Holiday Meal Makeover

A celebratory dinner should be exactly that: a time to share delicious food with family and friends. While many people wish to serve traditional family favorites, for most, there’s still plenty of room to liven up your holidays with a few new flavors, local foods, and even nutritional boosters. Here are some ideas for making your holiday meals fresh, easy, and fun.

  • Consider a slightly new twist on the centerpiece of many a holiday meal, the turkey, by choosing a local, heritage breed, and/or brined turkey (these are very popular items at many co-ops; some co-ops offer pre-ordering for customers to ensure availability). Heritage breeds are typically moister and more flavorful than commercial turkeys. For more information on heritage breeds and general turkey tips, check out these turkey roasting tips.
  • Give that classic green bean casserole a makeover with fresh green beans, a spritz of lemon, and a topping of toasted pine nuts. Boost the cranberry sauce with a handful of fresh or dried fruit and a dash of cayenne. Use brown rice or quinoa as the basis for your turkey-day stuffing this year, and toss in some walnuts and chopped local apples.
  • Instantly transform the typical fare with seasonings: spice your eggnog with cardamom instead of (or as well as) cinnamon this year, and sprinkle tarragon on plain mashed potatoes. Or add some festive flavors to an otherwise ordinary recipe.
  • Make gravy-like Grandma (or your favorite cooking show chef) if you like, but don’t feel obligated! There are some top-notch, healthful cooking mixes available that are especially helpful this time of year. You’ll find delicious, organic gravy mixes, dessert mixes, and seasoning blends for salad dressings and dips at your co-op.
  • Bring the unexpected to the table by adding an entirely new recipe or two to this year’s menu. Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole or a Wild Rice Stuffed Squash  are two great options that use seasonal vegetables in new combinations. Focus on just one or two “special” dishes to complement your main course—especially if you’re serving appetizers, a couple of delicious sides are all you really need and will allow you to spend more time with your guests.
  • Great dishes needn’t be complicated made-from-scratch recipes, either. Purchase some strikingly flavorful, easy-to-prepare foods to serve alongside the usual. A plate of Brie with Orange Preserves and Almonds would be a memorable addition to any menu.
  • Unless you adore kitchen duty, never refuse a guest’s offer to bring food — and remember you can count on your grocery store for prepared foods, too.  Visit the bakery department for lovely desserts (you may want to order pies, cheesecakes, and other specific favorites ahead of time). While you’re there, choose some cranberry date scones or pumpkin pecan muffins to treat family and/or guests to special breakfast fare. You may even consider picking up a couple of extra quick breads to give as gifts!
  • If you’ll be hosting guests for more than just the main meal, look to the deli for speedy main course items and sides (like lasagna, smoked salmon, wheatberry salad, golden beet, and kale salad, or roasted root vegetables).
  • Don’t forget to stock up on some local wine and beer, too. Pair a good beverage with an array of cheeses or cookies for an instant party when unexpected guests arrive!

It takes just a little planning and a good source for great food to pull off a wonderful holiday meal—something full of tradition, genuine nourishment, and good will.

Article used with permission from National Co-op Grocers,

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Talking Turkey: A Poultry Primer and 2020 Turkeys at the Co-op

Nutritious and versatile, poultry is an affordable staple in many omnivore households. Poultry lends itself to a variety of cooking methods—baking, grilling, and stir-frying, for example—and flavorings from sweet and savory to hot and spicy.

As with other foods, knowing where and how your chicken, turkey, Cornish game hen, and other poultry have been raised can help you choose the products that are right for you (and provides information about animal welfare and environmental impact).

Understanding some commonly used poultry-producing terms can help put you in the know. However, it’s important to know that some of the terms are regulated, while others are not. When in doubt about poultry terms of what’s offered at your local grocery store, ask for more information at the meat counter.

Poultry Terms


 Poultry that meets the requirements of the National Organics Program (NOP) has been raised in housing that permits natural behavior, with outdoor access, has been fed certified organic feed (including pasture), has not been given antibiotics or hormones, and has been processed organically. The USDA organic label requires producers to follow production and handling practices in accordance with the national standards; certifying agents ensure compliance through annual inspections.


This USDA regulation means that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The government doesn’t specify that poultry must go outside, for how long, or the amount or kind of space that must be provided, but the idea is that poultry is free to roam outdoors and engage in natural behaviors (this is the way most poultry was raised before high-density confinement was introduced in the 1950s). And poultry that exercises produces leaner meat.


USDA allows this label to be used when a product contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and is only minimally processed. The label must explain what “natural” means, so be sure to read on. It might say “no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed,” for example.

“No hormones added”

This means just that, but keep in mind that Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising poultry, so this term should apply to all poultry anyway. Regulations also require that if a poultry label says, “no hormones added,” it must also say, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

“No antibiotics added” 

This means that the producer has provided documentation to the USDA that the animals were raised without antibiotics.


Poultry that’s cage-free is allowed to roam, but not necessarily outdoors. This allows poultry to engage in some natural behaviors, such as walking, nesting, and perching. However, this term is not regulated by USDA nor by third-party certifiers for poultry, though it is regulated for eggs.

Pastured poultry

This is a term coined for chickens raised on grass pasture all of the time after the initial brooding period. However, this term does not guarantee that poultry feeds only on pasture.


A “fresh” poultry label means that the temperature of the raw poultry has never been below 26 degrees F. (Frozen poultry, on the other hand, has a temperature of 0 degrees F or below.) A turkey could be kept at 27 degrees F for weeks or even months, though, and then sold as “fresh.” Buy from a grocer who can tell you how long the “fresh” poultry has been in storage.

Our Turkeys 2020:


If you’re yearning for something lean, clean, and more manageable (but no less mouthwatering) than a Diestel Original turkey, our Organic Petite Whole Turkey may just be the bird you seek. It’s packed with all of the same succulent Diestel Family Ranch flavor, but in a smaller package that’s fit for two.

 Organic, Non-GMO, No Antibiotics ever, no added salts and ice-chilled.  

 $4.49 lb.


Most turkeys today are a shadow of the breed that once was. Our Organic American Heirloom Turkeys are the breed that once was. These Auburn, Black, and American Bronze turkeys are rare breeds that’ve been around for hundreds of years. Different from most turkeys, they produce exquisite meat with exceptional, rich flavor that’s tender, juicy, and exceptionally hard to come by.

Organic, Non-GMO, No Antibiotics ever, no added salts and ice-chilled. 

 $4.99 lb.

DIESTEL NATURALLY SMOKED TURKEY (Not available for Curbside pickup)

The Naturally Smoked Whole Turkey is perfect for anybody who wants the rich, decadent flavor of a smoked turkey in just the time it takes to build a modest fire. These birds are uncured and slow cooked over natural hardwood, so all you’ve got to do is warm the bird in the oven (and find a distraction to keep you occupied until it’s ready).

NO antibiotics, no nitrates or nitrites, smoked with real hardwood.

$4.99 lb.


Mary’s Free-Range turkeys are raised on healthful grains and allowed to roam in areas four times the size of areas provided by the average commercial turkey ranch. Their high-protein diet provides the optimal amount of nutrients for the turkey to grow into bigger and more flavorful turkeys than those typically found at the supermarket.

Free Range, Vegetarian Diet, Non-GMO, No Hormones, No antibiotics.

$3.49 lb.

A little turkey tutorial

You might want to keep in mind when shopping for your Thanksgiving turkey that a plump, round shape means an abundance of tender meat. Other tidbits that might come in handy:

  • Fresh turkeys and heritage or heirloom turkeys cook faster than most commercial turkeys and turkeys that have been frozen.
  • A hen is a female turkey (smaller) and a tom or gobbler is a male turkey (larger). Neither is more tender than the other.
  • Brining (soaking) a turkey before cooking adds flavor and moisture. Sometimes brined turkeys have artificial ingredients, but you can also find turkeys that are brined with just sea salt, spices, and water. Or you can brine your own.
  • Heritage or heirloom turkeys typically have denser, moister, and more flavorful meat than most commercial turkeys. That’s because they have a higher proportion of dark meat, are customarily fed more diverse diets, and are more active. It’s also because they take longer to reach maturity (about 26 weeks versus 14 weeks for commercial turkeys) and turkeys add fat as they age; heritage turkeys have an additional fat layer under their skin that keeps meat moister during cooking. Individual breeds have specific flavors (chat with your grower or grocer to find out more).
  • Wild turkeys have more dark meat and are more intensely flavored than domesticated turkeys. (Did you know that a wild turkey—which weighs half what a domestic turkey weighs—can actually fly?)
  • An “oven-ready” turkey is ready to cook, while an “oven-prepared” turkey is fully cooked and ready to eat.
  • Basted turkeys are injected or marinated with liquid (like broth or water), fat (like butter), and seasonings. Commercial turkeys often include artificial ingredients, but they must be stated on the label, along with the total quantity of the injected solution (3%, for example).
  • What size turkey do you need? The rule of thumb is one to one and a half pounds of turkey per person (this also allows for some leftovers).
  • Find tips on roasting your turkey in Turkey Roasting Tips.
  • For vegetarians, consider purchasing a Tofurky or other “mock turkey,” made from wheat protein or tofu.

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Turkey Roasting Tips

Roast your turkey to perfection with these turkey roasting tips. Join us on the 25th for a live Turkey Q&A event with our turkey master, Christine!


  • Remove the giblets from turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.
  • Set oven temperature no lower than 325°F.
  • Place turkey or turkey breast on lower rack in a shallow roasting pan.
  • For even cooking, bake stuffing in a separate casserole dish, versus in the bird. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The center should reach 165°F.
  • If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time. Separate wet and dry ingredients, and chill wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery, and onions, broth, etc.) until ready to prepare. Mix wet and dry ingredients together just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches 165°F.
  • Whole turkeys should be cooked to 165°F. To check for doneness, insert a food thermometer in the thickest part of the inner thigh without touching the bone.
  • Turkey breasts should be cooked to 165°F. Insert a food thermometer in the thickest part of the breast to check for doneness.
  • Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily.

Turkey roasting timetable

Oven times are approximate and will vary. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure the correct internal temperature of 165°F has been reached.

325°F oven temperature


4–8 lbs → 1.5–2.75 hours
8–12 lbs → 2.75–3 hours
12–14 lbs → 3–3.75 hours
14–18 lbs → 3.75–4.25 hours
18–20 lbs → 4.25–4.5 hours
20–24 lbs → 4.25–5 hours


6–8 lbs → 2.5–3 hours
8–12 lbs → 3–3.5 hours
12–14 lbs → 3.5–4 hours
14–18 lbs → 4–4.25 hours
18–20 lbs → 4.25–4.75 hours
20–24 lbs → 4.75–5.25 hours


All the Turkeys at the Davis Food Co-op are not frozen. They are deep-chilled, which is not frozen but, are kept in at a lower temperature than you would in your fridge.

Thawing in the refrigerator

Keep the turkey wrapped and place it in a pan. Let it stand in the refrigerator for roughly 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Large turkeys should stand in the refrigerator for a maximum of 5 days. The giblets and neck, which are customarily packed in the neck and body cavities of frozen turkeys, may be removed from the bird near the end of the thawing period. If desired, the giblets and neck may be refrigerated and reserved for use in giblet gravy.

Thawing in cold water

Make certain that the turkey is in a leak-proof package or a zipper-seal plastic bag. This prevents bacteria in the surrounding environment from being introduced into the food and prevents the poultry tissues from absorbing water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes per pound of turkey are required for thawing. After thawing in cold water, the turkey should be cooked immediately.

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Cozy at the Co-op: A Closer Look at Gypsy & Lolo and Andes Gifts


Gyspy & Lolo is based out of Arcata, CA. Their mission is “To feel good and do good! To support local manufacturers, use Earth-friendly fabrics, give back to social causes, and inspire people to share in the possibility of a sustainable future.”

Gypsy and Loic are the husband-wife design team behind Gypsy and LoLo. They went to school at FIDM and the Academy of Pattern Making and Design in San Francisco.

“As we considered our children’s future and the planet’s, we were inspired to start making clothing that was natural, sustainable, and of course unique and fun.”

Along with creating sustainably designed and produced products, they are proud donors to Trees for the Future, Greenpeace Fund, Vote Hemp, and Whole Planet Foundation.

product sourcing

Gypsy and Lolo is dedicated to using quality and/or recycled materials. 

They recover 100% cotton scraps, sort by color and break down, blend that with recycled polyester to add strength and color, spin fibers into yarn, then finally knit into plush fabrics. 

Gypsy and Lolo also find and recover production remnants and sample yardage from cutting rooms to recycle and use. This saves huge amounts of energy, water, and gives the materials a second chance at life. This recovery and reusing makes every style unique and limited edition.


“Our goal is to create long-term dependable employment opportunities for indigenous artisans in Peru and Bolivia, and to connect thoughtful consumers with the people and ancient cultural traditions behind our products.”

Andes gifts products are handmade, comfortable, stylish, and functional. They build stability for artisans and their families in the Andes Mountains. 

“Our mission is to create employment opportunities for Aymara and Quechua artisans that allow them to remain within their local community while earning a reliable income.”

Product sourcing

“We believe in people over profits.”

As you may have learned in our Blog about Co-operative principle #6: Co-operation Among Co-operative, Co-ops are everywhere! Andes partners with cooperatives in rural communities throughout Peru and Bolivia. New designs are created each year and Ande’s empowers artisans through long-term employment opportunities, consistent projects, and flexible work schedules. Many of our artisans enjoy teaching their children and grandchildren the traditional knitting techniques that have been passed down through generations of Andean women for centuries.

Meet some featured artisans on their website:

All Ande’s yarn is from local textile companies within Peru and Bolivia. “Knitting warm clothing from alpaca fiber has played a significant role in indigenous culture in Peru and Bolivia for centuries. The alpaca fiber in our products is certified Peru Fair Trade.” They also use recycled polyester, cotton, and merino wool.

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Get to Know the Holiday-Season Spices

All Spice: 

Allspice is made from the dried berries from part of the myrtle family. The flavor is similar to cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. Allspice is used in Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American cuisines, among others. Use the whole spice in stews, curries, ciders, and cranberry sauce. Use the ground spice in baking!


Cardamom has a very floral flavor that works well with all kinds of food! Use the whole pods in stews, curry, and apple cider. Grind it up and us in baking, pudding, and on top of a latte!


These sticks can be used to make season apple cider, cranberry sauce, and mulled wine. They give a middle easter flavor to stews and make everything smell like the Holidays! Use ground cinnamon when baking and on roasted squash, sweet potatoes, and hot chocolate.


Cloves also come from an evergreen tree. They have a strong aromatic flavor and aroma that will make your space smell like the holidays. Use this spice sparingly, start out small and add more as needed, this spice can easily overwhelm your dish. Use the whole spice in cider and cranberry sauce. Grind the spice to use in baking and cooking. 


Fresh ginger is stronger and brings more of that tingly spicy feeling. Fresh and ground ginger is great in curries and sweet/savory soups, as well as baking, teas, and coffee drinks!


Freshly ground nutmeg is fantastic on top of a latte, but if you do not have a grinder, then pre-ground nutmeg will do just fine.

Star Anise:

This beautiful spice is the fruit of a small evergreen tree. Inside each point of the star is a seed that goes well with pumpkin and alongside roasted chicken. Use a few whole seed pods when making homemade apple cider or apple butter. 

Vanilla Bean: 

Whole Vanilla Beans can be on the pricier side; if you are on a budget go with vanilla bean paste.

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Soups to Get You Through Grey Sky Blues

All our soups need a good broth to start. Keep veggie scraps in the freezer for a soup-needing rainy day. I find it very soothing to start my broth early. The longer it cooks the more flavorful it gets and it’ll fill your house up with homey and delicious smells. To start fill a large stockpot with a gallon bag worth of veggie scraps. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium/low heat for 30 minutes to 3 hours! Leave the pot and tackle some other warming tasks (like laundry!) See the full veggie stock recipe here!

Stews and Chowders are thick and loaded with grains, beans, root veggies, and meat if you choose. This is a filler food and comforting.

Creamy soups come in all shapes and sizes!

Noodle soups are based on a flavorful broth and a few fundamental ingredients (Noodles!)

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DFC Ends #4:
Staff who are valued, educated and motivated

The Davis Food Co-op exists to serve as a community store and gathering place for current and future owners, so they have:
A thriving cooperatively owned business,
Access to healthful, local and high-quality food,
A store that makes environmental sustainability a priority and,
Staff who are valued, educated and motivated.

The last but definitely not least piece of our Ends Statement is “staff who are valued, educated and motivated”. This is done in various ways throughout the store. This starts by aligning with cooperative principle #7, concern for the community. Our full-time staff has the option to get great medical, dental, and optical vision. These plans are outlined in our board packet for Oct 2020, which will be posted on our Board of Directors page in November. Along with benefits, we plan financially for minimum wage increases and give everyone a raise to prevent wage compression. 

Each department has regular huddles to ensure staff is informed on department updates. You may have even heard the Deli chanting at the end of a huddle in the mornings! We also have store-wide huddles twice a week with at least one representative from each department. We hold them outside to ensure social distancing is being followed. Throughout the staff rooms in the store, we also post a bi-weekly newsletter, loaded with department updates, new staff, education topics, Green Team updates, and acknowledgments from fellow staff. 

We have been revamping our new and existing staff training. You may see front-end staff with a “training” badge on. We want to ensure that our cashiers feel valued, appreciated, confident and have the right tools to give their best to the shoppers and Owners. Our Marketing department has been working hard turning many of our previously in-person training into videos. This ensures that our staff is being trained and educated while following necessary Covid guidelines and precautions. 

Besides training, we encourage staff to attend Teaching Kitchen classes and assist in videos on our social media feed. Our staff is very talented. We have plant wizzes, painters, cartoonists, nutritionists, musicians, and dancers. We currently have art by Rayvyn from our Wellness department and earrings by Olivia from our Produce department for sale in-store! 

We engage with raffles to win prizes and gift cards. We enter into external competitions, like the Palm Done Right video competition, with staff as the actors and dancers. And this past week you have probably seen staff dressed up for Halloween. We are holding a staff competition for the best individual costume and best group costume. Keep an eye on our social media for our costumes!

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DFC Ends #3:
A store that makes environmental sustainability a priority

The Davis Food Co-op exists to serve as a community store and gathering place for current and future owners, so they have:
A thriving cooperatively owned business,
Access to healthful, local and high-quality food,
A store that makes environmental sustainability a priority and,
Staff who are valued, educated and motivated.

One of the founding principles of third wave co-ops in the 60s and 70s (US!) was environmental sustainability, and we have tried hard to keep to those principles. In 2017 we had our landscaping redone with all native and drought-tolerant plants. In 2019 we opted-up with Valley Clean Energy and now run the store on 100% renewable energy. 

The Strategic Plan provides overall vision and guidance for making the Davis Food Co-op a “Model for Environmental Sustainability”. The Board and General Manager are working together to make changes in the store that follow the Five-Year Strategic Plan. 

One of the commonly overlooked sustainable aspects of the Co-op and your shopping habits lies in our Produce department. Our produce is primarily organic and we prioritize local farms. Buying local means that the food traveled less, which means less gasoline, travel, and probably packaging. Buying organic means that the farmland that grew your food did not use pesticides or herbicides that have negative effects on the ecosystem.

A renewed piece of the Co-op’s sustainability efforts is the Green Team. This team has been reunited by new and existing staff to be at the forefront of change in the Co-op for the better. They led the waste diversion and sustainability training that staff attends yearly, and they organize the monthly diversion competitions between departments.

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Cooperative Principles #7:
Concern for the Community

Principle #7 covers all the education, outreach, donations, and community support that the Davis Food Co-op gives or helps with. The Davis Food Co-op is hard at work, assisting local organizations battle food insecurity in our community. We regularly donate food to the Yolo Food Bank, Freedge, and the Davis Night Market. We recently, with the help of the UC Davis Freedge Chapter, installed a Freedge outside the Co-op. We fill it up daily with food that would be donated.  

The Davis Food Co-op also runs a monthly Round Up at the Registers Program. Round up to the nearest dollar at check out and that money gets donated to a local organization. This October it is Thriving Pink, which offers financial and emotional support to people battling breast cancer and breast cancer survivors in Davis and surrounding communities. 

Along with our Round Up Program, we make annual donations to educational programs and Davis festivals to make them accessible to everyone.

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Cooperative Principle #6:
Cooperation among Cooperatives

All Co-ops have a collaborative goal to help all co-ops succeed. Co-op owners knew from early on that the most effective way to strengthen the cooperative movement is by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures. There are many reasons this principle quickly became internationally recognized: the weakness of independent operations and it creates a sounder operating practices. Co-operative Principle #6 is Cooperation among Cooperatives. Although we are autonomous and Independent, as explained in Principle #4, we still work together. 

Co-ops share ideas and information on everything! There are groups for marketing team collaboration, national team-building conferences, and cooperative consulting companies that assist in training. The National Co-op Grocers was formed in 2008 to give Co-op Grocers a hand while up against Grocery Giants. This National Marketing and Producer Co-op is to thank for our Co+Deals and Co+Basics in-store, as well as much of our packaging in the meat, cheese, and deli departments.

The Davis Food Co-op works with other co-ops all over the world! We work with Pachamama Coffee Farmer Cooperative and La Riojana Winery Co-op. Nationally, we work with Sno Isle Co-op to improve both our Green Team efforts, we have helped Medford Co-op create their curbside pick up program, and we have helped the Benicia community create their Cultivate Community Food Co-op. We regularly collaborate with our local co-ops and occasionally participate in merchandise swaps to create gift packages. The cooperation among cooperatives is at the heart of our efforts and we are always looking to find new ways to cooperate!

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