A Life-changing Experience – Volunteering for the Co-op

On a winter evening, I walk into the brightly lit home and already sense the energy. Greetings ring out from the kitchen where some are already gathering, filling their glasses with sparkling water or wine, placing delectable snacks on the table, and sharing their recent news with one another. As others arrive, the jovial noise in the room increases. Soon, Joy claps her hands together and calls out, “Let’s get down to business, shall we?” Slowly the chatter quiets down as people take their seats around the table, still glowing from the conversation, invigorated to start the meeting. The next ninety or so minutes bring lively discussion, idea-generating, lighthearted banter, and much collaboration. This is the membership (newly dubbed outreach and education) committee meeting held once a month, and I look forward to it each time. Who can say that about meetings they attend? But the common cause (to bring our brick and mortar cooperative grocery store to fruition in this community) which brings this group of volunteers together is really what motivates us all, and why participating in this way is so meaningful.Continue reading

Winter soup recipe: Posole

I have always thought that winter was a great time to make new soups and stews. My mother loved her chicken noodle soup. She made the noodles with a big wooden board and a rolling pin. Sometimes we got to help. My favorite soups are Posole and Hot and Sour Soup. Both of these soups end up being a kind of “everything but the kitchen sink” variety of soup. Here is my version of posole.Continue reading

Your Co-op Wants You!

Have you ever wondered about what’s going on with the Co-op and how to get more involved? The time has never been better.

Come on out! Mingle and learn – bring a friend for your chance to win this spring garden pack or other door prizes!

Come out to the Cedar Falls Public Library on Wednesday, January 22 from 6 – 8 p.m. to gain an in-depth understanding of your community Co-op and to learn about the many ways you can volunteer (one-time and ongoing). We’ll provide delicious local snacks and the opportunity to meet others interested in the Co-op movement.

We promise to greet you with hot cocoa upon your arrival, while sharing our excitement about our community-grown grocery store, and letting you know what is happening with the co-op RIGHT NOW. You’ll then be better informed as you help your Co-op spread the word. We will also help YOU find YOUR perfect niche so you can assist YOUR COMMUNITY in getting our co-op here soon. Most importantly, we’ll have fun because co-ops are community, and we love celebrating ours. We’ll even announce our Co-op Community Volunteer of the Month plus have a door prizes for some lucky participants!

Do I have to be a Co-op member-owner to come?
No, and you don’t have to join, but, of course, we’ll have member share forms available should you wish to do so that night.

I’m a member-owner, can I bring someone with me who is not yet a member-owner?
Yes, that would be super! In fact, that would be so super that ANY member who brings a guest on a cold January evening to the warm library Community Room for this event will be entered into a drawing for a door prize.

Your co-op is growing. Meet the movers and shakers behind this work, and become part of the Co-op movement. See you on January 22!

Celebrate Local Producers at the Annual Local Food Dinner on February 5

Enjoy delicious dishes featuring local foods while hearing about the local food movement in the Cedar Valley. This annual dinner, held at this time of year (off-season for farming so that local producers can participate), is a great way to celebrate the bounty we produce right here in this region. Sponsored by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education, this event is co-hosted by the Diamond Event Center, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Cedar Falls Food Co-op.

Mark your calendar and get your tickets soon! The Annual Local Food Dinner this year is on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. There will be a social hour from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. with dinner and program to follow (6:30 – 8 p.m.).Continue reading

From the Board President: New Year, New Changes, and New Energy

Happy New Year!

I know this might come as a surprise to a few of you, but serving as the Co-op’s president isn’t my full-time job! Just like the majority of the Co-op volunteers, we all have regular jobs, so we do our best to squeeze in Co-op work when we can.

I know that if it weren’t for the dedication of an amazing parade of volunteers since our first community meeting seven years ago, we wouldn’t be standing where we are right now. And where are we standing? We are doing quite well. Don’t take my word on it; consider the perspective of others:

Continue reading

Purchase a Co-op Member Share to Gift this Holiday Season or Donate to our Scholarship Fund

Every year, at this time, member-owners and other friends ask us about giving the gift of a co-op member-owner share to a loved one. We have had parents gift memberships to adult children and vice versa, businesses gift memberships to employees, and friends gift memberships to one another. It’s a “feel good” experience to provide this gift that will keep on giving for many years to come.

Continue reading

Holiday Foods: Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Thanksgiving and the Christmas season are a time of good food and families. Some of the food that I serve appeared on my grandmother’s table during these holidays.
I sometimes add and remove ingredients from those dishes. Candied yams have acquired brandy, asparagus is now made with fresh mushrooms instead of canned, and the turkey is fried. Certain members of the family still eat the cranberry jelly that you slide out of a can to be sliced. The rest crave my version of cranberry sauce. I am including a basic recipe but don’t forget the red wine, which is what makes it extra special. I usually double the recipe with lots of orange zest sprinkled on top.

Continue reading

Time for Soup!

Back by request, join fellow members for the Co-op Soup Swap and get your freezer stocked with delicious homemade soups that make it easy to keep the soup on throughout this busy season. Share recipes and sample all the soups, too!

Continue reading

Living the Co-op Life in Idaho

By Mary McInnis*

Visiting Idaho in the spring, I found the lights on at the Moscow Food Co-op after a sketchy ride over the mountain on a borrowed bike. At the hot bar, I loaded up a plate with lentil this and quinoa that – so many vegetarian options that even in ravenous post-ride mode I couldn’t try them all. But I would be back.
And now I live here. I mean, not at the Co-op. Or do I?

On most days, I touch down at the satellite location of the Co-op on the campus of the University of Idaho. It’s a block from my grad student office, and has all the necessities – coffee from local roasters, chipotle Idaho potato salad, Trollhouse cookies (heartier than Tollhouse!), and Ethan. Ethan is the kind of person who will only elevate your day. And when you walk off fully absorbed in the steam coming off the Americano he just barista’d up for you, he’ll ask, no judgment, if it’s okay that he press that last button to close down your pay screen. Coffee anticipation always gets the better of me – and no one at the Co-op, not even the person waiting to pay, thinks any worse of me. Our pride in this thing we actually own together helps us feel togetherness. Before heading back to my office with my haul, I grab a fork – a legit metal fork I can borrow and return through the Co-op’s sustainability program to reduce waste – and walk out fully in step with my values.

One Sunday afternoon, I attend the Co-op’s “Healthy Eating on a Budget” workshop on plant-based protein recipes. An overqualified dietitian/chef distributes a handout with recipes and nutritional info, walks us through a PowerPoint presentation, and serves us prepared recipe samples like “Chickpea Flour Omelet” – all things you could make for only 25 cents to 75 cents per serving. I’m all in and buying ingredients for “No Bake Nut Butter Oat Bars” before you can say “Why are we dropping three bucks a pop on store-bought energy bars?!?”

I like to hole up at the Co-op downtown for more than food. I hang out in the sunny dining area grading papers, drinking coffee from a real mug, and listening to the sounds of community. “Co-op Kids” for preschoolers is sometimes meeting behind me, the littles engaged in healthy living activities, the parents getting some connection time.

The wall nearby holds striking pen-and-ink renderings of the Palouse hills by this month’s local artist, all for sale. In the checkout line with a few grocery items that shouldn’t fit in my overstuffed backpack but always do, the staff is warm even when bike commuting weather isn’t. Backpack jam-packed, I managed to save a bag so I get a token to drop into the bin for the local charity of my choice. All of this fuels me – yes, the food, but also every small thing that reminds me of my values and my community. My co-op is the place that connects it all.

*Mary is a Co-op member-owner who recently moved from the Cedar Valley to Moscow, Idaho.