Much has been said and written about the turn into this new year. At the Co-op, things are no different—our cumulative exhaustion is proof enough that things need to go better in this new year, as we will no doubt need to adjust several more times to new normalities. Still, I find that gratitude has actually been easier to come by in my own assessments, and I believe this to be true of lots of our community members and Co-op customers as well.
An inspirational story is brewing in Brattleboro, VT, from Healing From Foods, a company that centers around sustainable products and ideas rooted in the mantra “food is medicine.” Healing From Foods imports, markets, and sells Ojoche Tostado, a superfood coffee alternative sourced from women’s collectives in rural Nicaragua.
As we round the bend into the last month of 2020 (can I get an “Amen”?!?), we launch into the reconfiguration of the Bulk department to offer more options for you to select from gravity bins yourselves, as opposed to us bagging them for you in arbitrary quantities. Much thought, work, and investment has gone into this change, and we hope that you enjoy the effect on your shopping choices in that department. As you’ll see, we will continue to serve you with liquids, nut butters, and herbs, and have moved things around to make that a bit more efficient.
In case you were not one of the 145 owners who registered and/or attended the Brattleboro Food Co-op’s Annual Shareholder Meeting on the evening of Wednesday, November 11th, you can get a really good sense of the content by reading the minutes that will be posted once they are approved at the December Board meeting. They are actually quite descriptive.
Masks. They are the new fad, the new look of 2020, and have brought many creative people to the forefront of society, sewing together a staple of our daily fashion. With that in mind, Cindy in our Housewares department has selected four seamstresses who are now producing and selling masks here at the Co-op. The material patterns consist of everything from animals to food to flashy colors, with the common idea to protect us from the current pandemic. I was inspired by Cindy’s suggestion to feature four different folks who sew masks to sell at the Co-op as our Producers of the Month. Thus, I felt it best to let them share a bit about themselves from their perspective in a question-and-answer style format, unedited and directly to you our loyal Co-op customers. A big thanks to them for their countless hours of sewing to help keep our community safe. So, without further ado, Anna, Leslie, Linda, and Julia will share a bit about themselves and why they started creating masks.
At the Co-op, this time of year is always both exhilarating and exhausting. I always say that a true retailer revels in this craziness: people enjoying thinking about food, looking for interesting products, planning events with family and community, and bubbling over in the aisles with joy—and with stress. This year, overlay all that with the pandemic situation, which as I write this is currently hinting at surging, and the balance between joy and stress shifts a little.
Pies will likely be one of the many treats that you bring to your holiday tables this November and December. They have a rich history dating back to the Ancient Greeks when they were made with meats such as chicken, lamb, pigeon, and beef. Only in the last couple hundred years have sweet pies become a favorite at gatherings. From apple and blueberry to pecan and cherry they always delight at the end of a meal. However, not all pies are made equally and that’s why we turn to the Saxy Chef to hand-make hundreds of sweet pies for us each holiday season and throughout the year. The inspiration for these pies comes from a love for baked goods, music, mentorship, and the best possible flavor. Her hope is that she can bring love and joy to people through her baking—making one smile with every bite.
October is National Co-op Month, and each year we choose to highlight a co-op that is locally owned and sold right here at your Brattleboro Food Co-op. Cabot Cooperative offers a unique and important representation of how co-ops can be locally owned by farms yet support production of nationally popular products. One owner of Cabot Cooperative is Hinsdale, NH-based Echo Farm. From supplying milk for Cabot products, to sitting on committees, to supporting the marketing and outreach of Cabot Cooperative, this female-run farm is proud of their contributions. In addition to supplying milk to Cabot, they proudly hand-made puddings that they sell all over the Northeast at co-ops and natural foods stores. And though they are a small farm at merely 35 acres and 70 cows, their early adoption of cutting-edge humane animal husbandry technology and protocols have made them leaders in their field.
…and I invite you to consider what your Co-op means to you and your family these days, especially in light of all the upheaval to which we are constantly adjusting. We at the Co-op have been working on how best to support and provide for all of you this holiday season (like no other to date). In preparing for this, we have been analyzing our trends and also observing those of the industry to assist us in thinking through our various solutions.
I used to dislike apples when I was a kid, but then I tried heirloom apples from Scott Farm Orchard, and I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t like apples, I just wasn’t eating the right ones! Have you ever tasted an Ashmead’s Kernel, a Pitmaston Pineapple, a Knobbed Russet? How about a Reine des Reinettes? With their strange names and crowd-pleasing flavors, these historic gems (heirloom means they’re over 100 years old) are a world away from the mass market fruits trucked in from Washington State.
Fall is always a little bit of a restart in our industry—summer sales tail off a bit as people begin to get ready for fall routines, and the gathering of energy builds toward the crescendo of harvest festivals, foliage, Indigenous People’s Day weekend, and, of course, the holidays. But this year is different.
And how are you holding up? Now that we know we are running a marathon of indeterminate length, the stress of adjustment has a different feel. However, along with resignation, regret, and concern, we have discovered new ways to minister to ourselves, and also to harness some of that concern and anger into action.