The FireStarter ~ Spring-Summer 2018

Volume 34, Issue 1

New Item: Morningstar’s Shoots and Microgreens

The Co-op now carries Shoots and Microgreens, locally-grown at RiverSongFarms, owned and operated by Morningstar. Found in the store’s produce case, these greens are the freshest you can bring to your table (besides from your own home-grown garden!) The product is grown using merely the seed-- no fertilizers, and only organically-approved additives on occasion.

The broccoli, red kale, red cabbage, and radish microgreens are hydroponically grown on an organically approved substrate made of wood pulp. There’s absolutely nothing else added, besides well water buffered with some lemon juice,” Morningstar explains, “all the nutrients come from the seeds themselves with the magic of germination.” The growing medium makes them very tidy and easy to harvest in the kitchen – just lift up the entire growing mass, right out of the tray and snip off with a scissors, just above the mat. You can throw the mat in your compost after you’ve used all the greens. Left un-snipped, they should last two weeks in your refrigerator, once cut they can last up to one week.

The pea and sunflower shoots are grown in the same way, but in a small amount of soil rather than the wood pulp substrate. Morningstar cautions, “Don’t remove the whole mass or you could risk getting soil all over. Just carefully snip with your scissors, avoiding the soil.” Harvest and eat all the stem you can.

Morningstar’s research and involvement has encouraged him to declare what he sees as the four most important reasons to incorporate microgreens into your diet:

(click to enlarge)

Tonasket Co-op Member Appreciation Day is the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Members may bulk-order from the UNFI Catalog at 15% above wholesale.

Can we trust corporate agriculture when they say “Organic”?


Mark Kastel is the co-director of the organic advocacy non-profit, Cornucopia, and Mark says we’re seeing the rise of two definitions of organic. One is promulgated by big corporations, with weaker standards and potentially suspect ingredients – all facilitated by a compliant USDA and largely cloaked in secrecy. The other is practiced by local farmers and a group of still independently owned brands following the spirit and letter of founding organic precepts.

The rise of cheap organic grain imports has resulted in estimated losses exceeding two hundred and fifty million dollars for American grain farmers. The USDA’s National Organic Program is also allowing the certification of hydroponic fruits and vegetables grown without soil. These new regulations go against the environmental and health benefits that underpin organic farming to accommodate cheaper, industrial methods that grow food in containers using liquid fertilizers made from soy in sealed warehouses under artificial lighting.

Organic advocates have worked for the last seven years to improve organic animal welfare standards, but a related proposed new rule was withdrawn by the USDA in response to concerns raised by giant confinement egg production operations – some with barns holding 200,000 birds. In other cases related to livestock, delays in rules denying livestock outdoor access have been challenged by organic advocates.

Since last July there have been 15 Rallies to Protect Organic throughout the country, and from Maine to California, these rallies demonstrate a growing and widespread discontent with the failures of the National Organic Program.

The central theme of these Rallies has been to honor healthy soil as the essential foundation of organic farming. The one in the Upper Valley was organized by NOFA Vermont and Dave Chapman, an organic greenhouse tomato grower from East Thetford and for many years a leader in the effort to “keep the soul in organic” along with Elliot Coleman, an elder states-men and former Vermont farmer. Coleman warns that “We are in danger of losing 50 years of hard fought gains in the healthy soil movement. We refuse to let the promise of organic agriculture be compromised by profiteers.

"I’ve been an organic grower for more than forty years and it’s clear to me that the organic movement is in danger of being whittled down by radical capitalism in service to corporate agriculture. But fortunately, the movement will not just silently march along.”

More New Products at the Co-op!

The Co-op is now carrying Anderson Ranches Lamb, grown in the foothills of the Willamette Valley in southern Oregon. The Willamette Valley boasts abundant rainfall which yields beautiful, lush, green grass most of the year. “Our grass-fed lambs thrive in these open fields with fresh air and lots of room. They are left free to roam, eat when they like, and grow at their own natural rhythm.” For now, we are carrying their ground lamb, found in the store’s meat freezer section. The company actually butchers the animals as they are ordered, so their product is among the freshest in the industry. If there is shopper interest in other Anderson Ranches lamb products we will explore bringing in additional offerings.

Another new resident in our frozen meat section is shrimp from Del Pacifico Seafoods. Their product is not treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (an additive that has very questionable safety issues.) The company prides itself on its social and environmentally responsible practices, and maintains that “buying sustainable seafood is a way to replenish our oceans and manage our resources into the future.” Del Pacifico donates funds to projects that support environmentally responsible fishing, and endorses the fishing communities.

AND, after much searching, we have found a natural bacon that does not contain sugar. Pure Pork Bacon, produced in Ephrata, Washington, is a local product that is perfect for sugar-restricted diets, and can also be found in our frozen meats freezer.

Inexpensive Tech Can Spot Fake Organic Milk

Spectroscopy, a discovery made over one hundred years ago, is based on the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.

Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit food and farm policy online watchdog group, dedicated to upholding the integrity of organic standards, says “Spectroscopy is proving to be a fast and inexpensive way to measure the amount of chlorophyll from fresh grass in cows’ milk.” This procedure has proven to be helpful in “determining whether cows have been pastured according to USDA organic regulations, or confined and fed hay and grain.”

According to a recent online article, about four years ago Cornucopia filed numerous complaints against ‘organic' livestock operations who were, apparently, flouting the organic pasture rules, based on flyover images and information gathered from industry sources. When the USDA later investigated the Aurora High Plains Dairy factory farm in 2017, they prearranged their inspection, allowing operators to prepare for the visit. Unsurprisingly, the USDA found everything in order, and Cornucopia’s newest complaint against Aurora was disregarded.

Spectroscopy offers hope for real organic dairy farmers and consumers who want to support them. But will the USDA and certifiers use this newly applied technology to improve accountability and transparency in the organic industry?

Remember to look for MEMBER SALES throughout the Co-op. White shelf tags display regular non-member and specially discounted price for current Members. Some are one-time deals, some are monthly sales, and others are introductory promotions. (These specials also apply to visiting members from other Co-ops – just show us your membership cards!)


The ideal applicant will have excellent customer service skills and communication abilities. The ability to multi-task and learn about all aspects of the store is a must. This is a year round job and requires a very detail oriented person. The applicant must be over 21 years old.

You must be able to work any shift including weekends. Good cash handling skills, a strong sense of responsibility, and dedication are also necessary. The job includes bending, lifting, standing, and going up and down stairs.

Prior knowledge of our products and services is helpful but not required – we will train you. We offer paid vacations, sick leave, and employee discounts.

Apply in person. Applications at front counter.

Scholarship Available for Students of Co-op Members

A one-time, $500 scholarship for moving and/or start-up expenses for your first year at college (or post-high school education.)

Apply by May 10th

Applications Available:
at the Co-op, 21 W. 4th Street
at Tonasket High School Counseling Center
and here on this website

Co-ops Grow Communities

October will be National Co-op Month, and the Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op will present an evening of film and information to commemorate this important occasion.

Now, more than ever before, we see the importance of maintaining and establishing Co-ops, to help counter-balance corporations that seem to be gaining power in our country. By definition, a co-op is "a farm, business, or other organization which is owned jointly by its members, who share the profits or benefits.” Our little store, which has been commonly owned by its members for over 40 years, prides itself in our dedication to its membership and giving excellent customer service to all who shop with us.

A screening of the film, Food for Change, is planned for October of this year (with date, time and other details to be announced.) The 82-minute documentary focuses on food co-ops as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture, and is produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker, Steve Alves.

A Co-op member himself, Mr. Alves saw the need to educate the public on the history of cooperatives in our country and just how they “strengthen local economies and build food security.” The goal of the film is to educate the public and to show how actually strengthen our local economy. You can see the trailer here

Please watch for notices on when and where the film screening will take place, and plan on coming! Anyone who would like to volunteer to help with this event, please contact store managers Alice Simon or Julie Greenwood.

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 .

Newsletter editor and store management will review all submitted articles to determine suitability for publication.

Co-op Board of Directors:
Sunny Lanigan, President
Ron Jones-Edwards, Secretary
Evangeline Rand, Treasurer
Tom Fisher
Aaron Kester
Casey Oberg
Charlene Rich

General Manager: Alice Simon
Assistant Manager: Julie Greenwood