Indigenous Food Sovereignty
One of the largest impacts of the Pandemic over the last two years was towards food security, a topic you may have become more familiar with as demand for food bank services reached an all time high. As a co-op and part of the community, many of us inherently understand the importance of creating a food system that can nourish everyone. To take it one step further, in order to truly care about this topic and its impact on our local communities, it is important to also realize the land in which these communities occupy. In order to do this, we must understand the importance of the concept of Indigenous Food Sovereignty.
The Davis Food Co-op occupies land that belongs to three federally recognized Patwin tribes: Cachil DeHe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community, Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.
Indigenous Food Sovereignty
While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5% of the world’s population, they account for 15% of the world’s poor, according to a study published by the United Nations. Indigenous Food Sovereignty is an approach to help address that issue, among others, that face Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Food Systems Network describes the multi-faceted concept of Indigenous Food Sovereignty like this:
“The food sovereignty movement is building around the world and while there is no universal definition, it can be described as the newest and most innovative approach to achieving the end goal of long term food security. Indigenous food sovereignty is a specific policy approach to addressing the underlying issues impacting Indigenous peoples and our ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods. Community mobilization and the maintenance of multi-millennial cultural harvesting strategies and practices provide a basis for forming and influencing policy driven by practice.”
As a relatively new undertaking in the world of policy, these concepts are all about returning to information, methods and practices that span thousands of years on this land. Many organizations have taken it upon themselves to push Indigenous Food Sovereignty forward, and this blog will highlight just a few of them. These widespread local efforts aim to transform and reclaim local food systems in a way that benefits the Indigenous communities of the regions they exist in. This spans actions from combating hunger, increasing access to healthy and traditional foods, enhancing community health, and creating food policies, to targeting food as a mechanism for entrepreneurship and economic development amongst Indigenous communities.
As part of the First Nations Development Institute’s mission to “Strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities”, a three year collaborative film process took place. The goal of the film was to show the work of First Nations’ grantees and partners as they supported Indigenous communities to build sustainable foodways to improve health, strengthen food security and increase control over Native agriculture and food systems. The film, titled GATHER can be found streaming on Netflix.
Outside of education on the topic, you may be thinking to yourself, how can I support this movement? Luckily, there has already been a list compiled of 28 Global Organizations promoting Indigenous Food Sovereignty that has some great organizations that are always in need of monetary donations to continue their mission.
USDA Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative
Indigenous Seed Keepers Network
50 Changes over 50 Years at the Co-op
As the new year begins, it is a time to think about resolutions and change. Entering 2022 means that we are entering our 50th Anniversary here at the Co-op which makes for the perfect opportunity to think about some of the changes that have been made here over those 50 years. This is by no means a complete list as the nature of the Co-op, like with most things, is in a constant state of change and evolution. This is, however, a chance to reflect on some of the ways we have stayed true to the Co-op’s values even as we have grown from a buying club of 10 households to a full service grocery store with 10,000 Owners.
Interested to read more about the Co-op’s foundation? Check out “Looking Back: A Davis Food Co-op History (1972-1984)” by Chris Laning.
1) The People’s Food Conspiracy Begins (1972)
1972: The year that it all began. A buying club was organized by UC Davis students that were interested in buying their food straight from the supplier. This small group of households started by collectively purchasing cheese, produce and bulk dry goods together. These products would then be distributed amongst the members in the living rooms and garages of the members’ households. This early group was not only interested in sourcing natural foods at bulk prices, they were interested in structures that existed outside of the traditional capitalistic model. Because of this, the early name chosen by the founding members was “The People’s Food Conspiracy”.
2) The move to the Co-op’s First Storefront (1976)
Perhaps the most influential change in the early years of the Co-op to get us to where we are now came in 1976 with the move into a storefront on L Street. This 600 square foot former bulk dog-food store helped to further formalize an organization that started off as a buying club that had multiple storage points around town.
3) Vote to Begin Incorporation and First Bylaws Introduced (1977)
During a Policy Meeting in 1977, Owners approved a vote to begin proceedings to officially incorporate as a cooperative corporation. The advantages of incorporating included increased credibility, the possibility of reducing taxes through patronage refunds to members, and limited liability protection of members’ personal assets if the co-op were ever to be sued. The first proposed bylaws were also drafted during this time and went through many revisions.
4) Move to second storefront (1978)
In another important milestone, and only two years after the first move, a bigger storefront on 5th Street became the home of the Davis Food Co-op. Just a couple blocks away, this 2,160 square foot space relied on member loans to finance the move and was done quickly, just in time to beat out another potential tenant who wanted the space as well!
5) The Co-op’s first Paid Staff (1978)
Originally operated by Member-Owners that were asked to volunteer their time as a condition of Ownership, it eventually became a topic of conversation to consider introducing paid staff. Needing help most urgently with bookkeeping, it was a part-time bookkeeping position that became the first paid staff position at the Co-op.
6) Introduction of the Carrot & Fist Logo (1978)
Several logos had been used in the early years of the Co-op. Before this one, the most prominent was the two pine trees in a circle which is a well-known symbol for co-ops around the world and is still used today. The carrot & fist logo in the late 70s came about as the winner of a design contest voted on by Owners and was adopted as the Co-op’s trademark at the time. The symbolic logo with its proud proclamation of “Food For People, Not For Profit” is the perfect representation of the values that drove the inception of the DFC and still fuel our purpose as a co-op today.
7) Introduction of the First Product with White Sugar as an Ingredient (1978)
While this may seem uneventful by today’s standards, the idea of the Co-op carrying anything with white sugar was extremely taboo in the first decade of its existence. The founding Ownership of the Co-op focused on bringing mainly healthy foods from small or local businesses as opposed to junk food from large corporations. However, the Mystic Mint cookies, made with real cocoa, peppermint oil, and yes, white sugar, broke the typical product mold and served as a representative item for how product selection would happen at the Co-op. At the end of the day, the Co-op is member-owned and must make decisions that reflect the Ownership’s desires. That is why today you will still see some conventional products among our selection of organic and local selections.
8) Officially incorporated as Davis Food Coop Inc (1981)
A process to officially incorporate that started in 1978 was completed two and a half years later in 1981. The reason for the lengthy process had a lot to do with the Ownership finalizing some important pieces of the bylaws as well as cleaning up some of the files that could prove Ownership at the time.
9) The Final Store Relocation (1984)
The site of the former Safeway on G Street had been a topic of conversation for many years among Co-op Owners at the time and had actually gone to a failed vote a couple of years prior. However, without the ability to further expand at 5th Street and with no other buildings available that made sense for a grocery store, the G Street location re-emerged as the most logical move. The decision was taken to a vote in which the measure passed with 76% voting in favor in what was the biggest voter turnout in the Co-op’s history at the time.
10) The First Annual Holiday Meal (1985)
An LGBTQ couple, who were both employees of the Co-op, had no plans for the Holidays because neither of their families would take them in. The couple, recognizing that there were others facing the same dilemma, organized a meal for any and all to attend. The event continued the following year, and every year since, evolving into a community wide effort on Christmas Eve to provide a free and warm meal for as many as 700 people. While the COVID-19 pandemic the past two years has changed the format of this event from a sit down meal to a take out meal, we have still been able to feed hundreds of people and will continue to do so each Christmas Eve.
11) Introduction of the new Sky & Fields Logo (1988)
As the Co-op evolved, so did the logo that represented it. The late 80s saw a switch to the Sky & Fields logo which paid homage to the agricultural bounty and beauty in the region in that the Co-op sources from and represents.
12) First Major Interior Remodel of the G Street Store (1992)
In a proper grocery store location and with 20 years under its belt, the Co-op began some extensive renovations to the interior of the store. While these changes to expand and improve would be far from the last changes made to the store, these significant strides would help pave the way for the store as we know it today.
13) Vote on a Proposal for a Second Store Fails (1993)
The idea of opening a second store in another part of town had long been discussed and debated. In 1993, the Ownership base voted to make a final decision on a particular proposal. The proposal was put forth for the Co-op to have a second store in West Davis in the Farm Town Shopping Center on Lake Blvd (now known as Westlake Plaza). However, the vote was tallied and the proposal failed amongst the Owners at the time.
14) Installation of Davis Cooperative Centennial Clock (1997)
The installation of this clock is best described by the inscription on the plaque that accompanies it:
“The Davisville Almond Growers Association was formed on January 31, 1897. Thus began the first century of cooperative enterprise in Davis. That group of Davis growers became leaders in the creation of Blue Diamond Growers; now, one of the largest cooperatives in California. Later, the co-op leaders played a key role in bringing the University Farm to Davis. The almond co-op formed on G Street was the first in the development of the “City of Cooperatives.” From artists to artesanos, childcare to co-housing, students to seniors, domes to homes, today over thirty cooperative enterprises meet many kinds of needs. This plaque marks the place where the Cooperative Centenary Clock was commemorated. Celebrate with us the hopes and aspirations for a new millennium for cooperatives.”
15) Exterior Remodel to the Patio (1997)
Working with local architect Maria Ogrydziak, the Co-op began to make some exterior remodels that made the store feel more communal and iconic. From Maria’s website: “The Davis Food Co-op wanted to convert an existing, “big-box” grocery store in an undistinguished strip mall into a visible destination that would be the ‘green’ heart of a vibrant, participatory community. Besides selling locally sourced produce and goods, the Co-op should be a place to meet and socialize with other members. The membership-funded project represented an important moment in the history of the Davis Food Co-op – as it sought a larger presence in the growing farm-to-fork movement in the heart of the agricultural California Central Valley.”
16) Introduction of the Co-op Sign (1997)
Likely the most notable and recognizable feature of the Co-op as you approach the store is the giant Co-op sign that greets you. This iconic addition to the store created an instant identity and brand while simultaneously reminding shoppers about that one major thing that makes this store different than the other grocery stores in town. It is a proud declaration and a personality; it is everything that the Co-op represents.
17) Received Environmental Recognition Award from the City of Davis (1997)
The City of Davis makes an annual recognition of the environmental contributions of an individual or group, a business, and a non-profit organization that have gone above and beyond to improve the environmental quality of life in and around Davis. First introduced in 1995, honorees of the award are said to “set an example of how to conduct business, set up a home or school environment, and/or live daily in a manner that encourages sustainability and harmony with nature”. The Davis Food Co-op first won this award in 1997 and won again in 2001.
18) Purchase of Teaching Kitchen Building (2000)
In staying true to the fifth cooperative principle, the Co-op is always looking for ways to be an educational pillar for the community. In purchasing the building at 537 G Street across from the store, the Co-op opened up new opportunities to introduce Teaching Kitchen classes that cover a wide variety of offerings.
19) Installation of Tomato Sculpture (2000)
Another iconic fixture of the Co-op’s entrance is the “Portrait of a Plump Tomato” sculpture by local artist Gerald Heffernon. Made of epoxy and automotive paint, this Davis landmark has become the mascot of the Co-op and another nod to the agriculture that has helped build not only the store, but the region in which it resides.
20) Installation of Solar Panels (2000)
In continuing with the strides to be a business that was committed to sustainability and the environment, the Co-op made the decision to install solar panels atop its roof to help power the store with renewable energy. This would help the Co-op win its second Environmental Recognition Award from the City of Davis in 2001.
21) First Patronage Refund Issued to Shareholders (2004)
One of the perks of Ownership and principles of cooperatives is Member Economic Participation. In profitable years, the Board can make the decision to allocate money to go back to Owners in the form of a Patronage Refund. This refund is based on an Owner’s shopping over that fiscal year and every Owner, no matter how long they have been one, is eligible. 2004 was the first year that this was possible.
22) Mermaid Sushi Opens at the Co-op (2006)
It is hard to imagine a Co-op today without Mermaid Sushi behind the counter. However, it was not until 2006 that this business, with other locations across the West Coast, began renting space next to the Co-op’s Deli Department. They have been there ever since serving up the highest quality fresh and sustainable sushi.
23) The First “Carrots in the Classroom” Teaching Kitchen Class for Kids (2006)
What good is education for the community if the kiddos aren’t involved? Starting in 2006, kids classes began in the Teaching Kitchen to get them interested how fun and tasty nutritious foods can be. This education has continued and today you can find an entire page dedicated to kids on our website here.
24) Complete Rebrand and Introduction of Current Logo (2009)
The Co-op’s branding as we know it today came largely from big changes that took place in 2009. Focusing on the iconic tomato and sign that define the Co-op, the new logo sought to highlight these symbols as the face of the Co-op.
25) Installation of New Cash Register System (2010)
A new decade at the Co-op was welcomed with an improved cash register system. This system would allow for a greater ease of transaction and linking to Ownership accounts.
26) Installation of “The Four Growing Seasons” Mosaic (2010)
One of the most beautiful pieces of art in the city of Davis is on the Co-op’s patio and it is titled “The Four Growing Seasons” by the late Mark Rivera. This extraordinary piece depicts local agriculture throughout the four seasons with our planet as the centerpiece. This piece will be a continuous reminder of the reason that the Co-op came to be and still exists today as well as a way to always honor a beloved local artist.
27) Installation of “Care-Rooted” Carrot Statue (2012)
The Co-op’s 40th Anniversary was commemorated with another Mark Rivera piece at the Co-op. Another ode to agriculture and the Co-op’s roots greets everyone as they enter the parking lot at the Co-op.
28) Updated Energy Efficient Beer Coolers (2014)
The only thing better than cold beer is cold beer that came from an energy efficient cooler. This is one of the many changes and upgrades that the Co-op has made over the years to ensure that it is operating as sustainably as possible.
29) Upgraded to Energy Efficient Meat Case (2014)
Following the installation of the energy efficient beer cooler came the energy efficient meat case. This made it so that all of the coolers along the back wall of the Co-op were energy efficient.
30) “In the Key of Davis” community piano comes to the Co-op (2015)
What is now a great annual tradition of hearing piano sounds around town made its introduction at the Co-op in 2015. This was a seasonal program from In the Key of Davis to put community pianos out at landmarks in the city of Davis. Today, however, the piano at the Co-op has become one that will live in that spot on the patio year-round.
31) Introduction of Co+op Basics Program (2016)
Along with the rest of the stores who are also members of the National Cooperative Grocers, the Co-op introduced a program called the Co+op Basics Program. The Co+op Basics program is a selection of staple foods and household goods—including natural and organic products—that are priced below the suggested retail. The Co-op is able to offer this program not by paying less to employees or farmers, but instead, by working with a network of other cooperatively owned food stores across the country to negotiate lower prices on healthy, organic, and natural products.
32) Switch to Sustainable Landscaping (2017)
With California’s drought continuing to worsen, it became more and more evident that water wise solutions be found both for homes and businesses. The Co-op responded by switching to drought tolerant native landscaping around both the store and Teaching Kitchen.
33) Extensive Store Remodel (2018)
The biggest store remodel to date started in 2018. This remodel included a focus on sustainability and enhancing the shopping experience. Some key highlights emphasized were removal of the old stone wall, the Bulk department moving to front and center of the store, new signage, upgraded lighting throughout the store, and installation of even more energy efficient equipment. The new layout also made the store much easier to navigate. With wider aisles and lower shelves, products became easier to access for everyone.
34) Started Prepacking Meat (2019)
While it may seem counterintuitive, beginning to prepackage meat actually helped to save plastic. It was found that the vacuum sealed method for the prepacked meats was actually less resource intensive than having your meat wrapped at the counter. For food safety, Meat clerks must change gloves and plastic film often when handling various meats for each customer, which adds up quickly. So although the prepacked meat comes in plastics instead of butcher paper, much less plastic is used in the overall process.
35) Switch to 100% Renewable Energy (2019)
In another huge step towards sustainability, the Co-op opted in to Valley Clean Energy’s UltraGreen Program. This program is available to everyone in Yolo County and ensures that both the store and Teaching Kitchen are powered by 100% renewable energy.
36) Addition of Customer Service and Wellness Counters (2019)
Another result of the large remodel was the introduction of the Customer Service and Wellness counters. These two desks are perfect customer service areas for shoppers to get all of their questions answered and special orders placed.
37) Launch of Curbside Pickup Program (2020)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Co-op became the first grocery store in Davis to launch its own Curbside Pickup program. This allowed for contactless pickup of all of one’s grocery needs and is a service that is planned to be kept moving forward.
38) Opening of The Freedge (2020)
Joining other pickup locations around town, the Co-op became a location for “The Freedge”, a free community refrigerator that encourages people to take what they need and donate what they don’t need or are able to give. This is one part of the Co-op’s food rescue efforts.
39) Launch of “The Heirloom” Digital Newsletter (2020)
After a newsletter hiatus (previously titled “The Vine”), the Co-op reintroduced a digital weekly newsletter titled “The Heirloom”. This weekly newsletter focuses on store updates, events, new products, weekly deals, educational information and community news. Not yet signed up for this newsletter? You can do so at the bottom of this page!
40) First Virtual Teaching Kitchen Class (2020)
With the pandemic impacting the Co-op’s ability to hold Teaching Kitchen classes, the shift turned to digital offerings in 2020. Cooking classes both free and paid were offered on a regular basis through Zoom so that we could all still cook together. This also allowed for people outside of the Davis community to join in!
41) Opening of The Green Patch (2020)
With restrictions limiting the ability to have customers dining at the Co-op, the patio space became empty. Seeing an opportunity to liven up the space and provide something new for the community, The Green Patch was born! This space provides seasonally appropriate plants and tools to liven up your garden or yard.
42) First Online Election (2020)
Following the first year of a hybrid model that saw both paper and online ballots available, the Board decided to implement fully online voting in 2020. This allowed for more convenience in the voting process and a move towards the Digital Age for the Co-op!
43) Added Pronouns to Nametags (2021)
In an effort to make a more inclusive Co-op, the staff name tags were updated to include staff members’ pronouns should they choose to express them. This change offered the space and acceptance for people of all gender identities while also giving the option for folks to opt out.
44) Launch of the Owner Rewards Program (2021)
The Co-op would not exist without its Owners and the Owner Rewards Program is a small way to give back to the people whose support keeps the store thriving. While this is separate from the Patronage Refund, it still gives Owners the opportunity to be rewarded for their everyday purchases at the Co-op.
45) New Kids Corner (2021)
In continuing with the mission of engaging kids in our community, the Kids Corner was revamped with a new design that included educational material, new furniture, toys and coloring pages. This space became an ideal place for kiddos to enjoy the Co-op experience too when they are in store.
46) Upgraded Produce Department Displays (2021)
The Produce Department is full of so much vibrant, fresh and beautiful local produce and the Co-op felt it was necessary to better highlight that. These new fixtures allowed for more floor space while simultaneously increasing the capacity for how much produce could be held in the store.
47) Switch to Fully Organic Produce in Deli (2021)
Organic produce is always the preference of the Co-op and its shoppers. While the Deli always made a concerted effort to carry organic produce in the department, it was not until 2021 that the permanent switch was made and committed to. Not only is all of the produce organic, but every effort is made to source locally first as well.
48) First Vote for Change in Elections (2021)
The Co-op’s Round Up at the Register program has long been a way for customers to donate to some deserving local charities chosen by the Co-op. In the 2021 elections, however, power was given to the Owners of the Co-op to vote for four local charities that they wanted represented in the upcoming year as part of the program.
49) New TV Menus Installed in Deli (2022)
In another move that brought the Co-op further into the Digital Age, the Deli had its old paper menus replaced by new TV screens. These screens make it possible to rotate the menu offerings throughout the year and highlight current specials. It also cuts back on the Co-op’s paper use.
50) 50th Anniversary Mural (2022)
Last but not least (on this list at least) is the introduction of the new 50th Anniversary mural. This mural, designed and painted by Co-op Graphic Designer Angelo, commemorates the 50 years that the Co-op has been making community happen. And this mural will live proudly on the wall as a reminder of all of the great memories that the Co-op has brought to the city of Davis!
Give Thanks and Give Back
The Holidays are a great time to reflect on what we have and help where we can. This month, the Davis Food Co-op will be donating $500 to each of the following local organizations and encourages you to give too if you are able.
Founded in 2015 by a group of community members in Woodland, First In, Relief for Evacuees (FIRE Foundation) provides relief for people and families evacuated from their homes due to devastating disasters. COVID-19 presented a new challenge. FIRE stepped up to collect and distribute PPE and other medical equipment to businesses and health care organizations throughout Yolo County.
Learn more about what FIRE Foundation does here
Donate to FIRE Foundation here
Lead 4 Tomorrow’s Family Hui program supports parents as they face the joys and challenges of raising children. In light of shelter-at-home, Family Hui moved quickly to adapt its group-based delivery model, sharingCOVID-19 information along with vital social services resources with families in English, Farsi and Spanish using virtual platforms, phone calls and texts. Through these connections, Family Hui continues to show parents that they are connected, valued, and cared for.
Learn more about what Family Hui does here
California Indian Legal Services
California Indian Legal Services is one of the oldest non-profit law firms devoted exclusively to the cause of Native American rights. Governed by a Board of Trustees selected by California tribes and tribal organizations, CILS provides free and low-cost legal services to California tribes, tribal organizations and Native American individuals throughout the state.
Learn more about what California Indian Legal Services does here
Donate to California Indian Legal Services here
Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network
YIIN is a group of people serving and advocating for immigrants in Yolo County. YIIN is guided by requested needs of the immigrant communities based on what they deem essential necessities. YIIN also advocates and supports those who cannot speak for themselves including migrant workers, immigrant youth previously detained and those displaced by major fires. They also offer financial and legal support for those seeking citizenship.
Learn more about what YIIN does here
Honoring Veterans Day
Veterans Day should be more than just a day to honor and recognize those who have served in our military, it should be an opportunity for us as a society to collectively consider the ways in which we can improve the lives of these brave individuals. As a co-op, Concern for Community is a guiding principle in all that we do and veterans play a special role in our communities and our country at large.
While we are a nation that routinely shows appreciation for our troops and veterans, the unfortunate truth is that many veterans face hardships upon returning home such as dealing with mental health issues, encountering problems paying bills, issues adjusting back to civilian life, and more. Oftentimes, they are not provided with the necessary resources to face these challenges.
On a day that honors more than 19 million US Veterans, we wanted to take the time to recognize a couple of organizations that are honoring veterans every day of the year.
Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC)
After reading a 2006 report that found that among U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, those who are from rural America were dying at a higher rate than soldiers who are from cities and suburbs, Michael O’Gorman (a Davis resident) gathered a group of farmers to discuss how they could best support these veterans that were returning to their hometowns in mostly rural areas. Realizing that there were no groups in the country with the mission of helping veterans in agriculture, the FVC was born.
Today, the FVC helps veterans pursue careers in agriculture by developing viable employment and entrepreneurship opportunities through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. Farming offers veterans a new mission, life purpose, and physical and psychological benefits. Simultaneously they cultivate the next generation of food and farm leaders.
As you may or may not know, Farmer Veteran Coalition is our Round Up at the Register recipient for the month of November. You can support this organization’s mission by donating on your next shopping trip at the Co-op.
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
A fellow co-op, the NRECA represents the interests of over 900 electric cooperatives in the United States. Founded in 1942, NRECA unites the country’s generation, transmission, and distribution cooperatives found in 47 states, serving over 40 million people.
The NRECA also abides by the seven cooperative principles and in their mission to power communities and empower members to improve the quality of their lives, they see a lot of similarities between their values and the values of our veterans. NRECA strongly believes that hiring and caring for veterans and military spouses strengthens their cooperatives and communities. That’s why they created the Vets Power Us Initiative, helping veterans to:
- Learn more about America’s electric cooperatives.
- Understand the synergy between military values and electric cooperative principles.
- Explore a variety of meaningful career opportunities within the rural electric cooperative network.
While these are only two organizations close to our heart as a nonprofit we support and a fellow co-op, there are countless others across the country that help veterans in a variety of ways. We encourage everyone to use this day as an opportunity to do some research to find others whose message resonates with you and to think about the ways that you can honor our veterans not only today, but every day.
Honoring Those Who Served: 11 Ways to Celebrate Veterans Day
Supply Chain Issues at the Co-op
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt in many aspects of our lives. One that is particularly challenging for our co-op is the impact on our food supply — demand for many products is again exceeding supply, reducing our ability to keep our shelves fully stocked to meet the needs of our members and shoppers.
Early in the pandemic, panic buying was the cause of many of the out-of-stock situations that grocers experienced. Although the food industry was able to rebound somewhat, the sustained nature of the pandemic, combined with the slow pace of vaccination globally and the recent surge caused by the Delta variant, have resurfaced the problem. There is a scarcity of many raw materials and labor shortages persist for national manufacturers, distributors and transportation companies alike.
Frozen foods, baking products, snacks, supplements, beverages, paper products, household cleaners and pet foods have been particularly affected, but our co-op has experienced out-of-stocks in many categories.
While the food industry is taking many steps to mitigate the problem, recovery estimates continue to be pushed out and out-of-stocks on some products from national suppliers are likely through the end of the year.
On the bright side, our co-op continues to work with local farmers and producers, and supply of these items remains relatively stable. When we have sufficient supply, we’ll let you know so that you can shop with confidence that there is enough for everyone. We may have to offer new or different brands, or fewer flavors or sizes on some familiar ones, but whenever we are unable to stock an item, we will do our best to find and provide you with substitutes. We encourage you to try something new and when in doubt or if you need assistance, please ask!
Our food system is strong and resilient, and these challenges will be resolved in time. Thank you for your support and patronage as we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic. We’re all in this together!
Making Sense of the Wildfires
Living in California, it is impossible to ignore the impact that wildfires have had on our state in recent years. As this blog is being written on 8/18/21, more than 6,500 wildfires have destroyed more than 1.3 million acres across the state so far in 2021, which is a pace that is set to exceed any other year in recorded history. While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the most prominent “fire season” (not only in California, but across the entire West coast) is starting earlier and ending later every year. Many point to climate change and drought to be the key driver of this trend. The warmer temperatures lead to reduced snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt which create longer and more intense dry seasons. This pattern leads to a drying out of the state’s vegetation and makes forests more susceptible to massive wildfires. While this is an important driving factor to consider, there are other factors at play as well.
When early explorers (or more accurately named, colonizers) began to arrive in California, they noticed smoke from what appeared to be intentionally set fires. The first records of this date as far back as 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo of Spain found that “Native Americans set fires in the canyons around the Los Angeles basin to prevent too much buildup of undergrowth and to drive out the game.” As more Europeans like Cabrillo came to the region, these practices would continue to be observed, but never respected. Instead, they brought agricultural practices from their home continent and a concerted effort to erase Indigenous culture.
Prior to European intervention, the Indigenous people of the West were experts in keeping the land in balance. The landscape was a perfect blend of meadows, grasslands, forests and brushland and prescribed burns at calculated intervals made it so that the megafires we see now would not be possible. Additionally, burns with plants such as trees and grasses actually helped them improve their yield on essential crops that provided food and materials for basket weaving. Fire was not only a tangible tool for agriculture and the ecosystem, but also served spiritual purposes as well. However, after centuries of European exploitation and terror towards the Indigenous people of California, the practice of prescribed burns was all but eradicated until recently.
By the late 19th century, the US Forest Service at the time cited an oncoming “Timber Famine” as grounds for becoming even more diligent in the suppression of fires. While scientists and Indigenous tribes at the time had made pleas for them to reconsider, the first head of the USFS, Gifford Pinchot, continued for the pushed demonization of fires. In 1910, the USFS was aided in its campaign by a giant fire that burned through Idaho, Washington, and Montana and engulfed entire towns. And while much of this fire burned through dead and down slash left over from over logging and deforestation, the USFS used this incident to push for full suppression of fire, and they eventually succeeded. In 1911 the Weeks Act was passed, which in part allowed for the Federal Government to issue fines and other penalties to local governments who allowed for unauthorized fire suppression tactics. By 1935, The 10 AM Policy was enacted, which deemed that all wildfires must be extinguished by 10 AM following their day of discovery.
Many trees throughout the West have serotinous cones which means that they only seed with fire. Many native grasses in California depend on fire as well. Fire is regenerative and healthy for many ecosystems and suppressing it for so long knocked everything out of balance. Until the 1970s when small prescribed burns began to be issued again, fires in the west were totally suppressed leaving forests to grow unchecked. And while you may see remnants of prescribed burns in parts of the state today, many fire-dependent ecosystems have not been properly tended and we are still in a mentality of suppression being more important than prevention.
A good example of this in California is a Sequoia grove, which is largely dependent on fire. Usually, these groves burn regularly with ground fire which is why Sequoias don’t have lower branches. But when fire was suppressed, less fire-resistant trees like Douglas Fir and Incense Cedar started occupying the forest grounds. Those same trees, along with other unchecked brush, not only act as tinder for a fire, but also become “ladder fuel,” carrying fire to the upper branches of Sequoias and creating a totally different ecological system. This is one example of how mismanagement of forest lands has led to the perfect conditions for these large-scale fires.
As mentioned, the past 50 years have seen more prescribed burns and preventative measures but the bulk of our efforts have still gone towards fire suppression. When we look at funding, we can see that fire suppression gets the haul of funding, while fire management, or land management, doesn’t. Most fire personnel do not work in our forests outside of May through October, and off-season burning often gets sidelined for lack of personnel. Unless we begin to focus more energy on preventative measures by utilizing more resources for prevention, and also allow for Indigenous tribes to perform the same fire control practices of their ancestors, it is entirely possible that we will continue to see these devastating fires.
The Nature Conservancy – A global environmental nonprofit working with Indigenous cultures to help restore their ancestral environmental practices.
Firewise – An information and knowledge resource on fire hazards
Inclusivity at the Co-op
The Importance of Inclusivity
Along with diversity and equity, inclusivity is a topic that all communities should be aware of and actively work to implement. Even if it is a topic that you feel you are familiar with, it is important to continuously examine and understand any blind spots you may have that prohibit your ability to be more inclusive. As a cooperatively owned business, the idea of inclusivity is of paramount importance as concern for the community is a guiding principle in everything that we do. This blog is not only a call to action for its readers, but a reflection and reminder of the things that we need to be doing as an organization to be as inclusive as possible.
So, what is inclusivity anyways?
For those that like textbook definitions, inclusivity can be defined as:
“the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.”
That means that you are taking all people, especially historically marginalized groups – whether it be based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, body features, etc. – into consideration within all facets of daily life. The fact of the matter is that implicit bias is universal amongst us all. While implicit bias is something that is important for everyone to be aware of so that they can avoid making altered decisions, it is especially important for people in leadership roles as their actions and opinions can often shape a culture that makes people feel excluded.
The difference between inclusivity and diversity
While there are parallels between diversity and inclusivity, it is important to distinguish the two as separate. Whereas diversity is by most accounts a measurable characteristic, inclusivity is defined by the actual work you are doing to shape your mindset and actions to ensure that diverse groups feel represented and included. Any organization or activity can claim to be diverse by having a variety of different people that participate. And while this is important, it is all for nothing if that same organization or activity is not making every person that makes up that diverse group feel as if they truly have a seat at the table.
What can I do to be more inclusive?
There are many things that you can do to approach inclusivity in your daily life. One thing you can do immediately is to be more mindful in general; this is always a great first step. This means evaluating your biases and privileges, staying open to education and feedback and taking a second to think about the language you use. This blog does a great job of taking a more in-depth look at some of the tangible steps you can take to be more inclusive.
How can we be inclusive at the Co-op?
As a Co-op, inclusivity means that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our policies, staffing, management, communications, accessibility and attitudes are all aligned and accommodating to our entire community. It means that our recently formed Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Taskforce will continue seeking out trainings and educational materials for our Board and management team so that we can successfully implement necessary policy changes, confront implicit bias and lead the rest of the team to do the same. It means that we will be more cognizant of the language we use in our hiring posts, blogs, social media posts, newsletters and in-store signage. And it also means that we will need to constantly evaluate the products that we carry to ensure that everyone feels that they can find what they need at the Co-op. Because at the end of the day, the Co-op belongs to everyone in our community and it is our responsibility to make sure we truly abide by that.
Pairing Beer with Food
Beer is made with four ingredients: water, grain, hops, and yeast. Despite this humble foundation, however, there’s a wide variety of color, flavor, and aroma to be found on the shelves.
At the most basic level, there are two types of beer: ales and lagers. Ales are typically a bit heartier, while lagers are usually lighter in both color and body and are crisper, cleaner beers. Most mass-produced beers that you see in stores and on TV are lagers (Pilsners, to be precise).
When pairing beers with food, try to choose a beer that either complements or offsets the food’s flavors. Serve small glasses of beer per plate to avoid overstuffing your diners.
If you’re cooking meat on a grill, a stout (a dark, slightly smoky ale) will bring out the charred flavor. If the meat is already pretty flavorful (or, say, coated in cheese), a crisp lager will provide a refreshing counterpoint. And if it’s a greasy burger you’re after, go for a wheat beer; it will also pair nicely with French fries.
When cooking with hot chili pepper or fiery curry, a German bock or dunkelweiss (dark wheat) will provide some slight bready sweetness to help soothe your burning palate. Likewise, a “hoppy” India Pale Ale (IPA) will impart the bitterness you need to slake your thirst and bring out your food’s flavor, not just its heat.
Veggie lovers should steer toward Pilsner, Kolsch, and Dortmunder styles, which are mostly crisp and clean with grassy or peppery hop flavors, complementing vegetarian dishes without washing out subtler flavors.
Above all, take these guidelines as suggestions. After all, there is no right or wrong way to pair beer with food. The next time you’re looking to serve beer with your meal, ask the food co-op staff about the local microbrewed beers they carry (if your food co-op carries alcohol), and sample a few to discover what you like most. Remember that food and beer are meant to be convivial and are best when shared with others—so have fun!
This blog was written by Charles Davidson, a contributor to NCG’s “Welcome to the Table”