Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

Have a lot of leftovers this year? No worries! Check out our favorite ways to repurpose your Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey Banh Mi with Quick Pickled Cranberries

This Vietnamese sandwich is filled with fresh, herbal, and tangy flavors!

Mashed Potato and Bacon Pizza

Mashed potatoes and pizza are a match made in comfort food heaven.

Turkey Vatapa

Vatapa is a Brazilian stew featuring jalapenos, lime, peanuts, and beer!

Roast Turkey Hash

Use up any extra butternut squash or sweet potatoes in this anytime meal.

Squash, Bacon, and Apple Hash

This sweet and savory hash is begging to be served with a fried egg (or two) on top!

More >>

Turkey Bone Broth from your Turkey Day Bird

Making bone broth from your bird is an excellent way to use all parts of your Thanksgiving turkey! Bone broth is one of the most nutritious (and affordable) foods you can make at home. Simmering bones and connective tissue along with herbs, vegetables, and apple cider vinegar releases protein, amino acids, B vitamins, and compounds that support joint health. In addition to bolstering your joints, bone broth promotes a healthy gut, fights inflammation, and supports skin health. You can use your turkey bone broth as a base for soups, stews, and sauces, but sipping a steaming cup of this restorative draft is traditional! Our recipe also utilizes scraps from meal preparation (think onion skins, herbs you didn’t use, and citrus peels) that would otherwise be tossed out. You can enjoy your broth immediately or store in glass containers to freeze. 


Turkey Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 carcass from your roasted turkey (no need to remove any remaining meat and skin)
  • turkey giblets, optional
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano) with stems, okay to mix
  • 1 peel from citrus fruit (mandarin, orange, or lemon)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 cups vegetable scraps (carrot tops and bottoms, celery tops and bottoms, garlic skins, or onion skins)
  • water enough to cover (about 7 quarts)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Add turkey, giblets (if using), veggies and scraps, herbs, citrus peel, apple cider vinegar, and bay leaves to a large stockpot. Add just enough cold water to cover the contents of your pot. 
  2. Heat broth on medium-high heat until boiling. As soon as your broth is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 6 – 8 hours. Skim any foam that forms off the top of your broth. 
  3. Remove from heat. Carefully remove solids from your broth. Strain with a fine mesh strainer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into glass containers for fridge or freezer storage. If freezing, allow 1 inch of space for broth to expand. As your broth cools, a layer of fat will form and solidify on the surface. Remove the fat layer before consuming. 

Bone Broth Variations

While plain bone broth is a nutritional powerhouse, you can add additional ingredients to get even more out of your broth!

For Digestion

Bone broth already contains compounds which promote gut health, but adding ginger to your simmer can increase the gut-healing benefits! Slice 2-3 inches of fresh ginger (no need to peel) and add to your pot with the rest of your ingredients before setting to simmer.

For Pain Relief and Fighting Inflammation

Your joints will rejoice when you drink bone broth, but you can up the whole-body anti-inflammatory properties of your broth by adding turmeric. Before setting your broth to simmer, add 2 tsp of turmeric powder and ¼ tsp of black pepper to the pot with all of your ingredients.

For Immune Support

Once your broth has simmered and cooled for about 20 minutes, you can add fresh garlic to help increase overall immune function. Crush 6 cloves of garlic using a garlic press or crush with the flat of your knife and mince. Add juicy crushed garlic to your broth and reap the benefits!

More >>

Cozy at the Co-op: A Closer Look at Gypsy & Lolo and Andes Gifts

Mission

Gyspy & Lolo is based out of Arcata, CA. Their mission is “To feel good and do good! To support local manufacturers, use Earth-friendly fabrics, give back to social causes, and inspire people to share in the possibility of a sustainable future.”

Gypsy and Loic are the husband-wife design team behind Gypsy and LoLo. They went to school at FIDM and the Academy of Pattern Making and Design in San Francisco.

“As we considered our children’s future and the planet’s, we were inspired to start making clothing that was natural, sustainable, and of course unique and fun.”

Along with creating sustainably designed and produced products, they are proud donors to Trees for the Future, Greenpeace Fund, Vote Hemp, and Whole Planet Foundation.

product sourcing

Gypsy and Lolo is dedicated to using quality and/or recycled materials. 

They recover 100% cotton scraps, sort by color and break down, blend that with recycled polyester to add strength and color, spin fibers into yarn, then finally knit into plush fabrics. 

Gypsy and Lolo also find and recover production remnants and sample yardage from cutting rooms to recycle and use. This saves huge amounts of energy, water, and gives the materials a second chance at life. This recovery and reusing makes every style unique and limited edition.

Mission

“Our goal is to create long-term dependable employment opportunities for indigenous artisans in Peru and Bolivia, and to connect thoughtful consumers with the people and ancient cultural traditions behind our products.”

Andes gifts products are handmade, comfortable, stylish, and functional. They build stability for artisans and their families in the Andes Mountains. 

“Our mission is to create employment opportunities for Aymara and Quechua artisans that allow them to remain within their local community while earning a reliable income.”

Product sourcing

“We believe in people over profits.”

As you may have learned in our Blog about Co-operative principle #6: Co-operation Among Co-operative, Co-ops are everywhere! Andes partners with cooperatives in rural communities throughout Peru and Bolivia. New designs are created each year and Ande’s empowers artisans through long-term employment opportunities, consistent projects, and flexible work schedules. Many of our artisans enjoy teaching their children and grandchildren the traditional knitting techniques that have been passed down through generations of Andean women for centuries.

Meet some featured artisans on their website: https://andesgifts.com/pages/artisans

All Ande’s yarn is from local textile companies within Peru and Bolivia. “Knitting warm clothing from alpaca fiber has played a significant role in indigenous culture in Peru and Bolivia for centuries. The alpaca fiber in our products is certified Peru Fair Trade.” They also use recycled polyester, cotton, and merino wool.


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 >>

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 >>

5 Practical Ways That You Can Help Save The Bees

We all know that it is crucial we take steps to save the bees. After all, every one out of three bites of food we eat is dependent on bees for pollination. Our bee populations face many threats from things such as Colony Collapse Disorder, the overuse of pesticides, and habitat loss. We hear about how desperately we need to save the bees from our friends, the news, and countless TED talks. But it can be hard to know what one should actually do if they want to play a part in preserving our pollinators and their natural environments. So we have rounded up 5 different small things you can do that will have a big impact if enough people take the initiative. Read on to start saving the bees today!

Cultivate Native Plants

In order for bees to get pollinating, they need plenty of plants that they can choose from. But you want to make sure that you are cultivating plants that are native to the area in which you live if you want to help out your bees. This is because those bees have evolved to interact with those native plants specifically, non-native plants might not provide pollinators with the pollen or nectar that they need.

Here are some native California plants that you could put in your yard to help out your local pollinators:

  • California Poppies, this annual plant produces iconic orange flowers that are sure to lure bees in. It is a perennial that grows well in both sun and partial shade, it is also drought resistant.
  • Germander Sage, this bush is covered with brilliant blue blooms in early summer and fall. It needs full sun in order to thrive but it is deer resistant and attracts both bees and hummingbirds.
  • Cascade Creek Goldenrod, throughout spring and fall this plant displays bright yellow flowers that attract bees and butterflies. It needs full sun to partial shade and is drought resistant.
  • Catmint, this spreading perennial is hardy and herbaceous. It blooms in the spring and early summer and is beloved by many varieties of bees.

Use Safe Forms of pest control

There are many factors contributing to the decline of bee populations but one of the most significant is the use of pesticides in domestic and commercial agriculture. If you have a garden going then you want to find natural ways to keep out pests, or else we risk losing the ability to keep such gardens in the future. After all, many of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy are pollinated by bees.

When looking for a pollinator-friendly form of pest-control it’s not enough for it to be labeled organic, some can still be toxic to pollinators even though they are plant-based. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for non-toxic ingredients such as Kaolin clay, garlic, and corn gluten. There are many other forms of natural pest control from bacterias and oils.

Create An Oasis For Bees In Your Yard/Patio

No matter the size of your yard or patio there are ways that you can create a safe haven for bees, even if you only have a front porch step to work with. Here are some things that you can do to keep your local bees happy:

  • Leave a dish of water outside for bees to rehydrate themselves. Make sure that you provide “landing zones” for them in the form of stones, twigs, or corks, as bees are clumsy and can easily drown. Also, don’t add sugar to the water. This is a myth and does not benefit them.
  • Place a bee hotel outside your home. We carry beneficial bug houses such as this at the Co-op! They allow bees to find a resting place on their long journeys from flower to flower.

Even if you don’t have room for a full garden having a single native plant on your patio is better than nothing!

Support Local Farmers and beekeepers

We can’t stress this point enough as the use of pesticides is one of the greatest threats to bee populations. Choosing to support farms that don’t spray pesticides will help the bees even more than if you personally stop spraying pesticides. Check out our local page to see some of the great local farms with outstanding practices that we carry at the co-op. You can also find many of these farms at the farmer’s market if you want to support them directly. 

Supporting local beekeepers is an even more direct way to help the cultivation of local bee populations. Purchasing bee products such as beeswax, honey, and honeycomb not only garner a sense of connection to the bees, but they help to support the people who’ve made supporting bees a life priority. A great local producer is Pure Honey from Winters, California.

Use YOUR VOICE, SPEAK FOR THE BEES

One of the most powerful ways that we can help the bees is through speaking out. By sharing what you’ve learned with others you may be able to inspire change in those close to you, and if we all do this it can lead to big results. You can also choose to support local organizations that are doing important work to help save the bees, such as:

  • Circle of Bees, which is built around sub/urban pollinators, especially honey-bees.
  • The Davis Bee Collective is a group of small-scale beekeepers dedicated to the cooperative practice and promotion of ecological apiculture.
  • The Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis is a unique outdoor museum that provides resources for local bee pollinators and educates visitors to create pollinator habitat gardens. It also provides a site for the observation and study of bees and the plants that support them.

Written by: Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist


More >>

Elderberries: The New Face of California Hedgerows

The practice of growing hedgerows stems from all the way back to the Medieval times of England and Ireland.

Hedgerows can increase the beauty, productivity, and biodiversity of a property and are especially beneficial for farms.

Modern day hedgerows are used as a field border to enhance the habitat value and productivity of farmland.

To date, the creation of hedgerows and other restored habitat areas on California farms remains low.

This is in part because of a lack of information and outreach that addresses the benefits of field edge habitat, and growers’ concerns about its effect on crop production and wildlife intrusion.

Native hedgerows on farm edges benefit wildlife, pest control, carbon storage and runoff, but hedgerow planting by farmers in California is limited, often due to establishment and maintenance costs.

Field studies in the Sacramento Valley highlighted that hedgerows can enhance pest control and pollination in crops, resulting in a return on investment within 7 to 16 years, without negatively impacting food safety.

What if hedgerows could provide a source of farm income, to offset costs AND benefit the local environment?

Currently the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) is collaborating with Cloverleaf Farm in Solano County and several other growers in the Central Valley and coastal counties to assess and develop the potential for elderberries to become a commercial specialty crop, with a focus on hedgerow-grown elderberry production and marketing for small- and mid-scale California farms.

UC Agriculture and Environment Academic Coordinator, Sonja Brodt believes that elderberries may be the intersection of sustainable farming, super nutrition, and economic viability.

At the 2019 Elderberry Field Day Sonja explained, “Elderberries may have the potential to combine crop production with environmental conservation functions in a way not typically seen on California farms. This model would enable small- and medium-scale farmers to receive a direct income from a farm practice that benefits the ecosystem as well.”

Farms like Cloverleaf use elder trees as hedgerows on their fields to increase habitat value and crop pollination while also making a profit on the side by selling elderberry products, such as jams, syrups, and flower cordials.

Additionally, with growing consumer interest in health foods, elderberry product sales nationwide have jumped 10-50% in recent years but almost no commercial supply originates in California.

The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system.

According to recent research, elderberries can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and even help protect your heart!

There are about 30 types of elder plants and trees found around the world.

The European version (also known as Sambucus nigra) is the one most often used in health supplements, however, recent attention has been drawn to the California elderberry (Sambucus caerulea).

Cloverleaf Farm has been an active partner with SAREP by monitoring the success level of elderberries planted and comparing results between the California elderberry and the European elderberry.

So far their findings show that California elderberries have a greater success rate when grown in Mediterranean climates compared to the European elderberry and attract more native pollinators, which benefits the crop yields.

In addition the UC Davis Food Science and Technology department is currently working on a elderberry project, led by Katie Uhl, focusing on the bioactive components unique to California elderberries that can be beneficial for human health.

While a diversity of plant species makes for the most effective hedgerows, the California elderberry is proving itself to be a perfect foundation species as it provides excellent environmental habitat and great potential for profits by selling the berries as health food products!

You can find Cloverleaf Farm elderberry syrups here at the Davis Food Co-op, along with many other elderberry products in our Wellness department!

Written by Rheanna Smith, Education Specialist

More >>

A Conversation On Biodynamic Wine With Martin Pohl From Beaver Creek Vineyards

We recently had the chance to speak with Martin Pohl from Beaver Creek Vineyards about why biodynamic wine is more than just the latest trend in the wine industry. Beaver Creek Vineyards is located in Lake County, California, and produces biodynamic wines. Martin Pohl is the owner and winemaker of Beaver Creek, and his overriding philosophy is to work with nature, not against it.

About 50 sheep roam amongst the vineyard’s rows, a flock which Pohl herds himself. He views himself as a steward of the land on which his vineyard rests. He has faced various challenges in protecting it, “There have been many hits, Lake County suffers from droughts, there was the fire in 2015.”

Despite these setbacks, he still sees his plot of land as nearly perfect. “It’s a perfect place because it’s dry, so there’s barely any pest problems.” Other regions, such as those on the coast, face greater pest problems because of the humidity. “They almost have to use pesticides,” Pohl said. “Here it’s so ideal, I don’t have to spray for mildew, we don’t use any chemicals, it’s completely clean.”

His philosophy of non-interference extends from the vineyard to the wine barrels as well. “None of our wines have any sulfites added,” Pohl said. This is important to Pohl because he views natural wines as a living system. “Think of it kind of like the human immune system,” Pohl said. “When you add sulfites you compromise that system. They might prolong the shelf life of wine but they shorten its lifespan”

He has hopes for expansion sometime in the near future. He split with his partners in 2012 and will soon be the sole owner of the vineyard.

How did you become so interested in organics and biodynamics?

“It starts with a lifestyle, right? For the last 10 or 15 years, I always feel like I’ve been ahead of the curve. I started my organic lifestyle around 20 years ago. And as a result, I wanted to drink clean wine. And why would you put chemicals and additives in wine if you don’t have to? So I figured out how to make it without it. “

“The whites and roses are a little more complicated to make a natural way, they’re a little fragile. But the reds are easy because they have the skins on.”

“The yeast shapes the wine similar to the way that the weather patterns do throughout the year

“The byproduct of the natural yeast fermentation is sulfur!” The excitement in Pohl’s voice was tangible over this fact. “You can actually smell sulfur during the fermentation.”

I’m curious, were you a winemaker first or someone who was concerned about the environment?

Beaver Creek Vineyards during the 2015 Valley Fire

“Well there’s all things together, you want to do good things, you want to drink healthy wines, you want to help the planet.”

“I was an immigrant here, I was in San Francisco for 5 years working as a waiter. But that actually helped me learn about wine. Two friends and I then had the idea to start a winery.” “We had no prior experience in winemaking, so we learned from scratch.”

“What inspired me was actually my mother, she sent me this book about biodynamic wines which made it clear to me from the beginning that we should make healthy wines in order to help the planet and ourselves.”

What are some of the things that you do to protect your land?

“We don’t till our soil anymore. We have one field that we haven’t tilled since 2012, and the other one we stopped tilling three years ago.”

“We don’t own the land so we’re kind of limited in what we can do. We develop our own compost, and this is the only substance that we use for fertilization.” This is standard for biodynamic wines.

“We irrigate some because it is so hot here in Lake County,” Pohl said. “We used to be a dry farm actually until 2014, and then it was a disaster between gophers, the fire, and the drought.” If you don’t already know, gophers happen to be the bane of a winemaker’s existence. They feast on the roots of vines and sometimes can take plants underground.

“You would probably be surprised with organic grapes how many different additives you are allowed to add.” But with Biodynamic wine grapes, the regulations are quite strict, only natural methods may be used.

Written by Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist

More >>

A Conversation With Emma Torbert From Cloverleaf Farm

We were fortunate to have the chance to speak with Emma Torbert from Cloverleaf Farm to hear about the unique structure they have and the sustainable practices that they use. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from UCD and worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for seven years. Cloverleaf is an 8-acre organic orchard and farm outside of Davis, California on the Collins Farm that specializes in peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, berries, and vegetables. The Cloverleaf follows regenerative principles including no-till, rotational grazing, and cover-cropping. The farm is co-owned by Emma Torbert, Katie Fyhrie, Kaitlin Oki, Yurytzy Sanchez, Neil Singh, Tess Kremer, and Kyle Chambers; who all manage the farm together in a cooperative and consensus-based fashion. You can find The Cloverleaf Farm’s produce at the Sacramento Farmers Market on Sundays and at various grocery stores in Davis, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. 

Cloverleaf seems to break the mold of what a traditional farm functions like. Traditionally farms are passed down generationally within families, but all of your farmers come from diverse backgrounds, how did that model get started at Cloverleaf?

“We started out a group of four women and then the farm passed through a number of different partners. As different people were leaving we were realizing that for the sake of future transitions and the longevity of the farm operation a worker-owned cooperative farm would be best, although we are currently still structured as a partnership. There are currently seven partners right now.”

“We’ve been working with the California Center for Co-op Development for the last four years trying to figure out a way that everybody can own equal equity in the farm. 2014 was the first time that we started profit sharing and equity sharing. The equity sharing is not yet equal but that is what we are working with the CCCD on.”

“One of our core principles in our vision statement is working as a team. An important thing in thinking about farm management for us is recognizing everybody’s different skills and working together without an established hierarchical structure. We rotate who gets to be the crew leader every couple of weeks, so they are essentially the boss for those two weeks, which means everyone gets a chance to step into a leadership role.”

How do you limit your greenhouse emissions?

“In terms of limiting our carbon footprint, we do a number of things. In terms of the transportation of our food, we try to deliver as locally as possible. We purposefully choose markets that are closer and do not take our products further than the bay area. We are always making the decision to try to sell closer to home.”

“As for what happens in the field, all of our vegetables get grown no-till. Our orchards and all of our annual crops are no-till, which means that we don’t use a tractor very often at all. In doing that we use less fossil fuel. We’ve also put solar panels around the farm, and can’t wait until we can add more.” 

“Something else that really contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is water use. We use moisture sensors so that we use as little water as possible. We tread that fine line of watering as little as possible without stunting the growth of the trees in our orchards.”

What are your pest management practices?

“We are an organic farm so we don’t spray any pesticides while the fruit is on the trees. We do use pheromone sprays, which disrupt the mating cycles of a lot of stone fruit pests. We put out raptor perches and owl boxes. The main pests that we have trouble with are ground squirrels and gophers.”

How do you try to limit your food waste?

We’ve been trying lots of different things for many years and I feel like this year it’s all coming together, we have very little food waste coming from our farm right now. Our compost pile is pretty tiny right now considering the size of our farm.

“We have an Ugly Fruit club, which allows people to buy our third-grade fruit at a discounted price. We also create a lot of value-added products like jams and dried fruit, which allows us to still sell our less aesthetic fruit instead of wasting it.”

“Something else that we do is donate to the food bank, especially this year when we’re worried about our community being food insecure.”

More >>

​​Unique Co-op Strength During the Pandemic

Written by Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange works with farmer co-ops in over 20 countries, and our model is to actively seek and partner with marginalized farming communities. These remote communities face significant challenges during the best of times. During a pandemic, the challenges become more acute. We intentionally work with farmers who have organized themselves into democratically-run cooperatives. We believe this structure helps change the balance of power long-term. We’re seeing that during the pandemic, the co-op systems have provided lifelines to farmers, helping them in ways that would not have existed were it not for the existence of the co-op.​​

​​Co-op Structures During Covid:

International Connections

​​Equal Exchange has worked hard to create co-op supply chains as the core of our business. Unlike traditional trade of international goods, a large portion of our products move through a co-op supply chain: from farmer co-op at source to Equal Exchange (we are a worker-owned co-op) to about 200 food co-op stores in the U.S. (most of which are consumer-owned co-ops, with a few being hybrid models including workers and consumers).​​First and foremost, our co-op-centric alternative food system has enabled delicious food to successfully get from farmer to eater. That alone has been an achievement during these times. The co-op supply chains are living examples of how trading based on respectful, long-term relationships and good environmental and social values are not just philosophically sound, but also create reliable and sound business.​​

As the organization in the middle of the co-op supply chain—between the farmer end and the U.S. co-op food store end—we worked hard to facilitate farmers getting information, access to financing, and timely decisions from us around purchases and contracts. For example, our long-term relationships and collaborative work on quality standards enabled us to quickly approve shipments of coffee to get containers of coffee on the water toward the U.S. to us, bypassing some of our normal protocols, securing coffee shipments before some international ports closed. We switched to digital logistics, which enabled payments to happen more quickly. Due to investment over time in technology both at source and at Equal Exchange, we were able to pretty seamlessly switch more of our international work to online instead of in-person right from the start of the waves of travel bans. Some farmer groups also cited us as the most valuable early source of information regarding the corona virus and the live-time learning that was happening about how to prevent its spread and how it was impacting workflow, transportation and our shared supply chains. Farmer co-ops had systems and field staff to help spread practical information to their often geographically-isolated member families.​​

​​Co-op Structure Impact at the Farming Community Level

​​We’ve seen many inspiring examples of how co-ops provided lifelines to their members. At the core, co-ops exist to meet the needs of their members which are not being met through more traditional systems. Over time, these co-ops have invested to build their muscles and their systems – financially, logistically, scientifically – to understand and respond to the needs of the community. They had created essential infrastructures that were already up and running, a unique strength that enabled them to respond to members’ needs during this pandemic.​​
​​Here are a few of the ways that these democratic farmer co-ops realized and responded to their members’ needs, in ways that their national governments or health care systems could not:​​

  • ​​Cocoa co-op Acopagro in Peru used recent advanced Fair Trade premium payments from Equal Exchange to provide food, masks and cleaning supplies to co-op members in 2 different communities where they work. 
  • ​​Coffee co-op members from San Fernando in Peru focused on the fact that they had productive land at a time when many of their children were living or studying in the city without reliable access to healthy food; they collectively filled a truck with their homegrown produce and delivered the food to their children. 
  • ​​Banana co-op AsoGuabo in Ecuador used Fair Trade premium funds to purchase PPE for medical workers in the community and mobilized its logistics operations to transport medicines and supplies to local hospitals. This was critical support at a time when transportation was significantly restricted as a result of curfew measures.
  • ​​Sugar Co-op Manduvira in Paraguay donated money to local health clinics, intentionally directing part of their limited resources to other trusted organizations that in turn help their members.

​​ ​​In this heavy time, there have been true moments of connection and inspiration that are important to recognize and appreciate. Out of necessity, many of us are finding new ways to listen, to share, to respond. Each co-op is engaging deeply with its membership, and as a network of co-ops, we are finding new ways to interact with each other across the supply chain. During October, we often take the time to celebrate the concept and practice of “cooperatives.” ​​

​​Co-op Impact in US Communities

​​This work continues, as farmer co-ops, the Equal Exchange co-op, and food co-ops each and collectively continue to evolve, adapt, and keep food, income, and support flowing. As members or consumers at food co-ops in your own community, we invite you to reflect upon how it has mattered to you to be a part of your local food co-op in these times. What have you done to support your food co-op? What have they done to support their members and their communities? There is much to be grateful for. In these trying times, we all recognize that the food matters that is traded through these systems, but that the co-op systems themselves are also unique, valuable, and worthy of a spotlight.​

Check out Equal Exchange Blog at https://blog.equalexchange.coop/

More >>