February Staff Picks

The first staff-person I spoke with this month was Cody Brown, who has been working at the Co-op in the meat department for nearly two years. For his pick this month, Cody chose the Gigantic IPA beer brewed by Gigantic Brewing Company, out of the southeast section of Portland, Oregon.

Cody selected this product because he thinks this IPA is drinkable and well-balanced. He says it is hoppy enough to be a nice flavorful IPA, but not so hoppy that the flavor is overwhelming. Cody says this is his beer choice to serve with Co-op brats and sauerkraut, which are his number one comfort food choices.

According to their website, www.giganticbrewing.com, Gigantic Brewing Company was started by a couple of midwestern guys who found their way out west. Van Havig is the Master Brewer for the company, having become a professional brewer in 1995 after dropping out of a Ph.D. program in economics at the University of Minnesota to follow his passion for brewing beer. Since then he has worked at Minnesota Brewing Company, and then at the Rock Bottom Breweries in Minneapolis; Bethesda, Maryland; and finally Portland.

This journey led him to his partner in brewing, Ben Love. Mr. Love is a native Oregonian who is passionate about brewing quality craft beers. He learned the craft in Appleton, Wisconsin, at the Adler Brau Brewery, and returned to Oregon in 2004 to brew at Pelican in Pacific City. After a stint as head brewer at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) in Portland, Ben met Van and they started Gigantic Brewing Company. Reviews online support Cody’s assertion that this beer is outstanding, so I’d recommend picking one up next time you’re in the mood for a cold one.

The next staff-person I spoke with was Edge Rios, who has been working at the Co-op as a produce stocker since August. Edge’s recommendation is the organicgirl baby spinach. When I told Edge he could pick a product from anywhere in the store, he said that the produce section is where he spends all of his time working, and also happens to be his favorite area in which to shop, so naturally he wanted to pick something from there.

He chose this product because he loves the ease of buying a package of pre-washed greens to whip up a quick salad to accompany any meal. He says his favorite salad is made using the baby spinach topped with a diced hardboiled egg, a little Deli meat, and a light dressing. He says the spinach is very tender and always hits the spot, and now that the produce department has larger coolers, there are a few new lettuce mixes offered as well as some larger containers.

Organicgirl is comprised of a small group of men and women who live in the Salinas Valley of California and whose mission it is to offer the “best organic produce ever offered.” They take pride in trying to adopt unique and progressive ways to grow organic produce, in the triple washing of their salad greens, and in their use of 100 percent recycled plastic packaging (www.iloveorganicgirl.com). Organicgirl carries a number of single greens varieties as well as blends, many of which are as delicious cooked as they are raw. Their customers rave about their unique mixes and seem to love that they come picked, washed, and deveined (saving time and ensuring that you are paying only for the edible portions of the greens). The Organicgirl Facebook page also features a myriad of yummy salad recipes that are likely to make your salad the highlight of any potluck.