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Eat Seasonally: Sweet Potatoes | 11.20.2013
One of nature’s simple pleasures, the humble sweet potato brings healthy, wholesome sweetness to home-cooked meals. Sweet potatoes are nutty, smooth and full of beta carotene, vitamin C and fiber. Bake small sweet potatoes whole (like baking potatoes) and top with scallions, sour cream, crumbled bacon or sautéed mushrooms for a flavorful alternative to an old favorite; or try something new and add steamed, cubed sweet potato to a coconut milk-peanut curry over rice. For updated comfort food, try a Cuban-style pork stew with seared poblano chilies and chunks of rich sweet potato in place of, or in addition to, regular potato.
Go to www.strongertogether.coop for more tips and hints on using seasonal veggies.
Yam What I Am
Try this twist on a holiday staple. Spicy and tangy, this salad is ready-to-eat in our Deli Café!
Ready in 1 hour
- 3 lbs. garnet yams, peeled and cut into ½” to ¾” cubes
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 1 pinch dry chipotle pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/3 c. brown rice vinegar
- 1 c. pecans
- 3/4 c. dried cranberries
- 1 bunch green onions, diced
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cubed yams, garlic and olive oil in a roasting pan and bake until yams are soft, but not mushy (about 40 minutes). Drain and retain olive oil and garlic cloves. Combine garlic, olive oil, and chipotle peppers in food processor or blender and blend until well-mixed. Add garlic mixture and all other ingredients to yams and mix well.
We still have lots of local squash and pumpkins rolling in of all sizes, shapes and colors!
Organic vs. Sustainable | 05.06.2013
The word “organic” itself tells the consumer how the farmer grew the piece of produce. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce don’t use conventional methods like herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or GMO seeds. When raising cattle or poultry, the farmer does not use antibiotics or hormones and the animals must be organic-fed. Rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers may conduct a more sophisticated crop rotation and spread mulch or manure to keep weeks at bay among more guidelines.
To be an organic farmer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a certification program that requires all organic foods to meet government standards. Any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. This certification also is regulated to ensure quality in the food.
Sustainability is fundamentally about our relationship to the world around us and our responsibility to future generations. Sustainable is not regulated but it still addresses the whole system. Three essential elements to being sustainable are economic prosperity environmental stewardship and community well-being. For produce production, the farmer does not use pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers or GMO seeds. In the case of meat production the sustainable farmer does not use antibiotics or hormones and the animals must be free range fed.
Organic and sustainable may have their similarities and differences, but they are always a good choice for you. These foods have fewer toxins in them than conventionally farmed foods, making your life a healthier one. Organic and sustainable may seem a little more expensive when it comes to grocery shopping, but you, the consumer, can decide – pay now or pay later. If you don’t know where to start fitting these healthier choices into your budget, start small with produce, then dairy and after that choose organic or sustainable meats and poultry.
My name is Andi Buckley! I am your Good Earth Market intern! I have been running around doing a lot of fun things at GEM but of course working hard. I 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 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!
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.
Asparagus Antipasto Platter
Prep time: 30 minutes active, 75 minutes total.
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
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
Pinch each of salt and ground black pepper
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: http://www.youtube.com/coopstrongertogether
*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.
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?
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!
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
• 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.
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.