Local Produce Update
Adam Calder, Produce Manager
The current strain and unpredictability being placed on world and national food distribution channels is taxing to say the least. As such, local food systems have seen a renewed sense of purpose and urgency over the past couple of months.
The Wheatsfield Cooperative Produce Department strives to stock as much high-quality local produce as we can, and every week brings more local availability. Our local asparagus will be around through about mid-June, so there still is time to enjoy some of this springtime vegetable. We get butter-crunch lettuce every week from Nebullam aeroponic greenhouse, as well as an assortment of lettuce, baby kale and radish bunches from Lee’s Greens depending on what he has available from week to week. Our micro-greens from Organic Greens are a customer favorite and steady seller, and they go great with some Nebullam or Lee’s Greens lettuce. We also recently got in some certified organic local rainbow chard, collard greens and radish bunches from Flint Ridge.
We still have a great selection of seedlings this year, and due to incredible demand from customers we have brought in seedlings from a couple of new sources this year: Seed Savers Exchange and one of our very own co-op employees, Joe Lekowski. Joe works as a cashier, front-end supervisor and produce clerk. He is passionate about horticulture and wanted to try his hand at selling seedlings, so I worked with him to help him get his product on our shelves. He has sold us some unique flower and herb seedlings we have never carried before such as luffa gourds, zinnias and calendula.
The seedlings from Seed Savers are certified organic and come in biodegradable peat-pots. When you plant them, all you need to do is gently tear off the bottom tip of the peat-pot, and then plant the seedling wherever you wish, pot and all! The peat decomposes as the plant grows, nourishing the seedling and leaving no garbage behind.
As we move on from spring to summer, keep your eyes peeled for blueberries, raspberries and strawberries from the Berry Patch as well as more variety from Flint Ridge. This year we will try as hard as ever in the produce department to source as many local produce items as we can, and we will do our best to support and strengthen local food systems.
Made-from-scratch artistan bread! Made fresh daily by our talented bakers.
Baguette, Batard, Ciabatta, Sourdough
Sourdough Wheat, Honey Seed
Apricot Sage, French Round
Sunflower Oat, Pain au Levain NEW!
Challah, Polenta Parmesan Rosemary, Sourdough Rye NEW!
7 Grain Levain, Cranberry Walnut, Focaccia NEW!, Sesame Semolina NEW!
Currant Cardamom, Deli Rye
Learn more on our Bakery Page!
Wheatsfield Co-op Members and Shoppers,
Starting today, May 7, 2020, we are implementing purchasing limits on fresh meat from the co-op. Over the past 45 years, Wheatsfield has built strong relationships with our local farmers and producers not just because their food is delicious, but also because we know that a strong local food system increases our community’s food security and enriches our local economy. While we wish that circumstances were different, this has never been more apparent than it is now.
In response to recent news regarding potential supply shortages of fresh meat products due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to reassure our customers that we are in regular conversation with the local and regional farmers and ranchers that supply our co-op, and we do not foresee large-scale supply side disruptions to the availability of fresh and frozen meat products at the co-op at this time.
The majority of Wheatsfield’s meat products are sourced locally or regionally from smaller producers, meaning less distance to travel and fewer people involved from farm to table. We’ve spoken directly to our producers like Heartland Fresh Family Farm in Donnellson, Iowa, Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and Thousand Hills in Becker, Minnesota who assure us that they are taking additional steps to prioritize the health and safety of their workers and products during this challenging time.
Like all grocers, Wheatsfield has recently experienced temporary shortages of some products due to unprecedented demand. We expect even greater pressure on our meat supply now that there are severe disruptions in the conventional meat supply chain due to processors shutting down temporarily. We need to act now to make sure that everyone is able to buy what they need so we are implementing limits on the purchases of fresh beef, chicken and pork from our meat department.
Customers will be limited to 2 packages per type of meat – chicken, pork and beef – per purchase. Other items may have purchase limits instituted as well as we move forward. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility as we try to ensure that we have ample supply for all of our customers!
Wishing you good health,
Wheatsfield Co-op Management
Wheatsfield Board Director
May 5, 2020
I have the distinct pleasure of writing this month’s board news which includes the opportunity to extend heartfelt thanks to you and to our staff on behalf of the Board of Directors.
During these unique times you have continued to show up to support your Co+op. Store operations needed to shift dramatically, and you adapted. Sales remain strong, you have continued to support Change for Community, and our membership continues to grow.
Our heroes are the staff and management team who show up daily to ensure our community has the food it needs in a safe environment. Importantly, they are not just heroes by name or title, but Wheatsfield management was quick to establish “hero pay,” thus allowing staff to receive an hourly bonus for keeping the Co+op operational. Early on the staff closed down the hot bar and the community seating area, transforming the carry out cooler with meals to heat up at home. Then to ensure everyone’s safety, they installed Plexiglas barriers and taped boxes at each checkout, established a carry-out service, and utilized donated masks as role models for the community. The list could go on and on, simply THANK YOU to the whole Wheatsfield team!!
At some point we will return to a new normal. We have witnessed through this time that the Wheatsfield team is strong, adaptable and resilient. They are learning new ways of serving the community. While we look forward to the eventual return of Coffee with the Board, the hot bar and salad bar, reopening the seating area, starting up classes, just to name a few, I am sure we will see many positive changes going forward.
As local businesses reopen, we encourage you to enthusiastically support our community colleagues in the same manner that you have supported Wheatsfield. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to become members of the Co+op, membership is what makes us strong and resilient in difficult times. Lastly, we encourage you to consider joining the board of directors, we will hold an election later this year – watch for details or please reach out to any of us.
Kevin Stow, Director
In appreciation with:
Stefan Gailans, Board President
Gina McAndrews, Board Vice-President
Ron Eichmeier, Board Treasurer
Liz Kolbe, Board Secretary
Jeff Kushkowski, Director
Matt Liebman, Director
Megan Myers, Director
Our May Change for Community recipients are Food at First and Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance. As thousands of people in our community are affected by the rapid changes due to the spread of COVID-19, we have chosen to support these organizations who are providing food options, rental assistance, and more for families in our community. Round up at the registers and through Curbside Pickup today!
Covid-19 FAF Free Meal changes: Meals are pre-selected carry-out and may be picked up outside the main FAF entrance in the parking lot at First Christian Church, 611 Clark, Ames, IA. Volunteers pack meals daily and the meal times will not change. See Food at First’s Web Site for more info.
Meals: Sun – Fri 5:45 PM – 6:15 PM, Sat 11:30 PM – 12:15 PM
Stay 6 feet apart or more in line outside. Since meals are pre-selected patrons are served rapidly
Covid-19 FAF Free Market changes: Free Market are pre-selected carry-out only at the Main entrance to FAF, outside in the parking lot at 611 Clark. Volunteers will pre-bag staples and fresh produce.
Free Market Hours: Mon – Thu 4:30 – 5:30 pm, Sat 10 – 11 am
Stay 6 feet apart or more in line outside. Since grocery items are pre-selected and pre-bagged, patrons are served rapidly
Cash donations are needed now more than ever. FAF will have additional expenses because of coronavirus impact and is already seeing more need.
You can directly donate here via credit/debit card, PayPal or send checks to:
Food At First
PO Box 87
Ames IA 50010
On behalf of the hundreds of community members served by Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance, thank you for your continued support in helping us provide financial assistance to Story County households who can not meet their basic financial needs to cover housing, utilities, food, and gasoline.
These are confusing, anxiety-filled, and uncertain times for all of us. But this doesn’t mean the important work of providing emergency financial assistance is less important now than in the past. Our services just look a little different during this time of uneasiness and uncertainty. Here’s what we’re doing:
- Our physical office is closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19
- We are taking applications for assistance via phone and email
- We implemented a no-contact assistance delivery service for clients
- We are receiving more first-time applications than ever before
- We are working with other Story County agencies to stay up to date on developing needs and resources in our communities
- Compassion, non-bias, and kindness are still a part of every interaction
While our physical doors may be locked, your support means our important work can continue. These program changes have not been easy, and our staff, board, and volunteers have been incredible at adapting. We have had to get creative with our programs, and will continue to work towards our goal of offering hope and help in times of crisis and emergency.
By Adam Calder, Wheatsfield Produce Manager
Spring showers have done their job, and the tips of delicious asparagus from Iowa Asparagus LLC in Ankeny have burst forth from the rain-dampened soil.
Wheatsfield Cooperative has been doing business with Iowa Asparagus LLC for many years, and each year their asparagus is better than the year before. Delicious flavor, crisp texture and a delicate blush of purple have come to define this fantastic asparagus. Wheatsfield sells about 100 pounds a week of this seasonal delicacy, but only for about six weeks. That six-week period usually starts the last week of April or the first week of May, whenever nighttime temperatures start to rise above 50 degrees.
Their asparagus is picked by hand, and is snapped off from the plant instead of being cut away. When you harvest asparagus in such a manner, it naturally breaks off where the tough, fibrous outer layer of the stalk is weakest. This means the asparagus you buy is 100% edible since you don’t have to cut off the bottom inch or two of the woody stalks like you do with conventional blade-harvested asparagus.
The asparagus is picked fresh and then delivered to Wheatsfield the next day. This gives the asparagus an unparalleled freshness and exceptionally good shelf life. Not that there will be any danger of this asparagus sitting around your refrigerator going bad, it’s just too good and will get eaten up in a hurry by any asparagus connoisseur.
About ten years ago I taught a cooking class at Wheatsfield that featured fresh asparagus. Here is a filling, affordable and flavorful recipe I made for that class. In this recipe, the fresh Iowa asparagus shines like the springtime star that it is.
Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus
12 oz. spaghetti
1 pound asparagus, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
Zest and 1 T. juice from one lemon
4 T. Butter or olive oil
1 oz. shaved parmesan
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta water, drain pasta, and return to pot. Stir in asparagus, butter, lemon juice and zest. Stir in enough of the reserved pasta water to make a thin sauce. Top with parmesan.
By Kim McDermott, Wheatsfield Wellness Manager
This article originally published in May, 2017. Updated: April 2020
After waiting out the months of cold weather, plus social distancing and quarantining at home, it’s a pleasure to be able to go outside in just short sleeves. Finally – it’s warm! Once spring approaches, many of us look forward to enjoying our favorite outdoor activities like gardening, hiking, or just hanging out in nature. However, with warmer weather also comes seasonal allergies, and makes being outdoors for some people downright miserable. Sneezing, runny nose, a hacking cough, red itchy eyes and itchy mouth or throat are just some of the symptoms a person may experience when suffering from allergies. Seasonal allergy, or hay fever, is the body’s reaction to outdoor allergens, which your body treats like a foreign invader. The most common cause of hay fever is airborne pollen.
In the last few decades, experts estimate that the occurrence of allergies has doubled or even tripled. While there is no consensus yet as to why, some believe that as our homes have become more germ-free, our immune systems don’t get ‘tested’, and our bodies can’t tell the difference between real threats and harmless pollen. Additionally, there are now a number of studies linking changes in climate with longer allergy seasons. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms that the duration of the ragweed pollen season has been increasing in recent decades, translating into a longer hay fever season for many.
Some Natural Solutions
Though we can’t yet cure allergies, to the right are some natural alternatives that can help control symptoms, without producing the unwanted side effects like sleepiness and dry mouth that can occur with conventional products.
Avoid Certain Foods
- If you are allergic to ragweed, you may have a cross-sensitivity to melons, cucumbers, bananas, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, chamomile and echinacea.
- That’s because these foods have proteins that are similar to the pollen in ragweed, and your immune system may get triggered by them.
- Spirulina, a nutrient-rich, blue-green algae, supports allergy sufferers by acting to stop the release of histamines.
- Spirulina also helps support immune health and is known as an energy booster.
- Probiotics may help allergy symptoms by lowering antibodies that trigger allergy symptoms.
- Some researchers have also found evidence that giving probiotics to newborns may help prevent childhood allergies.
Diffuse Essential Oils
- There are a number of essential oils that can help support you during allergy season.
- Diffuse a blend of lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils in your home. Or try our Simplers Sinus Oil for a ready-to-use blend.
- Eucalyptus oil especially helps open the lungs and sinuses.
- Insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with allergies and more severe asthma in children.
- Carlson brand vitamin D drops are available in potencies for both children and adults.
- Many allergy sufferers use a neti pot filled with a saline solution to irrigate the nasal passages, washing out any irritants and excess mucus.
- Be sure to use distilled or sterile water in your neti pot.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- A German study found that people who have diets high in omega-3’s have fewer allergy symptoms.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, krill or algae (vegan) oil supplements, and in foods like flax, chia and hemp seeds and oils.
- Stinging nettle may act as a natural antihistamine and has a long history of use for season allergies.
- Begin using 1-2 months before the season starts for best results.
- Nettle can be found in the bulk herbs, in capsule form or as a tea at the Co-op.
- Butterbur has been used traditionally for asthma symptoms and to reduce mucus.
- Several studies suggest it can help with allergic rhinitis.
- The raw herb should not be used, as it contains potentially toxic alkaloids. Commercial butterbur capsules have had these alkaloids removed.
- A NOTE OF CAUTION – Butterbur is a member of the ragweed family, do NOT use if you are allergic to ragweed.
Allergy Tropical Blend
- 1-2 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1-2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 1-2 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 tsp coconut oil
Massage blend behind ears, and/or at the base of the nose and on the soles of the feet.
- 2 c boiling water
- 1-2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Allow boiling water to cool slightly. Mix in medium bowl. Lean over bowl with your head covered with a towel, and inhale deeply for several minutes.
Working Together Through a World Pandemic
Wheatsfield Co-op General Manager