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Some of the best loved products in our personal care and supplement departments come from Wild Seed Apothecary, a local producer of organic, herbal health and beauty products, based just minutes from the co-op in Rosendale, NY. Wild Seed is owned by the talented and knowledgable Erin Domagal. Erin is a long time member of our HFFC community, and we are so very proud to carry her creations.

Recently, we sat down with Erin to talk about Wild Seed and winter wellness. She gave us some wonderful information and a few very helpful tips.

First, we wanted to know the history of Wild Seed, and Erin graciously obliged. “I’ve been involved in the plant world for about ten years,” Erin says, “gardening, farming, you name it. I’ve always loved plants, and when I had to opportunity to take Dina Falconi and Rosemary Gladstar’s herbalism classes, I jumped at the chance. I learned so much and I was really inspired. I decided that I wanted this to be my focus.”

Erin continues, “I took some time to figure out how to make herbalism my business, all the while making and perfecting my recipes.” Then, as it has so many times in the Hudson Valley, inspiration hit Erin while hiking. “I had a vision of creating a seasonal share of herbal products that come out once a season. That’s still a big part of my business.”

Erin went on to inform us on where she grows her herbs. Of course, it’s right here in Ulster county. “I have a big garden in New Paltz. I’m so lucky. When I started Wild Seed, I was living above the Rosendale Café, they were kind enough to let me grow a small garden there. When I moved from there, the garden had to move. I needed to expand. A chance meeting at a farmer’s market helped take me to the next level.” Erin met a woman named Helen Coyle Bergston, and after talking a bit, Helen agreed to let Erin grow all of her perennials on her land in New Paltz. “It’s a good setup for me. I’ve got some plants over there, some in my home garden, and some I forage locally as well.”

“I started this in 2013, and I’m so proud of what Wild Seed has accomplished since. The Seasonal Wellness Shares are still going strong. We’ve been written up in prominent magazines, and now Wild Seed is available in many stores throughout the region. From NYC boutiques to the High Falls Food Co-op.” We are so happy to be a part of Erin’s journey.

Since we’re well into cold and flu season here in the North East, we asked Erin for some tips on how to stay well. First and foremost, she recommends acting quickly. “You know your body. The earlier you respond to feeling under the weather, the better. Start fighting. Drink tea, use our Dragon’s Breath Tonic. Don’t ignore the symptoms and signs.” Dragon’s Breath Tonic is an immune-boosting tonic based on the old folk remedy Fire Cider, it’s available at HFFC. We asked Erin how she recommends  Dragon’s Breath be taken. “As a preventative, a tablespoon a day with food works well. If you are already sick, take less more often. Maybe half a tablespoon every four hours. I like to take my Dragon’s Breath as a cordial, splash some DB in a whiskey cocktail at the end of the day. That’s the fun way to stay well.”

Something else Erin recommends is the use of sage. “A really simple home remedy for a sore throat is sage tea. You can drink it or gargle it. It works really well. Sage is also very easy to dry if you are using some from your garden. Sage will dry well just sitting on your counter top.” Another way to sooth and aid a sore throat is with Wild Seed Mouth Rinse, also available at the co-op. “I use the mouth rinse all the time,” Erin says, “aside from sore throats, it fights gingivitis and infections. It’s not super sweet like many mouth rinse brands, but it tastes GOOD! Earthy and refreshing.”

Aside from Dragon’s Breath and Mouth Rinse, High Falls Food Co-op also stocks Wild Seed’s Tick & Bug Repellent Spray. If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to head over to Wild Seed’s website to read all about it’s recipe’s legend involving the bubonic plague!

We thank Erin for her work creating these great products which help to keep our staff, members and shoppers healthy and fresh! We hope you all try a Wild Seed product if you haven’t already, and we hope to be carrying more from Erin in the future.

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From baby products to household cleaners to cosmetics and personal care products, most reading this will have a good sense that they are aware of harmful ingredients in the stream of consumer products and the importance of label-reading.

But we can all fall prey to green-washing, marketing and what we may feel is convenience!

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), titled the Hall of Shame, reveals the unfathomable number of hidden and proprietary ingredients in household cleaners; and, in some cases, ingredients which can interact with environmental pollutants, creating harmful results.

This was the report for Citra-Solv*, a decades-old mainstay on the shelves of most health food stores, including HFFC. I have used it for years, carefully diluted and conservatively, to remove the awful smells from compost buckets, greasy stains from floors, and so on. The label on the product reveals three ingredients. But, according to EWG, the first ingredient, limonene, can interact with ozone pollutants and formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) creating particles which can cause severe lung damage when the product is sprayed.

More mainstream products, Simple Green, along with a store brand oven cleaner, are marketed, respectively, as “non-toxic” and “fume-free”, actually contain ingredients which can cause red blood cell damage, and an “unidentified substance known to the state of California to cause cancer.” This is just a sampling of the information sourced from this report. For a more thorough read and helpful solutions to everyday home applications, go to: www.ewg.org/cleaners/hallofshame, where you can also find ratings and reports on other categories of products. Some results may take you by surprise!

The EWG is just one among a myriad of consumer organizations working to take down the smoke screen of our corporate-driven marketing system. As someone with decades of history in this industry, I have relied on these sources to help with personal and professional choices.

My thanks to my co-worker, Daisha, for bringing this specific report to my attention, and for the continued information and feedback we get from our membership and customers!

*As of this writing, CitraSolv will no longer be available at the Co-op.
-Ruth Molloy

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High Falls Food Co-op has a new produce manager! Her name is Maggie Dulka, and we couldn’t be happier to have her. Many of you may know Maggie as a long-standing member of our community. A few years back, Maggie (a former cook) was a vendor to HFFC, providing us with soups, baked goods, and other prepared foods. After hanging up her apron, Maggie took some time to explore other aspects of the food industry; which ultimately lead her back to the co-op with an expanded set of skills.

“When the opportunity presented itself,” Maggie says of her latest role, “I couldn’t refuse. The co-op’s food and community values align with my own; that’s important to me… plus, I love fruits and vegetables! Working with them every day is a pleasure.” Maggie’s experience as a cook gives her an advantage while placing orders and assisting customers. She’ll not only provide the best of what’s in season, but she can tell you how to prepare it, too! That’s something we find very helpful.

We asked Maggie what our members should be bringing home this autumn, and how to prepare it. “Squash!” Maggie says, “We have beautiful, local, organic squash this year. Beets as well. Fall is one of my favorite seasons simply because you can make delicious food while keeping it simple. Just slice open a squash, scoop out the seeds, drizzle olive oil, roast. Easy! Butter, salt, and pepper— all set. This is my go-to when I’m bringing a dish to a dinner party.”

As far as fruits go, we love our apples in the Hudson Valley, and the co-op’s got a great selection this year. Though, Maggie urges us all not to forget about pears. And citrus! “Fall is the time to enjoy so many fruits. I’m a juicer, and I like to stay healthy by mixing grapefruit and valencia oranges or a vitamin C boost.”

“My goal in this position are to provide the co-op community with the best organic produce I can, and source it from as locally as possible.” She continues, “It’s exciting to see people view the first crops of a season. The vibrant colors, the freshness, it can’t e beat. I try to stay true to that and offer what is in-season.”

It’s been wonderful having Maggie back as such an important part of our team. If you ever have any questions, comments, or requests, Maggie welcomes your input. We look forward to continuing our relationship with this talented, knowledgable, individual. Thank you Maggie, for coming aboard.

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Chrisso Babcock is not only one of our knowledgable High Falls Food Co-op sales associates, but he’s also an educator specializing in Homesteading Arts. Chrisso teaches kitchen-based workshops through his organization Coyote Kitchen.

“I have an upcoming 3 session fermentation and traditional kitchen skills intensive I will be teaching through the SUNY Ulster Continuing Ed program this fall,” Chrisso says. “I have taught this same course three times in the past, and it is one of my favorite ways to connect deeply with a group of students — a 3-hour class, once a month, for three months. If you are interested in learning to make cheeses, sourdough breads, vegetable ferments and preserves, I invite you to sign up for the class.”

Working at HFFC, Chrisso is always inspired by the bounty of locally grown and organic produce available on our shelves. He’s always giving our staff, members, and customers great advice for making the most of their co-op purchases. We asked Chrisso to give us a taste of what he’ll be teaching in his upcoming Coyote Kitchen workshop this Fall.

Coyote Kitchen Watermelon Rind Pickels 

by: Chrisso Babcock

-Organic Watermelon

-Real Salt, or any high quality unrefined sea salt

-Jars, preferably mason jars

-Optional– Beet, Onion, Garlic

These are a favorite of mine, and in my opinion only worth making with organic watermelons. So, nows the time! When you eat your watermelon, save the rinds; you can keep them in the fridge for a day or so. Alternately, when you cut open your watermelon, you can process it entirely, separating and saving all the fruit in the fridge and prepping the rinds right away.

When making Lacto-fermented pickles like these, there is no need to sterilize the jars, can them, etc. It is enough to work with a very clean working surface, very clean hands, and very clean jars.

1. To prep the rinds, put them on their side and cut away any pink fruit left on the inside, and cut away the dark green outside skin. You are left with a thin green rind. Shapes will vary depending on how you cut and ate your watermelon.

2. Put the rinds in a jar. A quart jar or two will probably do unless you are making a lot.

3. In a separate jar, make a 4% salt brine. This is a very useful salt brine for all sorts of lacto-fermentation / pickling — I especially love to pickle Daikon in this same brine. The brine is made up of 2 Tbsps of salt per quart of water. Make a quart of Brine. Using room temperature water is fine — vigorous stirring or shaking will break down the salt quickly into the water.

4. Pour the brine into the jar with the rinds, taking care to fully cover all the rinds. Leave a little airspace at the top, say half an inch.

5. Optional — Cut a round of onion or beet to fit the top of your jar and hold all the rinds under the surface of the water. Beet will have the added advantage of turning your pickles a lovely pink shade. You can add other spices, like whole garlic cloves, or mustard seeds — but i recommend making a plain batch first to taste the watermelon rind in its simplest form.

6. Place the lid on the jars, tightening just slightly so that air pressure can still escape. Place the jar or jars on a plate (as they are likely to bubble and leak) and leave them on your counter at room temperature for 2-3 days. They will bubble and start to smell like a classic sour pickle. At this point they are ready to transfer into the fridge. They can be capped more tightly and they will keep for 3-6 months.

To sign up for Coyote Kitchen’s workshop:

The sign up for Homesteader’s Kitchen Intensive is through SUNY Ulster. You can sign up over the phone by calling 845-339-2025, or you can register online at www.sunyulster.edu/ce. For online registration, click the link and choose the Register and Pay tab, and then type “homesteader” into the class title box.

Dates:

9am-12pm, Saturday Mornings, 9/17, 10/15 & 11/19

Location:

Stone Ridge Campus (Kelder building)

Tuition: $189

Material fee: $50, payable in class

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Flowers can be a great addition to any tablescape or household. A little bit of beauty to dazzle the senses and lift the spirit. At High Falls Food Co-op, we are proud to offer lovingly grown, fresh cut flowers from Stars of the Meadow, an organic flower farm (located just seven miles from our door) in Accord, NY. Marybeth Wehrung is the owner and farmer at Stars of the Meadow. We sat down with her to talk inspiration, motivation, and to get some flower education.

Marybeth Wehrung began her farming career as part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) group, specializing in medicinal herbs called Wild Wind Herbal.  During her time with Wild Wind Herbal, Marybeth began growing flowers as a hobby alongside the medicinal plants. “It went well,” she says, “So well that I decided to start selling the flowers at High Falls Food Co-op as Stars of the Meadow. That was 2012.” As more and more of the flowers she planted bloomed, so did Marybeth’s love for that work. “I found myself drawn to the flowers. I decided to put all of my energy there.”

“The success I had selling flowers at the co-op helped me expand my flower business. High Falls Food Co-op truly supported me. They truly support local farmers.” We are so happy we were able to help. Over the past four years, Stars of the Meadow has grown to be a successful, admirable, sustainable local business.

We asked Marybeth how she first found the High Falls Food Co-op. “Well, years ago, I was visiting a friend living in Rosendale. I was based in New Paltz at the time, and becoming more and more interested in healthy eating. Discussing this, my friend showed me her pantry… Bulk peanut butter… WHOA!  If that weren’t enough, she fed me popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast. I had to learn more. I had to visit this place with all of this wonderful food. The rest is history.”

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One of the things Marybeth loved about the co-op was that the fact that we offered a large selection of locally grown food. “It’s important to choose to buy local flowers, just as it is local food. The global floral industry has a large amount of problems. From human rights issues, to transportation— which consumes huge amounts of fossil fuels.” She adds, “Supporting local businesses that use organic practices, simply put, conserves resources and land. Plus, local flowers supply insects with nectar. Our pollinators love that.”

We adore Marybeth and all of her flowers, but we had to ask, which flower is her favorite. “New ones! Flowers I haven’t yet seen! Though, I do have a special place in my heart for dahlias. I’m always looking to expand my crop. This year I’m growing lots of scabiosa. There are a million varieties of flowers. There is no end to discovering favorites.” She continues about her botanical love, “I’ve always been fascinated by plants. When people come into the presence of flowers something energetic happens that transforms them. It happens to me, too. As some would say, ‘As I grow the flowers, the flowers are growing me’.”

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Field season for Stars of the Meadow is May to October. Bouquets are available at High Falls Food Co-op, as well as other local farm stands and flower shops. For large orders or special events, contact Marybeth at Stars of the Meadow directly. Treat yourself to a bit of beauty while supporting local farming. Thank you Marybeth for your work with flowers. Thank you Marybeth for your work in this community.

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On July 13, Bill S764, commonly known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, passed the Senate, the second of both houses of congress.  This is now on its way to the desk of President Obama who is, reportedly, in favor of signing it into law.  August 8 is the cut-off for public comment, including petition signatures and voice messages.

Heralded as a great achievement on the part of the Agri- and Biotech industries, this bill puts into “code” any ingredients which have been genetically modified. It is recognized in the halls of Congress to be the universal GMO labeling a majority of consumers have been asking for!  However, verification can only be made through electronic process with online devices, and does not contain the level transparency we have been demanding.

But the greatest ill to this would-be law is that it contains language which would negate current state laws that make GMO labeling mandatory, as well as prevent any state from passing new requirements for labeling.

You can call the White House:
202 456-1111

AND

Go to:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/veto-dark-act-s764

to sign the petition for the President’s veto of S764!

For further information on the movement to label GMOs, you can access the following pages on Facebook:

Organic Consumers Association

Just Label It

GMO Inside

Institute for Responsible Technology

Thank you for all you do, and thank you for lending your attention to this important issue. As we forward this to our members, we’d like to note that High Falls Food Co-Op never shares or sells email addresses or personal information.

Sincerely,

High Falls Food Co-op

 

**********UPDATE:

Here is a portion of an email sent by We the People from the White House staff: ” The legislation provides flexibility for companies to choose from the following options:

A text statement or symbol directly on the food packaging itself indicating bioengineered ingredients
A digital QR (Quick Response) code that customers can scan with their smartphone if they want to learn about bioengineered ingredients
Smaller companies could also offer a phone number or URL on the package that consumers can access for more info

Before the new disclosure program is put in place, the law calls for a study to be conducted to assess whether challenges exist related to consumers’ access to electronic disclosures. If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determines that consumers would not have sufficient access to the information, the bill directs USDA to provide for alternative methods of disclosure. USDA will do everything possible to ensure that the program provides information in an equitable way” How the study is to be conducted is not specified, however!

HFFC's Paul Tobin holding court over High Meadow's second grade class, photo: Ilona Ross

HFFC’s Paul Tobin holding court over High Meadow’s second grade class, photo: Ilona Ross

There’s nothing unusual about bringing a shopping list to the grocery store and planning menus for your new restaurant – unless you’re eight years old. Each year, the High Meadow School in Stone Ridge assigns its second graders the class project of starting a restaurant, and this year, the students came to the High Falls Food Co-op armed with their recipes and list of ingredients. They asked questions of the staff, they looked through the produce and dry goods, they took a tour of the basement storage area, and they bought what they needed for their new restaurant.

Under discussion, and new information to even some of the parents who chaperoned the outing, was how a co-operative differs from a regular grocery store and whether it’s fun to work at a co-op.

Grocery Manager, Kenny Rowe, and General Manager, Jodi Fogel, lead High Meadow kids on a stock tour, photo: Ilona Ross

Grocery Manager, Kenny Rowe, and General Manager, Jodi Fogel, lead High Meadow kids on a stock tour, photo: Ilona Ross

Transmitting to the next generation the importance of healthy food is very important, said General Manager Jodi Fogel. “It was exciting to see all these kids here at the coop. I feel extremely fortunate that at some time in my life I was exposed to health food, and as a result the quality of my life is a lot better. My relationship with food has determined the quality of my health.”

The perspective of these second-graders may be a little more near term. “They wanted to see how we buy food. We explained about deliveries coming in, we talked about ordering,” said Jodi. There was also some discussion about the differences between the co-op and larger chains such as Hannaford’s or Shoprite.

Second grade teacher Joanna Shaw said the idea was for the children to incorporate local ingredients into their final menu and to be more involved with the local community. “We thought what better places than the High Falls Food Co-op. I have a personal connection because I worked there when I was younger and Marybeth [Wehrung, who also teaches second grade] was on the board.”

"Let me tell you another one..." Paul Tobin and the kids of High Meadow School, photo: Ilona Ross

“Let me tell you another one…” Paul Tobin and the kids of High Meadow School, photo: Ilona Ross

 

story by: Ilona Ross

Ralph Sweson Jr. and Becky Swenson, photo: Ilona Ross

Ralph Sweson Jr. and Becky Swenson, photo: Ilona Ross

Ralph Swenson Jr. is a farmer with a conscience.

He objects when companies play on the organic label to jack up prices. ”The high costs just aren’t warranted,” he says. Organic farming has some added costs, Swenson acknowledges, but there are also many costs that are not there that some companies try to pass along anyway.

Although the Swenson farm is not certified, commercial pesticides haven’t touched his land for decades.  Any fertilizer applied to the silty, sandy, well-draining loam consists of chicken manure, composted horse manure, and fish emulsion.

Ralph, Becky, and Mary Swenson, photo: Ilona Ross

Ralph, Becky, and Mary Swenson, photo: Ilona Ross

Ralph Jr.’s parents, Ralph and Mary, were among the original group that started the High Falls Food Co-op. His father was a science teacher at the Rondout Valley High School. Mary, who will turn 90 in September, still drives the truck to the co-op for the Tuesday delivery.

Ralph Jr.’s introduction to organic growing took place when he helped out on the farm during summer vacations. At the time, back in the early 60s, the Swensons were the only organic producers around, and they grew whatever people wanted. ”Someone would say, ‘How about okra,’ so he’d grow okra.”

The Swenson farm, located in Accord, NY, is proof that a lot of land is not a prerequisite for crop abundance. They grow on only one acre, and with that one acre they are able to sell four harvests of lettuce to the co-op.

“Eventually I’ll grow everything in greenhouses,” he said, with shade cloth and plastic. “The end product is better and it’s less work. We have an underground irrigation system.”

If you’re familiar with Ralph Swenson Jr.’s name it’s because he’s Kingston City Engineer, and he is often in the news as he oversees work on the city’s aging infrastructure. His wife, Becky, teaches American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at SUNY New Paltz. In June she’s taking a group of students to Ethiopia under the auspices of Visions Global Empowerment for two weeks of working with the deaf.

The Accord farm is well-guarded by 5 ½ year old Elliott, the Swensons’ Majestic Treehound, half bloodhound and half black and tan coon hound, who eats ears of corn and “anything crunchy,” said Becky.

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Ralph Swenson Jr. and Becky Swenson on their farm, photo: Ilona Ross

 

story by: Ilona Ross

High Falls Food Co-Op

Welcome to the High Falls Food Co-Op blog. For forty years, our little co-op has been nourishing the Hudson Valley with the best local, organic, sustainable food we can provide. Connecting with our community has been one of the core values that has allowed this organization to flourish for four decades strong. It is our hope that with this new blog platform, High Falls Food Co-Op can continue to strengthen the bond that we have with our neighbors, friends, co-op members, and visitors. We’ll be sharing product/vendor information, recipes from our co-op members and talented staff, local as well as global food news, and details on all of our in-house events. Please join us as we dive deeper into the digital age. 

From it’s beginnings in 1976, the High Falls Food Co-operative has taken the position that a healthy food supply for the community is paramount priority.

By the early 1990s, two factors had developed within our national food system which changed the discussion for food safety: the introduction of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) into major crops and conventional dairy; and the authority over organic certification by the USDA.

This co-op has endeavored to keep GMOs off the shelves for decades, both by pre-screening products and through your feedback and suggestions.

Although part of our mission is to remain non-partisan (non-political), our continued concerns regarding environmental influences have lead the Board of Directors, on behalf of the membership, to “break silence” on the issues of hydraulic fracturing and, most recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both of these issues are clear threats to the environments from which we produce our healthy crops, livestock and food products. Our BOD voted, unanimously, to participate in the dissemination of information on these topics to protect our tradition of “food democracy”.

Together we are the local community, and our voices joined in a timely manner is critical. The TPP trade agreement is scheduled to be “Fast Tracked” through Congress and adopted in October of this year.

CALL TO ACTION

Please help by further informing yourselves and others through the links below,
www.flushthetpp.org
www.clearstreammedia.blogspot.com
http://stoptpp.org

on Facebook:
TPP March on the Media Stop the Corporate Global Coup!

Then sign the petition at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/congress-dont-renew-fast

Finally, call these federal representatives and tell them “No Fast Track for the TPP”:

Sen. Schumer: 518 431-4070
Sen. Gillibrand: 518 431-0120
Rep. Gibson: 845 514-2322

Here’s to good food and a safer environment for all life!