An Ode to Honey Bees

An Ode to Bees on National Honey bee Day

Close to 3/4 of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators, and a big chunk of that is the humble honey bee. It’s difficult to fully grasp the vast and delicate balance that our ecosystem rests upon and the part that bees play in that. And for as much as we appreciate a drizzle of honey in our tea, many of us may overlook the larger implications surrounding honey bees and their dwindling populations. Let this blog serve as an opportunity for a newfound (or renewed) appreciation.

National Honey Bee Day, held every third Saturday of August, shines a light on these tireless pollinators and the equally tireless beekeepers tending to them. Beginning as a National Honey Bee Day in 2009, the essence of this day has spread and its purpose is twofold: to savor the sweet nectar that is honey and to stand in solidarity with efforts that sustain honey bee populations.

This year, we would like to help spotlight the amazing flight of the honey bee and capture the moments that accentuate its beauty and significance to us all. 

Some Quick Fun Facts About Honey Bees:

  • The amount of distance that bees travel in an effort to make enough honey for one jar is about 100,000 air miles
  • When the temperature in the hive drops below anywhere 50 degrees in Winter, bees shiver themselves warm with the help of their flight muscles. In this way, they can heat their home back up to over 85 degrees
  • Bees communicate with each other using a special “waggle dance.” Through specific movements, they can convey information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, water sources, or to new nest-site locations
  • Bees can fly at a speed of up to 15 miles per hour and their wings beat about 200 times per second

Our connection to honey bees goes far beyond the jar of honey you have in your pantry. Their pollinating abilities play a critical role in our agricultural systems. Without their intervention, many foods that enrich our diet wouldn’t even make it to our plates in the first place. Global and national reports such as the annual Loss & Management Survey show that the decline in honey bee populations is alarming. This makes World Honey Bee Day more than just a day of acknowledgment—it’s a call to foster environments that support honey bees.

The rich agricultural landscape of Yolo County and its surroundings is a testament to the hard work of local farmers and, of course, our buzzing friends. However, the region’s dependency on pollinators like honey bees brings to light the urgent need for sustainable practices to bolster their populations. Pesticide use, habitat destruction, and other factors challenge their survival here.

 While it’s pivotal for us to urge policymakers to devise bee-friendly policies, it’s equally essential for us to integrate practices into our daily lives that amplify their well-being right here at home.That’s why we prioritize sourcing from local, organic, and sustainable producers . This conscious choice aids in promoting bee-friendly agricultural practices so that we can preserve and uplift bee habitats.

 While the blooming flowers of 2023 after a wet Winter have brought a prosperous season for our pollinators, it’s imperative that we maintain our momentum in supporting and celebrating them, not just today but every day. So, next time you spot a bee (or beekeeper for that matter), make sure you say something sweet as honey to them to show your appreciation.

More >>

Maui Wildfire Relief Efforts

Support Relief Efforts in Maui

Like many around the world, we have been devastated by the loss of life and land caused by a recent wildfire in Maui. When these tragedies occur, it is natural to want to lend support to relief efforts that are helping victims. However, with so many different organizations to choose from, it can be difficult to know where you should best focus your attention. Below is a list of vetted local organizations in Maui that are providing grassroots support for the victims of this wildfire.

Ama OluKai Foundation  

The sustainable footwear company OluKai, a certified B-corp, has a decade-long history of supporting the Hawaiian community through its Ama OluKai Foundation.  The Foundation is set up to take direct donations and is matching funds up to $200,000 to directly support victims of the Maui wildfire.

https://olukai.com/products/maui-fire-relief-fund

Hawai’i Community Foundation  

The Hawaii Community Foundation has been the leader in Hawaiian philanthropic efforts for over 100 years. They immediately set up the Maui Strong Fund to solicit donations for fire relief which has raised more than $27M from over 100,000 donors in more than 40 countries. They are continuing to raise fee-free donations that can be deployed quickly, with a focus on rapid response and recovery.

https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong

Hawai’i Food Bank  

Hawaiʻi Foodbank is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency that provides food assistance to the state of Hawaiʻi. Online donations will be quickly utilized to help provide support and food assistance to those in need through their partnership with the Maui Food Bank. 

https://hawaiifoodbank.org/maui-relief/#

Regenerative Education Center

REC is a sustainable Nonprofit farm on the south side of Lahaina that teaches regenerative agriculture. Although the farm was heavily damaged by the fires, they are offering generators, solar power, plumbing, food and the shade of their mango trees as an off-the-grid shelter option for displaced residents.

https://www.recenters.org/

More >>

Ujamaa Farmer Collective – DFC’s 2023 Apple-a-Day Recipient

Each year, the Co-op donates $0.10 for every pound of apples sold over the course of a year through our “Apple-a-Day” program. With 61,959 lbs of apples sold from July 2022 – June 2023, we were left with $6,196 to donate to a local organization.

For this year’s donation, we have chosen Ujamaa Farmer Collective
as our recipient.

The $6,196 donation will directly support the Collective’s fundraising efforts to “build a Black-led, BIPOC-centered agriculture business cooperative committed to providing long-term, affordable land access for multiple existing BIPOC farmers/ranchers struggling with land security” here in Yolo County. In this blog we will tell you more about the vision of the Ujamaa Farmer Collective and how you can help them achieve their goals.

Ujamaa Farmer Collective Leadership Team
(pictured from left to right):
Keith Hudson (Grocery Croppers, LLC),
Brian Pinkney (We Grow Urban Farm),
Nathaniel Brown (Brown Sugar Farm),
Nelson Hawkins (We Grow Urban Farm)

 

To best understand these goals, we must first consider some historical context. In 1910, around 14% of farmers* in the US were Black and they owned more than 16 million acres across the country. Today only around 1% of US farmers are Black while nearly 95% are White. Many factors over the past 100 years have led to such a sharp decline.

* It should be noted that “farmer” is also known as “producer” in these counts and consists of a farm’s owner, a member of the owner’s family, a manager, a tenant, a renter, or a sharecropper and does not include the employees (known as farmworkers).

Since the early 20th century, Black farmers have faced a long history of injustices including unequal access to credit and federal aid. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has faced multiple lawsuits, including the landmark case of Pigford v. Glickman in 1999, for its history of discriminatory practices that have limited Black farmers’ abilities to invest in their farms and acquire land. Compounding these economic challenges, many Black farmers deal with the complex issue of heirs’ property – a form of land ownership that arises when a landowner dies without a will, leading to the vulnerable division of property amongst the deceased’s heirs. This precarious situation resulted in a 90% decline in Black-owned farmland nationwide between 1910 and 1997, resulting in an estimated capital loss of $326 billion . In addition to these systemic inequities, Black landowners have also faced intimidation, violence, and illegal land seizures, all furthering the gap in land access for Black farmers.

Enter the Ujamaa Farmer Collective. Meaning “fraternity or familyhood” in Swahili, the term “Ujamaa” is the fourth principle of Kwanzaa created through cooperative economics as a practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it.This is at the root of what the Ujamaa Farmer Collective hopes to achieve. Created by a compassionate group of advocates within the CDFA BIPOC Advisory Committee, the Collective has been created to work towards addressing the challenge of land tenure amongst historically underserved farmers.

Built upon the work of AB 1348: The Farmer Equity Act,  the Collective notes in a blog on the Kitchen Table Advisors website that their focus is “to provide land for BIPOC farm businesses to steward through long-term, affordable leases. These leasing opportunities, ranging from ½ acre to 20-acre plots owned by the collective, will enable existing farm business owners to grow their operations on secure land parcels. The collective also aims to provide on-site housing for the farmers, allowing these business owners to fully immerse themselves in their farms while also raising and tending to their families”

The Collective has already successfully advocated for state funding to acquire a 50-100 acre parcel of land in Yolo County and recently attained counsel to aid them in establishing their 501(c)(3). They have raised $1.25 million towards their campaign goal of $2.5 million so far and are working with Possibility Labs as their fiscal sponsor to make this dream a reality. The work to choose and develop a site is underway as they continue to fundraise to build these equitable opportunities for Black and BIPOC farmers. While the Collective has made great progress, and the Co-op is happy to contribute towards that progress, the work is far from complete to reach their campaign goal of $2.5 million. That is where we are calling on our Co-op community to help support these continued efforts. 

As a co-op in our community for the past 50 years, we know the power of collective effort to make changes in our local food systems. In recognizing that, we must also recognize that the changes that our co-op has influenced during that time have largely benefitted only White communities. As noted in an article on the Cool Davis website, supporting this project “is a once in a generation opportunity to do something well within our grasp that will have a significant positive impact right here at home. The impact will reverberate in all aspects of Yolo county racial equity lived experience, in our sustainable food system, in the resilience of our community”.

Co-op shoppers are encouraged to visit the Ujamaa Farmer Collective’s website to learn more or get involved and make a donation through either GoFundMe or Raisly.

More >>

Avoiding Plastic is a Privilege

In conversations about environmental sustainability, it’s common for plastic to play the part as a universal villain.

 Indeed, the harmful environmental impacts of plastic pollution are well-documented and significant. And while we spend the month of July recognizing Plastic Free July with calls to reduce our reliance on plastic, it’s critical to remember that the ability to completely avoid plastic consumption is a privilege that not everyone shares.

Plastic pollution not only disproportionately affects marginalized communities, it also greatly affects their ability to reduce plastic use due to socioeconomic circumstances. Undeniably, plastic has been so deeply woven into the fabric of our societies because it’s cheap, durable, and convenient. Because of this, communities in economically distressed regions often depend on plastic for its accessibility and affordability. To expect these communities to prioritize plastic reduction over immediate economic concerns is not only unfair, but also unfeasible.

This begs us to question – Who truly has the ability to avoid plastic use? The answer shouldn’t be surprising. Those who are best suited to afford to live a plastic-free lifestyle typically enjoy a certain level of economic stability and live in environments where plastic-free alternatives are readily available. They have the privilege to make this choice – a choice that is not universally accessible. 

This is not a justification for complacency. Rather, it is a call to broaden our understanding and work towards true inclusive sustainability. Just as with our discussions on climate change and its disproportionate effects on marginalized groups, the dialogue on plastic consumption should also include its social and economic dimensions.

 The discourse around plastic use reduction must include plastic-free options that are affordable and accessible to all communities. Green initiatives need to extend their reach beyond the privileged and include those on the front lines of plastic consumption. And most importantly, we should never shame people who make the decision to purchase plastic products. While we may be in a position to avoid plastic consumption, it is unfair to assume that everyone has that same luxury. 

Inclusion is a key to a truly sustainable future. This blog serves as an invitation for us to widen our lens and recognize the privilege inherent in our consumption choices. It calls upon us to be advocates for change not just in our actions, but in our understanding of sustainability and the challenges faced by others in achieving it. The pursuit of sustainability should not be a luxury, but a necessity, and it must be done so through a process that holds those in power accountable so that it can be a pursuit that includes us all. 

There are many excellent organizations that work at the intersection of environmental justice and social equity. Here are a few that you can learn more about:

Green For All is an organization that fights for a world that is green for all, not green for some. They work at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution.

The Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program, one of the oldest environmental organizations in the U.S., has a program specifically dedicated to promoting environmental justice and reducing health disparities by engaging leaders in communities that are most affected by pollution.

WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that People of Color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders aims to serve as a resource to increase the capacity of philanthropy to support just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. They offer various resources and avenues for involvement.

Indigenous Environmental Network was established by grassroots Indigenous peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues, and to empower Indigenous communities towards sustainable livelihoods and preserving their cultures.

More >>

Advocating for Farm and Food Policy

The Davis Food Co-op is more than a grocery store, it is a collective of people who have the power to shape local, national, and global food systems.

Right now in the United States, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in the journey to redefine our food system. The future of our food is being decided by lawmakers right now.

The best part? You have the power to voice your opinion to help shape it.

The Farm Bill, a crucial piece of legislation that can set the tone for our nation’s food and agriculture policy, is currently under review. Our elected officials are considering which proposals will be included in this year’s bill – decisions that will impact our food system for the next five years. We believe it’s time for a more equitable food system that puts farmworkers first and is more just, resilient, and regenerative, and that’s where you come in. By familiarizing yourself with the Bill and Acts that accompany it, you can put yourself in a position to advocate for that which you feel most strongly about.

A recent blog from National Co+op Grocers (NCG) provides you with a detailed list of current (and growing) proposed bills, outlining what they aim to achieve and who supports them. Whether it’s a bill that champions small-scale farmers or one that incentivizes organic farming, you can find the ones that you resonate with and lend them your support.

As part of NCG, we strive to advocate for our communities’ shared priorities for the food system. Together, we can make our voices heard and play a role in shaping a sustainable and equitable food landscape. Want to get involved but not sure where to start? No worries, the blog post above has you covered with easy instructions on how to contact Congress, whether you prefer to make a phone call or write an email. You’ll also find some tips to help you articulate your support.

The changes we want to see in the world often start from the grassroots. By raising our voices in numbers to our elected officials, we can influence policies that impact our food, our farmers, and ultimately, our communities. Let’s work together to create the food system we all deserve. Let’s act now, the food future depends on it!

More >>

Co-ops Keep Democracy Alive

Our society should work for everyone

This should not be as lofty of a goal as it is made out to be. And yet, this simple idea must work through a web of institutional failures that we are tasked with undoing and fixing in order to become a reality. This work requires, among many other aspects, a firm commitment to democracy on both a national and local level.

A strong democratic society ensures that all voices are heard, resources are allocated equitably and decisions are made in the best interest of the entire community instead of just a select few. The ways in which a community can uphold democracy are extensive. Quality education and information sharing, political representation that reflects the identity of the community, and open public forums that encourage healthy debate are a few of the examples that may come to mind first. In addition, (and we may be biased on this) one of the most effective ways for a community to practice democracy is through the building and sustaining of local cooperatives. 

Cooperatives (aka co-ops) are community-owned and operated groups and businesses that are democratic by nature. Whether they are a consumer, producer, agricultural, worker, housing, or any other type of co-op, their democratic processes prioritize shared decision-making which ultimately creates a more equitable distribution of resources. By giving Members/Owners a say in how the business or group is run, cooperatives ensure that the community’s needs are met in a way that benefits everyone in the collective.

Consumer grocery co-ops (like us!), in particular, can play a significant role in keeping communities democratic. These stores not only provide access to fresh, local, and healthy food, they operate under a cooperative model that give Owners a say in how the business is run, ensuring that it always serves the needs of the community. This means that a grocery co-op can be more than just a grocery store; it can be a pillar in their city that makes decisions around philanthropy, sustainable practices, inclusion, and more that help define the community in a way that traditional corporations often cannot, or will not.

As a community-owned store that started as a buying club in 1972, the Davis Food Co-op is proud to play a significant role in promoting democracy and equity throughout our organization as well as in the City of Davis and Yolo County at large. We believe that democracy is an essential part of establishing a just and equitable society and we know that process begins in our own community. By giving our Owners the ability to vote and run for our Board of Directors, we ensure that the entire community’s needs are addressed in the business decisions that we make. By promoting shared decision-making and a commitment to the greater good, our co-op can continue to build a future where our community works to serve everyone and can hopefully inspire others to strive for more control over their resources and decision-making as well.

As of the posting of this blog on 5/11/23, we are currently in the process of our Annual Elections. From now until 5/20/23, Davis Food Co-op Owners have the opportunity to vote online for three new Board Members as well as four new Round Up at the Register recipients. To sweeten the deal even more this year, we will be raffling off a $100 gift card to a lucky Owner simply for voting. For more information, visit our Elections page here.

Not yet an Owner but want to learn how you can become one? Visit us in store at the Customer Service Desk or at our Ownership page here.

More >>

Why Buying Organic is More Sustainable

The care that we show for Earth is far too important for our focus to only take place during a singular day or month each year in April. As a species, it is our duty to make any positive impact that we can to not only maintain the health of our planet, but now more than ever, to try to reverse the adverse effects that our actions have had on the health of ourselves and entire habitats across the globe. While this may seem daunting, in addition to large policy decisions that should be made on a global level, there are also daily choices that we can all make to move the pendulum back in the opposite direction. It is important to recognize the significance of the many sustainable choices that exist, including buying organic produce. Organic farming practices prioritize the health of the environment, our bodies, and wildlife, making it a more sustainable alternative to conventional farming practices.

Organic farming supports biodiversity by utilizing natural methods to control pests and diseases. This approach encourages a diverse range of organisms to thrive in the soil and around crops, which can have a positive impact on the surrounding ecosystem. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, organic farming practices can support up to 50% more plant, insect, and bird species than conventional farming practices. Go to any local farm in Yolo County using organic methods and you will see this to be true. The amount of wildlife found on land using organic farming practices is quite stark when compared with their conventional counterparts.

Furthermore, organic farming practices can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers, organic farming methods require less fossil fuel consumption in production. Additionally, organic farming practices, such as cover cropping, can help sequester carbon in the soil, which can help mitigate climate change. A study published in the journal Nature found that organic farming practices could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30% compared to conventional farming practices.

The Davis Food Co-op recognizes the importance of sustainability and is committed to sourcing organic produce. By buying your produce at the Co-op, you are in turn supporting organic farming practices, which can help to reduce the environmental impact of conventional agriculture, while also providing your household with more high-quality, nutritious food. As we celebrate Earth Month, let us look to continue our recognition for the planet year-round and continue to make choices that prioritize the health and wellbeing of our planet.

For more information on Sustainability from the Co-op, be sure to check out our other blogs here

More >>

Recognizing World Water Day

Did you Know that March 22nd is

World Water Day?

 

Nearly 60% of our bodies and around 70% of our planet are water. As a necessity for life on our planet, it should go without saying that water is pretty important. And yet, many of us are unaware of the fragility of our water systems and some of the global issues surrounding water, and access to it.

World Water Day is an annual event held on March 22nd that raises awareness about the importance of freshwater and the need to manage it sustainably. The event was established by the United Nations in 1993 and has been recognized every year since. Each year a theme is selected as an area of focus to bring attention to a particular issue in the world of water. The theme for World Water Day in 2023 is to strive towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. Unfortunately, according to the UN, this is a goal that we are collectively far behind on.

Global Water Sanitation

The hard reality is that the availability of freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce in many parts of the world. According to the United Nations, over 2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and by 2025, half of the world’s population could be living in water-stressed areas. This makes World Water Day an important opportunity to focus attention on the urgent need to protect and conserve our freshwater resources.

While it is important for us to continue putting pressure on our world leaders to take steps towards creating a world with clean water for everyone, we must also focus on the small day-to-day tasks that we can do to promote the practice of ensuring clean water and sanitation for all.

 This checklist was created in conjunction with the Water Action Plan as easy to implement to-dos for people across the world. You can see how others are taking more direct action on their Be the Change site here.

 

How about here at home?

Yolo County and Central California are both heavily reliant on water for agriculture, with the Central Valley being one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. However, our region is also facing significant challenges related to water scarcity and water quality. Groundwater overdraft, recent droughts, and contamination from agricultural runoff are just some of the issues that are affecting our region’s water resources.

An immediate way that the Co-op can help combat these issues is by the continued sourcing of products from local, organic and sustainable producers, which can help to support more responsible water use and quality practices. However, by understanding the impacts of water use in agriculture and other sectors nearby, we can all can make more informed choices and help to promote sustainable water management practices in our communities. We can also support advocacy efforts aimed at protecting and conserving freshwater resources locally and beyond.

While recent rainfall to start 2023 feels promising in alleviating some of the drought-related stress surrounding our water supply, it is important to continue water conservation efforts and stay up-to-date with information on the state of our water directly from Yolo County.

The importance of clean water and the issues surrounding its access cannot be overstated and are far from covered comprehensively in this short blog. For more information, we encourage you to visit the UN’s dedicated page to World Water Day here    

More >>