Plastic Free July Recap at the Co-op

 

With the end of Plastic Free July, we wanted to give a quick recap of how it impacted the Davis Food Co-op

As you can see in the charts below, at the Co-op:

  • We reduced the number of plastic products carried at the Co-op by 1.3% in the month of July, compared to the month of June.
  • Plastic product sales decreased by 6.3% for the month of July, compared to the month of June.
  • For our Fiscal Year of 2022, we have reduced the number of plastic products carried by 12% compared to FY 2021.
  • For our Fiscal Year of 2022, plastic product sales have decreased by 3.3% compared to FY 2021.

 While Plastic Free July is over, for many, the journey of reducing plastic waste is just beginning. Research shows that 87% of participants made one or more changes that have become new habits and a way of life.

The Davis Food Co-op encourages you to try something new and stick to it beyond Plastic Free July. With some minor lifestyle changes, we can make a bigger collective difference than we think.

 

Resources to continue plastic-reducing habits:

Co-op Owner waste reduction tips

Plastic Free Tour of the Co-op 

 

If you have any suggestions or feedback on how we can reduce our plastic consumption at the Co-op, please fill out a Suggestion Form

 

 

 

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Plastic Free July at the Co-op

What is Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. The movement has inspired 100+ million participants in 190 countries and our involvement in Plastic Free July is to help provide resources and ideas to help you reduce single-use plastic waste everyday in any way that you can. You making a small change will collectively make a massive difference to our communities and planet. You can start by choosing to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!) when and where you can. Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.

It is not lost on us that promoting Plastic Free July at the Co-op while we still carry so many plastic products could seem contradictory. Cutting out plastic entirely in today’s day and age is difficult for anyone, especially a grocery store. However, we believe in the change that can be made from people banding together. After all, we are a cooperatively owned business and that is the whole point of our foundation. The products that we carry are dependent on what our Owners and community shoppers choose to purchase and that is how we will always guide our decision making. With a focus on sustainability in our Ends, we will also always look for plastic free alternatives first in our purchases for the store. So while we may not be able to go fully plastic free, we vow to do all that we can this month to do so, and that is our pledge.

Learn more about Plastic Free July and ways that you can participate by clicking the PFJ button on this page!

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Co-op Owner Waste Reduction Tips

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.

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Why Glass Jars Make Going Plastic-Free Easy

(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

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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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Plastic Free July

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.

DIY

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.

This tour is meant to highlight many of the common areas where shoppers encounter plastic and to suggest ways that you can avoid adding it to your basket! We hope that this helps some of you decide to take the pledge and go plastic-free this July.

Links with ideas:

https://trashisfortossers.com/plastic-free-july-during-a-pandemic/

View this post on Instagram

@mariacanfora asked if i could post ideas for someone who wants to start zero waste in a new home. these are the easiest switches we use the most. (PLEASE KEEP IN MIND I’VE BEEN COLLECTING ITEMS FOR OVER 5 YEARS – you don’t need as much as I own) •I have dads old work rags (about 12), but a cut up old towel or T-shirt work great! •newspaper to clean windows, mirrors, make trash bin liners •luffa gourd cut up into pieces for dish sponge, cleaning sponge, body sponge, soap dish •olive oil for cooking, taking off makeup, moisturizing, taking sticky labels off, buffing wood •block of soap (this was made by a friends grandmother) can be cut up to clean dishes, body, clothes, hands, even hair if your scalp isn’t sensitive •citrus vinegar cleaner (steps in older post) to clean almost everything in the house, get rust off metal lids, help unclog drains •reusable cloth tote (I’ve seen folks DIY from shirts) to serve as shopping, lunch, beach, going out bag (I have 3 use the most but own 7) •my favorite jars are ones I bought food in – salsa, jam, applesauce, olives, etc. – let lid and jar sit in the sun a couple days to get smell out after washing (I have too many jars to count) •utensils don’t have to be fancy cutlery, take what you have at home on the go (we own about 15 of each) •the best cloth napkins I have feel like bedsheets (you could diy) and were from the thrift store (we own about 15) and I use them on the go as well •i like bamboo reusable straws because they can be composted at the end of their life and are the cheapest option (we have 15 variety) •metal tiffins, if you need them, I have found cheaper at asian markets than online sellers (we own 3) •the produce bags pictured were free – grey bag was what my bedsheets at Marshall’s came in (organic cotton too!) and the other two fancy shoe bags were given to me by friends (we own ~15) 🌱of everything shown, my olive oil is the priciest. trying to be mindful of your waste should not be expensive or complicated. what are some cheap changes you made?

A post shared by Heidi Violet (@zerowastechica) on

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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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Staff Fair Trade Picks

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.

It also:

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

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