become the company’s brewer. If you dig the artwork on Aqua ViTea’s packaging and materials as much as we do, you’ve got Mike to thank for these. He sketches each one by hand, creating the funky, colorful, amazing signature artwork that you see on all of AquaVitea’s products!

Mike Kin creates the signature Freshketch artwork for Aqua ViTea


Commitment to Authenticity

Many commercially available Kombucha brands have been found to contain significantly more sugar and alcohol than their labels disclose. Additionally, some large-scale Kombucha products are being manufactured in a lab setting, force carbonated, and even pasteurized, with the probiotic cultures added artificially as “ingredients” to the end product.

The Aqua ViTea family

Aqua ViTea, since day one, has shown a deep commitment to authenticity. This begins by sourcing the highest quality ingredients, including sustainably sourced organic tea from Middlebury’s Stone Leaf Teahouse and organic cane sugar to feed the ferment. Their Kombucha is the product of a live, active fermentation, which allows the live cultures and enzymes to develop naturally and delivers the tangy effervescence that Kombucha drinkers love. They are one of only two kombucha makers in the country who have invested in a spinning cone column, which allows for the extraction and recovery of volatile compounds, including alcohol, without the need for excessive heat. And since the alcohol is removed at the end of fermentation, the active cultures can grow at their own pace, which results in authentic, delicious, and non-alcoholic Kombucha. They even employ an in-house microbiologist to analyze the safety and purity of their products.

A tour group from Addison Central Teens visits Aqua ViTea and learns about the cone extractor, which removes the alcohol from Aqua ViTea’s kombucha


Aqua Seltzer

The newest addition to the Aqua ViTea lineup is Aqua Seltzer! Better than your average bubbles, Aqua Seltzers, infused with organic kombucha, are refreshing better-for-you offerings packed with probiotics for immune & gut health. Weaber shares that the idea for a seltzer line was born when he looked at the ingredients list on a can of the seltzer that his teenage kids love to drink and realized that there was nothing much to them. He wondered if there was a way to create a seltzer that also offered functional nutritional benefits aside from simply providing hydration. After months of research and development and countless hours of taste testing, a new, bubbly, better-for-you beverage was born. It’s infused with kombucha, providing 5 billion probiotics per serving, along with amino acids and antioxidants, with only one gram of sugar and 15 calories. They’re thirst-quenching refreshers filled with goodness for your gut!


After Glow

Another exciting addition to the Aqua ViTea lineup is AfterGlow Hard Kombucha. This is a smooth, tasty alternative to beer and cider and a more natural option than spiked seltzers. It’s organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with only the finest sustainably sourced ingredients. While they do extract the alcohol from their traditional Kombucha, that alcohol is not used in creating AfterGlow. Instead, they let AfterGlow’s natural alcohol mature through fermentation and into the can – resulting in a mindfully made adult beverage.





Zero Waste Body Care

If you’re looking to meet your zero waste goals without giving up your body care routine, you’ll be excited to hear that all of our bulk body care products are 20% off for the entire month of July! Perhaps you haven’t yet noticed this new and growing section of our Wellness department? This is a perfect time to get acquainted! Our goal is to offer all the body care staples, minus the packaging. If DIY body care is your jam, you’ll also be glad to find everything you need to make your own lip balms, salves, bath soaks, and other body care products at home!

The Co-op Bulk Body Care section is located in our Wellness Department

Here’s how it works:

  • Bring your own clean, empty container from home or select from our wide variety of containers.
  • Get a tare weight on your container using the scale in our Bulk Department. The unit should be in pounds. This ensures that you’re only paying for the weight of the product, excluding the weight of the container.
  • Fill the container with the product(s) that you love.
  • Record the PLU somewhere on your container. This number can be found on the box, bottle, or carton from which you poured the product.
  • Take it to any cashier and checkout!
Getting a “tare weight” means weighing your empty container (in lbs) and recording the weight somewhere on the container
The “PLU” (in this case, #5081) from the box or bottle from which you’re pouring should be recorded somewhere on your container.


Here are the Products You Will Find in our Bulk Body Care Section:


If you’re feeling inspired to try making your own DIY natural body care products, Mountain Rose Herbs is a wonderful resource for recipes, tips, and tricks!

Spotlight on Larson Farm & Creamery

Larson Farm and Creamery is basking in the glow of the Co-op Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed, A2A2 dairy products are 20% for member-owners from July 21st – 27th! Read on to learn more about the history of this family farm and their deep commitment to ecological stewardship:



Rich and Cynthia Larson first began dairy farming in 1976 on a 300-acre farm they purchased just south of the small town of Wells, VT. They began as conventional farmers with a grain-fed milking herd that peaked at 150 cows. Due to a combination of factors including falling milk prices and shrinking profit margins, their conventional dairy folded in 1993. Armed with a passion for environmental stewardship and a desire to do things differently, Rich and Cynthia regrouped and relaunched their dairy farm in 2007. This time around, they opted for a smaller herd, invested in soil improvement, became USDA-certified Organic, 100% Grass-fed certified, and focused on producing high-quality raw milk. 

In true family-farm fashion, Rich and Cynthia have a lot of help from family members to keep the farm running smoothly. Their daughter Mercy manages the dairy herd. Cynthia and niece Kristin manage the horse retirement boarding and pony breeding program, and sister-in-law Lee is the creamery manager.

Mercy Larson prepares for milking the family’s Jersey herd

Ecological Stewardship

According to their website, “At Larson Farm, we share a vision of healthy communities, healthy people, and a sustainable food system built on good stewardship of our natural resources. The land, cattle, and dairy products are certified organic. The cattle are certified 100% grass-fed, and our dairy cows are 100% A2A2. Healthy soils mean healthy cattle who produce nutrient-rich foods free of artificial chemicals and pesticides. Our vision is to provide fresh nutritious dairy products to local and regional markets while being good stewards of the land and caring for our sweet Jersey dairy cows.”

The Larsons built their new organic dairy farm on the firm belief that all life depends on the health of the soil since healthy soils high in organic matter resist drought and produce plants with high levels of nutrition. And this is just what their grazing Jersey cows need to stay healthy and produce nutrient-dense milk. They also built their new venture upon the understanding that cows are ruminants that did not evolve to eat grain. At Larson Farm, the cows are on fresh pasture from May 1 through early November, at which time they are fed a diet of dry hay or fermented hay (silage). They always have access to fresh water, salt, a vitamin/mineral supplement, kelp, and clay. Their grain-free diet results in milk with a high level of CLAs and Omega-3 fatty acids, both beneficial to human nutrition.

Raising cows on pasture in a manner that builds deep rich soil, retains water, reduces erosion, and sequesters carbon is a critical part of the farming practice at Larson Farm and Creamery. According to Rich and Cynthia, “the cows are given access to a small area (a paddock) where they stay for 3-6 hours. The paddocks are sized to allow the cows to eat the top half of the grass and clover, which is the high-energy portion of the plant. They are then moved to a fresh paddock. What we are doing, on a very small scale, is to mimic what happened on our great plains when the American Bison herds roamed while eating, depositing their thank-you plops, and moving on to clean fresh grass. In so doing, the large herds did not degrade the soil but rather built rich soil high in organic matter.

A2A2 Milk

The Larson’s herd of Jersey dairy cows has been tested to be homozygous (having identical pairs of genes for any given pair of hereditary characteristics) for A2A2 beta-casein. A cow’s genetics determine what kinds of proteins are present in her milk. Humans, goats, and sheep all produce milk that only has A2 protein; cows, on the other hand, experienced a genetic mutation thousands of years ago that made some cows produce an A1 protein in their milk. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health demonstrate that consumption of milk containing A1 proteins results in an increase in inflammation, gastrointestinal discomfort, and other signs of dairy intolerance in many individuals. These inflammatory markers and adverse gastrointestinal effects are no longer present when individuals consume milk containing A2A2 proteins, indicating that what many presume to be lactose intolerance might actually be the result of A1 protein in the milk. Additional studies have linked A1 milk protein to other health problems such as type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism, and other serious non-communicable diseases. Click here to learn more.

Rich Larson pauses to give one of the Jersey’s a chin rub

Direct from their farm stand, Larson Farm and Creamery offers raw milk, with all its rich enzymes and natural beneficial bacteria, plus grass-fed beef. They also produce a line of pasteurized products, including certified organic and grass-fed A2A2 yogurt, cream-top milk, gelato, and cultured butter, which you can find at their farm stand or here at the Co-op! 


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 July 14th – 20th!  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 nearly 40 years and recently reached a grand total of $570 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 Tierra Farm

We’re casting our Member Deals 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 Valatie, NY. From July 7th – 13th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off their delicious dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and other healthy snacks! Read on to learn more about this fantastic small business and its commitment to responsible practices throughout the supply chain:

Tierra Farm is a Certified Organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts and dried fruits located in the Finger Lakes Region of 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 its 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, and covering nuts and fruits in fair-trade chocolate. 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 produces 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 delivery boxes are made from recycled cardboard and our individual product packaging is always made with recyclable materials and/or compostable packaging whenever possible. Tierra Farm proudly features more than 100 products in plastic-free, home compostable packaging and is wholly committed to going plastic-free by 2023. As their website states, they’re “working for a world where the food we eat doesn’t come at the expense of the planet or the people on it.”

Tierra Farm is also committed to community. They recognize that there’s a whole big world outside their doors and they want to help make it as beautiful as possible. With this in mind, they embrace opportunities to s

upport local charities and help them continue to do great work in service to others. 

Recently selected one of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies by Inc. 5000, Tierra Farm remains committed to its team members. Every single Tierra Farm employee makes a living wage of $20 per hour and enjoys a comprehensive health benefits program, as well as a retirement plan and onsite lunch. In August of 2019, Tierra Farm became a Certified B Corporation, one of only 3,000 companies worldwide to earn this distinction.



Celebrating the 100th International Day of Cooperatives!

On July 2, cooperatives all around the world will celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives (#CoopsDay). A decade on from the UN International Year of Cooperatives, which showcased the unique contribution of cooperatives to making the world a better place, this year’s #CoopsDay slogan —“Cooperatives Build a Better World”— echoes the theme of the International Year.

“Cooperatives are answering the wake-up call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned that the world is ‘on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction’, and exclaimed that ‘to restore trust, and inspire hope, we need cooperation, we need dialogue, we need understanding’. For nearly two centuries, cooperatives have been pulling in this direction. This was amply highlighted at the 33rd World Cooperative Congress, held by the International Cooperative Alliance in December 2021, which focused a spotlight on how their shared identity is moving cooperatives to take action to address the world’s problems” declared Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

The ICA invites cooperators everywhere to spread the word about how our human-centered business model, inspired by the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, and the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others, is building a better world.

Operating all around the world, in many different sectors of the economy, cooperatives have proven themselves more resilient to crises than the average. They foster economic participation, fight against environmental degradation and climate change, generate good jobs, contribute to food security, keep financial capital within local communities, build ethical value chains, and, by improving people’s material conditions and security, contribute to positive peace. 

“Cooperatives are the only enterprise model with globally agreed upon principles that rest on a foundation of shared ethical values” added Bruno Roelants.

About the International Day of Cooperatives

Marked by cooperatives worldwide since 1923 and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the centenary of the ICA in 1995, the International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July.

The aim of #CoopsDay is to increase awareness of cooperatives and promote the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. Since 1995, the ICA and the United Nations through the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) have jointly set the theme for the celebration of #CoopsDay.

Through #CoopsDay, local, national and global policymakers, civil society organizations, and the public, in general, can learn about the contribution of cooperatives to a secure future for all.

Impact of Your Co-op

As member-owned, democratically-operated entities, co-operatives offer an alternative to traditional shareholder- or proprietor-owned business structures allowing co-ops to make unique contributions to economical activity, community vitality, and worker well-being. The very structure of a cooperative requires that it be responsive to the needs of its member-owners and, in turn, to the local community. The nature of cooperatives is inherently both locally based and participatory, embodying a direct connection between member needs and the services provided. Because of this, cooperatives are able to contribute directly to community vitality and stability, modeling equitable and inclusive economic practices. 

  • For every $1,000 spent at a food co-op, $1,604 is invested back into the local economy.
  • Food co-ops create 9.3 jobs per $1 million in sales, compared to 5.8 at traditional grocery stores.
  • Food co-operatives pay about 7% more than traditional grocery stores for the same work. We’re proud to offer a starting salary of $15.50 per hour.
  • Compared to conventional grocery stores, food co-ops recycle nearly double the volume of plastics and food waste.
  • Local products make up an average of 21% of food Co-op sales (and represent 34% of sales at your co-op valued at $7.2 million!), compared to the national grocery store average of 1.8%.
  • In the last fiscal year, your Co-op donated $117,393 to local nonprofits and in-kind food donations to our local food shelves.



Featured Co-op Connection Business – Green Mountain Adventures

Summer in Vermont is a spectacular time to hike, bike, paddle, and swim your way through some of the most scenic vistas New England has to offer. Regardless of your outdoor sport of choice, Middlebury’s Green Mountain Adventures is the perfect place to get outfitted with everything you need to explore the forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes of Vermont and we’re excited to collaborate with them through our Co-op Connection program! Thanks to this partnership, card-carrying Co-op member-owners can enjoy a 10% discount when shopping at Green Mountian Adventures! Read on to learn more about this family-owned local business and its wide variety of offerings for the outdoor enthusiast in all of us!

The History

Co-owners Steve and Marion Atocha first opened Middlebury Mountaineer (d/b/a Green Mountain Adventures) in 1998 on Middlebury’s Mill Street in a spot above the Storm Café. Around five years later, the store moved to a Park Street location formerly occupied by Ben & Jerry’s. After a short stint there, the business inched a little further up Park Street to the storefront next to the Henry Sheldon Museum, and finally, in the Spring of 2017, they found what they’d been looking for all along — a prime location with great visibility in the heart of Middlebury’s Main Street.

The Family

Steve is the co-owner and founder of Green Mountain Adventures. On the store’s webpage, he is described as a father, a fly fishing enthusiast, and a certified American Canoe Association Kayaking Instructor. He spends his free time hiking for out-of-the-way fishing holes or backcountry skiing on the Lincoln Gap. Green Mountain Adventures is co-owned by his wife Marion, who also serves as a clothing buyer for the store. She divides her time between the shop and working full-time as a nurse in Bristol. An avid hiker, swimmer, and nordic skier, Marion’s real passion is raising her three boys and working on her family farm. In true family business fashion, their boys pitch in as part of the Green Mountain Adventures team. Their son Brewer works in the store as a sales associate after school and on weekends and helps guide their kids’ summer adventure programs. Their son Abel also pitches in as a store sales associate. Lorenzo, their youngest son, helps tune skis in the wax room.

Steve and Marion Atocha
Steve Atocha with his sons


The Gear

Green Mountain Adventures provides only the best gear and apparel with a commitment to quality merchandise and a high standard for personalized customer service. You’ll find many of your favorite brands including Patagonia, Darn Tough, Prana, Blundstone, Howler Bros., Hydro Flask, Yeti, and more. They also carry a wide range of cross country skis, boots, poles, wax, and accessories from Fischer, Rossignol, Bjorn Daehlie, Salomon, Rottefella, Craft, and Swix. If you’re not ready to commit to an equipment purchase but want to try out some of the best gear in the industry, check out their summer and winter gear rental and lease options. 


Guided Adventures

If you’re looking for a guide for your adventures, Green Mountain Adventures offers professional guide services and equipment rentals for fly fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing. Whether you’re a beginner interested in learning the basics or a more experienced adventurer looking to hone your skills, Green Mountain Adventures will personalize any full or half-day trip to meet your needs.

Summer Camps

Now in their 24th season, Green Mountain Adventures offers a variety of outdoor adventure day camps uniquely designed to safely lead children and young adults (ages 6-14) into the vast playground of rocks, rivers, and mountains surrounding our Central Vermont community. Participants engage in multi-activity wilderness adventures including canoeing and kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, river tubing, and rock climbing. Each GMA camp provides imaginative and unforgettable journeys in some of the most beautiful backcountry wilderness areas in and around the Green Mountains. Their programs offer a low camper-to-guide ratio to ensure your camper receives individualized attention and support. Guides are hand-picked from the local community based on their extensive wilderness experience and skills, intimate knowledge of the local environment and terrain, and youth service experience (as teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, etc.). In addition to providing outlets for youth to immerse themselves in nature, there is also a strong focus on relationship building. According to Steve, “as an outdoor adventure camp in the local community for over 20 years, we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to witness the personal growth of many returning campers as they develop confidence in themselves and their ability to relate with peers in a group setting. Our programs are very small and inclusive, without much room or opportunity for cliques to form. We encourage a “come as you are” ethic where campers can be fully themselves, without external pressure to act or perform in a certain way.”