Friday, April 18, 2014

YMCA Charity Auction & Top Chef Competition

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

Executive Chef Scott Jones along with Chef John Riccelli from the Celery Stick Café accepted the challenge at the YMCA Charity Auction to compete in the Top Chef Competition on April 16th, along with three other top restaurants in Concord, The Barely House, Granite Restaurant, and O’s Steak & Seafood.
Chef John and Chef Scott ready to serve the guests.
Chef Scott was serving a fresh sushi grade yellowfin tuna tartare complimented with avocado & lemon ginger dashi gel, topped with wasabi cream on a wanton crisp. This bold choice was beautifully presented on layers of glass with a bouquet and seashells. It was easy to just pick the whole serving up and pop it in your mouth to enjoy the Asian inspired textures and flavors.
As the guests enjoyed the chef’s creations they also sipped samples of wines, beers, & cider, while placing bids on silent auction items and also participating in live auctions to benefit the Concord YMCA. To vote for their favorite restaurant, the guests placed tulips into bowls on the tables which were tallied up at the end of the evening.
Chef Scott's beautiful presentation of fresh Yellowfun Tuna Tartare.
After hearing raving reviews about the tuna tartare and beautiful presentation of his table, Chef Scott from the Celery Stick Café was announced as the winner of the Top Chef competition.  Congratulations Chef Scott, we are proud to have you as the Executive Chef in the Celery Stick Café and look forward to trying your latest culinary creations.
Counting the tulips before announcing the Concord Food Co-op as the winner!
 Come on in to the Concord Food Co-op and taste for yourself the fresh and all-natural selections made daily on the hot bar, deli, olive bar, and bakery. If you have any questions our chefs are always happy to answer them.
Our World Cuisine Tour on the hot bar is also being extended to include a US Regional Cuisine Tour to bring our Celery Stick Café chefs home, Thursday through May 29th – June 19th. Stamps can still be collected to redeem for Free Co-op Event Tickets in your Co-op Passport. For full details come into the Co-op on Thursday’s from 10:30 am – 7 pm to talk with our “Customs Officer” who will have Free Co-op Passports so you can join in the fun or click here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Winners are Grinners!

by Jaimie Jusczyk, Marketing Specialist

Welcome to all our new Co-op member-owners who signed up during the Concord Food Co-op’s new membership drive at the beginning of the year. As the Co-op grows bigger and stronger, more opportunities present themselves for us to fulfill and move with our mission of providing all-natural products to the community and supporting the quality standards we strive for.
If you would like to get more involved in the Co-op, all our member-owners are invited to the next Board of Directors meeting, Wednesday April 16th. Email board@concordfoodcoop.coop for details on attending.


Thanks S & W Sports.
As a part of the new membership drive, the Co-op held a major prize raffle with two awesome prizes to get active outdoors. The first prize was a mountain bike supplied by S&W Sports of Concord and was won by a very generous member, Jodi who thinks someone else will get a lot more use out of this sweet ride and donated the bike to the Friends Program in Concord, NH. The Co-op is a sponsor of the Friends Program Charity Auction that is coming up in May so we find this very fitting. For more information about the Friends Program, click here.
Congratulation's Terry and thanks to EMS!
The second prize was a kayak supplied by EMS in Concord which was won by Terry who had already been searching for a new kayak. We wish Terry lots of fun on the water this summer with her ideal prize.  Will we see Terry on the water at the Co-op's Lakeside Luau Summer party this July?

Congratulations to our winners and we will look forward to seeing all our new members in the Co-op!
Stay tuned for our upcoming Mothers Day and Fathers Day competitions for more fun prizes from the Concord Food Co-op.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Co-op Farm Fest 2013


 by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator

We want to thank everyone who brought all of those wonderful homemade pot luck dishes out to this year’s Co-op Farm Fest held at the Vegetable Ranch in Warner on September 8. We also want to thank Larry Pletcher and his Vegetable Ranch staff for hosting the event, getting parking areas created, and for clearing the field where the tent was set up. We also want to thank the Dusty Gray Band for entertaining us and keeping our feet tapping throughout the afternoon.
This event was unique for us. Planning started weeks in advance and set up started several days in advance. Tents had to be assembled, port-o-potties set up, electric generators wired, tables brought in and food prepared.  The wood fire (about 1 cord of wood was used) was lit at 7PM the evening before to provide enough coals or the pig to go into the smoker at 3AM and the fire needed to be tended to throughout the night, in order  to be served at 2:30PM. Marketing Manager Greg Lessard and Executive Chef Scott Jones pulled out all the stops and brought in cots and tents to get a little sleep before guests began arriving.  In all they were on hand festival duties for 24 hours.
Why go through all of this effort for a Co-op Farm Fest? Our main objective was to provide members with a direct experience of where some of their food comes from and to get to know  other members to mingle and have fun. We talk a lot about our hoop house at the Vegetable Ranch, which we are very proud of, and Farm Fest offered members to see it firsthand.
Given the success of Farm Fest (we had an estimated 500 members in attendance) we are planning similar events for 2014.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

HB660: Fresh from The GMO Labeling Public Hearing

by Maria Noel Groves, Co-op Wellness Educator & Newsletter Editor

Today I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on one of the public hearings for NH House Bill (HB) 660, which would require the labeling of genetically modified food in our state. This hearing featured a testimony from renowned food safety expert Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union before the state's House Agriculture Subcommittee. He has several decades of experience and is an internationally respected expert on food safety and labeling laws. He has worked on state, national, and international levels on the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food chain. I was in good company among Co-op board member and local farmer Derek Owen, the NOFA-NH Executive Director Janet Wilkinson and Public Policy & Advocacy committee chair Alex Simpson, among others. Here are some highlights from his talk and conversation with the subcommittee members:
  • One of Hansen's key concerns was the supposed safety of GMOs in the food chain. Although GMO foods have been prevalent in our food system for several decades, Hansen stressed that very little rigorous scientific proof of safety is required by the Food and Drug Association (FDA). In fact, the FDA does not require third party testing of GMOs to ensure their safety; the data comes from the companies themselves. The United States does not adhere to global standards for GMOs, safety testing, and labeling.
  • Due to the legal nature of patented products (which GMO seeds are), it's actually very difficult for unbiased third-party safety testing to take place in the United States because permission from the company making the seed is needed. The majority of US scientists testing GMO safety have financial ties to GMOs, and studies with financial ties are four times more likely to have a positive outcome compared to independent studies.
  • Independent studies conducted in other countries are more likely to have negative outcomes. Some of these studies have  found concerns with GMO safety related to allergic and adverse responses. Some have found the possibility of kidney, liver, and bone marrow damage from feeding GMO corn and soy, and the ability of GMO genes to cross horizontally into the human body when consumed.
  • One negative GMO study that has been widely criticized in the media is that of Seralini in Europe, which replicated Monsanto study data feeding GE corn to rats - but over a longer period of time - and found the liver, kidney, and heart damage. Critics say that the sample sizes were too small and that the strain of rats used have a high tendency to develop cancern. An interesting point made by Hansen is that the study mimiced Monsanto's own study's sample size and rat strain (yet Monsanto's shorter-term study is considered proof of safety), and a 3-million-euro study is underway in Europe using a similar set up. So, why is this set up ok to prove safety but inadequate to prove a lack of safety?
  • Even less safety data examines the effects of the herbicides alongside the GMOs. The vast majority of GMO crops in the US (approximately 85%) are genetically engineered to be herbicide-resistant with the intention of using increased herbicide use (such as Monsanto's glyphosate Roundup). This makes weeding and harvesting a more easily mechanized process for farmers. Herbicide exposure - through consumption and environmental effects - has been shown to be problematic for human and environmental health. You can learn more about this in the "What's So Bad About GMOs?" article Shane and I wrote for the most recent Co-op newsletter here.
  • Hansen and the subcommittee also discussed concerns less related to the potential health effects of GMOs.... 
  • Is the bill's proposed law was constitutional? Hansen maintained that it is indeed constitutional and uses similar language as other state GMO labeling bills and global agreements.
  • Will labeling GMOs would cost farmers or consumers more money? It's unlikely. Norway, for example, found no major change in price increases related to labeling. "The notion that it's going to cost a lot of money is nonsense," he says. He also points out that NH farmers will be minimally effected because we don't tend to farm the crops most likely to be GMO (wheat, soy, cotton, canola). In fact, labeling may begin to open up better availability of non-GMO seeds for farmers. Because the few companies that control the seed industry are also the companies behind GMO technology, the best seed traits often come in a GMO seed package, regardless of whether or not the desired trait (ie: disease resistance) is GMO.
  •  Non-GMO products are in great demand globally as well. At least 62 countries and more than half the world's population currently require labeling of GMO foods, said Hansen. He cited examples where the drift of GMO pollen resulted in unintended GMO rice and wheat crop contamination for farmers who hadn't planted them and cost the farmers their ability to trade their products on the global market. Quite frankly, Hansen said, the US is vulnerable because we have no controls in place nor third party GMO safety data for our country's food crops. "States with labeled products have a market advantage," he said, both nationally and globally.
  • Why are we looking to state-level legislation rather than federal? "If you want labeling on the national level, the way you're going to get it is by pushing it here," he stressed. Efforts to affect change on a national level (via legislation and the FDA) have fallen on mostly deaf ears. But as more states pass GMO labeling laws, it will act as a trigger for the federal government, and states that pass such legislation will be seen as leaders of progress and interest in consumer safety. One of the subcommittee members said that in a recent conversation with Congresswoman Annie Kuster (who is the first NH legislator to sit on the federal Agriculture Committee in 70 years!), that Kuster agreed with the importance of state-level change affecting the nation.

Do YOU Want to See GMO Foods Labeled? Get Involved! 

Attend the screening of Genetic Roulette this Monday, September 9, at 7 pm, which is part of the Green Concord Green Living Series at Red River Theatres and is sponsored by the Concord Food Co-op. We look forward to the panel discussion with four important local experts:
Click here for more details, to see the trailer, and to buy tickets (just $7!) online.
Let your local legislators know what you think! Find your legislators and their contact info here.

To stay abreast of the NH GMO labeling happenings, check out www.nhrighttoknowgmo.com and stay tuned to the Co-op's newsletter, Facebook page, and email list.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Monadnock Food Co-op


by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Our GM Paula, with MFC GM, Michael Faber
The Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, New Hampshire will open its doors on April 3, after a four-year-long journey. Part of this journey included early groundwork through an organization called the Food Co-op Initiative. The Food Co-op Initiative is a key source of support for communities just starting out on the road to opening a food co-op. The Food Co-op Initiative works with new groups to get their fundamentals secure and set their vision high, so they’re on firm footing from day one.
New display cases!
The Monadnock Food Co-op applied to the Initiative’s Seed Grant Program where they received $10,000 in seed money.  The Monadnock Co-op was one of 13 food co-op start-ups to apply for the grant on 2011-in 2012 there were 31 applications submitted.
Concord Co-op brings lunch for the staff
After working since 2008 as a volunteer committee of the Monadnock Farm and Community Connection Program, the Monadnock Food Co-op incorporated in April, 2010. Since 2011, close to 1,200 families have joined the Monadnock Food Co-op as Member-Owners, contributing over $100,000 in Member Equity and $800,000 in member loans.


Departments include health and beauty, bulk food, meat, produce, frozen food, dairy, beer and wine as well as a deli with a prepared foods section and a small café seating area.  They will strive to carry products that connect their regional farmers and shoppers, so members know where their food comes from.
Fingers crossed for April 3 opening

Friday, March 15, 2013

GMO Update

by Shane Smith, Outreach Coordinator
We have the right to know what is in our food and  NH citizens have sent the message that they want GMO food to be labeled.  The petition, sponsored by State Rep. Maureen Mann and Rep. Ian Raymonds suggest that the majority of Americans want GMO food labeled now.

Illustration by Co-op designer Torin Judd
Since the campaign began in February NH citizens have added over 6,000 signatures to the campaign. Currently the Environment and Agriculture Committee has retained the bill, so it won't go to the Senate until the fall.  Thank you to all who signed the petition at the Co-op where we gathered well over 600 signatures for this bill.  Similar legislation just passed in the Vermont House. Across the country many such bills have been introduced to state legislatures and the issue is clearly picking up steam beyond just the normal "crunchy" channels. Although Prop 37 was narrowly defeated in California last November, the campaign forced Monsanto and the biotech giants to spend $45 million to defeat the measure. That's a record expenditure by the world's largest toxic pesticide companies to try to prevent consumers from knowing what they're buying. Remember: GMOs are the only products that consumers accidentally purchase without knowing what they're buying.
The Concord Food Co-op belongs to a group called the National Cooperative Grocers Association where we partner with  other Co-ops for increased buying power,  resource sharing and a bigger political voice than we could have by ourselves. In response to the GMO isue, NCGA had this response. "Last week, we sent a letter to all Co+op Deals partners reminding them of NCGA's work on the national level to fight the deregulation of GMOs and calling for the mandatory labeling of GMO foods. This letter also reinforced the importance of GMO labeling to our co-ops and their shoppers, and urged vendors to show leadership by supporting consumers' right to information to make informed purchase decisions. NCGA's category managers have been directed to require formal written responses, by April 1, from those industry partners that have been targets of the boycott in response to prop 37. Although we continue to believe that boycotts of companies whose parent organizations contribute to anti-labeling campaigns are ineffective due to the small percentage overall these brands represent of multi-nationals, we are vigorously leveraging our trade relationships to communicate the values of our co-ops and their shoppers. We will share a synopsis of the formal responses from the industry that we receive later next month."

  
Illustration by Co-op designer Brad Turgeon
Last week, Whole Foods announced all products sold at Whole Foods Market stores containing genetically modified organisms will clearly labeled within five years. This makes the company the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for what it terms “full GMO transparency.” Up to the 2018 deadline, Whole Foods says it will work in collaboration with its suppliers as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.

As a co-op, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of all of our customers. We support the right of consumers to make their own purchase decisions. We also support their right to accurate information to make those decisions. However, it would be impossible for our co-op to test every product available in the market for GMOs. We can't tell you which products do contain GMOs, we can only tell you which products do not (certified organic and non-GMO verified). The GMO labeling requirements is one of the most important consumer health legislation introduced in recent years.  The Concord Food Co-op will continue to advocate for full disclosure and to keep you informed throughout the legislative process.