Do you enjoy the Food for Thought newsletter? In an effort to save money and reduce waste we will begin sending out our paper Food for Thought every other month. April will be the first month you’ll receive all our stories, updates, and promotions ONLY via email; after the March edition, the next print newsletter will be delivered in May. Food for Thought will now be a 6x-per-year instead of a 12x-per-year publication.
We all know that hydration is so important in the heat of the summer, but do we think about it now, in the middle of winter? The body needs hydration any day of the year—no matter the temperature—in the form of LIQUIDS, and some of us are better than others at paying special attention to that in any season. It applies to each and everyone—at any age.
Well it’s been a journey. After a second try, I am now a board member of the Brattleboro Food Co-op. The Co-op is a place I have shopped with my children their entire lives—starting as a cashier while pregnant with my son who is now about to graduate high school!
In November I had the opportunity to spend a day at Keene State College as a prospective BFC board candidate attending a Co-op Café sponsored by CDS Consulting Co-op and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of more than 35 New England and New York Co-ops. NFCA represents over 144,000 members, combined annual revenues of $330 million, $90 million in purchasing of local products, and 2,300 jobs valued at $69 million. There is power in numbers.
Cajeta. A time-honored tradition in Mexico. It is an irresistible caramel sauce made with fresh goat’s milk and pure sweeteners cooked in copper kettles. And it’s a labor of love, as it takes much time and precision to make this concoction. Since 2006, the family that owns and operates Fat Toad Farm has been offering a Vermont rendition of cajeta from their farm in Brookfield, VT. In fact, it all started when their daughter Josey returned from Mexico with this recipe, knowing they had lots of extra goat’s milk that could be made into this delectable dessert.
This is an interesting end policy that invites much discussion. It was created relatively recently after a few difficult years of turmoil in our Co-op, marked by tragedy on many levels. The board, in reflection on this time, thought it necessary to explicitly address the overarching goal of a positive internal culture, as defined by cooperative values.
Winter is now fully upon us! The days are starting to get longer, even if only by a few minutes each day, and I am grateful for that! It’s great to be outside—no matter the weather—since the fresh air in our beautiful Vermont is so invigorating. But then it is also very cozy and comforting to come in out of the cold and get warm on those frigid winter days.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was a workshop led by Dr. Jude Smith Rachele on November 3, 2018 at the Shaker Museum in Enfield, NH.
If you haven’t been to the Shaker Museum in Enfield, it’s worth a trip! Eight of us from the Brattleboro Food Co-op joined about 40 others from a number of regional co-ops for a workshop on diversity held at the museum. Represented were people in diverse roles: general managers, human resource managers, board members, Co-op staff, one staff member from Neighboring Food Co-op Association, and one Cooperative Development Services (CDS) consultant.
As a community-owned cooperative, our Ends Policies act as a guiding light for our values, purpose and mission. Ends Policy #6 states that “The BFC exists to meet its shareholders collective needs for: relevant information about food and related products, the environment, and the Cooperative Values and Principles.” In this edition of Food for Thought we’ll be sharing what we’ve learned about the hemp industry in Vermont from historical research, Vermont law, interviews with staff, Vermont-based CBD producers, and particularly our January Producer of the Month, Bravo Botanicals.
In last month’s column, I reported about our Co-op’s performance last fiscal year, through the lens of the first of our “Ends,” or overarching aspirational goals. Our second “End” states that the BFC exists to meet its shareholders’ collective needs for a welcoming community marketplace.
Winter is fast approaching, as the days grow shorter and the temperature is dropping. With that said, we think about foods that are hardy and supply us with good nourishment. Winter squash are a group of calorie-dense foods that do just that and are in plentiful supply at this time of year. They are an amazing gift from Mother Nature, packed with an incredible variety of nutrients! I like to admire the decorative array of winter squash at the Co-op, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I have yet to try all the varieties out there but those I have eaten each have their own unique taste and texture. Winter squash are so named because they can be stored during the winter, often for several months at a time due to their hard skin. They all originate from the same vegetable family, the cucurbits. They originated thousands of years ago in Central and South America before moving up north, and by the mid 1800s, they were a staple product in the Northeast.
Brag Bags- The story of Brag Bags began when Kathleen Kennedy was a child and witnessed her mother’s work as an accomplished seamstress. Crafting gorgeous dresses, hemming pants, and making bags, her mother was very handy with a sewing machine and a true artist. She could walk into a store, see a lovely dress, and then head home and re-create it from her memory and her creative passion. Being exposed to this artistic energy was infectious, and as Kathleen grew from a child to a teenager, she began to pick up a love for drawing and painting, which led to a degree in art from SUNY New Paltz. Throughout her life art has always been a part of her work, from making jewelry and designing gardens to creating floral arrangements, and now with Brag Bags, her line of unique, hand-made purses and totes that we sell here at the Co-op.
As you may remember, after our fiscal year settles out I report to our Board of Directors how well we have achieved, or attempted to achieve, our “Ends” during that period. These aspirational goals have guided us since 2007, when the then-Board of Directors adopted them. I think you may be comforted to know that this conversation takes place every year, without fail, and is supported by a wide variety of data collection to evaluate our progress. I will communicate as much as possible in these pages.