Life is a Bowl of Cherries

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Life’s a Bowl of Cherries

In late June, the Co-op Distribution Center learned that the Nichols Ranch and Orchard, near La Luz, NM, had extra produce. The fruit was ready to harvest, but Nichols Ranch owners knew they did not have the labor force to pick or the market to sell the entire crop. Rather than let the cherries and apricots spoil, they opened their orchard to volunteers from the USDA Forest Service Albuquerque Service Center and the Lincoln National Forest to glean produce for hunger relief.

La Montañita Coop, Roadrunner Food Bank and volunteers for the Feds Feed Families food drive joined forces to hold the first gleaning event of the summer season, collecting 1,000 pounds of fresh cherries and apricots for Roadrunner to distribute to New Mexico families threatened by food insecurity. Roadrunner Food Bank will distribute it through its network of partners including food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs.

Gleaning programs can make a difference by bringing volunteers out to harvest excess fruits and vegetables on local farms, neighborhood gardens and other venues to benefit hunger-relief organizations.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are important elements of a balanced diet for children, adults and seniors. Too often, families at risk for hunger cannot afford to buy produce, and experts say that vulnerable populations are often in poorer health and likely to experience diabetes, obesity and other health issues when they don’t have access to nutritious food.

Michelle Franklin, Director of the Co-op Distribution Center said, “Being able to connect local farmers to organizations supplying important sources of food to hungry people has been a remarkable experience for us. If food products aren’t able to make it to a local market for whatever reason, gleaning programs like this can help hunger-relief organizations make nutritious food available to vulnerable people.”

Jennifer McDowell, USDA Forest Service champion for the Feds Feed Families food drive, said, “Feds Feed Families gives federal employees an opportunity to show their commitment and compassion to their local communities by donating non-perishable food items. By volunteering our time to glean produce from local fields and orchards, we have the added opportunity to redirect fresh food that would otherwise go to waste to the people who need it the most.”

Roadrunner Food Bank distributed more than 10 million pounds of produce last year. Roadrunner Chief Operating Officer Teresa Johansen said, “One of our roles is to provide as much nutritious food as possible. Working with local farmers and volunteers like the folks from the Forest Service gives us a new way to source and obtain healthy fresh foods. Our goal is to maintain a consistent supply of produce through gleaning and other food rescue activities throughout the year.”

Labeling GMOS in ABQ!

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Albuquerque Approves Memorial for GMO Labeling

By Eleanor Bravo, Southwest Organizer Food and Water Watch

On May 19, Albuquerque City Council voted unanimously in favor of a city memorial calling for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Albuquerque City Councilman Isaac Benton, District 2, and co-sponsor Diane Gibson, District 7, introduced the memorial in the Albuquerque City Council that supports labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs) on a statewide and national level.

GMOs are plants altered in a laboratory with foreign genetic material to create novel genetic combinations. They exhibit traits that do not occur in nature. Although health risks associated with eating GMOs are not fully understood, these altered foods have become pervasive within our food system since they first became available in 1996. Companies conduct their own safety testing, and independent research is limited because biotechnology companies prohibit cultivation for research purposes.

Labeling GMOs is not a novel idea. Statewide movements to label GMOs are active throughout the nation, and Vermont recently became the first state to require GMO labeling. National polls consistently show that more than 90% of Americans favor GMO labeling laws. More than 60 other countries including the entire European Union, China, Japan and Russia already require GMO labeling.

Albuquerque joins the City of Santa Fe in supporting giving people more transparency about whether or not their food contains GMOs. Since most processed foods contain some derivative of GMO corn, soybeans, canola, or cotton, the city of Albuquerque would support labeling under this memorial.

“Labeling will give us the data we need to draw solid conclusions about GE foods, and it will give consumers the ability to make fully informed decisions about what we are eating and feeding our families,” said memorial sponsor Benton. “Right now, the companies that stand to profit from genetic engineering are making those decisions for us.”

“It’s our right as citizens to know what is in our food,” said memorial co-sponsor Gibson. “In a democracy, corporations should not have special privileges that make it difficult for the average consumer to have transparency in what they consume.”

The impact of genetically engineered foods goes beyond consumer health. It also threatens the livelihood of farmers that grow non-GMO crops since GMO seed and the GMO-related pesticides can contaminate neighboring fields. Consumers should be able to decide for themselves if genetically engineered foods should be fed to their families.

A community wide thanks to Benton and Gibson for their courageous introduction of the Memorial and the City Council for their unanimous approval.

For More Information contact: Eleanor Bravo, ebravo@fwwatch.org or call 505-633-7366

Growing the Local Food System

La Montañita Fund and Nolina’s Heavenly Organics

By Nolina Bryant

I wish to express my gratitude to the La Montañita FUND loan for my farm. Thanks to the loan I could manage the cash flow to accomplish the project. Voila! Half an acre in cover crop and a giant greenhouse filled with greens.

The intent was to add half an acre to the petite organic artisan farm. Mission accomplished! And, the two-year loan payments are on the downhill slope.

The project consisted of renting an excavator (lots of fun! I called it “the claw”) to remove the salt cedar and brush, hauling it off, hiring a tractor to move the dirt around and level it, renting a trencher to run underground irrigation to the field, installing a drip irrigation system, planting cover crop, tilling it in, planting cover crop, tilling it in, and planting cover crop again. The once paltry dirt is looking more and more like dark rich soil! Now that’s the stuff of life. We spoil our soil and it spoils us back!

The second part of the two-year project was to build a Seasonal High Tunnel or SHT. We aren’t too keen on that acronym, so we call it the Giant Greenhouse and renamed her Gigi. We built her 30’ by 72’ frame in October of 2013 and finished in November; it was a big job. We had to wait a bit to get the cover on due to the winds; so what’s new in New Mexico, eh?! Then, trench and run a water line (since it was in a different spot than originally planned, so we missed it on the first trench) and move compost inside to create soil. Fortunately, there was an old pile from 2009; thanks Mother Nature.

Next we created raised beds, laid t-tape for drip irrigation, planted seeds in January and February, and then crossed our fingers. It worked! In February the weather was bi-polar as usual with a high of 79 and a low of 14. Many of the seeds, cool weather crops, simply hung out and then grew when the weather suited them.

So Gigi is now a marvel; in March she was filled with tasty greenery! And beginning in April the loan payments are now made with La Montañita produce sales income— how cool is that?!

My first delivery to La Montañita was April 3rd. Some feedback from the produce departments:

  • From Ro, Produce manager, Rio Grande:

“Your produce is AMAZING!!!! It all looked super nice Nolina!!!”

  • From Amanda, Produce Manger, Nob Hill:

“I saw some of your produce at the Valley store and it is indeed beautiful. Thanks so much for bringing it to the Hill! You do great work your produce IS just beautiful.”

The LAM FUND allowed the necessary cash flow to manage the project and achieve these results. Thank you for conceptualizing and implementing the program. Thanks to all the members who invest, and thank you for allowing me to participate.

Kind Regards,

Nolina of

Nolina’s Heavenly Organics

Suing Europe Over Pesticide Ban

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Sum Of US:

Suing Europe Over Bee Saving Pesticide Ban

Stop the Bayer/Syngenta Lawsuit

Bayer is suing the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban but Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world’s largest chemical corporations, claim that the ban is “unjustified” and “disproportionate.” But clear scientific evidence shows their products are behind the massive bee die-off that puts our entire food chain in peril.

This last summer, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. And unless we act now, the bees will keep dying if this giant corporation manages to bully the European Commission into submission; it would spell disaster for the bees. The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, and in turn spread through the plant. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals that don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits.

The EU banned these bee-killers last May, after a massive public campaign and a clear scientific finding from the European Food Safety Authority that neonics pose huge risks to bee populations. Bayer fought against the ban every step of the way, using tactics taken from Big Tobacco—pouring millions into lobbying and fake science to stop decision-makers from taking action.

The current ban only lasts for two years before it’s up for review, and if it is allowed to intimidate the European authorities with impunity, then the pressure to overturn the ban will be huge. If the ban is overturned, this would be a massive victory for the pesticide industry, and a devastating loss for the bees and for all of us. It will make every environmental regulation more difficult, because companies that can’t win on the facts can use their enormous profits to fund expensive, baseless lawsuits. Bayer is an enormous company with many public brands. Neonics are a big part of its bottom line, but it can’t afford poor publicity on a global scale. If word gets out that Bayer is wrecking our ecosystem and threatening a creature responsible for pollinating a third of all our crops, the company will have to back down.

SumOfUs.org have been at the front of the global campaign to save the bees. Go to www.SumofUS.org to sign the petition to tell Bayer and Syngenta to drop their bee-killing lawsuit now. Let’s build on this landmark victory and take the bee-killing pesticide ban global.

Summer Skin Care

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Summer Skin Care

By Valerie Smith, Nob Hill Store Team Leader

I’m frequently told that I have beautiful skin– and while the flattery is nice, my skin looks like it does because I take care of it. In my years here at the Co-op I’ve discovered a few fundamentals:

  1. Eat good food, five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day! Limit processed foods.
  2. Drink more water. Glowing skin is hydrated skin.
  3. Avoid toxins. Get a few houseplants to filter the air; use natural, non-toxic body care; quit smoking. That kind of thing.
  4. Nourish and protect. Outer layers can be damaged and worn away with rough treatment, so be kind!

It’s often said that the skin reflects a person’s health inside. I have seen the customers who eat well, exercise, and smile; many have a healthy glow about them. I’ve also learned that most of us have to reckon with our skin at some point, whether acne, eczema or dryness. While this list isn’t a substitute for proper research or medical advice, it supports healing and doesn’t interrupt those other avenues.

For me, all natural skin care is a nourishing ritual. It’s about pampering myself and having that being okay! I love the fresh smell of natural crèmes and butters. Sometimes scented, but with light, plant-source essences. My skin eats it up. I don’t get that feeling with artificial scents and petroleum-based ingredients.

Does your facial moisturizer cause your skin to break out? You might want to switch from the one you used all winter to a lighter one. In winter we needed to retain fat to keep us warm, we shed it in the summer. Facial skin is moister and often oily in the summer, and excess oil can result in blemishes. Though your cleanser is probably fine, you’ll need to use a thinner, lighter moisturizer in the summer. The same goes for body lotions.

Feed your Skin

Some of my favorite skin secrets aren’t lotions or oils; they’re foods. I told you that eating good food is good for your skin, but there are some foods that directly nourish it. And the great news: they’re delicious, too. Here are a few of my favorites:

•           Almonds. One ounce contains 35% of the daily value of vitamin E, an important fat-soluble anti-oxidant. As it combats free radical damage, the monounsaturated fat in almonds helps the skin stay elastic and hydrated. All nuts are a good source of biotin, a B vitamin essential for hair and skin health. Olives and avocado are good alternatives.

•           Red bell peppers. Packed with vitamin C and bioflavonoids, red peppers are good for the health of blood vessels that supply food and oxygen to the skin. Berries can be substituted here.

•           Dark salad greens. These bitter greens act as a digestive stimulant and gentle detoxifier. Skin is an organ of elimination, helping to push out toxins. Cleansing foods make the skin’s job easier.

•           Eggs. Their protein is high in sulfur, and this makes it perfect for feeding the protein structure of the skin. Egg yolk is high in vitamin A, a critical skin vitamin. A vegan alternative might be beans with a side of butternut squash or glazed carrots.

•           Apricots. Each one has over 15% of the daily value for vitamin A. It comes as beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. All carotenes are antioxidants as well, and combat free radical damage. Any vegetable that is bright red, orange or yellow will have a lot.

•           Kiwi. There’s a full day’s supply of vitamin C in each kiwi, as well as 250mg of potassium. Potassium not only helps your energy level, it combats the water retention caused by eating too much salt. That can cause your skin to look puffy and dull. Oranges can fill in here.

All these foods are great for snacking and adding to meals in salads and sides. They are also great for the heart, brain, and the immune system. Foster beautiful skin with these yummy foods and your whole body will benefit.

Sunscreens

This year I’ll do it. I’ll wear sunscreen every day. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than one million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, and I don’t need to be on that list.

Because I spend so much time helping customers select sunscreens, I have spent a lot of time researching them. I also needed my own guidelines for picking and using sunscreens. Here is what I came up with:

•           Value of full-spectrum. Remember when sunscreens were called “tanning lotions?” They protected from the UVB rays that cause sunburn, not the UVA rays which cause premature aging and increased risk of cancer. The only ingredients that protect from UVA rays, remain effective over time, and aren’t considered health risks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

•           Apply enough. The SPF is rated for a 150-pound, 5’4”person wearing a swimsuit. That person would need to use 1 oz. of sunscreen. You won’t need as much if you wear long sleeves and pants, but don’t skimp on covering exposed skin.

•           Avoid harmful chemicals. Look for products without parabens, triethanolamine, or petroleum products. Likewise, learn and avoid your allergies.

•           Apply appropriately. Use a higher SPF for long outdoor sessions than for the drive to work. Look for water-resistant options and re-apply often when swimming.

•           Remember sunscreens won’t do everything. Wear a hat and loose, long-sleeve shirt when you’re outside. Eat in the shade, and avoid the 10am to 2pm sunlight.

Now that I’m donning sunscreen every day, I’m more mindful to cleanse my face at night. I use a clay mask more often to clarify my skin. In case you’re wondering, my yard work sunscreen is Badger SPF 30. For work, MyChelle’s Sun Shield SPF 28; I like its muted color.

My next move? Get the people in my family to use sunscreen more often, especially my ten-year-old son, who can sidestep a lifetime of problems by starting now. Children have very thin skin and are more prone to burns. Treat your child’s sunscreen like any medicine and keep it out of reach when not in use. Even the safest sunscreen is potentially dangerous when ingested. You can use the same sunscreen that you use for yourself on your children as long as it’s full-spectrum and high SPF. Be diligent about applying it.

Is it safe to use a sunscreen with chemical ingredients in it? Given that UVA and UVB rays are known carcinogens, any effective, full-spectrum sunscreen is better than no protection. That said, my preference is sunscreen with natural bases and zinc oxide.

I find summer skin more prone to hot irritations like athlete’s foot, heat rash and sunburn. Aloe Vera is a great summer companion. It’s cooling, soothing and mildly anti-fungal, and can be used internally and topically. I like to drink one to two ounces of Aloe juice in a big glass of water to cut the summer heat, and I use it liberally on my skin after sun exposure or when it’s irritated. The Co-op stocks a good base of natural sunscreens, and a variety of aloe products. Come visit Jennifer at Nob Hill, Lisa Rae at the Valley Co-op, Katherine at the Westside or Michael in Santa Fe any time for deeper explanations and demos of some of our favorite skin care products!