What makes co-ops great

10 Oct

By Alan Miles

When people ask me why I’ve stayed at Frontier Co-op so long (I’ve worked here more than 30 years), I tell them I enjoy working at a place that shares my values. And underpinning most of those values — such as our environmental and social responsibility, openness, integrity and fairness — is our cooperative business structure. I believe that being owned by our customers has been a key not only to our financial success, but to maintaining our values as well.

And people seem to agree. We recently found that most people — from regular customers to those who have never heard of us — react very positively to our being a co-op and assume we conduct business fairly. Co-ops have a great image with the public. It’s something they’ve earned by, for the most part, reflecting the society-strengthening values of their cooperative owners.

What makes co-ops great

In most ways, cooperatives are like other businesses. Their facilities and equipment are much like those of their competitors and, to be successful, the businesses must be run well. Co-ops are even incorporated in most cases, filing papers with the state as a specially structured corporation. There are bylaws and other necessary legal papers. There is a board of directors that sets policy and oversees the management that runs the day-to-day operations.

But co-ops are different in that they are owned and controlled (through the election of the Board) by members who have direct participation in the business. There are many types of co-ops, but often the participation is as a customer of the co-op — as it is with Frontier Co-op. Members of the co-ops collectively supply the capital the business needs and share its earnings.

A surprise rainstorm made leaving the temporary parking area of our 1983 Member Meeting a cooperative effort.

A surprise rainstorm made leaving the temporary parking area of our 1983 Member Meeting a cooperative effort — exemplifying what the co-op business structure is all about.

Continue reading

Autumn’s abundance: Squash recipe roundup

6 Oct

By Kailee Meskimen

Squash is one of nature’s most fibrous and versatile products. Most varieties are native to the United States, and a good number of them are available year-round — although now is the time to find the best winter squash at your farmer’s market, co-op or grocery store.

Because of squash’s versatility, cooking and baking with the variously shaped and colored vegetables is never boring. Experimenting with how squash is cooked, how it’s seasoned or how it’s served is fun! Before you venture into the kitchen, check out our cooking, storing and preparation tips for winter squash.

From soup to pizza, you can come up with nutritious (and delicious) squash fare for almost any occasion. This fall and winter, try some of our favorite recipes:

Simply Organic black bean acorn squash chili

Black Bean Chili with Acorn Squash and Toasted Pepitas

Warm up with a hearty, squash-based soup:

Continue reading

Hearty, healthy and authentic: Growing up ‘co-op’

1 Oct
Maia Pugh at New Pioneer Food Co-op

Digging in at the bulk bins at my own local co-op, New Pioneer Food Co-op in Coralville, Iowa.

By Maia Pugh, Frontier Co-op marketing intern

I didn’t always feel lucky to be raised by parents who were concerned about the importance of wholesome, ethically sourced food.

My family lived in northeast Tennessee for the first ten years of my life, and we weren’t exactly surrounded by a booming community of people seeking to live “all-naturally.” I was likely the only one in my elementary school to have been born at home with the help of a midwife (whose small, organic farm we visited often), and certainly the only one whose placenta had been planted under an oak tree in the front yard. While other kids in my neighborhood learned how to train their talking Furbies and went on exhilarating adventures with Mario and his brothers, I learned how to tell an earthworm from a grub worm and helped my mom with the deliveries for her cloth diaper service.

When I went over to friends’ houses, I remember enviously browsing through what seemed like endless cupboards of delectable snack foods — Rice Krispies Treats, Doritos, Cocoa Puffs cereal and double-stuffed Oreos. At my house, we got organic carrot sticks and whole grain crackers with unsweetened peanut butter.

I didn’t look forward to my turn to bring refreshments to share at school. Why couldn’t my mom just get that all-natural, homemade Pop Tarts just weren’t as good as the real things, coated in high fructose corn syrup and vanilla frosting, and oozing with artificial cherry filling?!

Maia Pugh at La Montanita with Frontier Co-op spices

Pointing out my favorite spices during a visit to La Montanita Co-op in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this summer — proof that my family’s vacations always include at least one stop at a co-op!

My first co-op: La Montañita Co-op

When I was ten years old, my family moved from good ol’ rocky top country to “the city different” — better known as Santa Fe, New Mexico — where all things funky are eagerly embraced, and countless bumper stickers preach the importance of wholesome, natural living: “Let food be your medicine,” “Say no to GMOs,” “I’d rather be gardening,” and, my personal favorite, “Eat more kale.

After working in conventional retail food stores for more than twenty years, my dad had accepted a position as general manager of La Montañita Co-op in Albuquerque. Although my parents had always been committed to making sure the house was stocked with nutritious food, they hadn’t previously been members of a co-op.

I remember the first time I walked into La Montañita Co-op. Instead of the bright white floors and clean-cut symmetry of the conventional grocery stores, I was greeted by natural light streaming in through the large windows and a rustic, somewhat eclectic atmosphere of earthy colors and smells and light-hearted chit-chat between customers and employees.

I can’t say this very first experience brought some sort of overwhelming tidal wave of awe over me. I was, in fact, quite skeptical. Where were the service clerks in their pressed white shirts and ties and bright white smiles? Where were the big yellow signs screaming for my attention, “SALE! SALE! SALE!”? Where was the brightly colored candy aisle with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Skittles that never failed to trigger wide eyes and salivating cheek glands? And what on earth was all that food doing in huge plastic bins for people to just scoop out as they pleased?

But I do remember it feeling so real. So hearty and healthy and authentic. And over time, I stopped wishing for pressed white shirts and brightly colored candy aisles. Continue reading

Sustainability’s next generation

23 Sep

By Alan Miles

My hope for the future has been encouraged by meeting some of the smart, energetic and hardworking individuals in the emerging generation of sustainability leaders. I’m optimistic that their commitment to organic growing and social justice will have a positive impact on our world.

If we’re to have a sustainable future, these leaders will have to continue to build upon our current consciousness and practices of sustainability, addressing both the environmental and social issues of a growing world. The annual scholarship our co-op endowed in 2009 for the farming apprentice program at the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) is one way we’re helping build this next generation of leaders — and one that I’ve personally enjoyed being part of.

Alex Vaugh, this year's scholarship recipient.

Alex Vaugh, this year’s Simply Organic 1% Fund scholarship recipient. Alex hopes he can develop a combination CSA/food bank sustainably farming operation to produce fresh, organic food for families in need.

Responsibility and awareness

When the scholarship was being set up, our then-Vice President of Sustainability Kathy Larson visited the Center and said afterwards, “I was impressed with the quality of the program — and even more so with the apprentices enrolled in the program.”

Having interviewed all five of the apprentices who have received the scholarship so far for their profiles on Simply Organic’s website, I agree completely with Kathy’s assessment. Our scholarship recipients’ sense of social responsibility and awareness of the role our food systems play in it are qualities that can help build a better world. Continue reading

Sleeper Spices: Annatto

19 Sep

Wake up your palate and expand your cooking repertoire with spices you may not have experienced before. In this second installment of our series highlighting “sleeper” spices, learn about the unique seasoning and coloring capabilities of annatto — and get tips for using it to awaken your next cooking endeavor.

FR-Sleeper-Spices-Annatto-Seed-Facebook (1)

What it tastes like: Annatto seeds, or achiote, come from a tropical South American tree. The seeds are usually ground into a powder for culinary use and have a nut-like, slightly peppery-spicy flavor. Some liken the taste to a less emphatic melange of nutmeg and black pepper.

What it looks like: The whole seeds of annatto are irregularly triangle-shaped and about an eighth of an inch wide. They have a brick- to barn-red color, as does the powder due to the intensely yellow to orange-colored carotenoid compounds bixin and norbixin. The red color of the spice becomes orange to yellow when diluted in the cooking process in the same way that the red color of saffron spice colors dishes a saffron yellow. Annatto lends a yellow to orange color to commercially-produced cheddar and American cheese, butter and many other foods. Continue reading

Summer’s bounty: Winter squash

17 Sep

In the final installment of our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce, learn simple tips for highlighting winter squash in fresh, well-spiced meals as summer turns into fall!

Frontier Co-op Winter Squash

By Tom Havran

Winter squash are time capsules of summer’s bounty that you can enjoy all through the autumn and winter months. These hard rind fruits contain richly colored and flavored flesh that is a power house of beta-carotene laced nutrition. Because they lend themselves so well to both sweet and savory side dishes and main courses, there’s no reason not to enjoy winter squash as much as possible!

Some of the most popular, readily available and versatile varieties include acorn, delicata, butternut and spaghetti. Learn more about each type’s characteristic color, texture, flavor and application here.

How to prepare it: Thick-skinned squash, such as acorn and butternut, lend themselves to storage, while thin-skinned, small squash like delicata should be used as soon as possible. The simplest, and arguably best, way to prepare squash is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with oil, adorn with spices and roast until fork-tender.

Spices and herbs to complement: Squash offers a balance of starchy, neutral flavors and nutty sweetness that allow it to work well with both sweet and savory seasonings. Classic pairings include cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and maple for sweet, and cayenne, sage and thyme for savory. Try creating mashed squash flavored with garlic, thyme and black pepper, or immerse tender boiled or roasted cubes of squash in a smoldering curry dish or creamy corn chowder seasoned with cayenne.

For a different flavor twist this fall, season your squash with Simply Organic’s new Crazy Awesome Veggies Sweet Cinnamon Chili seasoning mix. Continue reading

One member, one vote: How co-ops meld business and democracy

11 Sep
Tony Bedard, right, and Dr. Sarath Ranaweera, an organic agriculture and tea specialist who founded the agricultural processing and exporting company Bio Foods Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd and helped create the growers organization the Small Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA). Dr. Ranaweera, who is our partner in a program to build wells in northern Sri Lanka, spoke at this year's Annual Co-op Member Meeting.

Tony Bedard, right, and Dr. Sarath Ranaweera, an organic agriculture and tea specialist from Sri Lanka. Dr. Ranaweera founded Bio Foods (Pvt) Ltd (an agricultural processing and exporting company) and helped create the Small Organic Farmers Association (SOFA). A partner in our program to build wells in northern Sri Lanka, Dr. Ranaweera spoke at this year’s Annual Member Meeting.

By Tony Bedard, Frontier Co-op CEO

This year a national election follows on the heels of both our recently completed Frontier Co-op Board of Directors election and Co-op Month in October. It seems a good time to reflect on the democratic nature of our co-op and cooperative business in general.

The second of the seven Cooperative Principles states that co-ops must have democratic member control. (These principles were set out in Rochdale, England, in 1844 and have remained the foundation on which co-operatives around the world have operated ever since.) This principle gives all members equal voting rights on a one member, one vote basis.

Frontier Co-op democracy
Frontier Co-op’s 40,000-plus members are represented by its elected Board of Directors. The members elect seven Board members, two advisory positions are appointed by the Board and Frontier Co-op’s CEO is automatically a Board member. A Board election is held each summer to elect about half of the Board members. (The terms are staggered to provide continuity.)

The Board directs co-op business, representing the members in approval of strategies and budgets, long-term planning, hiring and evaluating the CEO and other ownership responsibilities. The membership has direct responsibility for changes to the co-op’s business structure through modifications to Frontier Co-op’s articles of incorporation. Changes to those documents must be approved by a full membership vote. Continue reading

5 reasons to include aromatherapy massage in your wellness routine

9 Sep

aromatherapy massage

By Charlynn Avery

I still remember my first massage. It was my 20th birthday, and I wanted to do something special to commemorate the beginning of my third decade of life. I decided to get a massage because I wanted to be pampered and to feel relaxed. At the time, the thought of massage as a regular practice was the furthest thing from my mind. It would be a once-a-year luxury experience; something I couldn’t budget on a regular basis as a struggling college student.

Once I got off the table, however, my perspective had changed completely. Of course I felt relaxed but it went so much further than that – on every level, I was improved. My skin glowed, my muscles felt loose, I stood up straighter, I slept better and I felt happy. I remember saying that it was the best $60 I had ever spent on myself. And a few years later, I found myself in massage school with the goal of helping others achieve that very same realization.

Benefits of massage

I hear a lot of folks say that massage is a luxury and is too expensive to do on a regular basis. However, with the many proven benefits of massage it should be part of a regular health care regimen for long-term physical, emotional and mental well-being.  One of my favorite clients from a few years ago shared the way she was able to budget massage into her life – she simply swapped a detrimental habit (smoking) for massage. She said, “I decided to reward myself for not smoking by getting a monthly massage. In addition to making my doctor happier, the expense of massage was much less than my pack-a-day smoking habit.” Continue reading

Summer’s bounty: Potatoes

3 Sep

In this installment of our summer series about enjoying in-season organic produce, learn simple tips for highlighting potatoes in fresh, well-spiced meals!

Summers-bounty-potatoes

By Tom Havran

Based on genetic testing of the potato, humans have spent as much as 10,000 years cultivating and perfecting this irreplaceable vegetable staple. Throughout this history, the starchy, waxy tubers have offered real stick-to-the-ribs nourishment and are the perfect compliment to virtually any meal, from entrée to sandwich to salad. Potatoes come in five basic varieties:

  1. Russets: Starchy, dry-fleshed, oval-shaped classic baking potatoes with russeted skin.
  2. Whites: Versatile potatoes which have crisp, snow white flesh and usually offer a balance of starchiness and waxiness.
  3. Reds: Red-skinned, often round potatoes with firm, waxy flesh that lends itself to boiled potatoes and potato salad.
  4. Yellows: Yellow-fleshed (due to the presence of betacarotene), creamy-textured, versatile potatoes with a balance of starch and wax.
  5. Purples/Blues: Crisp-fleshed potatoes that are usually starchy when cooked. The purple color (resulting from the antioxidant anthocyanin) holds better if these potatoes are boiled or baked with their skins left on.

How to prepare it: Choose starchy or versatile varieties for mashed and baked potatoes, chips and fries. Choose waxy or versatile potatoes for boiled potatoes and cold potato salad. The skins add texture, flavor, fiber and nutrients but whether you peel them or not depends on the dish and your personal preference. You should definitely leave the delicate skin on new potatoes. It may be wise to peel non-organic potatoes which are heavily sprayed and treated with an anti-sprouting chemical. Generally, simply washing and scrubbing organic potatoes should be sufficient, but consider peeling green, sprouted and blemished potatoes which can have elevated levels of the potentially toxic solanin alkaloid.

Spices and herbs to complement: The neutral flavor of potatoes will accept virtually any savory herb and spice seasoning from plain old sea salt and pepper to parsley, dill, garlic and more. Try adorning your mashed or boiled potatoes with a vibrantly green “gravy” made from fresh parsley or basil pesto to which you can add herbs like chives or rosemary.

Pairs well with: Almost every kind of meat, vegetable and cheese you can imagine. Dress with gravies, sauces, sour cream, yogurt, butter or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

5 Tips for enjoying potatoes:

  • Try boiling potatoes in their skins and peeling them afterwards. Doing so will preserve more flavor and nutrients while producing a creamier, less watered-down texture.
  • Don’t miss the brief, summertime new potato season! Fresh, newly dug potatoes are sweeter, more delicate and creamier than winter potatoes which have been cold-conditioned for storage.
  • Leftover potatoes don’t reheat well as they become rubbery and grainy. Try them in a new cooking application such as fried potatoes or potato pancakes.
  • Save the cooking water from peeled, boiled potatoes to bake richer-flavored bread and smoother handmade pasta.
  • Add potatoes to cold, salted water for more even cooking.

Recipes to try:

Simply Organic potato salad

Purple Potato Salad with Dijon Dill Dressing

Potato Stew-3 (1)

Irish Potato Stew

 

Tom-HavranAbout the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.

 

This mother’s little helper: One pot meals

26 Aug

By Sara Mallicoat

You worked late or spent a long day running errands, and the second you walk in the door you hear the dreaded words, “What’s for dinner?” If you’re like me, with a husband and two young boys, you know how this moment feels!

Processed “convenience” foods or a takeout order are things that I dread even more, but the last thing I want to do on an already busy evening is to spend it in my kitchen preparing a multi-dish balanced meal. I would rather serve toast for dinner (sometimes we do just eat peanut butter toast with apples!), but my heart screams, “Get in that kitchen and make your boys something tasty that includes vegetables!”

one pot meals

So, I started experimenting with what I like to call One Pot Wonders for nights like these. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 177 other followers

%d bloggers like this: