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The Co-op: a Small but Mighty Part of the Food System

A few weeks ago I was faced with a tough decision while in the produce department. The conventional red bell peppers looked “perfect”: they were big, symmetrical and a deep, bright red. On that day, the organic peppers that I normally buy were a funny shape and dark red and green. I happily snapped up some conventional reds and headed home. To my dismay, when I got my peppers home and cut them up, I found my “perfect” peppers to be watery and lacking in flavor compared to the organic peppers I am used to.

Jasper Hill Farm

Editor’s note: This March we successfully completed our first Annual Vermont Cheese Madness event. A delicious 32 Vermont cheeses from 26 different cheesemakers were sampled throughout the month. We presented eight categories for the bracket: cheddar, gouda, bloomy, blue, washed, alpine, tomme, and goat. Each day we offered two cheeses for customers and staff to sample and then vote The prize: a feature as our June Producer of the Month. On March 31st, Jasper Hill Farm’s Alpha Tolman was declared the overall winner. And so, Cheese manager Joe and Marketing manager Jon visited Jasper Hill last month to bring you this feature article. Enjoy, and thanks to all who voted!

The Residue of Our Convenience

| Food For Thought, GM Report
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Co-op shareholders, especially the ones who have been around since the very beginning of our Co-op in the mid-70s, are no strangers to reducing their use of packaging. In those buying club days, breaking down large quantities of grains, rice, produce, and cheese, we were focused on access to non-conventional foods in bushel boxes and fifty-pound bags. But even then, we sometimes broke things down into plastic bags.

Alchemist Beers are Here

| Beer & Wine, Staff

As of a couple months ago, every Thursday we get a delivery from The Alchemist of their Heady Topper and Focal Banger beers, two starlets of the booming craft brewing industry.  So now, instead of the old answer to the questions that arose when customers wondered where to buy Heady Topper (“Can I get Heady Topper at the Brattleboro Co-op?  Where can I get it?”) which Tony used to have to say about 500 times a day (youcan’tgetitinthispartofVermontyouhavetogotoMontpelier) we can all now say “YES.  It’s delivered every Thursday.  Limit 3- four-packs per person for each beer, Focal Banger and Heady Topper.  Come early, it goes fast.”  The first time we got a delivery of the stuff, one of our local newspapers was here with a camera, and a photo of a mega beer geek with a four-pack in his hands landed on the cover.  It was newsworthy.

BFC Staff Recognition for May

| Staff

Each month, Co-op employees nominate colleagues they want to honor, and a committee comes together to vote on a winner. This month Tim, a cook in our Commissary Kitchen, was selected. As his colleague stated: “He has such a great demeanor, always goes above and beyond of what is asked of him and always has even keel about him. He’s great!”
Congratulations, Tim!

It’s All About the Food: Avocados

| Nutrition

The oddly shaped avocado may not be an eye catcher as you walk through the Produce department, but they sure provide a wealth of nutrients for your body. The avocado—once known as “alligator pear”—has become a commonly consumed food in the American diet and is considered a “hot food” due to its nutritional profile.

FinAllie Ferments

I always find it interesting when hippies become entrepreneurs. Not that Allie Dercoli, owner and operator of FinAllie Ferments, is necessarily a hippie…she’s more like a combination of itinerant farmer, artist, electrician, teacher, and finally, chef, with a refined palate, innate resourcefulness, and a penchant for smelly stuff – which is an important attribute for someone devoted to crafting this delightfully pungent food. When she settled in Vermont in 2014, she wasn’t looking to start a business—she was looking for sustainable community and farming. FinAllie Ferments is simply the result of meeting the demand that naturally arose from her delicious supply of amazing kimchi and kraut.

Just. Equitable. Sustainable.

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I recently attended the Neighboring Food Co-ops’ Association annual meeting, and was captivated by the keynote speaker, Ruth Tyson, who is the Coalitions Coordinator for the Food and Environment program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. She was able to draw some very clear pictures of our agricultural food system and its prejudice. Ms. Tyson highlighted three relevant themes: Just, Equitable, and Sustainable. Finally, it seems we are beginning to connect the lines between food sustainability and social justice, and to illustrate this to a larger audience than before, as the results of consolidation and government misdirection become sadly obvious to most anyone who is paying attention. Her main takeaways for us were these: