Reclaiming Indigenous Food Sovereignty

What was once a rare disease, type two diabetes is now the highest amongst Native American and Alaskan Native adults and children than any other racial and ethnic group in the United States. Those children, particularly living on or near reservation and tribal lands, are more likely to experience type 2 diabetes, food insecurity, and obesity in comparison to all other children in the United States. Food access is an issue at multiple levels: access to seasonally available wild foods, financial access to fresh, whole foods, and access to the cultural knowledge to prepare and preserve traditional foods. The biggest contributors to this loss in food access were forced removals from native lands onto barren reservations, forced assimilation in Native American Boarding Schools, and the government-provided commodity food that was then distributed to those on reservations. Those foods commonly included white flour, lard, sugar, dairy products, and canned meats- a major contrast from the unprocessed, whole, traditional foods they were use to.

It is because of this epidemic, people within the Indigenous communities are working towards an indigenous foods movement as a means of cultural renewal, environmental sustainability, and a way to reclaim Food Sovereignty.

“Indigenous food sovereignty is the act of going back to our roots as Indigenous peoples and using the knowledge and wisdom of our people that they used when they oversaw their own survival. This includes the ability to define one’s own food sources and processes, such as the decision to hunt, trap, fish, gather, harvest, grow and eat based on Indigenous culture and ways of life.”

Below, is a TedxTalk from Sean Sherman, who further discusses where the traditional knowledge got lost, and how himself and many other indigenous folks are taking matters into their own hands, reclaiming their Indigenous Food Sovereignty.

Here, we will be listing just a few of the many Indigenous people/ Indigenous-led Organizations reclaiming Food Sovereignty within the United States.

Indigikitchen

An online cooking show dedicated to re-indigenizing diets using digital media. Using foods native to their Americas, Indigikitchen gives viewers the important tools they need to find and prepare food in their own communities. Beyond that, it strengthens the ties to their cultures and reminds them of the inherent worth of their identities while fueling their physical bodies.

Brian Yazzie “Yazzie the Chef”

A Diné/Navajo chef and food justice activist from Dennehotso, Arizona and based out of Saint Paul, MN. He is the founder of Intertribal Foodways catering company, a YouTube creator under Yazzie The Chef TV, a delegate of Slow Food Turtle Island Association, and a member at I-Collective. Yazzie’s career is devoted to the betterment of tribal communities, wellness, and health.

Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef

Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking across the US and World for the last 30 years. His main culinary focus has been on the revitalization and awareness of indigenous foods systems in a modern culinary context. Sean has studied on his own extensively to determine the foundations of these food systems which include the knowledge of Native American farming techniques, wild food usage and harvesting, land stewardship, salt and sugar making, hunting and fishing, food preservation, Native American migrational histories, elemental cooking techniques, and Native culture and history in general to gain a full understanding of bringing back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world.

The Sioux Chef team works to make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible. To open opportunities for more people to learn about Native cuisine and develop food enterprises in their tribal communities.

Three Sisters Gardens

Farmer Alfred Melbourne is the owner and operator of Three Sisters Gardens and a long time resident of West Sacramento. Based on traditional native teachings, Three Sisters Gardens is an Indidgenous-led organization with a mission to teach at risk youth how to grow/harvest/distribute organic vegetables, connect Native youth back to the land, build connections with community elders, and reclaim food sovereignty. They donate food to the Yolo Food Bank, and also hold a “Free Farm” stand where they offer their veggies free to to the community.  

 

Linda Black Elk

Linda Black Elk is an ethnobotanist who serves as the Food Sovereignty Coordinator at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota. She specializes in teaching about Indigenous plants and their uses as food and medicine. She teaches classes like “Food Preservation and Storage” and “From Farm and Forage to Fork.” She also uses her wealth of knowledge and charismatic ways of connecting through her YouTube channel, covering topics like making homemade cedar blueberry cough syrup, drying squash varieties, and how to make plant-based medicines at home for various health support.
Black Elk’s drive to make wild plants and plant medicine accessible, applicable, and relevant is so strong it resonates throughout all she does. She is also a founding board member of the Mni Wichoni Health Circle, an organization devoted to decolonized medicines.

Reclaiming control over local food systems is an important step toward ensuring the long-lasting health and economic well-being of Native people and communities. Native food system control has proven to increase food production, improve health and nutrition, and eliminate food insecurity in rural and reservation-based communities, while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development.
This is Indigenous resilience, moving through the era of disconnection to their foods and traditions and reclaiming their intergenerational knowledge.

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.

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The 2023 Farm Bill- Agovacy at its finest!

Resigned and reauthorized every five years, the largest piece of food-related legislation is up next year, the Farm Bill. This bill determines policy and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, natural resources, and other aspects of food and agriculture under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its impact on the farming industry, its related programs and industries, and the communities they support is tremendous.

The original Farm Bill was enacted during the 1930s as part of the New Deal and had three main goals:

  • Keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers.
  • Ensure an adequate food supply.
  • Protect and sustain the country’s vital natural resources.

While each new Farm Bill is unique, and 18 bills have followed the initial one, the issues addressed in the last 2018 Farm Bill encompassed agricultural commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, extension and related matters, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance and miscellaneous. To the left is a chart of the $428 million dollars that went towards farm and program support in the last bill.

Discussions on what is due to be the 2023 Farm Bill have already begun at field hearings and producer meetings across the country, where stakeholders have been vocalizing their recommendations and priorities for the next Farm Bill:

The current baseline for Farm Bill programs for the next five years is $648 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2022 estimates. A new estimate in spring 2023 will set the budget for the new Farm Bill.

Here is a quick rundown of what the process of passing the Farm Bill looks like:
  1. HEARINGS

Legislatively, it all begins with hearings in Washington, DC and across the country – these are listening sessions where members of Congress take input from the public and organizations about what they want to see in a new bill.

  1. AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEES

House and Senate Agriculture Committees each draft, debate, amend and change, and eventually pass a bill; the two committees work on separate bills that can have substantial differences.

  1. FULL CONGRESS / “THE FLOOR”

Each committee bill goes next to “the floor” – the full House of Representatives or Senate. Each bill is debated, amended, and voted on again by its respective body (House or Senate).

  1. CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

After both the full House and Senate have passed a Farm Bill – which can take a while, and may require a bill being sent back to committee for more work before passage, the two bills (House and Senate) go to a smaller group of Senators and Representatives called a “Conference Committee,” which combines the two separate bills into one compromise package. Conferees are typically chosen mostly from House and Senate Agriculture Committee members.

  1. FULL CONGRESS

The combined version of the Conference Committee’s Farm Bill then goes back to the House and Senate floors to be debated – and potentially passed.

  1. LAST STEP: THE WHITE HOUSE

Once the House and Senate approve a final Farm Bill, the bill goes to the President, who can veto it and send it back to Congress or sign it into law.

Once the Farm Bill is signed into law, it’s time for the Appropriations phase: Setting money aside in the yearly federal budget to fund the programs in the Farm Bill, which the federal government operates on a fiscal year from October 1st to September 30th.

 Happening simultaneously with the annual appropriations process is Rulemaking. After Congress passes a Farm Bill, the USDA is responsible for writing the actual rules for how these programs will be implemented on the ground. 

The recent pass of the Inflation Reduction Act will play a major role in the Farm Bill

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown says the Inflation Reduction Act should help jumpstart the 2023 Farm Bill process.

“When we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, we funded some farm programs ahead of time, something we’ve never done,” he says. “So, this Farm Bill should be more productive and more helpful both to consumers and farmers because we planned for it better than we have in the past.”

According to an analysis from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Inflation Reduction Act will provide about a 47% increase over previous Farm Bill levels.

And with the Biden Administration making Climate Change a federal priority, it is likely that the new Farm Bill will reflect such efforts.

 

No exception to previous years, the final draft of the bill will impact every American in a way that so few others do and will require immense collaboration and compromise on both sides of the aisle — and the final product will impact the food and beverage ecosystem for generations to come.

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5 Practical Ways That You Can Help Save The Bees

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

Cultivate Native Plants

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

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

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

Use Safe Forms of pest control

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

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

Create An Oasis For Bees In Your Yard/Patio

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

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

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

Support Local Farmers and beekeepers

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

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

Use YOUR VOICE, SPEAK FOR THE BEES

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

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

Written by: Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist


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Beans and Grains

What exactly is a grain?
What’s the difference between wholegrain and multigrain?
Which is better, dried or canned beans?
Read along to find out the answers to these questions but recipes, cooking tips, and more!

Both beans and grains are food staples around the world and can be found in every single cuisine! Recently beans and grains have been gaining popularity due to the affordability, versatility and nutrition that they offer. From the familiar corn cob and pinto bean to the avant garde anasazi and quinoa, there is a grain and bean out there for everyone. That being said there’s often confusion about which bean and grain options are the best.

Bean Breakdown:

Beans add diverse flavors and textures to your cooking while also boosting the nutrition by providing a good balance of fiber, protein and minerals like calcium and iron. Beans are a great kitchen addition that make for a dynamic meal with very little cost. Plus if stored properly dried beans can last for up to 2-3 years without losing significant nutrient value and taste!

Dried:

Dried beans are one of the most affordable ingredients with many types to choose from.

You can easily buy them in bulk which allows you to get exactly the amount you need without excess packaging! 

Most dried beans, excluding lentils, split peas, and adzuki, will require soaking overnight (or at least 8 hours) before cooking in order to properly rehydrate them. After they’ve soaked make sure to drain the soaking water and add fresh water to your cooking pot. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional details on bean varieties, storage tips, and cooking times.

Canned:

Canned beans are super convenient and great to have on hand for quick meal additions. While there tends to not be as much variety in canned beans as dried, there are still lots of bean types to choose from.

It can be especially handy to have canned garbanzo and soy beans, as these take the longest to prepare from dried.

A nutrition note on canned beans is that many have additional ingredients added such as sugar, salt, and fat and you should always check the ingredient label first before purchasing.

Fresh:

When it comes to fresh beans there are fresh shelling beans, like fava and cranberry beans which require shelling because the pod is inedible, and fresh whole beans, like romano and green beans which can be eaten whole. Fresh shelling beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found dried, while fresh whole beans are typically the same bean varieties that are found canned.

A benefit of fresh beans over dried and canned is that many varieties, like romano beans, can be eaten raw and do not require any cooking preparation. You can find these fresh beans when in season here at the Davis Food Co-op or your local farmers market! 

Takeaway:

When it comes to beans, dried are the most affordable option with the best variety to choose from. However, dried beans require proper storage and more preparation time for soaking and cooking. Canned beans offer the most convenience and are also an affordable option, but they limit the control of nutrients like salt and fat because many canned options have additional ingredients added. And lastly, fresh beans are a great seasonal option that can occasionally even be eaten raw offering unique flavors and textures.

Guide to Grains:

Grains, sometimes referred to as cereals, are small, hard seeds that come from different grass and grass-like plants. Today the most commonly produced grains around the world are rice, corn, and wheat, but there are many different kinds of grains! Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins plus they are very satisfying and filling meal additions. Check out the Co-op Central guide for additional information on types of grains, storage tips, and cooking times!

So what’s the difference between whole grain, multigrain, and fortified grains?

Whole Grains:

Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel, the bran, endosperm, and germ, are used. This is obvious when cooking rice or quinoa because the grain kernel is still intact, but can become more confusing when buying grain products like bread, pasta, and crackers.

Whole grains are the healthiest option because they offer the full nutrient and fiber content of the grain.

Back in 2005 the Whole Grains Council created a whole grain stamp that makes it easy to identify products made with whole grains! Many but not all products use the whole grain stamp so other good identifiers of whole grains are words like ‘stone ground’ and ‘whole wheat’. 

Fun fact, popcorn is a whole grain!

Multigrain:

Multigrain means that multiple different grains were used but none of them necessarily in their whole form. Due to this, the term multigrain can be deceiving because it is just referring to the number of grains and not the quality of the grains.

Multigrain products such as rice blends can be great options to diversify your cooking but it’s important to check the label because multigrain breads and cereals can sometimes be tricky!

Other names to look out for are numbers placed in front of grain such as ‘seven-grain’ or twelve-grain’. These are still multigrain products and may or may not contain actual whole grains.

Fortified Grains:

Fortification is a process used to restore the nutrient content of grains that have been stripped of their natural nutrients during refining. During refining grain kernels are separated and the bran and germ are removed leaving just the starchy endosperm behind.

This is generally done because the bran and germ impart more earthy flavors that are not also desirable but in doing so the majority of fiber and nutrients are also removed from the grain.

This is why most refined grains are then fortified with essential nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. While fortification has made refined grains much healthier, they still do not compare to their whole grain counterparts and will be lacking in nutrients unique to that grain. 

Takeaway:

When it comes to grains and grain products whole grain is the best option because the grain kernels are still intact leaving all of the nutrients intact as well. Multigrain products can be good options to get a variety of grains into your diet but tend to be misleading as to the processing and quality of the grain so you should always double-check the nutrition label. And lastly, fortified grains are highly processed, do not contain the same nutrients found in whole grains and therefore should be the last option when buying grain products. 

Bean and Grain Recipes

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Chana Masala

Kale and Chickpea Frittatas

Maple Pecan Granola

Peanut Tofu Ramen

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Composting Guide

Compost can be used as a fertilizer for your plants and garden with no risk of burning like with synthetic fertilizers. It also contains many beneficial microorganisms that keep away plant disease.

There are two types of home composting, Hot Composting and Cold Composting. Cold composting takes very little effort but will take much more time to produce compost. Hot composting requires more effort but will produce compost much quicker. Here is guide for the two:

Cold Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms (if you are digging a hole in your yard you wont need to buy many)
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile whenever or never. 
  6. It will take 6 months to a year to get completed compost

Hot Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)
  • Water

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Your pile should maintain 1 part food waste and 2 parts dried yard trimmings. A healthy pile will 141F to 155F. This temperature will kill all weed seeds and disease pathogens.

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile 2-4 times a week. Check the temperature during each mix.
  6. It should stay damp, add water if needed.  
  7. It will take at least a few weeks to make compost.
  8. Use it in your garden and mix it in with soil when repotting indoor plants!

Written By Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Saving Your Bulbs for Next Spring

Every Year at the Co-op we have Beautiful Tulips, Daffodils, Dahlias, Ranunculus, etc. All these flowers have an expiration date in early spring and won’t grow any other time. These flowers grow from bulbs, which can be saved and used again next year! Over the course of them blooming they also multiply so each year you save them, the following year you will have even more flowers!

Cut the flower down to 1.5-2 inches. Cut the flower stem and all the leaves.
Three different kinds of bulbs!

1. To harvest the bulbs first, you need to let the flower go through their cycle. Once the flower is beginning to shrivel up and die with no more blooms sprouting, you will cut back the flower. Cut the flower back so only 1.5 to 2 inches is remaining of the stem. 

2. Then you will let the stems sit in the pot until they have completely dried out.

This bulb is starting to split into three. They are still very stuff together so I will leave them together for now.
All the remaining stems have dried out completely. It it time to harvest!

3. Then you will separate the bulbs from the soil. They are in clusters in the soil, and we want to keep the clusters together. The bulbs will multiply, but you don’t want to separate them until they just fall apart. You can remove some of the dried skin around the bulbs, but don’t remove it all. Only remove the skin that is loose and easily removed.

4. Store the bulbs in a cool, dark, and dry place. Keep them there until it is time to repot them! For Spring blooming flowers, daffodils and tulips, plant the bulb in September or October. For summer blooming bulbs, ranunculus and dahlias, plant in spring after the danger of frost has passed. 

5. Different flowers will have different bulbs. They come in all shapes and sizes! Be sure to keep them separate and labeled when storing, unless you want to be surprised!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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How to Care For Your Maidenhair Fern in Davis Climate

Maidenhair ferns are notoriously temperamental. They are not native to Yolo County and therefore need a lot of love and attention to stay alive. With the proper knowledge and dedication, you can keep a maidenhair fern of your own and trust yourself to keep it alive! We love these ferns at the Co-op and often have them available in our floral department. Here are some tips to get you started:

Sunlight:

Find a window in your house that faces East or West. Maidenhairs like the sun, but not too much sun. Bright evening or morning sun is enough. If you only have a window facing North or South, make sure it only gets partial sun by putting a larger plant in front of it to supply some shade or move it further from the window.

Even the fronds with just brown edges need to be removed.

Pruning:

Make sure that the base is misted!

When the fronds of your fern are starting to brown you should remove them. Some fronds will be completely brown and others will only have brown tips, but you might as well remove them all! Once they start to brown on the edges, there’s no saving them and they will use up resources that the thriving fronds need. Don’t get too sad, if you have been caring for your plant properly there should be many new fronds emerging!

Watering:

Water your maidenhair fern 2-3 times a week. Water from the top of the pot until the base is partially full of water. If your pot doesn’t have a draining hole, water it1-2 times a week until all the soil is wet. It is hard to overwater a Maidenhair in dry Yolo County, but your maidenhair should not be in a pool of water.

Humidity: 

Maidenhair ferns love humidity! In nature, they grow on forest floors or by large trees. Mist your fern every other day at a minimum. Be sure to mist all the fronds and do not neglect the base. Make sure to get any new fronds that come in, they need the extra moisture the most!

All fronds need to be misted. The lighter the frond, the newer it is!

Dark Spots: 

The underside of your leaves will occasionally get some black dots. Don’t Worry! These are spores and they are good. You should congratulate yourself. Your plant is so happy it is trying to make babies.

The new fronds are beautiful when they unroll!

Bugs: 

Maidenhair ferns often get fungus gnats. These little flying bugs are your friends. They keep the soil healthy and as long as you don’t have moldy fruit nearby, they will stay in the pot. 

Touching it: 

Do your best not to touch your plant. The fronds are bouncy and fun, I know. But please avoid playing with your plant, it doesn’t like it as much as you do. On a similar note, they also do not like breezes or strong winds. Do not place your fern by an open window, a fan, or a heater. All of these will lower the humidity and dry out your fern.

Have any questions or tips on keeping your maidenhair happy? Click on the suggestion box below and send us a message!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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