An update from our Antioch Interns

gmo csi2

Dear Co-Op community, thank you for all your input.

At February’s First Friday, our team of Antioch University New England students asked you what factors are most important to you when making food purchasing decisions.  Through surveys and a ‘voting board’ display, you told us what you value most when it comes to your food.

It turns out that the majority of you who took our survey or cast a vote identified organic and your number one priority.   Locally made or grown products also seem to be important to many Co-op shoppers and when it comes to Health and Body Care, many of you are loyal to your trusted brands.  GMO-free products are important to many of you.

Our team also asked you to weigh in on how you want the Co-op to communicate with you about products in the store.  The vast majority of you say you want the Co-op to inform you about what is in the products you buy and most of you feel the Co-op is doing a good job providing you the information to make informed decisions.  Your responses indicate that the Co-op community envisions the Co-op playing an active role in informing you about products on its shelves and keeping you up to date on food issues.

What does all this mean to us?  We perceive that you are well educated about what you are eating, want to remain so, and look to the Co-op to be your partner in that effort.  We understand that you, the Co-op community, trust the Co-op and want it to provide you with materials that supplement food labels to create a more complete picture of store products.  Our intention is to use this information to begin to create materials to help people navigate the store and fulfill the Co-op’s role as you partner.

New Item Highlights

Emerlye ArtsEmerlye Arts

New to our gifts section is Emerlye Arts Coloring, greeting cards and adult coloring pages made by Vermont resident Cynthia Emerlye. Her Quotations Card Collection offers warm words and gentle colors to put a smile on anyone’s face, a perfect remedy for these winter months. Her adult coloring pages are books full of mandalas waiting for your pen to help them bloom. These pages are a perfect activity for calming and focusing your mind, an escape back to the simpler days when your only decisions were whether or not you were going to color inside the lines.

 

 

baby foodEarth’s Best Organic Second Infant Puree Pouches

We have a new addition in baby food! Earth’s Best, a company focused on organic food for kids, now offers Puree Pouches for infants 6 months & older. The options range from sweet fruit purees such as Orange Banana to savory purees such as Carrots & Broccoli or Squash & Sweet Peas. The purees are certified organic and packaged in non-BPA pouches.

 

 

dressingBragg Organic Dressing

We have two new Bragg salad dressings on our shelves! Pick up the Hawaiian Dressing & Marinade to add a tropical flair to any meal, or take home the exciting Braggberry Dressing & Marinade to give an extra kick to your salad. Bragg dressings are all certified organic, fat-free, salt-free, and gluten-free.

 

 

tofuNasoya Black Soybean

Tofu options are growing! We now have Nasoya Black Soybean Tofu Plus, a firm tofu that’s made from a mix of black and yellow soybeans and is rich in antioxidants. This product is certified organic and non-GMO project verified.

 

 

 

nimanNiman Ranch

If you’re a fan of our grab-n-go fridge you’ll be happy to know our selection is expanding! We now have Niman Ranch cooked meals available; choose between Beef Tips, Beef Meatloaf, and Beef Pot Roast. Niman Ranch cares about their animals, serving only beef that is vegetarian fed and hormone-free.

 

 

March/April Theme: Grafting ~ Making & Keeping Connections

Our latest bimonthly theme is Grafting. The newsletter will feature articles that speak to connections and mindfulness with that theme in mind. This week you will find an updated Chalkboard in the seating area of the store. Please check out the information there. We will let you know when the finished newsletter will be available.
 
In the meantime, enjoy this newsletter article from our Board President, Debbie Diegoli. She writes of our connection to our tenants, Vital Communities. We are aligned in many ways and feel that our marriage is a good one.
 
 

Connecting with our Neighbors Upstairs

VC_LogoLockUp_blue_enewsletter2

Under the big red apple by the Co-op driveway hangs a blue sign with a logo of a river, a bridge and some buildings.  The river is the Connecticut, the river that connects us, and the buildings represent the communities of the Upper Valley.  This is the logo for Vital Communities, our neighbors around the back and up the stairs.  This non-profit organization brings together citizens, organizations and municipalities to address problems that need a regional approach, and to work for a better environment and quality of life.

Vital Communities fosters connections among the towns and cities and inhabitants of our Valley.  Relationships – with other non-profits, businesses, individuals, and nature – are key to what Vital Communities does.    It has a number of programs and initiatives, many of which will resonate with members of the Co-op.

Our shared interest in local food is an obvious connection.  Valley Food & Farm Manager Becka Warren says that the program can help you not only find local farms, with the online Guide, but also bring more local foods to your schools and workplaces. Your school might be interested in farm-based fundraisers; your work might host a CSA delivery. FarmRaiser, explains Laura Dintino, is an alternative fundraising for schools. “Instead of selling candy or something families don’t need or want, how about selling fresh locally grown products? Check out FarmRaiser’s helpful web pages to get your school or PTA going on this great project.”

Laura, who is also Valley Quest Manager, says that Questing is a great program to get everyone out exploring the treasures of the Upper Valley. “Explore the natural and cultural beauty of the area with treasure hunts [many written by local school children]. Download Quests from the on-line directory or get our Best of Valley Quest guidebook at local bookstores or public libraries.”

Speaking of local stores, Local First Alliance is a coalition of independent area businesses, including our Co-op, dedicated to strengthening our region’s economy.  To “think ‘Local First’ means making a commitment to strengthen our local economy,” explains LFA Administrator Emily Gardner. For every dollar spent at a local store or service provider, more than half will be reinvested in our community to create jobs, support charities, and increase our region’s sustainability. Shopping at a business with a Local First Alliance logo means you are choosing a business, or service provider, that is dedicated to keeping your money hard at work in our region where it can do the most good.  “Need a store? LFA’s online local business directory can help direct you to members.  Remember to keep it local and look for the logo!”

Another connection with local businesses comes via Birchstand, a White River Junction organization established to increase philanthropy to local non-profits, which has chosen Vital Communities to be one of its featured beneficiaries. People who donate to Vital Communities can get discount coupons to local merchants. This is a win-win-win: selected non-profits get donations, donors get discount benefits at quality merchants, and local businesses get new customers.

Vital Communities’ Leadership Upper Valley convenes the Leadership Institute, a 10-month program offering local and regional leaders and emerging leaders ways to learn more about the Upper Valley.  “Participants get to know other leaders in our region and find out how to get involved through listening to speakers, touring businesses, discussing important topics and then participating in a community service project as a team,” Leadership Manger Stacey Glazer points out.  “Registration is open for the 2014-15 class which begins in September (deadline is June 1); scholarships are available.”

As Co-op members know, energy efficiency and conservation, as well as developing renewable energy sources, are crucial to our future.  Vital Communities “moves the Upper Valley toward energy independence by catalyzing local efforts to meet 80% of our energy needs through a mix of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources by 2030.”

VC’s Energy Program is now teaming up with town leaders, volunteers, and solar installers in Lyme, Cornish, Plainfield, Strafford, and Thetford to help residents go solar.  Manager Sarah Simonds invites us to “look for Solarize Upper Valley events this spring!”  And “visit Solarize Upper Valley to learn more, sign up for updates, and find out how your town can become a Solarize Community this fall.”

Vital Communities’ Transportation Program works with businesses, towns, transit companies, and interested citizens to reduce our reliance on driving alone. Manager Aaron Brown explains that their goal is to make it easier to bike, walk, carpool, and take transit throughout the Upper Valley.  The Co-op participates in Smart Commute Upper Valley, a Vital Communities initiative working toward that goal.

As of February 1st,  Vital Communities has taken on the administration of the community discussion lists (“listservs”) from ValleyNet, the ten-year-old consortium of discussion lists serving 20 towns and over 16,000 subscribers. “We’re excited to continue and expand this service in the Upper Valley,” says Executive Director Mary Margaret Sloan.  This is yet another way that VC helps connect people in the Upper Valley.

Mary Margaret and a cast of others make Vital Communities run.  Check out the staff directory , then match names to the faces that you’ll often see in and about the Co-op!

 

 

What have we been up to? Business, Beauty Products & Gratitude

by Larissa Banwell
 

Cracks in the Wall

The Co-op was excited to welcome back Nutty Steph’s founder Jaquelyn Rieke for a talk on relationships in business. The event was held in the seating area downstairs and the casual atmosphere allowed for a fluid discussion of each attendee’s experiences in the business world. Jaquelyn shared her own experiences as a business owner and the obstacles she faces turning her business into a worker cooperative, while also sharing tasty samples of her chocolate. Check our calendar for upcoming events!

 

Robert Rockwood of Replenish Plus

Last Wednesday Robert Rockwood, of Replenish Plus skin care, stopped by the Co-op to give an informative talk on commercial beauty products. He shared his experiences with the processing side of the skin care industry, most especially the lack of regulations in the industry and how companies are able to skirt around the few regulations that do exist, easily including hundreds of toxic ingredients in every bottle and jar.

He explained why lipsticks are allowed to get away with 65 times the amount of lead that is legal for paint, and why sunscreen actually increases your chance of getting skin cancer. I’m sure you’re dying to know the logic behind that, so I’ll tell you. In order to be effective at all you would have to apply half a bottle of sunscreen every half an hour. Otherwise the heat from the sun breaks down the chemicals in the lotion turning them into free radicals, you know, the things that cause cancer. When you apply just a thin layer, the UV rays aren’t being blocked, plus the chemicals turn into free radicals more quickly!

If you’re bummed you missed the talk and you’d like to be notified the next time we offer a similar one just leave a comment at the bottom. Robert is also working on a book about all the dirty secrets of the skin care industry, so keep an eye out for that!

 

SuperWorker Appreciation Day!

Our SuperWorker Appreciation Day was a success! Thank you to everyone who came, and especially to the staff and SuperWorkers who brought food for nibbling on. The Co-op lives on the shoulders of the community; staff, SuperWorkers, and patrons alike. Thank you to everyone who contributes to holding up the Co-op, you are truly appreciated.

Cultured Foods, A Success!

by Larissa Banwell

Cultured food photoLast Friday, the Co-op’s own Charlotte Hultquist stopped by to share her knowledge, experiences, and tasty samples of cultured foods from her own kitchen. The gathering room was full, even with kids sitting on laps, eager to snack and listen. Charlotte brought sourdough starters, water kefir, and yogurt to pass around as she described her processes for making them. Attendees were full of questions and stories of their own experiences with cultured foods. The discussion had so much momentum that everyone stayed late, even the kids. It was a fun night, and we’re hoping to have her back for another discussion soon!

© 2014 Upper Valley Food Cooperative