February~March 2009

Volume 25, Issue 2
The FireStarter

What Does It Mean To Be A Co-op ?

~by Mary Vaughn

Some of you may not know what a 'co-op' is; how we are different from a 'buying club' or discount store, or even a health food store. And it’s really fun to know what a difference it makes to be a co-op!

A co-op, or cooperative for long, is actually guided by an internationally accepted set of Values and Principles. "Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others." (1) Not your average retail store.

The 1st, 2nd and 4th Principles are about voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, and autonomy and independence. This means the store's primary users are its owners and the vision and goals are determined by the needs of its members. A Board of Directors is elected by the Membership, to represent them in establishing policies related to decisions made by democratic vote; one member, one vote. That’s why we (the Board) are always asking for your input on decisions we are making, in addition to participation at the annual Membership meeting (generally held in the Spring) regarding changes to policy and/or by-laws. The store's overall goal is to meet the needs of the people who use it.

The 3rd principle is Member economic participation, requiring owner capital to maintain and expand business operations. Our Co-op still asks only $50.00 for a lifetime membership, or $10.00/yr. until you meet the $50.00 maximum. In exchange Members receive a 5% discount on most items in the store. Members can earn up to a 25% discount by volunteering 4hrs/5%/month. What a deal!

Most co-ops these days no longer have such a comprehensive discount. They utilize a variety of other methods to share returns with its members, either in the form of Member Specials, and cash refunds, along with improved product lines, services or investments, such as building improvements. In any case the profits of the co-op benefit its members in return for their investment. Imagine if oil companies were owned cooperatively, where managers could not manipulate prices to increase profits at the Members expense!

Cooperatives work very hard to provide their members with the lowest prices, while maintaining sound business practices. By their nature Cooperatives are counter-inflationary, and the profit stays local! Wouldn’t it be nice if all basic services were run cooperatively?!

The 5th, 6th and 7th Principles are education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for the community. Many people are looking to take more responsibility and control of their health, and are interested in alternatives to traditional medicine to address illness. They often come in the store knowing a little about these things, and they can find more about what they need and want through the help of our staff and resources.

In addition, cooperatives are a "...resource for food-related information--how food production affects people, farmers, the community and the environment.... Natural food co-ops carry the widest selection of organic products because they taste better, retain more nutrients, and promote a healthier ecosystem than conventionally grown foods.... Supporting local food and local communities is at the heart of most (and our own) missions.... Consequently, natural food co-ops have proven to be powerful economic forces within their communities."(2)

"Higher prices (do) make organic food sales vulnerable in a recession.., (but) organic remains an area of growth...gaining public support for its health components, its contributions to local food security, and its comparative reduction in carbon emissions....” (3)

Finally (as stated by Jerry Voorhis, a co-op elder at the annual meeting of Associate Cooperatives in Berkley, CA in 1983, and still appropriate today), "We are face to face with the absolute necessity of changing our lifestyles to more simple ones, and concerning ourselves as never before (with) the welfare of all people, not just our own satisfactions..; that cooperation and concern for one another are no longer simply fine ideals but the moral and practical imperative for survival.... The alternative is economic and social cooperation." (4)

Cooperatives represent a sustainable economic model, as we move into unstable times. Isn’t it exciting to know that we have our own cooperative here in our little community; that has withstood the test of 32 years and only wants to know how it can serve you, its Members, in order to be of service through the years ahead?

References: (1) Challenges to the Cooperative Board of Directors, Published by Cooperative Grocer, 11/96; (2) Food Co-op Backrounder from National Coop Grocers Association Coop Advantage Media Kit, from their web site: www.ncga.coop, Jan. 2009; (3) Mobilizing for Organics and Conservation, by Dave Gutknecht, and (4) Helping Guide America into the New Age, Jerry Voorhis’ 1983 challenge to the cooperative movement, by Jerry Voorhis, both from Cooperative Grocer, Jan-Feb, 2009.

Vision and Mission Statements

~adopted by the Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op Board of Directors in November, 2006

OUR VISION IS for the Co-op to be:

OUR MISSION as a cooperative natural foods market is to continue to be:

Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op Deli

Deli window open 11-2 Monday through Saturday
For fast service, call between 9-1 to have your lunch ready for pick-up anytime after 11

*** NEW MENU items ***
Panini Sandwiches, Specialty Sandwiches on Dave’s Killer Organic Bread,
Salads, Garlic Cheese Bread, and more

Sandwiches made-to-order or grab-&-go from the refrigerated case.
Hot Entrees Mon-Fri * Hot Soup Mon-Sat * Homemade baked goods daily

We use all natural ingredients – organic when possible – to create delicious and good-for-you food

Spring Auction

~by Barb Millner

Are you wondering what would be a good way to celebrate the lengthening daylight, the snow piles melting, and the return of the robin? Come to the Co-op's Spring Auction at the Tonasket Community Cultural Center on March 7th.

There will be a wonderful vegan/vegetarian/meat lasagna dinner with salad and garlic bread for only $7, with lots of yummy desserts available by donation, and good music and a lively and fun auction.

The doors open at 4:30pm with music, a silent auction, and a preview of the live auction items. Dinner will be from 5:00 until 6:30, and then the live auction will begin at 7:00, continuing til 8:30.

Many items and services will be offered--such as a Seahawks package, a gift certificate for a stay at Canaan Guest Ranch, massage therapy, soil analysis, and a movie night package. (This is only a very small sample of the offerings available to bid on. See more online now and come when the doors open so you can check it all out! )

This promises to be a great time to get out of the house, shake off those Winter blues, see your friends and neighbors, and get a present for yourself while benefitting our Co-op. The funds raised will go toward much-needed improvements to our store.

It's still not too late to donate or volunteer. If you have an item or service you would like to donate, please contact Loreen at 486-2769. If you have time to help during the auction and want to be a part of the fun, please contact Marion at 486-1350. Come and welcome Spring. See you there!

Calling All Members

~by Barb Millner

Many things are happening at the Co-op. The painting on the upper windows of the store has been removed, letting in the light and giving the place a lighter, fresher appearance. The old cooler has been removed, and plans are being drawn up for the new kitchen. A group of volunteers has even cleaned up the Co-op basement!

It's an exciting time for us! The Fundraising Committee has been exploring different grants available and will be applying for those which our Co-op can qualify. Our Auction Committee is planning for the Spring Auction, which will be on March 7th, at the CCC.

I realize that I'm a very new Co-op member, and that many of you have been volunteering at the Co-op for years. Thank you to those members who have given of their time and talents over the years to make the Co-op what it is today. What about you newer members? I know you're out there. Although I've only lived here for two years, by volunteering at the Co-op and joining the Board I feel a part of the community.

I think of our Co-op as a rare gift. There are many natural food stores throughout this state. There were two such stores where I moved from, but they weren't co-ops, and I think that makes a big difference. Now I can not only purchase good, nutritious food, but feel a part of the larger community and have fun while I'm doing it. I feel very fortunate for all the new friends I've made through the Co-op.

Do you have a vision of what you'd like to see happen with our Coop? Do you have a skill that you could offer? If you have ideas and opinions, now is the time to let your voices be heard. Come to a Board meeting. Volunteer on a committee. Stop into the store and ask what's needed. Get involved. Remember, it's YOUR Co-op!

The Cooler

~by Mary Vaughn

Bob and Jane Thompson and a crew of volunteers did a really nice job of removing The Old Cooler January 20-21st. Farewell to a treasured element which lent it’s wonderful character to the Co-op. Our humble thank you to Bob and Jane, Peter James, Jere and Marion Shaub, Jim Wells, Rob Thompson, and Greg McGriff.

There was a flurry of discussion of what to do next, exploring the idea of moving the kitchen to the area where the cooler was (see the floor plan created by Bob on the door of the Basement.) The cost was eventually determined to be out of reach at this time, as we may need a new exhaust hood, as well as cabinets and there are more pressing needs at this time. So the remodel of the kitchen has been postponed while the fundraising for it continues.

In the meantime, Bob and Jane will work with volunteers the week of February 16 to make the space useable for retail. If needed, monthly events will be scheduled to complete an overall cleaning/painting of the store, which is long overdue. Many hands make light work, so please come join us in if you have some time!

Suggestions are also welcome on how you’d like to see the store look. With that cooler gone, what kind of character do you want the store to have? You can put suggestions in the Suggestion Bowl, speak with Alice our manager, or with Board members Peter James or Mary Vaughn.

Free Co-op Memorabilia !

~by Mary Vaughn

The basement was cleaned of its fascinating (but no longer usable) plenty-of-stuff during January by our courageous Board. There is an interesting collection of things, still usable to others, in the basement; and useable wood n’ things outside the new storeroom.

Please peruse these vintage pieces and take anything you want that you can make a home for--the rest will have to go to the dump at the end of February.

A resolution passed by the Berkeley City Council:

If it can’t be Reduced, Reused, Repaired,
Rebuilt, Refurbished, Refinished,
Resold, Recycled, or Composted, Then it should be
Restricted, Redesigned, or Removed from production.

Something to Think About

~from the Recycling Chick

Hankies vs tissues:
"It turns out that the paper industry-disposable tissues included-destroys acres of ecologically diverse forests to obtain virgin pulp, making it one of the worst global-warming offenders. Try an organic cotton hankie from hankettes.com" -- Source: Body+Soul magazine January/February 2009, issue #33.

Wondering what to do with those big plastic containers (yoghurt tub)? Fill them with burnt out CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs), label, and close tightly. This way they can safely await your next trip to Home Depot, where you can deposit them for recycle.

Where to recycle cell phones:

It is a fact: A full 99 percent of cell phones sent for recycling still contain personal data! Take the 60 seconds to figure out how to do a proper factory reset/hard reset on your phone, remove memory and/or SIM cards, check to make sure everything has been wiped and then send your cleaned-out handset to the next person.
For more information check my source: http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/118074

Have you seen the new Recycling Resources brochure? View the new one, available at the front counter of the Coop; take a copy home if you like.

Mark your calendars for the 2nd Annual Green Okanogan Conference – focus on Recycling – April 18 and 19th at the CCC. See you there!

Do you need a little something special for your Valentine?
Check out the special Chocolate Bar trio – all ready in a gift bag for your giving convenience.
A sweet treat for your sweetie !!!

Do you know about Coop Gift Cards ?

~by Loreen M. Felstet

Yep, it's true--the Coop has Gift Cards! No, I am not talking about greeting cards (though we do have a terrific selection of greeting cards on recycled stock...) I am referring to the credit-card-style Gift Card, which is only good for shopping at the Tonasket Natural Foods Coop. What could be better?

You might have already seen these white cards with a red gift bow and our name on the front--they are located just in front of the scale at the front counter. The card is easily activated by the cashier, plus these cards have the best features possible:

When using the card, it will swipe just like any pre-paid credit card to pay for your Co-op purchases. The cards can also be recharged and used again and again, so don't throw it away when you use up the funds. Hmmm, you could even use this card as a tool to manage your monthly food budget.

So if you are looking for the Perfect Gift to fit anyone on your list, your Co-op has the answer!

Catching Up With Our THANK YOU Notes

~by Loreen M. Felstet

WOW, we have many things to be thankful for this month!
First we thank the Okanogan Community Consciousness Fund (OCCF) for granting us a loan for $4,000 to use toward the purchase of our new freezer! This has allowed the wheels to be set into motion; the new freezer is on its way and should be making lots of wonderful frozen foods available to you in the store by the end of this month. Watch the space next to the produce cooler for this much-needed equipment upgrade - a 3-door, 72-cubic-foot, glass Display Merchandiser! Can I say "WOW" again?

We graciously thank Frontier Foods in Oroville for kindly allowing us the use of their ice cream freezer, which is the Blue Bunny freezer you have been using in the Garden Room since December 5th! This made for quite a conversation piece and creative way to get us by while we got the ducks in a line for the GDM-72F announced above.

Thank you to fellow member Robbie Thompson for the beautiful painting which hangs above the entrance of the Garden Room--it fits the Garden Room like it was specially made to go there. Thank you Rob for adding the incredibly-reinforced handrail, making the manager’s office stairway safer. Plus, we also have Rob to thank for the ever-changing photography displayed in the Garden Room of various members of our community. It is really a treat to check to see whose familiar, happy, smiling faces we might find! What a great way to personalize the Garden Room!!!

There is a new Bulletin Board hanging on the door to the basement thanks to Marion Shaub, mark that off our list. This is where you can find a copy of the most current board meeting minutes, the new Design and Expansion Committee's plans for the kitchen remodel and 2nd bathroom addition, and other miscellaneous items of interest. Check it out!

Jeremy, The Sign Guy we thank for the wonderful banner he made for the front of the store which announces the Auction on March 7th. Thanks, also, for the advertising research he provided toward the store's advertising and marketing plans.

Thanks to Sandra Gleason and Peter James, the Board of Directors now has a computer in the basement office to work on Board business – yahoo! Sandra took the time to specially build us a computer and Peter loaded it up with software. We are fortunate to have such talented folks in our midst!

Now you can check out www.TonasketCoop.com thanks to Patrice, aka web'trice, our webtech. Visit the site when you get a chance and give us some feedback on what you see there. Our website will also be a great way to find out store news and specials, keep in contact with the Manager or the Board of Directors, and to submit articles for future issues of the FireStarter, plus you can view an electronic version of the FireStarter. Eww, that is one more check off the BOD's Dreams for 2009! Patrice also waved her magic wand so that when the Directors or Management sends an email from their respective accounts, these emails will all be from the @TonasketCoop.com address, allowing us to keep our business consistent and creating an electronic paper trail for the future Directors benefit.

Thank you to the Tonasket Chamber of Commerce for including us in their recent Banquet Auction as well as their listing in the local publication, Okanogan County 2009 InfoBook as current Chamber Members. Though they listed us as the Okanogan River Natural Foods Co-op, the additional advertising is always appreciated.

Thanks to the people who survived the basement cleaning: Mary Vaughn, Peter James, Jere and Marion Shaub, Julie Greenwood, Alice Simon, Sandra Gleason, Cindy Benitez, . Jere already took a few items to the dump for us, too. The clean-up was a huge success!

Thanks to Celia DeGraff at North Valley Hospital who gathered items from us for a Healthy Food Basket, one of 4 prizes which are part of their "Go Red For Women", a campaign against heart disease, which also coincides with February being Heart Health Month. Visit the Tonasket or Oroville Family Medical Clinic throughout the month to be entered into this promotional drawing.

A huge thank you to all of you who have so generously donated such a variety of interesting, unique, and high-quality items for our Auction on March 7th; we will be able to again honor these people when we turn out to bid on these incredible items. Get ready to sharpen your pencils folks--there will be some very special, one-of-a-kind finds!

My sincere apologies if I overlooked you in these thanks, it sure has been a blessed month!


The Co-op News is published as a service to the members of the Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op.
Typesetting and layout by Loreen Felstet; Online version layout by web'trice

Letters and articles are welcome from members. Deadline for articles is the 24th of each month. To ensure consideration of submission, please email to .

Views expressed in The FireStarter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the co-op management, directors, or membership. Acceptance of advertising does not indicate endorsement by the Co-op of the product or service offered.