Holiday Meal Makeover

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

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

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

Article used with permission from National Co-op Grocers,

More >>

Turkey Roasting Tips

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


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

Turkey roasting timetable

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

325°F oven temperature


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


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


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

Thawing in the refrigerator

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

Thawing in cold water

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

More >>

Want to enjoy Thanksgiving
but don’t want to cook?

More >>

Giving November

Throughout the month of November, the Davis Food Co-op will be matching donations for four wonderful local organizations listed below. This week’s organization is Center for Land-Based Learning. We will be accepting donations until 11:30pm on Monday November 30th. To make a donation, visit their donation page by clicking here.

More >>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More >>

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

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

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

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

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

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

More >>

Cooperative Principle #1:
Voluntary & Open Membership

For many co-ops, a recurring issue that they face is public awareness of what the cooperative model actually entails. We decided to use Co-op Month (October) to dive deeper into the guiding principles that shape all co-ops as well as provide insight into how the Davis Food Co-op has expanded on these principles to best serve the Davis community. More so than with traditional business models, co-ops do everything, from their daily tasks to large scale planning, according to the principles of the cooperative model.

To better understand the importance of the cooperative principles, it is important to understand a brief history of what a co-op actually is. The concept of cooperation started with the earliest human societies sharing all of their resources with one another for survival and began to take more formal shape in the late 18th century as people moved from farms to cities. Labor workers, consumers, farmers and producers banded together to make joint purchases of supplies and services to keep their collective costs lower as they entered into this new way of life. In their efforts to support one another’s new journey into city life, they became a co-op—a business run by the people, for the people. 

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the “new wave” of consumer co-ops in the US began. Born out of 1960s counterculture, these stores were opened by idealistic community members that wanted an alternative to the standard capitalism business models. Each co-op had its own set of standards and procedures, dictated by the Members/Owners of the co-op. These co-ops were pioneers in what we know today as the natural foods industry.

The first principle of all cooperative structures that were born out of that era is that they are open for everyone to join regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, political or religious beliefs and any other discriminatory based qualifications. While Membership (also known as Ownership) is open for everyone, it is not required for shopping at the Davis Food Co-op. The Co-op truly does exist as a community institution that is accessible to everyone. However, Ownership is highly encouraged!

By becoming an Owner of the Davis Food Co-op, you are investing not only in the store, but also in local farmers and artisans that offer sustainably sourced natural foods and products. You are also investing in programs that enrich our community, such as food drives for those in need, that the Co-op actively supports. As a community-owned grocery store, we are accountable to you, the members of our community who support and invest in us. We are committed to supporting the environmental, social, and economic concerns of all of our Owners. Over the next six principles, we will dive a little deeper into what Ownership actually entails and how you can further contribute to your local Co-op!

More >>

How to have a perfect picnic – 3 meals to bring and wine that goes with anything

Ah, picnics. There’s nothing like dining al fresco to lift one’s spirits.

The most important ingredient for a perfect picnic is the company that you bring with you. So invite some of the people you love to enjoy a bit of fresh air with you first. The second most essential component of your picnic is its location. You want two things in a picnic location, soft ground, and shade. A good view is always a nice touch.

For an ideal picnic, you want to pack foods that get better the longer they sit. Ingredients that are prone to becoming mushy are not the move.

Rainbow Salad in a Jar – This is the way to go if you want to bring a salad. The visual presentation will make you the envy of fellow picnickers and your ingredients will stay fresh.

Chickpea Avocado Sandwich – Packing a sandwich can work so long as you keep the moist fillings from touching the bread with a layer of romaine.

Peach and Strawberry Bruschetta – This is a great option if you pack the toppings separately and slice your bread ahead of time to let it develop a crust.

Rosé is the quintessential french picnic wine (we love this one from Riojana) but it can also be nice to switch things up with some white wine. If you aren’t going too far from home you can probably get away with chilling your wine ahead of time and not fussing with ice.

And remember, whenever you enjoy an outdoor space it is important to make sure that you don’t leave anything behind. Please pick up any wrappers or boxes you might have brought with you. Often it is ultimately up to the community to keep our public spaces clean.

More >>

How UC Davis Students are Coping and
Keeping Community Alive in a Pandemic

It’s safe to say that 2020 isn’t what many of us expected. Our new normal includes wearing masks, avoiding physical contact, and connecting with each other through screens. The consequences of this are varied and deep. Many have lost their jobs, their homes, and their social support structures. As a co-operative that was founded by students from UC Davis and has many Aggies that keep it running in one way or another, we were curious how our local college students were handling these challenges.

According to a recent UC Davis news report, “approximately 50 percent of undergraduate students and 70 percent of graduate students are planning to live in Davis and its surrounding communities, including on- and off-campus housing.” This information raised many concerns for us. Many students rely on campus resources in order to access food and housing, which made us wonder how the 50% of undergraduates who would not be returning to campus would cope. On the other hand, international students are in many cases unable to return home because of travel bans, isolating them from the social support of their families.

We caught up with the campus organizations Aggie Compass and Food Recovery Network to see what resources there still were for student’s food access and other basic needs. We also spoke to two students, Mathew Pimley and Akshita Gandra, who are still working to create a sense of community for UC Davis students despite the coronavirus lockdown.

We reached out to Aggie Compass, a campus organization that connects students with basic needs resources, first. We spoke with Nubia Goodwin to see what they have experienced since the pandemic began. “We have worked very hard to continue providing the same services during this time, even if that means delivering them in alternate methods. Our grant program and casework management were easy to transition into online services,” Goodwin said. “But our in-person services like Fruit and Veggie Up or our linen closet were more difficult. We switched to a format which allows for great social distancing and minimum time spent around one another.”

Luckily for those students who have remained around campus, or those who will return, Aggie Compass has been able to continue its Fruit and Veggie Up program. Fruit and Veggie Up distributes free, fresh produce to UC Davis students. “We also did start additional gift cards to students so that they can purchase their own food if they’ve returned home,” Goodwin said. This was done to make up for the fact that those students no longer have access to an open food pantry five days a week. The Co-op has donated prepared food and fresh produce to Fruit and Veggie Up for a long time and now because of the COVID restrictions, we have even placed a free community refrigerator (Freedge) outside of our store to increase our community’s access to healthy foods.

Another campus organization that usually makes up for the gaps in student’s access to food is the Food Recovery Network. Food Recovery Network is a non-profit run by students who find surplus food and distribute it to the local community. We met virtually with Alicia Marzolf, the Event Coordinator of the Food Recovery Network, to see how their operations have been affected by quarantine. She indicated that they were recovering less food, “mainly because the dorms are closed and campus operations are pretty much all virtual now. The dining commons that we recover from have less food because there are fewer customers. So we’ve ultimately had less food to recover and donate, making it harder to achieve our mission,” Marzolf said. “Our operations have scaled back in response to this. We used to recover twice a week from the Dining Commons and Market and now we’re doing it every other week at the most.”

While it seems that students are still able to receive help with certain basic needs, although how much help seems dependent on whether they have remained on campus, we were still curious to know how students were coping without the UC Davis community to lean on. In order to get a sense of this we spoke to two students leading on campus publications that allow students a creative outlet to express how they feel.

Akshita Gandra is the editor-in-chief of Revival, a feminism-focused campus publication. She was able to comment on some of the unique challenges being faced by female students right now. “It’s more likely for female students to face difficult situations at home or with their partners, not just because of domestic violence but because of cultural or class-based restrictions rooted in traditional gender hierarchies,” Gandra said. “I come from a South Asian background and there’s a conservative mindset that women should stay at home. I think with COVID that protectiveness has been exacerbated and that has likely led to a decrease in mental health for students.” Traditional values are something Gandra identified could hold female students back from their studies. “Cooking, cleaning, and care,” Gandra said. “Women have traditionally done so much unpaid labor. This might not be as prevalent as it once was but it is the case for many families.”

Gandra was also acutely aware of how other students might be struggling away from campus. “For a lot of non-binary, trans, or LGBTQ students returning home can be a big challenge. Especially if they aren’t accepted by their parents or their peers at home,” Gandra said. “I think college for the most part has a very supportive environment if you can surround yourself with people that are accepting. When you are isolated at home you no longer have access to that support system.”

The loss of the on-campus community is irreplaceable but students like Gandra are attempting to recreate it online. Revival provides a space for conversations that students care about and also a place to belong. “We’ve gotten some emails from incoming freshmen already asking if we’re active and whether they can join,” Gandra said. “I think because people are having to stay at home or isolated in their dorms there’s a greater interest in joining and working on something.”

A creative outlet is possibly more important for students than ever. Open Ceilings is an undergraduate-run literary magazine that provides such an outlet and is attempting to foster community in its own way. We spoke with Matthew Pimley, Board Director and Co-Founder of the magazine, about how students have been responding via the submissions they’ve received. He noted that the issue they’re currently working on, “is going to be composed of work created during the initial pandemic quarantine. So our chosen theme ‘Shoes Before Socks’ is meant to represent the fact that we’re all out here, we’re home, we’re trying to maintain normalcy through our routines,” Pimley said. “That theme is representative of the submissions we got because so many of them deal with the day-to-day things that we still hold on to despite how crazy everything has been this year. One of the pieces I thought was so COVID was about baking sourdough bread.” Despite this attempt to stay afloat through structure and routines Pimley stated that “a lot of the pieces are influenced by the ambient anxiety of this time.”

One can indeed feel this ambient anxiety when they pass others on the street or scroll through social media. We feel it float through the doors of the Co-op sometimes and what we want most to say is that we’re here for you. As a cooperative, one of our driving principles is concern for our community. And as a collective of human beings, we care deeply for each person that walks through our doors. We take seriously our responsibility to keep you safe and uplift our community during this time.

We are all having to make difficult adjustments during this time to a new normal that is scary, with high stakes, and includes an uncertain job market looming on the horizon. This situation is uniquely jarring to students who are struggling to learn new skills, both in their future careers and in life, while they try to stay afloat. However, the view that we got from the students and organizations that we spoke to is an optimistic one. It would seem that some are taking the changes to campus operations as an opportunity to grow and adapt and that there are resources still in place to help students. However, we are aware that there are more vulnerable students who we were unable to speak to that might not be coping as well. It is important now more than ever that our community come together to provide support for each other, however we are able to.


Featured image is of Sequoia Erasmus, a graduate student studying transportation technology and policy and landscape design, modeling a branded face covering at the Davis Amtrak station. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

More >>

Recognizing and Appreciating our Farm Workers in the Field

For Labor Day this year, we would like to recognize and appreciate all of the Field Workers at our Local Farms for the valuable role that they play in maintaining our food system and making the items that can be found at the Co-op so easily accessible. Through a pandemic, heat wave, wildfires and more, they are still out there working hard every day so that we can all have food on our tables. While we have chosen Labor Day as a day to express this appreciation, it is incumbent upon us all to show gratitude for the people that make every meal of ours possible throughout the entire year by recognizing the challenges that they face and advocating for protections for these workers.

Modern accesibility to food combined with a fast pace lifestlye can make it easy to overlook the importance of what is happening behind the scenes of the services we utilize on a daily basis. For many of us, we throw away our trash without any thought of the garbage collector that wakes up before the sun to take it away for us, we wear clothing without consideration for the person whose hands stiched it all together and all too often, we purchase and consume our food with no appreciation for the farmworker who picked that food for us, even in the harshest of conditions. Farmworkers keep the entire world fed by working in sometimes dangerous conditions, and yet they are often not protected by the same laws that protect other workers.

The most recent data that we have on farmworkers in the U.S. comes from a 2015-16 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers (NAW) Survey. Among many findings, the NAW reported that:

– There are an estimated 2.4 million farmworkers laboring on our nation’s farms and ranches, cultivating and harvesting crops and raising and tending to livestock.
– The farm labor workforce is a predominantly immigrant workforce. According to the NAWS, approximately 75% of farmworkers are immigrants. Approximately 49% of farmworkers are immigrants who lack work authorization.
– Due to the seasonal nature of the work on many crop farms, the large majority of crop workers do not work year round, even if they work for more than one farm in a single year. Farmworkers averaged 33 weeks of farm work over the course of a year and worked an average of 45 hours per week.
– 57% of farmworkers are married, and 55% of farmworkers have children
– Farmworkers averaged $10.60 per hour in wages. The average annual individual income of farmworkers was in the range of $17,500 – $19,999.
– 33% of farmworker families had incomes below the poverty line. However, because the survey results did not include dependents living outside of the United States, this number may not completely reflect the full number of families living in poverty.
– Despite the high level of poverty, most farmworkers do not receive any public benefits. At the time of this study, only 18% of farmworkers received food stamps, 17% received WIC (a supplemental nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) and 43% received health insurance through a government program, like Medicaid.
– Most farmworkers (53%) have no health insurance, and limited access to health care, making them particularly vulnerable to environmental and occupational health hazards. It was found that 71% of workers reported that their employer did not provide health insurance or pay for medical treatment for injuries or illnesses suffered outside of work. Only 18% of employers offer health insurance to their workers.

Often, the first step towards positive change is through acknowledgement of the issues at hand. We believe that pushing for this positive change is the best way that we can truly show appreciation for our farmworkers. There are many great organizations that are actively advocating for farmworkers, both locally and nationally. We encourage you to check them out to learn more about the work that they are doing and how you can get involved and let us know of any other organizations we may have missed.

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF):
“CRLAF is a statewide non-profit civil legal aid organization providing free legal services and policy advocacy for California’s rural poor. We focus on some of the most marginalized communities: the unrepresented, the unorganized and the undocumented.  We engage in community education and outreach, impact litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, and public policy leadership at the state and local level. We seek to bring about social justice to rural poor communities by working to address the most pressing needs of our community: Labor, Housing, Education Equity, Health Care Access, Worker Safety, Citizenship, Immigration, and Environmental Justice.”

Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF):
” Founded in 1978, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and The Farmers Guild is a California-based nonprofit that builds sustainable food and farming systems through local and statewide policy advocacy and on-the-ground programs in an effort to initiate institutionalized change. Our programs address current problems and challenges in food and farming systems, creating more resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems. We work to support family farmers and serve community members throughout the state, including consumers, food service directors, schoolchildren and low-income populations with the aim of growing a more resilient, just and abundant food system for all Californians.”

The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH):
“The National Center for Farmworker Health is a private, not-for-profit corporation located in Buda, Texas dedicated to improving the health status of farmworker families.  We provide information services, training and technical assistance, and a variety of products to community and migrant health centers nationwide, as well as organizations, universities, researchers and individuals involved in farmworker health.”

Farmworker Justice:
“Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice. We work with farmworkers and their organizations throughout the nation. Based in Washington, D.C., Farmworker Justice was founded in 1981. In 1996, Farmworker Justice became a subsidiary corporation of UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest constituency-based Hispanic civil rights organization.”

– Vincent Marchese, Marketing Manager

More >>