August 2012

Volume 28, Issue 3

The FireStarter

What’s Happening

~by Alice Simon, Store Manager

August is here and it’s time to be thinking about the big events coming up for the Co-op in September. Both events will be held next door at the Community Cultural Center.

Saturday, September 22nd at 5:30 we will participate in the 2nd annual Playing for Change Day. Events are happening all around the world to benefit the Playing for Change Foundation. Our event will be a fun evening for the entire family. It will open with a wonderful Thai dinner, prepared by Heather and Salem Straub with help from the Co-op volunteers.

Enjoy live local music, while dining and then two films beginning at 7:00 – “Playing for Change 2” and “Playing for Change – Live”. There will be a raffle for the benefit of the Playing for Change Foundation. The foundation builds music schools for children in third world countries. Helping to bring peace and understanding through music around the globe. Save the date – you won’t be disappointed!

Saturday, September 29th at 5:30 we will hold an auction to benefit the Co-op’s Improvement Fund. We are asking for member and community support to assist us in the installation of a heating and cooling system for the store. The event will feature a wonderful harvest dinner at 6:00 prepared by Buffalo, live music, silent auction, and live auction beginning at 7:30 with auctioneer Rich Fewkes.

Our Improvement Fund exists to help us pay for large projects to benefit the facility. We recently had to dip into the Fund to partially pay for the purchase of a commercial freezer to replace household freezers that burned out and are no longer approved for use.

All donations and grants the Co-op receives go to the Improvement Fund. You may donate to this at anytime by utilizing the collection jar at the front counter or by sending a check directly to the store earmarking it for the Improvement Fund. You may also ask the cashier to ring any amount you choose into the Fund when you are checking out. Each month the store contributes a percentage of sales to the Fund. The Co-op is for all and we appreciate your support.

As you may imagine it takes a huge effort to put these events on. If you are able to help out we would be most appreciative. We need: kitchen helpers, dishwashers, set-up help, clean-up help, and organizational help for both events. Please see Alice at the store to volunteer your services.

We also need your baked goods to serve at the meals. Please let us know if you will bake for us.

Corporations Sneak Synthetic Preservatives into Organic Food ~
Organic Watchdog Files Formal Legal Complaint with USDA


CORNUCOPIA, WI: The Cornucopia Institute, a not-for-profit policy research organization based in Wisconsin, filed a formal legal complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) against several infant formula manufacturers that are adding two synthetic preservatives to certified organic infant formula.

The Organic Foods Production Act, passed by Congress in 1990, explicitly bans synthetic preservatives in organic food.

“This is another blatant violation of the federal law governing organics by multi-billion dollar corporations that apparently think they can get away with anything,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at The Cornucopia Institute.

The preservatives are beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate, synthetics that are added to infant formula to prevent the oxidation and rancidity of ingredients such as the controversial patented supplements DHA and ARA, manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corporation (Royal DSM) and marketed as Life'sDHA®.

“This is not the first time that the pharmaceutical companies and agribusinesses, that manufacture infant formula, have quietly added to organic formula the same synthetic ingredients that they use in their conventional versions without first seeking the legally required approval for use in organics,” says Vallaeys.

According to The Cornucopia Institute, there have been more than a dozen unapproved synthetic ingredients that have been added to organic infant formula over the past five years. The public interest group has filed numerous legal complaints with the USDA, asking for removal of unapproved synthetic ingredients like the DHA algal oil and ARA fungal oils, manufactured by Martek, which was recently acquired by the Dutch conglomerate Royal DSM.

While the USDA has admitted publicly that these synthetics were added to organics due to an erroneous interpretation by previous USDA leadership, the agency, after being pressured by industry, has refused to take enforcement action and pull the suspect products from store shelves.

The DSM/Martek DHA and ARA oils, labeled on infant formula as “c. cohnii oil” and “m. alpina oil,” have been controversial since the preponderance of scientific published research concluded that they do not benefit infant development. “These ingredients, which now appear to require additional synthetics as preservatives, amount to a gimmicky and risky marketing ploy,” added Vallaeys.

When formula with  Life'sDHA® first came on the market, the FDA received numerous adverse reaction reports from parents and healthcare providers who noted serious gastrointestinal symptoms in babies who had previously tolerated formula without the Martek DHA and ARA oils.

Synthetic beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate, according to the International Formula Council (the industry’s trade-lobby group), contribute no nutritional value to infant formula, but rather serve to prevent oxidation and rancidity.

Organic standards require that a synthetic ingredient cannot qualify for use in organic foods if its primary purpose is as a preservative. The International Formula Council, which is now petitioning the USDA to legalize the use of these synthetic materials in organics, never uses the word "preservative" to describe synthetic beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate. They instead use terms like “antioxidant” to “prevent undesirable oxidation” and “prevent rancidity” in “powder formulations containing DHA and ARA.”

The federal organic standards also require that synthetics be allowed in organic foods only if they are deemed essential.

“The only reason why these two synthetic preservatives are added to infant formula is to prevent the rancidity of some of the other synthetic ingredients that are not essential and have also been added illegally,” says Vallaeys. “This is a slippery slope, and we urge the USDA to take appropriate enforcement action and put an end to the practice of first adding synthetic additives to organic food, including infant formula, and then seeking subsequent approval.”

In its complaint, Cornucopia also asked the USDA to investigate the formula manufacturers’ organic certifying agent, Quality Assurance International (QAI). QAI is one of the largest organic certifying agents, and has come under fire in the past for certifying organic livestock operations that failed to meet the organic standards for animal welfare and outdoor access. QAI has also allowed its clients to add a number of other allegedly illegal synthetic ingredients to organic food and livestock feed.

The Cornucopia Institute refers to QAI as, "the corporate certifier of convenience." “Consumers should be able to trust that the organic label represents foods that are free from unnecessary synthetic ingredients, and they rely on third-party certification by USDA-accredited certifying agents,” says Mark Kastel, Co-director of The Cornucopia Institute.

“But that system breaks down when certifiers like QAI allow their clients to add unreviewed and unapproved synthetic ingredients and when the USDA, when faced with industry pressure, fails to carry out its enforcement duties.”

The Best Pesto You’ll Ever Eat!

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup pine nuts or walnuts (can substitute part sunflower seeds)
4 cups lightly packed basil leaves or a combination of basil and parsley
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup olive oil

Grate the cheese in a food processor, add nuts and grind finely. Add herbs, salt and garlic, puree to a thick paste.
With the machine running, gradually add oil until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Makes about 2 cups. Recipe can be divided for a smaller batch or doubled for a batch large enough to freeze some! Lasts about 6 months in the freezer.

Benefit Auction Do you have a great item to donate?

The Co-op Benefit Auction will be on Saturday, September 29th, at the Community Cultural Center. We need useful goods, valuable services and wonderful, interesting items donated for the auction. It’s a great way to promote your business and services throughout the community, so please consider how you can participate.

Please contact Alice at the store or a board member regarding your donated items. Fabulous desserts will also be auctioned so if you would like to donate a spectacular, yummy dessert please let us know.

Desserts can be brought on the day of the event only. Auction items can be brought to the store. If the item is very large it would be best to bring the day of the event. All items must be clean and ready to be auctioned.

We hope that everyone will come out for this event, have a great time, and give support to the Co-op!

Plastic in 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' Has Increased 100-Fold


An "alarming amount" of plastic is having eco-system-wide effects. Plastic garbage in the ocean has increased 100-fold in the past 40 years and could have ecosystem-wide impacts, according to a study released last spring.

Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography looked at the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG), known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch,’ and found an "alarming amount" of plastic trash, much in small bits.

The plastic trash was leading to an increase in "sea skaters," a marine insect, eggs because the insects were using the increased plastic floating matter as to lay their eggs on. This increase may have widespread impacts across the marine food web.

"This paper shows a dramatic increase in plastic over a relatively short time period and the effect it's having on a common North Pacific Gyre invertebrate," said Scripps graduate student Miriam Goldstein, lead author of the study and chief scientist of SEAPLEX, a UC Ship Funds-supported voyage. "We're seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic."

"Plastic only became widespread in late '40s and early '50s, but now everyone uses it and over a 40-year range we've seen a dramatic increase in ocean plastic," added Goldstein. "Historically we have not been very good at stopping plastic from getting into the ocean so hopefully in the future we can do better."

Co-op Board of Directors meets at the Community Cultural Center on the first Tuesday of each month, beginning at 5:30pm.
The public is welcome to attend.

Co-op "Staff Picks"

We asked staff members to tell us what their favorite Co-op product is, and why – this is what they told us:
With so many terrific store items, we’re guessing that nobody can choose 'just one', and next month we’ll have at least 5 or 6 new “Staff Picks” for you all!

Web Notes

submitted by Patrice, Member and webmonkey

Reminder: The Co-op's website has an online Classifieds section available to all at no charge. Use this web bulletin board for buying, selling, renting, sharing, and promoting your local events. Feel free to browse at

As of August 2012, 563 People 'Follow Us' on Facebook! You can, too, at


The Co-op News is edited by River Jones and published as a service to the members of the Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op.

Letters and articles are welcome from members. Please email your submission for consideration to us at .

Views expressed in The FireStarter are those of the author(s) 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 produce/ service offered.