Summer 2012

Volume 28, Issue 2

The FireStarter

What’s Been Happening Lately at the Co-op?

~by Alice Simon, Store Manager

So much time has passed since the last updates but it is surprisingly easy to know where to begin. Let us start with our beautiful new produce case! After months of deliberations and consultations we decided to purchase a new Hill – Phoenix produce display case. This was badly needed. Our old case served us well over many years but was a merchandising nightmare and was always a challenge for temperature control. The new case was purchased using Improvement Fund money.

The Improvement Fund consists of grant money from the Okanogan Family Faire, donations from members, money we raise at fundraising events such as auctions, and the store contribution, which is a half percent of net sales each month. Thank you to all who contribute to the Fund and a big thank you to the wonderful volunteers who helped with all the logistics and moving involved.

Our new case is not only beautiful but very functional as well. It has a built in watering hose to keep all the greens fresh and hydrated. Additionally it has a handy “night curtain” that pulls down to enclose the entire case over night retaining moisture and temperature which in turn extends shelf life of the produce.

This new case is a joy to work with and has provided us a new world of merchandising possibilities. We are now able to display juices, tofu products, and refrigerated dressing alongside the produce. We hope to have many years of enjoyment and service from this case. Please be sure to check out the fresh and colorful displays when you are in the store.

Our old produce case was sold to Smallwoods Farm Fruit Stand in Okanogan. We were delighted to find a new home for it in a fruit stand setting as that is a good use for that type of case. All proceeds from the sale have been added to the Improvement Fund.

We are awaiting energy rebates for the produce case as well. We applied for and were approved to receive these because of the energy efficiency of the new case. These rebates will also be added to the Improvement Fund.

Our next urgent project is the installation of heating and air-conditioning. In the interest of safety, a clean environment both in the store and outside, and regulated temperature for efficient operation of the refrigeration equipment it is past time to replace the old wood stove and swamp cooler with a clean and energy efficient system. We are currently obtaining bids for the work and planning a fund-raising event in September to help with the costs.

Please consider supporting the Improvement Fund to assist us in pursuing these necessary projects. The Co-op has a long history of extreme financial struggle and because of this has long neglected the infrastructure of the facility. Over the past few years we have worked long and hard to improve the store’s financial footing and address the infrastructure issues. We have made excellent progress improving finances and the infrastructure but we still have much more work to be done in both areas.

Financially we need to ensure that we continue to grow the membership and customer base for long-term sales growth. Structurally the building has many areas to be addressed, including the heating/cooling system, renovation of the store-front windows that are a huge source of heat loss in the and heat gain in the summer, the wiring, and floor replacement. Your contributions to the Improvement Fund can go a long way to help ensure the health of our Co-op. We have been here for over 30 years and we want to know that our Co-op can be here and thriving for generations to come. Any contribution, in any amount to the Improvement Fund is of great value to the Co-op. This is how we can all work together to keep the Co-op well for years to come.

In other news, the Co-op membership is growing at an excellent pace In 2011 we added over 180 new members and had over 160 renewing members. The membership so far in 2012 is growing at a faster pace than the corresponding time period in 2011. Many new residents are joining as well as long time residents that had not previously considered membership. Remember the Co-op is a local business supporting other local businesses/farms and employing local residents. We thank all members, new and not so new, for your continued support.

Looking ahead The Co-op will host two very special events in September so mark your calendars.

On September 22nd we will celebrate the 2nd annual Playing for Change Day! This event will feature live music as well as a showing of Playing for Change--Live and Playing for Change 2. Dinner is included. This will be a fun and inspiring event for the whole family. Local musicians please contact Alice to help us make this a memorable event. Find out more about Playing for Change at

On September 29th we will hold a benefit auction to contribute to the Co-op’s Improvement Fund. We ask that our members and all in the community join us to help raise funds to install a heating and air-conditioning system to improve our facility. This will be a special event with Auctioneer Rich Fewkes, silent, live, and dessert auctions.

Everyone, please consider donating merchandise, a valued service, or a well loved special item to make this the best auction ever. Smaller items can be brought to the Co-op at anytime – large items can be brought to the CCC on the 29th. Buffalo will be coordinating a great dinner for this event.

Volunteers will be needed for both events to make them a success – please consider volunteering for one or both events. Contact Alice at the Co-op. All of you wonderful bakers we will need your special baked goods for the dessert auction as well as for dinner service. We would be very appreciative for your delectable desserts!


rBGH – What is it, Who is responsible, What consumers can do to help

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) is a genetically engineered variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. Originally manufactured by Monsanto, it is sold to dairy farmers under the trade name "Posilac".

Injection of the hormone Posilac forces cows to boost milk production by about 10%, while increasing the incidences of mastitis, lameness, and reproductive complications.

After five years of declining sales and several legal setbacks, Monsanto has finally decided to dump rBGH. Thanks to consumer pressure, major retailers, dairies, and cafés, from Kroger to Starbucks, have committed to sourcing milk from rBGH-free cows. Eli Lilly is purchasing Posilac from Monsanto and will inherit the product's problems.

Several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the European Union have banned rbGH because of its impacts on human and animal health.

Organic Consumer’s Association’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign has generated over a quarter million emails and petition signatures on the topic of rBGH, helping make rBGH one of the most controversial food products in the world.

For more information on the hormone and what you can do to make a change log on to

Don’t Let Organic Food be Corrupted
with Suspect Synthetic Ingredients,
Biased Science, and Corporate Influence

Take Action--Help Save Organic Standards

Consumers rightly expect high standards for organic food when they pay premium prices for organic products. Yet increasingly, corporate influence is corrupting the management of the USDA’s organic program and the National Organic Standards Board.

An unseemly alliance between corporate agribusiness and the USDA has resulted in a growing number of dangerous chemicals being allowed in organic farming and food processing.

The USDA, under President Bush, and now under the Obama administration, has stacked the governing body of organics, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), with corporate representatives (despite the fact that Congress set aside the majority of seats specifically for consumers, farmers and other independent organic community members).

Not being a scientific body the NOSB has depended on, theoretically, in-dependent scientific experts to advise it. Now investigations have found that the scientists advising the board ….are frequently corporate employees or consultants too!

The public needs to help amplify the call for careful scrutiny of all synthetics in organics, a credible and independent scientific review process, and a legally-mandated diverse NOSB membership that truly reflects the composition of the organic community--as Congress intended.

And if concerns about synthetics in organic food is not enough to motivate people to take action, how about "organic" livestock, like laying hens, that spend their lives confined in giant buildings?

The USDA is letting corporate agribusiness get away with murder even though the law requires outdoor access. And now, a totally inadequate proposal comes out of the NOSB to provide the birds with a measly 2 ft.² of outdoor space. Only a lobbyist would love this solution--certainly not a laying hen!

Concerned people are urged to write letters (see USDA contact page) and demand the following from the USDA:

Ethical organic farmers, and their processing partners, need your support more than ever. And your family deserves authentic organic food! Don’t let powerful corporations acting recklessly in their short-sighted pursuit of profit, in concert with a frequently indifferent USDA, ruin organics.

Together we can stand in support of an organic label we can all believe in.

Letter to the Membership from Rob Thompson

~a Co-op Board Member

What is the Co-op? What do we want the Co-op to be?  Because we are a member-owned enterprise, we actually have some say over how and what we do at the Co-op. It affords us opportunity and requires from us responsibility.

If we truly try to be responsible in our daily lives, we think about what we do, and how our actions affect others and our world. We have power as human beings, as parents, as consumers and as members of The Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op.

As more of our people moved away from the farm and to the cities we became increasingly separated from the sources of our food. I think of the amusing anecdote of the student when asked, “Where does milk come from?" answers "From the store." Living in suburbia I was in the first ranks of the separated. When I was a child I was a real meat and potatoes guy-only meat and potatoes.  I would never eat anything with weird sounding names like asparagus, casserole, squash – ugh! Gardens in suburbia were rare, but I had a friend who (strangely it seemed to me) was planting seeds. He gave me some, which I planted. After a few weeks, there it was crookneck squash. I had produced something as if by magic. So I chopped it up and boiled it in a little water like my mother suggested. Of course it was great. It wasn’t just that it tasted good, it was that I grew it, it was the magic of how food comes to be, and it was the realization that there were foods other than potatoes and green beans.

As children most of us lived and ate with abandon satisfying our hunger or want. We ate what was set before us and didn't have much say. Then it was on into life as young adults with children, and we began to think about what was important, i.e., wanting to live long and to see our children grow up healthy and happy. "You’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffle." "You are what you eat." Red food dyes #27 and 46 found to be carcinogenic in rats. Yikes! 

In the 70's a community of young people settled in this wonderful Okanogan Valley. We wanted to do it right! So growing and eating “organic” foods made total sense.  Knowing the person growing your food and being able to look them in the eye and ask how they grew the food made sense. The price of food was a constant concern. We formed buying clubs and ordered bulk and divided it up. Then we bought the little natural food store named Connunctio, and we had our own little “hippie” venture, Okanogan River Natural Foods. The store survived for years thanks largely to donations from members, fund raising events and major donations from the Barter Faire. Thanks also to the staff and volunteers of past years who all worked so hard to make the store survive and thrive.

About four years ago we were at the depth of crisis and we hired Alice Simon to manage our store. Under her leadership our store is now on a firm financial footing. It’s bright, it’s clean, it’s alive with activity and with lots of new members. Business is good.

But the Co-op is not just a business. It is a member owned cooperative. We all want the Co-op to exist.  We want a successful business. Do we want anything more?

Our job as board members is to represent the interests of the membership.  You can talk to a board member or drop a suggestion in the box at the front of the store.  If we don't hear anything we will conclude that things are going pretty well.

Thanks for shopping at the Co-op.

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 July 2012, 555 People 'Follow Us' on Facebook! You can, too, at

Okanogan Community Action Council has a 3 minute video you can check out to learn more about them. (As always, being sensitive to dialup users, we won't embed this video--just click the link to go :-) Community Action--Supporting Your Community


The Co-op News is 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 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.