grocery

Community from Scratch: Wide Awake Bakery

By Kristie Snyder,

GreenLeaf Editor

wideawake koskiTry this sometime: Come into the West-End store on a Tuesday or Friday afternoon, when Wide Awake Bakery has just made a delivery. There will be four freshly baked varieties to choose from. Buy a loaf of their bread. It will cost you six and-a-half bucks for the loaf. It will be worth it. Unless you are very lucky, the bread will be the best you've ever eaten. That might be all you care about, but there's a lot more to your loaf than meets the eye. It was made with grain grown a few miles away in one direction, and milled a few miles away in another. It was baked with heat from wood grown next door to the bakery. And to say it was crafted with love might be an understatement.

Like many of the world's great ideas, Wide Awake Bakery was conceived over a great meal shared among friends. Three people — Stefan Senders, who began baking bread at home as a release from the stress of his academic career, his wife, Liz Brown, and their friend Thor Oeschner, a local organic grain grower — were enjoying a meal together, with one of Stefan's loaves at its center. He had baked it with flour from Farmer Ground, at that time a new project of Thor, miller Greg Mol, and Erick Smith of Cayuga Pure Organics. "This is the best bread I've ever eaten," Thor told Stefan. "You should start a bakery and bake with our flour."

Stefan's response? "I thought, 'That's a really stupid idea.' But I was kind of intrigued." He stayed awake all night thinking about how to make it work. He talked to his wife the next day, and told her, "This could actually work!" Putting his anthropology background to work, he started calling bakers — all over the world. "They were incredibly generous. And what's really amazing is I never heard a negative story. They were all incredibly positive," he said. "There was tremendous satisfaction and belief that they were doing the right thing."

Read more: Community from Scratch: Wide Awake Bakery

 

The Trials and Tribulations of Mr. Natural

By Joe Romano,

Marketing Manager

mr-naturalFlakey Foont: 
Mr. Natural! What does it all mean?
Mr. Natural: 
Don't mean sheeit...

Back in the sixties, when underground comics were in their heyday, a mystical guru named Mr. Natural was created by the counterculture comix artist R. Crumb. "Stick with me folks, I've got all the answers" ... "Heaven? Well, it's a little corny, if you ask me" ... "If you don't know by now, don't mess wit' it" — these were just a few of the stabs at insight made by the little bearded huckster. Chock-full of empty aphorisms, Mr. Natural was more hype than substance, more con man than wise man, exhorting his disciples to eat only his line of "Mr. Natural Brand Foods."

It seems he was onto something. When applied to food, the term natural is the perfect scam. It is wholly unregulated and devoid of meaning. The average consumer is not aware of the term's insignificance, equating it with organic, at least on some level.

And now, because the term natural is as dubious a guide to nutritional enlightenment as Mr. Natural himself, some courts have seen fit to protect the consumer.

According to CBS News, Kellogg's will stop using the labels "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" on Kashi products. The company will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was charged with misleading people with those phrases on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients.

Read more: The Trials and Tribulations of Mr. Natural

Organic Farmers Celebrate Dairy Month in June

By Tina Wright

moorefarmDairy farmers in central New York celebrate June as Dairy Month with parades and dairy promotions. This year, higher milk prices for dairy farmers and soaring demand for Greek-style yogurt should add some happy froth to their milkshakes. Moore Family Farm, an organic dairy farm in Lansing, will host an Organic Valley Farm Discovery Day on Saturday, June 21 from 11 am to 2 pm. The public is invited to meet the cows, see the pasture, and visit the family farm up-close and personal.

At GreenStar, shoppers have a wide choice of local and organic milk. In 2013, the dairy segment at GreenStar, which includes dairy, butter, and eggs (but not cheese), produced $587,575 in sales. Nearly two-thirds was locally sourced.

Organic Valley offers everything from organic whole milk to organic lactose-free milk. While Organic Valley is a national brand, most Organic Valley milk offered at GreenStar comes from local farms and is processed in local plants. And there is plenty of competition from local brands.

Lucienne Binkerd-Dale, the Grocery Assistant Manager in charge of the dairy department, said, "I've definitely seen in the last few years people wanting pasture [dairy products] and local. More people are going for the local milk. Ithaca Milk flies out of here." Formerly under the Meadow Creek label, Ithaca Milk is part of the Finger Lakes Farm group. They are bringing on new farms but can't keep up with demand for their un-homogenized "cream at the top" milk.

Read more: Organic Farmers Celebrate Dairy Month in June

 

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New in Grocery

Who Needs a Reason? It's Pumpkin Beer Season

Adam Morris,
Grocery Manager

Fall beers are a reason to celebrate the change of the seasons. We've got a great variety from local and organic breweries.

20121012pumpkinciderharpoonI know you don't want to hear it but ... fall and winter are coming! We in the Grocery Department mark the seasonal changes early to coincide with our local and regional beer company's changing seasonal options. That's right, the fall beers are here! Harvest beers, pumpkin beers, and the Oktoberfest brews are rolling in. We've got Country Pumpkin from Ithaca Beer Company, Pumpkin and Oktoberfest brews from Saranac, Harvest Ale from Southern Tier, Pumpkin Ale from Magic Hat, and an organic Pumpkin from Wolavers! We'll also be getting the Post Road Pumpkin from Brooklyn Brewery along with a very limited amount of Pumking from Southern Tier. And, for the first time, we have a gluten-free pumpkin option in the form of Harpoon Brewery Pumpkin Cider. All of these wonderful brews will be available in our beer selection as well as in several seasonal displays spread throughout the store. It's worth celebrating the season's change so early when so many wonderful libations are available to try at the Co-op!

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