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Blog & Latest News2017-01-19T21:01:10-05:00
102, 2019

January Board Meeting Highlights

February 1st, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: |0 Comments

1. Year-to-date sales were 6.5% below the previous year, but actual sales remain above budgeted sales.

2. Sales to members in December 2018 were 80.5%; the highest ever percent of total sales to members. Thank you for your support!

3. The board set the meeting schedule for 2019, and reviewed dates the board and education and outreach committee members will volunteer at store events.

4. Wheatsfield currently has 6,190 members, and an additional 123 non-equity student members (student memberships are renewed annually).

5. The most recent $5 dinner brought 321 people into the store. Wheatsfield is considering adding a Saturday or Sunday brunch to attract additional shoppers.

2801, 2019

Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Sale

January 28th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

It’s back! Our “Best Sale Ever.” Shop the Co-op on Friday, February 8 & Saturday, February 9 to save 20% off on Wine, Cheese and Chocolate! Grab what you need to make your Valentine’s Day even more special. We will have plenty of decadent samples in the store both days.

2301, 2019

Sustainable Agriculture Colloquium

January 23rd, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

January 2019 Produce Parable

By Adam Calder

The Iowa State University Sustainable Agriculture graduate program recently reached out to me to see if I was interested in discussing my role in procuring local food for the Ames and Iowa community. I eagerly agreed to be part of a panel discussion on local food procurement and distribution with three other panelists: Dan Olmstead, produce manager at the west Hy-vee in Ames; Karen Rodekamp, Manager at ISU Campus Dining Services; and Patty Yoder, Executive Director/Coordinator at Food at First in Ames.

We all discussed our roles, big and small, in sourcing and distributing local food.  On the big end there is the Farm to ISU program Rodekamp helped start at ISU. This program buys produce directly from local farmers and feeds it to ISU students, faculty and staff in the halls of dining service.  Rodekamp said she started the program by reaching out to local farmers and discussing her needs with them.

According to Rodekamp, communication is an important factor in the success of the ISU local food program. “Our growers needed to know that specifications were important to us,” Rodekamp said.  “So bringing them into our facilities and letting them see what our operation was like was important to us.  Working with the ISU Extension program we had a lot of workshops along the way and then, in turn, our staff went to the growers.  We went and weeded rows and rows of melons and crops to see what it took for those growers to get the product to us so it was a two way communication.  I think that’s what made it successful from the beginning.”

In the middle Olmstead talked about the Homegrown Program at Hy-vee, where anything grown within 200 miles of the each store’s front door can be labelled with a “homegrown” sign.  Olmstead said he works with several local farmers throughout the year.

“We work with six growers all year round at the west Ames Hy-vee,” Olmstead said, “during peak season we can work with another ten additional growers.”

On the smaller end of the scale, Patty Yoder talked about feeding the community via Food at First.  “We’re a free meal program and we also have a food pantry. It’s primarily for those in need but everyone is welcome.”

Yoder also spoke of how the service wouldn’t exist if not for the generosity of the community. “There’s no funding except for donations. All of our food comes from local businesses, Iowa State, local growers, the Hort Farm and anywhere anyone has excess food,” Yoder said. “We’re all about recycling and using that food in a good way. Last year we served 26,000 hot meals and we served 44,000 people in our pantry. We’re open every single day.  We serve every day of the year, every weekend, every holiday, every single day you can get a hot meal.  It’s pretty cool we have that in Ames, and it’s only because of the people and the businesses.  Everyone who donates food to us, it’s only because we built those relationships.”

During my turn to speak, I talked about the quality standards in the Wheatsfield produce department and some of the requirements to sell produce to the cooperative. I expressed how important our standards of quality are, and how important it is that the farms we buy produce from grow that produce organically.  While organic certification is not required to sell produce to Wheatsfield, we do give the highest priority to produce that we can represent as organic since that is what our customers desire.

A couple members of the audience asked what we as local food procurement professionals do ensure diversity among the farms we source our produce from.  All panelists agreed that while the majority of the farmers we buy produce from are Caucasian, it is mainly because that is the demographic of most farmers in Iowa.  None of us prohibit anyone from selling produce to our respective businesses because of their minority status.  Everyone is given the same chance to sell produce to Wheatfield, and everyone is held accountable to the same standards and requirements to ensure fairness and transparency.

There were common threads tying all the panelists together.  Everyone has standards and protocols in place to address quality and accountability.  We all talked about the importance of building and maintaining relationships between the people who grow food, the people who sell food and the people who buy and eat food.  All were grateful for the hard work and dedication of Iowa farmers.

This panel was but the first of many designed to foster and further the discussion on sustainably produced local food.  If you are interested in attending the rest of the discussions, they are scheduled for every other Wednesday from January 30 through April 24th.  The colloquium starts at 3:10 p.m. and goes until 5:00 p.m. in room 0013 Curtis Hall on Iowa State University’s central campus, and is open to the public.  If you need additional information, you can reach out to Kristine Lang at [email protected].

901, 2019

Local Producer Profile: Ancient Energy Amaranth Granola

January 9th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

An interview with Ashley Fahey, Owner & Founder of Ancient Energy

WHY “ANCIENT ENERGY?”

A: Based in Des Moines, IA, Ancient Energy Amaranth Granola was started by Ashley Fahey after being introduced to Amaranth during a yoga retreat in Mexico.

The word “Ancient” is a reference to the historical importance of our granola’s primary ingredient, Amaranth. This superfood is native to the Americas and was a staple in the diets of many ancient civilizations including Aztec, Incan and Mayan. Aztecs valued its nutritional properties and ability to give a person strength and energy. Amaranth comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “life everlasting.”

The word “Energy” is a reference to Amaranth’s superior nutritional profile. The food you eat matters and choosing nutrient dense foods like Amarnath will benefit your health.

Ancient Energy is committed to providing real food that energizes your life. We also believe strongly that non-food choices are key to your energy and well-being. Nurturing healthy relationships, pursuing your passions, and maintaining your body through an active lifestyle are equally important. You’re important and your choices are important. Be intentional. So, do yourself a favor and ask yourself “what energizes my life?”

WHY AMARANTH?

A: Amaranth is naturally gluten-free and one of the few plants to offer a source of complete protein since it contains all of the essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most plant-based foods. Amaranth therefore is a great food choice for vegetarians and vegans. It is packed with fiber and important micronutrients. In particular, Amaranth is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron.

Health benefits include enhancing the immune system, stimulating repair and growth, lowering inflammation and blood pressure, lessening varicose veins, and promoting bone strength.

Amaranth is a seed, but is considered a “pseudograin” since it is commonly used like a grain. It comes from the flowers of the amaranth plant, which are made up of tiny grain-like buds. This superfood was even a staple in the diets of many ancient civilizations. It has an earthy, nutty flavor and when heated it “puffs” which provides a light crunchy texture. We can’t get enough of it!

WHAT MAKES YOUR GRANOLA SPECIAL?

A: What’s special about our granola is that it replaces oats with amaranth and it is low in sugar with only 2 grams per serving. We think one of our customers said it best, “it’s not the super sweet clusters you’re used to…it’s so good. Gluten-free, vegan and a ton of other good-for-you ingredients.”

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO EAT THIS AMARANTH GRANOLA?

A: Try it as a topping on your yogurt, smoothie, oatmeal, ice cream, or eat it by the spoonful like we do! It also makes a great crunchy topping for your pancakes, toast, and fruit. We love to see the creative and delicious ways our customers are using it, so be sure to tag us on social media!

WHERE ARE YOUR PRODUCTS MADE?

A: We bake, package and ship all of our granola from Des Moines, IA. We are currently renting a commercial kitchen, but as demand grows we plan to find a partner and/or find our own dedicated commercial kitchen.

801, 2019

Healthy New Year, Healthy New You!

January 8th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Stop into the Co-op Saturday, January 12 from 11am-3pm for healthy samples to fit your new year’s resolution goals. Visit with local producers, get a free massage, meet with a dietitian from Ames Fitness Center, and more!

Co-op Health Tours! No RSVP Necessary
Noon, 1pm & 2pm

11am-3pm: 
Dietitian, Ames Racquet and Fitness Center
Ancient Energy Amaranth Granola, Des Moines
Healthy Drink Samples
Gluten-Free Pasta
Bone Broth
Co-op Made Turkey Meatloaf
Bulletproof Coffee
Zero Waste Ideas

11am-1pm
Berry Patch Farm, Nevada, IA
Wild Carrot Body Care

12-2pm
Avenues for Health, Massages

12-3pm
Ancient Nutrition, Chocolate Bone Broth Protein

1-3pm
Nebullam, Aeroponic Agriculture, Ames

301, 2019

Top 10 Wellness Products for 2019

January 3rd, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

It’s been a busy year in the Wellness Department, with several new body care and supplement lines added to our set.

Read on to see which ones made the list!

CBD Oil
CV Sciences

CBD oil has skyrocketed in popularity since its debut at the Co-op. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a phytochemical extracted from the cannabis plant. Because it’s sourced from agricultural hemp, it has virtually no THC. Scientists are finding CBD has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Customers report using it to support healthy sleep, mood, and pain levels. Available in gummies, softgels, capsules, sprays and liquid, our most popular sellers are the softgels and liquid drops.

Borage Butter Day Cream
Wild Carrot Herbals

Wild Carrot Herbals is our newest skin care line, and is fast becoming one of the Wellness staff’s favorite lines. Wild Carrot was started by a woman growing organic herbs in Olympia, WA. Their formulations offer rich, creamy butters and lotions filled with organic botanicals. Borage oil has anti-inflammatory properties that calm and balance sensitive skin, and is my new go-to day cream, providing great moisturizing protection during our dry winter months.

Whole Earth & Sea Multivitamins
Natural Factors

Natural Factors is a family-owned Canadian supplement company known for high quality products. These multivitamins start with fresh raw, organically grown veggies that are specially processed to produce a truly whole food, non-GMO, lab-tested vitamin. Best of all, many of the veggies used are grown on the company’s own organic farms.

Bar Soaps
Pacha Soap Company

Pacha, our newest bulk soap company, has developed a loyal following. With innovative scents, bright festive colors, and seasonal surprises, there is always a new Pacha soap to fall in love with! Pacha is a mission-driven company, providing not only soap but clean water and soap-making initiatives in developing countries. Customer favorites are Almond Goat’s Milk, Spearmint Lemongrass, ‘That Coop Smell’, and Clarifying Charcoal.

CuraMed Turmeric
Terry’s Natural

Terry’s Naturally has developed a sophisticated curcumin supplement with exceptional absorption. This factor is important, as turmeric alone passes through the body quite quickly, and tends not to be well-absorbed. Terry’s uses a patented form of curcumin that is enhanced with turmeric essential oil. Curcumin supports a healthy inflammation response, thereby supporting the liver, brain, and heart. We also carry their ‘Curamin’ products, which have additional ingredients like boswellia for added pain relief.

CBD Salves
Inesscents

CBD topical salve has quickly become a favorite with many of our customers for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Inesscents produces this top quality salve with organic herbal infusions such as arnica and calendula, essential oils, and a high potency CBD extract. Put in on where it hurts!

Shampoo Bar
Badger

Curious about a shampoo bar? Here’s one worth trying! We’re excited about this bar from one of our favorite ethical and socially responsible companies. A concentrated, biodegradable bar made from 85% organic ingredients like jojoba and baobab oils, this bar doubles as a bath bar and lasts as long as a bottle of shampoo. A nice alternative for camping, travel or the gym. Great for you and the planet with no plastic bottle left afterwards!

Organic Hemp Protein
Nutiva

Hemp protein, manufactured from hemp seeds, provides one of the best sources of plant protein while also providing healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium. Staff member Cynthia regularly uses this in smoothies and in baked goods like breads and cookies to give them a richer flavor and a boost of healthy protein.

Collagen Protein
Wheatsfield Brand

Our new collagen is from a grass-fed, pasture raised bovine source and provides 20 grams of collagen. Use it in smoothies, or add to any hot or cold liquid or soup. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, found in hair, bone, muscles, and connective tissue. Supplementing with collagen provides amino acids that support the body’s production of collagen.

Butter Deodorant
Booda

Here’s another great body care company that uses just a few organic ingredients in its formulas. Several customers absolutely love this natural deodorant for its clean ingredients like baking soda, shea butter, and coconut oil. And of course it’s aluminum-free. Doesn’t go on sticky or greasy, and comes in an eco-friendly glass jar.

2812, 2018

GM Report

December 28th, 2018|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Looking Back on 2018 & Forward to 2019

Linda Johnson, General Manager

Linda JohnsonWith the New Year upon us, I want to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the Wheatsfield Board and Staff for all you did to make 2018 a memorable year for Wheatsfield. The Co-op experienced many challenges over the past year. It is the support of loyal member-owners like yourselves who have continued to shop and even purposefully increased your purchases, who have attended events and classes and participated in the Wheatsfield community that carries the co-op through down times and allows us to see glimpses of light ahead.

From attending the very popular $5 Dinners and Tiny Deck Concerts to your continued support of local producers and local products in the store, you are making a difference for the local economy and community and helping the cooperative fulfill its mission in every facet of our business. Your actions demonstrate that price is not the most important consideration when purchasing food and that you value the effort that Wheatsfield makes to provide high quality food at fair prices, ones that represent the true cost of food for the consumer and the producer.

The turn of the year is often a time for readjusting and making changes. I want to let you know about some adjustments we made to member discounts for 2019. Member discounts are running at 1.61% of sales, well over the benchmark of 1% that we normally follow. This is a large amount and is an expense area that we need to control better. These changes will impact the Wellness Whenever and Member Appreciation discounts and will take effect on January 1, 2019.

First, the 2019 Wellness Whenever discount will now be available once per quarter and is good for 20% off one Wellness shopping trip on regularly priced wellness items. You will have the same freedom to use the coupon whenever you want but the frequency has been reduced to once a quarter instead of twice.

The changes to the March Appreciation Coupon involve a restructuring of the base purchase amount to receive the different tiered discounts of 10%, 15% or 20% off. As you can see from the March coupon on page 5, the 10% discount applies if you spend $149.99 and below, the 15% discount applies for purchases between $150-$299.99, and you will receive 20% off if you spend over $300. The coupon is valid for one shopping trip in March 2019 for member-owners and student members and the discount is applied to regularly priced items.

Finally, we would like to have a discussion with member-owners about continuing to compost in the store. We are committed to composting from an environmental aspect but the expense of composting in the store has gotten out of hand. We are looking for a local company or individuals that we could work with to continue composting at a cost that makes it a sustainable practice for Wheatsfield. Contact me at [email protected] or call me at 515-232-4094 if you have an interest in helping us continue to compost.

Thanks again for all you do to make Wheatsfield work. We look forward to serving you and want to exceed your expectations for what you need in a grocery store. We know you have options and we appreciate that you have stuck with us through the last year!

1112, 2018

Romaine Update

December 11th, 2018|Categories: Blog|Tags: |0 Comments

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.

2711, 2018

Co-op Winter Kickoff Party!

November 27th, 2018|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

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!

10am-1pm
Kalona Supernatural, Kalona
Rosmann Family Farms, Harlan
Cheese Sampling

11am-2pm
CADO Ice Cream, Fairfield

12-4pm
Mahaska Beer Distribution
Iowa Brewing Co, Cedar Rapids

1-3pm
DIY Cookie Decorating in our Teaching Kitchen

2-4pm
Raccoon Forks Farm, Redfield
Lost Lake Farm, Jewell

Live Music
11-1pm
Mother of Exiles, Accordian

1:30-3:30pm
The Barn Owls, Folk

1411, 2018

November Produce Parable

November 14th, 2018|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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:

Autumn Bisque

serves 6

  • 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.

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