Local

Spotlight on Champlain Valley Apiaries

We’re shining this week’s Member Deals Spotlight on a local business that’s been providing local honey to the Co-op since the very beginning – over 40 years ago. In fact, Champlain Valley Apiaries was founded long before the Co-op existed, way back in 1931, and they’ve been producing pristine, delicious Vermont honey ever since! From February14th – 20th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of gooey golden goodness. Read on to learn more about this wonderful local business and their commitment to environmental stewardship:

Champlain Valley Apiaries is a 3rd generation Vermont family-owned business. Founded in 1931 by innovative beekeeper Charles Mraz, they have been producing delicious Vermont honey for over 85 years. Their mission, along with producing the highest quality honey, is to foster sustainable agriculture and bring awareness to the essential role of honeybees in our food system. They are committed to protecting all pollinators, the environment, the well being of their employees, and the local community where they live and work.

They also continually assess and modify business operations so as to lessen their impact on the environment by increasing operational efficiency, conserving energy, water, and other natural resources, reducing waste generation, and eliminating the use of harmful materials. Champlain Valley Apiaries is committed to a triple bottom line, not only valuing profit but seeking environmental excellence and social awareness within their company culture.

The folks at Champlain Valley Apiaries describe their honey as a floral snapshot of a particular area at a given time. Bees gather nectar from a variety of floral sources, depending on the time of year. Sources include things like clover, alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, various trees, dandelions, and goldenrod, to name a few. For this reason, the exact makeup of their honey will vary from year to year and even from bee yard to bee yard. In order to keep a consistent product, they blend their Vermont honey with other premium honey produced in the U.S. and Canada.

They treat their bees organically and during the winter, hives are left with enough of their own honey to survive and thrive. Throughout the company’s history, they have earned a reputation among beekeepers for producing a hardy strain of honeybee that is disease-resistant and able to thrive in the harsh Vermont winter. At the Co-op, you’ll find Champlain Valley Apiaries liquid honey and their raw, naturally crystallized honey.

Spotlight on Douglas Sweets

Looking for a sweet local treat for your Valentine? Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Douglas Sweets! All of their sweet and savory Scottish shortbreads are 20% off for member-owners from February 7th – 13th. Read on to learn more about this local bakery based in Shelburne, VT and the mother-daughter duo who are carrying on a cherished family tradition:

 

Armed with a traditional shortbread recipe developed and perfected by her Scottish mother, founder Debra Townsend, along with her daughter and co-founder Hannah (named for her inspirational grandmother), launched a business out of the kitchen of their condo. Fast-forward a few years and countless batches of these delectable, buttery shortbreads, the Townsends needed to scale up, moving their business into the Vermont Artisan Village in Shelburne where they also operate a retail bakeshop. There you will find their signature shortbreads along with great coffee and an array of baked goods from fruit tarts to cheesecakes, all of which are made with their famous shortbread dough.

According to Debra, “In 1956, my mother longed for the traditional Scottish shortbread she had grown to love while in the old country. After much experimenting, she duplicated that perfect rich buttery taste. For years our family has been baking that same shortbread and enjoying it with friends.”

The Townsends are committed to using Vermont ingredients like King Arthur Flour and Cabot butter whenever possible. At the Co-op, you’ll find their sweet and savory buttery shortbreads in a wide variety of flavors ranging from the original traditional Scottish shortbread to more exotic flavors inspired by Townsend’s world travels like spicy Indian curry, Italian lemon and rosemary, or Thai sweet basil and peanut. The bakers offer the shortbreads plain or dipped in chocolate for an even more luxurious treat!

 

Homemade Pizza

Making pizza at home might seem intimidating – especially compared to the relative ease of popping a pre-made frozen pie into the oven, but we think you’ll agree that nothing tastes better than homemade and the process is actually quite simple. PaneBelle’s organic pizza dough is featured in our weekly sale from January 24th – 30th, along with local Maplebrook fresh mozzarella, local Bove’s pizza sauce, and a handful of perfect pizza toppings, so it’s an excellent time to try your hand at homemade pizza! Feel free to get creative with the toppings. This recipe makes 2 thin-crust 12” pizzas. If you prefer a thicker crust, follow the same instructions but create one larger pizza. 

Spotlight on New Chapter

Looking to step up your wellness game in 2019? We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on New Chapter this week and all of their supplements are 20% off for member-owners from January 10th – 16th. Read on to learn more about this Brattleboro-based B Corp that has been honoring natural well-being by nurturing body, soul, and Earth for over 35 years:

 

New Chapter was originally founded in 1982 by Paul and Barbi Schulick out of a passion to promote health through innovative botanical formulations made with 100% real foods and herbs. The company has grown and evolved over the past 36 years, but it still remains firmly rooted in Brattleboro, VT where they proudly employ more than 150 area residents.

 

Mission

  • To deliver the wisdom of Nature, thus relieving suffering and promoting optimal health.
  • To advance the organic mission, nourishing body and soul with the healing intelligence of pure whole foods and herbal supplements.
  • To nurture and sustain Mother Earth, the source of natural healing.
  • To honor and reward personal growth, for enlightened teamwork depends on the vitality of every member of the New Chapter® family.

 

Commitment to Sustainability

At New Chapter, concern for the planet is expressed not only through careful sourcing and formulation principles but also with every action they take as a company. New Chapter is proud to be a Certified B Corporation, which means they define success in holistic terms that encompass not just profit but people and Earth too. 

  • Sustainable Sourcing – They travel the globe to identify and build relationships with supplier partners who share their commitment to sustainable sourcing. Knowing their suppliers and the origins of their crops helps to uphold a supply chain that is both socially responsible and environmentally conscious.
  • Welfare of People – Throughout the supply chain, from Vermont to India, New Chapter aims to engage partners whose workers are treated with respect and provided with working conditions that are safe, healthy, and balanced.
  • Climate Friendly Farming – New Chapter is proud to be a part of the growing regenerative agricultural movement. Replacing industrial practices with regenerative ones can reboot plants’ natural cycle of removing carbon from the air by sequestering it in the ground. Along with adherence to organic standards, soil regeneration practices include rotating crops, composting, using cover crops, and avoiding deep tilling. These techniques create healthy, carbon-rich soil that is full of organic matter and holds water like a sponge.
  • Waste Reduction – New Chapter is able to compost, recycle, or reuse more than 80% of the waste they produce – everything from lunch leftovers and office paper to pallets and shrink-wrap. And they’re now certified Zero Waste to Landfill, which reduces their carbon footprint and uses energy recovery to convert their waste into clean energy.

 

Giving Back

As environmental stewards focused on human health, New Chapter works to increase accessibility to organic food, farming, and traditional herbal medicine. And as a Certified B Corp, they endeavor to use their business resources to help solve social and environmental problems—in communities around the world where our ingredients come from as well as locally right here in Vermont. Partners include Kindle Farm and the Vermont Food Bank.

 

 

Student Perspectives on the Co-op in our Community: Introducing Perenniality

Sustainable. Organic. Natural. Free range. Local. The criteria for our food and the terminology to describe it seem to be constantly evolving: why add another word to the list?

Over the past few months, we have been meeting with General Manager Glenn Lower to learn about the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op and cooperatives in general, and to discuss yet another term, the word perennial. This partnership was brought about as a part of a course offered by Middlebury College called “The Perennial Turn in Ag/Culture,” co-taught by visiting professor Bill Vitek, local professor Marc Lapin, and MNFC Board member Nadine Barnicle.

So what does it mean to be perennial? Perenniality is more than a label, and it even goes beyond applying to our food systems. Perenniality is about a shift in consciousness towards a set of values that promote sustainability and equitable relations with other people as well as the ecosystems around us. A select list of some of the traits that characterize perennial thought includes “regenerative,” “interconnected,” “dynamic,” and “thrivable.” The Co-op embodies all of these characteristics in various ways.

The first characteristic of perennial organizations is that they are regenerative. The Co-op practices this value by taking the benefits of the Co-op and using it within the local community so that the community can be financially self-sustaining. Not only does the Co-op buy products from local farms and producers, but the Co-op also provides employment opportunities in the community, and at the end of the year, member-owners receive a share of the profit through their patronage dividend. The Co-op also borrowed money from a local co-op bank in Middlebury when expanding the building a few years ago.

The second characteristic we would like to introduce is the interconnectedness of the Co-op. The Co-op provides the member-owners and the people who shop at the Co-op with more than just a store-customer relationship. As a member of the local community in its own right, the Co-op provides spaces and opportunities for the local people to come together. That includes the workshops, events, and classes held by the Co-op.

Another fundamental characteristic of perennial organizations is a willingness to change: perenniality is dynamic. One major theme that was discussed in class was a transition from object to living thinking, as conceived of by Craig Holdrege. The Co-op displays this value through its responsiveness to the community it serves: moving to a new storefront out on Route 7 would have saved the Co-op roughly one million dollars. Glenn remarked that “it would’ve been easy.” Thankfully, MNFC’s commitment to the community meant that it was willing to do things differently and make the money work, as Glenn put it. This responsiveness means that MNFC engages with members, truly listens, and then changes their practices to best meet members’ needs.

The final characteristic we wanted to share with you was introduced to us by another community partner in class, Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist Rachel Edwards: thrivability. In essence, thrivability is what lies beyond sustainability, as we want the world around us not only to sustain but to thrive, just as we would want for ourselves happiness beyond meeting basic needs. The Co-op promotes thrivability as it explicitly encourages a “vibrant local economy” as one of its ends, and otherwise actively pursues positive change rather than accepting stasis.

Ultimately, MNFC models what we have discussed in our class as the underlying principle of perennialism: namely, cooperation as the fundamental basis of all relations. The Co-op models all sorts of perennial characteristics, but most importantly, as a cooperative, it is cooperative. It is inherently regenerative, interconnected, responsive to its members, and pursuing thrivability. Hopefully, the Co-op will continue to have as much success as it does now, and in doing so, promote other ways of being for retailers and consumers alike. In this way, perhaps perennialism as a philosophy can spread. Still, Glenn’s advice to us was to let it grow on its own. If it can flourish organically, then it will catch on.

Josie Bourne and Shio Shio Tsurudome are Middlebury College Students

 

 

Spotlight on Krin’s Bakery

Looking to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth? We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Krin’s Bakery this week and member-owners can enjoy 20% off Krin’s full line of local confections from December 20th – 26th! Read on to learn more about this wonderful bakery nestled in the mountains of Huntington, VT.

 

 

Krin’s Bakery is the home of artisan baker Krin Barberi. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, then exploring and working for others, Krin opened her Bakery in 2005.

According to Krin, “We are a community of 7 Huntington women bringing diligence, humor, and really good taste buds to work every day. Our team is devoted to delicious baked goods made in small batches with deep attention to the baking process. We bring pride to our production process, using only “real” ingredients (butter instead of shortening, sugar instead of corn syrup). From ingredient choice to the mixing bowl, from oven to cooling rack, we bring that sense of pride from our kitchen to you.”

Krin is a passionate local foods activist supporting the cause by working with local distributors, markets, producers, and farmers. She takes her inspiration from her rural New England family’s tradition of supporting and participating in the life of her community. She believes that where our food comes from is important and takes pride in using local Vermont ingredients including carrots and zucchini from Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg, Bee Happy Honey from Starksboro, Huntington’s own Maple Wind Farm eggs, and dairy from Middlebury’s Monument Farms.

It is from this deep sense of community and place that Krin continues to bake love and care into each and every treat.

At the Co-op, you’ll find Krin’s famous cupcakes, mini cakes, macaroons, and cookies!

 

Classic Hanukkah Brisket

Planning a Hanukkah feast? Local Boyden Farm beef brisket will be featured in our weekly sale from November 29th – December 5th and we think you’ll love this Classic Hanukkah Brisket recipe! 

Spotlight on Vermont Creamery

Planning a holiday party? Then you’ll be excited to hear that we’re featuring Vermont Creamery in our Member Deals Spotlight this week! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their decadent array of award-winning products from November 28th – December 5th. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a state with the highest number of artisanal cheesemakers per capita, and Vermont Creamery ranks high among them. Their cheeses, creme fraiche, mascarpone, and cultured butter have garnered awards locally, nationally, and globally, creating quite a reputation for this local creamery with such humble roots. Read on to learn more about how the creamery began, their model for being a sustainable mission-driven business, and what keeps them inspired to produce their world-renowned products:

Their Story:

Allison learned how to make cheese during an internship on a farm in Brittany, France. Bob was working for the Vermont Department of Agriculture and charged with organizing a dinner featuring all Vermont-made products. When a French chef requested fresh goat cheese, Bob scrambled to find a local producer. He asked Allison, who was working in a dairy lab and milking goats in Brookfield, to make the cheese. The dinner was a success and the cheese was a hit; Vermont Creamery was born that night.

In the 34 years since the improbable business partners made their first goat cheese, a lot has changed. But the more things change at Vermont Creamery, the more they stay the same.

They’re still here in Vermont, making consciously-crafted, delicious dairy that reflects who they are and what they care about; they’ve taken the time to perfect every detail of what they make. Their cheeses and butter have won hundreds of national and international awards, their team remains their most valuable resource, and they still put taste above all. You’ll never eat anything they don’t believe in.

Co-founders Bob Reese and Allison Hooper

 

Their Mission:

At Vermont Creamery, they strive to produce the highest quality cheeses and dairy products using local ingredients while supporting and developing family farms. They aim to exemplify sustainability by being profitable, engaging their staff in the business, and living their mission every day in the creamery.

Vermont Creamery became a certified B Corp in 2014. B Corps are a new type of company that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This designation reflects the values upon which the company was founded and their operating philosophies today. The B Corp Impact Assessment provides a roadmap to continually improve their business practices while also applying rigor to and accountability for their mission. Check out their B Impact Score here.

 

Looking for great recipes? Click HERE!

 

Spotlight on Lake Champlain Chocolates

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight this week on a local favorite – Lake Champlain Chocolates! All of their mouth-watering chocolates are 20% off for member-owners from November 15th – 21st! Read on to learn more about this local confectionery that has called Vermont home since 1983:

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History:

The story of Lake Champlain Chocolates began back in 1983 when founder Jim Lampman dared his pastry chef at Burlington’s Ice House Restaurant to create a better truffle than the ones he had been buying for his staff as holiday gifts. Together they began making the most amazing hand-rolled, creamy truffles and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sourcing Matters:

From the very beginning, long before eating local was cool, they’ve been committed to sourcing Vermont-grown ingredients whenever possible. They knew that using high-quality Vermont honey, maple syrup, and dairy from local farmers and producers would result in superior chocolates.

They’re also aware that sourcing matters for products that must come from afar. From the cacao farmers to their customers and every hardworking person and supplier in between, their  Fair for Life – Social & Fair Trade Certification goes above and beyond by looking not only at individual ingredients but at company practices as a whole. This means that you can enjoy every bite of chocolate knowing that they are committed to making a positive impact on our local and global communities.

The goal is to bring you their best.  To make high-quality chocolate that amazes with exquisite flavor and creates a moment of pure joy. It’s also why they’ve never added preservatives, extenders, or additives, and why they’ve worked diligently to remove GMOs from all of their chocolates and use organic and fair trade certified ingredients whenever possible. With each new product, the goal remains the same – to create something special, and to give you the best experience.

Eric Lampman in the Dominican Republic

A Family Affair:

Lake Champlain Chocolates is a second-generation, family-owned business, just like the generations of Vermont family farmers that provide them with fresh butter, cream, maple syrup, and honey. And just like the generations of cacao farmers in places like the Dominican Republic and Guatemala — with whom they have direct partnerships. Today, Jim’s son and daughter, Eric and Ellen, are defining the future of Lake Champlain Chocolates by developing award-winning organic products and spearheading sustainable sourcing initiatives. Along the way following the Lampman family principles: Dare to do better. Always do it with Passion. And do it your way.

Lampman Family

Fair Trade:

Beyond labeling individual products as “fair trade” — an ongoing process in itself — the entire company is now certified Fair for Life.  Fair for Life is a rigorous third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade. Above and beyond fair trade certification, it looks at a company’s practices as a whole, including the ingredients used in its products. LCC undergoes regular audits to ensure every step of its supply chain is socially legit. Not just the cocoa, but every link they have as a business, including their own employees’ working conditions here in Vermont.

Why? Because of their belief that every person in the process should be treated and compensated fairly. And that means everyone in the supply chain — from the farmers who grow and harvest the cocoa, to those who transport it, transform it into chocolate, process your order, package it, and ensure it arrives ready for you to enjoy.

This certification affirms the following:

  • A price premium is paid to the cocoa farmers and co-ops.
  • Certified products originate from fair trade producer operations.
  • LCC is engaged in long-term partnerships and socially responsible trading practices with its suppliers/purveyors.
  • LCC respects the labor rights of its own employees, providing good working conditions.
  • LCC is a good community citizen and practices environmental responsibility.
fair-trade-chocolate-lcc

 

 

Factory Tours:

Want to see how their chocolates are made? Take a FREE Factory Tour!

Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm
Tours on the hour
Self-Guided Tours after 3pm

FREE Chocolate Tastings
Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 4pm

750 Pine Street Burlington, VT
Tours fill up quickly in peak months, so call ahead: 802-864-1807

 

Spotlight on Elmer Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Elmer Farm this week to celebrate this 90-acre organic farm and the farmers who bring it to life. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their glorious spread of organic vegetables from October8th – 14th! Read on to learn more about the history and heritage of this farm, which has been providing food for this community since the early 1800’s!

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Driving into East Middlebury on Route 116, it’s hard to miss the beautiful patch of flowers bordering the white farmhouse at the entryway to Elmer Farm. What you might not see from the road are the amazing fields of vegetables that are grown on this fertile, organic soil. Elmer Farm is a conserved 90-acre farm where Spencer & Jennifer Blackwell grow 25 acres of mixed vegetables, grains, and dry beans, all of which are certified organic. Annual inspections and certification by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) ensure that the crops are grown responsibly and safely without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

The farm belonged to the Elmer family since the early 1800’s and has a long heritage of providing food for its community. The receding glaciers bestowed the farm with a wonderful mix of fertile soils and sandy loam, perfectly suited to growing vegetables and grains. Elmer Farm grows more than thirty-five different vegetables, an array of flowers and culinary herbs. This includes over 200 different varieties including many heirlooms.

 

Spencer and Jennifer Blackwell, along with their children, Angus, Ida, & Mabel and their hard-working crew of farmhands are proud to grow vegetables for their community, neighbors, and friends in Addison County. They value hard work and the agrarian quality of life. They are committed to our community through various farm-to-school efforts as well as gleaning for local food agencies. In fact, Spencer helped spearhead the Local Food Access Program at HOPE.

A number of years ago, representatives from HOPE, Middlebury College, ACORN,  and the local business community, along with several local farmers, including Spencer from Elmer Farm and Will Stevens of Golden Russet Farm, got together to discuss the possibility of increasing the amount of locally grown food offered at HOPE’s food shelf. This group recognized that Addison County farmers grow vast amounts of beautiful, healthy organic fruits and vegetables, which are often unavailable or too pricey to those who need it most. They also recognized that these farms often had excess produce available that would not be destined for retail markets, which could instead be diverted to the food shelf. Fast-forward to present day, and the idea hatched by this group has evolved into an incredibly successful program that is bringing thousands of pounds of healthy, local foods to those in our community who need it most while also diverting a lot of food from the waste stream.

 

At the Co-op, you can find Elmer Farm’s organic cabbage, red & yellow onions, butternut squash, baby bok choy, radishes, leeks, scallions, kale, chard, and their famous carrots! You can also visit their webpage to subscribe to their CSA, where you will receive fresh vegetables, flowers, and herbs each week from mid-June through the end of October for a total of 20 weeks. Also be sure to check out the recipes on their web page!

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