Greetings from Common Ground Food Co-op!
Ice Cream Social: Sun. June 25,
Eastern Illinois Foodbank Fundraiser
Our Annual Ice Cream Social is coming up soon! All proceeds go to Eastern Illinois Foodbank, located here in Champaign. Every year our goal is to raise enough money to fund 10,000 meals for EIF. Will you help us?
Save the Date: Sunday June 25, 12-3pm
Join us for an ultimate sundae starring:
- local Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery gelato
- local Kilgus Farmstead ice cream
- Coconut Bliss dairy-free ice cream
- delicious sundae toppings from our Bulk section
- local musicians
Eastern Illinois Foodbank is our Round Up For Good recipient for the month of June. Last year EIF supplied 7.5 million pounds of food to those living in 17 different counties of Eastern Illinois. They served over 58,000 different members each week; with children representing 38% of those recipients. Round up your total to the next dollar and see the small change add up!
Imbibe Urbana's First Friday: 4:30-6:30pm at the Co-op
We'll be hosting Maria Merkelo & Company on our front porch this Friday, June 2nd, and they will play music from all over the world. Bring your kids, loved ones and dancing shoes! They'll start at 4:30pm.
We'll be sampling:
- Great summer wines
- NEW! Strawberry Lemonade & Strawberry Lemonade cake
- Salpica salsa and crunchy tortilla chips
- Ripe raspberries, blueberries and grapes
- Wellness Supplements to take home
Hemp History Week: June 5-11th
Hemp History Week
is Breaking Ground this June 5-11 with sales on your favorite hemp products! Hemp is a healthy source of protein, Omega-3 and -6 Essential Fatty Acids, vitamins and minerals. Hemp is good for the environment too!
Common Ground will be hosting Rob from Queen City Hemp Saturday, June 17th, 9-11am to demo some of our new Hemp products. Stop in to learn more!
We will also feature specials on all Hemp products during Hemp History Week so you can stock up!
Protein-packed Deli Salads
Looking for something easy to go with lunch?
These homemade sides make a perfect addition to a sandwich, a salad, or with sliced veggies, like cucumber, carrots or red peppers.
15% OFF Select Deli Salads:
- Chickpea salad: made from scratch with bulk chickpeas
- Tuna Salad: featuring unsalted Tongol Tuna
- Egg Salad: made with local FeatherLane eggs
- Tofu "Egg" Salad: lightly scrambled tofu with celery and hints of turmeric
- Quintessential Quinoa Tabouli: with refreshing parsley and cucumber
- Blackened Tofu:spiced with delicious chipotle seasoning
Call in a Sandwich &/or Pizza order: (217) 239-4525
Happy Father's Day: Show Gratitude for your Daditude
If you're looking for ways to celebrate Father's Day, (Sunday, June 18th) and show him you care, here are some ideas of how you can celebrate:
Cook for your Dad! Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we have some great recipes by our salad bar that take less than 30 minutes to make. We've got all the best ingredients for a quality meal! Grab some soup for a nice side or a whole quiche to help supplement the meal.
Pamper your Dad! We've got some affordable soaps & shower essentials, Badger beard balms & oils, Men's multivitamins, and other wellness items to help your dad look and feel at his best each day!
Celebrate with his favorite beer or wine! You can treat him to a mixed 6-pack of unique craft beers, grab his favorite bottle of wine, or pair the drinks with some bulk snacks, cheese & crackers, or heat up the grill!
Grill Meats or Fish with your Dad! What about grilling local Spare Ribs, Pork Shoulder Roast, Piemonte Sausages, Sockeye Salmon Sides, or Pacific Cod for dinner? These meats would make any dinner special!
Six New Co-op Artists featured in Art Gallery
Curious to check out the newest art installed in our Gallery?
We are overjoyed to introduce six new artists to the Flatlander Art Gallery, including:
- Lars Anderson, age 11, son of Co-op owner
- Co-op staff members & couple Jessica Rasmussen, Gray Sutton and their 5 year old daughter Alina Sutton
- Co-op staff member Tia Oliver and her 6 year old son Valentin Oliver
on our website and stop by the classroom to see the Gallery!
(Artwork by Alina Sutton)
Free Smart Energy Workshop: June 13th, 6-7pm
We will be hosting a free workshop discussing method to reduce energy this summer.
Ameren is installing new "Smart Meters" in C/U this summer we'll go over ways to incorporate the Smart Meters for your home. These workshops, which are funded by the Illinois Science Education and Innovation Foundation, educate consumers about the benefits of the Smart Meter/Smart Grid.
Join us on June 13th, 6-7pm in the Flatlander Classroom for this event.
New Class! Three Local Salads & Salad Dressings, June 15th
We are featuring a new Cooking Healthy on a Budget Class.
Learn how to make three delicious salads using local ingredients. You will taste different cheeses, seasonal vegetables, and learn more about the unique flavors of the seasonal greens. Co-op staff members, Sarah and Shannan, will lead the class through the tasting and you'll walk away with delicious recipes and knowledge of how to make your own delicious salads and salad dressings.
Space is limited, but the class is free. Sign up today at the registers or online through
Pollinator Week: June 19-25
During National Pollinator Week, we are collaborating with the
Entomology Graduate Student Association at University of Illinois to raise awareness about how we can increase safe habitats for pollinators. Due to the drastic decline of many of these species, it is important we learn ways to support pollinator populations.
We will mark many of our items in store with a pollinator label, to show you just how many pollinators we depend on to help supply us with food.
We will also host EGSA president,
Charles-Antoine Dean, an entomologist, who will love to speak to you about the value of pollinators and the need for permanent pollinator habitats.
From Ted, Our Board Member
Most businesses are in business for one thing; the bottom line. But, co-ops are changing the business narrative. In a cooperative business, providing for the customer and often the community is what sets the business apart. Each co-op is unique, but they are all trying to meet the needs of their community. The cooperative business model is a true practice in democracy.
Today the cooperative movement is stronger than ever. More than 750 million people worldwide are members of one or more cooperatives. We are proving that there are alternatives to the capitalistic minded business practices. Every year, Common Ground Food Co-op gives you the opportunity to participate in your business in the most democratic way possible; by holding an election for the Board of Directors. The board is already working on the Election Packet, which will be available on the Common Ground website beginning in July. While every year there are at least three seats going to the ballot box, this year, due to a vacancy, there will be four. If you are interested in running I would suggest reading over the Election Packet. Other ways to get more information are to read the minutes from past board meetings, attend a board meeting (second Monday of the month, 6:15pm, Urbana Civic Center), or talk to a current or former board member. The next board outreach event is scheduled for the evening of Friday, June 9th . At these outreach events, members of the board will be available in store to talk with owners.
Just by reading this newsletter you are participating in Common Ground Food Co-op, and in turn participating in your community. I encourage all owners to take the next step in their personal involvement in Common Ground. If you only shop at Common Ground for a few specialty items, I would encourage you to do more of your regular weekly grocery shopping here. If you are not already an owner, I would encourage you to buy a share. If you are an owner, I encourage you to vote in the upcoming election. And if you are looking for the most effective and profound way to participate in your co-op, consider running for the Common Ground Board of Directors.
Making tomorrow sustainable is a task for today
While more grocery stores carry local produce in response to consumer demand, it's important to understand why local food is more than just a fad. Fads come and go, but the benefits of robust local food systems and the reasons to support them endure.
For people and planet, buying local is a health issue. We eat to nourish ourselves, so why not give yourself the best available? Food that is grown, harvested, and consumed locally is generally fresher and more nutritious. According to food researcher and author Michael Pollan, "
The longer produce spends in a truck, the more tired it gets; many of its nutrients - vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals of all kinds - deteriorate over time" (1). The concept of "food miles" was invented to bring attention to this double-edged issue, as truck travel affects not only personal health, but environmental health through the burning of fossil fuels. Pollan continues, "The average fruit or vegetable on an American plate has traveled 1500 miles from the farm". By reducing food miles, local consumption drastically lowers our carbon footprint. Common Ground defines local as within 100 miles of the store.
Another key environmental benefit of local food systems is the farmer's relationship with the land. Feeding the soil is an integral aspect of land use for local producers. Soil health is improved year over year through composting and regular crop rotation, and organic farms are more likely to become carbon sinks, retaining hazardous atmospheric carbon in the soil (2). Carbon sequestration is becoming widely recognized as a potential solution to climate change: "there's too much carbon in the atmosphere and not enough in the ground where it can be used" (3). But it only works with well-managed soil, fed with enough organic matter to foster the microbes that actually transform the carbon into workable soil.
Composting and other effective soil management strategies are common among organic farms and make communities more resilient to ecological crises like drought, erosion, and wildfire in other parts of the country. The potential for local food systems to mitigate the effects of climate change merits many more words and much more attention. But for brevity's sake, when we buy local, we are doing our part to reduce the negative environmental impacts of agriculture, while nourishing ourselves with what grows around us.
Economic & social issue
Seasoned farmer and poet Wendell Berry reminds us that beyond preserving practices and soil, local food systems "preserve the working capital of a place" (4). The more we rely on those within our own community to provide for us, the more we strengthen the local economy. Buying from local producers enables them to continue serving the community while simultaneously expanding the market to accommodate more small, local producers. A diversified economy with a greater number of small producers is more stable than one supporting more large, industrial-scale operations. A strong and stable local food economy is imperative for long-term sustainability.
Strengthening the local producer-consumer connection is a social issue as much as it is economic
. Instead of outsourcing food production to an impersonal corporation and reaping none of the benefits, we're connecting our own community's resources. Buying from other community members - people you know, or even could know - is inherently rewarding. "Know your food" is the mantra at the heart of the co-op's ethic to foster conscious consumerism. Getting food from a local producer builds the trust that you are getting what you pay for, which is the quality of the food and the knowledge that it was grown with care and concern for community.
Two recent scandals highlight the dangers of not knowing one's food. First, a test of "so-called organic products imported from China found that 37% of the 232 samples showed pesticide residue" (5). Second, an industrial chicken giant which supplies poultry for Taco Bell, Popeye's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the US federal school lunch program was just cited as "among the most dangerous workplaces in America" and nabbed for exploiting immigrant workers (6
Increasingly, dietary concerns have turned food issues mainstream. But with more attention paid to personal health, less has been paid to the serious political issues that underlie our food system. In the age of corporatization, food has been hit hard. The National Grocers Association has spent nearly $3 million on lobbying members of Congress with an additional $300,000 given in gifts since 1996 (7). Monsanto gave $6,000,000 in the 2012 election cycle and another $4,600,000 throughout 2016. And in 2015, $101 million was spent by groups that oppose the labeling of GMOs (8). Although a law mandating GMO-labeling takes effect in 2018, the effort to oppose transparency has been remarkable. Local food is all about transparency, so the more that it is threatened, the more it becomes the solution.
Politics is power. Farming's transformation into an industrial-scale business has shifted the power from the people to the corporations - it will take resilient opposition to regain that power. The decades-old revolving door between the food industry and the USDA and other federal agencies has led to regulations and a culture that favor large, industrial operations over small people invested in their community. These mass-producers are also mass-polluters who boast fewer nutrients per acre than their small farm counterparts, in addition to having an energy output that is just 1/12 the input when accounting for seed, pesticide, and fertilizer manufacturing, and transportation (9).
The aforementioned economic diversification that is so important to local food movements is threatened by today's dangerous trend toward the elimination of local cultivars and the fact that 60% of the seed market is controlled by just four seed companies. The corn market is the worst off, with the Big Four owning 80% (10). This bloated market has skyrocketed entry costs to deter small farmers, only worsening the trend.
The more dire the situation, however, the more obvious our solution becomes. We must continue to fortify our local food system as we are able because with it survives our ability to choose alternatives to this destructive paradigm. We must create our own sustainable system rather than relying on unsustainable, irresponsible industrial mass-production.
When we, as a society, have outsourced the production of our own food to people who have little concern for our well-being and no personal connection to us, we lose touch. We lose our sense of place and with it, our relationship to the land that nourishes us. When the soil becomes a commodity, we no longer see it as something that is vital to our health. And when decades of irresponsibility turn the humus to dust, we have only ourselves to blame and only ourselves to look toward to make it better. So, we vote with our dollar, we support our community, and we protect our future by buying local. Above all, it is an ecological issue.
"Nature is a party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." - Wendell Berry
9: Ackerman-Leist, Rebuilding the Foodshed (2013)
if you have any questions or want to further this discussion.
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Benefit for Courage Connections
Common Ground is proud to help sponsor the Benefit Concert for Courage Connections &
the locally produced web series Empowered about young female superheroes on Sunday, June 18th from 7pm-12am at the Independent Media Center. A special thank you to Jarrod Finn and
Malachi Entertainment for putting this event together.
us! We'd love to hear from you!
300 S. Broadway Avenue Suite #166, Urbana, IL 61801