Indigenous Food Sovereignty

One of the largest impacts of the Pandemic over the last two years was towards food security, a topic you may have become more familiar with as demand for food bank services reached an all time high. As a co-op and part of the community, many of us inherently understand the importance of creating a food system that can nourish everyone. To take it one step further, in order to truly care about this topic and its impact on our local communities, it is important to also realize the land in which these communities occupy. In order to do this, we must understand the importance of the concept of Indigenous Food Sovereignty.

The Davis Food Co-op occupies land that belongs to three federally recognized Patwin tribes: Cachil DeHe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community, Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5% of the world’s population, they account for 15% of the world’s poor, according to a study published by the United Nations. Indigenous Food Sovereignty is an approach to help address that issue, among others, that face Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Food Systems Network describes the multi-faceted concept of Indigenous Food Sovereignty like this: 

“The food sovereignty movement is building around the world and while there is no universal definition, it can be described as the newest and most innovative approach to achieving the end goal of long term food security. Indigenous food sovereignty is a specific policy approach to addressing the underlying issues impacting Indigenous peoples and our ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods. Community mobilization and the maintenance of multi-millennial cultural harvesting strategies and practices provide a basis for forming and influencing policy driven by practice.”

As a relatively new undertaking in the world of policy, these concepts are all about returning to information, methods and practices that span thousands of years on this land. Many organizations have taken it upon themselves to push Indigenous Food Sovereignty forward, and this blog will highlight just a few of them. These widespread local efforts aim to transform and reclaim local food systems in a way that benefits the Indigenous communities of the regions they exist in. This spans actions from combating hunger, increasing access to healthy and traditional foods, enhancing community health, and creating food policies, to targeting food as a mechanism for entrepreneurship and economic development amongst Indigenous communities.

As part of the First Nations Development Institute’s mission to “Strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities”, a three year collaborative film process took place. The goal of the film was to show the work of First Nations’ grantees and partners as they supported Indigenous communities to build sustainable foodways to improve health, strengthen food security and increase control over Native agriculture and food systems. The film, titled GATHER can be found streaming on Netflix.

Outside of education on the topic, you may be thinking to yourself, how can I support this movement? Luckily, there has already been a list compiled of 28 Global Organizations promoting Indigenous Food Sovereignty that has some great organizations that are always in need of monetary donations to continue their mission.


Other Resources:

USDA Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative


Indigenous Seed Keepers Network


Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI)

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Why Buying Local is Sustainable

Why Buying Local is Sustainable


Our Rainwater Navel Oranges travel about 35 minutes from farm to the Co-op. This travel time is essential when considering the carbon footprint of your food. The more miles food travels during transportation, the more fossil fuels are burned, allowing harmful greenhouse gas emissions to be released into the atmosphere. Imported food often travels thousands of miles to get there, all through lengthy truck and plane trips. This not only causes massive fuel consumption and pollution, but also involves the need for facilities such as refrigeration that consumers vast amounts of energy. Compared to Florida Natural’s orange juice, Rainwater Ranch’s transportation emissions are insignificant. Florida Natural’s orange juice has to travel over 2500 miles to get to our shelves.

Although Florida’s Natural travels far to get here, we still love them. They are a Farmer Co-op! So although they may not be the most environmentally sustainable orange product at the Co-op, they are economically sustainable and follow the Seven Co-operative Principles. 

Local Economy

Yolo County is surrounded by farmland. This means that many of our neighbors are farmers. Buying locally means that you are directly supporting the financial success of your neighbor and our local economy. When a local business is successfully operating, they utilize and support other local businesses to operate, and hire local people to help run the business. Shopping local provides jobs and keeps money in our local economy!


This one isn’t really about sustainability but still important! Local produce can be harvested at peak ripeness since it doesn’t have to travel far. Out of state and imported produce is harvested long before it is ripe, so it will still be edible after travel. Many imported goods ripen too quick and often go bad before they are purchased, producing lots of waste. By buying local, this is avoided and food waste is significantly less. Produce that ripens on the vine/bush/tree also taste better! They ripen with all the nutrients and water they need to mature properly. Local tastes better.

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Did you know it’s Compostable?

Did You Know it’s Compostable?

This blog provides a side-by-side comparison of the packaging of a few common brands and products that we carry and the compostable alternatives that are available. While this is by no means a complete list of all of the compostable packaged products that we carry, it should serve as a good tool to give you some tips to look for when you are in doubt about the best way to dispose of a product. You can learn more about composting in the City of Davis here

While we are unable to escape the fact that most packaging is not compostable, the Co-op is proud to carry brands that are and is looking to expand their own offerings in this area. You may have already noticed some compostable options in our Produce and Bulk departments and we are proud to announce that our Deli department is making the switch to using more compostable packaging as well. You can already see some package changes which will continue to transition over the next few weeks. Before you dispose of any of these items, be sure to inspect the packaging for some of the verbiage that you can find in this blog.

Compostable products have evolved in recent years to more closely resemble and feel like traditional products. You may be surprised to see a container in our Deli department that looks and feels like clear plastic, but is actually fully compostable. When checking to see if an item like this is compostable, look for “PLA” or “0” inside or below the typical recycling triangle. You can also look for the words “compostable” or “biodegradable”, the City of Davis’ composting facility can handle it all! Some products may say “backyard compostable” or “compostable at a compost facility”, both of which are also accepted in Davis.

Why Compostable?

Compostable products are an obvious win when comparing end-of-life processing. When you are finished with a compostable product, you can compost it and turn it into a regenerative product: compost. Compost can be used in a number of ways, mostly as fertilizer for farms. Learn more about the benefits of composting in our blogs: Composting Guide and Regenerative Agriculture: People, Planet, and Profit. 

It is also important to look at the full lifecycle of a product (and by-products) alongside each company’s sustainability practices and goals to make the biggest impact as an individual consumer. Our Meat department, for example, made the switch to prepacking most products in a vacuum sealed plastic film. The plastic film is not compostable or recyclable in Davis but the switch that was made actually reduced the total plastic used. For food safety, meat clerks must change gloves and plastic film often when handling various meats, which adds up quick. So although the prepacked meat comes in plastics instead of butcher paper, much less plastic is used in the overall process. 

Side-by-Side Comparison of a Few Products

Not Compostable


These bags are not compostable or recyclable in the City of Davis. These bags remain available in our Produce department by the request of shoppers/Owners who prefer these to the compostable bags. 

The compostable bags in the produce section are backyard compostable. You can send them to the City of Davis composting facility or put it in your at-home compost pile. 

Seventh Generation dryer sheets are not compostable or recyclable, however they are plant based. This may cause confusion about how to dispose of them. “Plant-based” sounds like it should be compostable, but unfortunately that is not true, and these need to be put in the landfill.

Mrs. Meyer’s dryer sheets are made of a brown paper and nontoxic fabric softeners. These are compostable in Davis. 

All our pre-popped popcorn unfortunately comes in a plastic/metal bag that cannot be recycled or composted in Davis. 


All of our microwave popcorn bags are compostable. Even better they are all PFAS free. PFAS can sometimes be found in compostable items, which pollutes our compost and waterways. You don’t need to worry about that here! Some popcorn comes individually wrapped in a plastic bag and this is required for food safety, unfortunately we cannot avoid plastic completely. 

TetraPaks and shelf stable liquid cartons are not recyclable or compostable. They are made by layering paper, plastic, and metal. Separating these materials take a tremendous amount of water. There are only a few places in the U.S. that will recycle them and you have to ship that at your own cost. 

Can’t tell the difference? Look on the inside once it’s empty. If it is silver, put it in the landfill bin. If is clear and you can tear it with your hands, put it in the compost bin

Milk and milk alternatives you find in the refrigerator section are not always TetraPaks. This Oatly container and many of our cow’s Milk cartons are made with paper and wax or very thin plastic. Either way the City of Davis will accept. Cut the plastic spout off the top and put in the compost bin. 

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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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Thanksgiving and Food Waste

Learn how to minimize your Food Waste during Thanksgiving

In the United States, 40 percent of food goes to waste. This is a time of family, friends, and food. Unfortunately, because of our individual habits and struggles of our national food systems, in 2013, $277 million worth of turkey ended up in the trash after Thanksgiving. 

Read the ReFed Annual 2020 Report


NRDC Update 2017 Food Waste Report

by clicking the following images to learn about national food solutions: 

Why Reducing Waste is More than Just Saving Food

Wasting food wastes more than food, it wastes all the resources needed to make the food. The EPA elegantly explains all the great things that reducing food waste does for the environment:

  • Saves resources: Wasted food wastes the water, gasoline, energy, labor, pesticides, land, and fertilizers used to make the food. When we throw food in the trash, we’re throwing away much more than food.
  • Reduces methane from landfills: When food goes to the landfill, it’s similar to tying food in a plastic bag. The nutrients in the food never return to the soil. The wasted food rots and produces methane gas. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas with more than 21 times the global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide. Learn how to start your own compost pile in our blog:
  • Returns nutrients to the soil: If you can’t prevent, reduce, or donate wasted food, you can compost. By sending food scraps to a composting facility instead of to a landfill or composting at home, you’re helping make healthy soils. Composting improves soil health and structure, improves water retention, supports more native plants, and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

So as part of showing thanks to our American food bounty, consider the following strategies to help you avoid wasting it this year on Thanksgiving.

What you can do while you shop

  • Coordinate recipes with friends and family so you don’t end up with 3 green bean casseroles (unless if you want 3 green bean casseroles!). Setting up a shared Google Doc is a great way to simultaneously plan the meal with the friends and family you’re sharing the day with.
  • Prepare less by cutting recipes in half. If you can’t have Thanksgiving without sweet potato casserole, but like me also “need” to make at least five other traditional side dishes, consider making a half recipe for one or all dishes, instead of full recipes.
  • Plan ahead, make a list and compile ingredients from different recipes to avoid over buying. Be prepared to make conversions in the store, you may need 10 cups of flour, but it is sold by the pound. 
  • Resist the temptation to impulse buy, and buy in smaller quantities. Don’t be tempted by the big bag of pecans that are on sale when you only need a ¼ cup! Our Bulk Department is great way to only get what you need for recipes. 
  • Save a turkey! Instead of eating a turkey as the main course, consider adopting one from Farm Sanctuary! The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated in 2013 that $277 million worth of turkey ended up in the trash after Thanksgiving. The resources wasted from all that turkey is “equivalent to the amount of water needed to supply New York City for 100 days and greenhouse gases equal to 800,000 car trips from San Francisco to New York.”

What you can do while you prep

  • Resist the urge to cut off all the “ugly parts”; the wilted leaves, top of the beet, and leave the skin on the root veggies. Carrot, beet, and potato skins are full of nutrients! You can also eat squash skins, like delicata and acorn, but pumpkin and butternut may not get soft enough to really enjoy.
  • Set multiple timers! Hopefully nothing will burn and therefore less waste. 
  • Use ingredients you already have. If you accidentally bought celery but you already had some in the fridge, be sure to use the older one first. 
  • Save the veggie and meat scraps in the freezer to make broth with another time. Learn how to make Turkey Bone Broth from you Turkey Day Bird HERE
  • Last resort is to compost them. 

What you can do when it’s time to eat

  • Serve smaller portions, you can always go back for seconds! This will reduce the wasted scraps of food on all the plates.

What you can do with leftovers 

  • Turn those leftovers into something new with our Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Blog 
  • Freeze them to save for when you can stomach stuffing and cranberry sauce again! 
  • Save some of the dog-friendly items and mix them in with their normal food for a special meal too. Be cautious, dogs have a difficult time digesting chocolate, onions and garlic, and grapes are poisonous. 
  • Use the Turkey remnants to make broth! 

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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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Culturally and Environmentally Appropriate Halloween Costumes

A Quick Guide to Culturally and Environmentally Appropriate Halloween Costumes

Environmental Implications

Halloween activities are estimated to reach pre-pandemic levels this year. More and more people are buying candy in anticipation of handing it out, decorating the house, and buying costumes to wear to a gathering. Nationwide costume spending is anticipated to reach 3.3 billion compared to 2.6 billion in 2020, and candy and decorations are following the same pattern. All of this is leading to a festive 31st! However, this increased consumption causes a harmful aftermath. The gross majority of Halloween costumes are “cheaply” made. They are predominantly polyester, a fiber that is excruciatingly difficult to recycle and repurpose, and takes over 500 years to decompose. An investigation, by environmentalist charity Hubbub, found that an estimated 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated on Halloween from throwaway costumes in 2019. 2021 is estimated at $200 million more than 2019! This is a LOT of polyester in our landfills


  1. Buy second hand. Boheme has a huge selection of costumes. Local thrift stores, SPCA, Goodwill and All Things Right & Relevant may also have a Halloween section set up. 
  2. Use clothes you already have. Our staff made wonderful Mystery Gang costumes last year with clothes that they will wear year round.
  3. Make your own costume. Make it from second hand clothes, or purchase sustainable fabrics (like cotton, linen, and flannel) to make your costumes.  
  4. Keep your costume for future years, or wash and donate. 

What is cultural appropriation?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, cultural appropriation is when someone adopts a culture that isn’t their own and does not acknowledge or respect the culture being used for their own benefit. Examples can be hair, clothing and impersonating, like using popular African American Vernacular English terms, to fit a persona. An unfortunately common example is mimicking Indigeonous cultures. 

How to avoid offensive costumes. What if my child wants a specific costume?

There are three main rules to follow:

#1: Avoid a costume that is mimicking another person’s culture or physical appearance.

#2: If you wish to dress as a specific person/fictional person of a different culture be sure that #1 is followed, however it still may be offensive. Imagine every person who sees you in the costume, will everyone be okay with it? If not, it’s best to pick a different costume. 

#3: Be sure it is done with good intent and not for personal gain, and educate your friends and children. “We should pick a different costume, this one might hurt someone’s feelings”, it is never too early or late to teach empathy. 

This topic gets a little trickier when referring to specific fictional characters. Creators of the film “Black Panther” have said children of any race can dress up like the superhero, and when “Moana” was released, the voice of the titular character, Auli’i Cravalho, encouraged people to dress up as the Polynesian-based princess. The appropriation occurs when adults and children mimic physical characteristics, like hair and skin color, traditional practices, like tattoos, piercings, vernacular/language and clothing, and when done with less than wholesome intentions, like gaining popularity and mocking. 

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Making Sense of the Wildfires

Living in California, it is impossible to ignore the impact that wildfires have had on our state in recent years. As this blog is being written on 8/18/21, more than 6,500 wildfires have destroyed more than 1.3 million acres across the state so far in 2021, which is a pace that is set to exceed any other year in recorded history. While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the most prominent “fire season” (not only in California, but across the entire West coast) is starting earlier and ending later every year. Many point to climate change and drought to be the key driver of this trend. The warmer temperatures lead to reduced snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt which create longer and more intense dry seasons. This pattern leads to a drying out of the state’s vegetation and makes forests more susceptible to massive wildfires. While this is an important driving factor to consider, there are other factors at play as well.


When early explorers (or more accurately named, colonizers) began to arrive in California, they noticed smoke from what appeared to be intentionally set fires. The first records of this date as far back as 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo of Spain found that “Native Americans set fires in the canyons around the Los Angeles basin to prevent too much buildup of undergrowth and to drive out the game.” As more Europeans like Cabrillo came to the region, these practices would continue to be observed, but never respected. Instead, they brought agricultural practices from their home continent and a concerted effort to erase Indigenous culture.


Prior to European intervention, the Indigenous people of the West were experts in keeping the land in balance. The landscape was a perfect blend of meadows, grasslands, forests and brushland and prescribed burns at calculated intervals made it so that the megafires we see now would not be possible. Additionally, burns with plants such as trees and grasses actually helped them improve their yield on essential crops that provided food and materials for basket weaving. Fire was not only a tangible tool for agriculture and the ecosystem, but also served spiritual purposes as well. However, after centuries of European exploitation and terror towards the Indigenous people of California, the practice of prescribed burns was all but eradicated until recently.

By the late 19th century, the US Forest Service at the time cited an oncoming “Timber Famine” as grounds for becoming even more diligent in the suppression of fires. While scientists and Indigenous tribes at the time had made pleas for them to reconsider, the first head of the USFS, Gifford Pinchot, continued for the pushed demonization of fires. In 1910, the USFS was aided in its campaign by a giant fire that burned through Idaho, Washington, and Montana and engulfed entire towns. And while much of this fire burned through dead and down slash left over from over logging and deforestation, the USFS used this incident to push for full suppression of fire, and they eventually succeeded. In 1911 the Weeks Act was passed, which in part allowed for the Federal Government to issue fines and other penalties to local governments who allowed for unauthorized fire suppression tactics. By 1935, The 10 AM Policy was enacted, which deemed that all wildfires must be extinguished by 10 AM following their day of discovery. 

Many trees throughout the West have serotinous cones which means that they only seed with fire. Many native grasses in California depend on fire as well. Fire is regenerative and healthy for many ecosystems and suppressing it for so long knocked everything out of balance. Until the 1970s when small prescribed burns began to be issued again, fires in the west were totally suppressed leaving forests to grow unchecked. And while you may see remnants of prescribed burns in parts of the state today, many fire-dependent ecosystems have not been properly tended and we are still in a mentality of suppression being more important than prevention.

A good example of this in California is a Sequoia grove, which is largely dependent on fire. Usually, these groves burn regularly with ground fire which is why Sequoias don’t have lower branches. But when fire was suppressed, less fire-resistant trees like Douglas Fir and Incense Cedar started occupying the forest grounds. Those same trees, along with other unchecked brush, not only act as tinder for a fire, but also become “ladder fuel,” carrying fire to the upper branches of Sequoias and creating a totally different ecological system. This is one example of how mismanagement of forest lands has led to the perfect conditions for these large-scale fires.

As mentioned, the past 50 years have seen more prescribed burns and preventative measures but the bulk of our efforts have still gone towards fire suppression. When we look at funding, we can see that fire suppression gets the haul of funding, while fire management, or land management, doesn’t. Most fire personnel do not work in our forests outside of May through October, and off-season burning often gets sidelined for lack of personnel. Unless we begin to focus more energy on preventative measures by utilizing more resources for prevention, and also allow for Indigenous tribes to perform the same fire control practices of their ancestors, it is entirely possible that we will continue to see these devastating fires.


The Nature Conservancy – A global environmental nonprofit working with Indigenous cultures to help restore their ancestral environmental practices.

Firewise – An information and knowledge resource on fire hazards

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