CoFED: Building a Cooperative Future

Building a Cooperative Future

In honor of Black History Month and in the spirit of cooperation, we want to take this opportunity to share the visionary and necessary work being done by the Sonoma-based Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED). CoFED is a, “QBPOC-led organization that partners with young folks of color from poor and working-class backgrounds to meet our communities’ needs through food and land co-ops.” 

Since 2011, CoFED has developed 12 cooperative projects, trained more than 600 emerging cooperative leaders, and grew a community of nearly 4,000 supporters across North America. Through cooperative values, economics, and strategies, young BIPOC folks develop leadership skills for collective liberation and a more cooperative future. 

In addition to food justice programs offered by CoFED, the team has made an extensive archive of free resources. These include guides for Starting a Student Food Co-op, Guide for Scaling Your Co-op, and a Guide for Creating a Pilot Project. CoFED also provides an extensive list of “Co-op Resources 101” which includes information about co-ops in general, starting a co-op, our food system, business advice, links to loan and grant programs, land and farming education, multilingual resources, and more.

Current Projects

Build, Unlearn, Decolonize – The Build, Unlearn, Decolonize (BUD) learning series is a 5-week virtual education intensive designed with love for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander youth who are working in co-ops and collectives to grow community health and wealth through food and land. The 2020 BUD Cohort is pictured above. 

Racial Justice Fellowship – CoFED’s Racial Justice Fellowship is a 6-month opportunity for young cooperators of color working to close the racial wealth gap by advancing community ownership of land and the food system.

MyceliYUM – MyceliYUM is new national network of cooperators of color advancing food and land justice where young people can organize to shift policy. MyceliYUM members also benefit from CoFED’s membership in the HEAL Food Alliance (HEAL), Wallace Center’s Food Systems Leadership Network, and New Economy Coalition.

Support CoFED’s Vision for a Cooperative Future

Much of CoFED’s work is funded through grassroots donations. If you’ve found your way to this blog post, chances are you believe in cooperation and the role it will play in our collective future. Supporting CoFED’s work with a monetary donation is one way to help ensure that future, while also giving tangible support to young QBIPOC folks fighting for food and land justice and our collective food system.

In February 2021, the Davis Food Co-op was able to support CoFED’s work with a $500 dollar donation. Click below to join your Co-op  and CoFED in building a collective future.

The blog post was published with permission from CoFED. 

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Citrus Fest Sample Packs

Sample Pack Guide

Tangy Classics Sample Pack

From left to right: Cara Cara Orange, Oro Blanco Grapefruit, Navel Orange, Clementine

Cara Cara Orange: pinky-orange flesh with tangy hints of blackberry and cranberry

Oro Blanco Grapefruit: pale, nearly seedless flesh with a sweet honeysuckle flavor and almost no bitterness 

Rainwater Navel Orange: juicy and flavorful Washington Navel orange grown in Winters, CA

Clementine: these sweet and seedless are the smallest member of the mandarin/tangerine family

Tart Adventure Sample Pack

From left to right: Bergamot Orange, Nagami Kumquat, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Wekiwa Tangelo

Bergamot Orange: this yellow-fleshed orange is more bitter than a grapefruit, but less sour than a lemon and has a very aromatic rind; typically only used for its rind and juice

Nagami Kumquat: sweet rind with juicy and spicy flesh

Ruby Red Grapefruit: deep pink flesh that tastes sweeter than standard grapefruits

Wekiwa Tangelo: bright orange juicy flesh that tastes sweet with mild acidity

Twisted Favorite Sample Pack

From left to right: Blood Orange, Mandarinquat, Meyer Lemon, Pearl Tangelo

Blood Orange: deep red flesh with flavor notes of raspberries and pomegranates

Mandarinquat: sweet flavor with a crunchy bite and can be eaten whole

Meyer Lemon: low acidity with sweet, zesty flavor and floral undertones

Pearl Tangelo: golden-hued flesh with a sweet, grapefruit-like flavor

Staff Picks Sample Pack

From left to right: Pummelo, Satsuma Mandarin, Late Lane Orange, Tango Mandarin

Pummelo: pale pink flesh with a balanced sweet-tart flavor

Satsuma Mandarin: one of the sweetest mandarins with bright orange flesh

Late Lane Orange: late season navel with juicy segments and big orange flavors

Tango Mandarin: seedless dark orange flesh with a rind rich with oil and deeply aromatic when pierced or muddled

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Black History Month

Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we will be celebrating and recognizing the contributions that Black Americans have had on our food system throughout history. The Co-op, and America as a whole, have been directly influenced by these innovators that created many of the advancements in food as we know them today. Keep an eye out for our posts throughout the month that will highlight some of these great visionaries!

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver is often credited with the creation of peanut butter but his influence in the world of food goes far beyond that. He was an agricultural chemist, agronomist, and experimenter whose development of new products derived from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans helped revolutionize the agricultural economy of the South in the early 20th Century.

Starting in in 1896, Carver devoted his time to research projects aimed at helping Southern agriculture, demonstrating ways in which farmers could improve their economic situation. He conducted experiments in soil management and crop production and directed an experimental farm. At this time agriculture in the Deep South was in steep decline because the unremitting single-crop cultivation of cotton had left the soil of many fields exhausted and worthless, and erosion had then taken its toll on areas that could no longer sustain any plant cover. As a remedy, Carver urged Southern farmers to plant peanuts and soybeans. As members of the legume family, these plants could restore nitrogen to the soil while also providing the protein so badly needed in the diet of many Southerners at the time.

Carver revealed his experiments to the public in 1914, and increasing numbers of the South’s farmers began to turn to peanuts, sweet potatoes, and their derivatives for income. Much exhausted land was renewed, and the South became a major new supplier of agricultural products. When Carver started his research in 1896, the peanut had not even been recognized as a crop, but within the next half century it became one of the six leading crops throughout the United States and, in the South, the second cash crop by 1940. Additionally, his research ultimately helped develop 300 derivative products from peanuts—among them: milk, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils, and cosmetics—and 118 from sweet potatoes, including: flour, vinegar, molasses, ink, a synthetic rubber, and postage stamp glue.

Frederick McKinley Jones

In 1939, Frederick McKinley Jones patented the world’s first successful refrigerated transportation system. Two years later, he released an improved version, the Thermo King Model C, which revolutionized the agriculture and grocery industries.
While Frederick McKinley Jones patented more than sixty inventions over his sixty-seven-year lifetime (making him one of the most prolific African-American inventors ever) the Model C stands as his most prominent achievement. The Model C was the first cooling unit mounted on the front side of a vehicle. Units fixed in this location collected less dirt than under-mounted versions. That combined with its unitary, metal body gave it the rigidity to withstand long trips and the lightness (700 lbs) to save precious engine power. This meant that seasonal crops could now be shipped across longer distances and nations could trade perishable goods.

Today, more than ¾ of food transported in the United States is done so with a refrigeration unit. There is no doubt that Jones’ innovation helped shape the future of both agriculture and the modern grocery store.

Lloyd Augustus Hall

Lloyd Augustus Hall invented a number of ways to better preserve food and is widely regarded as one of the most important food chemists of the 20th century. During a 40+ year career that started in 1921, he amassed 59 U.S. patents while working as a consultant for both Griffith’s Laboratories and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Hall pioneered antioxidant use when he discovered that foods with fats and oils spoiled when certain ingredients react with oxygen in the air. He also proved that some spices exposed food to microbes that sped up the process of food spoiling. This was contrary to beliefs at the time, which held that spices acted as food preservatives.
Many food preservation techniques used today were pioneered by Dr. Hall’s methods. He is responsible for many of the meat curing products, seasonings, emulsions, bakery products, antioxidants, protein hydrolysates, and other substances that keeps certain foods fresh and flavorful today.

Henry Blair

Henry Blair received his first US Patent in 1834, the second Black man to be issued a patent in the United States. His invention, a corn seed planter, dramatically improved efficiency in corn planting. A successful farmer for years, Blair used his inventions to increase productivity on his farm and farms across the country. Two years later, Blair was issued a patent for his mechanical cotton planter, similarly optimizing cotton planting. According to an 1836 article in The Mechanics’ Magazine, Blair’s planter could “save the labor of eight men”.

Blair was born in Glen Ross, Maryland in 1807. Although he was likely a freedman, until 1858 free and enslaved men could apply for US patents. After a slave-owner challenged this law in 1857, the law was re-written to exclude any enslaved persons from applying for and obtaining a patent. This law wasn’t changed until 1871, eleven years after Blair’s death and six years after the end of the Civil War. Today, .3% of US patents are issued to Black Americans.

Dr. Booker T Whatley

Did you know Community Supported Agriculture has roots in Black history? Although popularized by white farmers in the 1980s, Dr. Booker T Whatley listed having a Clientele Membership Club as one of his Ten Commandments for Small Farms in the 1960s. Dr. Whatley was born the eldest of twelve children on his family’s farm in Anniston, Alabama. With a passion for agriculture, Dr. Whatley grew up to be a prominent author, horticulturist, and professor at Tuskegee University.

Between his youth and adulthood Dr. Whatley saw the steep decline of Black farms and farmers. When he was born black farms made up 14% of farms in the US. In 2021, Black farms account for just 1.4%. Seeing this decline, he created his Ten Commandments which he considered essential for the success of small and mid-sized farms in the 60s and 70s. Dr. Whatley’s Clientele Membership Club, asked members to pay an upfront fee to pick their own produce throughout the season. This enabled farmers to pay for seeds and equipment without taking out a loan at the beginning of the season, saved them labor during harvest, and gave club members agency in choosing their food.

Dr. Whatley’s Ten Commandments were cutting edge in his time. Now, we consider CSA and Pick Your Own staples of the good food movement. And while CSA and cooperative economics in farming have been practiced all over the world, we want to recognize Dr. Whatley’s contribution and its revolutionary effect on US American farming.

Joseph Lee

Joesph Lee’s world was the food industry, and his glorious career in food service began when he was a young boy and worked in a bakery. Armed with hands-on experience, he eventually began preparing, cooking and serving food. He was so successful that he opened two restaurants in the Boston area, then went on to also own and manage the popular Woodland Park Hotel for 17 years.

It was during the peak of his success as a Master Chef that Lee got the idea for the bread crumbing machine. In his opinion, throwing out day-old bread was a waste, when it could instead be used to prepare foods. He had long felt that bread crumbs were superior to cracker crumbs, so he quickly began working on a device that automatically tore, crumbled and ground day-old bread into crumbs.

In June of 1895, Lee patented his bread-crumbing machine. The picture here is of Lee himself using the machine. Lee’s machine was so efficient, it reduced manpower by 75% and was quickly adopted by restaurants all over the country. But Lee wasn’t finished. He soon invented a bread-making machine that could mix ingredients and knead dough so quickly and efficiently, it did the work of six men — and did it cheaper and more hygienically than it had ever been done before. This machine was the predecessor of bread-making machines that are still in use in bakeries and restaurants all across the world today.

George “Crum” Speck & Kate Wicks

George “Crum” Speck is often credited with the invention of the potato chip. While there is no doubt that Speck helped popularized this new snack that would become a staple in America, there seems to be some indication that his sister, Kate Wicks, may have also played a part in the accidental discovery of the chip while they were working together as cooks at the Moon Lake Lodge Resort in Saratoga Springs, NY.

The commonly told tale goes something like this: A customer that ordered french fries repeatedly sent them back to the kitchen for being too thickly cut. In frustration, Speck cut a potato into the thinnest of slices, fried them in oil, and sent them back out. These crispy fried potatoes would be the first potato chips served in the US. However, his sister Kate Wicks has a different version of the story in which she says she sliced off a sliver of potato and it fell into a hot frying pan by accident. Speck then tasted the sliced potato and gave his enthusiastic approval of the chip.

Regardless of which story was the correct version, there is no doubt that Speck’s promotion of the chip helped popularize it. Wealthy visitors to Moon’s restaurant soon spread the word about the “Saratoga chips”, often traveling from Boston and New York specifically for the delicacy. Speck opened his own restaurant, Crum’s Place, in 1860 in Malta, New York where he provided every table with a basket of chips. His chip would remain a delicacy for the elite until the 1920s when entrepreneur Herman Lay brought the chips to the South to introduce them to a wider audience. Lay’s mass production and worldwide distribution of potato chips soon overshadowed Speck’s legacy. Nonetheless, the accidental discovery of the potato chip by George Speck and Kate Wicks led to the potato chip as we know it today in the US.

Robert Lloyd Smith

Robert Lloyd Smith founded the Farmers’ Improvement Society in 1890 with the goal of guiding Black farmers to economic independence through home and farm ownership, cooperative buying, cash purchasing instead of credit buying, and raising most of their own food. Although born, raised, and educated in South Carolina, R L Smith moved to Oakland, Texas in the late 1870s to become the principal of the Oakland Normal School, a leading teacher-training educational institution in the state. Before founding the Farmers’ Improvement Society, he served as an aide to Booker T Washington, advocating for self-help and solidarity as a means to economic independence and growth for Black US Americans. ⁠

Smith founded the Society to assist Black farmers in the area who worked as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Sharecropping and tenant farming required farmers to rent land from the landowner, give a portion of their crop to landowners as rent, and purchase seeds and equipment from the landowner or from a merchant on credit. Many Black farmers became deeply indebted to landowners. R L Smith challenged this system through the Society which also sponsored agricultural fairs for Black farmers and paid sickness and death benefits. The Society spread throughout Texas and to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Under R L Smith’s leadership the Society grew to include a truck growers’ union, an agricultural college, the Farmers’ Improvement Bank, and the Woman’s Barnyard Auxiliaries, which specialized in better egg, poultry, butter, and swine production. ⁠

Alexander P. Ashbourne

Alexander P. Ashbourne was an early inventor. He was born into slavery in Philadelphia around 1820 and while there are very few documented facts about his personal life, it is know that he grew up cutting wheat alongside his family members. This would lead him to think of more efficient ways to cut wheat which would result in an important invention later in life.

Since Ashbourne was born after the Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act was passed in 1780, he was not subject to a lifetime of enslavement. Although the exact date of his emancipation is unknown, by 1847 all enslaved people in Pennsylvania had been freed. Ashbourne disappeared from the public record until 1863, when he reemerged working as a caterer. By this time, he was well known and respected in the city. He catered weddings and buffets of the wealthy elite in Philadelphia, and was selected as one of a handful of local caterers for the 1863 Emancipation Celebration held in the city.

While attending this event, Ashbourne noticed that the biscuits were simply hand patted and lacked any real form. He began a decade long process to create a device, a spring-loaded biscuit cutter, that would guarantee a uniform shape and size. Ashbourne applied for a patent for his invention on May 11, 1875, and on November 20, 1876 he was granted a patent for the cutter. The cutter also contained metal plates with various shapes. The cook could push down on the plate to cut the dough into specialized shapes, a method that is still used for numerous baked goods today.

Ashbourne continued to invent, and also received a patent for processing coconut oil on August 21, 1877. The Ashbourne process for refining the oil included filtration, bleaching, high temperature heating, and finally hydrogenation to ensure that no unsaturated fatty acids were left in the oil. Ashbourne began working on this process in 1875 and received a patent for it on July 27, 1880. Thanks to Ashbourne’s early work, coconut oil is widely used in hair products, foods, and scented products today.

Alfred Cralle

What’s the scoop on Alfred Cralle? Born in 1866 in Virginia, just after the end of the American Civil War, Cralle attended local schools and worked for his father in the carpentry trade as a young man. During that period, he also became interested in mechanics.

Cralle was sent to Washington D.C. where he attended Wayland Seminary, a branch of the National Theological Institute, one of a number of schools founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society immediately after the Civil War to help educate newly freed African Americans. After attending the school for a few years, Cralle moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a porter at a drugstore and at a hotel.

While working at the hotel, he developed the idea of the ice cream scoop. It came to him when he noticed ice cream servers having difficulty trying to get the popular confection desired by the customer into the cone they were usually holding. The ice cream tended to stick to spoons and ladles, usually requiring the server to use two hands and at least two separate implements to serve customers. Cralle responded to that problem by creating a mechanical device now known as the ice cream scoop. He applied for and received a patent on February 2, 1897.

Cralle’s invention, originally called an Ice Cream Mold and Disher, was designed to be able to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking. It was easy to operate with one hand. Since the Mold and Disher was strong and durable, effective, and inexpensive, it could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction. This innovative product has lasted until today as the best method for scooping ice cream. Next time you get a cone or cup, be sure to remember the contributions of Alfred Cralle!

Abby Fisher

One Summer day in 1880, a 48-year-old Mrs. Abby Fisher took the stage at the 15th annual San Francisco Mechanics’ Institute Fair to accept two medals: a bronze for best pickles and sauces, and a silver for best assortment of jellies and preserves. The jurors later wrote that “her pickles and sauces have a piquancy and flavor seldom equaled, and, when once tasted, not soon forgotten.”
At this point, Fisher was already a famed, local, culinary authority. She had taken home a diploma at the Sacramento State Fair in 1879, its highest award. Her cooking chops became so revered that the Women’s Co-operative Printing Office published her extensive cookbook, entitled “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking”, in 1881.
Fisher migrated from Alabama with her husband and 11 children to California in 1877. Upon arriving in San Francisco, she used her talents to set up a preserves business. The extraordinary cookbook she put together is one of the first authored by an African-American woman. Besides being a trove for sensational recipes —ranging from savory to sweet, encompassing both the briney and beefy—Fisher’s cookbook also helped to immortalize the culinary imprint of African-Americans.
What’s most remarkable about Fisher’s recipes is that they’re captured in her own words which was a rarity for African Americans at that time. They also provide a clear glimpse into food that she herself made at home for her family rather than what she cooked at plantations early in her life. In recent years, chefs and cultural institutions alike have been cooking Fisher’s specialties and revamping them for 21st-century palates. Abby Fisher paved the way for African American women to be respected and awarded for their contributions to the culinary world, and her recipes have truly stood the test of time.

Moe Burton

Bryant-Central Co-op was started in the mid-70s and was spearheaded by a community organizer, Moe Burton. Burton, who had been involved in the Socialist Workers Party and the Black Panthers, was drawn to the practicality of the co-op. He worked closely with the Cooperative Organization in Minnesota to create an equitable and affordable store that everyone could benefit from.
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While many co-ops at this time focus on healthy food and volunteer workers, Moe fought hard for affordability over all else. The co-op also moved to compensation much quicker than others, hiring young adults and teenagers in the neighborhood to learn skills and stay busy during the summer.
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Bryant-Central, unfortunately, closed in 1978, but Seward Co-op filled the need for healthy and affordable food in this neighborhood.
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“At Seward Co-op we are proud to honor and build on the legacies of past cooperators. People like W.E.B. Du Bois, Mo Burton, and groups like the Credjafawn Social Club, not to mention, the countless unnamed individuals that did the physical work of starting first wave co-ops are critical in our understanding of the stories of those who came before us. Communities, like our own, have used cooperatives in order to end oppression and eradicate injustices, particularly in food justice.” – Seward Co-op

Jereline Bethune

While many know the story of Rosa Parks, and how she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, the work of Jereline Bethune is not as widely discussed. Shortly after Parks’ historic act of activism, more bus boycotts began around the city and it was the staff of Brenda’s Bar-B-Que Pit in Montgomery, AL, owned by the Jereline and her husband Larry, that helped organize parts of those boycotts. These boycotts helped propel the civil rights movement into the national conversation at the time.
Jereline and Larry Bethune first opened the restaurant in 1942; back then it was a nightclub, the Siesta Club, that also sold food. It later shifted focus towards barbeque and became Brenda’s, named for one of their daughters. Jereline’s passion for food was paired with her passion for the civil rights movement, and her restaurant became an important community pillar. Brenda’s Bar-B-Que Pit would go on to become an unofficial center for the local civil rights movement, holding N.A.A.C.P. meetings, printing fliers and planning protests.
But even after the bus boycotts, Ms. Bethune continued her work for the movement. Most notably, she quietly held lessons to teach other African-Americans to read so they could pass the literacy test, which functioned as a way to suppress the black vote during the height of the Jim Crow era. Donetta Bethune, the Bethunes’ granddaughter, described it as: “Let’s learn how to read. Let’s learn how to vote. Let’s go after our own rights so we never have to be treated in a way that we’re not equal to again. In the black community, that’s how they lived back then. Everyone helped each other, or else how could you get by or how could you make it through?” Jereline also continued organizing and supporting boycotts and protests. She can be found pictured directly in the center of this image taken from the notorious March from Selma in 1965.
Brenda’s is family-run to this day, and it still feeds locals its popular ribs, pig ears and chopped pork. But more important than the food, is the legacy that was left behind.

Virginia Estelle Randolph

Virginia Estelle Randolph was a pioneering educator, community health advocate, organizational leader, and humanitarian. She was born to formerly enslaved parents in Richmond, Virginia in 1870 and would go on to a career in education and community building which spanned nearly 60 years. Her passion for education commitment to her community sparked interracial cooperation which broadened access to educational opportunities and healthcare for Black folks in her community.

As the first countywide Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher in the South in 1908, Randolph traveled to every Black school in Henrico County to train teachers and build community support. She was internationally recognized for her methods which were used in rural communities across the South and in British colonies abroad.

As a founding member of the Negro Organization Society, Randolph led major initiatives in public health and continuing education for Black educators and farmers. The society’s motto, “Better Schools, Better Health, Better Homes, and Better Farms,” encompasses Randolph’s holistic approach to community health and wellbeing. To the same end, she was appointed Chairman of the committee in charge of food supplies of the Colored Branch of the Red Cross, of which she was a founding member. Randolph strengthened not only her community, but laid a groundbreaking foundation for community health advocacy and rural education. And although we may not realize it, her contributions have had a lasting legacy as teachers continue her work today.

Zephyr Wright

Zephyr Wright drew in crowds with her comfort food. But the one person who may have benefited the most was Lyndon B. Johnson.
Wright was born and raised in Marshall, TX and in 1942, she started working for the Johnsons as a maid and cook to help pay her way through college. She ended up staying with the family until 1969, through the duration of Johnson’s presidency. While Johnson was in Congress, his home quickly became known for its food, as other politicians visited regularly and built relationships over Wright’s chile con queso and peach cobbler. Lady Bird Johnson once wrote, “I have yet to find a great chef whose desserts I like as well as Zephyr’s.”
Wright was known to have told Johnson of her experiences with discrimination which ultimately guided his decision making process in regards to Civil Rights changes at the time. Leonard H. Marks, the director of the United States Information Agency at the time of Johnson’s presidency, was one witness to this. “When Sammy and I drive to Texas and I have to go to the bathroom, like Lady Bird or the girls, I am not allowed to go to the bathroom,” Mr. Marks recounted Wright telling Johnson. (Her husband, Sammy, was Johnson’s driver.) “I have to find a bush and squat. When it comes time to eat, we can’t go into restaurants. We have to eat out of a brown bag.”
When Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Wright was there. After he finished, he gave her a pen he used and said, “You deserve this more than anybody else.”

Martha Jones

Black women have long contributed to America’s culture of innovation. Martha Jones, who may have been the first Black woman to earn a US patent, was an inventor who made significant contributions to agriculture with her corn husker and sheller. Jones was issued a patent for her “Improvement to the Corn Husker, Sheller” (pictured) in 1868, 59 years after the first white woman received a patent and 47 years after the first Black man. Jones claimed her invention could husk, shell, cut up, and separate husks from corn in one operation, marking a significant step forward in the automation of agriculture. Aside from the information associated with her patent, we don’t know much about the life of Martha Jones. 

While Martha Jones is widely believed to be the first Black female recipient of a US patent, it is possible there were Black women who came before her. Time for a bit of patent law history: With the passing of the Patent Act in 1793, patent applicants were required to swear an oath affirming that they were the original inventor of the invention receiving the patent and that they were a US citizen. Fast forward to the 1857 Dred Scott decision which prohibited anyone of African descent from claiming US citizenship and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to US citizens, regardless of place of birth or status of freedom. In many cases, this prohibited Black folks from receiving patents. However, it is possible that Black female inventors applied for patents through other people, a work around, before Martha Jones. That being said, Jones’ corn husker and sheller represents a major step forward in agricultural processing, regardless of whether or not she was the first Black woman to receive a patent.

Judy Reed

If you’ve ever kneaded bread dough by hand you may have found yourself wishing for an easier way to do it. Enter Judy Reed. In keeping yesterday’s theme of early Black women inventors, Judy Reed was issued a US patent in 1883 for her Improved Dough Kneader and Roller (pictured). Her machine allowed bread dough to be more evenly mixed before getting rolled out into a covered chamber. With her invention, Reed directly contributed to advancing both food processing and food safety. 

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the life of Judy Reed. She lived in Washington DC and signed her patent with an “X”. Likely the third Black woman to receive a US patent, Reed lived at a time when Black women inventors received little recognition for their inventions and saw fewer profits. We do know that Judy Reed thought critically about food and food systems and had the mechanical know-how to contribute meaningfully to the process. Most of us still eat store-bought bread on a daily basis, so next time you toast up a slice of bread think of Judy Reed and her contribution to your breakfast!

Combahee River Colony

From mutual aid societies and independent fugitive communities to land and food co-ops, the Black community has a long, but little recognized, tradition of cooperation in the United States. Early forms of cooperation included mutual insurance companies, buying clubs, and collective farming. Both free and enslaved Black people pooled money to pay for burials, land, sick benefits, and buying freedom for one another. The Underground Railroad is another example of a cooperative effort. Cooperation served as a powerful tool, allowing Black folks to improve each other’s lives in the face of blatant racism and active sabotage. Housing and land co-ops offered Black folks access where racist and discriminatory policies would prohibit individual action. 

Throughout this long tradition of cooperation, women often founded and ran Black cooperative efforts. This is the case with the Combahee River Colony, which formed in South Carolina during the Civil War. As men left to join the Union Army, Black women in South Carolina took to the Gullah/Geechee Sea Islands in the Combahee River region to grow cotton on abandoned farms. These women formed an intentional community which collectively farmed the area throughout the war and several years after. Eventually, hundreds of women farmed with colony, securing food, shelter, and income for themselves and their families.

Melbah McAfee Smith

Today we’re sharing the story of cooperative developer and 2009 Cooperative Hall of Fame inductee Melbah McAfee Smith. McAfee Smith was born on a rural farm in Mississippi where her family operated 40 acres of fruit, vegetables, and livestock. In 1972, after graduating with a degree in business administration, she began her 40 year career as a co-op developer with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

Through her work with the Federation, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, and the Mississippi Cooperative Development Center, McAfee Smith built co-ops in some of the most impoverished areas of the country. Using the cooperative model and her visionary leadership, McAfee Smith brought health care, economic development, and social justice to the communities she worked with. She helped form more than 25 co-ops and developed invaluable financial support networks to ensure their longevity. After Hurricane Katrina McAfee Smith helped form the state’s first worker-owned business, which created jobs and provided health care for low income and elderly folks in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.

Melbah McAfee Smith’s work has propelled the cooperative movement forward. We’re inspired by and grateful for her insight, enthusiasm, and unparalleled intuition when it comes to building communities and grassroots cooperative action. She says, “…I am convinced that cooperation works, and if we work together we can change things, not only in our local communities, but in our regions as well as in this country. There’s a spiritual relationship to working together.” We couldn’t agree more.

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Local, Sustainable Meat

Local, sustainable meat is better

Globally, about 80% of agricultural land is used for raising livestock. Due to improper grazing management, desertification is quickly degrading the productivity of the land we use to raise our food. Confined Animal Feeding Operations further contribute to deforestation and land degradation, global warming, poor animal welfare, and low-quality meat. Reducing our meat consumption in combination with choosing local meat that regenerates the land can restore soil health, reduce carbon emissions, and produce stronger, healthier animals.

Invest in your Community

Supporting local farms and ranches today is a good way to ensure they’ll be there tomorrow. In addition to making a personal investment in your community and supporting local families, buying local means preserving open space and farmland, improving local soil health, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, reducing your carbon footprint, and preserving genetic diversity among crops and livestock your local farmers grow. Lastly, and definitely not least, local food is of the highest quality. With shorter times between harvesting and consumption, local food is less likely to lose nutrients. Local produce and meat taste better too.

Regenerative Grazing Practices

Rotational grazing is a practice in which ranchers move livestock over grasslands or through forested areas with abundant perennial grasses, legumes, and weeds for the animals to eat. Herds never linger more than a few days in one spot, which mirrors how ancestral cow, bison, and sheep herds moved and ate. When ranchers practice highly-managed rotational grazing native grasslands are restored. Animals stimulate and fertilize the land increasing biodiversity, improving soil health, and drawing carbon down into the land and out of the atmosphere. Animals are stronger and healthier too, which means better food for us.

Look for meat that has been grass-fed and grass-finished. Many “grass-fed” labeled items have only been grass-fed for part of the animal’s life. 

Buy meat certified by the Global Animal Partnership. Look for Step 4 and 5 certification to ensure the animal was pasture-raised and the ranch centers animal welfare.

Good News! You can find local, sustainable meat at the Davis Food Co-op

SunFed Ranch

(11 miles from the Co-op)

SunFed Ranch beef from Woodland, CA is 100% pasture-raised and grass-fed using highly-managed rotational grazing. Healthier grass with deeper roots means protection from erosion and drought in our very own environment, plus healthier land is better equipped to sequester carbon. Stronger and more diverse grass varieties lead to happier and healthier cattle too. You can find a variety of beef cuts, often on sale, from SunFed in our Meat Department.

Rancho Llano Seco

(93 miles from the Co-op)

Rancho Llano Seco pork is raised confinement-free with continual access to open pastures and views of the California Buttes. They’re certified with the Global Animal Partnership, which means animal welfare is central to the Ranch’s practices. Their feed is grown on the ranch and their bedding is composted to feed its fields. You can find Rancho Llano Seco pork products in our Meat Department.

Diestel Family Ranch

(83 miles from the Co-op)

Diestel products including ground turkey and deli meats come to us from Diestel Family Ranch in Sonora, CA where regenerative agriculture practices like composting, responsible water usage, and animal welfare take center stage. They’ve earned the Global Animal Partnership Steps 4 and 5 certification. In addition to finding Diestel meats in our Meat Department, our Deli is now using Diestel Deli Meat in our sandwiches.

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DFC’s Souper Bowl At Home

Welcome to the Davis Food Co-op’s Souper Bowl From Home!

 

Two soups go head to head, one soup reigns supreme, you get to eat a lot of delicious soup

 

In years past, the Davis Food Co-op’s Souper Bowl has drawn large crowds of soup-lovin’ folks to try tasty stews from Davis’ favorite eateries. This year, we invite you to Souper Bowl at home! Below you’ll find two soup recipes. Make one or both and let us know what you think! We’ll post a poll on our Instagram stories on Sunday, February 7th, to find out who wins. 

In this year’s Souper Bowl two soups battle it out: Cuban Style Chicken Noodle vs. Kansas City Steak Soup.

Cuban Style Chicken Noodle

This Cuban-inspired Chicken Noodle Soup is for the soul. Chicken thighs and potatoes make it hearty with bright flavors of lemon and tomato.

Ingedients
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes 
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon
  • 7 oz cut fideo or spaghetti noodles (if using spaghetti, break up into 2 inch pieces)
  • Cilantro, green onion, and lemon wedges for garnish
Instructions
  1. To a large stock pot, add chicken, tomatoes sauce, salt, onion, carrots, potato, chicken broth, and water. Stir, cover, and bring to a rolling boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. 
  2. After 45 minutes, remove the chicken thighs using tongs. Shred the chicken using two forks to pull apart the tender meat. Return to pot. Add lemon juice, oregano, and fideo. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 9-11 minutes or until noodles are tender. 
  3. Garnish with cilantro leaves, green onion, and serve with a lemon wedge. 

Kansas City Steak Soup

This soup celebrates one of the things Kansas City is best known for: BBQ. It tastes like it’s been simmering all day, but this recipe comes together in less than 45 minutes! 

Ingedients
  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth or stock, divided 
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 10 oz bag frozen mixed veggies
  • 2 tbsp Kansas City style BBQ sauce (sweet and thick with a molasses or brown sugar base)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, add beef, onion, and celery. Brown beef and cook vegetables over medium heat for 8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Drain off liquid and return to heat. 
  2. Add half of the beef broth, tomatoes, frozen veggies, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for, covered, for 20 minutes. 
  3. In the meantime, wisk together flour and remaining beef broth. After the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add flour and broth mixture to pot. Stir well. Cook until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. 

 

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Packing for a Hike

GORP

First things first: every hike calls for trail mix. While some folks will tell you gorp stands for “good ol’ raisins and peanuts”, we like to use it as a catch-all term for a mix of sweet and salty snacks thrown together in bag and eaten in the Great Outdoors.

 The Co-op’s Bulk Department is an excellent place to get supplies for gorp.  

The Best Gorp

To make The Best Gorp ask everyone in your hiking party to bring 1 sweet snack item and 1 salty. For example, someone may choose to bring yogurt covered raisins and pretzels, chocolate covered caramels and popcorn, or sour gummy worms and wasabi peas. Mix everything together in a big bowl and divide evenly among hikers (everyone should have their own container of gorp).

The Best Gorp changes every time you make it, which means each gorp reminds you of a particular hike with the folks who contributed to its weird deliciousness.

Dark & White Chocolate Cherry Gorp

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted and salted almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Pizza Trail Mix

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), halved or quartered if large

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine everything except the sundried tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss so the nuts are evenly coated in spices and oil. Spread mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely before adding tomatoes. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

 

Lunch on the Trail

If you’re planning a day hike, you’ll probably want to take something a little more substantial to eat. 

Brie, Apple, and Bacon Trail Sandwich

This sandwhich is for folks who need energy for a long hike and also appreciate the finer things in life. It’s the fancy sandwhich that gets the job done!

  • 2 slices cinnamon raisin bread
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4-5 slices brie cheese (with or without bloomy rind)
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked
  • thin slices of Granny Smith apple

Turn on you oven’s broiler. Spread butter on both sides of the cinnamon raisin bread sliced. Broil for 1 minute or until golden brown. Flip, top with brie cheese, and broil for another 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melty. Remove from boiler. Finish building the sandwhich with bacon and apple slices. Wrap in parchment and store in a reusable zip-top bag until ready to eat. 

Sweet and Savory Yogurt Dips

These dips are perfect for picnic-style trail eating. Plus, they’re made with whole milk Greek yogurt so you’re getting plenty of protein and healthy fats.

 

Honey Yogurt Dip
  • 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until smooth.

Serve with fresh fruit (apples, strawberries, bananas), apple chips, or granola. 

Green Curry Yogurt Dip
  • 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp green gurry paste
  • Juice from 1 lime 
  • pinch salt 

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until smooth.

Serve with pita chips, raw veggies (carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers), and cold cuts. 

Smoky Roasted Chickpea Wraps

The perfect vegetarian or vegan trail lunch! 

  • 1 15-oz can chickpea, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt or vegan sour cream
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
  • For assembly: 2 pita pockets or lavash, sliced red onion, sliced tomato, sliced cucumbers, green and red leaf lettuce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss chickpeas in avocado oil, cumin, smoked paprika, turmeric, black pepper, and salt. Spread on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. 

In the meantime, combine yogurt, lemon juice, dill, and a pinch of salt if necessary in a small bowl. Mix well. 

To assemble: Place lettuce on wrap. Top with red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, and chickpeas. Drizzle with dill sauce. Roll up. Wrap in parchment to maintain structural integrity. Store in a Stasher Bag and pack for later!

Packs on Packs

Ditch the plastic zip-top bags and choose U-Konserve food storage containers, reusable zip-top Stasher Bags, or Meli Beeswax Food Wraps to keep your pack organized and plastic free! Use to store food, equipment, and personal items. All of these brands are 10% off at the Co-op now through 2/2/2021!

Sunscreen

Regardless of the time of year you go hiking, pack and apply sunscreen! Look for a mineral-sunscreen that has broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is water-resistant

 

stay hydrated

Don’t forget to bring water! If you don’t have an insulated water bottle, check out the Co-op’s offerings from Klean Kanteen. In addition to making water bottles which keep water ice cold for 90 hours, Klean Kanteen is a certified cimate neutral company based in nearby Chico, CA.

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Daisy Grace: Greeter at our Holiday Meal

If you have ever been to the Davis Food Co-op Holiday Meal, these faces are probably familiar. Lori and her service dog, Daisy Grace have been greeters for the Holiday Meal for years. Daisy always greeted everyone with a smile and Lori encouraged many to sing Christmas Carols while waiting in line.
Daisy Grace passed away early January at the age of 15 but she will forever live on in our Holiday Meal memories. A celebration of life was held last week over Zoom (1/10/21), if you would like to access the recording reach out to Celeste at celestial@gfsi.com

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New Year, New (Healthy) Recipes

We’ve gathered some of our favorite healthy recipes to share with anyone who is interested. “Healthy” can mean a lot of different things, but we’re focusing on vegetable-forward, colorful, protein-rich meals with healthy fats and carbohydrates that taste really good!

Click the title of the dish you want to make to be taken to the recipe.

winter briam

Briam is a traditional Greek dish made with roasted summer vegetables. We’ve updated the recipe to use produce that’s in season right now! Briam is delicious on its own, piled on top of roasted chicken, or baked with eggs.

Grilled Salmon salad with tzatziki-feta dressing

Grilled salmon sits atop a rainbow of veggies in this main-course salad. Plus, you get to make the dressing from scratch – it’s super easy and super worth it.

Banana Beet Muffins

These whole wheat muffins feature secret veggies (antioxidant rich beets!) and are free of refined sugars and dairy.

Sonoma Chickpea Salad

Our take on Sonoma Chicken Salad is totally plant-based, oil-free, and mayo-free. Serve over lightly dressed greens, on a hearty whole grain bread, or eat straight up.

Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potato Bowl with Mojo Sauce

With greens, grains, hearty vegetables, and protein this bowl is deeply nourishing and super satisfying. You’ll get multiple meals out of this recipe since the individual components of this bowl can he mixed and matched with things you already have on hand!

Butternut squash mac and “cheese”

Butternut squash is the base for this dreamy plant-based “cheese” sauce. Adding greens makes this comfort classic a nutritional powerhouse!

Turkey Sausage, Chevre, and Veggie Lasagna

Lighten up classic lasagna with turkey sausage and veggies! This recipe is written to be gluten free and enjoyed by all.

Chickpea Tikka Masala with Green Rice

If you’re cooking for 1 or 2, this recipe will yield plenty of leftovers. Warmly spiced chickpeas pair perfectly with rice that’s hiding a whole bag of spinach.

Kale Salad with ginger miso dressing

Serve as a side or on its own, this salad is packed with phytonutrients (the good stuff from plants) and flavor! If you’re serving as a side, pair with baked tofu, grilled salmon, or portabella steaks.

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