- Holiday Open House
- November 19th, 2013
- Children’s Weekend Food Program
- November 6th, 2013
Weekend food matters for student learning and achievement. This is the mission for the Children’s Weekend Food Program (CWFP) and the message is simple: a full stomach and a healthy body are essential for success in the classroom. CWFP’s “purpose is to provide child-friendly nutritious, non-perishable food items for breakfast, lunch, and snacks for most non-school days of the regular school year.” St. Peter Food Co-op stands behind this mission and purpose and are happy to announce that we will be collecting monetary donations for CWFP throughout the month of November.
The Children’s Weekend Food Program is a collaborative effort of the District #508 and St. Peter Area Food Shelf. It has been serving St. Peter youth and families since the 2011-2012 school year when they facilitated a pilot project that supported 25 students. In their second year, they were able to support 40 students and this year they have 70 students coming from 42 families.
After students have received four consecutive meals from CWFP, their families are asked to enroll in the St. Peter Food Shelf. In addition, CWFP Hunger Awareness Advocates are being placed in South Elementary Early Learning Center and North Intermediate to provide families with a person who can ease the navigation into community food access systems available in St. Peter which will help with the families’ emergency food insecurities.
CWFP relies on donations in order to provide these necessary kid-friendly weekend meals. Please join the St. Peter Food Co-op in supporting this local cause – cash donations are accepted upon checkout. Thank you for your contributions.
- October 25th, 2013
I had my first encounter with celeriac recently, encouraged partly by Stephanie’s (produce and general merchandize extraordinaire) emphatic proclamation that it is her favorite vegetable. So, I tried it out in my roasted vegetable soup and it was exceedingly delicious, giving the soup that little extra touch.
What is celeriac? It’s a root vegetable, also known as celery root that as you would guess is similar to celery in taste, if not appearance. When picking one out, find one that is heavy for its size with smallish roots. As with many root vegetables, it can substitute for or be added to other root vegetables – celeriac chips, parsnip and celeriac mash, you get the idea.
While on the outside, celeriac looks more like an ugly, warty mass than food you want to ingest, the creamy white flesh on the inside is much more appealing. With its thick skin, a paring knife is a better tool for peeling these vegetables.
Speaking of root vegetables, there is still a hardy stock of beets, rutabagas, turnips, squash, potatoes, yams, and more available from our local producers. These root vegetables are a great thing come winter – with a long storage life, they are the perfect vegetables to stock up on and enjoy as the temperatures drop. While root vegetables will store for up to month (depending on the veggie) in the refrigerator, long term storage requires a root cellar (a cool, humid environment).
- It’s something to get “excidered” about!
- October 18th, 2013
As your CSAs near the end of their season and backyard gardens get hit with frost, the St. Peter Food Co-op produce department still has it all. We are fully stocked with fall favorites, from squash to apples and potatoes to pears; greens galore like kale, chard, and mustard greens; root vegetables aplenty and we even have local tomatoes.
Local tomatoes in October? Yes! Living Water Gardens, from Wells, MN, has a greenhouse hydroponic system to grow their tomatoes. Hydroponic farming is a method of growing plants without soil, instead relying on a mineral and nutrient rich water solution in an inert medium, such as perlite. The greenhouse keeps the tomatoes nice and toasty, with the aid of a wood-burning stove during these chilly nights so they produce further into the fall and winter than your outside garden would allow. For more information, Valley Natural Foods, a Co-op in the Twin Cities, wrote a great article about them, you can find it here http://www.valleynaturalfoods.com/newsletters/1213133420.pdf.
You can still find a wide variety of local squash, perfect for any and all of your squash-making needs. Squash can be stored for several months before using, making it a perfect time of year to stock up for the winter with our fabulous local varieties. Why not use your Member-Owner discount and grab a few extra?
Local apples and apple cider are still crowding the produce aisle. As Caitlin in the produce department said, “It’s something to get excidered about!” Did you know that apples are a super food? Super foods are foods that pack a lot of nutritional punch and it is recommended that they are regularly included in your diet. Apples are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of atherosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber in apples provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system. The fiber in an apple also gives a practical way to help control appetite which can aid in weight loss. For some great apple-related recipes, check out the St. Peter Eats recipes in the purple box on the left.
A new addition to the bulk aisle is mulberries. These dried fruits are also super food and were recently featured on Dr. Oz – check out this article on the health benefits of mulberries: http://goo.gl/H332Tg.
- Chakra Savy
- October 16th, 2013
Written by: Klea Brewton-Fitzgerald, Wellness Department*The Wellness Department of the St. Peter Food Co-op does not intend to treat or diagnose, this information is for educational purposes only.
As days begin to shorten many turn more inward. It is a good time to become aware of the connections between body, mind, heart/emotion, and spirit.
The Wellness Department at St. Peter Food Co-op now carries organic Aura Cacia Chakra Balancing Essential Oil Essences. The 7 traditional interconnected chakra energy centers of our human bodies were originally identified by ancient Indian Vedic traditions and have now been verified by modern science. The chakra system is perceived as a column of energy centers that extends from the base of the spine to the top of the head. The location of each energy vortex loosely corresponds to an area of the body’s anatomy. These spinning vortices receive, assimilate and express our vital life force energy. When the flow of energy in one or more chakras becomes sluggish or blocked, we may develop physical and/or mental/emotional illnesses. Click on the picture for more information.
If this seems a bit “woo woo” to you, think of radio waves, WiFi, water vapor… We can’t see any of these, yet it is apparent that they exist.
The 7 Aura Cacia Chakra Balancing Oils each correspond to a chakra. They can be used alone or in combination to assist in bringing chakra centers into balance. Their aromas are wonderful and may be used as perfumes.
Information From: Aura Cacia Pure Essential Oils, www.chopra.com
- Equal Exchange Avocados
- October 11th, 2013
Just in time for Fair Trade month, St. Peter Food Co-op is happy to announce a new addition to the produce aisle – Equal Exchange Avocados. Yes, that is the same Equal Exchange who brings us bananas and a number of coffee, tea, and chocolate products. They have struck again, this time with these green gems. 100% Organic. Fairtrade Certified. Thanks Equal Exchange, you do it right.
Equal Exchange Avocados are sourced from a cooperative in Michoacan, Mexico called Pragor. The challenges these cooperative farmers face every day are numerous and looming – ranging from the constant threat of the notorious drug cartels, to the manipulation and exploitations by multinational agribusinesses, to the many certifications required to export their avocados to the United States, complete with Organic and Fair Trade Certifications. Despite these seemingly overwhelming challenges, the farmers of Pragor and Equal Exchange have forged a partnership that will provide an equitable price for the producer and a great-tasting product for us consumers. For more information on the challenges faced by Pragor, visit Equal Exchange’s blog: http://smallfarmersbigchange.coop/2013/09/23/through-the-avocado-obstacle-course/
The mission of Pragor is “to contribute to the care of the environment and economic progress of the state, through the production and export of organic avocados with quality, safety and sustainability to meet customer needs under the Fair Trade scheme.” Pragor is working towards this mission in many ways, including a 100% Certified Organic Operation and Fairtrade Certified by Fairtrade International. For more information on Pragor, visit their website at http://www.pragor.com/html/en-about-us.html.
Bananas? Avocados? Bananas and avocados? Now we’re talking. Try this recipe, stolen shamelessly from Equal Exchange:
Chocolate Avocado Banana Pudding [serves 2-4]
2 Equal Exchange avocados, ripe
2 medium Equal Exchange bananas, ripe
6-8T unsweetened cocoa powder
1t vanilla extract 1t cinnamon
1/4 cup rough chopped almonds, for garnish [opt]
- In a food processor, combine the avocado + banana and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides of bowl as necessary.
- Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Process again until smooth.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if using.
- Store in a sealed container and eat within 2-3 days.
notes: This has the consistency of a thick pudding, but is not similar to chocolate pudding from a box. If you want a thinner consistency, add your favorite milk, starting with 1T at a time. Do not use frozen bananas.
Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, sustainability, and accountability. In celebration of Fair Trade Month, Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Imitative will be tabling in the store on Saturday, October 26. Join us to learn more about Fair Trade and grab some avocados and bananas while you’re here!
More information Equal Exchange Avocados can be found by following this link: http://www.beyondthepeel.com/avocado/
- New Country School at the Co-op
- October 8th, 2013
Students and teachers from Minnesota New Country School came down to the Co-op to demonstrate apple pressing for apple cider this past weekend. They started in sunshine and persisted even in the stinging cold rain, using a hand-crank apple cider press to shred apples and squeeze out the freshest apple cider around – straight from the press. Passerby’s and Co-op shoppers enjoyed the free samples and had the chance to learn more about the Minnesota New Country School and their apple project.
Minnesota New Country School (MNCS) is a project-based charter school in Henderson. They received a sustainable agriculture grant in 1998 to plant an apple orchard. Over three years, they have planted 480 trees on six acres. With the help of the DNR, they fenced the orchard and have tended the orchard from the beginning. The students planted the trees, built the fence and have pruned and organically managed the orchard to this day.
They have an apple crew working this year, with the aid of a farm-to-school grant from Sibley County, pressing apples for cider, dehydrating apple snacks, picking apples for sale and providing students with healthy apples and snacks daily. Students propose projects to work in the orchard and build community through work and sharing the fruit of their labor.
The Apple Press…How it Works
First step: cleansing the organically grown apples in a 3 tub cleansing system, first to get the bugs and dirt off and disinfecting the apples, then a 2-tub rinse.
Next, using your everyday kitchen strainers, students dumped the apples into a small hopper on the press. With muscles and enthusiasm, one student would turn the hand-crank to crush the apples into smaller pieces – skins, seeds, and all crushed up into shredded pulp. The pulp would land in mesh strainer, making the next step possible.
Finally, after the washing and the grinding, is the pressing – using a hand-twist crank, students pressed the pulp to extract the apple cider, separating the pulp (later used for chicken feed or compost) from the delicious, refreshing apple cider. All this in a matter of minutes using only human power.
More pictures can be found on our Facebook page.
- It’s all about the Squash
- September 27th, 2013
It is officially fall – the squash are here. They are local. And organic. With a multitude of varieties to choose from, you can find a squash for nearly any purpose. As the weather cools and we are more and more willing to turn our oven on, the squash possibilities are plentiful.
The staff at the St. Peter Food Co-op has their favorites, here are a few and how they like to prepare them.
Jennifer Kohnert (bulk buyer): Delicata, roasted with the skin on. It’s great because you don’t have to peel it! Also, any squash from Kohnerts Organic Farm…I hear they grow great squash.
Erik Larson (produce manager): Carnival or Acorn, stuffed with apples and sausage (you can find this in the deli on a lucky day, it is Erik’s recipe). The sausage makes the squash more savory, rather than sweet.
Barbara (cashier): Butternut, roasted (no additions necessary). Why add anything, I love squash!
Klea (wellness): Butternut or acorn, baked with butter, cinnamon and ginger. The consistency is perfect, it’s a good comfort food, and it’s great – feed your baby and feed yourself!
Dar (grocery): Acorn, bake it upside down with butter, then turn it over and add butter with maple syrup. It’s awesome and makes you want to just keep eating.
Caitlin (produce): Red Kuri, they make a creamy, delicious soup. They keep forever and are a nice color.
Beyond our staff favorites, we also have:
Baby Blue Hubbard: a dense, deeply orange color with a nutty, sweet taste; a wonderful squash for steaming or roasting
Buttercup: sweet and creamy orange flesh, great for soups
Long Pie, an oblong version of the standard pie pumpkin – they start out green, but will turn into that distinctive orange color with time.
Pie pumpkins, as the name implies, perfect for pie!
As Margo likes to say: St. Peter Food Co-op has a squash for all your sqashing needs.
Along with our squash, we also have another fall favorite – apples! Local, organic Honeycrisps – Minnesota’s state fruit – are delicious as ever this year. Honeycrisps were developed at the University of Minnesota and are a heavenly cross between a Macoun and Honeygold –crisp, tart, a perfect texture and the right amount of crunch. We are lucky to have organic apples – it’s hard to get a quality, organic apple in Minnesota, so a hearty thank you to Gregors Orchards, in Waseca, MN for supplying us with these tasty fall treats!
- Healthy Heritage Meats
- September 24th, 2013
By Tom Leonhardt, Meat Buyer
The St. Peter Food Co-op meat department is pleased to announce we have partnered with an established meat CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from the Rochester area. Healthy Heritage Meats specializes in the raising of heritage breed animals like Red Wattle Pigs, American Galloway Cows, and Heritage Turkeys and Chickens.
This is a combined effort of two small-scale sustainable farms that are dedicated to saving rare and heritage breeds of livestock. By supporting a CSA of this type, not only are you receiving top quality meats not found in traditional grocery stores, but you’re also contributing to the preservation of these breeds.
Healthy Heritage Meats chooses their breeds for their ability to adapt to small family and sustainable farms, our climate, and their goals. Breeding animals are specifically chosen to not only be the best representatives of their breed but are structurally built for longevity. They are able to maintain their health and meat quality on the type of land that is available in Southern Minnesota.
All of the animals are raised the most humanely way possible. They are all pasture-raised and finished. Giving them exercise and a more naturally diverse diet is essential for good health and produces meat that is higher in vitamins, minerals and good fats. Just as everything that the St. Peter Food Co-op’s meat department stands behind, none of these animals are given hormones or antibiotics.
This fall we will be promoting the Healthy Heritage Meats CSA in the store and on the web. The CSA shares will be for 100 pounds of meat – a mix of pork, beef, chicken and turkey. These will arrive at the Co-op once a quarter in 25 pound allotments for ease of storage (no need to find room for 100 pounds of meat all at once). Plus they will mix your shares for the season – grilling meats will arrive in the summer, stew and roasts in the fall, turkey before Thanksgiving.
If you’re unsure about committing to the year-long CSA, we will be taking a sign-up for sample mix packages of their products. Each sample pack is 15 pounds and costs just under $100. Sign-ups will be taken until mid-October and sample boxes will arrive later in November. Once you try these items, you will be able to taste the difference in quality from conventional meats you have eaten in the past.
All CSA shares can be purchased directly from Healthy Heritage Meats and then picked up at the Co-op beginning mid-February 2014. We are also looking at having the gals table at an up-coming Member/ Owner Appreciation Days this fall just as our vegetable farmers’ CSAs have in the past.
- TODAY – TAKE TIME TO NOTICE THE FLOWERS
- September 10th, 2013
By Klea Brewton-Fitzgerald, Wellness
*The Wellness Department of the St. Peter Food Co-op does not intend to treat or diagnose, this information is for educational purposes only.
WHAT AN AWESOME TIME OF YEAR! The colors and energy of the season’s vibrant flowers and vegetation are all around us elevating our spirits. These flowers can actually bring us peace and healing with the essence of their beauty and powerful life force.
Dr. Edward Bach was an early leader recognizing the spiritual dimensions of healing beginning in the 1930s in his native England. As a respected medical doctor he knew the physical symptoms he treated were intertwined with the emotional and mental conditions of his patients. Dr. Bach saw the encroachment of technology’s impact on the life of peoples’ souls as he experienced humans becoming alienated from Nature. Dr. Bach left his medical practice to develop a healing system derived from plant blossoms.
Dr. Bach’s “flower essences” focus on core issues of wellness – emotions, stress, mental attitudes, spiritual values and life purpose. Balance in these areas is key to mind-body health. Bach developed 38 “flower remedies” that have proven to be of value in supporting a person’s ability to respond to life’s challenges. The “flower essences” support personal diet, exercise, meditation/prayer, moral development, social responsibility, hygiene…, leading to health and well-being of the whole individual. They do not replace medical therapies.
The tradition of Dr. Bach’s healing flower remedies has been carried on by Julian Barnard, the founder of Healingherbs. Flower Essence Services (FES) became the North American distributor of Healingherbs flower essences in 1991. FES has also developed flower essences based on quality North American plants to create pure potent energy plant remedies. The remedies contain the energy imprint of the plant (no physical part of the plant flower remains in the flower essence) and work in a way similar to homeopathic remedies to provide stimulus to “jump-start” a person’s own healing system. FES carries on the tradition of quality and integrity begun by Dr. Bach.
Flower remedies are catalysts that stimulate a person’s ability to respond to or take responsibility for life challenges. A person, through self-examination, meditation, or consultation with others, can become aware of key issues, challenges, and patterns of imbalance in their life. Charts and informational materials are available to assist people to choose the essences that best suit their needs and goals. Flower essences can be used safely and effectively with plants and animals as well as humans (children and adults).
The good news is – the St. Peter Food Co-op now carries FES and Healingherbs products! Find them and more information in the wellness aisle.
Examples of Flower Essences & Their Use
Five Flower Formula: useful for trauma, emergency & crisis conditions
Arnica: useful for recovery from trauma & stress
Chamomile: useful for emotional calm
Cosmos: useful for clear thought & coherent communication
Dandelion: useful for relief of tension
Sunflower: useful for radiant self-actualization
Zinnia: useful for child-like spontaneity & joy
Methods to Use Flower Essences
Take drops directly under the tongue
Dilute several drops in water & drink
Spray directly into the mouth or body
Rub on lips or pulse points (especially if a person is unable to drink)
Add to a crème/lotion base and apply to skin
FLOWERS ARE OUR FRIENDS. GET TO KNOW THEIR ESSENCES. YOUR BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT WILL BE GLAD YOU DID.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies by C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, Harper Collins Publishers, 2002
“FES Quintessentials: Flower Essences to Bridge Body and Soul”, Flower Essence Services publication
“Healingherbs: Flower Essences of Dr. Edward Bach” by Patricia Kaminski & Richard Katz for Flower Essence Services
“Five Flower Formula: Dr. Bach’s Remedy for Stress & Trauma,” Flower Essence Services publication
- Produce Friday!
- September 6th, 2013
Last week we gave a sneaky preview to a new batch of apples and now they are here! Gregors Orchard, Certified Organic from Waseca, have brought in two new varieties: Beacon and Red Free. Beacons’ flesh has a slight pink tinge, perfect for an apple pie (and yes, it will be a little pink) while Red Frees are tart and crisp, perfect for eating. Gregors Orchard is not an apple-growing only operation. They also grow certified organic crops, including corn, hay, and beans and sustainability manage a 50 acre wood lot for maple syrup production, fuel wood, and wildlife habitat. We are definitely excited to have their apples at the Co-op!
Now is your chance for local grapes – Concord Grapes to be exact. Concords are a juicy little grape with a seed inside and a distinctive skin. They are often used for juicing, making jam, or home-made wine-making experiments.
Living Land Farm, East Henderson Farm, and Kohnerts are still supplying us with a hearty amount of local greens and vegetables: green onions, kale, chard, several varieties of cabbage, carrots, broccoli, beets…I think you get the idea. Also from Kohnerts we have delicious herbs, including parsley, cilantro, and basil – perfect pairings for all those fresh vegetables.
If you are curious about the hottest naturally grown pepper in the world, the ghost pepper (also known as either Bhut Jolokia or Naga Jolokia), there are a few hiding in the produce department – ask a staff member if you want to see one (or try one, if you dare). We don’t put them on the floor because they are just too hot!
- “The Week”
- August 30th, 2013
In the words of Produce Manager Erik, “everything is awesome.” Peak season is upon us.
You may have noticed Living Land watermelons – complete with yellow, orange, and red varieties. They are now joined by East Henderson watermelons, ready to roll onto your picnic blanket for Labor Day celebrations. Watermelon happens to be “St. Peter Eats” super-food of the month – for yummy recipes, check the purple side bar on the left of the page!
“People love our watermelons…The soil is great for those and they grow great…in my mind, that’s a big success.” Adam from Living Land on his delicious watermelon – come grab a melon and taste for yourself!
Although the weather makes us think that we are still in the midst of summer, we received our first batch of early-season apples from Montgomery Orchards, a new supplier to the Co-op out of, you guessed it, Montgomery, MN. Scott Wardell, owner of Montgomery Orchards, planted the first orchard back in 1999. Since then, they have seen extensive growth and are now nearly six times the original size! The two varieties available now are Zestar! and State Fair. Zestar! are large, crunchy, juicy red fruit with sprightly sweet-tart flavor and a hint of brown sugar. State Fair apples are a juicy, moderately tart fruit. Good for eating and cooking. Both are great for eating or cooking.
In the upcoming week, Gregors Apples out of Waseca will be bringing in their first batch of Certified Organic apples. Last year they didn’t have much of a crop due to inclement weather in the spring, so it is exciting to see them back this year! Gregors have been Certified Organic since 2002 and have been in the Apple Orchard business since the late 1980’s. Keep your eyes peeled for them!
- A Free Event!
- August 27th, 2013
On Wednesday, August 28 the Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative (MAFTTI) is hosting its 5th annual Fair Trade film night. MAFTTI is part of the Fair Trade Towns USA Campaign, an organization whose “objectives are essentially to bring together businesses, civic and educational institutions, faith-based and community organizations, and individuals throughout the United States
- to develop the Fair Trade movement and achieve special recognition for communities that value Fair Trade.
- to increase consumer access to Fair Trade goods in stores.
- to deepen awareness of children and adults about the producers in the Global South who grow and make the things that we buy.”
More information about MAFTTI can be found here: http://www.maftti.org/fair-trade-towns/
The Event will feature two documentaries that highlight the power of Fair Trade:
Calcutta Hilton (2007), 23 mins. Grades 11-12 and above
“Sonagacchi is the largest, most infamous sex district in Calcutta. Everyday 20,000 men seek out the services of the 6,000 women who work there. Many of these women were stolen from their homes, some were tricked, others sold into prostitution by friends and family. It was in the midst of this despair that “Calcutta Hilton” presenter Evie Ashton discovered an inspiring group doing their best to make a difference.” http://www.calcuttahilton.com/
Chocolate Country (2007), 30 mins. General
“In the isolated hill towns of the Dominican Republic, cacao farmers have been fighting a losing battle with the global economy for as long as anyone can remember. But in Loma Guaconejo, things are about to change. If the farmers here can win organic certification and market their product directly to the United States, they just might manage to turn the system on its head. But to pull it off will take the effort of an entire community.” http://www.chocolatecountryfilm.com/
Wednesday, August 28; 7 – 9 pm
Emy Frentz Arts Guild, 523 S Second Street, Mankato.
- Capturing Summer…in a Jar
- August 23rd, 2013
Just think. It is January and the snow is falling. Wind-chill temperatures are well below zero and have been for days. It’s cold. Spring is far off. You plod to the pantry in search of salvation and there you find them. Mason jars, chuck full of preserved peaches, standing at attention and ready to bring back a small glimpse of summer. You give yourself a little smile as you see them, patiently awaiting their moment of glory. As you open the jar, you get that sweet smell of freshness, of shorts-wearing days, of green trees and wildflowers. It’s a little like heaven in a jar, momentarily allowing you to forget about the blizzard outside, the snow shoveling, the coldness. You think, “thanks, past self, for saving me this delightful treat,” and for a little while, all is well.
To get to that blissful winter day, all it takes is an afternoon this summer. Food preservation can come in many forms – canning, pickling, freezing – and each are simply learned and perfected. And you can save more than just peaches! Many foods, including berries, apples, veggies, tomatoes, and more can be preserved for winter-time eating – a necessary practice for eating local, even in the off-season.
There are a multitude of resources on these methods and as I’ve just canned my first batch of peaches, I will leave the explaining to the more practiced. Here is a link for U of MN Extension – a great resource for your food preservation needs, complete with instructions and explanations to guide you through the process.
Direct-from-the-Grower Michigan peaches still available at the Co-op. You can get them by the box (25 pounds), half box, or by the pound. For an idea: I canned 12 pints, froze 2 gallons, made a peach crisp and had plenty of ready-to-eat peaches out of one box (25 pounds). Come get ‘em, they are stupendous!
- Minnesota on Mulberry
- August 20th, 2013
By Tom Leohardt – Assistant Deli Manager and Meat Buyer
With our laser-guided focus on bringing local producers and their goods to our patrons we are constantly thinking about new and exciting ways to make these connections. With our quarterly Member/ Owner Appreciation Days we bring many of these producers and vendors into the Co-op for customers to meet and chat with while they shop. In our bi-monthly newsletters we highlight a few of the people or businesses who make some of the most popular items available at the store. We are continuously searching and sourcing items for our various departments that can be found closer to home. The deli’s switch-over to whole-breast Ferndale Market turkey, which is roasted in-house, is just one of the latest examples.
Probably the most exciting turn recently was this spring when we moved a huge step forward in our quest towards farmer/consumer integration with our local dinner series Minnesota on Mulberry. Each month over the course of the summer we have been offering a delicious selection of locally raised and beautifully presented dinners al fresco on our very own patio. The atmosphere is enhanced with the addition of local musicians who perform while friends and families dine. The point was never to make a bunch of money, but rather to expose our customers to the bounty in their backyards while dining with family and members of their community. Each plate is reasonably priced at $10 to ensure as many people who wish to come for dinner can afford to eat fresh, local, fine-dining fare.
Minnesota on Mulberry is growing in popularity with each dinner. The attendance more than doubled from June to July. August’s meal of a blue cheese stuffed burger on a homemade bun with roasted potatoes and a spinach salad was so wildly successful we sold out of tickets in an hour, even planning for a 50% increase over July. We must be doing something right! Due to this popularity we have planed an additional Fall Harvest addition of Minnesota on Mulberry for Friday, September 20th from 6-8 pm. We are also in the works to do the same style dinner in our indoor dining area over the winter months, with food being prepared right out of our deli kitchen. Throughout Minnesota’s seasons not all our meals can be 100% local, but we strive to make every effort to create a tasty and well-balanced plate with 80-90% local ingredients entirely from scratch.
One of the best parts of the event is talking with diners about how they can cook with various local ingredients seasonally. We also share stories about where their meal came from and just how these dedicated farmers produce food with flavors and nourishment that they find nowhere else but at the St. Peter Food Co-op. It’s a joy to help people connect the dots between their physical health and their community’s economic health with the food they consume on a regular basis. The sights, sounds and smells of Minnesota on Mulberry bring a festive ambiance to our quaint little store nestled in the river valley that can truly only be found here.
- Millions of Peaches…
- August 16th, 2013
There is something pretty cool that we do here in the Co-op produce department. It happens just a few times a year, but it leaves a lasting impression and months-long anticipation. Direct-from-the-grower – blueberries, peaches, and citrus. Boxes and boxes of direct-from-the-grower fruit. First, in July, there were blueberries, fresh off the truck from Michigan. In the winter, hailing from Texas, will be citrus. But now, in the midst of August, it’s Michigan peach season.
Direct-from-the-grower. The concept is simple – freshly picked fruit tastes better. And without all those middle-men in the way, it’s easier on the pocket book and better for the grower. While your taste buds are dancing and peach juice is running down your chin, your mind can rest easy knowing that you are putting your food dollars to good use.
There is something special about a perfect peach – the texture, just right; the juiciness, perfect; and the taste, oh don’t get me started on the taste. Though we tend to think of peaches as a dessert food, don’t limit yourself to the possibility of peaches in any part of your meal, adding a new burst of flavor to your chicken or pork dish, that savory salad, or try them fresh off the grill.
Peach season is short. By preserving peaches now at their peak of ripeness, either by freezing or canning, you are saving yourself from the less quality off-season peaches later in the year. Think, mid-January with sub-zero temperatures, snow on the ground, and short winter days. What would be better than a newly opened jar of canned peaches, bringing back that taste and smell of summer? Talk about the perfect remedy for a frigid morning. As Greg Brown would say, “taste a little of the summer” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb-0ZCqga48.
- Pickling and Dill
- August 9th, 2013
It’s pickling season. The harvest is well underway and those of you who are on the hunt for locally grown dill, the hunt stops here (though it is going out the door almost as fast as it is coming in).
Dill is originally from southern Russia, western Africa, and the Mediterranean region. It has a long history of medicinal use, dating back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, to name a few. It has been used as a symbol of wealth, to ward of witches, and, of course, as a seasoning for food.
Pickling has been a form of food preservation for thousands of years, with cucumber pickles dating back to 2030 B.C. While dill pickles are highly popular now, it is not known for certain when dill was first used as a seasoning for pickles, but one of the earliest written records is from a recipe dated to the 1600’s.
While cucumber pickles are highly popular, my personal favorite are dilly carrots (you can grab some of East Henderson’s absolutely delicious green-top carrots). Here is a recipe for lacto-fermenting carrots, a different process than pickling, but with seriously yummy results:
- I use a 1 quart mason jar; fill it with carrot sticks, enough room at the top to be fully covered with water.
- 1 T fresh dill (or to taste, I like a bit more)
- 1-2 clove garlic (to taste)
- 1 T sea salt
- 1 T whey (or an extra T of salt if you don’t have whey, the end result will be saltier)
- Fill with filtered water until all carrots are covered.
- Let them sit on the counter out of direct sunlight for 4-7 days. Taste, if you like, put them in the fridge, if you want a more sour taste, let them go another day. Once they are fermented to taste, store them in the fridge. These taste great and are a great source for your daily dose of probiotics (see the post from Charlie on August 8).
Not a big fan of fermentation or pickling? That’s okay, we have a hearty supply of tomatoes (heirloom, slicers, and cherry), peppers (sweet and spicy), and so much more, perfect for your harvest-season feast.
- Gut Health: Probiotics
- August 8th, 2013
~ By Charlie Duda
*The Wellness Department of the St Peter Food Co-op does not intend to treat or diagnose, this information is for educational purposes only.
Probiotics are live bacteria that inhabit the digestive tract. They help complete the digestive process, help in the production of vitamins, and can be of used in keeping your digestive system functioning normally. This is especially useful, when one is on antibiotics, which can kill your good bacteria! Probiotics can help re-colonize the digestive tract and promote healthy benefits in a person. Some of those are, but not limited to, treating diarrhea, yeast infection, urinary health, allergies, and immunity support.
Probiotics aren’t just a current fad; in fact, they’ve been around way before their discovery with microscopes! The level of good bacteria in the digestive tract is currently argued to be one of the most important factors in health maintenance and life extension. It is said that your guts’ ecosystem is responsible for up to 80% of your immunity!  So, a robust immune system is a top priority in sustaining your good health and combatting illness. Commonly, probiotics are consumed in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, unpasteurized pickles, and various types of yogurts. But, they also can be found in pill, lozenge, or powder formats.
Essentially kombucha is a fermented tea. It dates back to China, around 200 BCE. Kombucha has a reputation of stimulating metabolism, increasing the effectiveness of the body’s detoxification process, and replenishing organic acids and enzymes required for optimal health. It’s a nice alternative to sodas and or other carbonated beverages.
Yogurt is a milk product that is produced through a bacteria fermentation process. It’s difficult to trace the beginnings of yogurt, but it is believed to have started by accident while milk was being transported in a goat-skin bag. The bacteria that are responsible for this happy accident, have been known to combat cancer , lower rates of diarrhea, aid in breaking down of simple sugars in the body, and the prevention of yeast infections. Probiotics can also be found in other dairy-based products, such as keifer, sour cream, certain brands of butter, etc. If you are a vegan, one can look for alternatives in non-dairy versions, like almond, rice, soy, or coconut yogurt.
Probiotics in the supplemental form are similar to those in various fermented foods. However, they can be formatted differently, either in a pill, powder, lozenge or other. Just as there are different strains of probiotics in different foods, certain strains of probiotics can be specified for a particular agenda. For example, some can be selected for halitosis (bad breath), rebuilding the inner lining of the digestive tract in hope of improving ones absorption rate of nutrients from foods, or aiding with acne and giving your skin a glowing and healthy look (as the dermis is a reflection of the health of the large intestine). 
So, what is the priority in selecting a probiotic?
One answer is: they should be living! This is difficult to tell. Since you can’t open up a pill and ask the bacteria, “hey, can anyone hear me?” (and they aren’t going to say anything anyway), you should be sure to research your source. Everything has a shelf life. A reputable company will strive for 25-75% higher potency than its label to ensure its entire life span of their product. Furthermore, some are “shelf stable” (no refrigeration needed) and some are not. Those that are shelf stable, and happen to be refrigerated, should stay refrigerated. Alternating temperatures will stress out the probiotics as they are very responsive to temperature fluxing and potency will decrease due to temperature increase. A good rule of thumb is to treat them like chocolate – stable at 70 degrees.
Another concern with probiotics is how much? Measured in CFUs, or Colony Forming Units, the amount needed is dependent upon the strain and the condition it’s for. Generally, what is deemed as a “healthy person” would take 5 billion CFUs in a supplemental form for support. However, higher or lower doses are advised for other health conditions and ages. As far as yogurts and other fermented foods go, unless the package is labeled with the amount of CFUs, then it is difficult to tell how much you are getting. Similarly, if you want a specific amount of potassium for a purpose, then one would take a specific amount in a pill format. But, if you generally wanted the benefits of bananas (e.g. magnesium, potassium) in your diet, then there are ways to incorporate that into your lifestyle.
The best time to take probiotics is in the morning on an empty stomach. And should you also be taking antibiotics, be aware, antibiotics can kill probiotics! A three hour interval between taking either/or is recommended. So, what this means is, if you get sick and antibiotics are prescribed, they will kill your healthy gut flora (“responsible for 80% of your immunity”), so take probiotics!
 ^ Carper, Jean. Food: Your Miracle Medicine. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
- August 2nd, 2013
In the deli it’s Stir Fryday…but in case you don’t make it in (or even if you do and you can’t get enough), the produce department can start you off on your very own stir fry with their great local produce. Not a fan of stir fries…keep reading for two amazing recipes from Stefanie, one of our Thursday night class teachers.
Earlier this summer, we featured beet greens, the top leafy part of the famous root vegetable. But now, thanks to the Kohnert’s ,the produce department has green top beets – complete with the beet greens AND the beautiful beets. Here is a recipe from Stefanie, perfect for a summer salad, hot or at room temperature, and sourced from “Minnesota’s Bounty: the Farmers Market Cookbook” (available at the Co-op).
Beets and Beet Greens, North African Style
4 – 5 large or 8 – 10 small beets
Beet greens, stems removed and leaves chopped into 1 inch strips
½ cup dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, or chopped apricots – I use a mix of cherries and craisins)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 Tbsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. orange juice
½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of mace
1 Tbsp. honey
¼ cup chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Boil beets for about 20 minutes until beets are tender with the piercing of a fork; slide peel off the beets and slice into 2 inch chunks
- Plump the dried fruit by covering with hot water for 15 minutes; drain the fruit, reserving the soaking liquid
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat
- Sauté shallots for a few minutes (until translucent)
- Add beets and cook for a minute or so
- Add dried fruit, ¼ cup reserved soaking liquid, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, mace, honey, and simmer for 3 minutes
- Add the greens and continue cooking until they are wilted, about 2-3 minutes
- Stir in the mint, salt and pepper to taste
Also new this week is a batch of heirloom tomatoes from Pat Paulson in Eagle Lake. According to tomatofest.com, heirloom tomatoes were traditionally tomato seeds that had been passed down through the generations. With their growing popularity, they have been commercialized and now heirlooms fall into one of four categories:
- Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940, or tomato varieties more than 50 years in circulation.
- Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down for several generations through a family.
- Created Heirlooms: Crossing two known parents (either two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid) and de-hybridizing the resulting seeds for however many years/generations it takes to eliminate the undesirable characteristics and stabilize the desired characteristics, perhaps as many as 8 years or more.
- Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties.
Here is an amazing recipe, also from Stefanie and “Minnesota’s Bounty.” Don’t let this one sit for more than 4 hours, or the bread will get too soggy.
Panzanella: Tomato and Bread Salad
2 lbs. tomatoes (mixed varieties), cored and coarsely chopped
1 Anaheim chili (or similar), deveined and thinly sliced (optional)
2 thick slices coarse white bread such as ciabatta (Stefanie uses the Co-op’s Boule)
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a flat blade
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 small red onion, thinly slices
½ cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
1 generous cup sliced basil
½ cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and fresh ground pepper
- Put the tomatoes in a large bowl with the chili
- Tear the bread into small chunks and add to the tomatoes
- Toss in garlic, oil, vinegar, onion, olives, capers, and stir to combine
- Add basil, parsley, salt and pepper
- Allow to sit at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours
- Optional: cheese (Stefanie recommended mozzarella)
Along with heirloom tomatoes, we also have cherry tomatoes from Living Land Farms and we literally can’t keep them on the shelves – they are beyond delicious.
Coming in from East Henderson are green top carrots. Before you chop off and throw away those green tops, consider using them in a salad or stir fry. The green tops are packed with vitamin C and are a great source of potassium, calcium, and many other nutrients and minerals.
Don’t forget to sign up for Direct-from-the-Grower Peaches due to arrive mid-August.
- Vegetarian Defined
- July 31st, 2013
In honor of the “Summertime Vegetarian” class happening tomorrow night at the Co-op, I thought I would spend a minute discerning the difference between the different kinds of meat-avoiders. I myself am a vegetarian, a lacto-ovo vegetarian to be exact, and have been for nearly four years. While the most common lumping of non-meat eaters is simply “vegetarian,” the actual terminology is a little more involved.
Pescitarian: eats shellfish and fish, but avoids all other meats. They also generally eat dairy and egg products.
Vegetarian: A person who does not eat shellfish, fish, meat, pork, poultry, game, or animal by-products. Vegetarians sometimes eat dairy products and/or eggs, but not always.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: eats dairy products and eggs – this is the most common type of vegetarian.
Lacto-vegetarian: eats dairy products, but not eggs
Ovo-vegetarian: eats eggs, but not dairy products
Vegan: does not eat any animal products or by-products, including honey
If you are any of the above, you probably get asked “why” a lot…and conversely, if you encounter someone who is a vegetarian, you may be the one asking. There are a multitude of reasons people chose to eliminate meat and seafood from their diets, and many times a person has more than one reason. Some common reasoning includes for health reasons, concern for the environment, or animal ethics concerns (this, of course, does NOT mean that if you eat meat you don’t care about your health, hate the environment, and could care less about animal ethics).
A common thing that non-vegetarians ask is: “how do you survive on just vegetables?!” …well, I don’t! And neither do other vegetarians or vegans. There is a wide variety of foods that vegetarians eat to ensure a well-balanced diet, including whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, pulses (legumes), fruits, and yes, vegetables.
Even if you don’t have an interest in becoming a vegetarian, I highly recommend trying out some non-meat recipes – if anything, it can help broaden your recipe box and introduce yourself to less familiar foods…oh, and they taste great! Below are a few links to some of my go-to sites for new recipes:
- July 26th, 2013
Each year, the Co-op gets a truckload (literally) of blueberries direct from the grower in Michigan. They are super fresh, delicious, and easy to freeze for year-round eating. It is easy to see why we get a truckload, right?
Blueberries’ origins lie right here in North America and it is estimated they came into existence about 13,000 years ago. Prior to the Europeans arrival, Native Americans dried blueberries for year round use in soups, stews, and with meats. Rather than “blueberries,” they called them star berries to account for the blossoms’ five point star shape. They didn’t stop at using the fruits, though. The stems, leaves, and fruits were used for medicinal purposes.
Modern, cultivated blueberries came to be in the early 1900’s when, through crossbreeding plants with desirable characteristics, new varieties of blueberry were born. Since then, they have been tweaked and further crossbred to give us the flavor-packed, juicy fruit we know today.
In their early days, nutritional experts ignored blueberries due to their relatively low vitamin C content. Times have changed and we understand more about food and nutrients and, as a result, blueberries are now considered a superfood. Superfoods are low in calories but densely packed with nutrients and antioxidants that your body needs, making them, well, super. Part of the “super” found in blueberries lies in their blueness – a byproduct of flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to preserve memory function because they protect memory-carrying cells in our brains from inflammation. Blueberries also pack a fiber and antioxidant punch, helping to aid in digestion and lower blood pressure.
Good for the body and the mind (oh, and delicious)? Yes, I’ll take a case of those, please.
- Farm Tour Recap
- July 23rd, 2013
The 3rd annual Eat Local Farm Tour had a successful run this year, including a great showing on the St. Peter Loop, which featured East Henderson Farm, Kohnert Organic Farm, Living Land Farm, and Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery.
As 9:30 Saturday morning rolled around, the Co-op caravan started our Eat Local Farm Tour with a quick drive to East Henderson Farm to visit Josh and Sally. We were greeted by a few loose chickens, a row of tractors and farm equipment, and beautiful blue skies. After a refreshing class of ice cold lemonade, we were off to the farm, learning about the usefulness of tractors and cultivators, visiting the high tunnel (teeming with tomatoes and cukes!), and a field walk to see the sweet corn, onions, and so much more all the while Josh and Sally were giving us a great tutorial into their everyday lives as farmers.
Then it was off to Kohnert Organic Farms where we convinced Jason to give us a personalized tour of the property. With 80 acres in production, we were able to see just a small fraction of their medicinal herb and vegetable operation. It was interesting to learn some of the uses for these herbs, most interesting perhaps is Rue. The Kohnerts have not been able to find any uses for Rue, but it is in high demand for Wicca/Pagan rituals and ceremonies. Watch out for it though, as it causes serious sensitivity to the sun, leaving unprotected areas prone to serious burns.
Adam and Lupita at Living Land Farms were next on the agenda with a tour of their thriving and flourishing vegetable-based operation. Inside the fence is a lush paradise of tomatoes, chard, watermelon, sweet potatoes…the list just keeps going. It is really amazing the level of production they are getting on just a few acres. Adam gave us a great tour and tutorial on his practices and methods and answered a multitude of questions. It was great to see a much larger crowd this year than in the past – they deserve the attention!
Last was Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery. After a glass of wine and a little lunch, we had tour of the grounds and the wine-making room, including both stainless steel vats and the oak barrels used for aging. Stephanie, who splits her time between Chankaska and the Co-op, gave us a great tour and provided us with a lot of interesting information about the grapes used and the wine making process.
Overall, the Farm Tour was a fun, educational, and great day. A big thank you to the farmers who allowed us to tromp through their fields and for taking the time out of their busy schedules to show us around. Also, thank you to those who participated, either with the caravan or independently. The St. Peter Loop definitely had a higher turnout then last year – thanks for joining us in celebrating or local producers!
- Produce Friday
- July 19th, 2013
It’s starting…that local goodness you’ve been waiting for. The “local” labels are multiplying in the produce department, a few more every week.
Living Land Farm is thriving – their well-drained soil proved beneficial during the rainy start to summer. New this week are new red potatoes which pair perfectly with green onions for the beginning of a picnic-ready potato salad. And, brace yourself, the beginning of zucchini season is upon us. In New England, they have a running joke that you better lock your car doors in the summer or you’ll end up with a box of zucchini in your back seat. So, be prepared, the season of copious zucchini is fast approaching. Another summer favorite, cucumbers, is here – have you ever paired cukes with watermelon and feta?
The Kohnerts and East Henderson have had a bigger battle with the weather. This past week, the Kohnerts’ fields were soaked with at least 7 inches of rain, so they have been busy pumping water out of their fields to get rid of all that excess. You can find their cilantro now, but stay tuned for more. I recently visited East Henderson – the farm looks great and there is so much growing, but they are several weeks behind due to the wet spring/early summer. As soon as their crops are ready, we’ll be sure to let you know.
In fruit, check out the Mariposa plums, as beautiful on the outside as the inside, their maroon speckles over a light green skin make them easy to spot. They are everything a perfect plum should be – sweet and juicy on the inside with a slightly tart skin. With their small pits, they have a lot of fleshy fruit and plenty of juices to drip down your chin.
For you picklers and fermenters out there, we do have some dill, but it is slow coming in. We should be getting more as summer rolls on.
You see “Living Land,” “East Henderson,” and “Kohnerts” labels in the produce section all year long – take a day to go see where that beautiful produce is coming from. Join us tomorrow, Saturday, July 20, for the 3rd Annual Eat Local Farm Tour. Click the link on the side bar for a full guide, or pick one up in the store.
- Throwin’ Down Some Beets
- July 5th, 2013
Beet greens, but no beets? Yes! Out on East Henderson Farm, Sally and Josh were busy thinning their beet rows. Rather than throwing the cleared baby beets into the compost pile, they saved them for you! While kales and a variety of lettuces have been around for weeks, give your taste buds a new green to try.
Beet greens are similar to chard and are packed with a variety of nutrients, including Vitamins A, C, and K, iron, fiber, and potassium (and more!). While I don’t have kids, rumor has it that they are a good introduction to greens for the little ones as their taste isn’t quite as potent as kale or spinach. If you’re like me and avoid beets like the plague, give beet greens a try – a good way to pack in those nutrients without that “earthy” taste.
And a bonus – they are versatile! Not in the mood for searching out a beet green recipe? Just substitute beet greens for kale, chard, spinach or your other favorite green. They are a great addition to a stir fry, soups, and salads or they can be juiced or thrown into a smoothie. They are especially good briefly sautéed (3-5 minutes) with olive oil and added to a goat cheese and pine nut salad, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.
- Deciphering the Difference
- July 3rd, 2013
The fourth of July is rapidly approaching – America’s day to celebrate our Independence with parades and backyard barbequing with friends and family. As you prepare your barbequing menu, take a moment to consider what kind of meat you’re serving your family and friends.
With the shifting agricultural tides, you may have noticed more “organic,” “local,” and “100% grass fed” labels popping up and here the discussion is specifically aimed at beef, though these labels are on a variety of meat and poultry.
While there is a long list of USDA requirements for beef to be legally labeled “USDA Organic,” I will touch on just a few. Organic beef must be fed organic feed that has not been fortified with mammalian protein or by-products. Further, antibiotics and growth hormones are not allowed and all animals must be grazed during the region’s grazing season, requiring at least 30% of their food intake from grazing. Once the beef is ready for market, they must be processed in a USDA certified organic processing facility.
While these are the minimum requirements, the “USDA Organic” beef that you can find at the Co-op go above and beyond these standards. For example, this is what Organic Prairie, a local, farmer-owned supplier of ground beef has to say about how they finish off their beef:
“Pasture-based farming means the cattle are fed primarily outdoors on pasture. They may be fed entirely on pasture when it is in season. Beef cattle, unless they are 100% grass-fed, usually finish on a mix of hay and grain for the last 3 months of a 18 month to 2-year life cycle, in order to provide the choice grade fat and marbling that consumers still associate with good flavor. A key difference from conventional production is that during this time, pasture-based cattle are free to roam on pasture, even in the winter, and are eating as much fresh grass as possible, with grain and cut forage as a small part of their overall diet.”
100% Grass Fed
This is exactly what the name implies – beef that is fed and finished on a 100% grass-based diet. In the summer, this means grazing and in the winter, the beef are fed hay and pasture silage. In the case of Thousand Hills Cattle Company, one of the Co-ops suppliers of 100% grass-fed beef, including steaks and ground beef, the animals are not given antibiotics or artificial hormones and their pastures are not sprayed with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
Here is what Thousand Hills Cattle Company has to say about preparing their 100% grass-fed beef:
“Because our cattle are not fed corn and grains to speed growth, are not confined and get plenty of exercise, their meat has less fat marbling. But, the fats present are extremely nutritious when cooked “low and slow”. Happily, that’s also the best way to preserve the moistness and tenderness—in burgers, steaks and roasts. So, take a little more time to relax and enjoy—while cooking and eating our beef.”
At the Co-op, our definition of “local” is any product that is grown or produced in the 5 state area – MN, IA, WI, ND, and SD. Both of the above mentioned companies, Organic Prairie and Thousand Hills are local, along with Down in the Valley, a fresh and local meat program that has created their own standards, including antibiotic, hormone, and filler-dye free, feed is grown on the same farm as the animals or the source is verified GMO-free, and animals have free access to fresh air and pasture. The benefits of local beef? There are plenty, including supporting your local economy and farmers and the joy of knowing where your food comes from.
But I don’t even eat meat!
Don’t worry my fellow vegetarian and vegans, we have a splendid array of veggie and bean burgers available in the freezer section, many of which are also gluten free.
For more information on the above producers, check out their websites:
- Produce Aplenty
- June 28th, 2013
As summer kicks into high gear, so does the produce section. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for Direct from the Grower, Michigan Blueberries – due to arrive sometime in mid-July.
If you were lucky enough to nab the local strawberries, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed them. They are back for an encore today – stop by before they are gone!
We are in the final days of local asparagus, brought to us by the Throldahl family – they dropped off a fresh batch just yesterday! They stop picking on the 4th of July to allow the asparagus to go to seed for next year. Get them while they last! I love asparagus smothered in garlic butter – how do you like them?
If you’re on the hunt for local greens, look no further. Living Land, East Henderson, and new to the Co-op, Olive Branch Farm, are stocking our shelves with a multitude of kales, lettuces, mustard greens (almost gone!) and bok choy. My most recent breakfast addiction is spring onions sautéed with kale and poached eggs…yum!
Looking for something new to try on the grill? Grab a radicchio! Their purple-red color not only adds beauty to your meal, but also a delicious sweet-bitter taste. Here is a recipe for grilling:
Slice the heads of radicchio lengthwise into 4 quarters. Toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, and olive oil to coat. Preheat your grill or a heavy frying pan. Grill the heads 2 minutes per side, or until the outside is slightly charred and the inside is wilted. These can be made ahead and marinated in olive oil and vinegar (good balsamic pairs nicely) and served as an appetizer with toasted bread, or added to other dishes as a vegetable.
The grilled radicchio can be made into a pasta dish or risotto, or used in a salad with beets and goat cheese. One of our favorite things, though a little elaborate, is to make it into a lasagna with alternating layers of white sauce (béchamel) and a bacon-infused tomato sauce.
In the mood for a sweet treat? Bing cherries and Organic strawberries are on sale this weekend! Some stone fruit favorites can be found as well, including apricots. These small, golden fruits are sweet, but with a little tartness that is somewhere between a peach and a plum. We also have white nectarines – lower in acid and sweeter than their yellow nectarine counterparts.
As summer roles on, Athena melons are moving north. Earlier in the spring, they were coming from Florida, now it is Georgia and later in the season you can look out for Indiana and then local melons!
- Farm Tour 2013
- June 19th, 2013
Our local producers don’t just work the land to put money in their pockets. They are truly dedicated to their work, their farm, their community. It isn’t just a business, it is a lifestyle choice. When you talk with these people about what they do and why they do it, a common theme runs throughout – a sense of pride. Pride in what they do and how they do it. They take pride in the fact that they work the land in a way that is sustainable, organic, and in tune with nature. Pride that they are growing excellent produce that is flavorful and wholesome. Pride that they are providing for their community and thankful that the community supports their efforts.
As summer kicks into high gear, so do these farming families. They are busy planting, weeding, and harvesting in order to get that luscious crop of lettuce, tomatoes, kale…whatever it is that you are waiting for, growing and healthy. But on Saturday, July 20, they are taking the day to show you what it is they are up to all summer (and spring, and fall) long. It is your chance to say hello, meet the people behind the produce, and maybe even learn a bit about what it takes to put that zucchini on your plate.
Join us July 20 for the annual Farm Tour. You have a few options – pick up a farm tour booklet or look at it here and take yourself on a self-guided tour. Or join the Co-op Caravan and travel to our area producers as a group – you can sign up at the Co-op. Either way, we hope you take the day to show your support and appreciation for these wonderful people and the work that they do. After all, it’s a local thing.
- A Slice of History Regarding Cheese
- June 12th, 2013
In preparation for our “Cheese Passport” class this Thursday, taught by our very own cheese experts, Jim and Malia:
Cheese. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cheese. For some it’s the taste – what is better than a high quality cheese added to your sandwich, salad (or hot dish, or pizza, or, or, or, you get the idea). For others, maybe it is finding that perfect pairing for that bottle of wine. For others, it’s the variety – a cheese to match any event! How did we end up with so many types of cheese?
Did you know that cheese is thought to have been discovered as long back as 8000 B.C.? This date corresponds to the time the first animals (sheep and goats) were being domesticated for food. Though there is not concrete evidence to this, it is thought to have been discovered by the Turkish people, a nomadic group of Central Asia who stored milk in the stomach of animals on long journeys. The jostling and movement inside the stomach mixed the milk with the resident bacteria and rennet, causing curds to form. Voilà, the beginnings of cheese.
In terms of archeological evidence, the earliest cheese-making dates back to the ancient Egyptians where tomb drawings of the cheese-making process have been found in tombs dating to 2000 B.C.
Cheese variety and cheese making exploded in productivity and popularity in the time of the Romans. As the Empire grew, the art of cheese making spread throughout Europe and different varieties and specialties started to emerge. Homes of the wealthy often had a separate kitchen dedicated to cheese-making. It was served to royalty and was sent as rations to Roman soldiers throughout the Empire. After the fall of the Romans and Europe fell into the Dark Ages, cheese-making was taken up by monks in monasteries where the craft continued to grow and new varieties were invented and perfected.
So with thousands of years of cheese-making practice, it is really no wonder we have such an awesome selection of cheeses! Thanks people of the past for haphazardly discovering and diligently perfecting greatness.
- June Dairy Month
- June 1st, 2013
I grew up on a small scale, family dairy farm in south central WI. Through those years, my dad always wanted to show off the farm to family, friends, and complete strangers. I never saw the point in this. Then I moved away. I lived in cities where food was shipped in from far away and I started working with kids who thought milk came from the grocery store (no cows involved). I started to realize what my dad was up to.
It is June Dairy Month – a time of year that has been routinely celebrated since 1937. It was started to help distribute extra milk that resulted from cows going back on pasture after the winter. The reasons for June Dairy Month have evolved over time; though connecting farmers with their community is a theme that has run throughout its history.
These days, many people have lost their connection with where their dairy and other food products come from. In June, farmers throughout the state and the country aim to re-connect with their community by hosting tours, breakfast or lunch on the farm, activities for kids, and much more. It is a time to meet the faces behind your dairy products and learn more about how milk is produced.
As most kids do, I have started to see the wisdom in my dad’s methods (just don’t tell him that) and I look forward to celebrating June Dairy Month.
One of our partners, Cedar Summit Farms, is holding an event, Milkapalooza, on June 22. Check out their website for more information: http://www.cedarsummit.com/find-us/milkapalooza/.
Did you know:
- In the state of Minnesota, there are 3,952 licensed dairy herds.
- Minnesota dairy farms produce 1,054 million gallons of milk.
- Minnesota farms generate $1.8 billion in milk sales annually.
- Dairy products are the 4th largest agricultural commodity in Minnesota.
- Minnesota is the 7th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
- Minnesota has 39 plants that process one or more dairy products.
- It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.
Facts from: State Departments of Agriculture
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services
Dairy industry sources, including the International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Management, Inc. © 2013
- Banana Talk
- May 20th, 2013
Earlier this spring, the Co-op invited the faces behind Equal Exchange bananas to give our staff training on the story behind their bananas. They had such amazing information about bananas, Fair Trade, and how great working cooperatives can make a difference that we just couldn’t keep it to ourselves!
I talked with Jessica Jones-Hughes, one of the amazing people behind the scenes at Equal Exchange bananas – here is the result of that conversation.
Tell me a little about what Equal Exchange bananas does?
Equal Exchange is an importer of Fair Trade, organic bananas (and coffee, chocolate, tea, almonds, olive oil….etc.). In bananas, we work with small scale, worker-owned co-ops to bring their fruit to the US, connecting the consumer directly with small scale producers. Equal Exchange is an example that small producers can have a share of the global market. By organizing into co-ops, small scale producers can have enough volume to export and have greater market access.
We ask ourselves that a lot. Bananas are the riskiest product that Equal Exchange works with and there needs to be a lot of organized logistics to make it work. Equal Exchange started working with bananas 6 years ago because of the poor history of the banana industry – 80 percent of the banana market is owned by 5 multi-national companies, creating a bottle neck where the power has shifted away from the hands of the producers. Further, the majority of banana production is large scale mono-culture production – environmentally taxing and exposing producers and workers to harmful chemicals. Six years ago, all Equal Exchange worker owners voted yes to devoting energy and resources toward building an alternative market for small scale, organic producers in bananas.
I have heard from several people here at the Co-op that what you’re doing might be a little crazy – why would they say such things?!
It is! I have learned that saying that something is difficult is very different than living it. Living and breathing the banana reality for the past 4 years, has made me realize what a difficult thing it is to do every day. Bananas are imported 52 weeks a year. If anything happens to delay even just one container, as often happens, we get a backlog in fruit and, because bananas are perishable, there is a lot of room for high losses. It can take a long time to recover from just a few lost cases of bananas due to the low margin on bananas. Even after several years in operation, our goal is to break even – not to make money, but to have an alternative to corporate bananas. The reason we continue is because we have a commitment to our producers and the support of other Equal Exchange departments.
How/Why is this relationship beneficial for the banana producers?
In the traditional model, producers are growing products, but they lack ownership of those products because they don’t have the knowledge of markets or fair prices and there is little business development, outside of growing the commodity, for those producers. In our model, Equal Exchange only works with producers who own their land and are part of a producer-owned co-op. The co-op model allows them to have a second tier of ownership by having people involved in coordination, agricultural technical support, and direct relations with exporters (like Equal Exchange). Therefore, the co-op workers and producers have a lot more say in the supply chain and more money and jobs stay within the community. By working with these co-ops, Equal Exchange has an open dialogue and a close business relationship to troubleshoot problems and build long-term relationships. Equal Exchange isn’t going to stop working with our producers for not meeting quotas or having lower quality produce, we are going to work together to fix those problems.
How are Equal Exchange bananas beneficial for the consumer?
Equal Exchange helps consumers know the story behind their food. We have been successful because in addition to showing that alternative business models can work, the work we do is transparent and consumers have a lot of trust in our products. Equal Exchange has been doing this challenging work for 27 years, before fair trade was even a certification. Some of our customers have bought coffee from the same co-ops through Equal Exchange for the entire 27 year history. That is a powerful long term relationship. Consumers can feel confident buying Equal Exchange bananas because they can see the story and know they are buying fairly traded goods from a company committed to going above and beyond even the fair trade standards.
Equal Exchange bananas are available at St. Peter Food Co-op, along with other Equal Exchange Fair Trade products.
You can learn more about Equal Exchange bananas here: http://www.beyondthepeel.com/
- World Fair Trade Day
- May 10th, 2013
Saturday, May 11 is World Fair Trade Day – a day to celebrate the greatness that is Fair Trade. Before you put your party hats on let’s talk about what Fair Trade is, why we should celebrate it, and how the Co-op participates in the Fair Trade movement.
Fair Trade is a lot of things all rolled into one. It is an equitable business practice that guarantees producers and workers earn their fair share of the profit and giving them greater independence and more control of their markets. It is good for individuals as it protects producers and workers from exploitation, unsafe and unethical working conditions, and prevents child labor. At a community level, Fair Trade encourages greater environmental stewardship and community development.
So, why should you care about and buy local and Fair Trade? Great questions! As a consumer, it means that you are empowered to make choices that have a positive influence on the local and global community. When buying Fair Trade and local products, you know your money is being distributed fairly and you are supporting a system designed for positive change. It is a system to make you feel confident in your purchasing choices and to easily effect change on a regular basis – just by buying the products you know and love!
Fair Trade at the Co-op
Here at St. Peter Food Co-op, we understand the importance of Fair Trade and the impact it can have on our community and beyond. This is why we strive to stock our shelves wit Fair Trade certified good and local products.
The Co-op participates in the Fair Trade community by selling Fair Trade Certified goods and by buying from vendors that follow Fair Trade principals. You can find certified goods by looking for this symbol, found in many parts of the store. And good news! You can find the Fair Trade label on more than just coffee and chocolate (although, really, what else do you need?). Look for the Fair Trade labels throughout the store – produce, grocery , wellness, general merchandise – they are everywhere (see a list of examples below)!
Another way the Co-op embodies the principals of Fair Trade is by buying directly from our local producers, thus the Co-op ensures a fair and equitable price and a reliable market for these producers. It is also a way for you as a consumer to have a positive effect on the local economy by keeping hard-earned money here in the community, creating growth and bettering lives. Look for the local sticker and know that your purchase is making a difference!
So, when you’re doing your shopping at the Co-op, remember that you are supporting a community, right here and globally, and that your purchase matters. You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve done something great? Yeah, go ahead and feel that, every time you shop with us! Community, equitable human rights, warm fuzzy feelings? Now that is something to celebrate.
A few examples of Fair Trade Certified or local products you can find at the Co-op (if the season is right):
Produce – Equal Exchange Bananas, vine tomatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, select mushrooms
Grocery – Fashion Farms biscuits, maple syrup, Mom’s Best cereals, Alter Eco Quinoa, Lotus Foods Rice, Numi Tea, select Frontier spices/teas/vanilla extract
Dairy –Alemar Cheese Company and Nature Valley cheese, Cedar Summit Farms milk, Schroeder butter
Wellness – Alaffia products, Dr. Bronner’s products, Worker B lip cream
General merchandise – Overseas Connection African market baskets, Ande’s Gifts winter wear
Meats – Healthy Pork, Prairie Pride Farm (sausages and snack sticks), Beeler’s hams
Bulk – rolled oats, spelt flour, whole wheat bread flour, 8 grain hot cereal
For more information on Fair Trade, here are a few websites to check out: