Archives for April 2013

  • Vino Verde | 04.30.2013

    In many avenues of the consumables market there is a spectrum of values regarding production.  In the wine industry, you find all of the typical players; the mega conglomerates pumping out enormous amounts of wine to the family-run chateaus producing barely enough wine to export.

    Fortunately, organic and biodynamic farming practices are a growing trend in wine production.  Much of this trend comes from the idea that the best wines taste like they come from somewhere and mediocre wines taste like they come from anywhere.

    Some studies show that farming organically and biodynamically can potentially offer a harvest with higher levels of phenols (potential complexity/antioxidants), anthocyanins (color) and brix (sugar).  To put it simply, better fruit that will hopefully express a greater connection to the place that it was grown.

    Find them at the Co-op:

    Farming organically since 1790, Pares Balta is working in harmony with the land, fostering vines amongst flocks of sheep, banks of beehives and the rolling hills of Penedès, Spain, a region best known for Cava production, located southwest of Barcelona and a short drive from the Mediterranean.

    The winemaking is in the hands of Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas, two skilled young enologists whose efforts are reflected in the quality of the wines that are produced at Parés Baltà; showing fine character and concentration, yet with elegance and balance.

    They are winemakers with a long tradition who warmly embrace new ideas and are actively seeking a biodynamic certification.

    Pares Balta

    Blanc de PacsParés Baltà Blanc de Pacs
    Blend: Parellada, Xarel.lo, Macabeo (the same grapes used for Cava).  Yellow lemon color with light green tints. On the nose, intense aroma of pear and apple; in the mouth, it is fresh and with a good acidity.  Resulting in a soft wine, it leaves an intense sensation of fruits and freshness on the finish.

    Parés Baltà Mas Petit
    Mas PetitBlend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa (Grenache).  Combination of soft Cabernet Sauvignon with the delicate and aromatic Garnatxa to create a classical, everyday red wine. Round and seamless, full of fruit balanced with smooth tannins by the seven months of French oak.

     

    View their informational slideshow presentation!

    Written by Lena Olson of Winegardner’s Wines.  Learn more at www.winegardnerswines.comPares Balta

     

     


  • Eat Seasonally: Asparagus | 04.26.2013

    Forget about the robin, asparagus is the real first sign of spring!  This much-adored seasonal vegetable epitomizes the season: fresh, crisp and juicy, a beautiful shade of spring green. Its flavor is distinctive and quite sweet when fresh. Although asparagus is easily enjoyed lightly steamed and barely dressed with butter and a squeeze of lemon, it is irresistible when roasted or grilled and served with garlicky French aioli or a spicy sesame-soy dipping sauce. Eggs and asparagus are natural friends: try chopped asparagus and mushrooms in a quiche with goat cheese, or a quick and easy egg scramble with asparagus, tomatoes, and brie.

    AsparagusAsparagus Antipasto Platter
    Serves 10.
    Prep time: 30 minutes active, 75 minutes total.

    Ingredients

    Antipasto:
    1 pound (1 bunch) fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed
    1 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and halved or quartered
    ¼ pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
    ¼ pound salami, sliced into bite-sized rounds or pieces
    1 cup Kalamata olives (or other olives of choice)
    1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/3 pound sliced Provolone cheese

     Dressing:
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed or minced
    ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
    ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 lemon, zest and juice
    1 orange
    Pinch each of salt and ground black pepper

    Preparation
    Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes, then rinse with cold water or cool in an ice bath. Drain well. Zest the orange, and juice half for the dressing.  In a small bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Toss the blanched asparagus and artichokes in 2 tablespoons of the dressing and marinate for 60 minutes.  Once asparagus and artichokes have finished marinating, arrange the antipasto on a large platter, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serve with fresh crusty bread or baguette slices. 

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

     


  • Container Gardening | 04.24.2013

    Growing your own food is fun, satisfying and delicious—and it’s easy to do even if you don’t have traditional garden space! Fact is, if you have a patio, balcony, or even just a windowsill or doorstep, you can grow your own little vegetable garden in containers.

    It doesn’t take much horticultural savvy to grow produce in pots, either. Here’s what you’ll need to know—about container plants, pots, soil, and care and feeding—to get started.

    What to Grow:  Keep growing habits in mind.  Read plant tags, seed packets, and catalog descriptions with an eye towards words like “compact”, “bush”, “small”, “mini”, “dwarf”, and “tiny”, or “well suited for container growing”. You can grow a variety of vegetables and flowers, even fruits. You might also place a small fruit tree (like a dwarf apple) in a big pot.  When combining plants in the same container, keep in mind that partners need to have compatible needs for water and sunlight!

    Potted plants Containers:  You can purchase a variety of functional—and beautiful—pots, but anything that can hold soil can be used for growing your bounty. You’ll need to match the size of the container to what you’re planning to grow.

    If the pot doesn’t have holes near the bottom, ensure proper drainage by drilling some yourself (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter). To prevent soil from washing out, add mesh to the bottom of the pot. Clean your containers well with soap and hot water or a natural disinfectant before planting in them.

    Light & Temperature:  Most vegetables like plenty of sunlight, but some (like leafy greens) can tolerate partial shade. If a plant calls for full sun, that means it needs between 6 and 8 hours of direct sun per day. Partial sun means 4 to 6 hours of sun daily.

    The best temperature range for most plants is between 55 and 75 degrees F.  You’ll want to wait to plant your containers outdoors until after the danger of frost, but one of the advantages of container growing is that you can haul the pots indoors (or easily cover them) if the temperatures dip.

    Soil: Fill your containers with good, organic, sterile potting soil (to 3/4 inches below the rim or lower to allow for watering). Do not use “topsoil” or soil from a garden, which will become too compact and may contain disease or insects. You can also make your own customized potting soil.

    Water:  You’ll want to keep the soil around your plants moist but not soggy. Plants dry out more quickly in pots than they do in the ground, so depending on the type of container you’ve chosen, the plant, and the environment, you may need to water it every day—or even twice a day. Water the soil, and occasionally the leaves, until the water runs out the bottom of the pot (this will ensure plant roots have access to sufficient water and helps wash away any buildup of salts).

    Nutrients:  Whenever you water your container, nutrients are leached from the soil, so you’ll want to add fertilizer every week or two or use a diluted fertilizer with every watering. There are plenty of good organic fertilizers; these will provide macro and micronutrients, minerals, amino acids and vitamins. Compost or compost tea, fish emulsion, liquid seaweed, kelp meal, and worm castings all provide excellent organic fertilizer for container plants.

    Whether you’re adding an array of containers to your already bountiful garden plot or a single potted tomato to your doorstep, you’ll find container gardening fun and rewarding.

    For more information on growing in Montana, check out the Yellowstone County Extension Service and the Yellowstone County Master Gardeners.


  • 7 Easy Ways to Nourish the Earth at GEM | 04.17.2013

    Green may be the new black, but it’s more than a trend—it’s a permanent shift towards creating a sustainable planet. In fact, taking steps to live a greener life—one that leaves as small an environmental footprint as possible—is part and parcel of living responsibly.

    Sustainable living is serious business, but many effective changes require thoughtfulness more than sacrifice, good habits more than financial investment. In fact, you’ll find that acting with the environment in mind often has a positive impact on your budget, too.

    Reduce, reuse, and recycle” is the green-living mantra. Let these three words steer you in the right direction—with your purchases, at home and at work, even while traveling. It’s fun to see how many opportunities there are for greener choices.

    For starters, here are some simple ways to make a big impact while shopping at your co-op:

    1.  Bring your own bags when you shop. Tied end-to-end, the nearly 4 billion plastic bags discarded around the world each year would circle the earth 63 times. When you do use plastic, be sure to recycle it. But get in the habit of bringing your own cloth bag when you head to the store.  Five years ago on Earth Day, we stopped buying plastic bags, and thanks to all of our members returning plastic bags to us, we continue to keep them out of the landfill.  If you prefer not to use plastic, use a box available by the registers!

    2.  Buy in bulk to eliminate wasteful packaging and save money. Check out the bulk section, where you’ll find everything from beans to grains, nuts and granola, soaps and shampoos. Bring your own jar in, have a cashier weigh it before filling, or use one of our reused, sterilized jars.  Ask a staff person to show you the ropes if you’re new to bulk buying.Carmen and Dan

    3.  Choose products with the least amount of waste – produce without wrapping and trays (or bring your own bags for produce), and a large jar of juice (or concentrate) rather than a dozen juice boxes, for example.

    4.  Use your own container in the deli for coffee or a salad.  Save a plastic container from ending up in the landfill.

    5.  Support green businesses with your purchasing dollars. Sustainable business practices are marketable these days, but so is greenwashing, so be selective. Co-ops have a long-standing tradition of conscientiously supporting ethical business practices.

    6.  Choose nontoxic. Replace chemical cleansers and cosmetics with natural products. Nontoxic cleaners—which you’ll find at your co-op—won’t hurt the water supply, your family, or wildlife. When decorating, explore nontoxic paints, fabrics, carpeting, and flooring. Before remodeling, look into using nontoxic, recycled building materials.

    7.  Purchase locally. Shop at community-owned stores and purchase locally grown food, available all year round. You’ll support neighboring farmers and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. Co-ops are a great source for locally produced food.

    8.  Choose organic food whenever possible. In addition to health and taste benefits, your selection of organic over conventionally grown food contributes to cleaner air and water; soil enrichment; the reduction of pesticide, growth hormone and antibiotic use; and safer working environments for farmers and their families.

    Small steps can make a big impact.  What small steps have you taken?  Do you have a green living resolution this year?


  • Meet the Intern – Why is local important? | 04.15.2013

    Andi BuckleyHello customers of the Good Earth Market!  My name is Andi Buckley and I am the intern at the Good Earth Market. I will be promoting the Local Producer Map as well as working on other projects, so be sure to keep an eye out for those around town in the next few months. As I began this journey a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect. But a couple of weeks ago, Perry explained to me how important it is that we have local producers in our store. I knew there was more to it than what he could tell me in a short hour.

    Together with the customers that may not know, I want to find out why “local” is so important.

    To start, co-ops, such as the Good Earth Market, are owned and governed by member-shoppers and rooted in principles like community, voluntary and open membership, economic participation and cooperation.  It is because of these principles and practices that food co-ops inherently serve and benefit the communities where they are located.

    The average co-op earns $10 million per year in revenue and provides jobs for over 90 workers. In total, 68% of those workers are eligible for health insurance, compared to 56% at conventional grocers. Co-op employees also earn an average of $1.00 more per hour than conventional grocery workers when bonuses and profit sharing are taken into account.  (Read the full report “Healthy Foods Healthy Communities:  The Social and Economic Impact of Food Co-ops” for more information.)

    I Shop at the Co-op because...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.

    For every $1,000 a shopper spends at their local food co-op, $1,606 in economic activity is generated in their local economy.

    Co-ops help make the people in our community healthier as well as put money back into the economy and we all know how important that can be these days.

    Grocery stores in general do tend to create a large amount of waste. What sets our local co-op apart from the conventional grocery stores around town is what we do with that waste. Co-ops recycle 96% of cardboard, 74 % of food waste and 81% of plastics.  Conventional grocery stores do not come close to these high percentages.

    So now we know how much good our local co-op does for our community. But why should you buy at your local co-op?

    Buying local is especially important to the consumer because the food is going to be fresh and have less chemicals and toxins in it. When food has to be shipped across the country, it could take weeks, even months to reach isolated areas. Another great reason is because you know your local food products.  You know where they are coming from and the opportunity to know the farmer or owner of the product, giving you, the consumer, the satisfaction that you and your family will be eating good food. 

    Buying at your co-op also supports the families who are producing the product. Local farmers who sell to consumers get paid a fair price for their food.

    Local food also keeps taxes down. Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the cost of required services. Cows don’t go to school, tomatoes don’t dial 911.  Another very great reason to buy local is because local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.

    Eating locally can seem overwhelming at first, but with a few small changes you will be on your way to eating healthy and enjoying your local producers food. When starting, think small. Start by spending $10-20 a week in your co-op on local products. Get the same thing every week or try something new!

    Remember, fruits and vegetables have specific growing seasons so stay flexible with your shopping and take advantage of these great options when they are in season. 

    Finding local at Good Earth Market is easy, too.  All the local products are easy to find by looking for the yellow tags around the store or pursuing your free Local Producer Map!

    Check out our blog for more great reasons and fun facts about buying local!

    Meet Andi
    My name is Andi Buckley and I am your Good Earth Market intern!  I have been running around doing a lot of fun things at the store, but of course working hard. I have helped out with preparation for Earth Day, am organizing some pieces of the Early Season Farmer’s Market (June) and am getting the Local Producer Map out into our community and all around the state.  Be sure to keep your eyes open and grab a free copy around town!

    I’m originally from a small town in eastern Montana, Fairview. When I graduated from high school, I went to the University of Montana for two and a half years and then transferred to Montana State University Billings to finish my degree in Public Relations. I graduate on May 4, 2013, so it is coming up fast. I have an older sister and brother, and I am the youngest by eight years. I have wonderful parents and a cute little dog, she is half lhasa hapsa and half poodle. Currently, I live here in Billings with one of my very best friends and her seventy-eight pound standard poodle.  He, too, is adorable .

    I have been very blessed with the opportunity Good Earth Market has given me, and I hope I can help them out as much as possible with a couple projects!


  • Solar Cooking | 04.10.2013

    Solar RiceNature has provided no better way to cook our food than with sunlight. That may sound like a pretty sweeping statement, but for almost everyone I know who has done a bit of solar cooking over time, the agreement would be nearly unanimous. Generally, the food just tastes better! A simple pot of brown rice or a chicken, for example, receive a unique transformation with a dash of sunlight added. You have to taste it to believe it.

    I have solar cooked for twenty-three years and taught and demonstrated it nearly as long. I enjoyed it from the first time I did it.

    I believe it is a gift literally “from on high” waiting to come into our experience to transform life. It already is doing just that in many parts of the world where countless daily lives are so much better for the entry of solar cooking.

    There’s a touch of fun in taking a pot of food and putting it in a homemade or manufactured solar cooker and knowing that the only “fuel” involved for cooking is sunlight. Plus there’s no heat added to the kitchen, nothing added to the utility bill, no toxins for the environment, and delicious food added to the table!

    Solar Cooking

    Gregory Lynch among a variety of solar cooking options.

    There are very simple homemade cookers that can be constructed in 30 minutes with a dollar’s worth of materials and a Reynolds oven bag to insulate your pot while it’s in the cooker. You can see the easiest-to-make, the Box-Corner Cooker.

    While this particular homemade cooker works well in mild to warm weather, there are more sophisticated designs which can provide for cooking even in freezing weather. I have done a lot of cooking in Minnesota and Montana in temperatures hovering around zero.

    Generally speaking, if I have bright sunshine, I can solar cook.

    A number of manufactured units are on the market, at least three made domestically. The “Sun Oven” is the most widely known followed by the Solar Oven Society “Sport“.  Solarcooking.org is a vast resource to help you find your way into the world of solar cooking is.  Almost every facet of solar cooking is covered in detail:
    – endless ideas for constructing your own unit
    – learning many of the finer points of cooking by sunlight
    – seeing how this cooking method is transforming lives in many developing nations
    – how you can help make the solar revolution real in the lives of others you may never see.

    Youtube.com provides hundreds of videos related to solar cooking, to give you another huge resource. Many other online information resources are just a few clicks away when you plug “solar cooking” into a search engine.

    Solar cooking is, I believe, a step into the future of food preparation that is available today. Make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to taste the future of food right now. Happy cooking!

    Gregory Lynch   believes every person should know the value of self-sufficiency.  He will be demonstrating solar cooking techniques (weather permitting) at our Earth Day event on Friday, April 22 from 11am-2pm. 


  • Greener Cleaners | 04.03.2013

    With a miminum of effort, you can easily make your own cleaning products from inexpensive and common household ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and borax.  Essential oils are an optional addition to homemade cleaning products, and many of htem, like lavendar and tea tree oil, have antifungal, antibiotic and antibacterial qualities, as well as a pleasant and all-natural scent.  Try these easy recipes for all-natural cleaners.

    Easy Spray Window Cleaner:
    1.  Mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with a quart of warm water in a spray bottle. 
    2.  Spray windows (doing this on a cloudy day works best), rub with a clean rag and polish with crumpled newspaper.

    GrapefruitDolly’s All-Natural Shower Cleaner:
    1.  Cut one overripe grapefruit in half.
    2.  Sprinkle salt on the grapefruit and scrub your shower!

    Visit strongertogether.coop for more green household hints and tips!