Picking perfect summer fruit can be tricky, so here are some tips to help you out!
Apricots should have anywhere from a golden to blush-colored skin. Even the best apricots tend to have a slightly mealy texture, but when fully tree-ripened they have an exceptionally deep, complex flavor. All stone fruits (fruits with a stony pit) should be stored at room temperature and NEVER in the refrigerator, or they will be mushy and bland.
Look for a slight grey blush on blueberries, this is actually naturally occurring yeast and indicates a fresh, healthy fruit. Blackberries are best plump and shiny; if they are dull and wrinkled they are probably not very fresh and may taste bitter. Raspberries can vary greatly in size, color, firmness and taste. Wild raspberries will be smaller, dryer and quite tart compared to store-bought or farm-raised berries. Most raspberries are a reddish pink color, but they also come in black and yellow.
Two varieties commonly available in the Midwest are rainier and bing/dark red. Rainier cherries tend to be bi-colored, and are generally half red and half yellow. They are also larger than red cherries, and often have a firmer, crunchier texture. Bing/dark red cherries are usually smaller than rainiers, are red through and through and usually not as firm as rainiers. They have that great cherry flavor most people think of when they think of cherries.
Peaches should be stored at room temperature for best flavor and texture. Handle gently, as even firm peaches can develop bruises that will cause the fruit to degrade more quickly. Soft peaches should be eaten right away; firm peaches can be ripened on a kitchen counter for a couple of days. Be sure to check on them daily, especially in the summer, as a ripened peach can become a moldy peach quickly. Yellow peaches are the most common, but we carry white and donut peaches also.
They are also best stored outside of a refrigerator. Red or black plums should have a grey blush on them similar to blueberries (it is the same sort of naturally occurring yeast) indicating a healthy, fresh fruit. Firm plums will be slightly tart and astringent, soft plums will be sweet but messy to eat! Soft and overripe plums are an excellent addition to smoothies. Avoid plums with waxy, wrinkled skin.
Seeded watermelons tend to be sweeter, but there are some very fine seedless varieties on the market. Watermelons that are fresh will have a high pitched resonance when you rap on them with your knuckles, rather like smacking a new, fully inflated basketball. If the sound you hear is more of a dull thud, like that of an old, half inflated basketball, then the melon is probably full of over-ripe watermelon pudding. A good, fresh watermelon will also have a high likelihood of having a slight grey film on it, just like blueberries and plums, indicating a nice piece of fruit. Watermelons also have a cream/pale yellow colored “ground spot” on them where the fruit rested on the ground while growing. If this spot is white, then the melon was likely picked too early. Lastly, look for little drops of sugar that seep out of the melon, usually near the stem, which dry and harden into little black balls on the surface of the melon. These usually indicate a melon so sweet it can’t contain the sugar within!
Many of us faithfully eat organic foods, knowing the value of nourishing our bodies with a healthy diet. And while you may have made this healthy switch to being more intentional about what you put IN your body, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at what you put ON your body.
Natural vs Synthetic Ingredients
Naturally derived ingredients such as olive oil, jojoba, argan oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, etc. are extracted from plants, nuts, and seeds. Real ingredients may cost a little more; but in the long run they are a good investment in your health and present a salutary alternative to synthetic ingredients like mineral oil. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum and prevents the skin from breathing. Naturally occurring oils penetrate and nourish the skin with healthy fatty acids and vitamins. Think of them as value added ingredients – that is, they feed, nourish and support your skin and body in a way synthetic ingredients cannot.
Unfortunately, there is little Federal oversight when it comes to regulation of ingredients in body care products. The FDA does not have the legal authority to approve body care products and there is no pre-market testing required for most body care ingredients. Cosmetic companies may use almost any ingredient they choose with no oversight, and sadly, there are a lot of cheap, unsafe ingredients being used. Following are a few tips to help you choose cleaner, greener body care products.
Natural ingredients to look for:
Parabens & Phthalates
Parabens (methylparaben, propyl-, butyl-, ethyl-) are preservatives used in lotions, hair care, and other products to increase shelf life, but can act as foreign estrogens that build up in the body. Safer preservatives are available, but generally cost more.
Phthalates are ‘plasticizers’ that are sometimes found in conventional nail polish, hair sprays, perfumes, and fragrance mixes.
Phthalates build up in fatty tissues and negatively influence endocrine function, especially in children.
Fragrance or Parfum
Be cautious of ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ in the ingredients. Companies do not have to disclose what is included in their ‘fragrance’ as it can be considered a ‘trade secret’, and may include any of over 3,000 chemicals used in the industry.
Synthetic fragrance can trigger allergic reactions, and may contain phthalates.
Note that some companies will use the term ‘natural fragrance’ to specify the use of essential oils, which does not pose the same hazard.
Best Selling Lotions at the Co-op:
A body care product carrying the ‘USDA Organic’ Seal can be certified under the National Organic program regulations of the USDA, and by law must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.
Be wary of the terms ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’ on products, as the term is not regulated, and can be virtually meaningless.
USDA Organic Body Care
Badger Damascus Rose Facial Care
Evan Healy Facial Hydrosol Toners
Moon Valley Organic Lotion Bars
Good: Mineral Based Sunscreens
When choosing sunscreens, consider a mineral based sunscreen. Many health professionals recommend using mineral based sunscreens rather than synthetic chemical sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens employ zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide that sit on top of the skin and act as a physical barrier. The minerals reflect and absorb UVA and UVB rays, affording broad spectrum protection from the sun. Titanium dioxide works best when paired with zinc oxide, as it doesn’t protect as well on its own against UVA rays. Mineral sunscreens present safer options, as they don’t contain harmful compounds found in the chemical based sunscreens.
Bad: Oxybenzone & Octinoxate
Two of the most harmful sunscreen ingredients are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Although these two chemicals are still being used in many commercial sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org/skindeep/) recommends avoiding them due to safety concerns, especially for babies and children. Studies have associated them with endocrine disruption and possible cellular changes.
Oxybenzone is absorbed through the skin in significant amounts, and according to the CDC is found internally in 97% of the population.
The same sunscreen chemicals mentioned above that pose healthy concerns in humans also present dangers for coral reefs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate can kill or bleach coral at extremely low concentrations. Hawaii and Key West recently banned these sunscreen chemicals in an effort to help protect reef areas. The term ‘reef safe’ is unregulated, and some unethical companies falsely use the term, while still using the chemicals! The only sure way to know if your sunscreen is reef safe is to read the list of ingredients and check for the offending chemicals.
For true ‘reef safe’ sunscreen options, your best bet is to choose sunscreens that use either zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, are biodegradable, and water resistant.
What does the Board do? Running for the Board is a good way to find out!
Sarah S. Davis
Wheatsfield Board Member
Since our community has been emerging from physical distancing, many friends and Wheatsfield member-owners have been warmly greeting me with two questions. The first (said with bewilderment) is, “Did I see that you joined the WF Board?” followed by the second, “What does the Board do?” The bewilderment is understandable. Most member-owners are like me before I was elected to the Board, having only a vague sense of Co-op structure and governance. Now, I am grateful to have been elected and given the opportunity to learn and serve. Let me share what I have learned so far: The Co-op is more than a store, we are more than shoppers, and the Board is more like a bridge.
Most member-owners initiate their membership through grocery shopping at the store rather than from a desire to join an organization, but the Co-op is not just a store and you are not simply customers. The International Co-Operative Alliance provides this definition of a co-op: “An autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” The Wheatsfield Co-op Board serves as the conduit for that democratic control so that the store you own fulfills its mission and vision and is governed according to the core values that matter to you.
You may see Board members working at co-op events like the Truckload Sale or during our monthly “Coffee with the Board.” The Board also meets monthly with the General Manager – who the Board hires and evaluates – and other store management. Its role is strategic – to set, review, and revise policy, monitor store operations, and support management toward meeting the Co-op’s mission and vision. It acts as a bridge between member-owners and management so that everyone’s needs can be heard and considered. Day-to-day operations of the store are directed by the GM and staff. However, if you have a suggestion or concern about our level of community outreach, support for local growers, or diversity, equity, and inclusion, please contact the Board. The co-op mission is to be more than a store for you. You are certainly more than a consumer. And the Board is a bridge between the cooperative principles and the way we manifest them at the Co-op.
A year ago, I knew so little of what makes Wheatsfield a cooperative, but running for and serving on the Board has been a great way for me to learn. Now I see how important it is for us to be active members, to volunteer to serve on committees, at events, and to join the Board. All member-owners are welcome to apply to be a candidate for the Board of Directors. Three seats are up for election and the Nominations and Recruitment Committee will forward up to two candidates for each open seat to the membership for election in October. Apply by August 23, 2021.
The Student Member seat on the Wheatsfield Board ensures that student members’ voices are heard in the governance of the Co-op. This 1-year appointment begins in September 2021 and runs through August 2022. All student members are eligible to apply for the position here by August 23, 2021.
is an outdoor-immersed, belonging-based and play-based early childhood education center. We are located within Ames city limits but we have 14 acres of woodlands, creeks, and ravines to explore.
Our mission is to provide learning experiences that nurture in children their innate capacities for imagination & wonder while instilling the sense that they belong unconditionally. We consider the natural world as a co-teacher and we strive to strengthen connections to community and to the natural world for all children and families who seek those connections. We honor and strive to uphold the freedom of an unpressured and unhurried childhood as essential for healthy development and a healthy future.
In Fall 2021, we will offer a preschool/ mixed-age kindergarten (ages 3-6), a parent-child playgroup for (ages 14-month-3 years) and several after school outdoor nature clubs (K-12).
We invite you to explore our site and learn about our unique vision for early childhood education. www.prairieflowercc.org
1. Wheatsfield’s financials remain strong, with a good cash position and May 2021 sales 3.61% over budget. As options for food and shopping expand again, we appreciate member-owners and shoppers continuing to choose Wheatsfield.
2. The board is seeking applicants for the upcoming annual Wheatsfield Co-op Board election! All member-owners are welcome to apply to be a candidate for the three open seats on the Board of Directors. Applications are available in store and downloadable here, and the 2021 application submission deadline is 11:59pm on Monday, August 23, 2021.
3. Student members of Wheatsfield are similarly encouraged to apply for the appointed advisory student seat on the Wheatsfield Co-op Board of Directors. Applications are also available in store and downloadable here, and the 2021 application submission deadline is 11:59pm on Monday, August 23, 2021.
4. The board reviewed Wheatsfield’s National Co-op Grocery (NCG) Participation Report for 2020. We were grateful to see that Wheatsfield had strong metrics and performed better than many other food co-ops during a volatile year with the pandemic. We continue to be appreciative for the incredible agility and dedication of staff in navigating operating the store during the pandemic and for shoppers in choosing Wheatsfield during this time.
5. Coffee with the board will be held this Saturday, June 19th from 11-1 pm outside the front of the store. We look forward to seeing you and sharing samples of local Picket Fence ice cream! Look for more store events in the coming months as we look for safe ways to connect again in-person and celebrate our resilient community!
♥♥♥ Grab lunch with us on the 4th! Stop by for House made brats, hot dogs, and Beyond brats. This year, sold inside the co-op off the hotbar. Grab chips, cold drinks, cookies and more to round out your lunch!
Back for the 2021 Season! Join us for FREE Tiny Deck Concerts featuring live local music.
Select Fridays nights, July – September, 6-7:30pm.
Meet us on the east deck and grab dinner, drinks and friends! Everyone is welcome!
Please bring a lawn chair too, the deck will be reserved for performers this season.
Fri., July 2 | Miann Surya
Michaela Thompson, under the artist title, “Miann” is a songstress weaving together ethereal themes and down to earth melodies in her work. With lyrics both realistic and spiritual, she creates a dreamlike atmosphere with beautiful vocal melodies, electric guitar, and piano.
Fred Love is a songwriter and veteran of the rock scene in Ames. A native of a tiny town in rural eastern Iowa, Fred has always thought of his music as an extension of the most primal forms in the American songbook.
Filled with the restless energy of a dedicated songwriter, rich with melodic hooks, and supported by the gut level intuitive prowess of a jazz-ensemble-by-way-of-a-street-corner-folk-band, Ben Schrag & The Cautionaries are a free wheeling acoustic throwdown, channeling inquisitive indie-folk with plenty of musical punch.
Don’t miss this opportunity to catch Iowa’s newest traditional bluegrass band, The Iowa No Mountain Boys. Ripping traditional bluegrass music to get you moving.
Fri., Aug 27 | V Ellsbury
V Ellsbury is a local singer/song writer/multi-instrumentalist musician. Picking up their first guitar at age 11, they haven’t stopped since! V’s sound can best be described as sultry and haunting with a little soul and blues dropped in.
Nicknamed the “band to melt all faces” by some people on the Internet, Britches & Hose Ukulele Club is an eight-piece all-ukulele-all-the-time ensemble from central Iowa. Using a combination of ukuleles, voices, and rock-star charisma, Britches & Hose delivers a new twist on popular songs. Song selection ranges from folk to pop to arena rock – you’re never quite sure what B&H will play next.