Tag Archives: Fort Collins Food Co-op

Wait…What?: The Weight of Food Waste

Foodie Friends!

Have you seen the cover of the March 2016 edition of National Geographic?

A plethora of produce, ranging from potatoes and radishes, to peppers and carrots (with a couple kiwis for tropical diversity) pique interest with their unconventional appearance, and lure the observer to follow the paper (page) trail to its feature story, titled, “Too Good to Waste: How ugly food can help feed the planet,” sandwiched in the middle of the magazine.

Contrary to popular belief of picture-perfect fruits and veggies, these peculiar, culinary cover models resemble shapes, colors, and sizes that the food industry’s current ‘beauty-pageant standards’ would deem to be deformities, unappealing and therefore unsellable.

It’s all about quality and appearance,” says Rick Stein, the Food Marketing Institute’s vice president of fresh foods. “And only the best appearance will capture share of the consumer’s wallet.”

Unfortunately, Stein speaks to an inconvenient truth when it comes to global food waste, evident by the following statistics, researched by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):

  • About one third (33%!) of our planet’s total food produced goes to waste,
  • which amounts to 2.9 trillion pounds per year,
  • which is enough to feed 2 billion people,
  • while 800 million people worldwide suffer from hunger.

If food waste were a country, it would rank (pun intended) third in greenhouse gas emissions, behind China and US truly.

And here’s the produce-pitching paradox:

Developing areas, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Latin America, understandably lose more fruits and veggies in production, due to lack of adequate storage facilities, decent roads, proper refrigeration. And yet people there waste less than 20% of what they grow.

Industrialized nations like US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have both the infrastructure and funding that results in considerably fewer losses during production, whereas the majority of food waste (53%) comes from particular buyers, retailers, and restaurants ordering, serving, and displaying excessively, as well as (picky) consumer’s with their (privileged) selective eating and neglected leftovers.

So what can we do when agriculture already accounts for 70% of our planet’s freshwater use, 80% of our planet’s tropical/subtropical deforestation, and 30-35% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions?

For starters, please do your personal best to waste no food!

It’s inconceivable to me that anyone with good-enough conscience to have read and reflected, even for a moment, on this article would carry on in a wasteful way, without at least some moral, ethical, gut-feeling remorse.

Additionally, I find it helpful to volunteer in the fields of a local farm (Happy Heart Farm), as well as the commercial kitchen of a nonprofit organization (FoCo Cafe), so that I may see different perspectives along our food supply chain and inevitably glean valuable, life-changing experiences.

Ultimately, it’s up to you, me, each of us to transmute these concrete statistics and abstract concepts into something more meaningful and redemptive.

We, here at the Fort Collins Food Co-op have a partnership with The Growing Project, a local non-profit organization dedicated to food justice, which features a group of volunteers called Food Finders, who stop by the co-op twice a week to pick up a medium-sized cooler full of edible, although unsellable produce, as well as “expired” dairy and grocery items, and bring it over to the friendly folks at Fort Collins Rescue Mission, who are always grateful to receive the donations.

One of our member-owners, John “The Colorado Worm Man” Anderson, besides having what sounds like a cool breakdancer nickname, offers a unique service that involves collecting food waste from various food-service establishments to feed to his red wiggler worms in an earthy process called vermicomposting. This includes a twice-weekly pickup from the co-op, which amounts to about 150 pounds of nutrient-dense compost every week!

For me, the acts of growing, tending, harvesting, selecting, sharing, eating food are as sacred as they are sensual.

As such, wasting edible food—unavoidable though it may be at times—remains unacceptable to me.

And I admit, sometimes I get swept up in the social inertia of our modern madness, forgetting to honor nourishing food—in every form—that sacrificed its life so that I may continue to live.

Let’s be more mindful when it comes to keeping our bellies full. We know landfills don’t need food to survive. And yet we are all culpable in somehow allowing our fellow brothers and sisters, who are living, breathing, food-eating human beings just like you and me, to suffer from starvation.

So as we gather around the table from now on, let’s continue to think and to deliberate how we might make such important, necessary changes as an individual, as a family, as a neighborhood, as a community, as a state, as a nation, as a world.

Because if we continue mindlessly consuming and ultimately desecrating our planet with the industrial, self-absorbed mindset that got us into this mess, and if we fail to have the heartfelt willingness to make simple, significant changes to our daily routines, there may no longer be leftovers for any of us.

There may no longer be us. 

 empowerfool

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April is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Awareness Month

Put-Your-Gut-on-a-Healthy-Diet-722x406.jpgIrritable bowel syndrome or IBS is one of the most common health conditions in the US affecting at least 10% of the US population.  It is often classified as a chronic condition because it often recurs after it is treated, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

The symptoms of IBS include one or more of the following: abdominal pain, cramping, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation.

It is often possible to minimize the symptoms of IBS by cutting out high FODMAP foods.  While this is helpful in enabling the person to carry on a normal life, it is not a good long-term solution.  High fiber foods are food for the good bacteria in our large intestines. Limiting high fiber foods, such as while on a low FODMAP diet, for an extended period of time, decreases the total quantity of bacteria in the gut. A decrease in good gut bacteria leaves room for pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria to colonize, should we happen to ingest some of them. This puts us at increased risk of an infection.

The Food Co-op carries peppermint oil and peppermint tea, both of which can be helpful for the cramping pain that may occur before and during treatment of IBS.

In one study of people with IBS symptoms, 80% of them tested positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  This is a condition in which there is a greater than normal amount of non-pathogenic (non-disease-causing) bacteria in the small intestine.  It is associated with the same symptoms as those associated with IBS.  While there has not been a cause and effect relationship established between IBS and SIBO, the IBS symptoms usually resolve when the SIBO is treated.  Natural medicine involves treating the cause of IBS so that it won’t recur.

For more information, contact Dr Joan Waters at Practical Health Solutions, LLC at 970-482-2010.

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March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

fiber-foodsMost of us know to eat plenty of fiber to keep our guts healthy and to maintain gut motility. Staying well hydrated is also important, especially in dry climates.  You should be having at least one bowel movement each day. Eat real food.  Many packaged foods contain non-food ingredients that we don’t know enough about to know how they will react within the body.

There was a study done on rats in which one group was fed a grain meal containing only 30% GMO grains and 70% organic grains.  The control group was fed only organic grains.  The rats that ate the GMO food had significantly greater risk of intestinal tumors than the control group.  There isn’t much research on humans regarding the effect of GMOs on the body, but
it makes sense to me that we would be our healthiest if we only ate real food.

The Fort Collins food coop carries a wide variety of organic and local foods, as well as nutritional supplements. Consider getting yourself tested for the MTHFR gene SNP.  Sixty percent of the population has at least one ‘defective’ copy.  This mutation makes it difficult for the body to activate B12 and folate, and correlates with a significant increase in the risk of colon cancer in those who have two ‘defective’ copies of the MTHFR gene.  The good news is that with proper diet and supplementation, you can significantly decrease your health risk.  You may ask your doctor to test you for MTHFR or do a saliva test through www.23andme.com ($199).  You may obtain a plan to minimize your risk from a doctor who is trained in nutrigenomics.  This plan will likely include dietary suggestions, lifestyle modifications and sometimes nutrient supplementation.

By Joan D Waters, ND Practical Health Solutions, LLC Fort Collins
www.practicalhealthsolutions.com

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Before I Became Co-operative

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Growing up in suburban Upstate New York, I eagerly anticipated the weekly three-mile trip down the street to Price Chopper, the locally owned & operated supermarket chain.

The only knowledge and understanding I had about food—let alone the complex agricultural, industrial, and commercial web—was that it tasted good, although somehow it always looked bigger (“enlarged to show texture”) and better on the picture-perfect packages it arrived in (Photoshop).

Like a kid in a candy store with a tab I never had to pay (thanks dad!) and with the supersized metal basket with wacky wheels that became my go-kart, I would zoom by the produce section, opting instead for what I politely refer to, in retrospect, as ‘foodlike stuff.’

Nutrition, to me at that point, was just a boring bunch of black-and-white words and numbers on the otherwise colorful, intriguing boxes and labels.

The cartoon characters enticed me. The bite-sized stories of the brands enchanted me. The word searches, optical illusions, and brain puzzles entertained me.

Despite these silly distractions, those nutritional facts and figures still fascinated me. I remember having a lingering feeling about the lengthy laundry list of ingredients that didn’t even seem to resemble English in many cases.

Throughout my sleepwalking, awkward high school years and my awakening, awkward college years, I gradually recognized the greater implications of what, how, and why I was consuming, and it all slowly started consuming me. (Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., and Earthlings each had profound impacts on me).

I suspected Walmart to be some secretly nefarious corporation, and yet I shopped there anyway because it had the cheapest prices and getting the most for my money seemed to matter more to me, rationalized by fixed mindsets: scarcity (“I’m broke”) and self-interested (“It’s about me”).

However, as time went on, I could no longer deny that the bottomless pit in my stomach was actually a different kind of hunger pang.

I discovered it to be an intuitive gut feeling that is fed only by following through with the moral compass directly connected to one’s better conscience. 

An inner, ethical revolution ensued.

It started with ending my subservience to the tyranny of King Soopers and tearing down the wall (mart) of my comfort zone—mindlessly consuming and unconsciously contributing to global catastrophe.

As a millennial might be inclined to do, I consulted the modern–day oracle, Google, who provided me with Maps to some alternative, health–food stores. (Indeed it is a rather SAD [Standard American Diet] state of affairs when healthy food is considered alternative).

Instantly Sprouts, Vitamin Cottage (now Natural Grocers) & Whole Foods showed up. While they all have an undeniably diverse array of quality goods they are also mega national chains, and I preferred something more homegrown, more attuned to the pulse of the community that supports it.

With fewer offerings for those with holistic, vegetarian/vegan lifestyles, there was plenty of room for improvement. I had just about resigned myself to settle. After much (re)consideration, I knew I’d feel better about supporting a local, family-owned business because it’s not all about me.

Still, I wondered if there might be another source of sustenance I had yet to tap into, where it wasn’t as much of an ethical compromise on either side as it was a cooperative effort on all parts…

And so, with the backdrop set up for the main co-operative act, I must respect both my word limit and your attention span! In my next blog post, I’ll be sure to write more about my evolving involvement with the Food Co-op.

Until then, I encourage you to keep reading our thoughts, keep visiting our store, keep conversing with each other, please keep co-operating more.

 empowerfool

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Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

vitamin-d-sunlight1What we call vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that is essential for numerous processes in the body. It is important for utilizing calcium to build and maintain strong bones, for fight infection, enhancing the self-destruction of mutated cells, slowing the production and spread of cancer cells, and improving seizure control in epileptics. Having adequate vitamin D levels reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, preterm births, the risk of respiratory and vaginal infections and gingivitis. There are vitamin D receptors on most, if not all cells so it is likely that vitamin D is necessary for more processes than we are aware of.

Most people who don’t supplement with vitamin D are deficient in it, even those who live in sunny places like Florida and Arizona. The rule of thumb to obtain Vitamin D from the sun is to expose your face and arms to the sun for 20 minutes per day, during a time when you are taller than your shadow. It is important to have your serum vitamin D level checked at least once per year. It appears that the optimal serum vitamin D level is between 50 and 60 ng/ml. A vitamin D level above 60ng/ml may increase the risk of certain cancers.

If you supplement, consider using Vitamin D3 and in an emulsified form, as this makes it more readily usable by the body. The Fort Collins Food Coop carries several forms of Vitamin D, including an emulsified vitamin D. If you need to take more than 2000 IU per day, consider taking it in divided doses, as taking greater than 2000IU at one time has been known to cause acid reflux in some people.

By Joan D Waters, ND Practical Health Solutions, LLC Fort Collins
www.practicalhealthsolutions.comPractticalHealthSolutions

In the Defense of Beets

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It seems as though today the familiar velvety red and earthy beet has lost its glamor. Have many of us just had too many of these roots forced down our throats as children by our parents that the thought of them make us cringe? Perhaps we’ve allowed our fear of beets linger too long into our adults lives and it’s time to rediscover the bright and BEETiful nature of the beet.

Before the beet had its claim as a root vegetable, it was long consumed only for its leaves. It wasn’t until the late 1500s that it was starting to be cultivated for its root, and even then, it wasn’t for another couple centuries that it had positive global recognition. Northeastern Europe was the first area in the world to start cultivating the beet as a stable, seeing its value as being one of the only vegetables to grow through the winter.

Though an incredible value to grow throughout the winter, the beet also has outstandingly positive health effects. Beet root has long been used for its ability to stimulate the liver’s detoxification processes. The compound that gives beets their rich dark color called betacyanin, a pigment, has been thought to suppress the development of some types of cancer. Beet root has been shown to increase the level of antioxidants in our bodies, which also aid in preventing cancer. The beet root is one of the greatest sources of the amino acid glutamine, an essential nutrient to positive intestinal health. Beet roots also aids in the production of nitric oxide, a powerful molecule that increases blood flow and has heart protective properties. The leafy greens that grow on the surface are also chalk full of vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep our bodies happy and strong.

It’s no doubt that these familiar vegetables are good medicine, for our mothers always told us that, but do they stand up as worthy and palatable for consumption? Yes they do! Beet root is as versatile as our beloved potatoes. Roasted with herbs and spices; chopped and thrown into a vegetable soup or stew; shredded raw on salads and sandwiches. How about for a sweet treat in a smooth with bananas, berries and seeds?

At the Fort Collins Food Co-op we know the importance of beets. For much of the year, due to our longer cool vegetable growing season, we carry local, organic beets from our friends at Native Hill Farm. If you’re interested in trying something with a zest, try MM Local’s pickled beets, a Boulder company committed to quality pickled products using local and organic ingredients. Or support the local growing business of Turtle Mountain Tea by trying their vegan beet kim-chi.

In the words of Tom Robbins, “The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.” (Jitterbug Perfume)

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Thanks is for Giving

BLogIMageHappy Sweet Potato Awareness Month (did you know they are different than yams?);Happy National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month (did you know you can freshly grind your own at the Fort Collins Food Cooperative’s bulk section for just $5.99/lb?); Happy Movember furry–faced fellows!

Much there is to be happy about this time of year (like Yoda speak), and even more to be grateful about (like The Force Awakens). As earth tones catch your eye, with spiced cider/tea to warm your bones and abundant squash/root vegetables fill your belly with some slices of apple/pumpkin pies to delight your taste buds; indeed it is a timely celebration of our hard–earned harvest of 2015.

Like the Ancient Greek Hippocrates, the western pioneering physician, once stated, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

I have since consciously adopted a diet that works for me, without attaching any rigid labels to myself because I know that just as certain ailments require certain remedies, so also do I feel the need for different foods, based on their symbiotic effects on my overall health.

It’s important for people to be in tune with their own individual needs, as the eastern Ayurvedic tradition notes will differ based on body constitution.

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November Sales, Turkey Time, and Board of Directors Applications

Sales_Turkeys_BODNovember Sales begin Monday November 1st, but here’s a little sneak peak of your favorite sales items happening in every department:

Once again, the Bulk department is offering a bounty of savings! Save a $1.00 off peanut butter pretzels and Fair Trade, Vegan Dark Chocolate Chips.

Also, save $2.00 dollars off whole raw cashews and roasted salted pistachios.

 Not to be out done by Bulk’s bounty, the Grocery department is offering quiet the selection of savings, especially when it comes to holiday baking. Save $2.40 on parchment paper and don’t forget to use spectrum naturals extra virgin olive oil now $7 dollars off the regular price.

The Refrigerated section is offering limited edition Silk Almond Nog with a dash of Pumpkin Spice; a tasty holiday treat and a $1.00 off the retail price.

Amy’s Burritos are also on sale in the Frozen food department in November. They can indeed be a wonderful day or nighttime snack, 50 cents off!

Lets not forget about the full color spectrum of Dr. Bronners 32 oz castile soap! It’s $4 dollars off its regular price in the Body Care section for the entire month of November!

For more sales offers visit our website or stop by the Food Co-op for more store wide saving offers.

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Gobble! Gobble! Its that turkey time of year again at the Food Co-op!

Pre-order your Thanksgiving turkey now with your cashier or over the phone [970]484-7448 .   All of the turkeys offered have never been caged or given hormones or antibiotics.

We offer a wide variety of size selections ranging from 8-12, 12-16, 16-20, and 20-24/per pound. Only $3.35/per pound!

All turkeys are delivered Monday, November 23rd and pre-ordering is based on a first come, first serve basis. There is a limited supply so order yours now!

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Only a few days remain for Member-Owners to turn in their Board of Directors applications. There are 3 seats available in this upcoming B.O.D election. Applications are due this coming Saturday and voting will begin on November 4th through November 24th. Applications are at the front register of the Food Co-op or on our website.

Your completed application, your picture, and your ballot statement will all be posted in the store by the ballot box during the voting period.

Three B.O.D positions are available and a single B.O.D term is three years.

2015 Election Timeline:

  • November 4 – Voting begins at 8:30am
  • November 24   –   Voting closes by 8pm
  • November 25  – Votes counted
  • November 27  –  Election results announced
  • January 1, 2016  – Term begins

For more information regarding the Food Co-op Board of Directors and the upcoming election please visit the Fort Collins Food Cooperative website.

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The Bulkier The Better

Jordan's_blog_PictureHot–air balloons, birthday cakes, and Big Bird. What do these three have in common?

Not only do they ignite the interest of children and adults alike, but they also share this simple trait: they are all bulky.

Five years ago, the Bulk is Green Council, or fittingly referred to as BIG, initiated the National Bulk Week, in celebration, praise, and raised awareness of the sheer diverse amount of both staple (grains, beans, salts, sugars, flours) and specialty (coffee, granola, nuts, trail mixes) available for purchase in macro and micro quantities.

Well dear friendly folks & folky friends, we at the Fort Collins Food Co­–op are currently in the belly of the Fifth Annual Bulk Week!

We are joining 1,400 other participating stores around this supersized nation—one that paradoxically seems infatuated with people, places, and things (also called nouns) being ever–so sleek and skinnier still.

Fat (pronounced with a ‘ph’) fact: Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center compiled a 2011 study, finding that people save an average of 89% when purchasing the same foods in bulk, compared to their (over)packaged counterparts.

Rather than preach at/to you about the bulk benefits that burst at the seams, or try to singularly address commonly shared questions, I choose instead to highlight some of our featured (and my favorite) bulk items you may be currently getting (extra) prepackaged:

Lest we forget, it is with sincere appreciation that I give a very honorable mention to the produce(rs) and what I consider to be the freshershest bulk section that considerably provides us with fine fruits, roots, lively leafy greens, prime peppers, potatoes, divine tomatoes, squash and rare heirloom pumpkins throughout the abundant growing season here in Colorado.

Yes, bulk is beautiful, and we’re bringing it back to the max (ever wonder why we keep it all in the back of the store?)

For those of you who skim articles, here’s the skinny: Help us make a difference in the world by supporting our co–op as generously as you can, by bringing your own bags/containers, and by continuing to create quality conversations with one another, i.e. share a recipe, suggest an herbal tea, select a different spice.

You just might find you not only get what you need, but also your savings will bulk up!

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Preserve Our Food, Preserve Our Planet

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As summer winds slowly die down and our sunlight begins to dwindle so does our beloved growing season here in Colorado. Though modern conveniences such as refrigerators, freezers, supermarkets and mass food distribution companies create a world of food accessibility and the illusion of a year-round growing season, there use to be a time when we didn’t have such luxuries and surviving through the winter relied heavily on food preservation and storage.

Much to our dismay, we are literally living in a time where we are seeing and feeling the effects of our consumption and watching our world’s finite resources, such as oil reserves, water-tables and land, decline and degrade, while simultaneously seeing costs increase.

Fortunately for us, the art of food preservation has not been lost. Preserving foods through methods such as canning, smoking, salting, drying and fermenting, not only provide us with delicious and nutritious foods with long shelf lives and no need for chemical-based food preservatives, but also helps us lower our overall carbon footprint. Preserving food at home lowers gas use of refrigeration storage and transportation of food from long distances, as well as lowers food waste and minimizes packaging waste that ends up in landfills.

How does one do such food preservation? One very simple and delicious method is by lacto-fermentation. This form of fermentation pickles vegetables in an oxygen-free environment in which “good” bacteria release lactic acid to produce the tangy flavor we desire. Fermented foods not only maintain high levels of nutrients already in vegetables but also increases the absorption of these nutrients and aids in the digestion of foods.

Please note that any vegetable you desire may be used in this process. At the Fort Collins Food Cooperative, we have over 30 locally sources fruits and vegetables available this time of year. We have local green beans and carrots from Native Hill Farm, garlic, cucumbers, and green peppers from Sunspot Urban Farm, cabbage and hot peppers from Ole Dern Farm, onions from Fossil Creek Farms and much, much more for your fermenting pleasure. We also carry over a hundred different spices in our bulk department, as well as a variety of iodine-free salts such as sea salt and Himalayan pink salt that are packed with essential minerals that keep our bodies strong.

Here is a recipe published by the web-resource, The Kitchn, written by Emily Han.

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Lacto-Fermented Mixed Pickles

Serves 8

3 tablespoons sea salt, pickling salt, or kosher salt (see Recipe Notes)
1 quart water (see Recipe Notes)
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1 cup carrot chunks or slices
1 cup red bell pepper chunks or slices
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1-2 grape leaves (optional, to help keep pickles crisp)

Combine salt and water in a measuring cup and stir until the salt is dissolved. (You can heat the water first to make the salt easier to dissolve, but it’s not necessary. Let it come to room temperature before making the pickles.)

Place the remaining ingredients in a very clean, large jar (a half-gallon mason jar works well). Pour the salt water over the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. If necessary, add more water to cover the vegetables. (Optionally, place a small bowl or jar on top of the vegetables to hold them under the brine.)

Cover the jar tightly and let it stand at room temperature. About once a day, open the jar to taste the pickles and release gases produced during fermentation. If any mold or scum has formed on the top, simply skim it off. (If using a jar fitted with an airlock, you don’t need to “burp” it; just open occasionally to taste.)

When pickles taste to your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. They will continue to ferment very slowly, but cold storage will largely halt fermentation. As a fermented food, these pickles will last for quite some time, at least a month or longer.

Recipe Notes:

  • Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and/or anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
  • Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can. It is also recommended to rinse the vegetables in un-chlorinated water rather than tap water.

Happy food preserving!

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