Staff Fair Trade Picks
Throughout the month of May, we celebrate Fair Trade products and the partnerships that produce them. In-store we will have signage for our staff’s favorite Fair Trade Certified items, and we will update this list throughout May with any new favorites that we find!
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is both a philosophy and a business model. It keeps small farmers and artisans an active part of the marketplace by fairly compensating them for their work, and through various labeling systems allows consumers to shop in a way that aligns with their values.
Raises the incomes of small-scale farmers, farmworkers, and artisans
Equitably distributes the economic gains, opportunities, and risks associated with the production and sale of these goods
Supports democratically owned and controlled organizations
Promotes labor rights and the right of workers to organize
Promotes safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
“Matr Boomie makes such cute accessories that you can feel good about buying because you know that you are supporting a good cause. They pay the artisans that they work with very well and reinvest a portion of the profits back into their communities.”
Karla, Wellness and General Merchandise Manager
“I love the rich flavor of this tea, it has notes of bergamot just like a proper earl grey should!”
Derlina, Front-end Supervisor
“Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil is an amazing product because of how versatile it is! I use it in baking, to make my own toothpaste, and as a lotion during Spring and Summer to help keep mosquitoes away!”
Madison, Education and Outreach Coordinator
“Divine uses only Fair Trade Certified chocolate from farms owned by their farmers, so you can feel good about indulging in these bars. The white chocolate strawberry and milk chocolate toffee are my favorites.”
Matt, Bulk Department
“Coffee is what keeps me going and I love that I can support the farmers that produce it by buying from conscious companies such as Equal Exchange and Pachamama.”
Rocio, Operations and Facilities Manager
“A high-quality olive oil is great for entertaining or using in special meals, I like this one for its flavors of almond and spices. La Riojana is an Argentinian farmer-owned co-op that is the biggest exporter of Fair Trade wine in the world.”
Roberto, Front-end Supervisor
Making Your Own Sourdough Starter
The shelter in place order has led many to take up their whisks and spatulas and bake their hearts out. However, this has also led to may supplies that we are used to having available, yeast we’re looking at you, become near impossible to find.
Don’t despair, your dreams of turning your kitchen into your own personal bakery need not be lost, a sourdough starter is surprisingly easy to make. This is why we would like to show you how to make a sourdough starter with nothing but whole wheat flour and water.
What Is A Sourdough Starter?
A sourdough starter is a concoction of flour and water that captures the wild yeast and bacteria that are present both in the ingredients and the air. This is so convenient because instead of having to buy yeast from the store, you allow the natural fermentation process to take place. Once your starter is ready to use it becomes akin to a low-maintenance pet that you keep in your kitchen and have to feed in order to keep it alive.
Why You Should Make One
Well before all else, sourdough bread rests at the pinnacle of deliciousness. Once you have one you can add it to just about any recipe to pack in extra flavor. One of our favorite things to make with our starters is pancakes!
But research also suggests that the cultures in sourdough break down gluten, making it easier to digest.
The process of getting your sourdough starter thriving can take about five days.
What You’ll Need
If you have a kitchen scale that is ideal for measuring out ingredients, but if you don’t have a scale measuring cups work just fine.
- 1 cup(113g) rye or whole wheat flour(additional flour needed for feedings)
- ½ cup(113 g) cool water(filtered water preferably)
Feeding Your Starter
Ideas on what and when to feed your starter differ. For this guide, we will be recommending that you feed your starter twice a day after the first day that you put it together.
Combine the flour and water in a non-reactive container. Clear glass is best as it lets you see the progress of your starter most easily. If you have a Mason or Weck jar on hand this is a great time to use it! In any case, you want to pick a container that will be large enough to accommodate the growth of your starter.
Once you have ensured that all of the flour has been incorporated into the mixture you want to cover it loosely and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
You may or may not have seen any changes after the first 24 hours. Bubbles or not just trust the process and continue on! In the morning and at night you must discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
By this point, you should be noticing changes with your starter. An aroma, bubbles, and expansion all mean that you are on the right track. In the morning and at night discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
In the morning and at night discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
On day five you should expect your starter to have doubled in volume and have a multitude of bubbles. It is also normal for it to be giving off a tangy aroma at this stage so do not be concerned. In the morning and at night discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
If it is not at this stage yet continue feeding and discarding in the morning and at night until it reaches this point before moving on to the steps outlined for Day 6.
Discard all but 1/2 cup of your starter and feed it as usual. Let your starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; by now it should be fully active, with bubbles breaking the surface.
How To Tell If Your Starter Is Ready
One of the most common ways to tell if your starter is ready to use in recipes is to do what is referred to as the Float Test! All that you need to do is place a tablespoon of your starter in water and if it floats its ready to go!
Using Your Starter
When following a recipe simply remove as much of your starter as is called for! If you do not have enough at the time simply continue feedings until you do.
We can’t wait to see all of the wonderful things that you make with your starters! Feel free to tag us with your creations or documentation of your growing process on social media. We have started a starter on the day of this blog and will be updating you with its own progress!
Maintaining Your Starter
You’ll want to store your starter in the refrigerator and feed it regularly. Discard 1/4 to 1/2 C of you starter and give it 1/2 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of water once or twice a week. Make sure to mix well and time and now cover it. The container should not be airtight.
The night before you wish to use you starter, discard 1/4 to 1/2 C of you starter and add 1 C of flour and 2/3 C of water, then set it on your counter with a non-airtight lid (I use a piece of cloth!)
Staff Sustainability Picks
In celebration of Earth day we thought we would share some of our staff sustainability picks with you!
Ryan from our Deli department loves our selection of glass jars! They’re a great storage option that look pleasing in your pantry and help you buy in bulk. These jars in particular have a vacuum seal that keeps out bacteria.
Rheanna from our Produce team loves using beeswax wraps instead of traditional cling film. Beeswax wraps are washable and are a great way to keep foods fresh and covered. They’re also a great choice for carrying snacks! We carry a variety of wraps with eye catching prints in our store.
Madison from our Marketing team is a big fan of this Booda Butter deodorant that comes in a glass jar. This deodorant is made with pure, organic ingredients and the sustainable packaging that it comes in makes it a part of your self-care routine that you can feel great about!
Aster from our Deli team is a fan of the Stasher bags that we carry. These bags aren’t only great for storage but a perfect choice for marinades and sous vide cooking as well!
Zero-waste Home Cleaning Tips
There are many things that we could all do in our homes to be a little more environmentally friendly. Ditching products that come in single-use plastic or contain harmful chemicals is a great first step. A total rehaul of your cleaning supplies and routine is not only overwhelming but unnecessary. After all, it would be wasteful to throw out functional cleaning supplies only to replace them with better versions. This guide is meant to help those who are interested in transitioning to more natural products and less wasteful solutions for taking care of their homes. We hope that you find some of these tips helpful!
There are a lot of simple swaps that many of us can make:
- Use what you have. It can be very tempting to buy new eco-friendly cleaning products. But if what you currently have is still functional, we urge you to use it until it no longer works in order to stem waste.
- Avoid single-use materials. Instead of buying paper towels, use reusable cleaning cloths. You might not even need to buy cloths as you likely have old clothes or towels lying around that you can cut up and use as rags instead of throwing out.
- Repurpose whatever you can think of. Instead of tossing out an old toothbrush, keep it for cleaning nooks and crannies.
Conventional cleaning products can contain a myriad of ingredients that are irritating to the skin, eyes, and throat. Unfortunately right now, irritating products such as bleach are the most reliable at keeping you safe from bacteria that can get you sick. It is important to be adequately sanitizing surfaces that things from outside your home have come in contact with to prevent the spread of disease. But for everyday cleaning in many parts of your home using such strong products is unnecessary. Gentler solutions are suitable for areas where there isn’t a concern about outside contaminants.
Below we have outlined two cleaning products that are two simple to assemble yourself and will hopefully bring extra joy to your cleaning routine!
Simple All-purpose Cleaning Spray
We promise that this cleaning spray will have you saying goodbye to the mists that you usually purchase to clean surfaces in your home. This recipe will keep your surfaces clear of toxic compounds and save you the guilt of buying single-use plastics.
- Distilled white vinegar
- The essential oil of your choice(optional- we love using lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus)
- Spray bottle(preferably glass, but if you have an empty plastic one lying around you can repurpose it for this spray)
- Fill a spray bottle halfway with water
- Fill the remaining half of the bottle with distilled white vinegar
- Add in about 20 drops of essential oil of your choice to give the solution a pleasing scent
- Shake well to combine ingredients
Instructions on how to use:
- Shake and spray on any surface of your choice!(You do not want to use this on granite or marble as vinegar can damage these surfaces)
Toilet Cleaning Fizzers
Unlike conventional toilet bowl cleaners, these fizzy toilet bowl cleaners are made with non-toxic ingredients and easy for you to assemble yourself. While these little fizzers are doing their thing in the bowl they are releasing their active ingredients, which work to neutralize odors, disinfect, and remove stains.
- ¾ cup baking soda
- ½ cup citric acid
- 25 drops essential oil of your choice(we love using lemon, orange, or eucalyptus)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 orange or lemon zested (optional- will make these look more appealing and won’t clog your toilet*)
- You will need a silicone mold of some sort to press the mixture into to give these fizzers shape
*It’s a good idea to always zest fruit before juicing it even if you don’t need a zest for the recipe you are following. If you save zest in the freezer then you will always have it on hand when you do need it and you will waste fewer parts of the fruit!
- Combine citric acid, baking soda and orange/lemon zest in a large bowl, mixing them well.
- Add the oil you have chosen to the dry ingredients. Stir well to combine, adding more if you’d like a stronger scent.
- Add water a little bit at a time, mixing with your fingers until it holds together when squeezed but isn’t soaked. You want it to be just damp. Don’t add the water all at once, this will cause your mixture to fizz right away and make a mess.
- Press the mixture into the mold of your choice firmly*. Make sure to press out all the air and compact it together nicely. It might bubble up a bit – if this is the case, consider adding it back to the bowl and putting in more dry ingredients. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water to it.
- Place your mold into the freezer and let the toilet fizzers harden, this part only takes about two hours but you can leave them longer if you want to be sure that they’ve set. Store them in an airtight container such as a mason jar.
*If you do not have, or do not want to use, a mold you can keep this mixture as a powder in an airtight container and use it that way.
Instructions on how to use:
- Drop a fizzer into your toilet bowl and let sit for five minutes. Once enough time has passed scrub and flush the bowl.
How To Make Your Own Scoby
How To Make Your Own Scoby
Many people love kombucha for both its flavor and health benefits. If you love kombucha or are just an eager learner, this guide will take you through the first step of making it yourself.
Acquiring a SCOBY(Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) is the first towards making your own homebrewed kombucha. You can choose to either purchase a SCOBY or make one yourself. Making one is cheaper, surprisingly simple, and of course more fun. So follow along to learn how to make your own SCOBY!
Some of you might be wondering what exactly a SCOBY is. Often referred to as “kombucha mushrooms” or the “mother”
What You’ll Need:
- 7 cups water
- 2 1/3 cups white granulated sugar (1/3 cup sugar per 1 cup water)
- 4 black or green tea bags(or 1 tablespoon looseleaf)
- 1 cup of store-bought, unflavored, unpasteurized kombucha
- 2-quart or larger saucepan
- spoon with a long handle
- 2-quart or larger glass jar
- paper towel, coffee filter, or tightly woven cloth(not cheesecloth) to cover the jar with
- Make sweet tea in the saucepan on the stove. To do this you will first bring the water to a boil. Once the water is 130 degrees Fahrenheit (or just started to form bubbles on the sides of the pan) remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar and add the black or green tea tea. Allow the mixture to steep for 3-6 minutes (depending on the type of tea). Then set aside until it has reached room temperature(80 degrees Fahrenheit or less).
- Combine sweet tea and kombucha in the jar. Now that the sweet tea has cooled off you will add it to the large jar. Then add the kombucha on top. Stir to combine.
- Cover and observe mixture for 2-4 weeks. Now that the mixture has been combined you will need to cover the mouth of the jar with some sort of tightly woven cloth, a coffee filter, or a paper towel. Secure the covering with a rubber band(or two). You want to keep the jar somewhere where the average room temperature is around 70°F, it won’t get carelessly moved around, and where it is out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can circumvent the fermentation process so it is important to protect your jar from too much direct sunlight.
- Observe the changes. You won’t notice anything different about your mixture for the first few days, but gradually bubbles will begin to form on the surface. These bubbles will over time gather into a filmy layer. Bubbles will gather at the edges of the jelly-like film. This is due to carbon-dioxide from the fermentation process and is a good sign that all is going well!
- Eventually, this film will thicken into an opaque layer. This process can take 2-4 weeks depending on the conditions in which the jar is kept. Once this layer is about a ¼ inch thick it is ready to be used to make kombucha! Don’t be thrown off by the color or texture of your scoby. It will be opaque and tough on the top, and a light brown and loose on the bottom.
Once all of these steps have been completed you will be ready to try a recipe to make your own kombucha! You will keep the SCOBY from this recipe, but the liquid will be far too vinegary to drink. You can discard it or use it as a cleaning solution for your counters if you like.
Eating For Immune System Health
As a food co-op, the health and wellbeing of our community is our top priority. We receive questions daily about vitamins and supplements, which are wonderful additions to a diverse diet of healthful foods. But a good immune system starts with a healthy diet. Like any other system, your immune system is complex and requires balance to thrive.That said, there is no diet that can prevent you from becoming sick. But eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to secure overall health. The confusion of the past weeks has upset many of our regular patterns, and amidst all this stress and confusion it is more important than ever to maintain a balanced diet consisting of whole foods packed with nutrients.
We may not be nutritionists or physicians, but as a supplier of healthful foods, we like to think that we know a thing or two about what’s good for our wellbeing. So here are some tips on how to best support your immune system health.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
We would be remiss to make a list such as this and not mention the holy grail of cold and flu season. We’ve all been advised by a well-meaning friend or relative to consume extra vitamin C when there is a nasty bug going around. And while this vitamin isn’t the magical cure-all that many would have us to believe it is, it has been shown to play a role in improving immune system health. Research has shown that eating 200mg daily of this vitamin is most effective, as any greater amount cannot be properly absorbed. Foods that are high in vitamin C are citrus fruits, bell pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. Vitamin is absorbed best by the body when paired with iron. So you want to stack supplements or foods containing each of them.
Foods with Vitamin E
Much like vitamin C vitamin E has been linked with greater immune system health. This vitamin has been shown by research to be a powerful antioxidant that can help modulate the functioning of the immune system. You can get your daily dose of this vitamin by adding sunflower seeds or almonds to your meals and snacks. While these two are the best sources of vitamin E it can also be found in spinach, peanuts, avocado, and many other foods. Vitamin E is also present in many cooking oils such as safflower oil and wheat germ oil. The best way to get enough of this vitamin is to eat a well-balanced diet full of healthy fats, experts warn against overdoing it with supplementation for this one.
Sources of Selenium
Studies have linked a lack of selenium with a delayed immune response. This often-overlooked mineral can be found in Brazil nuts and seafood. Brazil nuts are an easy addition to a morning bowl of oatmeal or can be chopped up and used as a garnish on a salad. Selenium is often included in multivitamins or can be found isolated as a supplement. All forms of this mineral are shown to be well absorbed by the body.
There are many more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants linked to greater immune system health, but we thought that we’d keep it at three just to get you started. Make sure to check out our Recipes page, which we are constantly updating with healthful recipes!