Co-op Owner and Shopper Tips for Plastic Free July!
The availability of bulk products at the Coop determines how well I am able to keep plastics to a minimum. Before the covid-19 restrictions, I brought jars, metal bowls with lids, and homemade fabric bags to get all of my herbs, spices, vinegar, beans, grains, oats, flours, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, tofu, produce (including salad greens and mushrooms), dish soap, shampoo, and more. As I patiently await the return of these items, there are a number of things I can still do in my effort to keep my plastic consumption down.
Many people may think it is time-consuming and even daunting to say no to plastic, but its really just like any habit change – a little challenging at first, but quick and easy once you get some experience.
- Buy in glass: milk, ketchup, mustard, salsa, yogurt, olives, herbs, and spices, etc. This may mean branching out from favorite brands.
- Purchase nut/oat milks in cartons, not plastic or tetrapaks. The empty cartons can go in the city compost (remove plastic spout first), and are good containers for messy or smelly compost items, possibly stored in your freezer until garbage day.
- Make your own iced tea.
- If you drink seltzer water, consider investing in a Soda Stream.
- Make your own yogurt – easy and kind of magical
- Put those fruits and vegetables loose right in your cart. The clerks at the Coop are very respectful of your produce, and you’re going to wash it before eating anyway.
- If you must put produce in a bag (beans, mushrooms, etc.) use a paper or waxed bag. If the bag is not in good enough shape to reuse afterward, you can put it in your compost bin.
- Store leftovers in jars. A couple of corn cobs fit well in a half-gallon mason jar, which can be stored on its side in the refrigerator.
- Use bar soap, unwrapped, or wrapped in paper that you can recycle or compost.
- Consider toothpaste sold in aluminum tubes.
- Get dish and laundry detergents in cardboard boxes that can be recycled.
- To treat stains on clothing, consider a bar of Fels Naptha, or other stain treatment products available in bar form, packaged in paper.
- If you didn’t bring your shopping bags, put everything back in the cart and unload it into your trunk, where hopefully you have your bags and can use those, but if not, tough it out and deal with all of the items when you get home.
- If you order take-out food from a restaurant, tell them you do not want utensils, napkins, packets of soy sauce, etc.
- At the Farmer’s Market, bring your own bags and juggle the produce into it, you don’t need a plastic bag for that one minute from the scale into your bag. You can also bring your plastic clamshells to reuse.
- Do you really need a plastic liner in your trash can? If you’re composting the wet food waste, probably not. Use the inevitable pouches so many foods come in to throw the occasional gross stuff out.
How To Make Kombucha
If you followed our blog post last month about how to make your own kombucha SCOBY, then you are ready to make your first batch of kombucha! If you haven’t followed those steps yet, give it a try and you’ll be able to follow this tutorial in just a few weeks!
If you already have your SCOBY ready to go then read on.
Most store-bought Kombucha goes through two rounds of fermentation. The first round takes 5-10 days and is done with the SCOBY you have just made. The first round of fermentation is to build up probiotics in the kombucha from your SCOBY! The second fermentation is done in brewing bottles and does not use the SCOBY. The process is meant to build up CO2 in kombucha and infuse any other flavors. The second fermentation is not necessary for producing kombucha but I think it is well worth the week wait! Try some of the flavor combinations below!
- A 2 liter to 1-gallon jar
- More tea
- 2-3 brewing bottles
- Fruits and/or herbs
- Clean hands! This is an active culture and should only come into contact with very clean equipment
Once your SCOBY is complete, the liquid it is in will taste way to vinegary to drink! Dump all but 10-12 oz of that first batch. Then make some tea! The ratios will vary depending on the type of tea you wish to use. For this tutorial, I used Organic Jasmine from the Davis Food Co-op Bulk selection, but you can use earl grey, gun powder, white tea, oolong, yerba mate, or decaf/herbal tea. For each 1 cup of tea add ¼ cup unrefined sugar, agave, honey, or another sweetener. The sugar is necessary to feed the SCOBY! Let the tea cool to at least 80 Fahrenheit. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and in between touching anything, and I mean anything! Your SCOBY is a living culture and can grow mold if you are not clean in your processes. Remove your SCOBY, then add the tea to your jar with the small amount of original kombucha and place your SCOBY back on top of the liquid. Close the lid and set in a box in a cool place for 3-10 days.
After 5-10 days, make a new set of tea and set aside to cool to AT LEAST 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
While your tea is cooling, you can start the second round of fermentation prep! Remove your SCOBY and set aside on a clean plate. Pour some of the SCOBY tea through a filter (cheesecloth works well!) and funnel or carefully pour into your brewing bottles leaving about 1.5-2 inches of air at the top. Add some flavor and sweetener! Close the lids and set in a box in a cool place for 3-10 days.
Keep 10-12 oz of the original first-round kombucha and add the cool sweet tea, then gently put your SCOBY back in. Cover the jar with a breathable cloth. Place it in a cool, dark place for 5-10 days. The longer it sits the stronger and more tart or vinegary it will taste. This batch will be ready to bottle around the time your brew bottles are ready to be opened!
When you are ready to drink the finished kombucha after its second fermentation, place them in the fridge 4 to 6 hours before you plan on opening. If you open them at room temperature, the Kombucha will shoot out like champagne! Filter again and it is ready to drink! Yum!
Store opened kombucha in the fridge until you’re ready to drink!
- Ginger and Dates, (2-3 Tbsp of fresh ginger and 1 date per 16 oz)
- Ginger, Cardamom, and Sugar, (2-3 Tbsp of fresh ginger, 2-3 Cardamom seeds or 1/4 tsp of ground Cardamom, and 1 tsp of Sugar per 16 oz)
- Strawberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (1-2 Large Strawberries per 16 oz)
- Lavender and Agave (3-5 lavender flower stalks and 1 tsp of agave per 16 oz)
- Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, and Agave (1-2 stalks of each herb and 1 tsp of agave per 16 oz)
- Elderberries and Blackberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (2-3 of each berry per 16 oz)
- Mulberries (no sugar needed! They are sweet enough!), (2-3 berries per 16 oz)
- Making Kombucha on a budget? Save the bottles from store-bought Kombucha for the second fermentation. If you use these bottles, you will need to burp them every day, meaning you will unscrew the lid to release the CO2 build up! They cannot handle the pressure build-up and are prone to break or cause the lid to shoot off!
- Place the bottle of finished kombucha in the fridge 4-6 hours before opening! This will decrease the pressure to make it safer to open. If you leave the un-burped bottles in the fridge for too long before opening the CO2 pressure will simply build-up at the colder temperature and still shoot out like champagne! (see video!)
- Taste your first round fermentation kombucha before started the second round. See how it tastes, is it strong enough or does it need more sugar? After a few batches of fermentation, you will start to get a feel for what the kombucha should taste like before bottling!
Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist
(7/12/20: Unfortunately the Davis Food Co-op is not allowing outside containers such as jars right now because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This page will be updated once the situation has changed and outside containers are allowed in our store once more.)
There is a truth about going plastic-free that none can deny, which is that it takes a certain level of preparation. If you want to avoid reaching for plastic bags, cutlery, or straws out of convenience then you need to have brought your own sustainable version along with you or be willing to go without. And going without isn’t always an option.
But what one quickly realizes is that toting around their own sustainable silverware, to-go ware, and a stash of reusable bags takes up a fair bit of space. This is why it is important to find ways to optimize your strategy for going plastic-free to make it feel as easy for you as possible. That’s where glass jars come in.
Many people find when going zero-waste that glass jars are the swiss army knives of storage whether it’s for dry goods in your pantry or taking your lunch on the go. If you take your coffee and lunch in a couple of jars you can rinse them out and hit the bulk section of the grocery store.
Perfect for taking coffee or lunch on the go
Of course, there are many amazing options for this purpose out there already. From stainless steel tiffins to stasher bags to candy-colored Klean Kanteens, we are certainly living in an age where eco-friendly to-go ware is abundant. So why choose to use a glass container? Because it is extremely cheap and can suit just about any purpose you can think of.
As was stated above a good rinse is all that is necessary to transition your jar from your lunch container to your coffee cup to your shopping vessel. This means that you have less specialized items that you need to buy to go plastic-free and you end up carrying around less stuff.
If you haven’t made a rainbow salad in a jar, pasta salad in a jar, overnight oats, or chia seed pudding before we couldn’t recommend it more. The end result is fewer dishes to wash and a photo-worthy meal.
Great for grocery shopping
A mason jar is typically the perfect companion to shopping in the Bulk section of the grocery store. While the Co-op is not currently allowing outside containers in the store yet, now is the perfect time to be comping up with new strategies for sustainability once the current crisis is over. Once we have made sure that the health of our community has been protected we need to make sure to safeguard the health of our planet as well. And shopping in the Bulk department isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet. By skipping the packaging you also avoid price markups and can buy the exact quantity of an item that you need without any going to waste.
When shopping in Bulk you’ll want to bring as many jars with you as you can carry. At the Davis Food Co-op, the Bulk section is full of amazing options for grains, beans, nuts, and even candy. You’re sure to find something you didn’t expect that you’ll want to try!
All you need to do to use your jars in Bulk is to write the tare weight, which can be determined with a scale located in Bulk, and the product PLU. There is masking tape for this purpose available in the Bulk Department. They’ll know what to do with all of the numbers at the checkout.
If you’re a pro at bringing your jar and know what your staple items are you can always put the tare and PLU on your jars with a label maker or write them on the lid with a sharpie to streamline the process.
Clear Kitchen Organization
If you use your mason jar to stock up on your favorite treats or staple pantry items at the store, unloading your items is a breeze. No need to open boxes and tear through layer after layer of plastic packaging, all you do once you get home is put your items away in your cupboards. But even if weren’t able to shop in bulk on your last trip to the store your glass jars can still come in handy in your pantry.
Decanting your grocery items into glass jars not only removes the visual clutter of all the packaging but also allows you to better visually assess what you have stocked. Most importantly though, decanting helps you extend the shelf-life of the products you have purchased.
Does this mean I need to go out and buy a bunch of mason jars?
Not at all! There are so many products that are packaging in glass jars you are likely to already be buying that it is likely unnecessary that you’d need to go out of your way to buy jars themselves. From tomato sauce to yogurt or even ice cream, there are many products that are sold in glass jars that would be convenient for you to wash and reuse. If you decide that you’re committed to the #jarlife then by all means buy some for yourself, just don’t forget that you can still find them in great condition secondhand! We also sell many different varieties of glass jars here at the Co-op to suit whatever needs you might have.
We hope that you found these tips helpful, and if you already are aware of the wonder of glass jars then please share this article with someone who needs some inspiration to reduce their plastic use! Share your jar meals and hacks with us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #dfcplasticfree.
Written by Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist
We all know that we could do a little more for our planet every day. However, right now it feels harder than ever to avoid the use of single-use plastics. Because of the current concerns regarding the spread of Covid-19 many who would like to be more sustainable or were already in the habit of reaching for reusable materials can no longer do so as easily. In order to support ourselves and our community, it’s perfectly understandable to be buying plastic-packaged food, using single-use cups, or getting takeout from local restaurants. But if we all can pick just one area to reduce our consumption of plastic during this difficult time we can come out of this crisis with better habits and a cleaner planet. This is why we are inviting all in our community to participate in Plastic Free July and pledge to reduce their plastic waste.
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July is a global movement that is meant to inspire people to do their part to reduce plastic waste. It encourages people to realize the role that they play in keeping their communities clean and the environment healthy.
So instead of trying to make a permanent lifestyle change, you commit to avoiding single-use plastics just for the month. You don’t even need to quit using all plastic, committing to no longer using just plastic bags or straws is enough and maybe can even show you how easy it is to adjust to more sustainable habits.
How do I get started?
Permanently going Zero Waste can feel daunting for many of us, especially once you realize just how much waste each of us is generating every day. That’s why Plastic Free July is all about making small, sustainable changes to your daily routine. If you’re not even sure what you could change in your routine you can take the Pesky Plastics quiz to find out!
Until we can bring our own coffee cups to our favorite cafes or actually dine in at our favorite restaurants instead of eating out of plastic takeout containers, we just have to get a little creative in order to show our planet some love. This can mean finding a way to commute that lowers your carbon footprint trying out a plant-based diet or simply eating more home-cooked meals.
So instead of trying to make a permanent lifestyle change, you just commit to avoiding single-use plastics for the month of July. The little changes that we each make to our daily routines have the power to add up to big results.
Eat more consciously
One of the most challenging areas to avoid plastic waste is in the foods we buy, or rather, wrapped around the foods that we buy. Almost everything we eat seems to either be shrink-wrapped or capped with some sort of plastic material. You don’t need to stress about only buying things that are plastic-free going forward, this is especially hard right now because of COVID, but you can just choose one type of food that you normally buy and find a plastic-free version of it. For example, frozen fruit often comes in plastic bags but here at the co-op, we carry an organic brand that comes in paper.
Another type of food that it is especially hard to find without plastic is meat, but there’s an easy workaround for this. You can walk up to the meat counter at the co-op and ask the butcher to wrap your meat in paper. Or you could even take it a step further and consume a plant-based diet, which could allow you to forego a large amount of packaging altogether. Plastic Free July is all about making changes that you feel you can maintain going forward so it’s whatever works for you.
Many of the products that we use to clean our homes would be easy to make ourselves, which is better for our wallets and the landfills. We have a post about making your own disinfectants, and there is a natural solution for just about anything you can think of out there on the internet.
Links with ideas:
Throughout the month of May, we celebrate Fair Trade products and the partnerships that produce them. In-store we will have signage for our staff’s favorite Fair Trade Certified items, and we will update this list throughout May with any new favorites that we find!
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is both a philosophy and a business model. It keeps small farmers and artisans an active part of the marketplace by fairly compensating them for their work, and through various labeling systems allows consumers to shop in a way that aligns with their values.
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 these goods
Supports democratically owned and controlled organizations
Promotes labor rights and the right of workers to organize
Promotes safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
“Matr Boomie makes such cute accessories that you can feel good about buying because you know that you are supporting a good cause. They pay the artisans that they work with very well and reinvest a portion of the profits back into their communities.”
Karla, Wellness and General Merchandise Manager
“I love the rich flavor of this tea, it has notes of bergamot just like a proper earl grey should!”
Derlina, Front-end Supervisor
“Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil is an amazing product because of how versatile it is! I use it in baking, to make my own toothpaste, and as a lotion during Spring and Summer to help keep mosquitoes away!”
Madison, Education and Outreach Coordinator
“Divine uses only Fair Trade Certified chocolate from farms owned by their farmers, so you can feel good about indulging in these bars. The white chocolate strawberry and milk chocolate toffee are my favorites.”
Matt, Bulk Department
“Coffee is what keeps me going and I love that I can support the farmers that produce it by buying from conscious companies such as Equal Exchange and Pachamama.”
Rocio, Operations and Facilities Manager
“A high-quality olive oil is great for entertaining or using in special meals, I like this one for its flavors of almond and spices. La Riojana is an Argentinian farmer-owned co-op that is the biggest exporter of Fair Trade wine in the world.”
Roberto, Front-end Supervisor
The shelter in place order has led many to take up their whisks and spatulas and bake their hearts out. However, this has also led to may supplies that we are used to having available, yeast we’re looking at you, become near impossible to find.
Don’t despair, your dreams of turning your kitchen into your own personal bakery need not be lost, a sourdough starter is surprisingly easy to make. This is why we would like to show you how to make a sourdough starter with nothing but whole wheat flour and water.
What Is A Sourdough Starter?
A sourdough starter is a concoction of flour and water that captures the wild yeast and bacteria that are present both in the ingredients and the air. This is so convenient because instead of having to buy yeast from the store, you allow the natural fermentation process to take place. Once your starter is ready to use it becomes akin to a low-maintenance pet that you keep in your kitchen and have to feed in order to keep it alive.
Why You Should Make One
Well before all else, sourdough bread rests at the pinnacle of deliciousness. Once you have one you can add it to just about any recipe to pack in extra flavor. One of our favorite things to make with our starters is pancakes!
But research also suggests that the cultures in sourdough break down gluten, making it easier to digest.
The process of getting your sourdough starter thriving can take about five days.
What You’ll Need
If you have a kitchen scale that is ideal for measuring out ingredients, but if you don’t have a scale measuring cups work just fine.
- 1 cup(113g) rye or whole wheat flour(additional flour needed for feedings)
- ½ cup(113 g) cool water(filtered water preferably)
Feeding Your Starter
Ideas on what and when to feed your starter differ. For this guide, we will be recommending that you feed your starter twice a day after the first day that you put it together.
Combine the flour and water in a non-reactive container. Clear glass is best as it lets you see the progress of your starter most easily. If you have a Mason or Weck jar on hand this is a great time to use it! In any case, you want to pick a container that will be large enough to accommodate the growth of your starter.
Once you have ensured that all of the flour has been incorporated into the mixture you want to cover it loosely and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
You may or may not have seen any changes after the first 24 hours. Bubbles or not just trust the process and continue on! In the morning and at night you must discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
By this point, you should be noticing changes with your starter. An aroma, bubbles, and expansion all mean that you are on the right track. In the morning and at night discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
In the morning and at night discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
On day five you should expect your starter to have doubled in volume and have a multitude of bubbles. It is also normal for it to be giving off a tangy aroma at this stage so do not be concerned. In the morning and at night discard anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your starter, depending on how much it has grown. Then add 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let rest at room temperature.
If it is not at this stage yet continue feeding and discarding in the morning and at night until it reaches this point before moving on to the steps outlined for Day 6.
Discard all but 1/2 cup of your starter and feed it as usual. Let your starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; by now it should be fully active, with bubbles breaking the surface.
How To Tell If Your Starter Is Ready
One of the most common ways to tell if your starter is ready to use in recipes is to do what is referred to as the Float Test! All that you need to do is place a tablespoon of your starter in water and if it floats its ready to go!
Using Your Starter
When following a recipe simply remove as much of your starter as is called for! If you do not have enough at the time simply continue feedings until you do.
We can’t wait to see all of the wonderful things that you make with your starters! Feel free to tag us with your creations or documentation of your growing process on social media. We have started a starter on the day of this blog and will be updating you with its own progress!
Maintaining Your Starter
You’ll want to store your starter in the refrigerator and feed it regularly. Discard 1/4 to 1/2 C of you starter and give it 1/2 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of water once or twice a week. Make sure to mix well and time and now cover it. The container should not be airtight.
The night before you wish to use you starter, discard 1/4 to 1/2 C of you starter and add 1 C of flour and 2/3 C of water, then set it on your counter with a non-airtight lid (I use a piece of cloth!)
- 2 Cup Raw Cashews
- 1Tbsp Sweetener (Agave, Maple Syrup, Honey, Unrefined Sugar)
- ~60 Billion CFU Probiotic (DFC Brand is Vegetarian or use any vegan probiotic, use as many capsules as needed)
- Soak your Cashews in warm water for 6+ hours, I typically do it overnight.
- Separate the cashews from the water.
- Put the cashew in a blender or food processor. Add about 1 cup of water, sweetener, and probiotics.
- Blend until smooth, you may need to add more water to get the consistency you want.
- Set yogurt in a bowl, cover with a towel (it needs to be something breathable), and store in a warm place (on your countertop is probably fine).
- Let the yogurt sit for at least 6 hours. Then put it in the fridge!
- Eat it with the dried blueberries from our bulk fridge or fresh strawberries. YUM!
- At first, the texture will be similar to ricotta. Blend for longer to make it smoother. (I love ricotta! So I don’t blend it for too long)
- I like to add vanilla to give a little extra flavor!
- You must add some kind of sweetener, even if you don’t want it sweet! Probiotics need something to eat in order to grow!
Video Edited by Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist, Blog Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist
- 1 Cups of Rolled Oats
- 4 Cups of Cold Water
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- Add Unrefined Sugar to Taste if you want it sweeter. (or use pitted dates, agave, or honey)
- Ultra Fine Cloth
- Place all ingredients in the blender and blend for a minute.
- Use a cloth to strain and put it in a container.
- Put in the fridge.
- Use cold water. When you cook oats they form a goop. If you use warm water, your milk will be goopy.
- If you don’t have an ultra-fine cheesecloth or nut milk specific cloth, you can use a piece of cotton. It will take longer for the milk to drain and you will need to squeeze it out.