Archives for May 2012

  • 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.