December 2018 Produce Parable
By Adam Calder, Produce Department Manager
December 11, 2019
The past couple of weeks have been trying ones for fans of romaine lettuce. Due to a multi-state outbreak of e-coli the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advised all consumers to stop eating field-grown romaine and advised all stores and restaurants to stop serving romaine until the source of the outbreak could be identified.
The CDC is still trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, but has issued a voluntary labeling recommendation for all growers and shippers of romaine products so romaine can begin to flow through the system again. The labeling program asks that all romaine products be labeled with the harvest region and date. Larger growers, such as Taylor Farms and California Organic, have already begun using these labels. Smaller growers may not have the resources to quickly attain and affix region labels to their products immediately, but the distribution warehouses that Wheatsfield does business with will only carry products with the region label. Lettuce growers who grow their lettuce in greenhouses or hydroponic facilities will not have to adhere to the labeling recommendations.
This romaine e-coli situation highlights the incredible complexity of food systems. When the romaine was pulled from shelves all across the country, consumers then turned to baby spinach and other salad greens. The increased demand wiped these products off the shelf, so consumers then turned to head and leaf lettuces. These too were quickly gone and then consumers began buying dark leafy greens such as kale, collards and even cabbage. Subsequently, we have had a hard time getting reliable supplies of those products the first couple of weeks in December.
On top of this romaine debacle there were heavy rains in the Yuma the second weekend of December. Desert soil does not drain well, so when heavy rains fall it causes chaos in fields. Deep, muddy furrows prevent farm equipment from driving into the fields and also prevent farmhands from harvesting crops. These rains may cause shortages in the supplies of broccoli, cabbage, bock choy, kale and romaine.
These hiccups in the supply chain highlight the need for local farmers and the need to support local farmers by buying their produce whenever you can. The more local sources we have for food, the better our options will be when the kinks in these huge industrial systems are exposed through the constant and growing demands on them. We do our best at Wheatsfield to offer local produce every month of the year, and as such we are doing our part to hedge our food systems and offer our customers a consistent supply of fresh, healthy organic food regardless of what may be happening in California, Arizona or Mexico.
The Outdoor Alliance of Story County was established in 2013 as a non-profit organization at the request of Mike Cox, the Director of Story County Conservation. Since then, the Outdoor Alliance has raised funds for land acquisitions, student educational opportunities, adult outdoor education, and initiated service projects with Story County Conservation, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and many other formal and informal groups and individuals.
Plans for 2019 include our on-going efforts to raise funds for Story County Conservation’s water monitoring program. This is the first step in addressing water quality issues in the county. Improving water quality will enhance our health, our communities and outdoor recreational opportunities.
The Outdoor Alliance’s mission is to enhance recreation, education and conservation in Story County by working with our many partners. More information about the Outdoor Alliance, our previous and on-going projects, as well as membership information, is at oasco.org.
On July 1, 2018 our Co-op Nickel program was replaced by “Change for Community.” Instead of being asked to donate your bag refunds you will have the option to round-up to the nearest dollar and donate that change to the monthly Change for Community recipient. Many co-ops around the country have moved their donation program to this structure and they are raising a substantial amount of money for their local organizations!
Please let us know what non-profits you would like to see featured!
Join us to celebrate the kickoff of the winter season! Saturday, December 8, 10am-4pm. Enjoy festive samples, local producer sampling, cookie decorating, live holiday music and giveaways!
Kalona Supernatural, Kalona
Rosmann Family Farms, Harlan
CADO Ice Cream, Fairfield
Mahaska Beer Distribution
Iowa Brewing Co, Cedar Rapids
DIY Cookie Decorating in our Teaching Kitchen
Raccoon Forks Farm, Redfield
Lost Lake Farm, Jewell
Mother of Exiles, Accordian
The Barn Owls, Folk
By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
Iowa autumn produce is abundant at Wheatsfield this November. If you need squash for pies, soups, roasting or casseroles we have got you covered. The department has some great spaghetti, acorn, delicata, buttercup and butternut squashes from One Step at a Time Gardens in Kanawha, IA. If you are going to pick up some One Step squash, you should also grab some of their sweet and crunchy table carrots. These carrots might not what be what you are used to, as they are not sorted according to size, and they come in all sizes but are equally delicious be they big or small. These carrots are so fresh and clean, you don’t even need to peel them!
Just in time for Thanksgiving we have certified organic Iowa grown burgundy yams and Covington sweet potatoes from Organic Greens in Kalona. These sweet potatoes are just begging to be roasted, baked into a pie or whipped up into a delicious side dish. Due to the high amounts of organic matter in Iowa soil, the skins of these sweet potatoes are blemished with completely harmless and superficial dark spots that in no way negatively affect the quality or shelf life of the potatoes. Don’t forget to get some certified organic yellow or red onions while you are picking up your yams, as we’ve got a good supply of them from Flint Ridge in Kalona, IA.
If you are looking for a fun new winter squash to try, then look no further than the honeynut squash from Lee’s Greens in Nevada, IA. These are like a smaller, sweeter version of a butternut. Most of them are small enough they can be used as individual servings. They are great peeled and roasted, but if you really want them and other Iowa autumn products to shine, then try this recipe:
- 1 lb. Honeynut squash, halved, seeded, peeled and cubed.
- 2 large, 4 medium or 6 small apples (about a pound of apples total) peeled, cored and cubed
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups cubed stale bread
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp. dried marjoram
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup cream
In a stock pot or soup kettle, combine first seven ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Using either an immersion blender or a food processor, blend the soup until smooth.
In a small bowl, gently beat egg yolks and cream. Just before serving soup, whisk one cup of hot soup slowly into beaten eggs. Pour the egg/soup mix back into the soup kettle, stir and serve hot.
Thursday, November 1 -Saturday, November 3
Cheese Fest, now an annual event, is back for its second year! All three days save 20%* on all cheese! Also, enjoy special cheese-filled goodness from departments around the Co-op. Stay tuned for more details!
Thursday, November 1, 7pm
Class: The Fermented Kitchen Course #4, Non-Dairy Cheeses
Members: $8 | Non-Members $10
rsvp for class
Friday, November 2, 6:30pm
Class: Holiday Entertaining Ideas with Cheese!
Members: $5 | Non-Members $8
rsvp for class
Saturday, November 3, 9:30am
Class: Create Your Own Stunning Cheese Platter! How to and Contest!
Members: $12 | Non-Members $15
rsvp for class
Cheese Sampling Extravaganza, 12-3pm
Enjoy cheesy samples from all around the Co-op plus wine and beer pairings!
*Non-members save 10%, save off regular prices.
Bring the kiddos for our 3rd annual Trick-or-Treat at the Co-op. Trick-or-treat stations will be set up all around the store. Costumes encouraged!
By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
We are excited to offer you some new items in the produce department salad case! Superior Fresh is a Wisconsin company that specializes in salad greens, herbs and Atlantic salmon. We have a selection of Superior Fresh spring mix, arugula, baby spinach, baby romaine mix, power greens mix (spinach, mustard, arugula, kale, oak leaf lettuce) and live butterhead lettuce.
The Superior Fresh aquaponics system is a closed ecosystem involving nitriyfying bacteria, fish and plants. The beginning of this system is the fish which are fed a diet void of any hormones or antibiotics. As the fish digest their food and as a result ammonia and solid waste begin to accumulate in the water the fish live in.
These fish wastes are then fed upon by bacteria that break down the waste into nitrates and other nutrients. This water, now full of nutrition in a readily available form for plants to absorb, is pumped into a hydroponic growing system where the roots of the salad greens can absorb the nutrition in the water. The plants grow and thrive in the six acre glass greenhouse that houses the hydroponic setup.
This water, now clean and free of all metabolic waste, is pumped back into the fish tanks to begin the cycle anew. The results are healthy fish, verdant plants, delicious food and clean water. The salads are washed and ready to eat, certified organic and are picked and packed the day they are shipped. They are incredibly fresh and have a great shelf life in your home refrigerator, although these greens are so tasty you likely won’t give them the chance to sit around and expire.
The distribution warehouse that supplies these salads to Wheatsfield has not yet been able to work out the logistics to carry the Superior Fresh Atlantic salmon, but they are working out the details so hopefully in the near future the Wheatsfield Meat Department will be able to offer it for sale.
In the meantime, come check out these new greens in the produce department and take some home for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow. It may be autumn, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy delicious, fresh and nutritious salad greens.
It’s Back! Our most popular sale! Save 20%!!! off over 400 bulk products! Save on nuts, grains, flours, beans, granola, oats, herbs, spices, coffee, honey, cleaning products and more. Also, don’t miss our bulk body care in the Wellness aisles!
Non-members save 10%. Save off regular prices.
September Produce Parable
By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
The first nip of autumn air was late coming this year, with temperatures into the eighties well into the end of the month. As such, it might seem like all of the great Iowa produce you’ve come to expect in the Wheatsfield Cooperative Produce Department will be around forever. Alas, it cannot be so, and as the seasons turn then so to must the local produce items we stock.
Gone until next year are the flower bouquets bursting with their bright crayon-hued zinnias and beaming golden sunflowers. So too are the slicing tomatoes, and with them they’ve taken all their plump, crimson grandeur. Bid farewell to those delicious assorted gems also known as heirloom tomatoes, which in a good year already have a shorter season of availability but this year were even less available due to poor tomato growing weather.
Not gone, but nearly so, are the aronia berries and red cabbage. We have received our last deliveries of both of these items for the season so what we have in stock is all we have and once they are gone, they are gone until next year.
We still have local organic cucumbers eggplant, cilantro and zucchini. We should have those items in stock through the end of October. We also have plenty of local organic kale and assorted colors of bell peppers which we should be able to carry consistently though the end of November.
The local organic green cabbage should be available through March of 2019, and the local organic red beets will likely be in stock until June of 2019!
The summer produce may be winding down, by the autumnal produce is revving up! We currently have local organic: acorn squash, butternut squash, delicata squash, spaghetti squash, yellow onions and red onions. Our local honeynut squash is as cute as it is delicious.
We’ve also got local decorative gourds and jack-o-lantern pumpkins available a little earlier this year than in prior years. The wet summer produce a crop of some particularly large pumpkins, so this year you can really carve up a masterpiece.
The local apples have begun to appear, with bushels of honeycrisp arriving by the week. We’ve even been able to get our hands on some local Bartlett pears here and there, so stop in often over the next month to check and see if we’ve gotten some more. You don’t want to miss out on an Iowa grown Bartlett pear, as the chance comes but once or twice a year and the taste of these sweet drops of autumn sun is a true experience in simple pleasure.
As the seasons ebb and flow, so to do the varieties of produce we carry at Wheatsfield. Stop by often and ask a produce employee what we have new in local produce, and also please feel free to ask what might be nearing the end of the season. We are a friendly, knowledgeable lot in the produce department and are delighted to share our local produce knowledge with you!
Help us reach 200 new member-owners!
In coordination with National Co-op Month and other food co-ops across the country, we are holding our annual member-owner drive during October! At Wheatsfield, you’re not just a member, you’re an OWNER! Join 6,000+ others in member-ownership!
Not a member-owner?! Did you know that member-ownership is a one-time refundable purchase with some excellent benefits?!
Why join the Co-op? Since 1974 Wheatsfield Co-op has been cooperatively owned by individuals in the community. Today, join more than 5,700+ of your friends and neighbors in owning Wheatsfield Co-op. Although you don’t have to be a member-owner to shop, we think the benefits are outstanding. Receive member-owner coupons and discounts, keep more money in our community and invest in a business that will always be locally-owned. Join us!
Bonus for Joining in October:
Join in October and get a mystery box valued at over $20 filled with goodies from local and national businesses.
How to Join: A one-time $100 purchase. You can pay in $10 installments over 10 months if you choose. If you pay in-full you will be entered to win a $200 gift card! We’ll pick a winner at the end of October. It’s quick and easy to join! Just talk with a cashier. You’re moments away from owning a grocery store!
Current Member-Owners: Sign up for a mystery box! We’ve saved 25 boxes just for current member-owners! Look for a sign-up box near the registers. Enter as many times as you want all month long.
A HUGE thank you to these local businesses that helped fill the mystery boxes:
Alternative Gift Market, Ames Public Library, Ames Racquet and Fitness Center, Barsy’s Almonds, Cado, Cook’s Emporium, Dentistry at Somerset, Early Morning Harvest, Ferndale Market, Greater Iowa Credit Union, Iowa Waste Exchange, Jax Outdoor, Main Street Cultural District, Morning Bell Coffee Roasters, Nova Labs, No Coast, Organic Valley, Peace Coffee, Seed Savers Exchange, Kalona Supernatural, Worldly Goods