Monday, May 24th, is National Asparagus Day
We love this spring staple at the Co-op and hope you find something celebratory about asparagus too!
A love affair for the ages
5,000 years ago, Egyptians used asparagus in rituals as offerings, and as food and medicine. Archeologists found asparagus, along with fig and melon, residue on ancient dinnerware possibly belonging to Queen Nefertiti. 3,000 years ago, Caesar Augustus created the “asparagus fleet,” a flotilla of his fastest ships to find the vegetable and bring it to the alps where it could be frozen for later use. A recipe for cooking asparagus from this time appears in one of the oldest surviving cookbooks. 600 years ago, asparagus’s popularity spread to the nobility of France, Germany, and England. French king Louis XIV supped on spears the size of swan’s feathers. 300 years ago, asparagus became widely available to most people and had made its way to North America via colonialism.
Today, asparagus is grown and eaten all over the world. Top producers include China, Peru, Mexico, Germany, and Thailand. It may be native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia, but the crop does well in many parts of the U.S. We prefer local asparagus, which is available at the Co-op throughout the season. Asparagus contains more glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, than any other vegetable! The tender, green stalks pair well with olive oil, aged cheese, bacon, sausage, lamb, prosciutto, cream, eggs, butter, shallots, fresh herbs, yeasty breads, like sourdough and wheat, and grains such as Arborio rice, quinoa and farro.
California is one of the top producers of asparagus in the United States and it takes time and care to harvest! Each spear is harvested by hand. Farmworkers clear out 9 inches of soil around each stalk to reach the base before each spear is snipped. We’re grateful to our farmers and farmworkers for taking the care to bring us this spring specialty!
Storing asparagus: asparagus should be trimmed approximately ½ inch from the bottom and then stored upright in a glass or bowl filled with enough water to cover stems, as you would do with flowers in a vase. Keep refrigerated.
You can find a Kids at the Co-op recipe and coloring page here!
2021 Annual Meeting Q&A
The 2021 Davis Food Co-op Annual Meeting took place via Zoom on Thursday May 6, 2021. During the course of the meeting, the General Manager and Board of Directors presented an annual report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Owners were also given the opportunity to ask questions. Below is a copy of our Annual Report (which can also be found at the Customer Service Desk) as well as the Owner questions that were asked and the corresponding answers to those questions.
Davis, known as Bike City USA, is not surprisingly one of the foremost biking communities in the country. We’re home to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, 61 miles of bike paths, and 55 miles of bike lanes including the country’s first bike lane, not to mention the Davis city logo is a bicycle. In 1980, after two decades of city and university efforts to make Davis a pedaling paradise, 30% of trips were made by bike. In recent decades, this number has fallen to 20%, which is still considerably higher than the U.S. average of 2% for most communities. Since May is National Bike Month, we’re taking this opportunity to explore Davis’ biking history and encourage the community to get back on the bike.
Even before the town was covered in bike paths, early biking advocates saw that Davis was well situated to become a biking community. The Patwin land which Davis sits on is flat as a pancake with mild weather year round. We’re small, surrounded almost entirely by agricultural land so, if you live and work in Davis, your commute is probably pretty short.
In 1959, UCD Chancellor Emil Mrak envisioned a campus travelled by students on bike. Most campuses have one location for bike parking. Mrak decided that bike parking should be available at every lecture hall and closed the campus to car traffic in 1967. That same year, city leadership approved plans for the country’s first bike lanes. The first official bike lane in the United States was created on 8th Street between A and Sycamore. More bike lanes followed.
With passionate support from the community, the city, and the university, biking took over the town in these decades. In 1966, Ansel Adams photographed bike racks cram-jam-packed with student bikes on wide tree-lined roads free of the cars which were taking the rest of the country by storm.
Today, 98% of streets in Davis offer some form of bicycle protection. In 2015, Davis built its first “Dutch-style” traffic intersection (it’s also one of the first to be built in North America). The Covell/L St. intersection was designed by the Dutch Cycling Embassy (Dutch cities boast a large share of modal trips, 34-47% by bike). Despite this, fewer Davis residents are biking these days.
This month, we’re encouraging our staff, owners, shoppers, and community to opt for more biking trips. Riding your bike to work, school, and in town errands is fun, sustainable, and a great way to boost mental health, which has suffered for so many of us during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It’s also a great way to incorporate movement into your daily routine, especially if you don’t have time to add it in elsewhere. Biking reduces traffic and noise and air pollution from cars as well.
In April, we teamed up with the Bike Campaign to offer our staff a free tune up and bike skills clinic. During Bike Month, we’re giving our biking staff free helmets and raffling off a $100 dollar gift card to Ken’s.
Our Green Team is currently exploring projects which will make the Co-op more bike friendly for staff and shoppers.
Celebrate AAPI Heritage
May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander individuals and communities in the United States. Asian/Pacific is a broad term. It encompases people from the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia), and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
On May 7th, 1843 Manjiro, a 14-year old fisherman, arrived in the United States via whaling ship. He is considered the first Japanese immigrant to come to the United States. May 10th, 1869 marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was built largely by Chinese immigrants in very poor conditions. For these reasons, Congress chose May to celebrate AAPI heritage.
In this blog, you can find information on ways to support and celebrate the AAPI community. In addition to the virtual and non-virtual celebrations below, you can also celebrate AAPI heritage with books and movies – sharing with your family is encouraged!
Stop AAPI Hate
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 6,603 anti-Asian racist incidents, mostly against women, reported in the United States. Discrimination against the AAPI community isn’t new or isolated; rather, it has deep roots in systemic racism and white supremacy. Xenophobia and widespread disinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic have led to an increase in racist incidents, including violence, against the AAPI community. The Davis Food Co-op condemns attacks against Asian/Pacific Americans and stands in solidarity with our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community members.
If you witness a hate incident, report it to Stop AAPI Hate. Additionally, here are five ways to help someone experiencing hate:
- Take Action: Approach the targeted person, introduce yourself, and offer support.
- Actively Listen: Ask before taking any actions and respect the targeted person’s wishes. Monitor the situation if needed.
- Ignore Attacker: Using your discretion, attempt to calm the situation by using your voice, body language, or distractions.
- Accompany: If the situation escalates, invite the targeted person to join you in leaving.
- Offer Emotional Support: Help the targeted person by asking how they’re feeling. Assist them in figuring out what they want to do next.
Support the AAPI Community
The pandemic has disproportionately affected AAPI businesses owners. According to a recent study, “more than 84% of AAPI [business] owners say COVID-19 has [had] a negative effect on their business … [and] one in three female AAPI owners have also experienced racial bias”. Support Asian/Pacific American folks in our community by regularly patronizing AAPI-owned restaurants, business, and by buying from AAPI artisans.
You can also support AAPI business by buying Asian/Pacific American owned brands. Here are some of the Asian/Pacific American owned brands we carry at the Co-op.
AAPI Heritage Month Events
- 5/13: Book Project: Mental Health & Immigration in the AAPI Community Film Screening and Discussion from UC Davis
- 5/17: Korean Language and Culture Class from the Yolo County Library
- 5/19: CULINASIA: The Future of Asian Food in America Lecture from the Asian Art Museum
- 5/19: ‘A Gift to Be Simple’: Japanese American Influence in Appalachian Spring Lecture from the American Musicological Society
- 5/20: Youth in Action: Ecological Knowledge in Pacific Coastal Communities Panel Discussion from the National Museum of the American Indian
- 5/26: Health & Well-Being of Filipin-x American Nurses During COVID-19: Implications for Implementing Support Discussion from UC Davis
- The California Museum is hosting free virtual programs for all ages throughout the month of May
Places To Go
- Visit Historical Locke Town, the only town in the United States built exclusively by Chinese Americans for Chinese Americans
- Explore the East Asian Collection at the Arboretum/UC Davis Public Garden
- Visit the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco or explore their Museum From Home programs
- Stop by The Viet Museum in San Jose
Saturday, May 8th is World Fair Trade Day. This year’s theme is Build Back Fairer. With rising inequality, persistent and worsening poverty, gender discrimination, racial injustice and climate change, the pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to rebuild our world fairer and stronger. Fair trade, which is both a philosophy and business model, sits at the intersection of economic resilience, social fairness, and environmental sustainability.
What does fair trade mean?
In a fair trade system, farmers and producers maintain agency over their business, land, and livelihoods while gaining access to global markets. By compensating farmers and producers fairly for their work, they are insulated from volatile market conditions, which can be detrimental to the wellbeing of their businesses and communities. Ensuring a fair price also ensures equitable and sustainable trading partnerships endure.
- raises the incomes of small-scale farmers, farmworkers, and artisans
- equitably distributes the economic gains, opportunities, and risks associated with the production and sale of goods
- supports democratically owned and controlled organizations
- promotes labor rights, economic cooperation, and the right of workers to organize
- engenders safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
Is it fair trade?
Products which are created within the fair trade system or use fair trade ingredients (like cocoa) are often certified through a third-party audit to verify that a clear set of established standards has been met. Standards vary from organization to organization, so knowing what each certification entails is important.
Recommended Fair Trade Labels
Fair for Life
- Excludes brands with an un-remediated history of labor and environmental exploitation
- Strong environmental standards including encouraging organic practices
- Requires long term commitment from buyers
- Requires physical traceability of ingredients
- High threshold of ingredients required to use the label
- Guarantees prices above market averages and supports direct producer negotiation of prices
- Lacks producer representation in governance
- For large-scale production, FFL lacks enforcement mechanisms to ensure standards are being met
The Fairtrade System
- Producers have a strong role in governance and decision-making
- Democratic organization is required at every level of the program
- Producers set global minimum prices for their fair trade products
- Strong requirements for gender equity
- Requires long term commitment from buyers
- Do not certify large-scale operations to protect small farmers and producers
- For large-scale operations that are eligible for certification, the Fairtrade System does have strong standards and enforcement mechanisms
- Only 20% of ingredients need to be fair trade for label use on a product
- Allows brands with ongoing human rights and environmental violations to use the label
- Owned by its farmer-members
- Excludes brands with human rights and environmental violations from participating
- Requires environmental standards that exceed organic requirements
- Has a high threshold of certified ingredients before the label can be used
- Prioritizes marginalized small-scale farmers
Small Producers’ Symbol
- The only fair trade label developed exclusively for and by small-scale producers in the Global South and that excludes individual large farms
- Builds capacity of the small-scale producer sector
- Requires brands to meet a code of conduct for all business practices
- Less specific and rigorous on labor and environmental requirements
Approach with Caution
Products certified with this label may go beyond this certification to ensure fairness, but they also may not. Research before you buy these products or understand that this fair trade label doesn’t necessarily guarantee fair practices.
Fair Trade USA
- Allows brands with ongoing human rights and environmental violations to use the label
- Only 20% of ingredients must be certified
- Neither owned nor governed by producers
- Does not require long-term commitment by buyers
- Does not require member organizations to be democratically controlled
- Does not guarantee producer input into pricing
- Certifies large-scale operations without safeguards for smallholders
It’s that time when tossing a few special cheeses, a bowl of olives, crusty local bread, and some backyard strawberries on a large wooden cutting board is our preferred way of eating. Afternoons are warm with light breezes and plenty of shade thanks to Davis’ urban canopy.
Sharing meals in the backyard, on the porch, or in the park is once again part of our daily nourishment. Don’t bother with the stove on days like these. Just make sure you have plenty of cheese on hand. And, if you can’t construct an underground cheese cellar in your home like our very own Cheesemonger Jess suggests, there are other measures you can take to ensure your fromage maintains its cheesy integrity.
Buy only what you need
Cheese is best fresh, so Cheesemonger Jess recommends only buying what you need for a few days at a time. Once you get your cheese home, use these tips to keep your cheese it’s best!
Beware the plastic wrap
There are a lot of reasons to avoid using single use plastic. When it comes to cheese, plastic wrap or cling film can significantly alter the taste and texture the longer a cheese remains wrapped up. This is because your little slice of heaven is alive. Cheese ages, sweats, and even breathes, all of which can be stifled if left in plastic too long.
We are currently exploring alternatives to plastic wrap in our Cheese Department! Until then, rewrap your cheese in parchment, wax paper, or specialty cheese paper when you get home. We carry Formaticum cheese paper – just ask any of our Cheese Specialists. Start by cutting a square 2-3 times larger than your cheese. Wrap cheese somewhat tightly, as you would a birthday present, and secure with a piece of masking tape or a cute little twine bow if you have the patience for that. Label with the type of cheese and date wrapped.
Hard cheeses: Hard cheeses are meant to be hard, but not so hard that you can’t cut them. After you wrap them in paper, wrap in a square of aluminum foil. This helps maintain proper moisture.
Soft cheeses: Soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert need plenty of air to breathe. Store paper-wrapped soft cheeses in a glass container lined with a paper towel to absorb condensation. With the lid slightly askew, place in the fridge.
Extra soft cheeses like mozzarella that come in water or brine can remain in their liquid.
Blue cheeses: Blue cheeses are piquant, to put it lightly, which is probably why you love them. Wrap in paper and store in a sealed reusable glass container to prevent the blue cheese flavor from spreading to its milder brethren.
Store in the drawer
Always store cheese in the fridge, never in the freezer. That little drawer is the perfect space for your cheeses: it’s a good balance of humidity and air circulation. Allow cheese to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before you serve it so it reaches maximum flavor.
If you have any questions about storing specific cheeses, our Cheese Specialists are stationed at the Cheese Counter to assist.
With warm, but not stifling, weather and a break from the wind on its way, this weekend is a great time to fire up the grill. It’s also Mother’s Day weekend, so you may already be planning an outdoor celebration! If Mother’s Day isn’t your thing, check out this blog we wrote about alternative ways you can spend the day (you can still grill, of course).
We received our first local peaches of the season this week! Try them in this grilled stone fruit and prosciutto salad recipe that comes together in just 30 miuntes. You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan by swapping cubed fontina or smashed green olives for the prosciutto.
Speaking of grillable fruit, spicy pineapple chicken kebabs served with a chilled Sauv Blanc are a crowd-pleasing appetizer or main. I’ve also been dying to try this grilled pork tenderloin recipe with homemade rhubarb bbq sauce since I came across it a few weeks ago on National Co-op Grocers’ website.
If you’re the type to endlessly nibble at family gatherings, which I am, try putting out this grilled vegetable antipasto with asparagus to satisfy the grazers. Psst, local asparagus is on sale for $3.99/pound through 5/11! Grilled artichokes with parmesan aioli and grilled scallions with romesco sauce fulfill this brief as well.
Recipes mentioned in this post
Alternatives to Mother’s Day
May is a beautiful spring month. Flowers are blooming; wisteria and cherry blossoms are pastel and comforting. The weather is finally warm enough for flowy dresses and shorts. This is time to reconnect after months of seasonal dreariness.
May is also the home of Mother’s Day. This is a day to celebrate mothers, but for some it can be a difficult month and the constant reminder of strained relationships can be triggering. ETSY took the request of shoppers this year to ask all email subscribers if they would like to opt out of all Mother’s Day themed emails. Whether it be absent or strained relationships or recent loss of family members, we are here to offer you some alternatives to enjoy May 9th.
May 9th Ideas
Have a self-care day! Everyone’s idea of self-care will be different. Yoga, Meditation, Hiking or Walking, Exercising, Crafting, Spa Day, Baking, Fishing, Gardening, Reading in the Park, the list goes on.
May is bike month. Come grab coffee and lunch to-go, put on some sunscreen, and take a leisure bike ride through our beautiful small town! Looking for a longer ride? Grab a Davis Bike Map at the Customer Service Desk; head down Russell Boulevard and Putah Creek Road to Winters for Turkovich or Berryessa Gap Wines or Old Davis Road to Dixon for MOTHER (a houseplant boutique) and The Barn and Pantry.
Treat yourself to some new recipes or take a Teaching Kitchen Class. On Saturday, May 8th we are teaching an 18-layer Rainbow Crepe Cake class! Or try out a recipe from our website davisfood.coop/recipes.
Spend the day in the yard or indoor jungle. Spring is the time for repotting and propagating indoor plants and sprucing up your outdoor garden. Stop by the Green Patch and grab some new soil, fertilizer, pots, and plants! Check out our blogs on Propagating and Container Gardening, and our Plant Care Guides.
Have a sibling, friend, or pet day instead. Use this day to celebrate the strong relationships you have. Plan out your ideal friend date, bundle at home or go out and enjoy the spring weather. Just like a self care day, this will vary for everyone. Here is an example of how I would do it; (1) get ready together and dress for the occasion, but comfy (2) lunch and boba, then (3) thrifting, (4) end in the park on a blanket with fruit and conversation or games.
Spend the day with someone who needs a mother. Sign up to volunteer at the SPCA or foster/adopt at Hearts for Paws Rescue in town. Finding a way to share some love, with a creature that will unconditionally love you back for a walk and some snuggles can be a great way to emotionally heal. Volunteering with both organizations takes a little time and training to qualify. If you are last-minute looking for some snuggles, ask some friends with pets if you can pet sit for the day!
- Three Mile Trivia (Warning: there may be a mother’s day category)
- 18 layer Rainbow Crepe Cake at DFC Teaching Kitchen
- Pence Gallery has a free lecture on Victorian Art and the Natural World
- The UCD Teaching Arboretum is hosting a talk on equity in green spaces
- Support Black business at the Evening Market
- Free Yoga Fridays in Arroyo Park
- You Sleuth Augmented Reality Detective Experience
- Garden Tour at Park Winters
- GOAT YOGA in Lodi, CA