Bawk, Bawk, Bawk, It's Time to Take the Chicken Coop Tour

If you’re thinking about raising hens but you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered.  The Food Conspiracy Co-op’s 7th Annual Chicken Coop Tour is a great way to get inspired and informed.   See a wide variety of coop styles and sizes.  Talk to backyard chicken keepers. Learn how to raise chicks.

The tour will be held on Saturday, December 6th from 10:00 – 3:00 p.m.  It is a self-guided tour designed to introduce people to the joys (and challenges) of urban chicken keeping. Tickets cost $5 and will be available for purchase up until the day of the tour while supplies last.  (We’ll cap the sale of tickets at 300, so as not to overwhelm coop owners.)

What: 7th Annual Chicken Coop Tour

When: Saturday, December 6th 10:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Cost: $5, tickets are sold at the co-op while supplies last, and here.


Conspiracy Gardens update

Fall has always been my favorite season. I grew up in northern New York, where fall meant crisp cool days and brilliant foliage on the maple and oak trees. While fall doesn’t make quite as dramatic an entrance here in Tucson, I am just as happy to see it! Summer is a tough time to garden in the low desert. We survived, though, and were able to take some time to assess our first growing season, work on some projects, and plan for the coming year.

Our first twenty three weeks of growing included thirteen food crops and several ornamental flower varieties planted in the twelve north garden beds’ 900 square feet. During this period, we harvested 81 bunches of root vegetables, 354 pounds of greens, squash, peppers, tomatoes, and basil, and 93 bouquets of flowers, all of which we sold in the store or used in the kitchen. I estimate that we averaged 0.48 pounds of food per square foot of growing space for those five months. While intensive gardening methods do have the potential to generate much higher yields than that, one study I read concluded that “As a general guideline, a yield expectation of 0.5 lb/square foot is a realistic value for mixed stand, small-scale agriculture.” So, while we didn’t shatter any records in our inaugural season, we held our own, and we will continue to work on our intensive practices in order to make the most of our microfarm space.

As we only just planted the fruit trees this past spring, lemons, limes, and figs were not part of the first season’s harvest. The citrus trees struggled through the summer sun and heat, but the fig trees thrived! They have more than doubled in size since we planted them, the foliage is green and healthy and they have even started forming fruits!

The monsoon rains allowed us to get a look at our water harvesting designs in action. The basins in our fruit tree forest and the sunken garden beds did their job well.  Our cistern got its first real workout and we were able to identify several minor adjustments that needed to be made in order to maximize rain capture.

We also used our first summer season to cover crop the twelve south beds which had never been planted and some of the north beds whose crops were finished for the season.  This will improve the quality of our soil in preparation for fall crops. It was interesting to see how much variation there was in quality of growth among the beds. Even in a single bed there were sections where the cover crop was healthy and sections where it barely grew. In the north beds which had already produced one crop, the cover crop was much more robust than in the south beds. This goes to show how much just one season of cultivation can improve the soil. It also shows how important it is that we keep working on building soil quality and consistency.

For two weeks in June, we had the privilege of hosting City High Summer School students. Conspiracy Gardens served as a site for the students to conduct a spot observation project for their science class.   This was a hands-off educational experience for them to observe nature in silence. We were very happy to connect with City High and are looking forward to collaborating further with them in the coming school year.

Now that summer is behind us, we are looking forward to the getting all twenty four of our garden beds in production with fall crops. To help get us off to a strong start, we are turning to two well established local farms, Las Milpitas Farm and San Xavier Co-op Farm, to start seeds for us. We’ll be growing kale, lettuce, spinach, chard, beets, carrots, herbs and flowers. When the starts are ready to go in the ground, we’ll have a planting party and you are all invited! We’ll keep you posted as to the exact date.

We have also begun a partnership with Desert Harvesters to plant native food producing shade trees around the garden and throughout the co-op property. We hope to host a hands-on tree planting workshop this fall and hope you will join us. We’ll keep you posted regarding details of that event as well.

We are looking forward to our first full year of growing and collaborating on projects with other local growers, organizations, and students in our community. This promises to be a very busy and exciting year! Next time you come in to shop and have a few extra minutes please feel free to take a stroll through the garden and see what’s new or check it out for the first time. We invite you to come see your produce growing and we welcome your feedback!

Try the newest Conspiracy Beer, an IPA by 1702

Our new batch of Conspiracy Beer will debut on Friday, August 1. It’s an India Pale Ale brewed by 1702.

What is Conspiracy Beer?

  • Conspiracy Beer is brewed by a local Tucson microbrewery.
  • The style of beer changes every two months.
  • The price of the beer will vary, depending on the style.
  • The profits from the sale of Conspiracy Beer will benefit a local nonprofit.
  • Sales of the first six batches of Conspiracy Beer will benefit El Grupo Youth Cycling.

Eden Foods and Affordable Care Act

Thank you to those of you who’ve contacted the Food Conspiracy Co-op and shared your thoughts regarding Eden Foods and the Affordable Care Act.  When a few owners called for the co-op to take action on this issue it presented an opportunity for a conversation.  On Tuesday, July 23rd, 8 owners, two Board members and three Food Conspiracy staff met in an open meeting in the Hoff building.  The intention of this meeting was not vote on whether or not to remove Eden Foods from the store.   It was an opportunity to meet in a safe space, share and create a better understanding of the issues, and to share the co-op’s history and philosophy on requests for boycotts.  Our policy is to focus on providing choices and information so our customers can choose which companies and products they believe in and want to support.   We did agree that more educational information that may impact customers shopping choices needs to be provided and available in the store.  If you are an owner and would like to have more conversation with other owners about Eden Foods, the next discussion will be at the Owner Linkage Committee meeting on Saturday, September 20 at 10:00 a.m. in the Hoff Building behind the co-op.

Unfamiliar with the Issue?

Eden Foods appears on track to win its fight with the federal government over funding insurance coverage of contraception in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby ruling.   This has upset some of our shoppers who don’t agree with Eden Foods’ politics. A few have called for the Co-op to boycott the company’s products.

Food Conspiracy Co-op serves a diverse customer base and there are individuals on both sides of this debate. As a result, we feel that we can best serve our community by continuing to focus on providing healthy foods without taking a stance on the politics of this particular issue.

It is important to consider that Eden Foods has been an industry leader in maintaining organic standards and bringing BPA-free packaging to the U.S. market. Eden’s offerings are amongst the most high quality products available at the Co-op due to their commitment to organics, GMO labeling, and using BPA-free cans. Eden has been an industry leader in organics and maintaining standards in the face of corporate attacks. They have fought to maintain organic standards in the face numerous attempts to water them down. They also almost singlehandedly brought BPA-free lining into cans to the U.S. market and raised the bar, so that BPA-free cans are becoming or have become the industry standard for natural/organics.

What does the Hobby Lobby case have to do with Eden Foods?

Eden Foods was not a plaintiff in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, meaning the Supreme Court has not made a ruling specific to Eden Foods. However, in their Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the lower courts to reconsider their earlier decisions against Eden Foods.


What is Eden Foods’ stance on the Affordable Care Act as it relates to women’s health care?

Eden Foods objects to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies, if they choose to offer health insurance to their employees, to include coverage of a wide array of contraceptive choices. Here’s an excerpt from Eden Foods’ statement on the issue:

We believe in a woman’s right to decide, and have access to, all aspects of their health care and reproductive management. This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone’s access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience. We object to the HHS [Health & Human Services] mandate and its government overreach.

Some people are calling for a boycott of all Eden Foods products. What is our co-op’s stance on this issue?

Our co-op serves a very diverse customer base and there are individuals on both sides of any issue. We believe that we can best serve our community by continuing to focus on providing healthy foods without taking a stance on the politics of this particular issue.

We also encourage our customers to vote, on this and other issues, with their dollars by supporting those companies they like and believe in. When (for any reason) products don’t sell, the co-op stops carrying them. As always, consumers can and should choose to purchase the products that meet their own needs. Consumers can choose to personally not buy the product, but we will not be discontinuing our sales of Eden Organics at this time.

We are, as members and shoppers of a co-op, united in a common set of principles. We are also individuals with differing views on a multitude issues. It is not when we all agree that makes the Co-op stronger, it is when we all have a voice.

Owners wishing to have a deeper discussion about Eden Foods are invited to the next Owner Linkage committee meeting on Saturday, September 20th at 10:00 a.m. at the Hoff Building behind the co-op at 425 East 7th Street.

There is a provision for an owner to start a petition to have a special meeting called or a have a proper issue presented to a vote of the owners. Here are the by-laws and links to Food Conspiracy Co-op bylaws.

Section 3.2 – Special meetings.  Special meetings of owners may be called by the Board. Special meetings shall be called by the President as soon as possible after the receipt of petitions signed by ten percent of owners, such petitions stating any proper business to be brought before the meeting.

Section 3.9 – Issues submitted by owners.  Notices of a meeting of owners shall include any proper issues submitted by petition of at least five percent of owners.  Petitions must be received by the co-op not less than one hundred and twenty days before the date of the meeting at which or in connection with which they are to be presented to a vote of owners.

Statements from Eden Foods July 11

On response to Affordable Care Act  Heath and Human Services Mandate April 2013

Salon Article  Organic Eden Foods’ quiet right-wing agenda (April 11, 2013)

Salon Article Eden Foods doubles down in birth control flap (April 15, 2013)

Salon Article  Eden Foods CEO’s bad week continues (April 18, 2013)

Philidelphia Inquirer Co-op’s Quandary: Boycott or Not? September 2, 2014



10 Ways for Kids to Go Local

“Eat your veggies!” “Clean your plate!” “You don’t know what’s good for you!” When it comes to eating healthy foods, these might be some parents’ daily mantras. At the peak of the local food season, there’s no better time to engage your kids in enjoying good food.

Encouraging kids to get excited about local foods is a great way to increase their appetite for nutritious foods like tomatoes, broccoli, eggs and carrots as well as healthy grains, dairy and meats.

Check out these 10 tips for getting children interested in local foods from spring and summer to harvest.

  1. Take your family on a farm tour. Encourage your kids to take pictures and make a photo book or poster about the farm to share with friends and classmates during show-and-tell or a similar time.
  2. Let your kids play with their food. Make an art project out of local foods, such as seed art or veggie sculptures.
  3. Planting a back yard garden or container garden? Don’t just share in the dutiesDesignate one row or one type of vegetable or fruit that is your child’s to plant, weed and harvest throughout the season.
  4. Encourage your child to pick out an item at the farmers market or co-op; then prepare a meal with them using their chosen local food.
  5. Make freezer jam out of their favorite berries. By making freezer jam, kids can learn about food preservation and enjoy their favorite fruit into the fall season. There’s always room for jam!
  6. Declare your food independence! On July 4, make homemade ice cream featuring locally-sourced milk, cream, fruit and nuts.
  7. Throw a local food pizza party.  Devote a Saturday afternoon to baking a pizza with as many local foods as possible. Let your kids roll the dough while you chop and shred local ingredients that they can sprinkle on top.
  8. Sip cider and jump in the hay at the local orchard. Pick apples with your kids and talk about the year-long work it takes to produce an array of apples.
  9. Pick the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Take your kids to a local pumpkin patch to enjoy the festivities. Then, bring home an extra pumpkin and make a holiday pie, and don’t forget to roast the seeds.
  10. Prepare a meal based on your heritage. Were your grandparents farmers? Prepare a meal based on the food they once grew. Is your ancestry Italian? German? West African? Make a meal based on their native foods with as many local ingredients as possible. Share stories about your family over the dinner table.

– See more at:

Two winners tie at the Pie Party

The results are in!  The 11th Annual Pie Party proceeds will be shared by the two winning organizations, El Group Youth Cycling and Tucson Village Farm who each received 175 votes, congratulations!  Your pie eating and baking enthusiasm raised a total of $845.86!
We were pleased with the turnout and know what to expect next year. More pies!  We know there is always a level of surprise hosting a potluck and this year’s mere70 pies were gone by 4:15 pm!  While the pies were few, they were delicious.  People enjoyed the Tropical Mai Pie, the Vegan Mango Madness, Spanish Tortilla and the Cornmeal Apricot. Next year we will promote the party with more advance notice, will roll out some incentives for bakers to get baking pies (possibly a contest) and will hold classes at the Food Conspiracy Co-op on how to make pie crusts.

Thank you to all of the bakers, servers, the pie eaters and the organizations.   Visit our facebook page to view photos of this year’s party or look for them in the July/Augustedition of the Co-op’s Community News.


See you next year!

Conspiracy Beer

Check out this video of John Adkisson talking about how he made the inaugural batch of Conspiracy Beer, a new product coming soon to the Food Conspiracy Co-op. What is Conspiracy Beer, you ask? Here are the broad strokes:

• Conspiracy Beer will be brewed by a local Tucson microbrewery.
• The style of beer will change every two months.
• The price of the beer will vary, depending on the style.
• A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Conspiracy Beer will benefit a local nonprofit.

The Food Conspiracy is selling Conspiracy Beer right now. The first batch is an English Pale Ale brewed by Iron John’s Brewing Company. Sales of the first six batches of Conspiracy Beer will benefit El Grupo Youth Cycling.

A word from the Pie Party co-founder

This year is the 11th Annual Pie Party, and for the first time the Food Conspiracy Co-op is organizing the event. Here’s what Pie Party co-founder Turtle Southern has to say about what she loves about the Pie Party, and why she asked the co-op to take the reigns.

In 2003, I was involved in dreaming up an event that would involve an endless sea of fantastic desserts and a steady stream of friends to share them with. The delicious assortment of pies was always equally as important as the friends and neighbors that came to our annual Eat More Pie Parties. It is hard for me to comprehend the scale to which this humble event has grown. Dozens of volunteers have served nearly 1,500 pies in the last decade, and, still, throughout our community people are hungry for more opportunities to sit down and share a slice of pie with one another.

What an honor it is to pass on the torch to the Food Conspiracy, as the Co-op carries on this tradition into a new era of pie. The Pie Party has grown out of its roots, when we first offered all-you-can-eat vegan pie for the masses. It evolved into a pie-baking contest, and most recently a pie potluck. The one constant is that the Pie Party comes alive for a few hours each year, full of special moments to feast on for pie novices and aficionados alike.

So much pie in one place always leaves me satiated and delirious. There’s great joy to be found in each slice of pie, especially unique flavors, and the stunning creativity instilled by the bakers. If I think back to all of the Pie Parties over the years, there are certain pies I will never forget – a gorgeous heirloom tomato creation, an award-winning artichoke pie, and this one particular strawberry pie many years ago that was more than I ever dreamed possible. Bites that were so heavenly, they brought tears to my eyes.

The contagious excitement that comes from baking hundreds of pies in a single marathon session and the treasured friendships forged in the warmth of the kitchen were highlights from the early years of the Pie Party. But what I remember most fondly, before the last pie is served, is assembling a plate with a medley of the tastiest slices. Sitting down with loved ones to savor each bite of this pie-pourri is the culmination of what the Pie Party represents to me, and why I personally keep coming back for more.

When was the last time you tasted a truly sensational piece of pie? Have you dusted off your rolling pin and baked a pie recently? Thanks to the Food Conspiracy, that could happen sooner than you think. The Co-op does so much to tie our community together, and I’m eager to see where this pie tradition travels. This year’s Pie Party is Saturday, May 10th, from 3:00 at 6:00 p.m. at Mercado San Agustin. Slices of pie are $3 each $5 for two slices and the proceeds will benefit local nonprofits. Pie eaters get to cast their vote on who receives the earnings, and I hope you’ll come participate in the tastiest, most memorable fundraiser Tucson’s ovens have to offer.

2014 Elections Results

Food Conspiracy Co-op elections have concluded, and the results are in. This year, four people ran for four spots on the Board of Directors, and seven nonprofits were nominated for three Cooperative Community Fund (CCF) grants. Here are the winners:

Jessica Hersh-Ballering (120 votes); receives a three-year term
Glenn Furnier (116); receives a two-year term
Rob McLane (113); receives a two-year term
Joyce Liska (72); receives a two-year term

Desert Harvesters (66)
Living Streets Alliance (63)
Tucson Village Farm (54)

We don’t yet know how much money each CCF winner will receive. We’ll get that info later in the month, when the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation informs us how much interest our account generated in the past year. Last year, our winners got over $700.

Thanks to everyone who ran in this year’s elections and to all of those co-op owners who took the time to vote.