Friday, 01 November 2013 13:57
By Joe Romano,
He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.
— Jonathan Swift
For as long as there have been people there has been the question of how a person knew whether something was good to eat. Surely, people would see animals safely eat a plant and assume it was safe for them. Or maybe they would get some of their braver, less popular, or perhaps unwitting neighbors to try a food source first.
We know that testing food goes back at least to the ancient Egyptians and the Roman Empire. Since the time of the ancient Pharoahs, those who had reason to be in fear of their safety, and who had the means, employed food tasters to ensure that their food was safe to eat.
According to John Emsley, a professor of chemistry at the University of Cambridge, a man named Halotus was the official food taster for the Roman Emperor Claudius. Halotus was not very good at his job, because Claudius was killed by poison in 54 A.D. Halotus himself was a suspect in the murder.
Obviously, the profession of food taster has historically been a precarious one. In ancient times it would have been performed by slaves, prisoners, or peasants. In Genesis 40:21, there is a plot afoot to poison the Pharaoh. The two main suspects are his wine taster and his food taster. These two people were responsible for the Pharaoh's life and acted as his security detail, tasting all of the Pharoah's food so that he would not be poisoned. In that story, it was divined that his food taster was guilty of plotting against the throne, and he was put to death.
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 22:15
By Brandon Kane, General Manager, and
12th Moon, Council President
2012 is nearly at a close, and it was just a few months ago that the two of us co-authored an article that looked back on 2011 and forward to 2013. Now that we are a tiny bit older and wiser, we're going to update you on both fronts.
Fifty weeks into 2012, our co-op has nearly wrapped up a remarkably productive year. The recent financial report submitted to Council covering the first three-quarters of the year showed that we have excelled on many levels. Oasis and the West-End store have averaged 10.65 percent growth over 2011. We presently have grossed $12.6 million in sales, which is $600,000 over our targeted expectation! Once our expenses and taxes are taken into account, we have achieved approximately $165,000 in net income, or a little over twice our target. It could not have come at a better time, as we plan to invest a significant portion of our capital back into the Co-op's infrastructure to pursue a variety of expansion-related projects designed to ensure the stability of our community cooperative for many more years to come.
And while we diligently pursue the brick-and- mortar expansion projects mentioned later in this article, the Co-op has continued to play a prominent role in support of our greater community through direct involvement and financial contributions. GreenStar's tax-exempt affiliate, GreenStar Community Projects, took on a significant and collaborative role in holding the Second Annual Food Justice Summit, as well as two subsequent Networking Sessions designed to help bring those involved in our local food system together to collaborate under the banner of Food Justice and Sustainability. Our FLOWER (Fresh, Local, Organic Within Everyone's Reach) program, which offers a discount to members in need of support, continues to be a strong component of our Diversity and Inclusion initiative. FLOWER has been in effect for just over two years and now accounts for over 400 members. As of the end of September 2012, our FLOWER members had received $58,766 in discounts at the register! This is a tangible indicator that our efforts to increase the Co-op's accessibility are working. To honor our commitment to strong community involvement, we have contributed over $9,000 to dozens of causes and programs big and small. Recently, we donated $1,550 to Shaleshock to sponsor a bus trip to Albany in support of a ban on hydrofracking. We also held a fundraising drive at our registers (yielding over $1,000) to support relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Sandy through the Red Cross, and also donated $1,000 in wholesale goods that were driven down directly by Co-op members supporting the relief effort. Additionally, we remain committed to serve as a donation space for such commendable initiatives as the Share the Warmth Campaign and our long-standing partners the Friendship Donations Network.
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The local bounty continues, brought to you by the sweat and toil of farmers -— surely something to be thankful for.
November ... the local bounty is bestowed upon us, plowed under the sweat-browed gaze of toiling farmers, as crouched workers pick and pull on bent knees with earth-covered hands. We stay warm within the confines of our offices and coffee shops, but those...