April 2019
April Showers, May Flowers, and New Happenings at the Co-op
In this month's newsletter:

  • A Word from the General Manager
  • Board Visioning Update
  • April Friday Feast: Build Your Own Taco Bar
  • Edible Book Festival
  • This Month's Meal Kit: Cuban Beans & Rice
  • Call For Local Artists
  • Art Gallery Reception
  • Introducing: CU Wild Food Club
  • This Year's FinMoo
  • Co-op Plant Sale
  • Co-op Book Drive for U-C Books to Prisoners
  • New Local Artists Featured
  • Green Steps Toward Sustainable Shopping and HB3440
  • Local Green Goodness Is On the Horizon
  • New Items
  • The Switch to Wax Paper
  • A message from John & Molly Meyer
  • Humans of the Co-op
  • In the Media
  • Round Up For Good
  • Upcoming Classes
From the GM
Gary Taylor, General Manager
Read Gary's March piece on activities and events to look forward to this month, including the Edible Book Festival, the Financial Meeting of Owners, and a new event called Immersion.
Board Visioning Update
An update from Board Member Evelyne Tardy
April 2019

Twice a year, your Board of Directors hosts meetings of owners and invites all owners of Common Ground to hear from the board and the store, ask questions, and mingle with fellow owners. The annual Financial Meeting of Owners is just around the corner, on Tuesday, April 16th, 6:00 pm at the Independent Media Center (IMC). We hope you’ll join us for presentations from our Board Treasurer and General Manager, food, drinks, prize drawings, and camaraderie!
When we host these owner-only events, it feels appropriate to reflect a little bit on what it means to be an owner of Common Ground. We all know that being a shopper of the co-op means simply walking in the door and basking in all the wonderful smells, sights, and tastes of Common Ground. What does it mean to be an owner, then? Perhaps some of the more obvious components of ownership are the financial ones. Owners purchase equity in the co-op. Through equity and choosing to purchase goods at Common Ground, you’re keeping your dollars local, helping to provide good jobs and supporting local farmers, producers, vendors, craftspeople, artists, and educators right here in our community. Your choices are also having a positive effect on our environment, supporting sustainability and responsible consumerism.
There are also financial benefits in it for you as an owner. Owners get access to special deals throughout the co-op all year round. Also, a few times a year, there are special owner appreciation days set aside to celebrate owners and provide even deeper discounts and deals.

Read more on Co-op ownership here .

The next meeting of the Board of Directors is Monday, April 8th, from 6:15 to 8:15 pm at First United Methodist Church of Urbana located on Race Street near the west entrance to Lincoln Square. Owners are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please use the entrance with the maroon awning, on the east side of the church.
Friday Feast: Build Your Own Taco Bar
Our salad bar will be transformed for one night only
This month's Friday Feast meal is a Taco Bar. Our build-your-own taco bar is happening on Friday, April 12th, from 4:30pm to 8pm, or until sold out! A wide variety of taco toppings will be available in the salad bar, including vegan, wheat free, and meat filling options .

This meal will be available at $8.99 per pound. Find more info here .

Friday Feast is a monthly Co-op event, which features a meal that is healthy, delicious, and affordable. Each meal will incorporate local and seasonal food and most will include both a meat and vegan option.
Edible Book Festival
Eat your words
Stop by the 14th annual Edible Book Festival on Saturday, April 6th from 11:30AM-1PM in the Lincoln Square Mall Hallway. This quirky festival celebrates literature, gastronomy, and community. It is held on or around April Fool's Day every year and it is "the perfect day to eat your words." This event is hosted by the University Library in collaboration with the Co-op and the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.
You can register here.

April Meal Kit: Cuban Beans & Rice
with roasted peppers and plantains
Each month you can order a 4-serving Meal Kit and pick it up on the designated day. We shop for all of the ingredients and you bring it home to cook.

This month’s recipe features Cuban Beans & Rice.

Pick-up date is Wednesday, April 17th, from 10 am to 6 pm in the Flatlander Classroom.
Financial Meeting of Owners (FinMOO)
This year's FinMOO is on April 16th.
This year's Financial Meeting of Owners is happening on Tuesday, April 16th, from 6-8 pm at the Independent Media Center.
Common Ground's 11th Annual Plant Sale
The Plant Sale is Saturday, May 4th
Join us at the Co-op for the 11th Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 4th. Most of our seedlings featured during this fundraiser have been grown locally by our farmers and the Co-op community. We will have tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, lettuces, flowers, herbs, house plants, succulents and much more!

The success of the plant sale is very important to us and the community, as our Food for All program is made possible through its proceeds. Food for All funds equity grants, food discounts, and free Co-op classes for those who are in need of financial assistance or who are interested in learning how to cook.

Special thanks to our local farm sponsors: Blue Moon Farm , PrairiErth Farm , Sola Gratia Farm , Wolf Creek, Meyer Produce, Old Town Flowers CU , and Green Pantry Nursery!
Co-op Book Drive for U-C Books to Prisoners
B2P has mailed 143,909 books in 42,891 packages, to 20,792 grateful readers
We want to invite you to participate in our targeted book drive for Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners during April. Currently, B2P is the primary source of books for Illinois inmates, as well as for prison lending libraries. Bring your book donations to the Co-op during the times of the Book Drive or donate them in the B2P receptacles in our Co-op Mall hallway anytime.

B2P is seeking specific books like art books, how to draw books, fantasy, science fiction series, small business, finance, self-help, young adult, newly published books, and books authored by people of color. These genres have been requested by many patrons at the lending libraries within the Champaign County jails .

For more information and a list of titles, click here .
New Local Artists Featured
Check out our newest local artist installations in the Flatlander Classroom!  
From March 24 to May 18, you'll be able to experience the amazing art of  Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure  titled "Home Grown." The pieces in this Urbana artist's exhibit were made using recycled trash and the idea behind them is to show how we can take what we have sitting around and create a wonderful story. 
Alongside "Home Grown" hangs "The 7th Eye" by  Keenan Dailey . Through these pieces, he places African Americans in the context of Afrodiasporic royalty and divination, looking at what already IS in order to recognize what is possible.

See a closer look of their artwork here.
Green Steps Toward Sustainable Shopping and HB3440
By Mia Hanneken, Education Coordinator
If you’ve been at the co-op in the last year, you’ve probably noticed our jar recycling program. Customers can donate clean, label-free jars for others to use. Co-op staff sanitize these jars and they’re made available near our bulk section. This project was introduced one year ago, in April 2018 in honor of Earth Day, as a way to decrease single-use plastic bags when buying in bulk. In just the first year, the co-op was able to give a second life to over 1,000 jars thanks to our dedicated customers and staff.

Local Green Goodness Is On the Horizon!
By Anne Bargar, Produce Assistant Manager
As the weather warms up, we’ll start to see lots of fresh crops show up from our local growers. Here are a few delicious, green things that you’ll be seeing in the produce department over the next few months:

Napini: Napini is the flowering head of the kale plant. Kale, like most brassicas, is a biennial plant, so it goes to seed in its second year. The seed heads are harvested from White Russian kale just before they flower, and they are very tender and sweet. It has a wonderful flavor when sauteed with garlic in olive oil.

Turnips - Hakurei turnips are delicate and sweet, and can be eaten raw. They’re sometimes referred to as a salad turnip, though they can be cooked and added to an entire dish as well. Violet Queen is another variety that we’ll have; according to John Williams at Sola Gratia, “Violet Queen is a purple top turnip with the sweetness nearing that of the hakurei turnip, making it a great turnip for early season snacks, salads and roasted root mixes. It also has a juicy crunch that makes it hard to not eat the whole root right off the greens.”

Photo features baby kale from Blue Moon Farm.
New Items Around the Store
April Café feature:

It's the return of the ice table! Spring is here and our iced beverages are back.
  • All iced beverages are $1 off during the month of April

Drip coffee has new pricing:
  • $2.49 for 16 oz
  • $2.19 for 12 oz
  • Save 50¢ if you bring your own mug

New meat and cheese items
  • Fresh Chicken from Whistling Hen Farms (4/11)
  • Located in Bellflower, IL
  • Only available for one week

  • There are two new meat options from Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed
  • 100% grass fed beef brisket
  • Uncured Stadium Bratwurst

  • We're now carrying True Story's organic products in our meat case
  • Certified Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Certified Humane

  • We will have the following items in stock from The Piggery, for a limited time:
  • Uncured bacon, smoked deli-style turkey, deli ham, uncured turkey pepperoni, pork chops rubbed in ancho chili powder, and bacon jam
  • Find information regarding their farm practices here.

  • New local cheese from Green Meadow Cheese F
  • Located in Sumner, IL
  • Raw milk Jersey cow cheese made with non-GMO cow's milk
  • We will be carrying the following selection of their cheeses:
  • Jersey gold cheddar, Jersey gold sharp cheddar, Barbie's choice, and jalapeño

  • New local cheese from Piemonte Sausages
  • Find their delicious Filetto Salumi in our cheese/charcuterie case

Co-op Bakery:
$1 off whole pies for Easter from 4/16-4/23

Our Co-op Bakery is located in the Co-op Kitchen, where all of our delicious Co-op foods are made from scratch, with love, with local and organic ingredients whenever possible.
The Switch to Wax Paper
A better solution than plastic wrap
"Have you noticed that some of our cheeses are now wrapped in wax paper? The reason for the change in wrapping is that plastic wrap is used to prevent the moisture wicking from cut cheese to sit on the cheese, creating greater moisture loss and allowing for flavors from the plastic to penetrate the cheese. The cheese should also have some ability to release ammonia and breathe slightly. Plastic wrap prevents that
oxygen exchange, which is why waxed paper is currently the best solution."  
A message from John & Molly Meyer
Meet our new local farmers from Whistling Hen Farms
  "Thank you for the opportunity to share information about our farm and how its level of flourishing is directly related to your customer’s. We believe the food we eat is connected to every aspect of our lives. Since our food’s level of nourishment is connected to its origins, the foundation which food is grown must be solid; the methods in which food is grown must be sound. If the origins and methods of food propagation and growth are honored with the respect they deserve our need for wholesome increases are met. Finally, our farm is new; we have started it very intentionally with the principle of integrity as the goal. Each step in the unfolding of our farm’s growth process has been carefully weighed and measured in order to bring about the highest level of complementary with the soil, air, water, and all the living organisms there in and the yields given for our food."

Their free range & antibiotic-free farm consist of hogs and chickens that are pasture-fed clover, alfalfa, and oats in the growing season and the same mix of hay in the winter. The pasture and hay is grown without harmful pesticides or herbicides, and is also supplemented with a non-GMO and chemical free ration of corn and soybeans.
Priya (Founder of Eat4Health, Co-op Owner #12157)
CGFC: There seems to be is a lack of nutritional education in schools and we’ve been talking with pre-med students and they’ve expressed how pre-med curriculum also doesn’t emphasize nutrition. What are your thoughts on access to nutritional education in schools?

Priya: I definitely agree with your point that it is lacking. I’m actually pre-med as well and one of the things that really drew me to medicine is wanting to bring in these important things like nutrition into the forefront. And it’s becoming better. For example, I worked on a curriculum to implement a teaching kitchen for med school students, so there are more initiatives like that, but it’s still lacking greatly. The majority of physicians do not feel comfortable giving nutritional information. I think it was definitely under 15% of people that feel confident with that. There’s obviously a problem there because they’re not getting many hours on that education [on nutrition]. They usually don’t meet the recommended and sometimes get around it by getting IV nutrition. They don’t get the actual core details that they need and I think the same is true with younger kids’ curriculum. Schools have been ramping up science and all of the core things and sometimes forgets about the ones that don’t get them funding. So I think it’s really important that we all come together to bring nutrition to the forefront.

Visit the Humans of the Co-op website for the entire interview and to see all our Humans.
We Could See An End to Single-Use Plastic
With Earth Day approaching on April 22nd, much of March's media narratives revolved around finding greener alternatives to plastic packaging. Faced with the issue of single-use plastic taking up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, or the even more pressing issues that plastics contribute to climate change, as oil is used to make them, and that plastic that is slower to degrade is showing up at sea and on beaches . Many U.S. states and businesses are now looking for alternative single-use container options that would be more environmentally friendly in the long run.

States such as New York, California, Maryland, and even Hawaii are creating and negotiating legislature that would likely orchestrate an end to the distribution single-use plastics in places such as restaurants, stores, wholesalers, and government agencies . At the business level, Starbucks is testing out greener alternatives to its paper cup, which is wrapped in plastic.

  • New York State Lawmakers have decided to put a statewide band in place on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales, in order to reduce the use of them.
  • Though this choice appears to be more environmentally friendly, it appears to have some drawbacks: people will end up switching to paper, which does not put us too much better off than plastic. The real eco-friendly alternative would be switching to reusable bags, an alternative which the legislation has yet to address or encourage.

  • After nearly three decades, Starbucks is trying a greener alternative to its paper cups, lined with plastic that makes them unable to be recycled.The company announced that it is testing out a compostable cup in five locations — New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and London. The new cup looks identical to Starbucks' current paper cup, but the usual plastic liner is replaced by a biodegradable liner that serves as a barrier to make sure liquid doesn't escape the cup.
  • Of course there were a few drawbacks to this, too, including their biggest challenge being to change consumer behavior by making sure that the cups actually end up in recycling bins. A more effective alternative to this would be, instead, to focus on the idea of reusable cup systems.

Overall, March has shown many efforts being taken to the State level, as well as some effort being taken at a business level, to reduce the distribution of single-use non-biodegradable plastics, and thus better protect the environment. Though there are still many details that need to be worked out, it is clear that steps are being taken towards more greener alternatives to single-use plastic packaging. If this kind of legislature is passed, it would have a better, lasting effect on the parts of our ecosystem that suffers due to single-use plastics, most notably being sea life.

If you're interested in reading more on the subject, here are a few different articles:

Round Up For R.A.C.E.S.
An update on the March Round Up

In March, together we raised over $3,600 for Rape Advocacy, Counseling, and Education Services and contributed towards its efforts to challenge the rape culture and empower victims and survivors of sexual violence through advocacy, counseling, education, crisis intervention, and activism.   "

Your donations will help enable R.A.C.E.S. to continue a nearly 40 year tradition of service to victims and survivors in a safe, confidential environment free of charge.

Round Up For Good is a call-to-action inspired program, which began in February 2010 when Common Ground owners expressed a desire to help fund the relief of the earthquake in Haiti. Since then, the program has transformed into a community-focused ongoing effort to help fund local organizations that are selected democratically by store owners.

April Round-Up: Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners

Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners   is a community-based project that focuses on providing books to Illinois inmates at no cost by mail and through two county jail libraries.

UC Books to Prisoners' mission includes:
  • Providing books to inmates in Illinois by recycling donated books
  • Facilitating a quality volunteer experience
  • Offering a venue for inmates to tell their own stories
  • Educating ourselves and our community about prisons

They are a "community-powered" local volunteer organization, and offer many different ways to get involved, such as reading letters from inmates, selecting books from the collection of donated materials and sending books to inmates in response to their requests, and more.

You can donate books, computers, and more; visit http://www.books2prisoners.org

April Classes & Events

See what's new for the month of April in our classes email.

You can always sign up online or in-store and classes are listed on the class calendar.
Enjoy $2 off your next purchase of $15 or more
Just bring in this slip or show it on your device. Valid through the end of February. May not be reused or used for sale items, Co-op Basics, or alcohol.