Tag: sustainability

  • Introducing La Riojana Wine | 05.04.2016

    LaRiojanaStorePhotoAre you looking for a great wine at a great price?

    Try our new, award winning wines from La Riojana, recently added to our extensive selection of quality, value wines!

    This organically grown, Fair Trade wine comes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Malbec wines at an incredible value of only $6.99 each!

    Wine You Can Feel Good About

    La Riojana is a co-op is located in the renowned wine region of northwest Argentina. Made up of over 500 members, 80% of members are small-scale producers, and most small-scale producers have less than three hectares each.

    Members of the co-op benefit by being guaranteed purchases of grapes at fairer and higher prices, have access to loans, and are offered free technical assistance and agricultural advice. Profits are distributed and reinvested in new machinery and to improve production.

    La Riojana was also the first winery in Argentina to receive Fair Trade certification and is dedicated to improving the lives of its members and communities. $2 per case purchased by participating co-ops goes back to La Riojana’s community projects. To date, a secondary school with many supplies, water facility, and a hospital have been constructed. In addition, the fund helps farmers pay for the costs of organic certification. Currently, La Riojana grapes are grown with organic practices, but are working toward certification.

    This project is made possible by a direct trade from co-op to co-op. Grocery co-ops buy exclusively and directly from La Riojana co-op.


  • Order your organic, heirloom tomato plants! | 03.17.2016

    Spring is in the air!  Are you anxious to get your fingers in the soil?

    Pre-order your tomato plants from

    Kate’s Garden!

    • Locally grown in Billings Heights
    • Grown from organic seeds
    • Grown in organic soil
    • No pesticides
    • No chemicals
    • Large heirloom variety!! See our list below.

    $6.99 each

    Limited number of plants available – order yours before it’s too late!

    Available for pick-up May 1.

    Order yours in the produce department, give us a call, or drop us an email.

    Only four varieties are left! Get them while you can.

    SLICING TOMATOES

     

    Indian StripeIndian Stripe

    (Indeterminate)
    79 days

    Considered to be a strain of “Cherokee Purple”. The fruits of “Indian Stripe” are slightly smaller, lighter in color, and yield more fruits. The original seed came to Carolyn Male (who named this tomato) of NY from Donna Nelson, TX, who found this tomato growing in the garden of Clyde Burson, who has been growing this as long as he can remember. Big regular-leaf tomato plant produces big crops of 10-12 oz., dusky-purple, irregular shaped, slightly flattened beefsteak tomatoes with a big, complex flavors. Produces well in late season coolness. A wonderful sauce tomato, or sandwich tomato.


    PineapplePineapple
    (Indeterminate)
    85 days

    “Pineapple” is an heirloom garden favorite that grows to up to 2 lbs. Indeterminate, regular leaf plant produces huge, slightly flattened, yellow beefsteak tomatoes with a red blushing and streaks on the outside. It’s yellow interior contains few seeds and a red star-burst in the center. Taste is wonderfully mild with tropical fruity-sweet flavors. Great old-fashioned full , complex flavors. A good choice for slicing into sandwiches or salads. This is a show stopper!


    PASTE TOMATOES

    Amish PasteAmish Paste
    (Indeterminate)
    85 days

    A very productive leafy plant that produces up to 12 oz, deep-red, oxheart-shaped, meaty fruit. (Probably one of the largest paste tomatoes) Lots of sweet, delicious tomatoey flavors from this coreless meaty fruit. A great slicing tomato, canning tomato and sauce tomato.


    CHERRY TOMATOES

    Gardener's DelightGardeners Delight
    (Indeterminate)
    65 days

    (AKA “Sugar Lump”) Heirloom from Germany. Indeterminate, regular leaf plants produce 3/4 to 1-1/2 inch red cherry tomatoes borne in clusters of 6-12, loaded with sugary sweetness.

     


    What’s the difference between indeterminate and determinate?

    Indeterminate:  Ripens over a long period of time, climbing type, needs to be staked

    Determinate:  Ripens over a short period of time, bush type, stays short, good for pots


  • Local Producer Spotlight: White Deer Ranch | 01.01.2016

    White Deer Ranch

    IMG_7140

    Lee and Roxanne, the owners, during a farm tour 2015. Photo credit Casey Paige, Billings Gazette.

    PHILOSOPHY
    Lee and Roxanne , the Owners of White Deer Ranch, believe that if they take care of the earthworms and the honeybees with proper earth stewardship, everything else will thrive. They grow micro-greens in their historic ranch building converted to a greenhouse. Pick up these highly nutritious and tasty plants at the Good Earth Market in the produce section in 2.5 oz clamshells. Micros can be used in salads, smoothies, topping your favorite dish savory dish. A fantastic ingredient in pesto, dips, stews and more! Its fresh and its local!!

    MICROGREENS
    What is is? A microgreen is a tiny vegetable green that is used both as a visual and flavor component or ingredient primarily in fine dining restaurants. Fine dining chefs use microgreens to enhance the beauty, taste and freshness of their dishes with their delicate textures and distinctive flavors. Smaller than “baby greens” and harvested later than “sprouts” microgreens can provide a variety of leaf flavors, such as sweet and spicy. They are also known for their various colors and textures. Among upscale markets, they are now considered a specialty genre of greens that are good for garnishing salads, soups, plates, and sandwiches.

    Edible young greens and grains are produced from various kinds of vegetables, herbs or other plants. They range in size from 1” to 3” including the stem and leaves. A microgreen has a single central stem which has been cut just above the soil line during harvesting. It has fully developed cotyledon leaves and usually has one pair of very small, partially developed true leaves. The average crop-time for most microgreens is 10–14 days from seeding to harvest.

    TOURS AND ON-FARM STORE
    Lee and Roxanne invite you to come visit them at their ranch/farm, which is organic certified for hay, pasture and foraged plants, to learn more about the animal systems that integrate with farming and ranching systems to renovate and regenerate the land. You can buy free range eggs, microgreens, dried herbs, mushrooms, Roxanne’s natural creams and potions and MORE at the Farm Stand located on the porch of the Yellow House where they live.

    Schedule a tour for individuals or for groups. The tours are very affordable and might include all or any of these topics, a demonstration or a classroom setting and can be set up to suit different age groups and interest levels. Fun sights to see anytime of year are the microgreen production in the greenhouse, beehouse, pastured pigs, mobile chicken coop, dwarf goats, Jersey/Angus cross cattle and the farm store.  They often include some refreshments or tastings of their homegrown goodies.

    FARM STAYS
    This is agricultural tourism in motion! See how we experience a back-to-the-land approach to vacationing, which is authentic, relaxing and educational. Two different rental houses to choose from that fit many family sizes or couples.

    Contact them and learn more through Facebook or their website.

    TURKISH DIP

    Known in Turkey as cacik, this garlicky mixture of green vegetables, fresh herbs and yogurt can be served as a salad or as a dip with pita and raw vegetables.  Traditionally, cacik is made with a number of vegetables, including cucumbers, cabbage and beets.

    2.5 oz. clamshell of sunflower microgreens
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint or 1 teaspoon dried
    2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
    1 cup thick greek style yogurt
    1/4 cup chopped fresh scallions (optional)

    Preparation:
    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and use short bursts to chop the sunflower into small bits and to mix the ingredients together.  To prepare without a processor, chop all ingredients finely and mix together.  Refrigeration only makes the flavors combine better, so make a double batch and save it in a lidded jar in the refrigerator.

    IMG_7143

    This is the inside of the beehouse. One of the many features of White Deer Ranch. Photo credit: Tracy Konoske, visitor.

    IMG_7141

    China the Meishan Sow is a pastured pig living her life as nature intended loving being a pig. Photo credit: Roxanne Dunn.

    IMG_7145

    The goats are really friendly and love petting. Photo credit: Alexis Brill, visitor.

    IMG_7144

    Lee explains the benefits of the behooves to a tour participant in 2015. Photo credit: Tracy Konoske, visitor.

     

     


  • Local Producer Spotlight – Wholesome Foods Farm | 09.24.2015

    MargeuriteWholesome Foods Farm is a multi-generational collaboration between land-owners Dick and Patricia Espenscheid and farm manager and owner Marguerite Jodry.

    When Dick and Patricia began farming their land south of Bridger, it was always with the intent to someday pass on a sustainable farm and ranch to a young person willing to continue the business and the practices for years to come. At the end of 2014, they were able to realize this vision by passing on the business of Wholesome Foods Farm to their former Assistant Manager, Marguerite Jodry. Marguerite now leases the land, equipment, and buildings from them and continues to raise vegetables and free-range hogs for markets in the Billings and Red Lodge areas.

    When asked about the challenges and lessons she learned as a newly minted farmer, she says, “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is about the undeniable role of healthy soil in producing good food. Coming to think of myself as a farmer of soil, first, and of food, second, is an ongoing and transformational paradigm shift.”

    In discussing her role as a business owner and player in our local food movement, “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned so far is that my success is interconnected with that of other small growers, businesses, and individuals in our community. By understanding community demands and desires while working with other farmers to best fill that need, we are working together to create a more resilient local food system.”

    Wholesome Foods Farm provides a wide range of vegetables to the Good Earth Market. “We feel our products are appreciated by a growing number of people who see the value of supporting local food and farming businesses that prioritize sustainable practices,” Margeurite says. “Selling at the Good Earth Market not only allows us to reach this valuable customer base, but helps us be a part of a local food system that builds health and wealth in our community.”

    Wholesome Foods Farm sells direct at the Gardeners’ Market, Thursdays at South Park in Billings, the Red Lodge Farmers’ Market, Fridays at Lions Park in Red Lodge and the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market, Saturdays in downtown Billings. You can also find their produce and hogs featured in Red Lodge restaurants such as Honey’s Cafe, Hope’s Artisan Bakery and Mas Taco to name a few.

    Follow Montana Wholesome Foods on their Facebook page!


  • Jersey Cows & Mozzarella | 06.18.2013

    Doug rescues Jersey cows and trains them for placement with families.

    Hi, my name is Doug and I live with my sister and her husband  on a small ranch, Greasy Grass Ranch, nine miles north of Lodge Grass, Montana.  Two years ago, a relative phoned and said that he had bought us two jersey cows to add to our homestead. 

    Thus started my love affair with Jerseys. They were so gentle and had so much personality that I could not help but enjoy being around them.

    We are now in the business of rescuing Jerseys from large production dairies and training them to love people and enjoy interacting with them. I always say:  “Jerseys love beans — they love Human Beans.”  The typical Jersey cow would sooner take her own life than throw a kick at a human being.

    Jerseys also have a strong herd mindset. Many cows have been bought by families that have no other cattle. These lonely cows will adopt their new humans as their herd mates. There are many hilarious stories of Jerseys playing with their new herd mates by stealing tools, playing hide-and-seek or being jealous of dogs and cats that get too much attention. Jailbreak and tag are two of their favorite games.

    One lady told me the story of her cow named Mommacow who snuck up behind a carpenter who was doing some work on her barn. She looked out just in time to see the carpenter running across the lot chasing Mommacow. Mommacow had a bag of screws in her mouth that were flying in all directions as she ran. This would be an example of Cow Tag.

    Jackie, the grain-stealing Jersey

    Sometimes it gets so comical that I accuse my cowgirls of making me run a dairy daycare center.  One day, Jackie had been in the barn trying to steal some grain out of the grain bag when her nose got caught in the coffee can I use as a scoop to measure her grain.

    She came running up to me for help all wide-eyed. I asked her if she had been stealing grain and she, of course, denied it.  She had to wait for me to get the camera before I would take the can off her nose.

    Sometimes in the process of gentling and distributing Jerseys, we wind up with some newborn calves and I have to milk because Jerseys give more milk than one calf can possibly drink. Last year, I had 10 gallons of milk per day – more than we could use.

    That explains why I now know how to make cheese. Our freezer has much mozzarella cheese in it and our basement has about 30 – 8lb. wheels of cheddar and Parmesan.

    This learning curve taught me to hate authors who publish the “how to make cheese” books. What I hate most about these books is that the authors tell you how to do things, but never tell you why you have to do them that way. They don’t tell you things like the reason rennet works best at 101 degrees is because that is the temperature of milk from the cow and also the temperature of the calf’s stomach. So if a recipe calls for adding the rennet at 85 degrees, they should explain to the reader that this is to slow down the curdling process to give the cheese maker a larger window of opportunity to get the timing just right. This helps the cheese maker break the curd at its optimum state.

    To learn more about adopting cheese making and adopting a Jersey cow, Doug can be contacted at (406) 639-8919.

     


  • | 05.10.2013

    Between May 1 and 21, 1% (minimum donation of $5,000) of your purchase of Alaffia, Alter Eco, Divine Chocolate, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Equal Exchange products at your Co-op will be donated to Root Capital. These companies are strong supporters of Fair Trade principles, including stable and fair prices for farmers, organic and sustainable agriculture practices, and community-led development projects.

    Root Capital is a nonprofit social investment fund that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses. Learn more about Root Capital at www.rootcapital.org.

    World Fair Trade Day
    WFTD_Logo

    Join us this May 11 as we celebrate World Fair Trade Day. When you choose a product from a committed fair trade brand like Alaffia, Alter Eco, Divine Chocolate, Dr. Bronner’s, Equal Exchange, Farmer Direct and Maggie’s Organics, each fair trade product you choose supports:

    • Long-term direct trading relationships
    • Prompt payment of fair prices and wages
    • No child, forced or otherwise exploited labor
    • Workplace non-discrimination, gender equity and freedom
    • of association
    • Safe working conditions and reasonable work hours
    • Investment in community development projects
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Traceability and transparency

    Your purchase has power. Learn which of your favorite products are fair trade. Choose them with pride on World Fair Trade Day, and throughout the year.

    What is World Fair Trade Day?
    World Fair Trade Day is an annual global celebration occurring each May. Celebrations bring consumers and businesses, nonprofit organizations, churches, student groups, and advocates together to host thousands of events worldwide. This year, World Fair Trade Day is May 11.

    What is Fair Trade?
    Fair trade is a social movement and market model that aims to empower small-scale farmers and workers in underdeveloped countries to create an alternative trading system that supports equitable trading, sustainable development and long-term trading relationships. Fair trade supports fair prices and wages for producers, safe working conditions, investment in community development projects, and the elimination of child labor, workplace discrimination and exploitation.

     


  • Organic vs. Sustainable | 05.06.2013

    Hi Everyone,

    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.

    Organic SealTo 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.

    Andi BuckleyMy 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!

     


  • 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

     

     


  • 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. 


  • Sustainability Think Tank | 03.29.2013

    Just 12 years ago Bruce Kania purchased farm ground on the Yellowstone River about five miles east of Shepherd.   Like many of us, he had agriculture in his background.  But he also had “hunter/gatherer” in his genes too.  In fact, based on a two million year presence for homo sapiens against only, roughly, 15,000 years of agriculture, it’s fair to say that hunter/gatherer imprintation may have dominated around his motivation for land management.  

    Bruce KaniaSo now, at the Shepherd Research Center, Bruce’s name for the farm, there’s a few hundred acres of experimentation going on around wildlife enhancement, fishery enhancement, perennialization, water quality enhancement, and more…all driven by an overriding theme…How Will Humans Sustain and Transition in this Changing World?

    According to Bruce, Shepherd is a think tank.  Since 2005, folks from 39 different countries have visited and participated in the think tank process.  This includes individuals from some of the premier learning institutions of the world including Oxford, Harvard, and Yale.  They’ve been to Shepherd to see the ongoing experiments in action which include floating islands that cycle nutrients into fish.  

    Fish from the Ponds The PondsNow Bruce and his wife Anne want to build and grow and connect on a community basis as well.  They would like to enter into discussion with local folk interested in the broad topics of sustainability and physical, emotional and spiritual health.  Other more detailed topics of interest are aquaponics, organic and raised bed gardening, horticulture, wild edible plants, paleo lifestyle, stewardship around fishery and wildlife enhancement, the lag time between environmental and policy shifts (and how this might be addressed),  and pretty much all the other transition issues/opportunities we currently face.  

    But beyond just talking about these topics, Bruce and Anne want to collaborate and experiment around them too.  They propose that their farm can be a platform from which experiments can be run and ideas tested.  

    Anne Kania“I’ve been amazed over the years by the human resources in Billings.  It seems that Billings has more than its share of bright, inquisitive, high energy people.  Maybe it’s Montana that pulls such people here, or keeps them here, for that matter,” Anne Kania stated in a recent interview.   “We’d like to share the experience that happens at Shepherd, the abundance, the lifestyle, the challenges and the outcomes with our friends and neighbors.”   

    On that note, Bruce and Anne will be present on Earth Day, April 22, and ready to expand on or discuss the idea.  They can also be reached at 406-373-5200