A Guide to Storing Cheese

It’s that time when tossing a few special cheeses, a bowl of olives, crusty local bread, and some backyard strawberries on a large wooden cutting board is our preferred way of eating. Afternoons are warm with light breezes and plenty of shade thanks to Davis’ urban canopy.

Sharing meals in the backyard, on the porch, or in the park is once again part of our daily nourishment. Don’t bother with the stove on days like these. Just make sure you have plenty of cheese on hand. And, if you can’t construct an underground cheese cellar in your home like our very own Cheesemonger Jess suggests, there are other measures you can take to ensure your fromage maintains its cheesy integrity.

Buy only what you need

Cheese is best fresh, so Cheesemonger Jess recommends only buying what you need for a few days at a time. Once you get your cheese home, use these tips to keep your cheese it’s best!

Beware the plastic wrap 

There are a lot of reasons to avoid using single use plastic. When it comes to cheese, plastic wrap or cling film can significantly alter the taste and texture the longer a cheese remains wrapped up. This is because your little slice of heaven is alive. Cheese ages, sweats, and even breathes, all of which can be stifled if left in plastic too long. 

We are currently exploring alternatives to plastic wrap in our Cheese Department! Until then, rewrap your cheese in parchment, wax paper, or specialty cheese paper when you get home. We carry Formaticum cheese paper – just ask any of our Cheese Specialists. Start by cutting a square 2-3 times larger than your cheese. Wrap cheese somewhat tightly, as you would a birthday present, and secure with a piece of masking tape or a cute little twine bow if you have the patience for that. Label with the type of cheese and date wrapped. 

Hard cheeses: Hard cheeses are meant to be hard, but not so hard that you can’t cut them. After you wrap them in paper, wrap in a square of aluminum foil. This helps maintain proper moisture.

Soft cheeses: Soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert need plenty of air to breathe. Store paper-wrapped soft cheeses in a glass container lined with a paper towel to absorb condensation. With the lid slightly askew, place in the fridge. 

Extra soft cheeses like mozzarella that come in water or brine can remain in their liquid.

Blue cheeses: Blue cheeses are piquant, to put it lightly, which is probably why you love them. Wrap in paper and store in a sealed reusable glass container to prevent the blue cheese flavor from spreading to its milder brethren.

Store in the drawer

Always store cheese in the fridge, never in the freezer. That little drawer is the perfect space for your cheeses: it’s a good balance of humidity and air circulation. Allow cheese to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before you serve it so it reaches maximum flavor.

If you have any questions about storing specific cheeses, our Cheese Specialists are stationed at the Cheese Counter to assist. 

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What to Grill this Weekend

With warm, but not stifling, weather and a break from the wind on its way, this weekend is a great time to fire up the grill. It’s also Mother’s Day weekend, so you may already be planning an outdoor celebration! If Mother’s Day isn’t your thing, check out this blog we wrote about alternative ways you can spend the day (you can still grill, of course). 

We received our first local peaches of the season this week! Try them in this grilled stone fruit and prosciutto salad recipe that comes together in just 30 miuntes. You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan by swapping cubed fontina or smashed green olives for the prosciutto.

Speaking of grillable fruit, spicy pineapple chicken kebabs served with a chilled Sauv Blanc are a crowd-pleasing appetizer or main. I’ve also been dying to try this grilled pork tenderloin recipe with homemade rhubarb bbq sauce since I came across it a few weeks ago on National Co-op Grocers’ website.

If you’re the type to endlessly nibble at family gatherings, which I am, try putting out this grilled vegetable antipasto with asparagus to satisfy the grazers. Psst, local asparagus is on sale for $3.99/pound through 5/11! Grilled artichokes with parmesan aioli and grilled scallions with romesco sauce fulfill this brief as well.

No meat? No problem! You can make grilled eggplant napoleons with halloumi, a salty, grillable cheese that announces the start of summer. Make smoky grilled tofu and broccoli over chilled rice vermicelli noodles for a hearty main course.

As for dessert, try something simple. This recipe for grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream topped with granola really celebrates the peaches we have so dearly missed. Or you could serve an 18-layer naturally dyed rainbow crepe cake if simple isn’t your style.

Recipes mentioned in this post

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Fair Trade Picks for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9th. Fair Trade Day is Saturday, May 8th.

If you celebrate Mother’s Day with gift-giving, you can use this opportunity to support Fair Trade certified businesses as well! You can read more about the Fair Trade philosophy and business model in this blog we wrote in 2020.

If Mother’s Day isn’t your thing, for whatever reason, be on the lookout for our upcoming blog on alternative ways to spend the day complete with a calender of weekend events happening in and around Yolo County.

In my household, somehow lip balm became a go-to gift. In our Christmas stockings? Lip balm. Birthdays? Lip balm. In the candy bowl on Halloween? Lip balm. I even got lip balm in a care package when I was studying abroad.

Not only is Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm fair trade certified, it’s made with jojoba, avocado, and US-grown hemp oils. Use on lips, dry and cracked fingers and toes, rough skin, and to keep your brows looking sharp.

You can find Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm by the registers. 

 

 

There are many fair trade chocolate bars out there. For this Mother’s Day we recommend Theo. Theo uses a third party to verify ethical sourcnig and fair treatment of cacao farmers. Offering stable pricing ensures Theo’s farmers aren’t hurt by the volatile glocal cacao market.

We carry a number of delicious Theo chocolate bars, but this 70% Rasberry Dark Chocolate bar is perfect for Mother’s Day. Slightly tart and earthy with rich cacao, this bar is soy free, gluten free, and vegan.

 

 

Marquet’s team of fair trade artisans create absolutely beautiful accessories. You can find Marquet scarves and earrings in our Wellness Department.

Many of Marquet’s artisans are women and mothers. If you won’t be purchasing Mother’s Day gifts for anyone in your life, consider treating yourself to these products in support of fair trade!

 

 

 

 

 

My mom may only wear flip flops in the shower, but some moms out there are ready for hot summer days and the freedom to wiggle their toes in public! These Feelgoodz flip flops are made with fair trade rubber by fairly treated artisans in Southeast Asia. We have a handful of colors, all of which can be found in the Wellness Department.

La Riojana’s organic extra virgin olive oil is a blend of Arauco and Manzanilla olives. With notes of dried fruits and a combination of spicy and sweet flavors, this is a unique olive oil that is also versatile in the kitchen. La Riojana received Fair Trade certification in 2015, making them the first Fair Trade certified olive oil producer in all of Latin America.

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee is another great fair trade option! Organic Just Coffee Co-op beans are perfect for your mom or mother figure who loves coffee, fair labor practices, and sustainability. Just Coffee Co-op is a Certified B Corp too! Track your coffee via their website and learn about the producers who grew your beans.

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Stop Food Waste Day

April 28th is Stop Food Waste Day

33%

of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every year

45%

of root crops, fruit and vegetables produced globally is lost or wasted per year

$1,866

the annual cost of food wasted by the average American family

25%

of the food wasted globally could feed all 795 million undernourished people in the world

8%

of all greenhouse gas emissions each year are due to food loss and waste*

Food Rescue at the Co-op

Food rescue (limiting as much food waste as we can while prioritizing public health and safety) is embedded in our Ends Statement, the Seven Cooperative Principles, and our Strategic Plan. Fighting food insecurity in our community has always been a priority. Our avenues for donating have not changed, but we have improved our processes to more accurately communicate our efforts with our owners. Learn more by reading our food rescue blog.

Food Rescue Streams

Thanks to recent Green Team efforts, we can better track how our food is rescued.

Donations: We donate items that are still edible but may be damaged or fall shy of cosmetic standards, which means we can’t sell them.

Deli Food Rescue: Sometimes we have a large quantity of an unsellable, but still edible, items. The DFC Deli can use these items in production. 

No Charge: We often have small quantities of edible, but unsellable items. These items are put in the breakroom for staff to take home free of charge. No Charge items also fill up our on-site Freedge. 

Animal Greens: We set aside produce in unsellable quantities, like lettuce trimmings, for shoppers to take home to feed their animals. Animal greens are free – just ask a Produce Specialist about availability. 

Composting: When an item is unsellable and inedible, we compost the food and recycle the packaging when possible. The City of Davis has a great composting facility, accepting even our meat scraps and bones! 

Our Donation Partners

  • Yolo County Food Bank
  • Western Service Workers Association
  • Davis Night Market
  • Davis Community Meals
  • Davis Food Not Bombs
  • The Freedge
  • Yolo County Meals on Wheels
  • Food Recovery Network
  • Tuesday Tables

Reduce Your Food Waste

Shop Bulk

Whether it’s 2 tsp of marjoram or 4 pounds of cremini mushrooms, shopping the Bulk Department can help ensure you buy only what you need. We have many items available in our Bulk Department. Check these aisles first to help curb your food waste. Read our buying in bulk blog for more info.

Be Prepared

You can cut down on your food waste if you have a plan in place! Plan out your meals for the week (including planning when is a good day to eat leftovers!) and make a grocery list before shopping. If you’re really feeling motivated, spend a few hours meal prepping. Read this blog with meal prep tips and a menu for the week!

Fortify your Fridge

If you’ve ever worked in food service or retail, you’ve probably familiar with what it means to FIFO: first in, first out. Applying this same process to your fridge can help cut down on food waste. Store older food in the front of your fridge and newer food in the back. This way, you have a visual reminder of the food you need to eat first.

Be sure you’re storing produce correctly. Proper storage can significantly impact how long your foods stays good.

Make Use of Your Freezer

You can freeze many fruits and vegetables before they go bad. Frozen bananas are an excellent addition to smoothies, herbs can be frozen in butter or oil, and leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipes to Limit Food Waste

 

Making your own broth or stock is a great way use ingredients that typically get thrown out (think onion skins and chicken bones). We have excellent recipes for veggie broth and bone broth

Make banana bread with bananas that are dark and mushy. 

Try our Clean-Out-the-Fridge Veggie Fried Rice recipe (pictured) when you have lots of odds and ends in the fridge! It works well with any grain: any kind of rice, quinoa, barley, and kamut are all great options.

Customizable Soup is another good option if you have leftovers that need to get used up.

This Flexible Veggie Casserole is another way to feed the whole family while preventing food waste. 

Keep it Out of the Landfill

 

Compost It

Okay, so some of your food has gone bad. It happens. Instead of tossing it in the trash where it will go to a landfil and produce methane as it breaks down, compost it! The city of Davis collects compost in curbside bins – they can even take meat scraps, bones, and bioplastics labeled “compostable”. 

You can also compost in your home. You get to keep all of that super nourishing compost for your garden if you do! Read our composting guide to learn more.

Keep a log of everything that has to get composted. You may learn that you actually don’t like radishes that much. Maybe you consistantly toss leftovers – next time, cut the recipe in half! 

Donate it

If you have too much in your fridge or pantry, consider bringing unopened pantry items and edible produce to the Freedge at the Co-op! The Freedge is there for folks to take what they need and leave what they don’t. It’s a wonderful way to prevent food waste and strengthen our community bonds. 

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Earth Month – Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability is the “profit” in the “people, planet, and profit” holistic approach to sustainability. We’ve already explored environmental sustainability and social sustainability in previous blogs, so this week, we’ll focus on what it means to have a sustainable economy.

What is economic sustainability?

Before we tackle economic sustainability, here’s a reminder of the basic definition of sustainability: sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs or diminishing the opportunities of the future. 

According to the Global Footprint Network, in 2020, we reached Earth’s natural resource budget for the year on August 22nd, which means all of the natural resources we used after August 22nd, 2020 were taken from future years’ budgets. This is, by definition, not sustainable. 

For the last several hundred years, capitalism has been the most efficient economic system for meeting the material needs and wants of society (major asterisk here: capitalism meets most of the material needs and wants for particular groups, mostly in Western countries). In this system, development, industrialization, and production are inherently dependent on natural and human resources, which, at this point, are rapidly depleting. The bottom line: capitalist economies, being inherently dependent on those resources, are not sustainable. 

In a sustainable economy, these resources are not depleted or “borrowed” from future generations. Economic sustainability is deeply enmeshed with both social sustainability (human resources) and environmental sustainability (natural resources). We will explore the intersection of the three in next week’s blog!

Is there an alternative? 

Laying out an entirely new economic system is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this blog. But if you’re feeling like our unsustainable economy is a major bummer, we are here to tell you there are alternatives to traditional capitalist models which operate within our system to make our economy more sustainable.

Cooperatives

That’s right! Cooperative businesses offer a more sustainable approach to the profit side of things. A cooperative is “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.” Co-ops, whether they are owned by workers, consumers, or producers, are guided by the Seven Cooperative Principles. Six of these Principles directly contribute to economic sustainability.  

#1 Voluntary Membership: Membership, or ownership, in a co-op is open to anyone willing to accept the responsibilities of ownership and who want to use the services of the co-op. At the Davis Food Co-op, ownership is open to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, political or religious beliefs or any other qualifications. Because of this, co-op membership and, in turn, governance, is more widely accessible than in traditional business models. 

#2 Democratic Member Control: Co-ops are controlled by their members who have power over policy and decision making. In our upcoming election, Davis Food Co-op owners will have the opportunity to vote on which community organizations will receive Round Up funds and choose three new Directors for the Board. 

#3 Member Economic Participation: Members contribute to the capital of the co-op democratically and equitably. Investing in the Co-op by becoming an owner means investing in local farmers and producers that offer sustainably sourced natural foods and products.

#4 Autonomy and Independence: Co-ops are meant to be autonomous and democratically controlled. The Davis Food Co-op isn’t run by folks hundreds of miles away. We answer to our owners who we live and work beside. 

#6 Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Co-ops often work together to create regional, national and international structures that help to improve communities. While it is essential that co-ops are able to compete in the markets in which they operate, we also know that strong, connected networks set co-ops apart from traditional businesses and make them more resilient to outside shocks.  

#7 Concern for Community: Policies set forth by owners should positively and sustainably contribute to the community a co-op belongs to. You can read about the Davis Food Co-op’s efforts here, here, and here

B Corps

Another alternative to traditional for-profit business models is the B Corporation. B Corps are “a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.” The Co-op carries many products from certified B Corps. You can see us highlight many of them on our social media platforms throughout this month.

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All Natural Allergy Relief

Seasonal allergies aren’t fun for anyone! Try these natural remedies to alleviate your symptoms.

Stay Hydrated

It seems like no matter what the ailment, staying hydrated is one way to prevent or improve it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the case for seasonal allergies as well. 

First, a petite science lesson: Histamine is a compound made by our bodies that regulates physiological functions in the gut, acts as a neurotransmitter in our brain and spinal cord, and is involved in inflammation and immune responses. You’ve likely heard about histamine in conversations about seasonal allergies. This is because symptoms of elevated histamine levels include runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, hives, sneezing, nausea, and headache. Sound familiar? When we are dehydrated, our bodies produce more histamine in an attempt to help retain water. Unfortunately, this triggers seasonal allergy symptoms. 

Technically, staying hydrated won’t prevent or treat an allergic reaction, but drinking enough water can help maintain normal histamine levels in your body.

Regular Cleaning 

This may be a bit of a bummer to hear, but regular, thorough cleaning of a few key things in your home can help reduce your exposure to allergens which trigger seasonal allergy symptoms. The good news is, you’ll feel better and your home will be so clean! We recently wrote a blog about natural home cleaning with 19 easy, safe, and inexpensive DIY cleaning products. 

Vacuum regularly

If you’re an allergy sufferer, make sure you’re vacuuming your floors, rather than sweeping them as brooms do a very good job of kicking up all kids of dust and debris into the air. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends vacuuming twice a week with a vacuum outfitted with a HEPA filter.

Dust weekly

Weekly dusting is highly effective against seasonal allergies. Skip the feather duster and opt for a microfiber cloth instead. Microfiber is designed to grab tiny particles, which means you’ll actually remove the dust from your home. 

Wash your sheets

Your sheets are covered in potential allergens: human and pet hair, dander, pollen, dust mites, and a whole host of other creepy crawlies that can irritate your immune system. Wash your sheets (especially your pillow cases) once a week. If you get bad allergies, you’ll want to vacuum your comforter twice a week and your mattress cover once a month as well.

You can find the following natural allergy remedies in the Co-op’s Wellness Department. If you need help finding something specific, stop by the Wellness Desk and ask one of our Wellness Specialists!

Saline Nasal Irrigation

Sometimes called a sinus flush, saline nasal irrigation can help ease stuffy noses and make it a little easier to breathe when you have seasonal allergies. Rinsing your nasal passages with salt water can help restore moisture to your mucous membranes and ease inflammation. Some folks prefer daily irrigation during allergy season to help keep inflammation under control.

Butterbur 

You may have heard that butterbur can be very effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines (researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found this to be the case), but evidence is emerging in favor of butterbur as a treatment for seasonal allergies as well. One study found its participants’ allergy symptoms improved after just 5 days of taking a butterbur supplement by mouth. Scientists attribute this to butterbur’s ability to block allergy-producing leukotriene and histamine.

Quercetin

Quercetin is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables including onions and apples. Researches at the National Institutes of Health found it has antihistamine properties as well (it’s actually the most common plant compound found in conventional allergy treatments). Quercetin eases allergy symptoms by decreasing inflammation in our airways.

Stinging Nettle Leaf

Although research has come back with mixed results, stinging nettle has been and continues to be a popular treatment for seasonal allergies. Stinging nettle reduces sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes by lowering inflammation. Stinging nettle can best be used in combination with other natural allergy remedies like quercetin.

Turmeric

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Emerging research suggests ingesting turmeric regularly may help relieve symptoms caused by seasonal allergies as well. Whether you take turmeric as a supplement or use it in meal preparations, be sure to take black pepper along with it as black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2,000 percent! 

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Earth Month – Social Sustainability

As mentioned in our environmental sustainability blog post, capital “S” Sustainability is multifaceted. Of the three major branches of sustainability, social sustainability can be difficult to get a grip on. It is tough to quantify and can therefore feel nebulous, which is why it’s often overlooked. However, social sustainability is integral for the health of people, planet, and profit moving forward.

What is social sustainability? 

Calls for social sustainability have emerged in recent decades as community members and world leaders see injustice, unrest, sickness, and misery in many of our communities. There are many definitions of social sustainability, but we like this one from the Western Australia Council of Social Services:

 “Social sustainability occurs when the formal and informal processes; systems; structures; and relationships actively support the capacity of current and future generations to create healthy and livable communities. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life.

To get your head in the social sustainability zone, consider these social sustainability performance issues: human rights, fair labor practices, living conditions, health, safety, wellness, diversity, equity, work-life balance, empowerment, community engagement, philanthropy, volunteerism, and access to green spaces. When these elements are in abundance and in balance for everyone in a community, that community is strong –  in other words, it is sustainable. This kind of society is better able to respond to and recover from internal and external shocks. 

We know that the global climate crisis disproportionately affects people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, women, formerly colonized countries, and low income families and communities. Practicing social sustainability and building communities which are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic, and provide a good quality of life will help insulate vulnerable groups from the disproportionate effects of climate change. Beyond environmental justice, social sustainability practices effectuate economic, social, and racial justice as well.

You can find a great video explaining social sustainability further here

Social sustainability and the Co-op

While many aspects of creating socially sustainable communities should fall to municipal, state, and federal governments, businesses, like the Co-op, have an important role to play as well. We would even go so far as to say businesses have a responsibility to engender social sustainability in the communities in which they operate. The 7th Cooperative Principle, concern for community, guides the Co-op’s social sustainability efforts. In addition to regularly donating to community organizations and hosting community events, we strive towards social sustainability as an employer (e.g. every Co-op employee earns a living wage). This year, we’re working with National Co-op Grocers to more closely examine our social sustainability efforts, including diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Next steps

If you’re wondering what you can do to be more socially sustainable, you can start here. Volunteering for community organizations or donating to mutual aid organizations is a great way to get involved with your community, but be sure to adjust your perspective. Don’t think of donating time or money as “charity”. Think of it as solidarity and community building. 

If you own or operate a business, think about what you can do for your employees. Can you offer your employees longer breaks or make healthcare available to them? Maybe you can make biking to work a little easier or make a serious effort to actively hire from groups that have historically been excluded from the workplace. 

Communities won’t become sustainable overnight. Environmental, social, and economic sustainability efforts will require hard work from nearly everyone. If you are feeling overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Stay tuned for our next blog post about economic sustainability.

Join us for a celebration of our planet!

We will be closing down a portion of the Davis Food Co-op parking lot for a collection of activities, information, community organizations, giveaway, a plant swap, music and food. Stop by between 12-4 pm on Sunday, April 18th. 

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Bevs with a Boost

Immune Boosting

Watermelon is high in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that supports our immune system. Strawberries bring potent polyphenols and vitamin C to the table!

Glow Tonic

  • 1 cup seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • Handful of basil or mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups ice 

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until slushy texture is achieved. Sip and be well!

Energy Boosting

Antioxidants in dark chocolate help increase blood flow throughout the body, delivering more oxygen to the brain and muscles. There is evidence to suggest maca may be energy boosting as well!

Maca Mocha 

  • 1 ¾  cup almond milk or regular milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maca powder
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Heat all ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Whisk or blend for frothiness. Can be poured over ice. Drink and say to yourself, “I got this!”

Mood Boosting

Bananas, rich in mood boosting Vitamin B6, combined with fiber- and iron-rich oats will keep your spirits up all day!

Gone Bananas

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 cup oat milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Blend together in a high-powered blender until smooth. Feel good!

Sleep Boosting

Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which have been linked to improving sleep quality when ingested before bed. Combine with the powers of sleepiness inducing chamomile!

Kiwi Chamomile Lemonade

  • 1 large ripe kiwi, peeled
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1 ½ cups brewed chamomile tea, cooled
  • Ice for serving

Add all ingredients except ice to a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour over ice on hot summer nights when sleep eludes you. Sweet dreams.

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