Five Fresh Things to Look for at the Co-op this Summer!

  1. New Fresh Conspiracy Kitchen Summer Salads

Conspiracy Kitchen has been working hard in the kitchen this summer to revitalize our menu with fresh new offerings in the grab-and-go case and beyond.  This includes our continuing our commitment to offering local and seasonal ingredients.  New summer salads are Hunan Broccoli with Rice Salad, Edamame Mint Salad, Broccoli Cashew, Honey Mustard Potato, and Chicken Tarragon and Apple Salad.  These salads and more will rotate in the grab-and-go case. There is a delicious and distinct flavor profile associated with each of these salads that are sure to please lunch time visitors or serve as a fine accompaniment as side dish for dinner.

  1. California Rolls

Fresh California rolls are also new to our grab-and-go line up–both veggie and spicy tuna.  All the fresh rolls are made in-house with organic veggies with no food coloring or additives in the pickled ginger or wasabi.  Veggies include red bell pepper, carrots, sprouts, cucumber and avocado.  Simple, natural and delicious made especially for you by us in the Conspiracy Kitchen. Your purchase of grab-and-go is guilt-free too as our sushi trays are made from plants too! They are a cutting edge bioplastic made by transforming the carbon in plants to lactic acid and are certified for industrial composting.

  1. Fresh In-House Made Conspiracy Juice

In other fresh department news, we now make Conspiracy Juice in-house by our produce staff using only organic ingredients.  We have a basic green juice recipe with kale, apple, celery, lime, etc. We have a carrot juice and ginger juice to which we added apple for an extra sweetness on top of the natural sweetness of the carrot.  Lastly, the watermelon juice has been a favorite and a simple juice that people love. It is also really refreshing like an agua fresca on a hot and humid summer day.  It is watermelon, fresh mint and lime.  This watermelon mint juice will be available as long as the organic watermelons are available.  The team then plans to add a seasonal offering following seasonal availability of produce.

  1. CBD Yoga and Mindy & Body Classes

At the Co-op, we believe along with a healthy food, whole health comes from care and attention to mind and body.  Some of the summer class offerings are by Zoe Rose Lambert of Sonoran Apothecary.  Zoe is a Tucson native who has been working in the health and wellness industry for almost a decade. Zoe’s yoga and hemp derived CBD class will combine all levels relaxed-pace yoga with a hemp derived CBD tincture that students will take internally.  She will also teach a CBD Edibles class where students will learn how to make CBD infused cooking oil to make their own edibles at home.  The Kadampa Meditation Center will offer a class on Healing Mind & Body Buddhist nun Gen Kelsang Lingpur will explain how we can take control of our own healing by relying on the special practices taught by Buddha.  Popular among locals, bread baker and Owner of Barrio Bread, Don Guerra will also teach a class on how purchasing Barrio Bread or making it at home supports a whole local ecosystem.  All classes are at the Co-op’s annex building on 7th Street in Historic Fourth Avenue. Tickets for classes can be purchased online or in the store on 4th Avenue.

  1. Love Local – 10% off Local Produce, Grocery and Conspiracy Kitchen Made Foods

Food Conspiracy has made the commitment long ago to support local farmers and food producers from local honey to rangeland-fed beef and organic apples. We invest in the time it takes to order directly from many local businesses and have had relationships with farmers since the day one.  We also make great prepared foods with the same high quality organic ingredients you can find at the Co-op in our own kitchen.  We highlight all of these offerings at the height of the local summer harvest season with discounts for everyone on all locally grown produce, grocery and Conspiracy Kitchen made foods September 5-11.  Make your list and mark your calendar!

Food Conspiracy Co-op Helps Fund Fuerza Local in Tucson

It takes a village to help small local businesses succeed. In Tucson, the Food Conspiracy Co-op has stepped up to support Local First Arizona and Tucson’s local business community with a grant from the Cooperative Community Fund. Through the Cooperative Community Fund and other community-focused initiatives, the Food Conspiracy Co-op––a member-owned organic grocery store––will help fund the Fuerza Local business accelerator program, from which the first-ever South Tucson cohort will graduate at the end of June.

According to the Food Conspiracy Co-op, the Cooperative Community Fund “is the work of a collaborative effort initiated in the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation and forty food co-ops around the country.” Throughout the year, members, shoppers, and the co-op itself donates money to the Cooperative Community Fund to raise money for nonprofits in Tucson. In February, Food Conspiracy Co-op members voted to divide the funds between three local nonprofits – including Local First Arizona.

The Cooperative Community Fund is a testament to one of the Food Conspiracy Co-op’s main principles––Concern for Community––which states that, “We [Food Conspiracy Co-op] have a special responsibility to ensure the sustainable development of our community economically, socially, and culturally.” The money that Local First Arizona receives from this grant will help fund Fuerza Local, a Local First Arizona Foundation program now serving entrepreneurs in South Tucson that provides a structured business curriculum taught by experienced, bilingual professionals. “Graduates gain access to credit at fair market rates, which enables them to strengthen their businesses, sustain their families, and rebuild their neighborhoods,” says Southern Arizona Director Mike Peel.

The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator is a six-month training program offered at no cost to underserved Hispanic business owners. During the program, entrepreneurs learn some of the fundamentals to launch or develop their business, creating a firm foundation for their goals. Lessons on accounting, social media, marketing, and many others are taught completely in Spanish by industry professionals and experts. Fuerza Local now aims to create successful business owners in South Tucson, thus adding value to our local community and economy. “Fuerza Local” is a Spanish phrase that translates to “local strength,” referencing the idea that this program is meant to build community wealth and prosperity from the ground up. The program is graduating students in five communities across the state, now including Tucson. More than 260 business owners have already completed the program, and combined have generated more than $8.1 million in gross sales and borrowed more than $1.1 million.

Thanks to continued efforts made by the Food Conspiracy Co-op, Local First Arizona has more means to build a strong and vibrant local economy.

originally posted on the Local First Arizona blog, June 25th: 

2018 Elections Results Report

2018 Election Results Report

By John Glennon, Interim General Manager

Election results team 2018:

John Glennon, Chair

Kelly Watters

Tina Millette

Total Votes

194 total votes were cast during the month of March

Board of Directors Election Results:

Guru Das Bach finished the 2018 election with the most votes and will receive a 3 year term. Laura Klass and Kevin Hendricks finished the 2018 election in a tie. The Board assigned Kevin a 3 year term and Laura a 1 year term. All three Board candidates received very strong support.

Propositions Election Results:

Bylaw 8.4: Require approval to defer owner patronage rebates—Passes

Bylaw 4.3: Reduce Board candidate application submittal requirement—Passes

Bylaw 2.4: Maintain full ownership rights—Passes

Cooperative Community Fund Election Results:

These are the top three organizations, starting with the highest vote count:


Northern Jaguar Project

Local First Arizona


Round Up Election Results:

These are the top three organizations, starting with the highest vote count:

Humane Borders

Native Seeds/SEARCH

Mariposas Sin Fronteras

The Results are In!

by Michael DeSantis, Board President

The Food Conspiracy Board of Directors set ambitious goals for this election cycle: celebrate more, include staff and empower members. We also made innovative changes to improve the process, collaborated closely with management and created a system to better plan, budget and implement next year’s election cycle. We reached out to our members and you responded – loud and clear. I’ll share some statistics with you in a moment, but since the annual meeting, I’ve asked staff, members and board members what they most enjoyed, personally. A pattern emerged: It was the celebration of everything we stand for and have worked towards for all these years, and the way we included our hard working staff in that celebration.

Of course, when you try new things, not all of them work out and we have quite a list of “lessons learned” to incorporate into next year’s event planning. I would like to share just one example here. Having never paid close attention to how many kids come to the Annual General Meeting, we were unsure if it would be worth making arrangements with “Playformance” (next door to Borderlands) for special fun for the kids. This year we did pay attention, and 17 kids showed up. So, some kind of special activities for the kids will be part of our future Annual General Meeting planning!

Personally, the most meaningful statistic here is that while two propositions received strong 2 to 1 support, one stood out with 3.5 to 1 support. It was the proposition addressing a potential barrier to running for a seat on the Food Conspiracy Board of Directors. I deeply want to be part of a functioning democracy, where all voices are heard, and our owner controlled co-op has always been a beacon of light for me, even when I’m disheartened by world events. This one statistic, along with the renewed strength and collaboration within our Co-op, gives me what I need to carry on with the good work of building democracy, right here in my own community. Thanks for making your voice heard!

The following is a summary. Thank you again for participating in the governance of your Food Conspiracy Co-op.

Total votes and attendance

194 total votes were cast during the month of March and 184 people attended our Annual General Meeting. (Looking at our 5 year average, the 2018 election cycle and annual meeting was a great success! It was #1 in votes cast and #2 in attendance.)

Board Candidate Results

All three candidates for Board of Directors received very strong support, with each receiving approximately 90% of all votes cast for candidates.

Proposition Results

  • Bylaw 8.4: Require approval to defer owner patronage rebates – Passes 2 to 1
  • Bylaw 4.3: Reduce Board candidate application submittal requirement – Passes 3.5 to 1
  • Bylaw 2.4: Maintain full ownership rights – Passes 2 to 1

Cooperative Community Fund Results

These are the top three organizations, starting with the highest vote count:

  1. BICAS
  2. Northern Jaguar Project
  3. Local First Arizona

Round Up Results

These are the top three organizations, starting with the highest vote count:

  1. Humane Borders
  2. Native Seeds/SEARCH
  3. Mariposas Sin Fronteras






Covilli Brand Organics: 100% Organic AND 100% Fair Trade

Covilli farm is located in the Empalme Valley near Guaymas, Sonora.

Food Conspiracy is happy to announce a new collaboration with Covilli Brand Organics, a produce farm that is both 100% organic AND 100% Fair Trade Certified.  We are currently carrying Covilli heirloom tomatoes, green beans, and Brussel sprouts in our produce section and plan to provide additional Covilli products in the future.

What is Fair Trade and why is it important that our Co-op carry Fair Trade products? As Covilli President, Alex Madrigal, explains in his informative YouTube presentation, Fair Trade is a system with its focus on the employee. He goes on to explain that Fair Trade has two main tenants:

  1. Fair Trade USA certifies that workers receive proper training and that the company fosters an atmosphere and culture of safety. It also guarantees workers’ rights so everyone in the operation understands that they are working fair hours and being paid a fair wage. Fair Trade USA also verifies that there are no child labor laws being compromised.
  2. Empowerment – information, resources, and decision making authority. We all know that the products we buy are connected to the livelihoods of others. Fair Trade provides us a way to support responsible companies and empower farmers and workers via the Fair Trade Premium, money earned that goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions.

Covilli makes its own 100% organic compost, using a state-of-the-art worm house. Produce is grown from non-GMO, organic seeds.

Many produce shippers offer both Fair Trade and non-Fair Trade products. The consumer then decides where to spend the money and which to support.  But Covilli workers decided that it was in their best interest as a group to certify their entire line of products. Why? Madrigal explained, “It’s the right thing to do. There is no reason to apply Fair Trade to some of our products and not to others when we can bring more benefits, faster, to our workers and bring awareness to consumers on how we are all key players in creating a more fair food system. We vote with our dollar.” Covilli took a chance, having faith that the consumer would not “opt out” in favor on non-Fair Trade products. And it’s paid off. In the first 20 months after becoming Fair Trade Certified, Covilli received over half a million dollars in Premiums, now being invested in four projects for its work force: a medical transportation unit, health center, meal service and dining facility, and day care.

Covilli worker empowerment is guided by its Fair Trade Committee, called Nuchi Sansekan or “All Together” in Nahuatl indigenous language. It’s a democratic system allowing the workers themselves to elect their representatives and have a direct say in how its Premiums are invested.  The workers have control of the bank account containing the Premiums, not the company. It is the workers, after all, who know best what is needed in their community.

When we think of Fair Trade, we might think of coffee, tea, chocolate, or bananas, products that come to us via a long distribution line. In this case, we have an opportunity to impact the global food economy by buying food grown by a community in neighboring Sonora, Mexico with certified organic distribution warehouses in Southern Arizona.

More information on Covilli, its products, and initiatives can be found at its website  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Their YouTube page has some great videos and their website lists suggested recipes that use their produce!

Learn more about Fair Trade Certification at

Sown Together, Grown Together: a self-guided School Garden Tour

According to a recent State of Tucson’s Food System report by the UA’s Center for Regional Food Studies, there are currently 57 school gardens across the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) out of 86 TUSD school sites. These gardens have far-reaching impacts on the educational experiences of the thousands of TUSD school children.  One student from the Tucson High School club says “for me, Garden Club is the safest place in the whole school, as well as my favorite place to be. High school is extremely stressful. The garden allows me to escape, I can’t stress about how much homework I have when I’m outside digging, chasing chickens and eating carrots with my friends.”

Across 24 low-income schools and 3 community gardens in Tucson, the University of Arizona Community School and Garden Program (CSGP) harnesses the teaching potential of a garden by placing undergraduate and graduate students training in the basics of sustainable agriculture as interns. The interns support the installation, maintenance, and enhancement of these public gardens, and assist site coordinators, teachers, and K-12 students in the use of these outdoor spaces as an extension of the classroom. You are invited to a self-guided tour of these school gardens sponsored in partnership with the Food Conspiracy Co-op, Tucson’s community-owned grocery store open to the public featuring local, organic and natural foods and celebrating 47 years serving the Tucson community.  Conspiracy Garden at the Co-op is newly activated outdoor space in partnership with TUSD’s Community Transition Program and neighboring exceptional education students from Tucson High School.  Mark Reynolds, a teacher on staff says, “Community Transition Programs is grateful to have been invited to work with the Conspiracy Garden to help teach our students employability skills through gardening and an appreciation for ecology.”

On Saturday, March 3rd, from 9am – 12pm, CSGP and the Food Conspiracy Co-op are partnering to host the Sown Together, Grown Together School Garden Tour. For this self-guided tour, experience firsthand the diversity and richness of school and community gardens across the city. Come enjoy exciting new developments such as the cutting-edge agrivoltaic installations (gardens developed under the solar panels) at Manzo Elementary and Rincon University High School, the new greenhouse at J.B. Wright Elementary, and aquaponics system at Manzo Elementary.  Tickets are $5-20 a person on sliding scale with proceeds benefitting the CSGP.  Purchase tickets here.    Come let the students be your guide to these 12 exciting and innovative spaces while supporting the CSGP!

The Food Conspiracy Looks Back, Leaps Forward

The Food Conspiracy Looks Back, Leaps Forward
Michael DeSantis – President of FC Board of Directors

Your co-op has experienced a lot of change in the last year, and it has been invigorating! We have new members and leadership on both the management team and our board of directors, and we are working together in new, exciting ways. We are solving vexing problems and answering burning questions such as: “Is the Co-op relocating?” – No, and “Can we make healthy and organic food more convenient?” – Absolutely. To understand and be part of the renewal that is happening at the Food Conspiracy right now, we invite you to take another good look at your co-op, where it came from and where it is going. The Food Conspiracy is a great food store, and it is truly exceptional, too.

What makes our coop different from our competitors is our mission. It does not include maximizing profits. What it does include is a deep commitment to our members, community and to the values we share. Unlike our more conventional corporate counterparts in the natural foods community, we exist as a member-owned Co-operative Corporation. Our members not only own the co-op, but they also have the power to control its direction. This allows us tremendous freedoms and the ability to affect real change in our community. Along with providing whole, organic foods in an environment that is humane and fulfilling to both work and shop in, our core values include:

• Social justice – throughout our community and all the way down to the farmer in the field
• Diversity and human rights – openness and integrity in all of our relationships
• Healthy, sustainable ecology – through a peaceful, cooperative effort

Don’t forget we started as a political group. The Food Conspiracy name is not a marketing angle. To quote Paul Rubin, a FCC founder, we moved into a store occupied by a group “that fought for decent housing, accessible and affordable health care, empowering of youth, access to healthy food, and counseling for draft resisters to the Vietnam War” and The Food Conspiracy was founded “so people did not have to rely on profit driven supermarkets and their less than healthy food options”. That was 46 years ago. We don’t print pamphlets in the back anymore, but we are still in that store on 4th Avenue, and we are still passionate about our mission.

The Food Conspiracy leadership is re-committing to all that we stand for, we are fully staffed and energized, and we are developing our long-term vision of what the Food Conspiracy will be in the years to come. You own this co-op and we plan to provide convenient, meaningful opportunities to make your voice heard.

Here are a few ways you, as a member, can help guide the co-op in the right direction:

• Participate in a member engagement workshop – work with other members to let us know what you envision for the Food Conspiracy going forward.
• Attend Board of Directors meetings – see how it works, run for a seat, help develop the vision and make it reality.
• Attend the Annual Meeting – meet the new candidates and current Board of Directors, vote, participate and let us hear your voice, and most importantly, come celebrate with us!

This spring’s Annual Meeting promises to be a powerful opportunity to get engaged, and it will be a great party, too. Everything you need to know will be on our website and in our newsletter. Come be part of your community. Join us, and help the Food Conspiracy thrive, now and into the future.

Eat Mesquite and More Cookbook Event

Our new cookbook Eat Mesquite and More, a Cookbook for Sonoran Desert Foods and Living by Desert Harvesters, answers the greatest question I have: How to fearlessly and consciously make flavorful delicious dishes using native foods.  I wanted to find out the method to the culinary madness of such extraordinary flavors.

This quest took me to one of the cookbook contributors Barbara Rose’s Bean Tree Farm. Barbara is a Desert Harvester, longtime Co-op member, and permaculture designer. I wanted to know how she approached enigmatic flavors of the Sonoran Desert and how she concocts such delightful results. I love her salts, sauces, salsas and chutneys.  What I found are three main principles: 1) Be fearless. Don’t be afraid to try and taste. You don’t have to be an expert.  Start with mesquite, prickly pear or nopales and then move on to berries. 2) Don’t get stuck in a recipe mindset.  Look for fundamental patterns.  Find them in conventional foods, like a salsa, and then begin replacing the ingredients with wild foods. 3) Thank, learn from and contribute to the people and traditions of the desert in the best way you can.

Barbara says the very first thing that to do is get outside and taste.  Bean Tree Farm is an education center, residential community and 20-acre Ironwood and Saguaro forest sanctuary, where “farming” means harvesting, caring for and teaching about Sonoran desert foods and living.  Yes, there are chickens, water harvesting and small kitchen gardens with bright green herbs and greens and crossed chiles from a chiltepin and patagonia peppers.   But this farm is far outside of what you might have in your mind when you imagine a farm.  Bean Tree Farm disrupts your thinking and forces you to see the abundant resources of the Sonoran Desert right in front of you.  In this place you are called to get to know it, partner with it, and cultivate its ancient saguaro forest.

“Nearly everything growing in the desert is edible or medicinal, usually both.” says Barbara.  With little homework at the library or a visit to a Desert Harvester event, Barbara says, “You are off to discovering the tastes and healthful bounties of the desert.” Her knowledge originates from lifelong curiosity, sense of place, and learning from elders.  Barbara rejects being called an expert despite her extensive design, building and cooking experience. She believes being fearless is shedding the need to feel like you must be an expert.  Barbara suggests a visit to Desert Survivors, asking about edible plants and integrating them into your home landscape. She also suggests the Desert Harvesters website or a class at Bean Tree Farm to begin to see the desert as a living food forest.

Barbara advises to approach a comfortable recipe but remember those five essential flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Those five flavors are the beginnings of any delicious, flavorful dish.  Barbara approaches building and creating with the same awareness of fundamental patterns.  “Then you can begin to see what is the fundamental pattern of a great house or a great salsa,” she says. “Cooking is no different from building and in the end you get something to eat that is fun and delicious and social” says Barbara. With the Prickly Pear Borscht recipe from the book, Barbara looked for the five essential flavors and incorporated them into her understanding of her family’s favorite borscht recipe from her Eastern European roots. You will note that her recipe is only three sentences long! The fundamental pattern of the borscht is to sour or ferment the beets, in this case with the prickly pear juice.

The last principle, Barbara states, is to honor the people and place of the Sonoran Desert.  For Desert Harvesters that means caring for and replanting or re-wilding your neighborhood, community garden and yard with Sonoran desert plants.

Barbara at Bean Tree Farm and the Desert Harvesters espouse a philosophy steeped in this ethic. Their base is an appreciation and respect of place, plants, and people who share knowledge of the desert.  This awareness comes from seeing your part in the natural system as Barbara says and finding out what is your role in it.  “Whether it’s a business, building or a salsa, it needs to be place-based, contributing to the natural system in which it is nested.”

Isabella’s Ice Cream: Name the Flavor Fun this weekend!

Isabella’s 1927 model T has become a Tucson icon, recognized at events throughout the city, like Cyclovia. Just one look at that model T and your mouth waters! But you don’t have to chase down the revamped, solar-powered model T to sample the company’s fabulous ice cream. At the Co-op’s birthday sale on Saturday, February 3, 2018 we will host an Isabella’s Ice Cream tasting from 2:00 – 4:00pm. Isabella’s will create two new custom flavors horchata and a prickly pear sorbet to help us celebrate…and Co-op customers will help name them! Create a name that captures the essence and spirit of each new flavor and enter our “Name the Flavor” contest for the chance to win a free pint!

Food Conspiracy Co-op has been selling Isabella’s Ice Cream since 2011 and was the first store to stock it. We like Isabella’s products because they are designed to be environmentally conscious, from the careful sourcing of ingredients to the responsible selection of materials used for packaging.  The ice cream is hand-crafted at Isabella’s 4th Avenue shop from fresh cream and milk purchased from family-owned, independent dairies in Arizona. They produce unique flavors like spicy chocolate, desert honey, and organic lavender. Product packaging uses no adhesives and containers are 100 % recyclable.  Their manufacturing facility also prides itself on being water conscious, recycling the water used during production to save 5 gallons per minute.

In the coming weeks, when the Co-op’s birthday celebration is over, you’ll find Isabella’s newly-named, custom flavors for sale in our freezer section. If you’re hankering to try some of Isabella’s other fabulous flavors, you can stroll down to their shop at 210 North 4th Avenue just a few blocks south of the Co-op.

Check Isabella’s Ice Cream website at to learn more about its products and inquire about its catering services.

Tucson Tamale Takeover: Celebrating a Decade-Long Partnership Between the Food Conspiracy Co-op and Tucson Tamale Company

The Tucson Tamale Company is a true success story in our local Southern Arizona food scene. From its humble beginnings at the original midtown shop on Broadway Boulevard, it has become a Tucson institution with three area locations and an 8,000 square foot production facility that supplies a network of over 400 grocery stores across the United States and a thriving internet business that ships over 14,000 packages of delicious tamales annually. Food Conspiracy alone sold more than 3,800 tamale packages in 2017!

We admire Tucson Tamale Company’s commitment to using quality ingredients and their ingenuity in creating unique flavors, like their yellow curry tamale and holiday favorite Thanksgiving tamale, has garnered a loyal following. Their masa is made with organic and non-GMO corn and they use non-GMO expeller pressed canola and sunflower oil instead of lard, making a healthier and – we think – a better tasting product. They also use organic vegetables.

The Co-op has been partnering with Tucson Tamale Company since the company’s formation in 2008. In fact, Food Conspiracy was Tucson Tamale Company’s first wholesale customer! Our relationship has been strengthened over the years with healthy tamale sales and special events that highlight our shared values and food philosophy. The Tucson Tamale Company Takeover on January 18 kicks off the Co-op’s 2018 event schedule.  Our hot bar will feature a selection of tamales accompanied by a selection of Mexican side dishes created especially for the event by the talented cooks in our Co-op kitchen. We’ll have meat and vegan options on both the breakfast bar and the lunch/dinner bar. Todd Martin, Tucson Tamale Company’s owner and general manager, will be on hand to visit with tamale fans and answer questions about the products.

Our taste buds have been dreaming of a tamale takeover since last year and with the end of the busy holiday tamale season, we were finally able to snag some of Todd’s time and organize the event.  In 2017, our Food Conspiracy staff and members organized a bike ride from the Co-op on 4th Avenue to Tucson Tamale Company’s production facility on Tucson’s northwest side. We were taken on a tour of the facility then enjoyed a tamale and beer pairing at neighboring Dragoon Brewery. “Our partnership with Tucson Tamale Company has been a truly positive one,” said John Glennon, Interim General Manager of Food Conspiracy, “and one that we hope continues to promote Tucson as an example to follow in creating local business alliances that benefit the community and a sustainable food culture.”

For more information about the Tucson Tamale Company, please visit their website at