Giving Thanks for Growing Up Co-op
By Katherine Mullé
Gratitude. It’s a word uttered with a certain reverence, a sigh of relief, a tender smile, or followed by a warm embrace. Gratitude can strengthen relationships, promote health, reduce stress, and make us happier all-around. In the spirit of the season and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the Co-op as a store, a community, and as a family that I’m grateful for.
I know that the Co-op has been good to so many families, and I’m grateful to have felt this goodness keenly as a child. It provided a living wage job for my dad, who had gone back to college and had two small children. It provided my mom with a way to afford organic, local, healthy food when she was in college herself by giving her a discount for volunteering (not to mention she came to know my dad through her volunteer work at the Co-op—talk about fostering lifelong relationships!). It provided us with healthy food and helped to encourage a healthy lifestyle—not many kids back then could say they were raised vegetarian with tofu, veggie burgers, and (when we were lucky) Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese on our weekly dinner menu! It made going grocery shopping fun as a child (at least, on those weekends when my dad didn’t do the grocery shopping himself!). And overall, the Co-op provided a safe place that was vibrant, upbeat, and always flowing with good vibes, making it a great place to be: a place that felt like a home with a family.
So yes, Co-op trips were always met with much excitement, and while I love my Dad, he was only one member of my “Co-op family—” I loved helping Carol arrange flowers to make beautiful, fresh Co-op bouquets. I loved to visit with the most jovial and kindhearted Dan, whom I will forever love for wearing the banana suit (very popular among five-year-olds) when my elementary school took a field trip to the Co-op. I loved seeing Shannon when we checked out, one of the (then) cashiers who was always so sweet to me, and whom I now have a pleasure of working with at the Administrative Offices!
These are only a few of many examples, but in short, I’m so very grateful to the wonderful people at the Co-op. For the kind, friendly employees who never fail to offer their expertise, good service, and smile when you come into the store. For the charitable, giving volunteers, without whom the Co-op wouldn’t be the great store that it is today. For the customers, especially member-owners, who continue to support the Co-op not only through shopping but through attending community events. For the farmers and cooks who grow and prepare delicious food for us to enjoy: I can’t tell you how many fresh Rancho Durazno peaches I ate this summer (now onto green chile for fall!), and I still find myself indulging in those delicious “Cheesy Pleasers” when I come in for lunch! For you, the reader of this newspaper, for caring about the Co-op and the work it does, continuing to read and give feedback. I’m thankful for all of these people for their continuous effort to nurture the Co-op so it can thrive and grow, as shown by the recent opening of our Westside store, which continues to deliver fresh, local, organic food to Albuquerque’s Westside, a sure sign of a strong and growing local economy. The people of the Co-op help to make the Co-op’s vision of a store that is truly about community a reality.
Just as I’m grateful that the Co-op has helped me foster good health, it has in itself helped me cultivate gratitude for the people who work so hard to make the Co-op all that it is! It’s been a great year for the Co-op community—thank you!
Your Stories Giving Thanks to Our Amazing Co-op Staff!
A Second Home
My twice weekly shopping trip to the Nob Hill Co-op is like a treat! When I enter the store my spirits lift with all the good energy buzzing around. Friendly and familiar faces greet me. A couple of months ago, Donna and i would have exchanged hugs, but alas, she has moved to the admin building. Ahhh, I get to browse through beautiful, fresh, nourishing produce and food products that I can feel good about feeding to my body. There is Jerry in the produce!! Smiling, energetic Jerry who always makes sure the produce is perfect. I don’t have to worry about rotten strawberries at the bottom of the container. He has lovingly sorted and organized the fruits and vegetables. And we get to exchange news and stories. As I cruise the aisles, everyone is helpful, warm, and friendly. At the checkout counter there is Ife or Mark or Chris, smiling and ready to exchange greetings, and to check me out. My co-op number has already been entered because they know my name! I feel sure that if circumstances permitted me to get to know them, I would love every one of the co-op staff. So my appreciation is for all the hard-working staff and the management that provides a positive working environment for its employees!
Wow! I started eating better a few years ago, upped the ante a couple years ago with regular green smoothies, then went to the Rio Grande co-op. I loved it there, but hated crossing the river from my Rio Rancho residence. When the Westside Store(y) opened, I became a regular right away. The people… all of them are so friendly and helpful, it blows me away. I am grateful to all of you, all of the time. The story is only started…..
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
My husband and I shop at the Nob Hill co-op, and we are there at least once a week. I appreciate that many staff have learned our names and don’t even have to ask for my co-op number because they look it up themselves via my name. Some of the many wonderful staff who are always friendly and helpful are Adam, Mark, Efe, Becca, Donna, and of course everyone we interact with. Even though I don’t know their names, I get exceptional assistance from produce, beauty, bulk, and deli staff as well. I appreciate having a local grocery such as the co-op where I feel a sense of community. Thank you to the Co-op for offering such a nice variety of health foods for me and my family, friends, and community.
Never a Stranger and My Best Friend
My best friend has worked at the co-op for a very long time. She has gone from working HBA to being the manager of the Nob Hill store. She is one of my favorite humans on the planet, so she is my favorite staff member. I live in Santa Fe, however, and rarely go to her store. Here I always feel welcome and am able to connect with the staff members that I see all over the store. I know them and they know me. The are warm and friendly and make shopping in my neighborhood seem like, well, shopping in my neighborhood. I love my co-op.
Fantastic, Respectful Staff
Every time I’ve had a question, or requested a certain item, I’ve been treated with respect. If I had a question someone didn’t have an answer to, they asked someone who knew then gave me the answer. If I asked them to have an item in stock they ordered it. Then called and told me when it was there! How fantastic!!!
I love the respect of the employees. It’s an absolutely fantastic place to shop. Thanks so much for being there.
As a vegan it can be time consuming finding certain products. Every employee has been thoughtful and helpful while assisting me find certain items. It is even better when they are aware what vegan means. The Westside Co-op has become my favorite store!!!
My husband and I love shopping at the Co-op. In fact, our family and friends tease us because sometimes grocery shopping is our Friday night “date.” The staff is knowledgeable, helpful, and FUN!
Thanks Co-op Staff
Coop staff, I do not know or recall most of your names. You are there for me. You help me find things. You check me out. You keep the bulk bins filled. You select desirable products.
I can’t express appreciation for you individually, just collectively, for adding personal caring to my shopping experience.
Now to mention two by name:
Appreciation to Mark B at check out for his cheer, personal concern, and also for the beautiful photo cards that his wife makes and sells at the store. Mark and the cards brighten my days.
Appreciation to Derrick, your cheese guy. He picks out some awesome cheeses and directs me to them. He continues to stock Cabot’s Sharp Extra Light Cheddar Cheese (a much reduced fat cheese.) I love cheese but need to avoid fat, I have not found reduced fat cheeses at other stores, and this one tastes good.
At La Montanita Co-op Santa Fe, there is a cashier who is always fun and personable. I’m not sure of his name but you’d recognize his style cuz he tells a story with his clothes and he’s always engaging customers. I love when I get to the check-out and he’s there because I know I’ll walk away with a smile on my face and feeling good inside. He radiates happiness! Thank you Mr. Cashier. Next time I’ll catch your name.
Cool Treats, Local Food and Friendly People
I have lived in a lot of states. I grew up in Texas, where Whole Foods had a monopoly, and things like Sprouts and H-E-B did a good job of keeping me fed and happy with discounts, etc. In the last 4 years I’ve lived in New York, North Carolina, Texas, California, and New Mexico, and never- not in NYC or Ashville, or even at Wheatsville Co-Op in Austin have I seen a co-op that truly lives the Co-Op spirit to me.
Yesterday, when laughing Yoga was canceled and my friends said “Now what” I suggested we go to the co-op. It’s not just a shopping trip, it’s an experience. It’s like coming into someone’s home.
My first interaction with the co-op was the shop in Gallup. Working at a rustic base-camp south of Thoreau, going to Gallup once every week or so is like re-entry into a lost civilization. We have to spend the hours of freedom wisely, and I always make my first stop at the co-op. Michael is always there, friendly and helpful, and trying to convince me to move to Gallup, rice Dream ice cream- a cool, lactose-free summer treat, is always just over a dollar, and I know I can get some super-local produce to counter act all the carbs I’ve been eating at camp.
I know the food is local because I have also sold to the co-op. When our educational desert garden produced more Kale and Chard than a group of 50-100 hungry adults could eat, we tried to sell some at the local farmers market. When we still had ample amounts left, the co-op bought it, made up a sign, and put it out to sell. The Kale we had picked that morning and driven in our van just 30 miles, was now on sale for anyone smart enough to come into the co-op and buy it. Now that’s local.
When a friend of mine on a cross-country trip asked what thing she needed to do before leaving ABQ for Sante Fe on the Turquoise Trail, I sent her to the co-op for some Rice Dream ice cream.
From Christina Pirello
During the fall and winter months, there are few things as comforting as a bowl of savory-sweet pumpkin soup.This soup creates a serene strength and a calm disposition. By normalizing our blood sugars, this soup keeps our emotions on an even keel.
- 2 small pumpkins, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for coating the pumpkins
- Sea salt
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 to 4 carrots
- 1 medium apple of choice, diced
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon mirin or white wine
- 2 cups of filtered water
- 1 cup plain soy milk, plus extra if needed (you may use any non-dairy milk of choice)
- 2 teaspoons sweet white miso
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, pan toasted for garnish
- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh parsley, minced for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F. Generously rub the outside skin of the pumpkins with oil and place, cut sides down, in a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and add 1/8 inch of water to the baking pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake about 40 minutes, until the pumpkins are tender (baking time depends on the size of the pumpkins). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Place the 2 tablespoons oil and the onion in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. When the onion begins to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the carrots, a pinch of salt , the lemon zest and mirin or white wine. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the skins and add to the vegetables in the soup pot. Add the water and milk , cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the soup until the carrots are quite soft, about 25 minutes.
- Transfer the soup, by the ladlefuls, to a blender or food processor until smooth. Add a small amount of milk to thin the soup as desired. Return the soup to the pot and place over very low heat.
- Remove a small amount of broth and use to dissolve the miso. Stir the miso mixture into the soup and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes to activate the enzymes in the miso. Serve garnished with pumpkin seeds and parsley.
A Simple Note of Appreciation
By Jonathan Ashe
Thunderhead Farms thanks La Montanita customers, staff, and management for your continued support through the 2014 summer season. From the wonderful customers who searched for our packaged specialty peppers beginning in July to the adventurous individuals who discovered them for the very first time this season, we are nothing without you. It may sound cliché, but it is wholeheartedly true. Your support in purchase and feedback gives us the drive to continue improving our quality and consistency. Our mission in providing specialty peppers, such as the Padrón and Shishito, is to be a part of your respect and celebration of food. Our Padrón peppers remind so many of their specific memories of vacations and their introduction to this incredible pepper. That joy of flavor, memories, and community is our passion. For your support, we humbly thank you and promise to be even better next year. With you in mind, we have big plans for the 2015 summer season. Visit our website, http://thunderheadfarms.com/, for updates throughout the off-season and drop us an email to provide feedback or just to say hello.
To all of the produce staff at La Montanita stores, providing your customers fresh, high-quality, local produce is a challenging task. It is also quite rewarding for everyone. As a grower, thank you for your support. As a customer, thank you for your effort. La Montanita produce leads, such as Rochelle (Ro) D’Attilio, have helped shape Thunderhead Farms packaging/labeling over the years. We started with zip-lock bags and continue to improve our presentation. Without this commercial support from people like Ro… well, we don’t like to think where we would be without this support.
The LaM FUND works!
To all of the La Montanita management and contributors to the La Montanita Fund (LaM Fund), you are awesome! Thunderhead Farms has just enjoyed a second year of financial support through the LaM Fund. It is an incredible community financial program that can help large to small (us) entities grow and/or improve their business. We know this because your fund helped us grow and improve! Thunderhead Farms has a new greenhouse, growing areas, and the ability to package/label our produce because of this financial support. The LaM Fund has also provided us the ability to deliver to restaurants in formats that fit restaurant systems and for us to continue our focus on food safety. La Montanita and contributors, thank you for offering such great financial support.
Stay warm this winter and have a wonderful holiday season everyone.
Co-op Holiday Festivities — You’re Invited
Join us at all our Co-ops for holiday festivities, natural foods samplings, craft fairs, music, friends and fun.
And don’t forget to take an ornament off our Make a Child Smile Holiday Giving Trees, up at all locations December 1 and make the season brighter for a child in need.
Saturday, December 6 Nob Hill Co-op 5-7PM
In conjunction with the Nob Hill Shop and Stroll and Twinkle Light Parade
Activities and Entertainment at the Co-op include:
5:00pm — Mosaic Woodwind Trio
5:30pm —The Loren Kahn Puppet and Object Theater—for children of all ages
6:00pm — Zia Conservatory
6:30pm — The Loren Kahn Puppet Theater—For children of all ages
Saturday December 13 Santa Fe 1-4PM
1:00pm — The Shiners Club
2:30pm — Brian Bennett and Catherine Donovan
Saturday, December 13 Valley Co-op 2-6PM
2:30pm — Dave Hoover, Harp
3:30pm — Los Trinos
Sunday December 14 Westside Co-op 11AM-4PM
11:30pm — Enchantment Winds—classical woodwind quinet
1:00pm — Zoltan Orkestar
2:30pm — Sara Tutland—Alto Flute
Other Important Seasonal Dates
December 15 — Giving Tree Gift Return Deadline
December 24 — All Co-ops close early at 6pm
December 25 — All Co-ops are closed
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — Hours vary at each location. Please check in with each Co-op for times.