Celebrate Fair Trade: Alaffia

AlaffiaThe Co-op prides itself on sourcing items which utilize fair trade practices whenever possible. This means that we can ensure workers are paid a fair wage, that they work in clean and safe conditions and that the environment is treated with care. Founded in 2003, Alaffia is a US-based company that focuses on women’s empowerment, community development and the cooperative model. They utilize traditional methods for harvesting shea nuts and turning them into shea butter which is used in a variety of skincare products. To learn more about Alaffia, their practices and empowerment projects visit www.alaffia.com.

In store now: Melons

MelonsThere’s not a cloud in the sky (for the minute) and we think melons help soak in those Springy, warm feelings just fine. Available in the produce department now, here’s a fine looking group for your tasting pleasure:

  1. Personal watermelon (with seeds)- $1.19/pound
  2. Trace Me seedless personal watermelon- $1.19/pound
  3. Galia melon- $2.19/pound (a hybrid melon that looks like a cantaloupe on the outside and a honeydew on the inside, very sweet)
  4. Crenshaw melon- $3.49/pound- (another hybrid melon with a sweet orange flesh)
  5. Honeydew melon- $1.99/pound
  6. Charentais melon- $1.99/pound (French cantaloupe)

Meet the Makers: Orchard Farm Soap

OrchardFarmCollage
Kate Jaeckel really likes hanging out with her kids. So much so that she started Orchard Farm Soap in 2002 as a way to both fulfill her love of being around her family and her belief in herbal medicine and natural skincare. Her background in massage therapy has given way to a beautiful product line that is free of synthetics and fragrance oils.

OrchardFarmKateJaeckel
She began selling her soap at the Moscow Farmers Market in 2003 after realizing she needed a product that had a longer shelf-life than the homegrown produce she was already selling. She still sells at the Saturday market in Moscow and says, “The market has always been a cornerstone for my business. It’s our connection to the community.” She had a studio built in 2009 so that she’d have more room to fulfill all the orders she was receiving.
OrchardFarmBar1
Since then, her business has picked up and she has several more outlets for selling her line. Other than buying Orchard Farm products at the Co-op, you can also find Kate on Etsy and at Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. At the Co-op we’re proud to carry Kate’s products because of her dedication and commitment to her product standards. She’s extremely aware of issues with palm oil and deforestation and sources a more sustainable product that is in line with her mission.

OrchardFarmKatePouring
The other aspect of Orchard Farm’s products that we love is that Kate grows many of the botanicals in her soaps, lotions and candles. That’s right she grows her own calendula, rose hips, St. John’s Wort, lavender and more on her farm… and we think that’s pretty cool. For more information on Orchard Farm soap visit www.orchardfarmsoap.com and be sure to stop by the Saturday Farmers Market and say hello to Kate.

Grow a Garden with Us!

GardenSupplies
The sun is shining, the ground is softening and you’re sneezing 100 times a day… must be time to get planting! Our Wellness Department has everything you need to grow whatever you or your family desires.
1. Flexrake garden tools- $8.49. Click here for more information.
2. Garden in. a. bag. by Potting Shed Creations- $9.99. Made in Troy, ID (yea, local!) these cute packages have everything you need to grow a garden. In a bag. To learn more about Potting Shed Creations, visit www.pottingshedcreations.com.
3. The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture by Christopher Shein- $24.95. Once a fringe topic, permaculture is moving to the mainstream as gardeners who are ready to take their organic gardening to the next level are discovering the wisdom of a simple system that emphasizes the idea that by taking care of the earth, the earth takes care of you.
4. Black Owl Organic Biochar- $18.39. Give your soil a boost with this organic biochar. Great for building soil health, retaining nutrients and putting healthy microbes back into soil. For more information click here.
5. Down to Earth Earth Plugs- $10.49. Made from natural plant materials, these 100% biodegradable plugs promote optimum ventilation and hydration for root development.
6. Down to Earth Vegan Mix- $9.99. This all-natural fertilizer is formulated to contain no animal products or by-products.
For these and more, the Moscow Food Co-op has the products you need to grow a healthy garden this year!

Egg Dyeing with Natural Dyes

EggDying1

Egg dyeing is a ton of fun for the whole family, and now with Natural Egg Dye it’s safe too! Made from veggies, fruits and herbs the package of four dyes costs $9.99 in the Wellness Department at the Co-op.
EggDying2
Simply mix the powdered dye with a 1/2 cup of hot water, let eggs soak for 10-20 minutes (depending on the intensity you’re after), then let dry, hide, find and enjoy!
EggDying3

Meet the Makers: Nutritive Body Care

NutritiveBodyCareProducts1

The Co-op is excited to introduce a new skin care line- made right here in Moscow! Nutritive Body Care is handmade in small batches by Kristy Bonner using the best ingredients around. After a conversation with her mother about her frustration trying to find products for her maturing skin, Kristy decided it was up to her to make a natural, organic product line that led to healthier, younger looking skin.
NutritiveBodyCareChristy

Kristy developed Nutritive Body Care, not only to make a safe skincare line for her family, but also to avoid the toxins and synthetic hormones that are in most conventional beauty products today. Kristy has been learning about natural, raw and organic ingredients for close to ten years and it is this knowledge that has led to creating products for her daughter’s eczema, natural salt toothpastes and face and body creams.
NutritiveBodyCareProducts3

“I have plans for a sunscreen/insect repellent lotion for this spring, maybe some lip balm, deodorant, and a rash/bite/scrape ointment,” says Kristy. Her latest ingredient obsession is red raspberry seed oil due to its significant content of nutritive components including essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Look for her expanding line of products in the Co-op’s Wellness Department!

Feel Good Mondays: DIY Cleaning Products

Making your own cleaning products may sounds like a huge time investment, but these simple recipes for everyday household cleaners are easy to make and are free of harsh chemicals and toxins. Because if you have to clean in the first place, why make yourself sick inhaling the nasty conventional stuff?

DIYCleaning1

All-purpose Cleaner
• 1/4 cup baking soda
• 1/2 cup vinegar
• 1/2 gallon water

 Floor Cleaner
To clean linoleum or vinyl, combine:
• 1 cup vinegar
• 3 drops of baby oil
• 1 gallon of warm water
Apply using a mop or sponge.

 To clean wooden floors, combine:
• 3 cups vinegar
• 3 cups vegetable oil

 Natural Disinfectant
• 4 tablespoons vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap
• 3 cups hot water
Pour into a mist bottle and apply as needed.

 Bathroom Cleaners
• To clean a toilet, add 10 drops tea tree oil and 3 cups white vinegar into the toilet bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
• To clean a shower, fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar. Add liquid detergent for extra strength. Leave the spray for 30 minutes before rinsing off. (Vinegar is an excellent ingredient for homemade cleaners used in bathtubs and showers because unlike soap, vinegar does not leave a residue.)
• A spray bottle filled with club soda makes a perfectly efficient glass cleaner.
• Remove rust stains with a paste made from water and cream of tartar.

 Kitchen Cleaners
For a natural, borax-free dishwasher soap, you will need:
• 1 cup baking soda
• 1/4 c. citric acid
• 1/4 c. coarse salt
• 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (optional)
Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil. Mix again.
• To hand wash dishes, use a liquid soap and add 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the soapy water.

 Oven Cleaner
To make a natural oven cleaner, you will need:
• 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
• 1/4 organic white vinegar
• 1.5 cups baking soda
• water, as needed to make a thick, but spreadable, paste
• 2-4 drops essential oil (optional)
Remove the racks from your oven. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Paint the paste over the entire surface of the oven (using an actual paint brush works well). Let the paste sit for 6-8 hours, or overnight. The paste should foam slightly. Fill a bowl with clean water and, using a sponge or scrubber, wipe away the paste. Repeat until there is no white residue and all the grime is wiped away.

CHEMICALS TO AVOID (from National Geographic’s Green Guide):

Ammonia: cuts grease
Why Avoid It: derived from petroleum and known to cause asthma
Green Alternative: vinegar

 Chlorine: disinfects
Why Avoid It: lung and skin irritant, lethal if ingested, releases mercury
Green Alternative: vinegar, lemon juice, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil

 Monoethanolamine: helps cleaners penetrate grime
Why Avoid It: derived from petroleum, irritates respiratory system
Green Alternative: soy, corn, or coconut-based surfactants

 Glycol Ethers: dissolve soil
Why Avoid It: causes nerve damage and infertility, air contaminant
Green Alternative: eucalyptus oil

 Alkylphenol Ethoxylates: helps cleaners penetrate grime
Why Avoid It: hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams
Green Alternative: soy, corn, or coconut-based surfactants

 Phthalates: synthetic fragrances
Why Avoid It: hormone disruptor, damages fish in US streams
Green Alternative: essential oils, baking soda deodorizers

 Triclosan: disinfectant in antibacterial cleaners
Why Avoid It: forms possible carcinogen, builds up in soil and fish
Green Alternative: hot soapy water, vinegar

Sweet Solutions: Dates

Out Sweet Solutions series is back with information about dates! Dates are one of the most naturally sweet fruits, making them a great alternative to processed sugars. For all you’ve ever wanted to know about dates, keep reading!

AB+JSandwich2

There are many varieties of dates, but medjool dates are used most frequently as sweeteners because they have a sweet caramel flavor, are large and soft, and are usually naturally dried in the sun on the date palm tree (no chemicals added).

Dates are used as sweeteners in a few ways:

  • Fresh dates can be eaten as a sweet snack
  • Dried dates can be eaten whole, roughly chopped up and added to a recipe, or made into a date paste/puree
  • Date syrup is close to the consistency of maple syrup
  • Date sugar is simply dehydrated and ground dates

How are dates different from other sweeteners?

  • 1 serving of dates (4 dates/100 grams) = 277 calories and 66 grams of sugar
  • Dates are one of the only sweeteners that contain a fair amount of nutrients. 1 serving of dates has approximately:
    • Fiber –28% RDA
    • Potassium –19% RDA
    • Copper – 18% RDA
    • Manganese – 15% RDA
    • Magnesium – 13% RDA
    • Vitamin B6 – 10% RDA
    • Iron – 4%
    • Protein – 3%
    • Vitamin A – 2%

(USDA and based on a 2,000 calorie diet)

  • Both dates and table sugar contain glucose and fructose. In dates, these elements are separate and easy to digest. In sugar, they are combined to make sucrose which requires our body to use more enzymes to break down and use it as energy.
  • Date sugar can be used as a 1:1 substitute for brown sugar as it has caramel notes that are more akin to brown than white sugar.

Pros

  • Dates are raw/unprocessed and naturally dry on the fruit trees
  •  The soluble and insoluble dietary fiber in dates offers both digestive and cardiovascular benefits. Soluble fiber acts to slow the pace of carbohydrate breakdown and lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber can help promote regular bowel movements.
  • Date puree and date sugar are quite versatile in use and can be made at home or bought prepared at the store.
  • Although there is a reduction in antioxidant content upon drying, dates are still considered a good source of antioxidants compared to other dried fruits.
  • Dates are also fat free.

Cons

  • The sugar in dates is absorbed very quickly, and there’s a lot of it. The blood sugar spike resulting from eating dates is almost as strong as eating a spoonful of sugar. This is great if you need energy, but can be troublesome if you aren’t readily using the energy.
  • Date sugar does not melt well, which results in flecks of brown in the final product – date puree melts/dissolves much better though.
  • Date puree can be a substitute for sugar or other syrup sweeteners such as maple syrup, but there is no set ratio. There is a great deal of experimenting that is required to replace traditional sweeteners in a recipe with this alternative.
  • The fruit naturally has a relatively high glycemic index, given the amount of sugar it contains. Those already afflicted with diabetes will have to really limit their consumption of dates or avoid it altogether.

Feel Good Mondays: DIY Linen Spray

DIYLinenSpray

If you’re feeling like your home and everything in it could use a little refresher, then take notice! This recipe for a simple linen and room spray is the perfect concoction to get rid of the winter blues and usher in the bright light and fresh air of spring. While lavender has been shown to have a calming effect, if you absolutely hate lavender, then by all means use something that doesn’t make you ill! We like to use a mix of bergamot and lavender, for a nice note of citrus. To make this spray you’ll need:

a spray bottle
distilled water (make sure it is distilled, as water that is not distilled can leave spots on linens)
25-35 drops of essential oil (per 1 1/2 cups of distilled water)

This makes a great hostess or housewarming gift too!