Archives for September 2017

  • Hardware Co-ops Help Revitalize Neighborhoods | 12.27.2012

    Revitalized homes in Logan Circle

    Logan Circle is a storied neighborhood in Washington, DC enjoying an urban renaissance; and Gina Schaefer, proprietor of the Logan Circle ACE Hardware is part of it.  Logan Circle is remarkable for its stock of Victorian row houses, many of which are now on the National Register of Historic Places. However, in the hundred years in between when Logan Circle was established and now, the area fell on hard times and experienced the fallout from the 1968 Washington, DC riots. The neighborhood’s Victorians got subdivided into apartments and rooming houses, and the area became derelict and unsafe. About a decade ago, people began to see the value in restoring these properties, and Logan Circle has once again become an attractive place to live.

    Schaefer was driven to do something for a neighborhood in the process of rebuilding. In the urban core of Washington, DC, hardware stores are few and far between. People in the district’s neighborhoods need a hardware store that can cater to the specific needs of hundred-year-old homes and fixer-uppers. Schaefer believed she could make the most of the chance to serve this community by joining the retail hardware co-op ACE Hardware.

    Hardware is a very competitive business; the big box chain Home Depot did $68 billion in sales last year alone.  Being part of a cooperative makes it possible for small scale, locally-based owners to compete. There are three hardware co-ops headquartered in the United States: ACE Hardware, Do It Best, and True Value Hardware.  ACE Hardware is the largest with 4,600 member stores in 60 countries, Do it Best has 4,100 stores in 47 countries, and True Value has 4,700 retails in the U.S. Combined, the three hardware co-ops do $18 billion in annual sales.  They are all organized as retail cooperatives that provide members technical assistance and competitive pricing through their mutually-owned warehouses and distribution channels.

    “I figured that by joining a co-op I’d get more support getting started,” Schaefer said. “I liked the fact that they have regional and district support people who could answer questions.”  She believes the ideas she’s gotten from ACE have helped her grow and be a better retailer.

    Another significant benefit of being part of the ACE co-op is being able to network with other hardware store owners in the U.S.and even abroad.  Currently, Schaefer is in her second term as an active member of the ACE board of directors and she appreciates the opportunity to continue to learn from and give back to other members of her co-op.

    Today, Schaefer operates five neighborhood hardware stores located throughout Washington, DC, and two in Baltimore, MD, all with the same dedication to serve their local communities. Customers like knowing her stores are part of the ACE co-op because many of them specifically want to support co-ops and local enterprises, be it a food co-op, restaurant or an independent bookstore.  Schaefer thinks that this approach to supporting the local economy is a strong factor in Logan Circle’s revitalization. “It’s why we are growing so much,” she said.

    Reposted by permission from Find articles about your food and where it comes from, recipes and a whole lot more at


  • Eat Seasonally: Sweet Potatoes and Greens Gratin | 12.18.2012

    Sweet PotatoesSweet potatoes are a culinary staple from Japan to Peru. Baked, boiled, stewed or roasted, they bring a mellow, sweet flavor to any dish. They are extremely nutritious; a single serving of sweet potatoes contains more than twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, almost half the vitamin C you need every day, and four times the recommended daily allowance of beta carotene. Choose sweet potatoes with thin, unblemished skins, and store them in a cool dry place. Try adding pureed or mashed sweet potatoes to quickbreads, muffins, or biscuits to increase moisture and nutrition.  


    Sweet Potatoes and Greens Gratin

    Serving Size: 8
    Prep time: 30 minutes active. 75 mintues total.

    2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about ¼-inch thick
    ½ pound kale or Swiss chard
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    Black pepper
    4 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 ¼ cups heavy cream
    ¼ cup shredded Parmesan or smoked Cheddar cheese

    Preheat the oven to 375°F., and butter or oil a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.  Wash, shred and blanch the kale or chard for 3 minutes in boiling water; squeeze out any excess liquid. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with half of the sweet potato arranged in a single layer, with slices overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with half the smoked paprika, half the chili powder and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Spread half of the kale or chard evenly over the sweet potatoes. Drizzle with half the melted butter.  Repeat with another layer of sweet potatoes, spices, kale or chard, and butter. Pour the heavy cream evenly over the top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the gratin, and bake another 10-15 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is just beginning to brown.  Serve warm.

    Reprinted by permission from Find articles about your food and where it comes from, recipes and a whole lot more at

  • ‘Tis the Season: Maintain Your Health During the Holidays | 12.14.2012

    Winter seems to bring its own set of challenges. The key is to be ready for them, armed with the right tools.

    Are you ready?


    Challenge #1 – Less Daylight
    If the shorter days bother you, make use of what sunlight is available. Take a few minutes to enjoy the outdoors, even if it IS cold. Go for a walk on your lunch break; the fresh air is invigorating and the physical activity is a bonus. Add or increase your vitamin D, as studies now show most of us in North Americaare deficient.  Check with your doctor if you are unsure which amount to take is right for you.
    Product Suggestion:  Natural Factors Vitamin D3

    Challenge #2 – Virus Exposure
    Everyone around you seems to be getting sick, and your guard naturally goes up. It’s been said a million times, but I am repeating it because it works – wash your hands! This has been proven to be the #1 most effective method of warding off those winter bugs. Need more cold and flu fighters? Try astragalus, echinacea, elderberry, garlic, ginger, and medicinal mushrooms, for starters. For earaches try mullein/garlic ear oil. For sinus problems, how about a neti pot?  Another simple decongesting method is steam, with a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil added.
    Product Suggestion:  Nutribiotic Defense Plus, a blend of herbs for immune defense

    Challenge #3 – Hair and Skin Issues
    Deep condition your hair weekly. Use argan oil after every shampoo to repair and strengthen hair, and to increase shine and manageability, a little goes a long way. Moisturize your skin, especially the areas most exposed to the elements–your face and hands. And if you are a skier, don’t forget the sunscreen!
    Product Suggestion:  Goe Oil, an allnatural oil blend for any skin

    Challenge #4 – Stress
    We all have it, and, for some, the tension increases during these colder months. Plan ahead for the holidays, de-clutter your party schedule, and keep it simple! Prioritize time for endorphin-producing exercise (daily!). If you are not already taking one, this is a great time to add a mood and brain boosting omega oil to your daily supplements. Eat healthy, whole-food-based balanced meals, avoid processed foods, and avoid going overboard on the festive drinks (there are natural hangover ‘cures’, just in case!). Last but not least, pay attention to your body, your stress level, how you feel in mind and spirit. Take a break, do yoga, meditate, or catch up on much-needed sleep.
    Product Suggestion:  Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

    Make each day an adventure. Maintaining a positive attitude can make all the difference.  Bring on the winter!

    Dolly Fansler, GEM’s Wellness Manager, has a life-long passion for encouraging the well-being of others.  She is available in the wellness department to answer your wellness questions and provide the best product to suit your needs.

  • Drinks to Warm Up Your Holidays | 12.04.2012

    Hand off a hot beverage — to dinner guests, neighbors who drop by or kids during story time — and you instantly warm both tummies and hearts. Make sure you treat yourself too; wrapping your hands around a warm mug in the midst of a cold day can help you unwind!

    Traditional favorites include hot cider, cocoa, teas and coffees — all so good there’s no need to look for replacements. But by adding just a few of the right spices, you can transform these everyday winter drinks into extraordinary festive fare.

    Tips for Spicing Up a Variety of Hot Drinks

    * Mull to be merry. Mulling a beverage simply means heating and spicing it. Sometimes sweeteners and/or other beverages are added, too. Mulled apple juice or cider is classic, but why not mull other favorites, like cherry, raspberry, white grape and cranberry juices, as well as red and white wines? Just be careful not to boil the wine or you’ll ruin the taste and evaporate the alcohol. Good mulling spices include allspice, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, orange peel and star anise. Have fun experimenting — or streamline your routine by stocking up on a mulling spice mix.

    * Give the crock a workout. Fill your crock pot with an aromatic and warm spiced beverage and keep it on low throughout the day. You’ll have a ready-to-serve treat at any time, and your home will be scented, too.

    * Make an impression with homemade gifts. For simple but lovely homemade gifting, combine the dry ingredients for a special hot drink in a small jar or canister and tie with a festive ribbon. Punch a hole in a recipe card with mixing directions and attach to the ribbon. For even easier gifting, simply place a package of beverage mix — like those mulling spices — in a festive mug and tie with a ribbon. Or choose a special tea and deliver it in a pretty cup and saucer.

    * Stock up on cinnamon sticks. Indispensable for mulling, cinnamon sticks also spruce up hot party drinks when used as swizzlers.

    * Spruce up your black teas. Add cinnamon sticks, orange peel and/or lemon peel to any black tea. Sweeten, if you like, with honey or brown sugar. To richen the flavor even further, add a tablespoon or two of cognac.

    * Enliven green teas with crystallized ginger and sliced fruit (like pears).

    * Think ethnic. For Spanish flair, add black pepper and chilies or cinnamon to hot chocolate. For French influence, thicken cocoas with cornstarch or arrowroot and stir in some Grand Marnier and vanilla extract. Top with a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.

    * For a mocha drink, simply use strongly brewed coffee in place of some of the liquid in your favorite hot cocoa recipe.

    * Add quality flavorings or extracts for an instant flavor boost. Frontier Natural Products offers every option from almond to walnut for any hot beverage — including milk, cocoa, tea and coffee.


    Here’s the recipe for deliciously rich toddy that adds delight to any gathering:

    Visions of Sugarplums Toddy

    4 cups milk, divided in half (dairy, rice, or soy)
    2 Tbsp. honey
    1/8 tsp. cardamom powder
    4 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg powder
    4 6-inch cinnamon sticks

    Warm 2 cups of the milk, honey, cardamom, and baking chocolate in a saucepan until chocolate is melted. Add remaining milk and heat until warm. Stir in vanilla. Pour into cups, sprinkle with nutmeg and add cinnamon stick stirrers. Substitute almond extract (or another flavoring, like peppermint extract) for the vanilla now and then. At a toddler’s tuck-in time, serve without the chocolate to induce slumber. Makes about 4 servings.

    Reprinted with permission from Frontier Natural Foods Co-op.

  • Creating the Perfect Cheese Plate | 11.29.2012

    If there’s one plate of food that says “party,” it’s the cheese platter. Enticing and satisfying enough to carry a celebration on its own, the cheese plate is also the perfect attraction for introducing guests to one another before the main course.

    Putting together a spectacular cheese platter is easier than you might think. Here are a few tips:

    The Cheese Platter

    • Serve cheese at room temperature. The cold from the refrigerator inhibits its flavor, so take your cheese out half an hour before guests arrive to allow it to “bloom.”
    • Provide a serving utensil for each variety of cheese on your tray.
    • Serve a selection of three to five contrasting cheeses. Think different tastes, colors, and textures, like mild with robust (like Brie with blue cheese), fresh with aged (like Boursin with aged Gruyere), or soft with hard cheeses (like chevre with Parmesan).
    • Create a themed tray by offering cheeses from one region or source, or showcase an array of cheeses made from different milks (cow, goat, sheep).


    Whether you serve them individually or on the same platter, some foods are perfect complements to cheese. These include:

    • Fresh and dried fruits
    • Crostini, flatbread, and other crackers
    • Hearty and crusty breads
    • Olives
    • Nuts
    • Honey

    To create an antipasto platter, include a mix of marinated vegetables and cured meats.

    Wine and Beer Cheese Pairings

    In general, a wine that comes from the same geographic area as the cheese will be a good match. Here are some other pairings:

    • Goat cheeses and dry red wines
    • Cheddars with sweet wines and pale and brown ales
    • Fresh, medium, and hard cheeses with crisp, fruity red or white wine
    • Cheeses with bloomy rinds (like Brie) and fruity red wines or light, dry champagnes
    • Swiss cheeses with dark lagers, bocks, and Oktoberfest beers
    • Feta and wheat beers
    • Sweet cheeses with fruity beers

    Check out the cheese offerings—especially any local cheeses—at the co-op. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the array of choices, just ask the staff for recommendations (including wine pairings). Then just sit back and wait for the doorbell to ring—your celebration will be off to a flavorful start!

    Reprinted by permission from Find articles about your food and where it comes from, recipes and a whole lot more at



  • Holiday Meal Makeover | 11.16.2012

    A celebratory dinner should be exactly that: a time to share delicious food with family and friends. While many people wish to serve traditional family favorites, for most, there’s still plenty of room to liven up your holidays with a few new flavors, local foods, and even nutritional boosters. Here are some ideas for making your holiday meals fresh, easy, and fun.

    • Consider a slightly new twist on the centerpiece of many a holiday meal, the turkey, by choosing a local, heritage breed, and/or smoked turkey (these are very popular items at many co-ops). Heritage breeds are typically moister and more flavorful than commercial turkeys. For more information on heritage breeds and general turkey tips, check out this turkey tutorial.
    • Give that classic green bean casserole a makeover with fresh green beans, a spritz of lemon, and a topping of toasted pine nuts. Boost the cranberry sauce with a handful of fresh or dried fruit and a dash of cayenne. Use brown rice or quinoa as the basis for your turkey-day stuffing this year, and toss in some walnuts and chopped local apples.
    • Instantly transform the typical fare with seasonings: spice your eggnog with cardamom instead of (or as well as) cinnamon this year, and sprinkle tarragon on plain mashed potatoes. Or add some festive flavors to an otherwise ordinary recipe, like these Eggnog Spiced Sugar Cookies.
    • Make gravy like Grandma (or your favorite cooking show chef) if you like, but don’t feel obligated! There are some top-notch, healthful cooking mixes available that are especially helpful this time of year. You’ll find delicious, organic gravy mixes, dessert mixes, and seasoning blends for salad dressings and dips at your co-op.
    • Bring the unexpected to the table by adding an entirely new recipe or two to this year’s menu.  Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Fontina Tart or a Winter Squash Risotto are two great options that use seasonal vegetables in new combinations. Focus on just one or two “special” dishes to complement your main course—especially if you’re serving appetizers, a couple delicious sides are all you really need and will allow you to spend more time with your guests.
    • Great dishes needn’t be complicated made-from-scratch recipes, either. Purchase some strikingly flavorful, easy-to-prepare foods to serve alongside the usual. A plate of Brie with Orange Preserves and Almonds would be a memorable addition to any menu.
    • Unless you adore kitchen duty, never refuse a guest’s offer to bring food — and remember you can count on your grocery store for prepared foods, too.  Visit the bakery department for lovely desserts (you may want to order pies, cheesecakes, and other specific favorites ahead of time). While you’re there, choose some cranberry date scones or pumpkin pecan muffins to treat family and/or guests to special breakfast fare. You may even consider picking up a couple of extra quick breads to give as gifts!
    • If you’ll be hosting guests for more than just the main meal, look to the deli for speedy main course items and sides (like lasagna, smoked salmon, wheatberry salad, golden beet and kale salad, or roasted root vegetables).
    • Don’t forget to stock up on some local wine and beer, too. Pair a good beverage with an array of cheeses or cookies for an instant party when unexpected guests arrive!

    It takes just a little planning and a good source for great food to pull off a wonderful holiday meal — something full of tradition, genuine nourishment, and good will.

    Posted by permission from Find articles about your food and where it comes from, recipes and a whole lot more at

  • Values in Action Everyday | 11.08.2012

    We are proud to be part of a movement that proves respecting people is good for business. Millions of consumers around the globe have joined cooperatives for many reasons, including finding that they fill a need for housing, electricity, food, insurance and financial services…the list is endless. What attracts people to cooperation is that their co-ops operate on their behalf with honesty, fairness and transparency—they are based on values not unlike those people aspire to for themselves: self-responsibility, democracy, equality, and social responsibility ( In the United States, 30,000 co-ops provide two million jobs, and one of every four people is a member of a cooperative.

    These values connect us. Co-ops foster real relationships with their customers by providing service rooted in community. It’s all about trust. For example, at Just Food in Northfield, Minn. they actively support and seek out local farmers such as L & R Poultry and Produce (see more about them in the Celebrity Farmers video), wherein they have a handshake agreement to buy their products each season. The farmers know that the co-op will keep its word, and Just Food shoppers can expect the highest-quality food grown with integrity. At food co-ops, it’s not uncommon for customers to know the real people who stand behind the products available.

    Co-op Values in ActionsCooperative values also transcend co-op size. It doesn’t matter whether your cooperative is so large that it employs thousands of people, or so small you can fit everyone involved in a single room; co-op values remain the same.

    The outdoor adventure retailer REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) is the largest consumer co-op inAmericawith 4.4 million members. Their size allows them to act on their ideals in places all across the country. This has a big impact. In addition to adhering to the stated co-op values, they also take them one step further by actively protecting the environment. That’s what co-ops do. They strive to go above and beyond to do what’s right. At REI, how they operate their stores, the products they carry, and the millions of dollars they have donated to safeguard forests, lakes and prairies, have the end goal of preserving natural spaces and keeping the earth a better place for everyone.

    The food co-ops that make up the National Cooperative Grocers Association (the organization behind this site) have over 1.3 million members across a “virtual chain” of over 120 retail food co-ops nationwide. Collectively, food co-ops have a strong social and economic impact. They work with an average of 157 local farmers and producers (compared with 65 for conventional grocers). They contribute to the community with high levels of charitable giving, an average of 13% (compared to 4% for conventional grocers). Plus food co-ops generate more money for their local economy—1.5 times more than conventional grocers. Find more info on how food co-ops do things differently and the impact they have in our Healthy Foods Healthy Communities post.

    Co-ops demonstrate their commitment to ethics by extending them in an ever widening circle. When a co-op makes a profit, you can be assured it was gained through fair business practices, and in most cases, any surplus is reinvested in the co-op or shared equitably among member-owners.

    Some of those co-op value circles start very small and grow into greater influence, changing lives in the process. Four years ago in Whatcom County in Washington state, four women got together to start the Circle of Life Caregiver Co-op.  Theirs is a worker-owned health care co-op dedicated to excellent home care for the elderly and disabled.  In an industry rife with low-pay and apathy towards clients, Circle of Life offers a refreshing alternative, where self-help provides everyone with more options.  

    We know none of the great things co-ops accomplish would be possible without the people worldwide who use co-ops to meet their needs. This year, co-ops are celebrating with us the United Nations declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. We are thrilled by the international recognition of co-ops’ fundamental values: that making people and communities our top priority is good business.

  • Eat Seasonally: Pear Galette | 10.31.2012

    Pears, like apples and raspberries, are members of the same plant family as the fragrant rose.  With over 3,000 varieties, pears appear in many shades of red, purple, yellow, green, and brown.  Peak pear season ranges from late summer to early winter, when common varieties like Bosc, Bartlett, and Red Bartlett are readily available.  Look for juicy, exquisite French varieties like D’Anjou seasonally. When ripe, pears change from a green to yellow hue visible through their primary color.  Pears are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.  Add chopped pears to a quinoa and spinach salad or try an open-faced sandwich with arugula, Camembert and grilled pears on a baguette.


    Pear GalettePear Galette
    Posted with permission from

    Serving Size:  6 servings
    Total Time:  1 hour, 25 minutes; 30 minutes active



    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 large eggs (1 for dough, 1 for egg wash)
    • 1 teaspoon milk
    • 5 tablespoons  butter, cold and cut into small pieces


    • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
    • 2 largeAnjoupears
    • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • Pinch of ground nutmeg


    1. To make the dough, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together one egg and milk. Add half of the egg and milk mixture to the dough and mix to incorporate. Mix in the remaining egg and milk, and make the dough into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After refrigeration, roll out the dough into a 9 to 10-inch circle and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top surface of the dough with the apricot jam, and return it to the refrigerator until the pears are ready.
    2. Preheat oven to 425°F. While the oven is heating, quarter and core the pears, then slice them lengthwise into quarter-inch slices. Place the pear slices in a fan shape on the chilled circle of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Drizzle melted butter over the pears and then sprinkle with sugar and nutmeg. Gently fold the edge of the dough up and over the pears to form a rim. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and brush the rim and edges of the dough with the beaten egg. Place the galette in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the edges are browning. Let rest a few minutes before slicing.


    Serving Suggestion
    The beauty of this fruit tart is in its irregularly-shaped handmade crust. Serve warm with French vanilla ice cream or brandy sauce and whipped cream.

  • The Non-GMO Project: Preserving a Future for Ourselves and our Children | 10.17.2012

    You have the right to know what’s in the food you’re eating and feeding your family. Most governments agree—nearly 50 countries around the world, including Japan, Australia, Russia, China and all of the EU member states, have either banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) completely, or require that food containing them be clearly labeled.  The experimental technology of genetic engineering forces DNA from one species into a different species. The resulting GMOs are unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional breeding. GMOs have not been adequately tested, and have not been proven safe for human consumption.



    In the U.S., we do not have mandatory GMO labeling, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require safety assessments of GMO foods or even review all of the GMO products hitting the market. Meanwhile, close to 75% of our conventional packaged foods now contain GMOs. In response to this dire situation the Non-GMO Project was founded, with a mission of protecting consumer choice and preserving and rebuilding our non-GMO food supply. By offering North America’s only third party standard and labeling for non-GMO products, the Project helps fill the information gap for the increasing number of Americans who are concerned about the health risks and environmental pollution associated with GMOs.

    This October is the third annual Non-GMO Month – an event created by the Non-GMO Project to help raise awareness about the GMO issue and celebrate Non-GMO Project Verified choices. As part of our participation in Non-GMO Month, we are sharing this article to help you understand what Non-GMO Project Verification is all about.

    Since late 2009, the Project has verified over 5,000 products to its rigorous standards for GMO avoidance, and this number increases daily.  Companies enroll in the Non-GMO Project for many reasons. For some, it is part of their company’s mission.  For other companies, verification is driven by the demands of retailers and consumers. Doug Foreman, the founder and chairman of Beanitos says, “We were totally unaware of what GMOs were until a health food store questioned us on whether we were verified Non-GMO. This was an eye-opening moment for us. We found an abundance of evidence revealing possible problems with genetic modification in our food supply and immediately began the process of verification.”

    More and more people are looking for the Non-GMO Project Verified label, and asking their favorite brands to participate, but what does that really mean? The butterfly on the “Verified” seal is a real eye-catcher, but many people are still curious about what it takes for a food producer to earn that lovely lepidopteran.  When you see the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on a product it indicates that the product is compliant with the Non-GMO Project’s Standard – a transparent document requiring producers to meet strict requirements for GMO testing, segregation, and traceability. The butterfly’s cute, but it represents a tremendous level of commitment on the part of the brands that have earned it.

    Here’s an overview of what it takes to become Non-GMO Project Verified…

    First, an interested manufacturer, farmer, or restaurateur reaches out. The Project answers basic questions and helps them understand what to expect.  The company shares basic information, such as product names, ingredients and number of production facilities.  All this info helps the Project’s technical advisors to pinpoint high-GMO risk ingredients and facilities, sketch out a rough idea of what any individual verification will entail, and figure out what the verification process will cost.

    As a mission-driven Non-Profit organization, the Non-GMO Project works to keep the cost of verification as low as possible – after all, the more Non-GMO options, the merrier!  For the many brands that do decide to pursue Verification, contracts are signed ensuring that confidential product information stays confidential, and that products only get to use the Verification Mark once they’ve completed Verification. It’s all legalese to many of us, but it’s an important step in making sure that shoppers can trust any product bearing the butterfly seal.

    Even more important is the Verification process itself.  Companies provide hard data about the products they are enrolling: ingredient lists, production facility information, test results from approved laboratories, etc. Once the data upload is complete an evaluator with FoodChain, the Project’s technical advisor, begins the review process – and what a process it is!

    To quote Brian Ray of Garden of Life, “Our Multi-Vitamins, for example, can contain 50 to 60 different food based ingredients.  It’s a staggering amount of work to evaluate each product. And the Non GMO Project auditors are extremely thorough. Even though we collect certifications from every supplier verifying that each ingredient is GMO-free, the auditors work tirelessly UP the food chain, challenging each statement and requiring that suppliers prove through adequate agricultural controls and regular DNA testing protocols that GMOs are not unintentionally introduced.”

    For companies with low risk ingredients the process can be quite a bit simpler.  In describing their verification, Doug Foreman of Beanitos says, “The process itself took just a few months to complete. The longest part was waiting for our supplier’s 3rd party lab tests proving their commitment to sourcing Non-GMO ingredients. One of our seasoning suppliers couldn’t guarantee that the milk in our cheddar was sourced from hormone free cows. We subsequently moved to a supplier that is just as dedicated to Non-GMO as we are.”

    If a product contains only low-risk ingredients, with no GMO varieties on the market, testing is not required, but FoodC hain conducts a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets for an in-depth assurance that there is no risk of GMO presence.

    For companies with major high-risk ingredients in their products, the Non-GMO Project standard requires ongoing testing of those risk ingredients. High-risk ingredients are any derived from crops grown commercially in GMO form–from corn and canola to the occasional summer squash. After testing, ingredients must remain segregated from other GMO risk factors, and traceable from that point on.  This ensures ingredient integrity through to the finished product.  To ensure that everything’s being produced properly, manufacturers must pass on site inspections of any facility that uses high-risk ingredients.

    Upon successful completion of the verification process, the manufacturer receives a certificate of compliance, and can start using the Verified seal on their packaging. Even at this point, manufacturers who have committed to Verification aren’t off the hook – they must continue testing every single batch of their high-risk ingredients, and complete an annual audit process to remain verified.

    As you walk through Good Earth Market this October, then, keep an eye out for the many Verified products we sell. 

    In honor of Non-GMO Month, we’ve taken the time to hang special tags so they’re easier to find, and many of the sale items on our promotional displays are verified, too.  Pick up your copy of GMO FAQ’s to assist you in purchasing non-GMO products. 

    Supporting manufacturers who have committed to Non-GMO Project Verification sends a powerful message about what you want on your family’s table, and helps support some of this country’s best farmers.

    In this day and age, it can take a lot of extra energy to provide reliable Non-GMO products, but as Doug Foreman says, “Being verified by the Non GMO Project has been a 100% positive for us. Consumers want to eat food that is safe, and being Verified is a big part of making sure that happens.”

  • The Staff of Life? Not for Everybody… | 10.11.2012

    How can people become sick from eating wheat?  While wheat and related grains (barley and rye) have been staples of the human diet for thousands of years, there are an increasing number of kids and adults that become sick after eating these grains. There are several distinct reactions that someone can have after eating these grains: Celiac disease, Wheat Allergy and Gluten Sensitivity. They are not the same thing and have different symptoms and dangers.

    What are the differences in these diseases?

    Wheat Allergy is the only reaction to wheat that is a true allergic condition.  It is the same type of allergy people can have to eggs, peanuts, or other foods when their body develops antibodies that react after eating that particular food . The reactions are relatively immediate and can manifest as lip or face swelling, welts(hives), severe itching , breathing difficulties, abdominal cramping and even shock (anaphylaxis). People with severe wheat allergies may need to carry an emergency dose of epinephrine with them in case they are accidentally exposed to it to avoid going into shock. Some children may grow out of a wheat allergy later in life, but it is also possible to develop a new allergy to wheat as an adult.

    Celiac disease (CD) is a completely different condition than wheat allergy involving a different part of your immune system. In this case our immune cells (T-cells) view gluten (the protein in wheat, barley and rye) as the enemy and attack it in the gut. Every time the person with CD eats wheat, the immune system attacks it. Over months to years this attack causes inflammation of the small intestine and damages the intestinal wall making it difficult to absorb vitamins and nutrients.

    The classic story of CD is one of a young child with diarrhea, a big bloated abdomen, and poor growth. This actually represents the minority of cases, as CD can present with a host of symptoms and at any age. Medical experts have dubbed CD as “the great imitator” because it can mimic many other diseases, or like no disease at all. Chronic abdominal pain or constipation, unexplained anemia, brittle bones, chronic rashes, chronic fatigue are all possible ways in which celiac can show up. The older the patient, the less “classic” the presentation of CD. It is estimated that 90% of Celiacs are currently undiagnosed, and delayed diagnoses of years is common.

    Gluten Sensitivity was considered for many years an “alternative medicine” diagnosis but is now being recognized by many western physicians as a real condition. It is different and unique from celiac disease and wheat allergy. It can look very much like celiac disease, with abdominal pain and diarrhea, and many cases of irritable bowel disease are thought to involve gluten sensitivity. Other symptoms of gluten sensitivity include chronic headaches, fatigue, “brain fog” and depression. 

    Are these diseases really rare?

    Not at all! Current estimates are that 1% of the population has Celiac Disease, 0.5-1% has wheat allergy and as many as 6% of Americans may be “gluten sensitive”. That means as many as 1 person in 12 may be getting sick from wheat and not even realize it! All allergic diseases are becoming more common for reasons we don’t understand, so these numbers are likely to keep rising. It is very likely that someone you know has some type of negative reaction to wheat.

    Am I at risk for getting one of these diseases?

    People at higher risk for having or developing celiac disease include those with immediate relatives with celiac, people with Down or Turner Syndrome, Type 1 diabetics, and persons with thyroid or other autoimmune disease.  Type 2 diabetes does not increase your risk. If you or someone you know has one of these conditions, they should be screened regularly for CD. Anyone with chronic gastrointestinal complaints (abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, IBS) or unexplained anemia or brittle bones should be screened as well.

    How do I get screened?

    Talk to your doctor. There is a simple blood test called a tissue transglutaminase or TTG that is 95% accurate in diagnosing CD. Confirmation of the diagnosis may require an endoscopy, which is a small flexible tube used to look at and take tiny samples (biopsies) of the first part of the small intestine to look at under the microscope. A positive blood test and evidence of intestinal damage on biopsy confirms CD.

    Wheat allergy is diagnosed by a blood test for IgE (immunoglobulin E) to wheat, and/or by a skin test using a small amount of wheat protein to see if the body reacts when wheat is scratched into the skin.

    There is no accurate blood or skin test for gluten sensitivity even though expensive tests are advertised. The best and only way to diagnose it is to remove all wheat, barley and rye from the diet for at least 2 weeks. If symptoms improve, and then reappear when wheat is added back to the diet, the diagnosis is made. It is completely safe to remove all wheat and related foods from the diet.

    How do you treat these diseases?

    Essentially the only treatment for all three is a gluten free and wheat free diet. There are now more gluten free foods available than ever before, and labels are now stating if a product is gluten free. There are numerous health food stores in Billings and across Montana that carry a variety of gluten free foods.

    For more information about celiac and gluten free questions, here are some resources: 

    Tom Flass MS, MD is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist with St Vincent Healthcare, and treats conditions of the digestive tract and liver in Children. He completed medical training in Denver at the Children’s Hospital Colorado and has a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from Colorado State University. Tom has celiac disease and has been gluten free for 18 years.

  • Gluten: A Hidden Killer | 10.10.2012

    Today, 1 out of 133 people suffer from Celiac Disease, yet only 4% have been accurately diagnosed. In people who have celiac disease, the proteins in wheat, rye and barley act like a poison in the small intestine. To protect itself, the body rebels, generating an autoimmune response against the gluten. In the process of this inner war, tiny nutrient-absorbing hairs in the small intestine called villi get eroded and become flattened.

    When your villi are damaged, your body can’t absorb the nutrients you need. Different people react to this malabsorption in different ways with different symptoms-and sometimes with no symptoms at all, even as internal damage rages on.  Those suffering from celiac disease who eat gluten can experience diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss. If gone untreated, people with celiac disease can develop iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, cancer and death.  There is no known cure for celiac disease.

    Diagnosing yourself with celiac disease is a dangerous game as the disease is very serious and can compromise your health in permanent ways – a gluten-free diet is the only therapy. If one does not get tested and just decides celiac disease is the problem, one may not be as strict about a gluten-free diet, deciding a little gluten here and there can’t hurt when you crave a cookie or a sandwich. To someone with celiac disease, this lapse can be very dangerous.

    Some other diseases may resemble celiac disease, so it is very important not to diagnose yourself with celiac disease. If you put yourself on a gluten-free diet and feel better but still unwell, you could be ignoring something serious like lymphoma or intestinal cancer. Self-diagnosis can prevent one from seeking the treatment that could make you well again.

    Some people argue that even without a diagnosis of celiac disease, if a gluten-free diet makes you feel better, then it won’t hurt to follow it. If you don’t test positive for celiac disease, only you and your doctor can decide together whether a gluten-free diet is appropriate for your individual situation. Get tested first, just to be sure, and if you still feel sick, keep seeking an answer. In other words, leave the diagnosis up to the experts.

    As of January 2006, life got a lot easier for people with celiac disease and others who can’t eat wheat or gluten. Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act which requires that all foods regulated by the FDA must clearly list the presence of common allergens like milk, eggs, peanuts and wheat. Reading food labels carefully is essential when following a gluten free diet. If one cooks from scratch, it is easy to avoid gluten, but processed foods are popular because processed food are fast and easy to prepare. Processed foods tend to be full of gluten.

    A great deal of new findings have been discovered for those who have celiac disease. Many new foods that are gluten free are being developed on a regular basis. Those who must remain gluten free must keep abreast of new developments because being “gluten ignorant” can be deadly. To keep informed, join our gluten-free support group and watch the GEM blog.

    Carl Solberg, president of the Montana Celiac Society, is passionate about educating people on a gluten-free lifestyle.  The Montana Celiac Society offers information and support to those with Celiac Disease, hosting conventions and regular support group meetings and providing other resources, such as complimentary new patient packages.  For more information, visit their website at or write to Montana Celiac Society, %R. Jean Powell, 1019 South Bozeman Avenue #3, Bozeman, MT  59715.  Stay tuned right here for a monthly blog from the Montana Celiac Society!


  • Butternut and Mushroom Steel-Cut Risotto | 09.25.2012

    Recipe submitted by Member/Owner Maia Dickerson, “The earthiness of the mushrooms combined with the sweetness of the roasted squash makes this a great fall dish. The steel-cut oats re-place traditional Arborio rice lending a little chewiness to the creamy texture, making this one of my favorite comfort foods.”

    Serving size: 3-5
    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
    Ready in: 60 minutes

    1 small to medium squash, peeled and diced
    1/2 T. oil
    11/2 tsp. sage
    1/8 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. pepper
    3/4 c. water
    14 oz. vegetable broth
    1 tsp. butter
    1/2 onion, diced
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    2 c. sliced brown mushrooms
    1 c. steel cut oats
    1/2 c. white wine
    1/4 c. shaved parmesan

    Toss squash with oil, 1/2 tsp. sage, and salt and pepper. Roast squash at 400° for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from oven and let sit. In a small sauce pan, heat water and vegetable broth, simmer on low making sure not to boil.

    In a large skillet, melt butter and add onions and garlic, cook for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until the juices are released, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the oats, add wine, and cook for 1 minute. Next, add 1/2 of the broth mixture to the skillet. Stir frequently, cook until liquid is mostly absorbed.  Add broth mixture a 1/4 c. at a time, stir frequently, be sure all the liquid is absorbed between each addition.  Remove from heat, add squash, parmesan, 1 tsp. sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

  • My Gluten-Free Story by Carl Solberg | 09.12.2012

    Some twenty years ago, my frail, emaciated 120 pound frame forced me to struggle. Forcing myself, I would vomit several times getting into the car to drive to work. Usual activities, like mowing the grass, were very difficult. I would make one pass with the lawnmower and have to go inside and rest. Numerous tests showed nothing unusual, until a family practice physician finally told me, “I don’t know what is wrong, I suspect it is something in your diet, but we’ll send you to someone who can find out.” That someone happened to be Dr. Mark Rumans of the Deaconess Billings Clinic.

    Carl SolbergDr. Rumans diligently completed his routine exam and scheduled a colonoscopy. His findings indicated that I had celiac disease. Dr. Rumans told me, “Lay off the bread and you will do just fine.” At this time much less was known about celiac disease, and I thought it was a rather rare disorder. I thought that I simply needed to cut back on my foods containing gluten. Thinking I was doing what was best, as long as gluten wasn’t the main ingredient in a food, I thought it would be fine if I consumed a little gluten. In fact, I wasn’t sure what gluten even was.

    I cut back on eating gluten, but many baked foods were too inviting. I had the belief that eventually my body would again be able to tolerate gluten, but I simply had to give myself time to heal.

    My gluten-ignorant life continued until I was diagnosed with an agent-orange related cancer from my previous Vietnam military duty. The surgery caused my body to again react. My celiac disease again “raised it ugly head.”

    Some understanding co workers noticed my extreme agony and saved my life by taking me immediately to the Deaconess Billings Clinic. My body felt like it was on fire. At first I brushed it off by thinking that my problem would go away just as quickly as it started. By the time I reached the Deaconess Billings Clinic, I was too weak to transfer with out assistance from a wheel chair to an examining table. It felt as if there was a civil war going on inside me. After some testing, the ER physician said, “I am not sure what is going on down there, but I see a lot of inflammation so we are going to have to take you upstairs for immediate surgery.” It took anesthesia to relieve my intense pain.

    After surgery, medical staff at the Deaconess Billings Clinic discovered that gluten had eaten a hole about the size of a pencil eraser in my small intestine. Surgeons removed several inches of intestine and spliced it up again. They did their best to control the peritonitis that ravaged my body. No food or drink allowed for days. I was told that if there was a problem, having food or drink could be fatal. No ice chips, no coffee, no nothing.  This Norwegian likes to have his coffee, but all was forbidden.

    Recovering at Deaconess Billings Clinic gave me some time to think. My first thoughts were, “I am going to quit leading a gluten-ignorant life.” While recuperating at home, I spent my days on the internet, trying to learn as much as I could about celiac disease and I tried to learn how I could learn to live a healthy gluten-free life. During my internet search I made some telephone contacts. When I was strong enough to get out of the house, I made some personal visits in my attempt to become more knowledgeable.

    During one of my computer searches I found Montana Celiac Society on the internet and made a call to Jean Powell, the founder of the organization. She asked if I was interested in helping start a gluten-free support group inBillings. When she mentioned this, I was delighted knowing that others should never have to suffer the pain I had just suffered. I was hours away from death, and no one should have to go through that agony.

    Now, feeling stronger, I made more contacts and more phone calls. The subject of all these conversations was always gluten – what is gluten-free and how can I learn more about ways I can stay healthy?

    During my search in ways to stay healthy, I came in contact with a very knowledgeable staff person at Montana Harvest Health Food Store on 17th & Grand Avenue. This exceptional person, Joan Dannenberg, was very “gluten-smart.” We talked gluten-free healthy foods and places to purchase these foods. Our conversation soon turned to the subject of working on a gluten-free support group in our area. I could see Joan’s enthusiasm grow, and some weeks later we had our first support group meeting on a Saturday sitting in chairs in the middle of the gluten-free aisle at Montana Harvest. Joan and my goals were similar in nature. We both had an extreme desire to reach out to others and provide support and education for others who needed to live a gluten-free life in order to stay healthy.

    Our “gluten-free walk” continued, our enthusiasm for educating others who suffered our health issues began to grow in numbers. We teamed up with Montana Celiac Society for advice and direction, and shortly thereafter we became members of the board and assisted serving in leadership positions.

    Before realizing what was happening, our gluten-free support group, which was first sparked by my near death, had now reached places outside of Billings.  Montana Celiac Society had a goal of bringing Dr. Allesso Fasano to Billings to speak at the Deaconess Billings Clinic. Our group rolled up it sleeves and went to work to see that Dr. Fassano could come. We realized that having the physician who heads up the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland would be a huge asset to all of us. It would take money to do this, but that would not keep us from accomplishing this task. In the end, Dr. Fasano made a presentation at a packed conference room at the Deaconess Billings Clinic. Our group spent an eventful evening with Dr. Fasano and he was given a generous check by our organization to be used for celiac research.

    Since its beginning in Billings, our leadership and members of our support group have placed educating members as its number one goal. In so doing, it always adheres to having programs which are highly worthwhile to everyone in attendance. In keeping up with these principles and goals, we have assisted people with gluten issues in Kalispell and have worked with them to start a gluten free support group. A number of Support Group people from Billings recently  attended Kalispell’s first meeting. More than 50 people in Kalispell attended their first meeting. There were 74 people attending Kalispell’s last gluten free educational presentation. My goal is to now get similar support groups started in Missoula, Great Falls and other places in Montana. Why do we do this? We do this because I nearly died from gluten. Deaconess Billings Clinic saved my life, and no one should ever have to lead a gluten-ignorant life and experience the extreme pain that I had by not following a gluten-free diet.

    Stay tuned for our monthly gluten-free blog!  So what is this thing called Celiac Disease? I shall try to explain in layman’s terms in my next blog, “A Hidden Killler”.

    Carl Solberg, president of the Montana Celiac Society, is passionate about educating people on a gluten-free lifestyle.  The Montana Celiac Society offers information and support to those with Celiac disease, hosting conventions and regular support group meetings and providing other resources.  For more information, visit their website at  Stay tuned right here for a monthly blog from the Montana Celiac Society!

  • Heal Your Skin with Fall Foods | 09.10.2012

    Do you know that food is good for the skin inside and outside? When I look at seasonal foods that are beneficial for the skin, I love to find new ways to integrate nature’s Elements into a skin care routine. These Elements are connected to the seasons that influence our foods and our bodies.  Learning how to choose a seasonal food for topical use in order to produce smooth and healthier skin appearance can motivate all of us towards a healthier lifestyle.  

    Soup for Sagging Skin

    Our skin transitions through the seasons and we may find we need to use a different product or have a clinical facial to boost the cellular process.  The transition period, according to some traditions, is called the Earth Element.  During the late summer, we experience a brief pause between the high energy of summer and the hot sun to shorter days and cooler nights.  The Earth Element is associated with the colors yellow and orange -foods like pumpkin, squash, butternut squash, yellow peppers, peaches, nectarines, papaya, pineapple, mangoes, and corn benefit the bodily organs of Earth, the spleen/pancreas and stomach.  The fall has a tendency to see dry and scaly skin as the skin may not be exfoliating fast enough and the metabolism of the skin may be slow. The Earth Element manifests itself around the mouth and a weak Earth Element (digestion) shows up on the face as sagging eyelids and jowls, and loose skin under the chin.

    So, help! It looks like my Earth Element is sagging!  What can I do?   Here is a list of spices and seasonal foods that can help to tonify and warm the earth (digestion): ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, and nutmeg.  Fall foods that can be added to your meals are carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, pumpkin, rutabagas, onion, leeks, and barley.  The best way to eat these foods are cooked and made into a soup.  Soups are comfort food, since they are easy on the digestive track.

    We  now have a basic understanding of what foods to eat from the Earth season that will help from the inside.  So which food would be a great all around topical treat to give our skin that healthy glow we are all looking for?  I definitely have a favorite.  It is a food that has multiple uses and functions all season long.  It is high in vitamin C, Vitamin A, anti-oxidants, enzymes that exfoliate, has emollients, phospholipids, Vitamin B,  Salicylic Acid, sugar, zinc, and on and on.  This food has an amazing oil that is awesome for the skin. 

    To discover this exemplary food that is nutritious for our body inside and outside, join me for the first in a seasonal series of “Food and Skin” workshops, “Fall Foods that Promote Healthy Skin“, (Saturday, September 15th at 1 p.m.).  I will share recipes and provide tastings for Soup for Sagging Skin and a facial/body mask.  This workshop explores foods harvested in the fall that we can use to help manage problematic or aging skin.

     Susan Reddig,  B.S., is a Licensed Esthetician at Clinical Skin Solutions of Billings .


  • Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities | 08.22.2012

    Do you love your co-op?  Turns out the store you own does more than just sell good food – across the nation, cooperatives are making a big impact in their communities!  A new study on food co-ops, Healthy Foods Healthy Communities: The Social and Economic Impacts of Food Co-ops*, quantifies the impact co-ops have compared to conventional grocery stores. The study’s compelling results demonstrate the many ways that cooperative businesses like Good Earth Market do well while doing good.

    Unlike their conventional counterparts, co-ops are owned and governed by member-shoppers and rooted in principles like community, voluntary and open membership, economic participation and cooperation. Because of these principles and practices, food co-ops inherently serve and benefit the communities where they are located. For example, the study finds that for every dollar spent at a food co-op, $0.38 is reinvested in the local economy compared to $0.24 at conventional grocers.

    Good Earth Market is one of NCGA’s 128 member and associate co-ops that in aggregate operate 165 stores, generate more than $1.4 billion in annual revenue, and are owned by 1.3 million consumers. Individually, co-ops serve the distinct needs of communities like the Yellowstone Valley. Together, co-ops have the purchasing power to rival conventional grocery chains, and the good business practices to truly make the world a better place.

    I Shop at the Co-op because...Supporting Local Food Systems and Sustainable Foods
    Though “local” has popped up in conventional grocery stores in recent years, retail food co-ops are leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. Where conventional grocers work with an average of 65 local farmers and other local producers, food co-ops work with an average of 157. Likewise, locally sourced products make up an average of 20 percent of co-op sales compared to 6 percent at conventional stores.

    Years after creating the market for organic foods, co-ops are still the place to find them. Of produce sales at food co-ops, 82 percent are organic, compared to 12 percent for conventional grocers. Organics make up 48 percent of grocery sales in food co-ops, compared to just 2 percent in conventional grocers.

    Local Economic Impact
    The economic impact that a grocery store has on its local economy is greater than just the sum of its local spending, because a portion of money spent locally recirculates. Food co-ops purchase from local farmers who, in turn, buy supplies from local sources, hire local technicians to repair equipment and purchase goods and services from local retailers. To some extent, conventional grocers do too, but the gap is still significant. For every $1,000 a shopper spends at their local food co-op, $1,604 in economic activity is generated in their local economy – $239 more than if they had spent that same $1,000 at a conventional grocer.

    Employee Benefits
    The average co-op earning $10 million per year in revenue provides jobs for over 90 workers. In total, 68 percent of those workers are eligible for health insurance, compared to 56 percent of employees at conventional grocers. Co-op employees also earn an average of nearly $1.00 more per hour than conventional grocery workers when bonuses and profit sharing are taken into account.

    Environmental Stewardship
    Grocery stores – co-ops and conventional alike – generate a significant amount of waste. What sets retail food co-ops apart is what they do with that waste. Co-ops recycle 96 percent of cardboard, 74 percent of food waste and 81 percent of plastics compared to 91 percent, 36 percent and 29 percent, respectively, recycled by conventional grocers.

    At a co-op grocer, fresh, delicious food is just the beginning.


    Impact Report – View the full report in Healthy Foods Healthy Communities: The Social and Economic Impacts of Food Co-ops.

    Infographics – View a pdf of the infographics in Healthy Food Healthy Communities Infographics.

    Video – Find the animated video, along with other Co-op related videos on the Stronger Together YouTube Channel:

    *NCGA partnered with the ICA Group – a national not-for-profit research organization – to compile the data used to develop Healthy Foods Healthy Communities: The Social and Economic Impacts of Food Co-ops. The ICA Group compiled data from industry and government resources, food cooperative financial data collected by CoopMetrics for NCGA, and previous NCGA surveys. The ICA Group developed two additional surveys, one targeted to retail food co-ops and the other to the conventional grocery industry.


  • News from the Farm – Negaard Produce and Greenhouse | 08.14.2012

    Daniel, Obadiah and Leah planting onions

    Here at the Negaard’s farm it has been a very busy year so far:  planting tomatoes in the greenhouse the 1st of February, starting calving the sixth of February, planting and starting seeds to go out in the gardens when it is time, Rachel making jams and syrups in her spare time with Leah helping when she can, calving finishing and now time to start planting the gardens.  With that comes the weeding and water (which is a non-stop job).

    This spring found us to be very busy with starting the clean-up from the flood of 2011, which made quite a mess.  Daniel spent a lot of time moving gravel that had washed up on our flats and trying to re-level one of our gardens that had a lot of damage.  We couldn’t get in there last year because it was too wet.  We also rebuilt a walk bridge that had washed out so that we could get to the garden easier.

    Daniel also spent some time building new tools to go on the garden tractor to try and make things a little easier.  Daniel and Joshua are building some cement forms to go around our large greenhouse so that we can put new plastic on it.   This has to be done every so many years, and it is well past due.

    We started picking tomatoes the end of April and each week we have new crops ready to start picking.  Just this week the zucchini and snow peas are ready. We also grew some new produce this year, including kale, tomatillos, colorful carrots, and turnips. 

    Obadiah and Leah are very busy picking and getting the orders ready for Rachel to haul to market.  When they are not picking, they are busy weeding and watering.

    Daniel is on the constant go working tomatoes, hoeing, and making sure everything gets watered when needed.  Rachel concentrates on calling for the orders each week, delivering, selling, and baking bread for the Good Earth Market Deli, bookwork, plus all the other things that a mother and wife have to do to keep up. 

    The middle of June we started putting up our hay and were pretty much done by the 4th of July.  This was early for us, which is good, because usually we do not start until the  first of July and this puts us into the time that we get very busy picking produce.

    This time of year on the farm we put in very long hours – 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning until dark.  Sometimes, like today, when the temperature reaches the 100 plus mark, it is nice to come in during the hottest part of the day and take a little rest and get out of the heat. 

    Joshua is also home from college this summer and helping – it is always nice to have an extra hand.  Last fall when he returned home from being deployed to Iraq, he put up a nice building for us to get our produce ready for markets in.  (Of course, with the help of Obadiah and Daniel.)  This sure has been a blessing for us because we always did this outside in the heat or cold.

    This pretty well brings you up to date on what is going on at the farm so far in 2012.  We enjoy working and being a part of the Good Earth Market and enjoy getting to know each of you as time goes on.  As always, we look forward to working with all of you in the years to come.

    by Rachel Negaard, Negaard Produce and Greenhouse

  • Simple Stress Management | 08.08.2012

    Stress. We all know it, most of us are ‘under’ it, and we all want to get rid of it. Stress can result from many things, such as deadlines at work, pain, emotional upsets, illness, postural burden and even genetics.  Left unattended, you may begin to notice increased heart rate, loss of sleep, and even anxiety.

    As the body is subjected to prolonged stress, systems can begin to breakdown and malfunction. Your energy becomes depleted, you become fatigued and depressed. Protracted exposure to stress can increase blood pressure, disrupt digestion, instigate skin reactions, as well as affect weight gain or loss. Stress can disrupt the nervous system, causing neurotransmitter imbalances. This can lead to feelings of sadness, headaches and memory interruption or loss.

    Chiropractor Pat Holl with a PatientIf you’re experiencing stress in your life, there are positive ways to deal with it. Remember to eat healthy food regularly, preferably organic as no amount of supplementation replaces a healthy diet. Drink lots of water to help flush toxins through your body and help reduce the risk of disease and infection. Exercise and stretch, as movement enhances blood flow to the brain, promotes the flow of body fluids and improves metabolism. And whatever form of ‘calming’ you choose, whether you meditate, pray, or sing, remember to plug that ingredient in.  Stress is often invariable in today’s world, but it can be managed.

    Guest blogger Dr. Patricia Holl, DC, chiropractor at Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic, has more than a decade of experience in her field.  Learn more on her blog, “Pat on the Back“.

  • How to Keep Your Fruits & Veggies Fresh | 07.30.2012

    I’ll admit I’m one to go a little crazy in the produce department and farmers’ markets.  Especially this time of year, I’m enticed by the colors and freshness of all the local produce and end up with a little extra in my Market bag.  I’ll find a way to work in that kohlrabi that just came in from Tom Kress or Danly Farms!

    Alicia with Co-op kid Carmen playing on the produce wagon

    And my fridge looks beautiful!  For a while.  My plans to cook delicious meals all week long fade (as do my veggies!) when more summer outings with friends present themselves – events in Downtown Billings, baseball games, concerts – summer fills up fast!

    So I was excited to stumble across this handy guide, “How-To: Store Fruits and Vegetables”, from the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Farmers’ Markets to keep my produce fresh a little bit longer, or at least until I can make time to cook them.  The guide lists how best to store 60 popular fruits and vegetables – without using plastic.

    A few tips from the guide:

    Apples (I’m anticipating the delicious varieties from Ross Orchards in Fromberg) – Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks.  For longer storage, they can be kept in a cardboard box in the fridge.

    Stonefruit (apricots, nectaries, peaches, plums) – Store on a cool counter at room temperature.  Only refrigerate when fully ripe!

    Berries – Keep them dry (wash only before eating) and don’t stack too many high when storing.  They’re very fragile.

    Greens – Most greens should be kept slightly damp (not wet or they’ll rot faster) in an airtight container.  The hardier greens, such as collards, chard, and kale, can be placed in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.  Yes, please – I’ll put an edible bouquet on my kitchen table.

    Tomatoes – Shouldn’t be refrigerated.  Keep them on the counter until ready to eat.


    Who you store the veggies with makes a difference in their longevity, too.  Check out this guide from the Vegetarian Times to find out which fruits and veggies should and shouldn’t be neighbors.

    Would you use plastic to store your fruits and veggies?  Is there another type of container you use for produce storage?  If you have any other tips, let me know!

    Alicia Reyer, GEM staff member, can be found either dancing or at the Market, usually with a cup of tea on her desk.

  • Protecting Your Skin | 07.24.2012

    Alba Suncare products are ON SALE for $6.99 through July 31. Regular price $9.99.

    Summer poses great challenges with managing our skin care. We love the warm sun and how comforting it feels on our skin. We feel the freedom of unencumbered movement due to less clothing or, at the least, lighter weight clothing. The smell of fresh air seduces us out from behind our walls of our homes or places of work.  Oh, it feels so good to be free!

    How do we enjoy the sun, which is natural and integral to the function of life, yet protect ourselves from its dangerous and life-threatening rays? The first way to protect ourselves is to be well informed of the types of ultraviolet rays and how they affect our skin.  The second way is to educate ourselves on what the SPF ratings really mean. The third way is to know what ingredients are most effective.

    Understanding the UV Rays
    UVA = Aging, UVB = Burning and cancer.   We know there are two main ultraviolet rays that we need to be aware of. They are the UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays have less energy, but penetrate deeper into the skin, causing damage to the connective tissue and creating aging, sun spots, hyper pigmentation, wrinkles, and leathery skin. UVA is always emitting, even on cloudy days. These rays increase the risk of skin cancer.

    Susan out for a ride. Pay attention to exposed areas!

    UVB rays are damaging, but only on the surface. Don’t let that fool you. UVB rays are the burning, redness, sunburn, blistering, and dryness that often causes skin cancer. They are strongest during the mid-day and are able to reflect off of water and snow.

    What’s SPF?
    SPF ratings can be confusing and are relevant only to the UVB rays. SPF is a measure of how sunscreen works against UVB rays. We are prone to think that the higher a reading is, the more protection there is. In reality, the higher rating diminishes in effectiveness. The difference between SPF levels gets small as the numbers go higher. For instance, the difference between 15 and 30 is bigger than between 30 and 45, therefore, using an SPF of 45 is not much more effective than SPF 30.

    Which ingredients should you look for?

    • Look for sun protection that includes zinc oxide. Zinc Oxide is a physical block and is the most effective. Titanium Dioxide, is also a physical block but less effective than zinc oxide, and Avobenzone is a chemical screen. Both Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are the most important to have in the list.
    • Look for the words “Broad Spectrum”. A Broad Spectrum will protect from both the UVA and UVB rays.

    Local suncare products are healthy for your skin.

    The best way to apply sunblock is very liberal. Some doctors say to be a “grease monkey”. Reapply every two hours and, if you are in the water, apply every hour. Wearing a hat and other protective clothing is advised.  And don’t forget the little areas, such as, ears, back of neck, tops of feet, and scalp.

    That area of skin that didn’t get covered? Add the back of hands to the list of little areas. Ouch!

    Susan Reddig, B.S., L.E., is a licensed esthetician and owner of Clinical Skincare Solutions. located at 2900 12th Avenue North.

  • Discover Local Foods | 07.19.2012

    It has become vital to our health in recent years to find safe, healthy foods, especially in light of modern industrial diets and recent food scares.  Buying fresh local food is the easiest way to know where your food comes from and to avoid eating processed food loaded with added sugar, fat and preservatives.  Locally grown food also tastes better because it’s fresher – local producers can grow better-tasting varieties of fruits and vegetables that don’t need to hold up to long-distance shipping.  The case for eating locally grown food is strong, but how do you make it happen?

    Start small.
    Sticking to a strict local diet can be intimidating, so think baby steps – start spending $10 a week on local foods, buying all your potatoes locally, or trying something new each week.  Starting small and phasing in gradually will help these changes become a part of your lifestyle.

    Be adventurous and flexible.
    Exploring new foods will increase your options of eating locally.  Ever tried Jerusalem artichokes, garlic scapes, or black beluga lentils?  All are grown here in our region and can lend variety to your meals.   Fruits and vegetables have specific growing seasons, so stay flexible with your menu planning and take advantage of these delectables while they’re in season.  For cooking tips, find a good cookbook, watch the GEM blog or ask local producers and co-op staff for advice.

    Shop your co-op and Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market.
    Food co-ops and farmer’s markets are committed to providing local foods to the community and building a sustainable regional food system.  Shopping these venues gives you an opportunity to purchase local foods and discover new ingredients, meet your local producers, and learn cooking tips and tricks.  Plus, a Saturday morning at the market, with its live music and bustling energy, can add even more enjoyment to your food experience.  At GEM, local products are easy to find by looking for the yellow tags around the store and perusing our free Local Producer Map to see at a glance which products are available.

    Because you value your health, it’s also important to source local foods raised organically or sustainably as they have higher nutritional value and are grown without toxins.  Eating locally doesn’t have to be overwhelming or tough on your pocketbook, but with a few small changes, you’ll be on your way to healthier eating and enjoying Montana’s bounty!

  • General Manager’s Comments: The Co-op/Corporate Difference | 07.06.2012

    by Perry McNeese, GEM’s General Manager

    Photo by James Woodcock

    Working with Alicia, GEM’s Marketing Manager, to promote the International Year of the Co-op caused me to stop and think about what it means to be a part of a Cooperative and how it differs for me as a manager.  The difference hit me immediately as I stepped in the General Manager’s position 5 years ago.  I have always believed in strong customer service, but as a Co-op manager I realize that my customer is now the owner!  Yes, the boss, CEO, and share holder all rolled up into one, the shopper!  Therefore fulfilling your needs is not only important, it is a critical part of my performance standing.  If you aren’t happy, I am not doing my job.

    That cuts to what I see as the purpose of a Co-op.  For me, the Co-op’s purpose is to service its owners/members with goods and services that match their reasons for buying into the Co-op in the first place.  Additionally, as this primary objective is met, the management and staff must conduct business in a way that keeps the entity viable and growing in both sales and membership. Thus, our first strategic objective, “Strengthen the Co-op”.  That differs from my conventional corporate experience.  Primary objectives were typically tied to market share, return on investment or share price.  It is much more rewarding to please customers than it is to please Wall Street.

    Our second strategic objective, “Make GEM a Great Place to Work” is also much different from my corporate experience.  As I budget and manage expenses, I am charged with pleasing the employees too?  Oops!  Don’t forget they are all member-owners as well.  So rather than seeing where I can cut labor expense, I am looking at where I can improve rewards and work environment.  As examples, we have added health insurance benefit for full-time employees and employees get 10 to 20 percent discounts.  This is a first for me.  We close major holidays so they can have the day off with their families.  We optimize the use of full-time employees rather than keep them to a minimum.   This job is the very first time I have built wage scales considering the “Living Wage” model and it is rewarding.

    The differences between a Co-op and a corporation continue as one looks at our third objective, “Build the Local Sustainable Foods Economy”.  What!?  I/we have to be concerned about something other than our own growth?  Yep!  We must endeavor to help local producers sell their goods so they too can grow.  By contrast, I used to be trained to see how much I could get from a supplier.  Now I am building relationships and trying to find ways to market more of their produce and meats.  Its fun because my boss, you, also want to have access to more and more local!

    I take pride in another Co-op difference.  This is the first time in my 40 year grocery career that I have worked in an Energy Star facility; our 4th strategic objective is to “Build Environmental Sustainability into the Facility”.  With the improvements that have been made to the building, GEM is now in the 96th percentile for supermarkets around the country.  Ah!  What?  Many of the energy improvements were completed by working members and what a difference it makes.  Yes, our customers, being owners, really do want to see the Co-op succeed and step up to help us in numerous ways from construction to laundry to maintenance projects.  Some members even donate money so we can have a nice patio and, most recently, a new bike rack.

    While I am on strategic objectives, just as well mention the 5th strategic objective, which is to “Increase Community Engagement, Outreach and Education”.  Again, something new to me.  Free workshopsNewsletters that educate rather than sell?  Providing Farmer’s Market space free to producers to sell their goods?

    Seems like everyday I run across a decision that is motivated by what is right verses what is profitable.  Not that being profitable is a bad thing, it just needs to be a means to an end rather than what drives everything.  I have to tell you it makes a guy want to come to work every morning.  I want to thank you for not only reading through my article, but for being the center of what makes GEM a great place in so many ways.  I look forward to continuing to serve you.  The reward is your support!


  • A Healthier “Pasta” Salad | 07.03.2012

    Trying to eat healthy over Fourth of July celebrations?  Keep it simple!  It can be as easy as looking at your favorite picnic foods and making a few simple changes.

    Take the iconic pasta salad.  Through processing, white wheat pasta loses some of the nutritional qualities!  Substituting the pasta in your favorite pasta salad recipe with a grain in its whole form will provide a broader range of nutrition.

    Cooking methods are similar to your pasta salads!  Cook the grain and cool (see below for details).  Add your favorite local, seasonal vegetables and a little cheese (feta works well), then add dressing, a little garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Get creative!  If you’re making your own dressing, combining the vinegar and herbs with the salad first, and then adding the olive or flax oil at the end, will enhance the flavor absorption.

    Here are a few grains to try:

    An ancient, gluten-free grain cultivated in South America, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is considered a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids in a nearly perfect balance, and has a nutty flavor.  It is easily digested and provides a good source of iron, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin E.
    To cook, use 2 cups of water per cup of quinoa.  Combine quinoa and water in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

    Short Grain Brown Rice
    A popular grain used in much ethnic cooking, rice is a good source of fiber, vitamin E and trace minerals.  Using a cooking method similar to pasta will decrease the soft, sticky qualities, making it more suitable to a salad.
    To cook, bowl 5 cups of water.  Lower heat and add brown rice.  Cover and simmer for 50 minutes or until tender.

    An unhybridized and ancient type of wheat cultivated in Europe and North Africa and said to be the grain that fueled the Roman legions.  Today it is cultivated especially in Tuscany and other areas of Italy.  It has a chewy texture and depth of flavor, is similar in looks to a short-grain brown rice and is rich in fiber, magnesium, vitamin A & E, and B vitamins.
    To cook, combine 3 cups of water per cup of farro and combine in a pot.  Bring to boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 2-3 hours.  To speed up cooking process, soak farro in water for 6 to 12 hours, then simmer for 50 to 60 minutes.  For pearled farro, soaking is not necessary.  Simmer for 30 minutes or less, using 2 cups of water per cup of farro.


    Pesto Farro Salad 

    Serves 4

    • 1.5 cups farro (Timeless Seeds, Inc., Conrad, MT)
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2-3 cups fresh basil leaves (Yellowstone Valley Farms, Laurel, MT)
    • 1-2 cloves garlic
    • ¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
    • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 1.5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 1.5 cups grape tomatoes, halved (Negaard Greenhouse, Grass Range, MT)

    1. Cook rice in salted water until done. Cool.
    2. Prepare pesto. Chop garlic and nuts in food processor until fine.  Add basil and process while slowly adding olive oil. Blend in parmesan cheese.
    3. Combine rice, pesto, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.
    Add more olive oil if necessary.

  • Red Oxx Market Tote | 06.26.2012

    by Alicia Reyer

    My dad began using locally produced Red Oxx bags back when I was too young to fully understand just how cool they really are.  When Dad offered to let me use his large, black boy bag for a weekend softball tournament, I begrudgingly agreed and awkwardly tried to cover it up the whole weekend. 

    Years later, I actually took a look at the bags my dad had (yes, bagS), and I came to the light and saw the coolness factor.  No longer a “boy” bag, but a sleek, colorful, well-constructed bag with a massive zipper that won’t get stuck in the fabric.  YES! 

    That leads me to my very first Red Oxx ownership:  the Market Tote.  Appropriate, really, considering the amount of time I spend in the co-op.  “Tough 1000 denier military grade cordura nylon” their website says.  Not sure what all that means, but whatever it is, it’s tough.  Having used other reusable grocery bags that start to fall apart after several uses, this one shows no signs of tearing.  Even if it did, the lifetime warranty is just too good to pass up.  

    Bringing the beginnings of a delicious dinner home in a cheap plastic bag deflates my experience.  We all have to eat, let’s make it fun!  The joy of good food isn’t just in the cooking and eating, it starts when we sit down to pick out a recipe, when we make out a list (or take our smartphones with recipe into the produce department), when we fill our basket with fresh local meat and produce, when we chat up our friend in line at the register, when we carry our groceries out, our lettuce and baguettes peaking like a bouquet out the top of the bag. 

    I’m picturing myself riding a bike through a vineyard, with a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, and fresh baked bread in the basket.  Quality does that to me, and this bag only helps conjure up that dream.  Now if I can just remember to put it back in my car.

    The Market Tote is available for purchase at or buy the Oxx in person at their storefront in Downtown Billings.

  • Einkorn “Blender” Pancakes | 06.20.2012

    Einkorn wheat has been around for a very long time—this tough-husked wheat was cultivated in its earliest form around 10,000 years ago near the Fertile Crescent.  Einkorn is considered to be the oldest known domesticated wheat and thrives in conditions that other wheat does not.  Its durability, however, has not prevented it from becoming scarcely cultivated for close to 2,000 years.

    So why is Dr. Oz talking about Einkorn wheat now, in 2012?  Why am I learning about Einkorn in my webinars some 10,000 years later?  As it turns out, the Mesopotamians were on to something, whether they understood gluten toxicity or not. 

    The gluten protein in Einkorn isn’t as harmful as gluten in other wheat to those suffering from celiac disease, and the reason may lie in the fact that the gliadin in Einkorn is chromosomally different from the gluten in modern wheat.  Researchers suggest that this very basic difference in gluten structure may even have a profound positive impact on the way those with celiac disease feel.  Of course, if you have gluten intolerance or celiacs, make sure you check with your doctor before eating Einkorn, as it still has gluten.  Watch this video from the Dr. Oz Show talking about how much he loves Einkorn (at 2:30 minutes). 

    Since this grain is not only a new product to me, but new to GEM as well, I figured I better taste it!  My options were either Jovial Foods organic pasta, or Einkorn whole grains in bulk.  I chose to make Einkorn pancakes from the whole grain.  Pancakes are delicious, and they can be healthy, too.  I found a multitude of recipe options online for everything Einkorn, so if pancakes don’t work for you, jump online or call me at the Market for some other ideas.  


    Healthy Whole Grain Einkorn “Blender” Pancakes


    • 2 C. whole Einkorn grain kernels (from the bulk department)
    • 2 1/2 C. water
    • 1/2 C. powdered milk (from the bulk department)
    • 2 eggs (local, free range)
    • 4 T. expeller pressed coconut oil (Spectrum)
    • 2 T. raw, unfiltered honey (Drange Apiary,Laurel,MT)
    • 1 t. sea salt (Real Salt from the bulk department)
    • 2 T. aluminum-free baking powder


    1.  In blender (I used a Magic Bullet, which I’d never used before, but it was the perfect size for this recipe and worked well), combine the Einkorn grain kernels, water, and powdered milk on high for 5 minutes for a smooth mix.  For those that like to the texture of a larger grain, blend for about 3 minutes.








    2.  Add egg, oil, honey and salt. Blend for 20 seconds.  Depending on your blender, you may need to  blend for 45 seconds.

    3.  Add baking powder gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time. Pulse three times, just enough to mix. Mixture should foam up and get very light.








    4.  Cook immediately on a hot, nonstick griddle.  If you don’t have a non-stick, put a little oil in the pan to prevent sticking and add a nice moistness to the pancakes.


    This recipe makes about 10 pancakes and they turned out perfectly!  The consistency and density reminded me of cornmeal pancakes, with less sweetness.  The butter and maple syrup absorbed into the pancake, and I’m sure it’d be easy to add blueberries or any seasonal fruit into the mix before cooking! These cakes take no time at all to prepare and they’re healthy, being made with whole grains and sweetened with honey.

    I ate seven pancakes.  My wife ate three.

    by Dan Davis, GEM’s Bulk Buyer

  • Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity – not just tummy trouble! | 05.31.2012

    by Tracy Konoske, MS, RD  
    Nutritionist & Registered Dietitian


    Get your gluten-free questions answered by Tracy Konoske at our Gluten-Free Day, June 16!

    History of anemia?
    Losing bone mineral density?
    Suffer from joint or bone pain?  Arthritis?
    Already diagnosed with an auto-immune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroid, Type 1 Diabetes, auto-immune hepatitis, or auto-immune liver disease?
    Dental enamel defects?
    Constipation?  Diarrhea? 
    Infertile?  Menstrual irregularities?  Miscarriages?
    Recurrent canker sores?
    Skin lesions that aren’t really acne? 
    Weight loss?  Weight gain? 
    Fatigue that napping just doesn’t solve?
    Does your child have failure to thrive? 

    Quite a list isn’t it?  It’s broad enough that almost anyone would answer “yes” to one or two answers.  That’s because Celiac disease is now known to affect one in 133 people.  It’s estimated that 3 million people have it, but only 5-10% are diagnosed

    The symptoms are broad as it can affect any or every organ system.  No one knows which part of the medical text to put it in anymore because it is not just a GI (gastro-intestinal) disease.   50% of newly diagnosed Celiacs had NO GI symptoms!

    Why is it spreading like wildfire?
    Well, it’s not because we’re better at diagnosing it.  Researcher Dr. Murray took stored blood from Army recruits, analyzed it, and found age-matched controls.  According to him, Celiac disease has increased four-fold in the past 50 years.  Celiac expert Dr. Fasano found that it’s doubling every 15 years and a five-fold increase. 

    Some proposed answers are leaky gut, GMO foods, composition of our gut bacteria, and more gluten in our food supply than in the past. 

    It takes a perfect storm to brew Celiac.  First, one must have one of the two genes and 30-40% of our population does.   Second, it takes a trigger, which is usually a stressful event, that temporarily alters gut permeability.  Examples are puberty, food borne illness, pregnancy, trauma either emotional or physical, or just becoming elderly.  Third, exposure to gluten.  Which now is in just about everything you eat, so the with our stressful lives, and high exposure…the conditions are ripe.   

    What about all those non-Celiac folks who feel better on a gluten-free diet?
    Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) affects 6% of our population and the only test is to rule out Celiac disease, and then do a trial gluten-free diet. 

    The caveat is that it is important to do due diligence and rule out Celiac first.  Many go on a gluten-free diet and don’t bother with the testing.  What’s wrong with that?  Celiac is an auto-immune disease.  It comes with real-life complications, including a risk of other auto-immune diseases, anemia, lymphoma’s, bone loss and more.  We are still sorting out the truth but NCGS has not been known to be an auto immune disease although that is now changing.  But, having the facts in place allows us as health care providers to treat and heal you accordingly.  Guessing if you are risk for complications isn’t a good way to practice medicine. 

    The Bottom Line
    If you take the 1% of our population who has Celiac, and the 6% who are NCGS, we have 21 million people who will feel better being gluten-free for life!  No wonder this is such big business!!!

    Gluten-free diets help many, many people, but anyone messing with the foundation of life should have expert help to avoid nutrient deficiencies and minimize complications later in life.  The goal is to heal, not do more harm.  There’s a lot to know and it’s not a field one can dabble in. 

    Tracy Konoske has a virtual private practice.  She’s a different kind of dietitian and gets a different kind of result with her patients.  She offers Medical Nutrition Therapy for those with chronic disease, including Celiac and NCGS.   Join Tracy for a FREE workshop, “Celiac, Gluten Sensitivity and the Gluten-Free Diet” on our Gluten-Free Day, Saturday, June 16.  Visit Tracy’s website at  

  • Board Notes: What’s your relationship with your co-op? | 05.24.2012

     by Carol Beam, Board President

    Theresa Keaveny and I had the opportunity to attend the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) Western Corridor Training for Boards and Leaders.  The day we spent with our peers from co-ops throughout the west was invigorating.  Our membership is the NCGA co-op not only helps us throughout our operations, but it is a gold mine when it comes to education and training.  Here are some of my take-aways from the day long event:

    NCGA is comprised of 125 co-ops nationwide.  There are 160 stores in 35 states.  To help put it into perspective, NCGA co-ops did $1.5B in sales in 2011 (contrasted to the $10B for Whole Foods).  NCGA’s success has a direct correlation to the success of its member co-ops.  That is one reason why NCGA is spending much of its time and energy these days promoting the growth of the co-op food industry.  Based on data compiled by the NCGA staff, the organic/local food movement is in a growth pattern, especially as it relates to co-ops.   This is one of the key drivers for NCGA’s emphasis on growth in same store sales as well as growth through the addition of new co-ops into NCGA.  Much of what NCGA will focus on going forward will support the growth of food co-ops.

    One fascinating subject covered at this retreat was membership.  All co-ops share the same member characteristics and I will share them with you – describing the least engaged members (customers) on up to the most engaged members (actives). 

    Which on of these best describes your relationship with the co-op?:

    • Customers – people who shop at the co-op but are not members.  Likely to leave the co-op should a competitor offer more convenience, better selection, price, etc.
    • Shopping Members – people who join for the economic benefits.  They do not think of themselves as owners and feel no additional responsibility or loyalty.  They do not perceive a difference between the co-op and a club store.  Primary interest is “what’s in it for me.”
    • Social participants – people who like belonging to the co-op, though they don’t really experience the connection as “ownership”.  They care about what the co-op stands for in the community, but they may not be very clear on what that is.  They read the newsletter, but probably wouldn’t call to comment on an article.  If asked, they will respond to a survey.  They are more likely to attend a co-op dance than the membership meeting.  It is important to provide opportunities for involvement with issues they care about.
    • Member Owners – people who understand that their equity is required to capitalize the co-op.  They think of themselves as owners and they are interested in the governance of the co-op.  They always plan to vote in elections and occasionally they do.  They feel that they should go to the annual meeting, but only rarely do so.
    • Active participants – people who are active in the co-op.  They are the leaders and decision makers who serve or have served on the board or committees.  They pay close attention to what the co-op does and what decisions are made.  They take their ownership responsibility very seriously.  They usually vote in elections and regularly attend co-op functions.

    The goal and challenge for the board and staff of the co-op is to ensure that each person has a high degree of satisfaction with their level of involvement.  The co-op must understand and meet the needs people have at each level before they will be motivated to “move up”.  And as a board and staff, we must always remember that people have the right to select their level of involvement.   We must engage them all.

    Thank you for the opportunity to experience the resources of our membership in NCGA.   It has only served to renew my commitment to the Good Earth Market.


  • News from the Farm: Wholesome Foods | 05.03.2012

    By Dick and Patricia Espenscheid

    As the days grow longer and the earth wakes up from winter, our thoughts turn to the bounty of summer. To prepare for the coming months of growth and productivity, our local producers have already begun planning, planting, and calving. The Local Producer Committee decided to bring the farm to you so that you can participate in the excitement of the season. We will be highlighting a number of local producers in our new feature “News from the Farm”. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the love and labor of their lives.   –  Heather Ristow, Board Member and Local Producer Committee Chair

    Greetings from Wholesome Foods and the Espenscheid Ranch!  We were delighted to be asked to share “News from the Farm” for the spring newsletter.  Life at the farm really picks up speed this time of year.  Planting has already begun indoors for the season – it is a joy to see the small green sprouts growing and waiting to get outside.  This year, because we purchased a high tunnel hoop house, the plants will be outside six weeks earlier than usual, enjoying the warm spring sun and secured at night in a protected environment.  Because of the intense winds we sometimes experience in the valley, we’ve taken the extra precaution to set the hoop house poles in cement just to keep it at the ranch!

    The winter project of building an insulated chicken house is completed. The new structure has a “nursery” for the 100 baby chicks and turkeys arriving in mid-april.  After they feather and develop sufficiently, the new chicks will be introduced into our flock of 50 laying hens, two roosters, 10 geese and four Moscovy ducks.  It is a fun day to watch the baby fowl meet their elders!  To expand our herd of free-range cattle and hogs, this year we have added an additional 305 acres to our ranch for them to roam and have fun (check out our delicious pork and eggs at GEM).  As of now, we have 12 new calves romping with their moms.  By the end of April we should have 22 new calves. 

    The most exciting news is that the Espenscheid ranch will be at Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market this summer with other GEM producers, selling our beef, veggies and eggs.  We have added a farm manager/partner to our staff to help make this all possible.  Andrew Riedel, MSU Bozeman alumnus and agriculture major, joined the Espenscheid Ranch in January and we are very fortunate to have him.

    Over the last five days, our pond has thawed and the sun is bright and warm.   What a lovely sight to see our geese enjoying the natural beauty of our ranch.  Happy Spring, everyone!  See you at Good Earth and the Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market!

    Dick and Patricia Espenscheid of  Wholesome Foods operate a sustainable ranch near Bridger, MT.

  • 2012 International Year of Cooperatives | 04.23.2012

    Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World

    The United Nations has declared 2012 as International Year of Cooperatives and we, along with co-ops around the world, are celebrating the occasion. Each year, the United Nations seeks to raise awareness of ideas or initiatives that truly make the world a better place. And while we may be a little biased (as a cooperative representing a virtual chain of food co-ops), we’re thrilled about the opportunity to highlight the many benefits cooperatives bring to their communities.  According to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic vitality and social responsibility.”  We couldn’t agree more.

    International Year of Cooperatives was officially launched at the United Nations New York headquarters in October 2011 with the theme, “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World.”  “Cooperation is a real solution for today’s challenges,” said Charles Gould, the director general of the International Cooperative Alliance.  United Nations “year of” designations may come and go, but for cooperatives, the 2012 spotlight represents an opportunity for co-ops to build on their global presence.

    Cooperatives are all around us—in the U.S. and around the world.  More than a billion people are members of cooperatives and the international cooperative movement has a strong global impact. If the world’s cooperatives were a country, it would be the size of Spain, represent $1 trillion in revenues, and rank as the tenth largest Gross Domestic Product in the world.  This economic activity is all the more impressive because it is generated by people working together in a democratic fashion to meet their own needs while benefiting the local economy and the community.  The United Nations’ acknowledgment of the value of cooperatives is important recognition for of the positive contributions co-ops deliver to our nation and our world.

    The cooperative model is a business model that is based on values and focuses on fairness, transparency and democracy. This values-based focus doesn’t mean standard business practices–like efficiency, effectiveness and profitability—take a back seat. Far from it.  Cooperatives seek excellence in all aspects of their business while upholding their values and principles.

    In addition to cooperative values, most cooperatives adopt a set of seven cooperative principles.  The sixth principle, cooperation among co-ops, is one that will be highlighted in 2012 as co-ops celebrate the year together.

    The International Cooperative Alliance has a goal that by 2020, cooperatives will be the fastest-growing business model worldwide. Indicators so far are positive; interest in cooperatives is already growing.  People around the world play an important role in this development by supporting their local co-ops with their investment and patronage, taking part in creating businesses that serve the greater good and build a better world.

    Be sure to check out or for more information about the world’s cooperatives and their activities, along with the National Cooperative Grocers Assocation Co-op Video Series.

    Article courtesy of

  • Are rising global food prices affecting your Co-op? | 04.12.2012

    Global food prices rose in March for the third straight month this year, after coming down from a February 2011 record peak, the UN’s food agency recently said.  The rise in prices is mostly due to rising gas prices and global weather fluctuations.  So what does this mean for your local Co-op?

    Good news!  Your food Co-op hasn’t raised prices on products purchased through our primary distributor, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) since August 2011!  These products make up almost half of all the products that we carry.  Since joining the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), we have seen a decreased cost of goods, which we are passing on to our members by not raising prices for the past eight months.  Also, Co+op Deals, another NCGA program, has offered an additional assortment of competitively priced sale items.  It’s becoming easier to save at your local co-op!

    Local products have also seen very little fluctuation in price.  Buying fresh local food is the easiest step to take in securing our food future.  As we build a sustainable regional food system, we become less dependent on food supplied from other regions, and less subject to rising gas prices affecting cost of food.

    What steps have you taken to save money on your groceries?

  • What’s the deal with raspberry ketone? | 04.05.2012

    From Dolly, GEM Wellness Guru

    I’m sure many of you have heard of it by now – raspberry ketone, as seen on the Dr. Oz Show, seems to be the new miracle fat-burner, the cure-all for those stubborn spots. Here’s some great info that I found helpful and I hope you will too!

    According to supplement company Wellgenix, raspberry ketone “is the primary aroma compound of red raspberries, and is a safe and healthy supplement with no side effects. This compound regulates adiponectin, a hormone that causes your body to boost metabolism. In turn, the fat within your cells gets broken up more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster and more efficiently. In order to get enough ketone to have an effect on the way your body burns excess fat, you would need to consume 90 pounds of raspberries! But, just 100mg of the supplement per day is enough to get your body burning fat the way you want it to.”

    Here’s more – the ingredients list on the new hormone-free HCG Amino Support + Raspberry Ketones boasts a nice range of metabolism boosting amino acids, along with herbal support for the immune system, stress reduction, and energy production.

    I wanted to share these simple facts and tidbits with you, and let you know that we now have this product in stock now in the Wellness Department!


    Photo Courtesy of zole4.

  • Get your favorite recipe published! | 04.04.2012

    As you may have heard, GEM recently partnered with Dr. Sarah Keller’s Media for Social Change class at MSUB for a variety of exciting projects. One of those projects gave us a great start on an official GEM cookbook and it looking fantastic! We’re set to include lots of great information about seasonal availability and local producers.

    What we really need now, though, are your recipes. After seeing countless loads of groceries leave through the doors of GEM, we now want focus on what happens in the kitchen. Whether it’s a family favorite passed down through the generations, or an experiment gone right, we’d love to share it.

    Recipes can be submitted to  If you’d like to submit a photo, they are best in .jpeg format. 

    Recipes will be considered for the cookbook and may be used in the future in the store and our website.  Recipes submitted will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift certificate and one of 10 cookbooks.  Deadline May 1.

    *Recipes, unless merely a list of ingredients, reprinted word-for-word are subject to copyright infringement. Adaptations, however, are acceptable for reprint. Please personalize your recipe.

  • Curry Lime Chicken? Yes, please. | 03.27.2012

    Mark's making Curry Lime Chicken Salad!


    Years ago, we began cooking this healthy recipe which quickly became an obsession among members.  Curry Lime Chicken Salad, with its sweet and spicy deliciousness, is not your average chicken salad and has been the subject of numerous recipe requests!

    Is Curry Lime Chicken Salad your favorite Deli Café salad?  Or do you have another obsession?






    Curry Lime Chicken Salad

    Serving size: 8-10
    Prep time: 1 hour
    Cooking time: 30 minutes
    Ready in: 1 hour 30 minutes

    5 lb. boneless chicken breast, cooked and cut into ½-inch cubes
    ⅜ c. olive oil
    ⅓ c. curry powder, a mix of hot and mild
    1 c. red onion, finely diced
    1 c. carrots, sliced in squares
    2 c. red pepper, diced
    3 c. frozen mangoes, chopped into small pieces
    ⅜ c. currants
    1 c. cashews, toasted
    1⅓ c. shredded coconut, toasted

    Dressing Ingredients:
    ⅜ c. lime juice
    2 c. mayonnaise
    3/8 c. Patak’s mango-lime chutney

    Heat olive oil.  When hot, add curry powder and combine until just fragrant.  Remove
    from heat and add to cubed, cooked chicken. With gloved hands,
    mix until each piece of chicken is coated with yellow curry mixture.  Add
    all vegetables, nuts, coconut, and mangoes to chicken mixture. Mix dressing
    with a whisk and add to chicken.  Mix until combined.  Add sea salt to

    In the Deli Café:
    Curry Lime Chicken Salad – $11.99/lb.


  • Our Blog is Certified Organic | 02.10.2012

    This blog is a place where ideas are exchanged, information is shared and everybody gets to be a part of something great.

    Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

    Well, now that you’ve had a chance to see our new website, it’s my privilege to welcome you to the new Good Earth Market blog. Some of our members have asked about what we’ll be posting here and what they can expect, and I’m glad to have the chance to share with you our plans for the blog.

    First, we’ll be sharing updates about things that are happening here at the co-op. It might be special events, an unexpected sale, or even just a story about the day in the life of the co-op.

    Second, we’ll also be posting about things of interest to our members. Now we know that we have a wide variety of people who are members of the co-op as well as people who are not members, but who shop with us or enjoy our deli. That’s why our topics will be as varied as the people who come here, ranging from eco-friendly living to hosting the perfect corporate event.

    Third, we’ll be asking people to contribute guest blogs which feature the things about which they are particularly passionate. It could be cooking, health and wellness, gardening, raising pets, downtown living or parenting. If you’d like to contribute a post or two, I’d love to talk with you.

    Most importantly, our goal is to make this blog a place where ideas are exchanged, information is shared and everybody gets to be a part of something great.

    Just like the co-op.