Tag Archives: Fort Collins

On Being Cooperative

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In my previous post, I recounted my evolutionary steps through varying grocery store aisles. Today let’s continue on the black-cobra road (you know, reality’s version of the yellow-brick road) and if you’ll lend me your attention for a moment, I’ll tell you how the Fort Collins Food Co-op feeds me, with plenty to share.

I remember being virtually introduced to the Food Co-op through its seemingly simple, yet dense website. The signature blue-green, earthly hues of this vibrant brand immediately registered and resonated with me, which compelled me to dig in and read through the embedded pages.

“The Co-op is a place where people can reconnect with their food. This is a place built on understanding what we are consuming and why. These ideas grew out of a buying club started by CSU students and community members in the early 1970’s.”

Upon visiting the historic store front on 250 East Mountain Avenue (est. 1978) for the first time, I experienced a subtle inner knowing that this was an authentic place I genuinely wanted to be a part of, a local business I would happily support with my personal— admittedly limited, albeit significant—buying power.

That day I left handsomely, with a backpack full of provisions for a week and a heartfelt, longer-lasting impression, as if a tiny seed of a mighty tree had been planted within the food desert of my mind, body, and soul.

Frequent, returning visits to this shop for staples and splurges allowed me to not only begin to recognize friendly, familiar faces, but also to further develop the intrinsic kinship that interweaves each of us as singular, scrappy threads into a more reliable, more resilient fabric that is part-and-parcel of any co-operative true to its roots, true to its word.

“The Co-op seeks to serve all those in our community who want to support their local circle of profit through buying locally sourced grocery items. Anyone can shop at the Co-op, the member-owner structure simply exists to reinforce a local circle of profit by sharing the profits of the Co-op amongst its member-owners.”

I became informed of its not-for-profit business model—guided by the internationally recognized Seven Cooperative Principles—supported for 44+ years, sourcing primarily from the well-spring of the “community, volunteers, the people who shop once to those who are in every day, farmers and producers, local businesses and restaurants who buy from us, and from the greater need to create a more positive connection between people and their local community.”

So one day I decided to jump into the deep end of the community pool by becoming a fully invested member-owner because in doing so I acknowledged and honored the privilege of having an “alternative, eco-centric” business that exists to balance the triple bottom line, with potential for kick-backs for the ‘pillar’ people it caters to, consists of.

And while profit-sharing is indeed a welcomed, beneficial boost to anyone’s budget in theory, I soon realized for myself that this rare fruit can only be fully enjoyed through considerate cultivation of the crop, which honestly requires the kind of hard work and dedication that is not always convenient and seldom expedient, although I strongly believe in my experience thus far: It is well-worth the time, money, and energy invested.

One of the most common remarks our attentive ears receive is about expensive prices.

Trust me, we understand because we feel the pinch as much as you do.

Consider this: You are getting what you pay for. You are also giving when you pay for it.

When you shop our Co-op, you are helping contribute to 12 individual’s livelihoods—your fellow friends, neighbors, community member-owners, who are in the laborious service industry not simply because of its decent pay and modest benefits, but more truly because it is a labor of love.

When you select our Co-op, you are voting with your dollar—with each purchase—every time you choose local, chemical-free, certified organic, non GMO, humanely raised, and so forth.

When you support our Co-op, you are joining a global movement that engages each other’s awareness of the undeniable impact we are all having on our only inhabitable planet, on our fellow human people, all-too-often at the expense of profit.

The Co-op is one small part of a much greater whole, where those “some day…” ideas are put into practice every day, one day at a time.

Because to be a member-owner of our food co-operative is to be a catalyst of world change.

Inquire within.

 empowerfool

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A Soil’s Co-operative: A Guide to Building and Maintaining Healthy Soil

As Winter’s brisk air starts to warm and March winds blow Spring in, the time to sow our seeds begin.

Here at the Food Co-op we are feeling the affects of the new season as local greens and radishes start to decorate our produce cooler. Though we mostly offer food in it’s harvested form, we find it important to share knowledge pertaining it all things food, including how and where food is produced, with our valued Co-operators. With that said and in light of the season, today we wish to share with you, especially those beginner gardeners out there, a guide to building and maintaining healthy soils

Nourishing a Living Soil Community
Soil is a living ecosystem that is home to earthworms, insects, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. A balanced and healthy soil life produces soil nutrients, aids in controlling disease, improves soil structure, retains soil moisture and helps to reduce workload.
Should I get a soil test?
At first, soil tests can be confusing to read and may over complicate gardening. On first season beds, focus more on strengthening soil ecology.

-Soil testing is recommended after a bed’s first growing season or thereafter.

-Fertilizer needs are best determined by a soil test.

-Add fertilizer only if a nutrient is deficient and only add what is need-ed, not more.

-Support independent labs such as Logan Labs. A standard test is currently $25 dollars

Understanding Garden Happy Soil
A healthy balance of air (25%) water (25%), organic matter (3-4%) and minerals (47%) is needed for the ideal structural and functional environment for plant roots in gardens.
Soil Types
-Clay- Small particles, sticky when wet, holds water and nutrients well, poor drainage and low oxygen.
-*Loam- Dark color, soft and crumbles easily. Ideal soil type for gardening!
-Sand– Large particles, gritty, doesn’t hold water and nutrients well.
Soil pH
pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of a material. The pH scale ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. A pH of 6.0 to 7.2 is optimal for the growth of most garden and landscape plants. How-ever, soil pH in the range of 7 to 8 is adequate for many plants, as what is commonly seen in Colorado.
The major problem created by alkaline (high pH) soils is the reduction of nutrient availability to plants.
Soil Compaction is a reduction in large pore space, which leads to…
-Decreased drainage
– Decreased oxygen levels
-Decreased rooting volume
-Limits water and nutrient uptake

Building and Maintaining Healthy Soil
Prevent Compaction
-Create walking pathways
– Stay off wet soil
– Apply organic amendment (compost)
– Avoid excess tilling, destroys soil structure
To Till or not to Till
-Tilling destroys soil community and soil structure.
– Not recommended unless starting a new bed, if necessary, only first few inches.
– Creates a bacteria dominate community, more ideal for weeds than vegetables.
The Magic of Mulch
-Maintains soil moisture/ cuts irrigation needs
-Creates and nourishes ecological environment by feeding microbes
-Blocks weeds
-Prevents erosion
Blanket the top of soil with a thick (3-4in) layer of leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, or straw.
Do not till in non-composted mulch materials.
Try using a “green manure” as a cover crop. Broad-cast seeds of clover, rye, barely, or wheat grass over your soil for nourishment and protection.

Adding Organic Matter
An organic amendment, such as compost, is an important energy source for the living soil community such as bacteria, fungi and earthworms.
Organic matter improves soil structure in both sandy and clayey soils. It improves water infiltration, drainage, air infiltration and improves rooting volume.
Be aware of over-amending!
When adding organic matter, in any given year, use no more than:
1” animal-based compost or manure
2” plant-based compost
Over amending can result in
-High salts
– Excessive nitrogen
– Low nitrogen
– Micro-nutrient imbalance
Though adding an organic amendment such as compost can work wonders on building soil health, too much of a good thing can have a negative impact.

Adding Minerals
Mineral rich solutions may be added to soil periodically to give plants an extra boost.
Some examples include…
– Liquid Kelp: Good source of micro-nutrients for immunity boost
– Compost Tea: Good source of nitrogen and living microbes
– Vermi-compost Tea: Enhances plant defenses against disease and improves crop yield

Don’t forget to stop by and pick up some organic seeds!

Happy growing Co-op friends!

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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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March Coffee Madness with Peritus Coffee Roasters

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Hello Co-op Friends! Come check out what we have in store this Spring Season!

This month is the inception of a new vendor appreciation promo! We will be featuring a different Fort Collins coffee roaster each month to showcase their amazing handcrafted coffees.

Member Owners will receive 10% off each bag!

This month we have the pleasure of offering 12oz bags of Peritus Coffee Roasters .

“Peritus Coffee Roasters was founded in Fort Collins from a deep-rooted love of home roasting and a lifetime of conscious sourcing. After nearly a decade of home-roasting, we knew we had to share our love of craft coffee with others to bring you a delightful cup of coffee each and every day.

We love to celebrate the nuances of each region we source from, celebrate the methods used for farming and processing there, and, even more, thank the farmers who grew the beautiful beans through proper and fair sourcing methods and, of course, roasting the beans to highlight the beautiful features they bring to the table.

What does “peritus” mean? In Latin, it  is defined as skillful and practicedthe skill and practice to bring you an excellent cup goes through many hands from the farmer, to the processor, distributor, roaster and coffee preparerwe celebrate all those clever hands!”

Try their “Rwanda Karongi Gitesi”, “Sumatra Toba Batak Perry” or “Espresso Blend” in store for just $14.00 for a 12oz or $12.49 with Member Owner’s 10% savings!

Don’t forget to check back in April for our next featured roaster!

Happy sipping!

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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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Not All Sugars are Created Equal

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Dietary carbohydrates, or sugars, play a critical role in our health because they provide us with our primary source of energy we need for proper bodily function. Though crucial to our health, most of us are aware that too much sugar can cause detrimental effects to our bodies, leading to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. What many of us may not be aware of is how different types of carbohydrates, or sugars, affect our body differently. The fact is, not all sugars are created equal.

Carbohydrates are classified into three basic groups: dietary fiber, simple sugars, and complex sugars. Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Dietary fiber does not exist in animal products such as meat, eggs and milk. This type of carbohydrate is great for digestive health. It slows the digestion process which makes you feel full for longer, aids in blood sugar regulation, as well as increases bowl bulk due to its indigestible nature, promoting regularity. Whole grains, vegetables, nuts and legumes are the ideal sources for fiber intake verses supplement forms.

Complex sugars are named so because they are larger compounds that take our bodies longer to break down or digest. One of the most important health benefits complex sugars provide is that it aids in blood sugar control. By breaking down more slowly, sugar is released into our blood more gradually which helps maintain balanced and healthy vascular and central nervous systems. If sugar is released into our blood too quickly, or at too high of a volume, this can increase fat production as well as can cause sometimes irreversible damage to our bodies.

There are common misconceptions in our culture concerning simple carbohydrates. Simple sugars breakdown easily in our bodies because they are only either one or two sugar molecule compounds. One sugar molecule compounds are usually our refined sugars, which include sucrose (table sugar) and the infamous high-fructose corn syrup, which are both found in most processed foods. Two sugar compounds are found in fruits, root vegetables, honey, and milk. These types of sugars are considered advantageous over refined sugar. They are usually in combination with other vitamins, minerals and fiber, which aid its utilization and overall health benefits verses something like table sugar, because of the intense refining process, other nutrients that it could have possessed are removed.

Though evidence shows that there is not a direct link in disease due to a certain type of sugar, it is recognized that because as a nation we have almost doubled our sugar intake in general over the past 30 years, mostly due to an increase in our refined sugar intake, is why we are seeing increases of such diseases as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. These sugars are stripped of any sort of nutrient content and usually eaten in large quantities.  By decreasing our refined sugar intake and increasing our intake of fiber, complex sugars and non-refined simple sugars such as fruit and root vegetables, we are simultaneously increasing our overall intake of essential vitamins, minerals and other amazing health-protecting nutrients and thus making great contributions to our overall health.

The Fort Collins Food Co-op is an excellent place to help you eat a more nutrition and balanced diet.  We carry a full line of all organic fresh produce, are fully stocked with bulk whole grains, ancient grains, rice, nuts, seeds and legumes and amazing supply of over a hundred different dried herbs and spices.

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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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