Ten years ago this month, just two days after an earthquake devastated the Caribbean island of Haiti, Co-op member Sheila Humphreys and then-deli clerk Mariam Diallo began a conversation that led to a decade-long connection between our community and Foyer Evangelique Orphanage (OFEU) in Haiti.
As a Co-op we will prepare three meals for the Overflow Shelter:
Chris has been a part of the Brattleboro Food Co-op family for many, many, years. She has been our Staff Nutritionist and provided support to hundreds of staff and shoppers in one-on-one consultations as well as thousands more with her years of writing in Food for Thought. She also works in Early Education Services with a deep pride in delivering these children delicious and organic food. Her impact on the children of our community might be her greatest superhero strength, and for this we are deeply in debt to her work. You may have noticed that she has authored less articles recently in Food for Thought and while she will continue to write in Food for Thought it will be less often. This shift is occurring as we decrease the print editions of Food For Thought and manage the Co-op’s financial situation.
Recently I came across a meme on Facebook listing daily habits that will change your life. It stated: one-hour exercise, two liters of water, three cups of tea, four colors on the plate, five minutes of meditation, six songs that motivate you, seven minutes of laughter, eight hours of sleep, nine pages of a book, ten reasons to be thankful. My only addition would be to add 11 servings of organic and non-gmo food.
After a holiday season filled with abundance and out of the ordinary consumption, some folks turn to the New Year as a way to reset the body. New habits, food choices, recipes, supplements and exercise can support a New Year’s Resolution regimen built on healthy choices. As a Co-op we have always focused our January edition of Food for Thought on a local producer offering a product that could support your health. This month we will share the story of Suzanna Kamphuis of Keene, NH and her supplement called TotumVos (means “Totally You” in Latin) which is a delicious collagen-based supplement.
At the Annual Meeting, Sabine Rhyne, our General Manager, used this phrase to characterize why shoppers chose the Co-op: “The reasons we, or at least I, head to the Co-op have to do with more than what is offered on the shelves.” In some respects the Co-op difference is intangible, elusive. In addition to purchasing food, you might see someone you’ve been meaning to call, hear live music in the café, and/or alleviate the feeling of ennui we can experience in our disconnected society. I know that I shop the Co-op for a myriad of reasons—it’s about the food, but it’s not just about the food.
Despite it being January, it’s hard to know where to start, when we are looking at new beginnings throughout our lives. First and foremost, I want to express the thinking I’ve been doing since the week of the Annual Meeting, including the community conversation in which many of us took part. The most overarching emotion to convey is gratitude. Gratitude to the aggrieved parties who took the forum offered to shareholders to bring up concerns to the organization and to quite openly expose their hurt and dismay at the various transgressions we have made, the microaggressions we have perpetrated on people of color. Although our Co-op is an open and forward-thinking organization, we reflect the society we occupy, with all of its faults and challenges. So many of us have incorporated unconscious bias in our lives since we were small, since our great-greats were small, that we are terribly blind to the effects of our words and actions.
Over recent months we have received feedback from shoppers that they would like us to offer more vegan baked goods. While we do offer a few items, such as our vegan carrot cake, a full line of products has been hard to source. Recently our Food Services manager, Dawn, stopped in at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market and recognized Kelsey at Hidden Bean Bakeshop from when she did her Shareholder volunteer hours in the commissary kitchen. Dawn tried a few different baked goods of Kelsey’s that day and was immediately impressed. Over the past few weeks, Dawn has been working closely with Kelsey to determine which items would be a good fit at the Co-op. We are pleased that starting in December we will offer many Hidden Bean Bakeshop products, from breads to cookies to brownies to whoopie pies—all featuring beans. All selections are gluten free and dairy free, many are vegan, and all contain less sugar than your average baked good.
Every year, you may remember, I report to the Board of Directors how successful we have been in improving our performance related to our Ends policies. These policies are the “ends” that inspire the “means,” and we constantly evaluate and rededicate our decisions in light of those important concepts.
Last year I wrote my first Co-op article on the topic of a welcoming community. To recap: In that article I spoke about my move to Brattleboro. It was a difficult time in my life, and I was seeking ways to make connections and find affiliation. One of my first decisions was to become a shareholder at the Co-op. I learned I could receive a discount by working two hours a month. Still groping to find my way I worked on average ten hours a week! I didn’t have other commitments and The Co-op was my “go to” place; I developed cordial relationships with Co-op employees, especially with those working the front end. I not only received a discount for my Co-op shopping, I also began to find the connection and affiliation I was seeking. Now I am a Co-op Board Member!
People initially come into cooperatives for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they come looking for health reasons. Typically, a conversation with a health provider engenders a search for a supplement, a food replacement, a lifestyle change. In some towns, this may only go as far as a visit to a national chain that sells mostly supplements and has little customer service. We don’t have any of those types of stores nearby, so the Brattleboro Food Co-op is frequently the go-to place for this discovery process.
Here at the Brattleboro Food Co-op autumn brings reflection. Reflection on how fortunate we are to work at a responsible and community-owned business. To provide deep gratitude to our earth for the bounty of food that we receive and sell each and every day. These times of gratitude are ever-present when we take trips across New England to visit our local farmers, producers, and purveyors. This time around it took Jon in Marketing and Phil in Meat/Seafood to Misty Knoll Farms in New Haven, VT. The fall colors were beginning to boom as they drove highway and back roads to the farm. Every turn greeted them with a new field, farm, barn, or gorgeous pasture with animals and crops. It is a delightful ride that reminds you of how abundant agriculture is in Vermont. Upon arrival Rob Litch of Misty Knoll Farms was the tour guide to share about the history, practices, and philosophy that he and his partner John Palmer take in humanely raising turkeys and chickens.