Winter 2015

Volume 31, Issue 1

Saturday, March 14th we'll do our annual Highway Clean-up on the Co-op's adopted 2-mile section of Hwy 20 outside Tonasket.

We'll meet at 9:00am in the Co-op Garden Room, and carpool out at 9:30.

Please bring a quick and dirty pair of gloves to handle trash; you might also want to bring along water, a hat, and sunscreen. Signage, hard-hats, reflective vests, and trash bags will be provided.

It should only take a couple hours to complete both sides of the roadway--and even less time with more hands! Please join us (and bring your friends) to help do our part cleaning up the roadways and keeping our valley beautiful.

The Co-op will provide lunch following clean-up

New and Noteworthy at the Co-op

Even though the days are short and outside temperatures chilly, our little store is toasty warm thanks to our new front windows! The remodel was largely financed with grant funding and donations to the Co-op Improvement Fund. Simon Construction of Tonasket was hired to do the job, Bob Raymer donated the metal work for the door and Sunny Lanigan painted it. With the new tinted thermal pane windows the store is warmer in winter and will be cooler in the summer, an improvement that will help reduce our energy costs. The old single pane windows were old and inadequate, resulting in condensation, which was in turn causing the sills to rot and caulking to fall out. Without doubt, it was time for an upgrade!

The next project to be tackled will be installing an awning over the front windows and door, which will complete the store’s facelift. The plan is to have it completed some time in the spring.

Our old building has had many improvements over the past several years. Board president, Sunny Lanigan has expressed that to some extent it is due to the business acumen of our General Manager. Under Alice Simon’s supervision, the Co-op has been able to transfer substantial amounts (over and above the monthly percentage) from operations to the Improvement Fund to keep all of our building projects funded and on track to completion. These days the Co-op is also a good place to work; our staff receives an annual cost of living wage increase, end-of-year bonuses and raises. Gradually, under the leadership of Ms. Simon, our store has been able to achieve all of that while showing profit at the end of each year.

The Building Improvement Fund is a reserve of money, governed by the Board of Directors. It consists of grant funds, such as those given by the Okanogan Family Faire, a small percentage of store sales, donations given at the till as well as private donations. This fund was established around 20 years ago and has enabled us to keep the store and fixtures upgraded and functioning properly. So when we donate to this fund at the till we are contributing to the vibrancy of our store – a few pennies can add up to hundreds of dollars at the end of the year!

Finally, we would like to welcome our newest board member, Ricky Foster, voted in at the Annual Membership Meeting in October of 2014. Thanks, Ricky for getting involved in this way!

Thank You, to all the following
End-of-Year Inventory Volunteers

Andrew Norris, Raina Skye,
Ron Jones Edwards,
Pam Gibbons, River Jones,
Barb Milner, Scott Dennis,
Catherine Miller, and Diane McFarland

Confused about egg labels? This information may help!

~Reprinted with permission from

Egg labels can seem inscrutable. NPR’s Anders Kelto consulted with several organizations, including The Cornucopia Institute, to create this useful explanation of what the labels really mean. “Farm fresh” and “all-natural” are meaningless claims, he concludes. Crowing about no hormones or antibiotics is likewise a marketing scheme, considering no poultry can legally be given hormones in the U.S. and laying hens are rarely given antibiotics.

According to the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply, a group that includes commercial egg producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several universities, 95 percent of eggs in the U.S. come from chickens raised in something called battery cages. These cages house anywhere from four to 12 birds, giving each bird roughly 67 square inches of floor. As of this January however, eggs sold in California will have to come from chickens enjoying at least 116 square inches of space. The cages are stacked in long rows, inside massive barns that usually house tens of thousands of birds. They’re typically fed a mixture of corn and feed made from animal byproducts. Commercial egg producers note that this method of production is safe and economical. It’s what keeps egg prices down.

But many animal welfare advocates believe these battery cage facilities are inhumane. “The birds never go outside, are unable to spread their wings, and are essentially immobilized for their entire lives,” says Shapiro. Ethics aside, this is by far the most common method of egg production. So unless a label tells you otherwise, you can assume this is what you’re buying — even if it’s labeled “Farm Fresh” or “All Natural.”

Farm Fresh
What You Might Think It Means: Your friendly local farmer rises at dawn to harvest a dozen (still warm) eggs and puts them into this egg carton, which is rushed to your local store.
What It Actually Means: “It literally means nothing,” says Paul Shapiro, vice president of the Humane Society of the U.S. and an expert on commercial egg production. He says the term is probably meant to conjure up a favorable image in the consumer’s mind, but it has no substance whatsoever.

All Natural
What You Might Think It Means: Chickens eating a “natural” diet and doing what chickens, you know, naturally do.
What It Actually Means: Once again, this phrase has no real meaning. Shapiro says it’s an ironic term, too, “because [conventional chickens] are raised in the least natural conditions imaginable.”

What You Might Think It Means: Chickens happily wandering around a big red barn, pecking at corn kernels on a hay-covered floor — like the feeding farm I used to visit with my grandma.
What It Actually Means: Exactly what it sounds like: The hens don’t live in cages. But they don’t live in bucolic red barns, either. They usually live in aviaries: massive industrial barns that house thousands of birds. Each bird has, on average, one square foot of space. Shapiro and other animal welfare advocates believe cage-free birds are better off than their caged counterparts. “They’re not exactly living on Old McDonald’s farm, but they’re able to walk around, perch, lay their eggs in a nest and spread their wings — all important natural behaviors,” he says. But the science around the health of cage-free birds is less clear. Janice Swanson, an animal scientist at Michigan State University, has been leading a three-year study of egg production techniques. She says cage-free birds have more feathers and stronger bones and exhibit more natural behaviors. But crowded aviaries also come with risks: reduced air quality, and twice the likelihood of dying. Over the course of their three-year study, less than 5% of birds in cages died, compared with more than 11% of cage-free birds. One of the most common causes of death was pecking by other chickens.

No Hormones
What You Might Think It Means: These birds were spared injections of nasty hormones that might cause them to sprout hair in unusual places and render them unhealthful for us to eat.
What It Actually Means: This term is rather misleading, because it’s illegal to give hormones to poultry, and no large-scale farms in the U.S. do so. It’s like putting a label on a cereal box that says, “No toxic waste.”

No Antibiotics
What You Might Think It Means: These birds don’t need antibiotics because they are healthy and clean.
What It Actually Means: Once again, this is a somewhat misleading term, because antibiotics are rarely used in the egg industry, says Shapiro. Chickens that are raised for their meat, on the other hand, do commonly get antibiotics to fend off disease and increase animal growth.

What You Might Think It Means: Hens playfully strolling and tumbling down green hills, home on the range.
What It Actually Means: Free-range means cage-free plus “access to the outdoors.”

But as Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute notes, this “access” typically means a few small doors that lead to a screened-in porch with cement, dirt or a modicum of grass. And often, Kastel says, industrial fans that suck ammonia out of the building create “hurricane winds” through the small doorways, “and the birds don’t really want to walk through that.” Kastel claims that the vast majority of free-range birds in commercial egg facilities never actually go outside. So in most cases, he says, free-range means the same thing as cage-free. Unlike in poultry production, there’s no government oversight of the term “free range” when it comes to eggs, so companies can more or less interpret it as they see fit.

Vegetarian Diet
What You Might Think It Means: Chickens enjoying a salad bar of grass, herbs, Brussels sprouts and kale — you know, their natural diet.
What It Actually Means: This is perhaps the most confusing claim because chickens are not vegetarian. They’re omnivores that, in the wild, get most of their protein from worms, grasshoppers and other insects. Hens that are fed a “vegetarian diet” are probably eating corn fortified with amino acids.

What You Might Think It Means: The hens are fed a more healthful diet, which leads to eggs rich in omega-3 acids, which make me smarter.
What It Actually Means: The hens are probably given a bit of flaxseed mixed in with their corn feed, possibly leading to higher levels of omega-3s in their eggs.

What You Might Think It Means: Chickens dashing between the legs of friendly cows and sheep on a sprawling pasture of peace and harmony.
What It Actually Means: In terms of replicating chickens’ natural environment and way of life, pasture-raised is pretty much the gold standard. Pasture-raised birds spend most of their life outdoors, with a fair amount of space plus access to a barn. Many are able to eat a diet of worms, insects and grass, along with corn feed (which may or may not be organic). That said, Kastel says there is a wide range of “pasture-raised” farms. Some have spacious fields; others are a bit crowded (some farms list the square footage per bird on their carton). Some farms rotate their birds through different pastures to ensure a rich, varied diet; others keep the birds on the same plot of land. Some have trees and bushes, which he says chickens prefer; others are flat, wide-open fields.

Certified Humane/Animal Welfare Approved
What You Might Think It Means: The animals on these farms are treated humanely.
What It Actually Means: What constitutes “humane” treatment is subjective — and a topic of much debate. But the third-party auditing organizations Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and American Humane Certified assess egg farms according to a robust set of animal welfare guidelines.

Local eggs supplied by Raintree Farm, providing discerning shoppers with organic foods for nearly four decades.

The LOCAL Egg Story at the Co-op

Co-op shoppers have the good fortune of access to locally raised, high quality eggs, supplied by Raina Skye and Treebeard of Raintree Farm. Formerly named Windsong Farm, the organic growers have been providing discerning shoppers with organic foods for nearly four decades.

The hens have a large coop that they go into at night, surrounded with a screened-in porch that keeps them safe from wildlife. Sounds like a lovely, country setting!

In the spring and summer the “happy hens” have access to Raintree Farm’s large pasture, living within an electric fenced area for safety. The fence is moveable so that the birds get plenty of range area. In the winter they enjoy three100x40 foot runs.

All feeds are organic; in winter they get alfalfa hay and a high protein100% organic feed. They are never fed hormones or antibiotics.

Raina regularly gives them flax seed mixed in with their feed, which provides high Omega-3.

For summer feed, Raintree farm plants herbs, greens and vegetables for the hens to eat, along with comfrey, which offers a great source of natural calcium.

Another seldom known fact of raising happy hens that Raina shares: “Chickens are social, they like to be tended to, so I go down and visit them 3-4 times a day – fluff up their beds, check their water... just hang out with them.” And if you crack open one of Raintree Farm’s delicious eggs, it’s highly likely that the yolk you see will be as orange as a Halloween pumpkin!

Member Appreciation Day is the 3rd Tuesday of each month.
Members may bulk-order from the UNFI Catalog at 15% above wholesale.
Stock up now!

Fair-Trade Bags and Scarves Available at the Co-op

The Co-op offers a large selection of beautiful cloth bags and scarves, all fair trade and handmade in India.

An artisan cooperative from the Barmer region of Rajasthan, India produces the bags, which are block printed from hand carved wooden blocks. Perfect for shopping or a carryall, they are made from bright, vibrant fabrics, are lined and are 100% cotton. The lovely patterns are inspired by the flora and fauna of the region.

The scarves are produced in Southern India, some have hand crocheted trim and are mostly cotton. Also bright colors and lightweight fabrics, they will make a fine addition to anyone’s spring wardrobe. Treat yourself or a friend today!

• It respects and appreciates the hard work of people • Provides a living wage for marginalized producers • Fair trade is anti-slavery and anti-child labor
• Supports the conservation of the environment
• Empowers women and minorities
• A way of making your voice be heard to demand equal rights worldwide”

Look for the SALES throughout the Co-op, displayed with white shelf tags below the items.

Current Tonasket Co-op Members receive special discounts on these products.

Some are one-time deals, some are monthly sales, and others are introductory promotions.
Price tags show member prices and non-member prices, with the sales being for our Co-op Members only.

Questions About a Product? Ask A Staff Member!

The Co-op staff is often the first to try out the products we sell and generally can give their unbiased opinions. If you want to know the real scoop, ask one of our managers, our Deli staff or cashiers, they’ll likely be able to tell you how something tastes or performs and if not, can assist you in finding out.

Two of the latest favorite products are: Protein Pucks (from Alice Simon) “...comes in two flavors, tastes very good, are gluten free, vegan, moist and filling” and Guayaki Peach Terere Tea Immune Support (Freya Hankins) “...seems to help keep my immune system strong. It has half the caffeine of the other Yerba Maté teas.”

Any other questions? Ask a staff member!

Co-op Board of Directors meets on the THIRD MONDAY of each month, at 6:00 pm . in the North Valley Hospital Board Room in Tonasket, at 126 S Whitcomb, in the Administration Building. (subject to change)


This edition of the Co-op News was 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. Newsletter editors and store management will review all submitted articles to determine suitability for publication.

Co-op Board of Directors:
Sunny Lanigan, Chair
Cassandra Schuler, Vice Chair
Rob Thompson, Treasurer
Ron Jones-Edwards, Secretary
Ricky Foster
Aaron Kester