Archives for July 2013

  • Summer YUM! | 07.30.2013

    We asked staff and member/owners which produce they’re most looking forward to this summer.  Here are their responses:


    The Battle kidsLindsey Battle, with Kimmie & Max IV

    “Our family likes to make sweet potato chips. And these little guys love bananas & apples. We also make kale chips and carrot fries in coconut oil. The carrots I fry, the rest I bake.”


    Carol Beam

    Carol Beam
    GEM’s Board President

    “My favorite fruit is actually what most people think is a vegetable – the ripe, red tomato. You need to slice it, add a dash of red wine vinegar, a dash of olive oil, a little salt & pepper, and a little basil. Let it sit and, oh my, you have the essence.”


    Heather BildenHeather Bilden
    Local Producer Committee Chair

    “Basil. I’m obsessed with the stuff. I like to add it plain to salads, like a green salad or a couscous salad, or even with steamed broccoli. It has so much flavor, it brings everything to life. Or I make pesto. It freezes really well in ice cube trays. Pop them into a freezer bag and they’re handy all winter.”


    PamPam Kemmick
    Deli Manager

    “One of our favorite things to do is wash and pluck grapes off the stem and put them in the freezer. Like little mini grape popsicle bites! We eat these all the time in the summer. They’re so delicious!”


    MacMac Schaffer

    APPLES! The local apples are brilliant here. There’a tree in my backyard just loaded and the funky ones are starting to fall now. You have to watch for bugs if you’re wildcrafting, but that’s still a lot of fun. I prefer local apples, but am eating Galas from New Zealand now. I really like the old-fashioned varieties, too. They used to grow so much here! Our area is great for fruit. I eat ‘em raw. I also like the local berries (lots of antioxidants!) and local Flathead cherries (good for the intestines!).”


    Joni SeeleyJoni Seeley

    “Apples are always good. I’m looking forward to them. Everybody likes the tomatoes and the watermelons. I like all of the local because it’s picked ripe and has more flavor. I love supporting local and appreciate the early farmer’s market you had this year. With the tomatoes, I just slice them and drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Or put them on a baguette with some feta or mozzarella, and a little basil. I like them cooked, too.”


    BenBen Anderson
    Lead Grocery Clerk

    “I’ve been into avocadoes, like guacamole, or cut up with tomatoes as a side dish. It’s cool and refreshing in the summer, and good with a little salt & pepper. It seems like they taste fresher in the summer because they’re in season.”


    Perry at his deskPerry McNeese
    General Manager

    “I LOVE BBar Ranch burgers, and the way I fix them is very unique. I put what I like on them, in them. I dice onions, quarter small, fresh mushrooms (don’t chop them any smaller or you won’t taste them), a few chopped jalapenos, cubes of blue or cheddar cheese (you can grate it, but then you won’t get the tasty pockets or cheese). I cook them medium, never well and make them huge – ½ pound hamburger with all the fixings. All ingredients go in raw – my favorite summer food!”


    Nolan  with pluotsNolan Fry
    Deli Clerk

    “Those pluots have been so amazing. They’re like candy, but better for you, obviously. I had never had them before I started working here. They’re incredibly juicy – two a day makes you a happy person.”



  • NCGA Resources for YOU! | 07.25.2013

    In the spring of 2011, we became a member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (a.k.a NCGA). Your little Co-op is growing up! Joining NCGA has given us access to numerous resources, helping our Co-op remain competitive in the marketplace.

    PrintYou’ve probably noticed many changes already: more competitive pricing, new Co+op Deals sales program, an overall step-up in our operations, the little Co+op Stronger Together logo that peeked its little head and has now become a store foundation. The staff is working very hard to use the resources and implement the programs that work for the uniqueness and individuality of our own cooperative.

    But along with the resources that have improved your shopping experience in the store, NCGA has numerous resources developed specifically for you, the member-owner!
    NCGA’s consumer website. Check it out! You’ll find a plethora of helpful articles – seasonal recipes, how-to’s on gardening and making smart food choices, how to cook just about anything. For you travelers, you can search co-ops anywhere in the nation to ensure you get to eat the tastiest, healthiest food while on vacation. Visit and “Like” Co+op Stronger Together on Facebook.

    Co+op KitchenCo+op Kitchen
    A brand new NCGA release – 55 how-to videos by co-op experts from around the country, with more on the way! When it comes to cooking at home, choosing the right ingredients and understanding basic kitchen skills can make the difference between a good meal and an amazing one. In the video series, Co+op Kitchen, you’ll find handy hints from chefs and food enthusiasts who love sharing their passion for great food, plus easy recipes for delicious homemade meals.

    From learning about tempeh and how to grow your own sprouts to making a delicious Tempeh Taco and cooking the perfect steak, you’ll want to see what’s cooking in the Co+op Kitchen!

    And, be sure to check out the FREE Co+op Kitchen iPad app for iOs6 on iTunes.

    Co+op DealsCo+op Deals Ads
    Two flyers monthly! Not only do these ads feature the top sales at your Co-op (with big savings!), look inside for tips and information on your food and where it comes from. Check out each issue for information on seasonal produce, cheese, cooking tips; as well as recipes!


    NCGA is providing more resources all the time in an effort to support and build local food and local communities. At the heart of the mission is taking care of the individual member-owner, that’s you!, and building the value around your food choices at the Co-op and the impact it has in our community.




  • Board Notes: The Co-op Triple Bottom Line | 07.19.2013

    THE “2020 CHALLENGE” – This is the 3rd in a series of articles dedicated to the “2020 Challenge”.  The 2012 Year of the Co-op came to an end but in the eyes of the International Co-operative Alliance, 2012 marked the beginning of the “2020 Challenge”. The “2020 Challenge” is simple:

    • Co-operatives will lead in economic, social and environmental sustainability, and
    • Co-ops will be the preferred model for business, and
    • Co-ops will be the fastest growing form of enterprise.

    The starting point for this “2020 Challenge” is the powerful claim which co-ops make to the outside world – we have a way of doing business that is better than most. We give individuals active participation through ownership, making them more engaged in the success of the co-op. And the co-op business model creates greater economic, social and environmental sustainability.

    There are 5 interlinked themes that will make this decade of the co-op successful:

    1) Elevate participation within membership and governance to a new level.
    2) Position co-ops as builders of sustainability.
    3) Build the co-operative message and secure the co-operative identify.
    4) Ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth.
    5) Secure reliable co-operative capital while guaranteeing member control.


    Building Sustainability
    Although there are some local exceptions, at present sustainability is not a term that is universally associated with co-operatives. This needs to change by 2020. The co-op movement needs to demonstrate a deep commitment to sustainability, as well as its positive contribution to sustainability in 3 senses – economic, social and environmental. In the sustainable world, having a focus on these 3 senses is often referred to as the “Triple Bottom Line” concept – profit, people and place. Contrast this with the “Single Bottom Line” concept of all other business models – profit. Co-ops have always set out to enable people to have access to goods and services without exploitation. This means trading in accordance with a set of values that believe in the “triple bottom line” approach. By placing human need at the center, co-ops seek to optimize outcomes for a range of stakeholders rather than maximizing the benefit of any single stakeholder.

    So how do we go about measuring the value we produce with our “Triple Bottom Line” approach?

    Economic sustainability (profit)
    There is evidence that a diversity of ownership contributes to a more stable financial sector. The investor-owned company was central to how the financial crisis occurred, with managers acting in the interests of themselves and a very small number of stakeholders. Contrast this with co-operatives. We act in the interests of our members, pursuing value for everyone and making us intrinsically less risky. Take the example of co-op banks and credit unions.  They have never made headlines for causing a financial crisis – in fact, most have quietly grown and prospered because of the co-op business model.

    Social Sustainability (people)
    Among the negative externalities generated by contemporary capitalism are social problems associated with inequities. The study of social capital suggests that societies with higher levels of membership associations do better economically, enjoying higher levels of trust and democratic participation. Co-ops contribute to the stock of a nation’s social capital in ways that traditional businesses do not. The United Nations, for example, urges governments to encourage and facilitate the establishment and development of co-ops, including taking measures aimed at enabling people living in poverty or belonging to vulnerable groups to engage on a voluntary basis in the creation and development of co-ops.

    Environmental Sustainability (place)
    There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that co-ops have a superior environmental record. Much of this is due to the co-op business model and the concerns for the future environmental outcomes. We are less focused on calculating a return on investment and more focused on the greater good (the “Triple Bottom Line”.)

    All of this discussion around sustainability is great but it won’t serve us well unless we help others understand the importance of the “Triple Bottom Line”. As a co-op, we have much to gain from seizing our approach and demonstrating its positive impact. We need to step up to the challenge of advocating for and demonstrating the value of our “Triple Bottom Line” to attract interest from the broader public, policy makers and young people. We need to work closer with other co-op businesses in our market to reinforce the sustainability of the co-op business model. As a board, we will be much more proactive in helping everyone to understand the “Triple Bottom Line”. As a member, you should be as well.

    Next – building the co-operative message and securing the co-operative identify.

    Carol BeamCarol Beam is the president of GEM’s Board of Directors.


  • Food for Skin: Summer Foods that Promote Healthy Skin | 07.11.2013

    Summer is well upon us with warmth and sunshine. Our skin takes a beating with the elements of dry hot wind, pool water, and too much sun. How can we continue to have beautiful glowing, hydrated skin all summer long?

    The season of summer has its own special foods, color, elements, and influence. The element of summer is fire and this element rules the heart and small intestine. The heart represents not only the actual heart organ, but the emotional state and memory. When our hearts are healthy, we are able to solve problems effortlessly and arrive at brilliant solutions. The emotion for the summer heart is joy, and the sound is laughter.

    The fire element is associated with the color red, so all foods that are red in color, including tomatoes, red peppers, beets, strawberries and cranberries benefit the heart and small intestine. Lycopine, an antioxidant, is very beneficial for the heart organ.

    Some foods that are calming include mushrooms, brown rice, oats, and jujube.  Herbs such as chamomile, catnip, skullcap, passion flower, and valerian are calming and very helpful when your mind is racing and you cannot go to sleep.

    The summer skin can have too much redness, such as having flushed faces, rosecea, eczema, and psoriasis. Where there is too much redness in the face, the foods that are bitter can combat chronic congestion in the nose, lungs or face, as well as yeast overgrowth, obesity and skin eruptions. Bitter foods are very good for anybody who suffers with congestion on the face. The bitter taste also increases intestinal muscle contraction, which helps with the peristalsis movement in the intestines. This means good movement in the digestive system, and good digestive movement removes toxins in the body and helps clear the skin.  Some bitter foods include rhubarb, kale, watercress and celery.

    WatermelonOther great foods for summertime are roasted red peppers, watermelon, or chilled tomato soups to bring back the fluids lost during perspiration. Of course, drink plenty of water and use sunscreen.

    Managing the hydration levels in the body and skin is very important for having beautiful skin. As mentioned above, eating foods that have a water content is the best way to get that extra water into our systems.

    Watermelon, our most famous summer food, is amazing and in my next workshop, we will explore just how amazing watermelon is and how it benefits our skin and body.

    During the summer months, nature is at its most expansive, abundant manifestation. The sun is at its highest, food is plentiful, and all plant life is full of vital life force. So eat healthy summer foods, be filled with summer Joy, laugh a lot, and infuse the energy of the color red.  All this will enhance the summer glow with your skin that the vital life force produces.

    Learn more about summer foods and protecting your skin at Susan’s next workshop, Saturday, July 13, 1:00pm-2:00pm. Susan Reddig, B.S., is a Licensed Esthetician at Clinical Skin Solutions of Billings, and Holistic Healthy Eating Coach. Susan’s focus is on beautiful skin through safe product and healthy eating.


  • Local Brews | 07.08.2013

    I’ve written quite a few times about local beer, wine, and spirits. Before you start linking this interest of mine to what it might say about my personal life (ahem), I instead encourage you to consider what wonderful beverages our state has to offer, especially in local craft beer.

    Local beer got a lot of press this spring with the coverage of Montana House Bill 616. HB 616 limits the amount of beer a brewery could serve on-site to 40% of its total business. If a brewery wishes to serve more than that, the establishment would be required to buy a new state license for $100,000.

    To the benefit of the local beer industry, the House Business and Labor Committee tabled the bill on April 3rd. I stopped in to talk to chat with Mike Uhrich, owner and brewmaster at Carter’s Brewing, about this issue.

    “It put a good scare on the brewers,” Mike said. “The bill would have affected every brewery in town and would have affected us quite a bit.”

    Like many Montana breweries, Carter’s makes an effort to use locally-sourced ingredients.  “All the revenue stays in Montana. We hire local people and use as many local ingredients as we can—we use quite a bit of Montana barley and local hops whenever we can. Other adjuncts [adjuncts are unmalted grains used in brewing]—sugar, spices—we try to get as much local as possible, too.”

    Like Mike at Carter’s, GEM is a strong supporter not just local food, but local drink, too. As such, we carry a substantial selection of Montana-made beer and wine from the following vendors, about which I am enthusiastic. Prudently, moderately enthusiastic.

    GEM’s selection of local beer and wine includes:

    YVBC BeerBayern Brewing, Missoula
    Big Hole Brewing Company, Belgrade
    Big Sky Brewing, Missoula
    Bozeman Brewing Company, Bozeman
    Flathead Lake Winery, Columbia Falls
    Harvest Moon Brewing Company, Belt
    Hidden Legend Winery, Victor
    Madison River Brewing Company, Belgrade
    Mission Mountain Winery, Dayton
    Red Lodge Ales, Red Lodge
    Ten Spoon Vineyard, Missoula
    Yellowstone Cellars & Winery, Billings
    Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company, Billings


    peter_toltonPeter Tolton currently serves on GEM’s Board of Directors, and is an advocate for the local arts.  Check it his latest project, Canvas!

  • Tips for Great Grilling | 07.03.2013


    Are you ready to take your grilling skills to new heights? Here are a few tips: Use a blend of spices, salt and herbs as a rub for grilled meat, fish, or tofu. Blends like Cajun, jerk, or tandoori spices add color, crunch and flavor.

    Marinades are another great way to spice up grilled foods. A basic marinade starts with oil, a sour element, and salt or seasoning. Tempeh and halloumi cheese are unusual bases for a tasty marinade, and great on the grill.

    Hit the sweet spot with grilled fruit, like bananas, peaches, nectarines or fresh figs. Just cut them in half, lightly coat with oil, and grill just a few minutes per side. Grilled fruit is amazing with ice cream.


    Grilled Vegetables with Tomato Apple Chutney

    Servings: 6
    Prep time: 50 minutes

    · 2 T. vegetable oil
    · 1/3 c. yellow onion, diced
    · 1 ½ t. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
    · 2 cloves garlic, minced
    · 1 t. brown mustard seeds
    · ½ t. ground cumin
    · ½ t. salt
    · 3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
    · 1 small apple, peeled and diced
    · 1 T. apple cider vinegar
    · Black pepper to taste

    · 2 pounds of mixed vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, potatoes, fennel, onions in any combination), cut in 2- to 4-inch pieces
    · Vegetable oil
    · Salt & pepper to taste

    To make the chutney, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and ginger for a few minutes and then add the garlic and mustard seeds; sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the cumin, salt, tomatoes, apple, vinegar and a pinch of black pepper. Stir well, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and reserve. The chutney may be made up to 7 days in advance; keep leftover chutney refrigerated for up to a week.

    To grill vegetables, preheat grill to medium-high. Drizzle the chopped vegetables lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables a few minutes on each side until cooked to desired tenderness. Serve with warm tomato chutney.

    Serving suggestion: For an easy summertime meal, serve the grilled veggies with couscous or brown basmati rice, or use to top a pizza or foccacia bread.

    Visit for great recipes for rubs, marinades, and our “Fruit and Veggie Grilling Guide,” and find how-to videos at”