Feeding the Palouse — Working to Reduce Food Insecurity in our Community

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Co-op shoppers are different from those in a regular grocery store          

—  and the Co-op strives to keep up with you all. When we built our Ends Statement, it was clear that as a community, our goals are much bigger than bringing unique produce and local ingredients to the Palouse. We, as a collective group of dedicated grocery store owners, also strive to increase access to healthy, sustainable food for everyone.

Food accessibility is a major concern of our owners and a driving factor in our business model. We live in one of the richest agricultural hubs in the northern United States, yet too many families on the Palouse struggle to get adequate nutrition. 

One way we understand this problem is through food security, a metric developed by the US Department of Agriculture. A household is considered food secure if they meet two standards: the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, and the assured ability to acquire that food. 

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In 2016, the USDA found that around 12 percent of households nationwide were food insecure. Much more alarming, however: on the Palouse, that number is as high as 18 percent.

This information has made it all the more vital for us to provide services like our FLOWER program. Through FLOWER, an acronym which stands for Fresh, Local, and Organic Within Everyone’s Reach, families who qualify for state or federal benefits — including SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, or free or reduced school lunches — receive a 10% storewide discount every time they shop at the Co-op. FLOWER is a powerful tool to help increase food accessibility for those among us who are in need – and it isn’t the only one in our toolbox.

We're delighted to see our owners work hard through Co-op programs to support local food banks. We provide a food pantry shelf at the front of the store, as well as  the opportunity to make direct financial contributions at our check-out lanes. Co-op shoppers can choose to purchase donations in $5 or $10 denominations for products that go directly to local food banks. 

Through this program, you, our customers and owners, donated over a ton of food (2,053 lbs., to be exact) to food banks in 2017. And this doesn’t even count the bread that was donated – our bakery alone contributed more than 3,500 lbs. of nutritious bread last year.

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One of our vital partners in this endeavor to reduce food insecurity on the Palouse is the Whitman County Community Action Center (CAC). This Pullman nonprofit is an outstanding resource hub for Whitman County residents who struggle with food insecurity. Many of our food bank contributions went supported food packaging projects at the CAC, thanks to help from Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement. 

These events turn our bulk food donations (lentils, pasta, banana chips, and other staples) into grab-and-go bags for easy pick-up by community members during food bank hours.

CAC Food Bank Manager Ashley Vaughan asked us to keep in mind that hunger doesn’t go away during the spring and summer. The holiday season is typically the busiest for food banks, but it's always a good time to pitch in and contribute healthy, delicious ingredients to local families. It takes a combined effort from everyone in our community to reduce food insecurity. You have the power to change someone’s life for the better – and the Co-op can help you do it.
-Max Newland
 

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberries and Chickpea Brittle

Check out this latest recipe from the Summer 2018 issue of Rooted, which you can read online by following the link below!

Read the Summer 2018 Rooted now!

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For the vanilla ice cream:
2.5 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons vodka

Instructions:
Pour the cream into a chilled mixing bowl. Scrape the vanilla bean into the cream and reserve the pod for another use.
Whip the cream to soft peaks and add the condensed milk. Continue to whip until the peaks stand at attention.
Fold in the vodka (to prevent over-freezing!) and place mixture in the freezer.

For the blueberry compote:
2 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon rose water
1 orange peel

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate overnight. 
The next day, transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the texture becomes similar to jam, around 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the chickpea brittle:
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450°. Toss your chickpeas with the oil and roast in the oven until crisp, around 25-30 minutes.
Combine sugar, butter and cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture darkens and starts to bubble.
Add chickpeas and stir, then remove from heat. Pour mixture onto a sheet tray with parchment paper, and flatten.
Cool to room temperature, and break into pieces to serve.

To serve, scoop ice cream into your favorite dish and top with brittle and compote! 

Fiddlehead Ferns - A Fleeting Springtime Treat

Right now, we're ripe with fiddlehead ferns. These interesting coils are harvested early to be used as a vegetable, and they are absolutely delicious. Check out some more info below:

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These charming baby ferns have a very short season, usually starting in early spring when young plants are growing new leaves. They are tightly coiled in their youth, and if left unharvested, would bloom into new fern fronds. 

Fiddlehead ferns taste similar to asparagus, with a hint of spinach. They have a unique texture, somewhat crunchy like cauliflower or, oddly enough, shrimp (in texture only!) Some people say they taste a hint of nuttiness, mushroom or artichoke. Alongside the richness of morels, their spring time companions, they will exude a greenbean-like flavor. 

FIddlheads are very easy to cook! We don't recommend eating them raw - they should always be cooked. You can think of them the same way you think of asparagus: saute, steam, boil... it's all delicious! We like them with butter and alliums like onions, garlic, and shallots. If you're foraging, make sure you bring an expert along with you!

First, cut the tip of the stem off (you only want one or two inches of stem attached to the coil.) We recommend cooking sliced garlic in a pan with butter until it starts to lightly brown, then adding the ferns with another tablespoon or so of butter. Saute them until they reach your desired texture - not too soft! (We added a dash of black vinegar and some sesame seeds to the ones you see pictured above.)

They pair well with light cheeses like buratta, make an excellent pizza topping, and work delightfully in French dishes like omelettes with hollandaise sauce. Because they have a short season, many people will pickle them for use in salads, sandwiches, or as a side dish.  If you're looking to add a new veggie to your vegan, paleo or keto diet, these are the unique ingredient for you!

Green Goddess Avocado Toast

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A delicious breakfast or lunch, avocado toast can become a staple of your quick-and-easy weekday meals.

This particular avocado toast is rich, savory and full of healthy fats and protein to keep you full throughout the day.

 

 

     

    Ingredients:

    • 2 slices of toast (your choice! We recommend the Co-op's Multigrain.)
    • One medium-sized avocado
    • One egg (cooked however you like - we went for sunny-side-up)
    • Green Goddess Tahini dressing (recipe below)
    • Red onion and cilantro for garnish
    • Lemon juice

    Spread the Green Goddess Tahini evenly on a slice of warm toast. Top with diced avocado and red onion. Cook your egg however you like, and slide it on to the toast for an extra kick of quality protein and B2. Fresh cilantro will make a perfectly well-rounded garnish (it goes wonderfully with the Green Goddess Tahini,) and a sprinkle of lemon juice will keep your avocado from oxidizing. 

    Green Goddess Tahini

    This dressing will thicken in the fridge, so don't be afraid of over-thinning it. 

    • 1 cup tahini
    • The juice of two lemons
    • 1/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1/2 cup basil leaves, rough chopped
    • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
    • 1/2 cup chives, rough chopped
    • 1/4 cup of radish greens
    • Water
    • A big pinch of salt

    Blend* all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender until herbs and garlic are finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in water until your dressing reaches your desired consistency! Store in a jar or other air-tight container for up to one week. 

    *You can also chop the ingredients finely by hand, and mix in the tahini and water to blend the dressing.

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    Cherimoya: The Greatest Fruit on the Planet? Probably.

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    “We had an abundance of fruit in Honolulu, of course. Oranges, pine-apples, bananas, strawberries, lemons, limes, mangoes, guavas, melons, and a rare and curious luxury called the cherimoya, which is deliciousness itself.” 

    (Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1872)

    Creamy, sweet and smooth, cherimoya has been called by Purdue University "certainly the most esteemed of the fruits..." and we're inclined to agree. We love this fruit.

    Here's why:

    1. You can eat them raw: Easily broken or cut to expose the pleasant fragrance and delicious, custard-like fruit, they're usually eaten like an avocado: scooped out with a spoon, or cut in half lengthwise and peeled. This is our favorite way to consume all the interesting fruit that comes through the Co-op! Cherimoya fruit is creamy like a banana, but with a subtle flavor reminiscent of vanilla and pears. Some people taste pineapple or mango or even bubblegum, and ours at the Moscow Food Co-op are rather sweet and smooth.
    2. Actually, you can eat them in a ton of different ways. Thick dark seeds pop up throughout the flesh of this unique fruit, so be sure to cut your pieces into cubes before adding them to your favorite smoothie recipes. The cherimoya will add a delightfully creamy texture and sweet flavor to any smoothie or morning drink, and can easily replace bananas for unique new variety. Cherimoya can also be cut into cubes, pureed, and used as a mousse or pie filling. 
    3. Cherimoya seeds have interesting medicinal uses, and are toxic if crushed! Cherimoya seeds, if kept dry, will remain viable for several years. The seeds can be toasted, peeled and pulverized... the powder taken with water or milk can be used as a potent emetic and cathartic. Mixed with grease, the powder from the seeds is used to kill lice and is applied on parasitic skin disorders. Yikes! We'll stick to just eating the fruit. :-)
    4. With zero saturated fat, cherimoyas are cholesterol-free, high in fiber, iron, and niacin, and contain powerful cytotoxins that are said to combat cancer, malaria, and human parasites. They're high in vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that helps the body resist infection, as well as a good source of B vitamins, notably vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which provides 20 percent of the daily recommended value.

    Come down to the Moscow Food Co-op and grab one of these delicious beauties today!