Organic Fair Trade Bananas

We recently made the decision to raise the price of Organic Bananas to $1.19/pound.

The banana industry is infamous for unfair labor practices, dangerous working conditions, and perpetuation of global inequalities. The Co-op has long rejected being a part of the conventional banana trade. Instead, we only stock Organic Fair Trade bananas from Equal Exchange. Equal Exchange bananas come from three farmer co-ops in Ecuador and Peru where 1,162 small-scale farmers own and farm 5,000 acres of land.

Over the last decade, conventional banana prices have fallen, with increasing costs passed back to plantations and their workers, rather than to consumers or retailers. According to a study by Fair Trade International, about $6.70 per 40-pound wholesale box of conventional bananas is externalized onto smallholder farmers and the employees of banana plantations, as well as onto the land itself.

Unlike the conventional banana trade, Equal Exchange banana farmers earn a reliable income year-round which supports farmer families and creates local employment opportunities. As democratically-run cooperatives, Equal Exchange co-ops use the Fair Trade Premium Fund and vote on how money is used for community development projects. Equal Exchange banana farmers also receive healthcare, women’s entrepreneurship education, and environmental stewardship resources.

“Invisible” costs really aren’t invisible. We won’t be passing those costs back to the farmers who grow our food or to the land that nourishes all of us. Instead, we hope you’ll join us in supporting small farmers growing the food on our tables knowing that you’re strengthening supply chains and relationships that truly benefit people and planet.

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Regenerative Agriculture: People, Planet, and Profit

Regenerative Agriculture

The Earth naturally has a flow of carbon dioxide. It is stored in large deposits, often called “Carbon Sinks”, as fossil fuels, forests, and in the ocean. It is stored in microorganisms in the soil and in plants. We have accelerated the release of carbon through burning fossil fuels and conventional farming practices, and have slowed near a halt of the reabsorption of carbon dioxide through conventional farming and deforestation. The result, climate change and global warming. The excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “simply” needs to be put back into the soil.

Regenerative agriculture, also known as “Carbon Farming”, has tremendous global potential and consists of widely available and inexpensive organic management practices. According to the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at Chico State and the Carbon Underground, “Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density”.

Regeneration International claims that “the deployment of all of these regenerative and organic best practices across the world on 5-10% of all agricultural lands…would result in…50% more [CO2 ] than the amount of sequestration needed to drawdown the CO2 that is currently being released into the atmosphere and the oceans” 

Regenerative farming includes, but is not limited to: 

Tilling, the practice of breaking up and rotating soil to churn weeds and crop residue back in the soil, breaks up root structures in the soil thus releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and deteriorating the topsoil. No-tilling practices, disturbing the soil as little as possible, results in healthier soil, which means healthier plants and higher crop yields.    

The following photo shows a tilled farm with unhealthy soil. This practice deteriorates soil, puts Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere and will eventually make the soil useless to farmers.

Regenerative farmers also use cover crops. These plants cover the fields while leaving space for the intended crop and keep Carbon Dioxide in the soil. Cover crops provide the microorganisms in the soil with the nutrients they need to keep the soil healthy and balanced.

You may have already read our blog about composting and it’s environmental benefits. Composting some of the cover crops or main crop residue can be used to sequester carbon quickly and improve soil health. According to the Rodale Institute, “the benefits are significant and accrue quickly: after only one application season of amending with compost, soil organic carbon and aggregate stability increase significantly compared with non-amended soils.”

Crop rotations, switching the crop seasonally or yearly, has shown to “increase soil biodiversity and sequester Carbon” according to Rodale Institute. Keeping plants in the soil year round keeps a high amount of microorganisms in the soil, which we already know means healthy soil and higher crop yields. 

Residue Retention is the practice of keeping the roots and base of the original plant, whether it be the cover crops or the main crop. Removing the plant residue by tilling or for bio-energy removes the Carbon from the soil and puts it in the atmosphere.

Rotational grazing is a regenerative practice where ranchers section off their land and move the cattle around the land to promote plant growth and soil health. SunFed ranch from Woodland, CA practices rotational grazing throughout their farmland and describes it as “the practice of guiding our cattle to new areas of the ranch to avoid overgrazing and allow forage to recover between mealtimes.” Learn more about SunFed Ranch’s commitment to regenerative agriculture in this video and be sure to stop by our Meat Department next time you are at the Co-op to check out our selection of SunFed products!

In an article from the Journal of Environmental Management, Samantha Mosier, et al. found that rotational grazing led to 13% more soil Carbon and 9% more soil Nitrogen compared to conventional grazing. Rotational grazing keeps the soil and plant life flourishing. With this practice ranchers are able to support more cattle than with traditional grazing. Not only is rotational grazing good for the environment, it can result in a higher yield for ranchers. 

The intersection of these practices gives you regenerative agriculture. They all intertwine and improve each other. Rodale Institute claims that “recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO 2 emissions with a switch to [regenerative agriculture]”. All of these practices are widely available, inexpensive to use, and result in a healthier soil, planet, and crops.

Regenerative agriculture is a win-win for the planet and farmers.

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From the Road: Alexander Valley Vineyards

From the Road: Alexander Valley Vineyards

Written by Sterling Carlton, Beer, Wine & Spirits Specialist

I left foggy Davis around 10:30 am on Friday, December 3rd heading west on Highway 128. My check in to Alexander Valley Vineyards wasn’t until 3:30 pm so I figured I would swing through the Napa Valley and check in on a few of my old haunts from before the pandemic. It was surprisingly sunny in the Berryessa lowlands, but as I climbed into the hills, the dense fog set in. The kind of fog you expect to break down in and have zombies come out after you. Alas, no zombies on this trip. The fog cleared as I made my way into the Napa Valley towards the Silverado Trail and a giddy type of excitement came over me. It felt like the first time I had ever visited the Valley, but I knew it was home.  It’s the sort of excitement accompanied by a little apprehensive energy: What incredible or interesting wines might I find on this trip? What delicious little drops of preserved sun might find their way into my glass and bring joy to my day? What might make me think, “perhaps I don’t ‘get it’ as well as I think I do?”

After making a brief stop at Backroom Wines, a wonderful family-owned shop just up the street from Oxbow Market, I grabbed  a bite at Hog Island Oyster Co. Stomach full, I finally made my way up the Valley to Alexander Valley Vineyards. 

Almost – I actually missed the turn my first time by. This estate isn’t like its counterparts down the valley in Napa. As I drove down the main drive between the vineyard blocks of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cabernet Franc, it struck me how rustic and frankly charming the estate is. Other estates feel modern and a bit bustling at times, but AVV is pure serenity.

The estate is full of life too: eagles, vineyard dogs, birds hiding acorns in the pockmarked walls of the workshop next to the winery. Even the staff, who I saw dancing up the hill to the winery, gave a sense of joy and freedom to the estate.

Once checked in, I had the pleasure of getting free reign to taste their lineup of wines. The Syrah really stood out to me with its supple structure and aromas of dark cherry, dark berry fruits, violets, vanilla, and white pepper. It’s a delicious expression of one of my favorite Rhone grapes.

Their tete de cuvee, Cyrus, named after the founder of the Alexander Valley, Cyrus Alexander, was delicious as well, for the Cabernet lovers out there. Well structured and balanced, it had taught fruit character and integrated tannins. The fruit was fresh, not raisined or cooked, and the acid crisp. Not only is it a wine to enjoy now, but one that will give a lot of joie de vivre with many years of bottle age on it.

Ultimately, my favorite part of the stay was getting to explore the hills of the estate to see all  of the different vineyard blocks they manage. Alexander Valley Vineyards is dedicated to sustainability, cover cropping, transitioning their vines to organic and maintaining wide riparian passages. You get a sense they really care about the stewardship of the land they are charged with. It was really great to see the jackrabbits running through the cover crop of fava beans and peas and amaranth and I can’t wait to go back in the summer to see the vines in full swing. This trip reminded me that the best wine is grown in the most beautiful places in the world.

Find the following Alexander Valley Vineyards wines in the Wine Department.

 

Organic Cabernet Sauvignon – lush, juicy flavors of cherry, cassis, blackberry, plum, oak, chocolate and a note of cool menthol

Syrah – blackberry jam, black cherry, plum, white pepper and vanilla

Chardonnay – hints of citrus and bright flavors of pear, apple, tropical fruits and peaches with just a kiss of oak

Merlot – juicy red cherry, cassis, blackberry, plum and chocolate notes with a long, juicy finish

Zinfandel – spicy with rich earthy flavors of black cherry, plum, black pepper, apricot and a hint of chocolate

Organic Gewürztraminersilky & rich with spicy flavors of apple, pear, grapefruit and nice acid balance on the finish

 

Receive 10% off when you buy 6 or more bottles.

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Who’s to blame for Daylight Savings?

Who’s to blame for Daylight Savings?

It is an unfortunately common belief that daylight savings was “the fault of farmers”. This belief is false. The American Farm Bureau Federation released an article early this year in hope to set the record straight. They have little hope that daylight savings will go away, but do hope that “maybe one day the sun will set on the idea that it started with farmers.” David Prerau, the author of “Seize the Daylight.” told the New York Times, “I don’t know how that ever became a myth, but it is the exact opposite.”

He said daylight saving time actually disrupts farmers’ schedules.

Livestock and plants do not know of the time change and move along as normal. Cows need to be milked at consistent intervals, thus the time change throws the day to day of the farm off an hour or more to accommodate the cows and to accommodate outside influences, like vendor sales and markets. In 1921, Massachusetts farmers banded together and sued the state for financial losses due to daylight savings and demanded that Standard Time be returned. They lost on both counts. 

Daylight savings is marketed as a way to save energy, allowing more sunlight in the evening when people presumably spend more time at home. There is however a significant amount of studies stating that daylight savings leads an increase in energy use.

Michael Downing, a lecturer at Tufts University and the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.” claims that the sunlight at the end of the day encourages the American people to go out. 

“We go to the parks, and we go to the mall, but we don’t walk there,” he said. “Daylight saving increases gasoline consumption.”

Mr. Prerau stated that the idea of daylight savings was rooted in candle wax, not electricity. The idea to change the clocks back was first done by WWI Germany, with the British and the US following shortly after. Mr. Downing said the idea was originally based on having “an eight-hour economy,” but electricity demand is no longer based on sunrises and sunsets.

The need for and benefits of daylight savings in modern times is still up for debate. One thing for sure, it is not our farmers’ fault. 

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Fiery Ginger Farm

Fiery Ginger Farm

West Sacramento Urban Farm

The Farmers

Fiery Ginger Farm is a West Sacramento Urban Farm. Shayne, from Stockton, and Hope, from Michigan, both worked in farms or gardens and teaching in grade schools. They are both graduates of the California Farm Academy with the Center for Land-Based Learning.

The Food

Currently, at the Co-op, we carry their Loose Spring Salad Mix, Sunflower Sprouts, Gypsy Pepper, and Heirloom Tomatoes. Keep an eye on our signs in store to see what new things we bring in from Fiery Ginger. 

Their Mission

“to grow the highest quality food using sustainable practices, deliver hands-on, ag-based educational experiences, and develop community where we farm. We believe that urban farms are powerful agents of change for the environment, the food system and the cities we service.”

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Flying V Farm, New to the DFC

Welcome to the Co-op, Flying V!

Flying V Farm is a new Davis Food Co-op vendor, thanks to the help of Kitchen Table Advisors. Flying V is a certified organic worker-owned farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, just 60 miles from the Co-op. They work together to produce food in a way that nourishes our community, stewards the land, and empowers workers. They strive for a more socially and ecologically just rural economy by practicing worker-ownership and collective care. 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying V delivers their produce to us in clean, reusable tubs. This helps cut costs and waste for both of us. We snapped this pic on Friday, when Flying V delivered their first batch of produce to us! We received gorgeous beets, little gem lettuce heads, and more.

Meet the Team

Lucy O’Dea – harvest, sales & events manager

 

Cody Curtis — field, perennials, & site manager

Katie Lewis — assistant field manager

On the farm

Flying V hosts workshops at the farm. Coming in October are a few DIY dried flower wreath classes!

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Celebrate Asparagus!

Monday, May 24th, is National Asparagus Day

We love this spring staple at the Co-op and hope you find something celebratory about asparagus too!

A love affair for the ages

5,000 years ago, Egyptians used asparagus in rituals as offerings, and as food and medicine. Archeologists found asparagus, along with fig and melon, residue on ancient dinnerware possibly belonging to Queen Nefertiti. 3,000 years ago, Caesar Augustus created the “asparagus fleet,” a flotilla of his fastest ships to find the vegetable and bring it to the alps where it could be frozen for later use. A recipe for cooking asparagus from this time appears in one of the oldest surviving cookbooks. 600 years ago, asparagus’s popularity spread to the nobility of France, Germany, and England. French king Louis XIV supped on spears the size of swan’s feathers. 300 years ago, asparagus became widely available to most people and had made its way to North America via colonialism.

Today, asparagus is grown and eaten all over the world. Top producers include China, Peru, Mexico, Germany, and Thailand. It may be native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, but the crop does well in many parts of the U.S. We prefer local asparagus, which is available at the Co-op throughout the season. Asparagus contains more glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, than any other vegetable! The tender, green stalks pair well with olive oil, aged cheese, bacon, sausage, lamb, prosciutto, cream, eggs, butter, shallots, fresh herbs, yeasty breads, like sourdough and wheat, and grains such as Arborio rice, quinoa and farro.

Giving thanks

California is one of the top producers of asparagus in the United States and it takes time and care to harvest! Each spear is harvested by hand. Farmworkers clear out 9 inches of soil around each stalk to reach the base before each spear is snipped. We’re grateful to our farmers and farmworkers for taking the care to bring us this spring specialty!

Recipes

 

Storing asparagus: asparagus should be trimmed approximately ½ inch from the bottom and then stored upright in a glass or bowl filled with enough water to cover stems, as you would do with flowers in a vase. Keep refrigerated.

You can find a Kids at the Co-op recipe and coloring page here!

Easy Asparagus and Bell Pepper Quiche

Asparagus Stir Fry

Broiled Asparagus with Cotija

Ginger Shrimp and Asparagus

Asparagus Gremolata with Orzo

Charred Asparagus with Tarragon Aioli

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CoFED: Building a Cooperative Future

Building a Cooperative Future

In the spirit of cooperation, the Davis Food Co-op wants to take the opportunity to share the visionary and necessary work being done by the Sonoma-based Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED). CoFED is a, “QBIPOC-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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