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.
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.
5 Low Energy Use Recipes
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that cooking alone generally accounts for 4 to 5% of total home energy use, and this figure doesn’t include the energy costs associated with refrigeration, hot water heating, and dishwashing. Added together, these costs mean that as much as 15% of the energy in the average American home is used in the kitchen.
However, two of my favorite ways of cooking just so happens to help conserve energy: Cooking in big batches (4-8 servings per meal) and/or having little to none cooking involved (oven, stovetop, slow-cooker, etc.), while still maintaining a filling, nutrient-packed meal.
Here are some of my favorite, low-energy use recipes:
Overnight Buckwheat & Chia Seed Pudding (vegan)- 6 Servings
2½ Cups Dairy-free Milk
½ Cup Chia Seeds
4 Tbsp Raw, Hulled Buckwheat
2-4 Tbsp Maple Syrup (to your likeness)
Optional Serving toppings
- In a mixing bowl add dairy free milk, chia seeds, buckwheat, and maple syrup. Whisk to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours). The pudding should be thick and creamy. If not, add more chia seeds and/or milk, stir, and refrigerate for another hour or so.
- Enjoy as is, or top/layer with the optional toppings!
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Salmon and Kale Caesar Wraps-
7 Cups shredded kale
¾ Cups shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 Cup Caesar Dressing (Recipe below)
3 (6 oz.) Cans Wild Salmon, Drained (or you can cook your own salmon prior)
6 Large Flour Tortillas (sub Casava or Chickpea tortillas for more protein/fiber)
Ingredients for Cesar Dressing
2 Cloves minced Garlic
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Anchovy Paste
2 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ Tsp Fine Sea Salt
¼ Tsp Ground Pepper
1-2 Tbsp Water (as needed, to thin)
Add all ingredients, besides water, to a blend and mix for a few seconds. Slowly add waterto blender and mix until you get a consistency that you like.
- Shred salmon using a fork. Set aside.
- Place the kale, parmesan, and caesar dressing in a large bowl and toss until the leaves are evenly coated with the dressing. Toss in shredded Salmon to combine.
- Place 1 tortilla on a clean work surface. Spread a quarter of the filling to the center of the tortilla. Roll the wrap tightly by folding the sides over the filling, then rolling from the bottom up. Repeat with the remaining 5 tortillas. Serve immediately.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Creamy Sesame Noodles (vegan)-
8 oz. Brown Rice Udon Noodles
1 Large Cucumber, chopped or thinly sliced
1/2 Cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 Cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts or cashews(lightly salted or unsalted)
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds (brown or white)
Sesame Dressing Ingredients
1/4 Cup Liquid Aminos
3 Tbsp Tahini
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
1 Tbsp Minced Ginger
2 Tsp Minced Garlic
- Cook noodles according to package instructions then rinse in cold water to cool them. Set aside to drain.
- Whisk together all the sesame dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Chop or thinly slice the Cucumber (remove seeds).
- Add the drained noodles and 3/4 of the sliced cucumbers to the dressing bowl and stir well to combine.
- Top with the remaining cucumber, green onions, cilantro, and chopped nuts. Garnish with extra lime.
- Enjoy right away or chill for 30 minutes before serving.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Cashew-Curry Chicken Salad-
2/3 Cup Greek Yogurt
4 Tsp Lemon Juice
4 Tsp Honey
1 Tsp Curry Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 Tsp Pepper
1/8 Tsp Ground Ginger
3 Cups Cubed Cooked Chicken Breast
4 Celery Ribs, chopped
2 Medium Carrots, chopped
1/2 Cup Chopped Cashews
- In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients.
- Add the remaining ingredients, toss to coat.
- Serve as is, or make a sandwich.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Cold Lentil, Olive, and Cucumber Salad (Vegetarian/Vegan)-6 servings
2 Cups French Lentils
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 Tbsp Mustard
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
6 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Medium Cucumbers, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, chopped
3/4 Cup Mint, chopped
1 Cup Ricotta or Feta cheese (leave out or sub with vegan cheese to keep recipe vegan)
- Combine the lentils, garlic, and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 15 minutes.
- Drain the water and pull out the garlic and bay leaves. Refrigerate until cold.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, salt, and vinegar. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly until the dressing has emulsified.
- Combine the lentils, cucumbers, olives in a large bowl. Pour over the vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat.
- Top with mint and ricotta or crumbled feta just before serving.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Find all of the ingredients for these recipes at your Davis Food Co-op!
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.
5 Plastic Free DIY Recipes
-Glass Jar, with Sealable Lid
-2 Cups Filtered Water
-1-3 Tbsp. Jojoba Oil
-1 Tbsp. Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel
**Optional- 15 drops of essential oils (rose, lavender, & chamomile are great for sensitive skin)
Add all ingredients to a mason jar, or any glass reusable jar you have available and shake the mixture. Apply a quarter-sized amount to a reusable round and apply all over your face. Can be gently used over eyes.
Shake the jar before each use.
All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner
-2 cups worth of peeled Citrus (Orange, Lemon, or Grapefruit. You can use more than one type if you’d like/have it)
-2 cups of White Vinegar
-2 cups of Water
-1 teaspoon of Castile Soap
-Mason Jar or Glass Spray Bottle
1. Add citrus peels and vinegar to a sealable jar. The citrus should be at least half full of the jar. Add vinegar (It should fill the whole jar. Add more vinegar if need be).
2. Seal the jar with a lid. (Avoid a metal lid, if possible, as the vinegar can corrode the metal)
3. Let this infuse for 2-3 weeks.
4. Once it has infused, strain the vinegar, discarding the peels and place the vinegar into a glass spray bottle. (If you have any leftovers, the vinegar mixture can be stored in a sealed jar, in a dark, cool spot.)
5. Add the water and castile soap.
6. Shake the bottle once all ingredients are in the spray bottle.
Shake before each use.
1 cup Filtered Water
1 Tsp Baking Soda
10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
1 tsp of Xylitol or Stevia
Combine all ingredients to a jar and shake.
Shake jar before each use.
**Never swallow the mouth wash, always spit out.
Bentonite Tooth Paste
2 Tbsp Bentonite Clay
4 Tbsp Filtered Water
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/4 Teaspoon Stevia or Xylitol
1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt
10 Drops Peppermint Essential Oils
5 Drops Clove Essential Oil
1. Mix powdered clay with water in a small, non-metal bowl, with a non-metal spoon (metal causes the clay to be less effective).
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended.
Store in a sealed jar, in a cool spot.
-8 drops of each Essential Oil: Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, & Mint.
– 2 oz of Alcohol-free Witch Hazel
– 2 oz of Water
Add all items to a glass spray bottle, shake, and you are ready to go! Shake bottle before each use. Apply liberally, avoiding eyes.
Find all of the ingredients for these recipes at your Davis Food Co-op!
A Conversation With Emma Torbert From Cloverleaf Farm
We were fortunate to have the chance to speak with Emma Torbert from Cloverleaf Farm to hear about the unique structure they have and the sustainable practices that they use. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from UCD and worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for seven years. Cloverleaf is an 8-acre organic orchard and farm outside of Davis, California on the Collins Farm that specializes in peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, berries, and vegetables. The Cloverleaf follows regenerative principles including no-till, rotational grazing, and cover-cropping. The farm is co-owned by Emma Torbert, Katie Fyhrie, Kaitlin Oki, Yurytzy Sanchez, Neil Singh, Tess Kremer, and Kyle Chambers; who all manage the farm together in a cooperative and consensus-based fashion. You can find The Cloverleaf Farm’s produce at the Sacramento Farmers Market on Sundays and at various grocery stores in Davis, Sacramento, and the Bay Area.
Cloverleaf seems to break the mold of what a traditional farm functions like. Traditionally farms are passed down generationally within families, but all of your farmers come from diverse backgrounds, how did that model get started at Cloverleaf?
“We started out a group of four women and then the farm passed through a number of different partners. As different people were leaving we were realizing that for the sake of future transitions and the longevity of the farm operation a worker-owned cooperative farm would be best, although we are currently still structured as a partnership. There are currently seven partners right now.”
“We’ve been working with the California Center for Co-op Development for the last four years trying to figure out a way that everybody can own equal equity in the farm. 2014 was the first time that we started profit sharing and equity sharing. The equity sharing is not yet equal but that is what we are working with the CCCD on.”
“One of our core principles in our vision statement is working as a team. An important thing in thinking about farm management for us is recognizing everybody’s different skills and working together without an established hierarchical structure. We rotate who gets to be the crew leader every couple of weeks, so they are essentially the boss for those two weeks, which means everyone gets a chance to step into a leadership role.”
How do you limit your greenhouse emissions?
“In terms of limiting our carbon footprint, we do a number of things. In terms of the transportation of our food, we try to deliver as locally as possible. We purposefully choose markets that are closer and do not take our products further than the bay area. We are always making the decision to try to sell closer to home.”
“As for what happens in the field, all of our vegetables get grown no-till. Our orchards and all of our annual crops are no-till, which means that we don’t use a tractor very often at all. In doing that we use less fossil fuel. We’ve also put solar panels around the farm, and can’t wait until we can add more.”
“Something else that really contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is water use. We use moisture sensors so that we use as little water as possible. We tread that fine line of watering as little as possible without stunting the growth of the trees in our orchards.”
What are your pest management practices?
“We are an organic farm so we don’t spray any pesticides while the fruit is on the trees. We do use pheromone sprays, which disrupt the mating cycles of a lot of stone fruit pests. We put out raptor perches and owl boxes. The main pests that we have trouble with are ground squirrels and gophers.”
How do you try to limit your food waste?
We’ve been trying lots of different things for many years and I feel like this year it’s all coming together, we have very little food waste coming from our farm right now. Our compost pile is pretty tiny right now considering the size of our farm.
“We have an Ugly Fruit club, which allows people to buy our third-grade fruit at a discounted price. We also create a lot of value-added products like jams and dried fruit, which allows us to still sell our less aesthetic fruit instead of wasting it.”
“Something else that we do is donate to the food bank, especially this year when we’re worried about our community being food insecure.”
Preparation for Virtual Back to School
Although back to school is very different this year, it is helpful to plan out snack breaks and lunches. Meal prep so that school at home is smoother! Many of our Back to school favorites are on sale 8/21-8/23 for owners!
Back to Schoool Essentials
Meli Wraps are a ziplock and plastic wrap alternative. These beeswax wraps cling to bowls and work great for holding trail mix!
Stasher bags are ziplock 2.0. They are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe! These silicon master bags are great for snacks, soups, sandwiches, and more! Make soup in advance, portion out in these bags, and keep in the freezer. When you are ready to eat, place them in a pot of boiling water until thawed or throw in the microwave.
Be prepared with All Good hand sanitizer and sunscreen.
Love Bags makes tote bags, lunch boxes, and more. Best of all their fabric is 100% recycled plastics. Cleaning up the oceans with style!
Kleen Kanteen is a long-time favorite. We got in various sizes to ensure you can stay hydrated! They are insulated and will keep your water cool during this heatwave!
U-Konserve is great for meal prepping. We carry various sizes of these sustainable metal and silicone containers. Prep for the week and these containers stack nicely in the fridge!
Dip or Build
- Bell Peppers and Albacore Salad
- Taco Build (Sweet Potato or Mushroom)
- Pizza Build, use Naan, or make mini pizza dough!
What Is Biodynamic Wine?
There are many buzzwords that seem to surround our food; organic, sustainable, healthy, natural, the list goes on and on. Whether you have heard of the term biodynamic before or this is your first time encountering, you may feel the urge to view it as just another trendy term used to describe food. But the term biodynamic refers to a method of cultivation that aims to promote harmony between the natural world and those that live in it.
Food plays an important role not only in our daily lives but in our culture and economy as well. But oftentimes getting dinner on the table takes precedent over wondering how it was grown and where it came from. This is unfortunate because pesticides, hormones, and over-processed foods are just some of the ills contributing to our and our planet’s health issues.
Biodynamic agriculture is a response to this issue. This style of cultivation has roots in the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, which asserts that a farm or vineyard is a living system in its own right. He emphasized the relationships between plants, soil, and animals as the lifeblood of a farm. The aim of biodynamic farming is to create a system that is self-sustaining, using compost instead of chemical fertilizers.
As a practice, this style of farming goes a step further than organic cultivation, not only avoiding pesticides but following the natural rhythms of the environment. The guidelines that Biodynamic farms must follow are quite strict; they must use self-contained composting materials, only compost can be used as a fertilizing material, and the use of plastic materials in the farm’s infrastructure is not permitted. Producers who wish to label their products as biodynamic must be properly credentialed by an organization called Demeter. In order to become certified cultivators must use eight mineral and plant-based preparations to activate soil life and plant growth on the land.
The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association defines biodynamic agriculture as “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition.” Biodynamic farming uses sustainable practices to ensure that the land is left in as good or better shape as it was found for future generations.
So biodynamic viticulture refers to using these sorts of natural and holistic practices to make wine. Biodynamic vineyards thus become a haven for local flora and fauna, barring a few select pests(e.g. gophers and insects) who would eat every grape before it ever graced a barrel if they had their way.
Gerard Bertrand, a world-renowned producer of biodynamic wines, characterizes biodynamic wine as possessing “more freshness, more minerality, and more complexity.” He asserts that the soil is what determines a wine’s terroir, and to use chemicals in the soil strips it of its unique characteristics. Because of the level of care biodynamic farmers use in their vineyards biodynamic wine is said to have a higher-quality taste than other types of wine.
We carry a variety of biodynamic wines here at the Co-op from producers such as Beaver Creek, Frey Vineyards, and Lunaria Orsogna.