PT Food Co-op

The Food Co-op, 414 Kearney Street, Port Townsend, 98368
Port Townsend
Phone: (360) 385-2883

Archive for the ‘Food News’ Category

Developing Our Local Food System

January 15th, 2018 by Andrea Stafford

Picture of Dharma Ridge Farm –

by Laura Llewellyn, Produce Manager

A lot of the work I do is focused on developing our local food system, which comes in a complex array of shapes and sizes. It’s not just about the farmers or our local producers of value-added products. It’s also about the schools, the restaurants, the farmer’s markets, all the grocery stores and various institutions. It’s about the gleaners and the food bank, the policy workers and the leaders of our community, the home gardeners and CSA members. It’s about each and every one of you. Naturally, eating is the one thing we all share in common.

Currently, I am The Food Co-op’s representative on the Jefferson County Local Food System Council (JCLFSC). Our mission: Working together to create, expand, and strengthen a local food system that is accessible, healthy, sustainable, and economically vibrant.
The JCLFSC was founded in 2015 and is comprised of about 20 volunteers who meet once a month. Each member represents a different sector of our food system. Much of the last three years has been spent on dialoging, networking and mapping. The result of this work is just starting to ripple out into the community.

The Food Council has two main committees in addition to the Executive Committee. The Policy Committee has spent considerable time drafting input to the Comprehensive Plan for both Port Townsend and Jefferson County. The Education and Outreach Committee is currently working with the Eat Local Campaign on two main fronts (more on this campaign to come). First is a farmer meetup on January 5 to plan how to increase local food use by restaurants.

The goal of this meeting is to strengthen relationships and thus purchasing power between farmers and chefs county-wide. Second is an initiative to start a number of Menu for the Future discussion courses. In the winter, groups will be meeting for six weeks all over the county to discuss food-related topics. Anyone can participate in this grassroots educational opportunity. For more information on the JCLFSC or if interested in signing up for a Menu for the Future group, email Judy Alexander at

Through the workings of The Food Co-op and the Food Council, an Eat Local First campaign has been born. More accurately, the campaign is still in its inception stage. After three meetings, a group has surfaced that shares the common goal of turning up the dial on local food consumption. We are taking inspiration from the work Sustainable Connections is doing in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. The steering committee is working to identify our vision and mission, create structure for the campaign and find funding. If you are interested in learning more as the details unfold, joining our efforts or contributing any resources to the campaign, you can email me at

I have found that many of the conversations I have personally and professionally about eating local comes back to the topic of education. It might be information about certain products or vendors, actually getting people to taste the food, info about general nutrition, the economics of local businesses, or simply a story that paints a picture in one’s mind. Bottom line, our food system is comprised of the choices we make three or more times per day. These decisions are made for many reasons, ranging from budget, to diet, to access, or to what we simply crave. All I ask is, next time you have a choice to make, think about eating local. Every dollar spent in our community multiplies within our community. Since we are what we eat, it serves every one of us to learn more about where our food comes from.

What we did in 2017:

❀ Held a thank you dinner/workshop with local farmers

❀ Bought from 122 different local farmers and makers

❀ Purchased over $1.2 million in goods from local producers

❀Added the amount of local dollars you spent at the Co-op to your register receipt

❀ Gave microloans totaling $10,000 to 2 local farms.

Untangling the Seafood Industry

April 5th, 2016 by Sharon Dauenhauer

Tuna-Albacore-cropby Kenna Eaton, General Manager

Seafood industry increasingly hard to untangle

Do you know where your seafood comes from? All seafood—fresh, frozen, and canned—is part of a massive global fishing industry, and the mechanics of fishing as well as the demand for inexpensive seafood have created conditions that make it cheaper to process the seafood in Thailand than in the various places where seafood is caught. All of which makes it increasingly difficult to identify who caught your fish where and under what conditions.

Some Thai tuna linked to human rights abuses

Recent media stories about human rights abuses in Thailand related to the fishing industry have caught the attention of some of our members, so The Food Co-op invited Andréa Linton of Crown Prince Producers to come discuss both the larger industry and what her company does differently from typical producers. It turns out that most of the cases of forced labor—that is, modern-day slavery—are found on the massive vessels that go out to sea for months at a time, fishing in open waters for the larger tuna. Those ships freeze the tuna they catch before coming back to Thailand to process the fish into “fresh” or canned tuna. Some producers, concerned about social justice, have opted to follow a different path, using smaller vessels that go out on short trips and return to process their catch, usually daily.

Crown Prince pursues fair work practices

Having worked in the seafood industry for 17 years, Andréa has seen many changes, and she described how Crown Prince has often been at the forefront of positive change. Crown Prince chooses to work with small producers with whom they have built personal relationships. They can trace the fish from the boat to the packer; they know which batches of fish come from which vessel. In addition, they regularly inspect the operations of their suppliers. In Thailand, Crown Prince makes lengthy visits (several days at a time) to their packer—and cannery—with whom they’ve worked for 30 years. This packer is also audited every year for compliance with the USDA on a range of questions, including working conditions.

Our shopping choices matter  

Seafood is a commonly held resource but no one is managing it, which means it is everyone’s responsibility to ask questions about where our seafood comes from. And if we want ethically produced seafood, we’ll have to pay the true cost. As always, if something is too cheap, someone somewhere is paying for it. In the meantime, The Food Co-op will continue to research the complicated issues around sustainability and fair labor, and in the next few months, we’ll post information in our store helping you to make informed choices.


Stop the DARK Act!

July 21st, 2015 by

gmo hb 1599On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on an anti-labeling act for GMOs. Known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 by its advocates and the DARK Act by its opponents, it is more generically known as HB 1599. We oppose this law as does the National Co-op Grocers, the food co-op cooperative of which we are a member.

This law would block mandatory GMO labeling at the state and national levels. You can learn more about the bill by reading “DARK Act is moving through Congress quickly.”

If you are also opposed to HB 1599, we urge you to contact your House representative. If you live on the Olympic Peninsula, your congressman is Rep. Derek Kilmer. He can be reached through the above link or by calling 202-225-5916 (District of Columbia) or 360-797-3623 (Port Angeles). 

Connecting the GMO dots

July 7th, 2015 by

GMO bookThis month, The Food Co-op adds GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) education to its shelves in the form of red dots. The dots indicate products that may have genetically modified ingredients. The next time you shop, look for the DOT program chart on the end of aisles, and then look for the dots on the shelves. You’ll notice that there are not many red dots. Our buyers have done a great job!

Why Are We Getting Dotty?
We want to give members the information they need to make food choices. This is the number one reason. Reason number two is that corporate agriculture dominates the national discussion, which has led to a lack of regulation about labelling. We must step it up on a local level because it is not being done on a national level. At least 26 countries have banned and/or labeled GMO food, but so far in the US, only Vermont has been able to get a label law passed. Our state tried to pass an initiative for GMO labeling, but corporate opponents of I-522 spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat it. Millions of citizens want to know what their food is made of, but millions of corporate dollars are working hard to keep GMO labeling from becoming law. Until that hopefully inevitable day comes, The Food Co-op is taking its own steps to help members connect the dots and make informed choices.

How We Got Dotty
It is easy to buy safe produce when you know the farmer who grew it. That’s also true of processed products carrying the USDA organic or the Non-GMO Project label, but what about everything else on the shelf? Last year the Co-op’s Product Research Committee (PRC) began reading the labels of all the products in the store, searching for ingredients that might be GMO – non-organic soy, cottonseed, beet sugar, corn, canola, alfalfa, and papaya. If any of these suspects were listed in the top five ingredients, we contacted vendors and asked questions. The PRC drew a line at the top five ingredients because those usually constitute 90% or more of a product’s contents, and we believed checking the first five ingredients was doable (and much more thorough than the top three ingredients that a survey at the Ashland co-op had done). To see the full survey, look for the notebook located under the Boards board at the front of the store.

Getting answers wasn’t easy – larger corporations don’t always want to be forthcoming, and smaller businesses may not have the personnel to ferret out the answers or the money to go through the Non-GMO Project verification process. Plus, the landscape is changing for the better all the time, so the PRC had to keep circling back to recheck products.

Some companies nimbly skirted the question until our persistent queries forced them to answer, but a few ignored our inquiries. If, after three requests for information, we receive no answer, or if they respond that they do not source non-GMO ingredients, their product gets a red dot. These items won’t be taken off the shelf, but they will be flagged, allowing Food Co-op members to choose.

The Good News
When we began this process, we were a little nervous because we’d all heard the stories about how 70 percent of products probably have GMO ingredients. While that might be true of conventional grocery stores, it certainly wasn’t true of our beloved co-op.

Good news to keep in mind:

  • Our audit revealed only a small percentage of products needed additional research. Our buyers have done a notable job steering clear of GMO ingredients.
  • Most products flagged in the audit were verified by producers as being non-GMO.
  • We have now recorded over 1,000 Non-GMO Project verified products and many more USDA organic products.
  • Our buying process prevents any new products from inadvertently slipping GMO ingredients into our store in the future.

The Work Continues
The PRC is not done with this task. We are still gathering information on some sections of the store, and we will continue to update our information as well as the binder. The ability to make healthier choices—and changing the market through those choices—is the point of this extensive exercise in transparency. So, go forth and change the world by changing the market place!

The Food Co-op Product Research Committee


Announcing the “Centsibles” Program

February 23rd, 2015 by

Shopping at The Food Co-op now makes more sense than ever. To help you stretch your food dollars further, we have lowered our prices on 60 of our bestsellers — items that fit everyone’s pantry. Our new price program, “Centsibles,” is a sensible list of whole food and other goods at a good price:

peanut butter
ground beef
bath tissue
laundry soap
diced tomatoes
coconut milk
almond milk
sunflower oil
dish soap







This program is an expansion of the former Co-op Staples and “Every Day Great Price” price programs, two programs which are now discontinued. Look for the Centsibles logo throughout the store because it makes “cents” to save.


Summer 2013 Co-op Commons

July 3rd, 2013 by

COMMONScoverIn this issue, we introduce the new Board of Directors, define our “net worth,” build the perfect burger, get you started on winter gardening, and report on the reasons why it’s so hard to trust Monsanto. And, as usual, we’ve provided a beautiful back page infographic created by the Food Co-op’s graphic designer Mindy Dwyer. Click the cover to see what else is inside!

October will be too late

January 18th, 2013 by

OrganicConsumersAssociation copyThe Organic Consumers Association is an online and grassroots non-profit  501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The following story was taken from their newsletter:

Activists in Washington State expect that next week, the Secretary of State will certify the signatures required to put I-522, a citizens’ initiative to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs), on the ballot. Assuming history repeats itself, the most aggressive – and devious – opponent of I-522 will be Monsanto. Monsanto alone contributed $8.2 million of the $46 million used to defeat Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. And it looks as though the World’s Most Hated Corporation is already at work to defeat I-522.

This past week, social media sites were buzzing with an infographic titled, “Actions Speak Louder than Words: The Truth about Biotechnology.”  The truth about the infographic? It comes from the Find Our Common Ground website, which claims to be the work of a group of volunteer farm women. Except that it’s not. The website’s domain name is owned by Osborn Barr, a public relations firm that works for Monsanto. In fact, Monsanto was its founding client. Most people wouldn’t know that. And many people, who may be hearing about GMOs for the first time, also wouldn’t know that the infographic promotes blatant lies about the safety of, and science behind, genetically engineered foods.

We will see more and more of this phony propaganda circulating in the media and on social media sites, as Monsanto tries to scare voters in Washington State out of voting for a simple label on their food. The same label consumers in 61 other countries already have. Monsanto will stop at nothing, including hiding behind a phony group of “volunteer farm women,” to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food.

That’s why we have to act now. We have to get the truth out to Washington voters today. Next October will be too late.

Go here to see the infographic in question. Go here to see the website for the “volunteer farm women” web site. What is interesting about this site is that, if you check out the News/In the News page, you won’t see any real news articles, just a couple of videos and some other text. You might also note the none of these women farmers give the names of their farms, which seems highly unusual. There is just no real way to tell who these women are. Kudos to the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to light.

If you are thankful that the Organic Consumers Association is keeping an eye on Monsanto and will be a key informant for the truth about I-522, consider showing your appreciation with a donation.

Winter 2013 Co-op Commons

January 8th, 2013 by

COOPJan2013.P1In the first 2013 issue we unveil the five-year strategic plan, keep tabs on GMOs, and rethink our plastic consumption. Available for free online and in our store through March.

UNFI strike

December 28th, 2012 by

Some of our member/owners have inquired about the United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) drivers’ strike at the Auburn distribution center.

The Food Co-op regrets the labor strike between the UNFI drivers and its management. This strike is confined to the Auburn distribution center alone because UNFI’s other distribution center drivers are non-union. As a cooperative, we strongly support the right to engage in collective bargaining, fair benefits and pay, and safe working conditions. In September, along with other co-ops in the area, I wrote to UNFI management and urged them to negotiate with their drivers in good faith to reach a settlement. Since the strike began, Grocery Manager Khy Griffin has, on several occasions, encouraged UNFI management to find a resolution also. The Food Co-op does not have a position on the strike where UNFI management vs. union is concerned, because we do not have all of the details.

This situation has highlighted a vulnerability of our supply chain, and we believe there are both short- and long-term solutions. UNFI supplies the majority of our grocery, dairy, and body care and wellness products, and the Co-op is under contract to use UNFI as its primary supplier. In the short term, to break that contract would result in a substantial increase in cost for those products which our member/owners would have to bear. We are exploring other long-term, secondary wholesale options to diversify our suppliers and support organizations that align with our cooperative values. We continue to voice our support of these values to the National Cooperative Grocers Association and UNFI.

While we are now accepting deliveries from non-union UNFI drivers, we believe the best solution is not to shop elsewhere since UNFI also supplies other grocery stores on the peninsula. Instead, we urge our member/owners to buy locally produced items as much as possible. Toward that end, we ask our owner/members to keep in mind that the Food Co-op has more local products than any other retailer in Jefferson County and has the only WSDA-certified organic produce department on the Olympic Peninsula.

Kenna Eaton, General Manager

Not Your Mother’s Fruit Salad

November 13th, 2012 by

Cherimoya? Dragon fruit? My mother never bought either in her life. Maybe yours didn’t either.

Occasionally, you’ll find things in our produce department that might be something you’ve never seen before. If so, don’t be shy about asking the produce staff what it is, what it’s for, and what to do with it. They’ll let you sample some, too.

In the case of cherimoya, Wikipedia says that it’s a fruit originally from the Andes, and the name originates from the Quechua word chirimuya, which means “cold seeds.” Sue, one of our produce workers, says if it’s green, it’s not ripe. Wait until it gets brown and mushy and almost looks like its gone bad. Once ripe, it will keep in the refrigerator for about three days.

Then what? Cut it open lengthwise. The seeds are not edible, toxic in fact like the skin, but big enough to pick out easily. Sue says a lot of people just eat it like pudding or custard. Because it has a sherbet-like texture, when eaten chilled and by the spoonful,  it has earned the nicknames, “ice cream fruit” and “custard apples.”

You can also cut it up in chunks and add it to fruit salad. If you Google “cherimoya recipes,” you’ll come up with loads of ideas including a meringue pie, sorbet, waffles, pancakes, and smoothies with which you can use this uncommon fruit.

Dragon fruit, on the other hand, is actually a cactus from Southeast Asia. You’ll know that it’s ripe if it has a little bit, but not much, give. Sources say the shelf life is as long as two-three weeks if refrigerated.

This fruit should also be cut length-wise and can be eaten plain as it tastes similar to a cross between a kiwi and a pear. Inside, you will find either a creamy white or shocking pink. Scoop the fruit out with a spoon and, again, do not eat the skin. The seeds are okay, though. Cut the fruit into cubes, and you are good to go. If you like, it’s okay to use the skin as a bowl to put the fruit into as a colorful serving implement.

Cooks find dragon fruit useful in many of the same ways as cherimoya. Salads, sorbet, salsa…you get the idea. A quick search on the Internet, and you’ll find plenty of ways to make your next meal unique and interesting.