The FireStarter ~ Summer-Fall 2018

Volume 34, Issue 2

October is Co-op Month, and on October 5th we'll be screening Food For Change
More details coming soon.

Food Co-ops Help Consumers To 'Get Local'

--by Al Norman, Food For Change

Along the retail supply chain, there is nothing more ‘local’ than a food co-op. The food chain moves from farm to co-op to table—and this fact has been noted in the shopping habits of a growing number of hungry Americans.

A recent survey of consumers who value a healthy and sustainable lifestyle found that nearly 7 out of 10 grocery shoppers seek out local or regional products when they shop. ‘Local’ food slightly out-polled shoppers who searched for organic foods on store shelves. “One of the bigger surprises of this study,” researchers found, “might be their focus on local and regional products.”

According to another study last month, six in ten shoppers deem locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products as important, while less than five in ten prefer organics, when given a choice.

Traditional grocery chains and big box superstores have all invested heavily to promote their ‘organic’ products. Costco and Whole Foods combined sold nearly $8 billion in organics in 2015. But try to find local meat, eggs, milk or honey at most corporate grocers. The Big Chains have very little slotted space for small local producers, or their presence is symbolic only.

But if you go the Morrisville, VT. (pop 2,050) Co-op website, their “Meet the Vendors” page contains 33 local farms and producers selling homestyle breads, pies, bundt cakes, berry jams, grass fed beef, chicken, pork, wild salmon, eggs, maple products, honeys, kombucha, wines, and switchel. “We have outgrown our vendor list,” Morrisville Coop explains. ”This list just can’t keep up.”

A few hours’ drive south of Morrisville, the River Valley Co-op in Northampton, MA, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. River Valley ran a full- page ad in an area publication carrying the slogan: “Wild About Local.” “In those 10 years,” River Valley wrote, “we have made over $33 million in local purchases—money that goes back into our local economy.”

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of over 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England and New York. purchased over $60 million from local and regional producers annually.

“Food co-ops, both urban and rural, are the most intrepid local retailers,” explains filmmaker Steve Alves, whose movie Food for Change is being screened in communities across the nation during October National Food Coop month. “The co-ops do ‘local’ better than anyone, because they are passionately selling their own communities---not just as any one product---but as the vision of the whole business venture. When it comes to ‘local’ food, co-ops run circles around the Big Box stores.”

Food For Change is a documentary film focusing on food co-ops as a force for social and economic change in American culture.

Featured at Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op

Fruits and Vegetables
Applecart Fruit - Tonasket
Filaree Fruit - Okanogan
Iris Rock Farm - Omak
High Mountain Farm - Oroville
North Valley Farm - Tonasket
Art Heineman - Tonasket
Riversong Farm - Tonasket
Scott and Julie's Organic Fruits - Tonasket
Growing Resilience - Tonasket
Okanogan Producers Marketing Association - OPMA

Raintree Farm - Tonasket

Cougar Canyon Apiary - Malott

Misty Fjord Alaskan Salmon - Winthrop based

Oberg Beef - Tonasket
Anderson Ranch Lamb - Brownsville Oregon
Knee Deep Cattle Ranch - Eugene Oregon

Salsa and other products
Clover's Marketplace Apple Salsa - Okanogan Grown/Wenatchee Produced
Portland Mustard and Ketchup - Portland Oregon

Washington and Oregon Wine & Beer

New items added as they become available.
Check out the consignment shelves for locally made soaps and salves, and selections from local authors and recording artists

Children Are Being Harmed by Food Additives, AAP Warns

--source Organic

A major U.S. pediatrics association is warning that many chemicals used to color, preserve or package food pose dangers to children and that the regulatory system must be overhauled to protect young people.

In a statement published on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says evidence is mounting about health risks, including obesity and hormone disruption, linked to commonly used chemicals found in everything from plastic wrap to metal cans and packaged food.

For many years some food additives and chemicals used in packaging were deemed acceptable, despite evidence they might be linked to health problems. Study in this area is a challenge because it is difficult to draw cause-and-effect conclusions about the role of chemicals in the development of a disease. But a growing volume of scientific research indicates many of these chemicals do seem to be linked to potentially serious, life-long health problems, said Leonardo Trasande, lead author of the statement and an associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

Good News About Lundberg Rice

About six years ago, it was announced that rice had been found to contain excessive arsenic levels, particularly rice that was grown throughout the southern U.S. states. This was reportedly due to the rice farms being situated on land that was originally treated with arsenical compounds while growing tobacco.

Lundberg Family Farms, the company that grows most of the Co-op’s rice products, organic and conventional, is located in California’s northern central valley. The company has had their rice analyzed for a number of environmental contaminants, including arsenic. Anybody can contact Lundberg Family Farms and request their data, which demonstrates low arsenic levels and low levels of other potential contaminants. See their website's inorganic arsenic page here.

This shows that Lundberg is aware of the potential for environmental toxicants to be present in rice, and are actually taking steps to identify any that might exist in their products. Since there currently is no Federal requirement to do arsenic testing, it's reassuring to learn that Lundberg Family Farms has tested their products and they’ve come up “clean”.

Remember to VOTE in the August 7th Primary

Who and What's Up in the Store

The Co-op has seen some recent staff changes. Freya Bradbury has left us, having worked at the store off and on since 2005. We thank her for her many years of dedicated service and wish her well in her new ventures.

Our new staff members, Cambria Beeson and Angela Radford, are both recent Okanogan County residents. Cambria moved here from California with her son and partner, and brings with her retail and organic agriculture experience. Angela moved with her partner from Oklahoma, and has both retail and restaurant experience.

And, we’re welcoming back Melissa Calhoon and Susan Coates, off-and-on Co-op employees who are now back ON :-) All four women are welcome additions to our energetic and enthusiastic staff!

The Co-op Board of Directors voted to replace the old and worn out flooring in late October. This project's been on our wish list for many years. We're able to do this now, in part, because of grants from the Okanogan Family Faire and contributions to the Improvement Fund. Tonasket Interiors will do the installation with assistance from volunteers. This is a huge undertaking and we will need all the help we can get. We're looking for volunteers to make this happen quickly and avoid down time for the store. Speak to Alice or Julie at the Co-op if you can help!

Don’t miss the 18th Annual Garlic Festival
at Tonasket’s History Park
August 24th & 25th
Friday 12-8 • Saturday 10-5

USDA Secretary to Organic Farmers: Get the Hell Out!

--source The Cornucopia Institute

Stringent regulations are crucial to maintaining consumer confidence in the organic label that the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees, according to many producers. They also help manufacturers command premium prices. Even some traditional food giants, including Perdue Farms and General Mills, have made the case for certain new regulations.

Deregulation doesn’t make sense for an industry that wants it, said Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. She warns of “collateral damage” to an industry that has experienced robust growth.

Over the last five years, the organic-food business has grown 10 percent annually, on average, and now accounts for 5.5 percent of food sold in the U.S., the group said. Strong regulations give the organic label strength and differentiates it from other marketing terms, such as “natural,” Batcha said.

For many industries, including segments of agriculture, fewer regulations are a cause for celebration. By contrast, the organic industry sought out government oversight in the late 1980s and has continued to press for updates to the regulations (though there is sometimes opposition to individual proposals).

Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat who’s an organic farmer herself, said the administration’s long-term policy for organic isn’t clear. The last thing you want is “for consumers to have a hint of uncertainty about what they are paying for,” she said. “That’s got to be sacred.”

The Agriculture Department provided a written statement in response to questions from Bloomberg News. “USDA strongly supports the public-private partnership that has made organic agriculture the success that it is today,” the statement said.

The agency has made enforcement a priority and is advancing a new rule to increase oversight and enforcement of organic products, it said. It has also bolstered scrutiny of organic imports, stopping three recent suspect shipments that included chickpeas and 39,000 metric tons of corn, according to the agency.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has pushed for deregulation in other parts of his agency and the federal government, reversing an Obama-era decree giving poultry producers more power to sue big processors and easing up on nutrition requirements for school lunches that former first lady Michelle Obama championed.

“Organic purity is one thing, but telling people how they can reach that I think overreached the ability of what the organic standards should be,” said Perdue, a former Georgia governor who isn’t affiliated with the poultry company of the same name.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 was passed after the industry sought federal standards to settle conflicting definitions for organic. It took effect in 2002. The organic industry is regulated by an arm of the Agriculture Department called the National Organic Program. A 15-member advisory board makes recommendations about issues that arise, including defining organic honey and determining whether certain nonorganic ingredients can be used in processed foods.

Major changes to the organic regulations are approved infrequently, and the process can drag on for years. Nonetheless, both the Bush and Obama administrations passed significant new ones. They also usually approved recommendations from the advisory board or allowed them to languish in bureaucratic limbo, industry advocates said. The Trump administration, by contrast, has withdrawn recommendations altogether, they said.

In April the Agriculture Department rejected a recommendation to remove a seaweed derivative called carrageenan from a list of nonorganic ingredients allowed in organic foods. The department’s organic advisory board had concluded that other, more acceptable ingredients were available to replace carrageenan.

The next month, the agency pulled support for a proposed organic promotion and research program that the Organic Trade Association was pushing, citing a lack of consensus. It would’ve been financed by an assessment on certified organic producers and businesses; similar programs are already in place for commodities such as pork, dairy, and mangoes.

And in June, the administration published a list of other proposed changes to organic regulations that had been pulled in previous months, including tightened rules for replacing organic dairy cows and new standards for manufacturing organic pet food, the latter of which had been sought by the industry for more than a decade.

All of the organic rules “now labeled as inactive were initiated before January 2017,” when the new administration took office, the Agriculture Department told Bloomberg News. The dairy rule would have constrained options for farmers transitioning to organic, and the organic pet food standards aren’t necessary because the industry is growing without those rules, the agency said.

Several longtime participants in the organic industry say the Trump administration is accelerating a process that was already under way, as big corporations have sought to co-opt the marketing power but not the spirit of organic. Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, an advocacy group that investigates abuses within the organic industry, said the problem isn’t so much the size of an operation as the intent of its owners.

“These aren’t matters of corporate scale,” he said. “They are matters of corporate ethics.”

Some organic farmers have become so frustrated by the direction of the government’s organic program that they have come up with their own enhanced standards, called the Real Organic Project. They eventually plan to add a label to packages, in addition to the USDA’s organic seal.

“We’re not trying to undermine the National Organic Program,” said Dave Chapman, a Vermont farmer and executive director of the Real Organic Project. “We are trying to save it.”

Asked about concerns among small organic producers that Big Ag is taking over, Perdue, the agriculture secretary, chuckled. “If you believe in socialism, you probably ought to export your operation somewhere,” he said.

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.

A Helpful Organic Gardening Tip

If you’re plagued by aphids, surround your plants with your used coffee grounds. Aphids and ants are interdependent, and the ants do not want to climb over the wall of coffee grounds; No ants = No aphids!

Love My Local Coop Heart

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 celebrate 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 5th (with 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