Supply Chain Issues at the Co-op

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt in many aspects of our lives. One that is particularly challenging for our co-op is the impact on our food supply — demand for many products is again exceeding supply, reducing our ability to keep our shelves fully stocked to meet the needs of our members and shoppers.

 

Early in the pandemic, panic buying was the cause of many of the out-of-stock situations that grocers experienced. Although the food industry was able to rebound somewhat, the sustained nature of the pandemic, combined with the slow pace of vaccination globally and the recent surge caused by the Delta variant, have resurfaced the problem. There is a scarcity of many raw materials and labor shortages persist for national manufacturers, distributors and transportation companies alike.

 

Frozen foods, baking products, snacks, supplements, beverages, paper products, household cleaners and pet foods have been particularly affected, but our co-op has experienced out-of-stocks in many categories.

 

While the food industry is taking many steps to mitigate the problem, recovery estimates continue to be pushed out and out-of-stocks on some products from national suppliers are likely through the end of the year.

 

On the bright side, our co-op continues to work with local farmers and producers, and supply of these items remains relatively stable. When we have sufficient supply, we’ll let you know so that you can shop with confidence that there is enough for everyone. We may have to offer new or different brands, or fewer flavors or sizes on some familiar ones, but whenever we are unable to stock an item, we will do our best to find and provide you with substitutes. We encourage you to try something new and when in doubt or if you need assistance, please ask!

 

Our food system is strong and resilient, and these challenges will be resolved in time. Thank you for your support and patronage as we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic. We’re all in this together!

More >>

A Very Short History of BIPOC Cooperation in the US

The cooperative business model offers communities a highly effective way to meet their needs for goods and services while prioritizing people over profit. And in 2021, you can find cooperatives in nearly all sectors of the U.S. economy. Increases in consolidation across many industries along with changes in the marketplace in recent decades present competitive and economic challenges for many businesses and consumers. In response to these challenges, economic cooperation is on the rise. According to a 2020 report by the Democracy at Work Institute and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, worker cooperatives have seen 35.7% net growth since 2013. That same report found that a majority (56.8%) of worker-owners are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). BIPOC communities in the United States have a rich history of cooperation, a history often left out of narratives about the cooperative movement. To celebrate Co-op Month, we’re sharing some of that history. 

Cooperation is nothing new. Early human societies practiced cooperation as a means to increase the group’s chances of survival. Pooling resources led to more successful hunts and harvests. In fact, early agriculture relied on mutual aid among farmers to defend land, harvest crops, build barns, and share equipment. These early forms of informal cooperation, really of working together, laid the foundation for the cooperative business model which took shape in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Then and now, cooperation is a means to survival, and this especially true for BIPOC communities in the United States.

According to Dr. Jessica Gordon Nemhard in her book, Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice, Black folks have utilized cooperation since the first Africans arrived as indentured servants in the early 17th century. By the late 18th century, Black people were pooling their money to pay for land, burials, elderly care, childcare, and even freedom for one another through mutual aid societies. Mutual insurance companies, buying clubs, and collective farming are other examples of early Black corporativism. 

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

The 1880s saw a steep increase in formal cooperative efforts among the nation’s Black communities. When the Southern Farmers’ Alliance refused to admit Black farmers except in separate chapters, Black farmers started the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Co-operative Union which had more than one million members by 1891. The Union stressed mutual aid as well as political participation. Its members also started many new co-ops, often short lived, but vital in training activists and leaders, improving lives, and leading to more new co-ops.

Pictured above: Wedge Community Food Co-op, Minneapolis

These Black co-ops siphoned money away from white-owned businesses, which was met with retaliation, often violent, from white community members. But cooperation has always been about survival. In the face of racism and active sabotage, cooperation offers Black communities a way to improve each other’s lives in very real ways. “Cooperation is a powerful tool against discrimination,” says Gordon Nemhard. It is during the oppressive and violent Jim Crow era that many Black-owned consumer co-ops were established. Grocery stores, gas stations, credit unions, insurance co-ops, housing co-ops and other formal cooperative efforts offered Black U.S. Americans a means to survival, community, and resiliency. 

Not surprisingly, North America’s Indigenous communities have been practicing cooperation for thousands of years. Indigenous cooperation efforts include communal hunting and keeping water sources clean and grazing lands accessible for nomadic groups. These informal cooperative efforts led to formal ones including credit unions, rural electric and telephone co-ops, and mutual insurance co-ops. “Cooperatives are a logical fit with tribal communities. There are shared, common values within the memberships of both tribal and cooperative communities,” says Pamela Standing, Executive Director of the Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance and of the Cherokee Nation. These formal cooperative efforts are valuable in aiding community development among some of the country’s most remote and marginalized communities. 

Latinx co-ops have grown significantly in recent years, but have long been influential in the cooperative movement in the US. Prospera in Oakland and Green Worker Cooperatives in the Bronx have trained generations of activists and strongly influenced models of cooperation throughout the country. Although the Latinx community is made up of folks from many different countries and cultures, examples of cooperation can be found throughout their history. The Zapatistas of Mexico, worker take-overs of businesses in Argentina, and fair trade coffee cooperatives in Nicaragua are just a few examples. According to a report funded by the Cooperative Education Fund, 31 US states have at least one Latinx co-op. Latinx co-ops show significant diversity across industries, membership types, and regions. According to a 2009 report by the International Labour Organization, cooperatives are particularly strong during times of economic crisis. Communities with a wide range of cooperative businesses (worker co-ops, credit unions, consumer food co-ops, housing co-ops, etc.) are therefore better protected from economic shocks. 

It is from these cooperative traditions, among others, that the Davis Food Co-op was formed. When 10 Davis households started a buying club in 1972 they sought to bring their community greater access to natural foods without having to support the corporations that dominated the grocery industry. It is with deep gratitude and respect that we look back on our cooperating forebears, many of whom were women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We remain firmly grounded in this truth as we look forward to the growth of the cooperative movement in our community and across the globe. 

Resources

National Co-op Grocers (https://www.grocery.coop/food-coops/history-of-co-ops)

Collective Courage: A Short History of Black Co-operatives in America (https://provender.org/a-short-history-of-black-co-operatives-in-america-african-american-cooperation-for-change/)

For Native American communities, a “new” business model builds on a culture of cooperation (https://ncbaclusa.coop/blog/for-native-american-communities-a-new-business-model-builds-on-a-culture-of-cooperation/)

More >>

Late Summer Recipes ft. Corn!

It’s August. The days are still long, the sun still warms our patios, and our gardens still give us summer’s bounty. Sweet corn is at its absolute best right now. So here are some recipes to celebrate this native North American crop first cultivated by this land’s Indigenous people some 9,000 years ago. 

Elotes

Elote is a popular Mexican street food featuring grilled corn flavored with chile, lime, cotija cheese, and mayo. Elote is best eaten straight off the grill as an anytime snack, but can round out any summery meal.

Grilled Adobo Flank Steak with Corn and Tomato Relish

This sizzling summer recipe is perfect for an outdoor grill, friendly for gluten-free diets, and takes only 45 minutes from start to finish. Serve with warm corn tortillas and avocado slices to make it a meal!

Roasted Sweet Corn Bread

Cornbread is always a treat, but when you have some leftover grilled corn, you have a fantastic addition to a pan of golden goodness. The one makes a great side for beans, soups and greens.

Calabacitas

For when you need comfort food that tastes like summer. Wrap simple and tasty calabacitas (sautéed zucchini, corn, tomatoes and green chilies) in tortillas or serve as a side.

Black Bean, Corn, and Roasted Tomato Quesadillas

Simple and satisfying, these tasty quesadillas are perfect as an appetizer or lunch dish. Make a large batch and freeze to reheat on the stove when you need a quesadilla in your life. 

Lowcountry Shrimp Boil

Gather your family or roommates for Sunday dinner! Line your table with newspaper or butcher block paper and serve this fun, communal meal sans tableware. Mix and match your favorite seafood and sausage to make it yours. 

Corn Cakes with Avocado

A fabulous side to your favorite Southwestern fare, these lightly browned corn cakes do double duty as an appetizer.

Corn with Cilantro and Cumin Butter

Taking cues from Mexican steet-style corn, these ears pair perfectly with grilled summer fare. Make the swap to vegan butter for a dairy free version. 

Mango, Bean, and Corn Salad

Tangy and sweet, this festive salad is great for potlucks, picnics or dinner anytime. Turn this salad into a dip with scoopy-shaped corn chips. 

Chipotle Corn Chowder

Just in case you need a warm-you-from-the-inside-out kind of meal. Serve in a sourdough bread bowl for even more feel good eating. 

Maque Choux Southern Corn Salad

Explore traditional Creole cuisine with this simple corn salad alongside crab or shrimp.

Grilled Corn Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Sweet corn takes on a slightly smoky quality after a few turns on a hot grill. Add a tangy, sweet dressing and tender cubes of avocado, and you have a feast of flavors, colors and textures with minimal effort.

Spicy Summer Gnocchi with Corn, Zucchini, and Ground Beef

A spicy and creamy dish featuring summer produce that is a breeze to make and sure to impress!

Fresh Sweet Corn Fritters

These aren’t just any fritters. These are Zero Waste Fritters. All of the ingredients are available from the Bulk and Produce Departments. 

More >>

$1 is Worth More in the Hands of the Food Bank

$1 is Worth More in the Hands of the Food Bank

With the proper resources, connections, and operations, Food Banks turn $1 into $6 or more.

With 42 million  people in the U.S. at risk of facing hunger due to the pandemic, donating your extra or purchased dry and canned goods through a food drive might seem like the best way to help your neighbors need. But, the best way to support your local food bank is actually through donating money.” – Feeding America 

Note From the Author

This blog is in no way trying to stop you from donating food. If donating food is what you want to do, do it! At the end of the day, the food bank needs food and your donations of food and/or money are greatly appreciated by the food bank and the people in our community. I only ask that you consider donating money and if you choose to donate food, donate good food! 

The Food Bank is Better at Buying Food

The Food Bank has connections with large and/or local supplies and grocers. Larger quantities and better prices are an obvious win for the food banks. Some food banks claim to turn $1 into $6 when purchasing food! Instead if buying and donating a can of Tuna, consider donating the $2. The Food Bank may be able to buy 3 to 5 cans of Tuna with the same amount of money.  

Money does not Need to be Sorted and Stored

Food Drives have an obvious appeal of handing over a tangible item. However, a large box of random non-perishable items takes time and money to sort. A large part piece of operating a food bank successfully, is ensuring that the distributed food can be made into a meal. This means that meals plans and nutritional needs are essential when prepping distribution boxes. This is much easier to do with large quantities of the same or similar items, which is not always the case in food drives and small scale food donations. 

You Don’t Know What the Food Bank Needs

Along with better pricing, the food bank can use the money to buy the items that they need at the moment. If everyone donated peanut butter, then they can use the monetary donations to ensure everyone gets all the items they need. The Yolo Food Bank keeps nutrition in mind when accepting and prepping donations for distribution. With monetary donations, the food bank can buy the food necessary to ensure a complete nutrition plan.

Things You Can Do to Help the Food Bank

  • Plan a monthly donation: this provides a steady flow of income that makes operating easier. Food Banks get a flood of donations during the holidays, which is great but can make it difficult to predict their future funding.
  • Host a virtual food drive: this allows people to donate from the comfort and convenience of home while doing good!
  • Consider Volunteering: if donating cash is not your thing, consider donating your time. Sorting all the inconsistent and miscellaneous donations is time-consuming!

More >>

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.

Resources:

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

More >>

Stay Cool this Summer (without turning on the AC!)

Cool down your body

Focus on cooling your body rather than cooling the house. Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a clean kitchen towel. You can also wet a washcloth, wring it out, and stick it in the fridge. Applying the ice pack or washcloth to a your pulse points will cool your body down fast! Apply the ice pack or washcloth to your:

  • ankles
  • behind the knees
  • wrists
  • elbow bends
  • neck
  • temples

Eat something spicy

This may not be for everyone, but eating spicy foods will increase your circulation, which will get you extra sweaty. Sweating may be unpleasant, but it is a very efficient way of cooling down! 

Stay hydrated

Be sure to drink plenty of water on hot days. Your body needs moisture to sweat in order to maintain homeostasis. You can boost your hydration by eating foods with a high water content. Try snacking on watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, grapefruit, and coconut water.

Keep out the sunlight

According to the Department of Energy, about 76% of sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows turns into heat and raises the temperature of your home. Single-pane windows allow even more heat into your home. East and west facing windows allow in the most heat, so focus efforts on these windows. 

Close your curtains and blinds. Light or medium colored fabric is ideal for reflecting sunlight. If you have dark curtains, you can line them with light fabric. Old bed sheets or thrifted curtains/fabric would totally do the trick. 

Exterior shutters, shades, and awnings are even more effective. If you have those, definitely keep them shut. 

Eat a popsicle 

According to a researcher in New Zealand, runners were able to extend their endurance by 10 minutes on a hot summer day if they ate a popsicle before exercising. You don’t have to go running any marathons, but eating a popsicle before running errands or doing household chores will make the experience much more pleasant.

Turn off electronics before bed

If you have a house or room full of tech, turn everything off before bed to keep the room cool. All of that soft electric buzzing generates heat. Unplug your TV, computer, wifi, etc

Hang a wet sheet by an open window 

If you don’t have AC or have a room that just gets so much hotter than the house, open up a window (or two to create a cross breeze) and hang a wet bedsheet in front of it. As the breeze rolls in, the wet sheet will cool the air flowing through it.

Put your hair up for bed

If you have long hair, tying it up (with a scrunchie to prevent breakage) will expose your neck and temples, which will help keep you cool. 

Close the doors

Keep the doors to unused or little used rooms closed to keep the cool air where the action is. 

Open the windows at night

You can pre-cool your house or apartment by opening the windows at night (after 10 pm). It gets pretty cool overnight in Davis, so this is an effective way to cool the house down. When temperatures begin to rise again, close up the house, curtains and all.

More >>

Sandwich Days of Summer

More >>

BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

We’ve partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Yolo County, our current Round Up recipient, to bring members of our community resources for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Mental Health Awareness Month. If you belong to the BIPOC/QTBIPOC community, you can find free mental health resources near the end of this blog. 

Since 2008, July has been recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (or BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month). Bebe Moore Campbell was a Black American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate. She worked tirelessly to bring attention to the mental health needs of the Black community, including those of her daughter who suffered from mental illness. She witnessed the abandonment of her daughter by institutions meant to help, so she founded NAMI Inglewood to create space for Black folks to talk about mental health concerns. 

This year’s theme is Strength in Communities. Like Bebe Moore Campbell and her daughter, many BIPOC folks have to find mental health support outside of traditional institutions. A lack of adequate services and a lack of representation have effectively marginalized many BIPOC folks from these traditional avenues of support. This year’s theme recognizes how BIPOC communities have had to overcome this and in the process have become experts in creating alternative support systems built by BIPOC and QTBIPOC (queer and transgender BIPOC) for BIPOC and QTBIPOC. Some of these alternative support systems include:

  • Community care refers to ways in which communities of color have provided support to each other. This can include things such as mutual aid, peer support, and healing circles.
  • Self-directed care is an innovative practice that emphasizes that people with mental health and substance use conditions, or their representatives if applicable, have decision-making authority over services they receive.
  • Cultural care refers to practices that are embedded in cultures that are passed down through generations that naturally provide resiliency and healing.

Not surprisingly, white supremacy has serious negative effects on BIPOC mental health. Racial trauma refers to “ongoing individual and collective harms from repeated exposure to race-based stress.” The mental health effects of racial trauma are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. However, race-based traumatic stress involves prolonged exposure to the stressor(s), unlike traditional cases of PTSD. According to Mental Health America, while rates of mental illness are slightly lower in BIPOC communities, they often experience a higher burden of disability from mental illness. In fact, Black adults are 20% more likely than white adults to report serious psychological distress and depression is more persistent in BIPOC communities. In the criminal justice system, where BIPOC folks are disproportionately overrepresented, mental health conditions are common. The American Psychiatric Association found that 50-75% of BIPOC youth in the juvenile justice system meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental illness. Finally, Indigenous adults in the U.S. have the highest reported rate of mental illness of any single race identifying group, according to the APA.

For white folks looking for ways to support BIPOC mental health

Support the Loveland Foundation’s Therapy Fund for Black Women and Girls

Learn about Racial Battle Fatigue and its effects on BIPOC mental health

Read this article about using your words, actions, and power to oppose racism 

Read this article about how adults can support the mental health of Black Children

Round up at the Register for NAMI Yolo County during July 2021

More >>