Homesteading 101

This Spring, join the Food Conspiracy Co-op for a series of fun, educational classes on a variety of homesteading topics, including:

Come to one or come to all four. All classes are in the Hoff Building, 425 E. 7th Street, behind the co-op. All classes are $5 for each participant; children must be accompanied by parents. Walk-ins will not be accommodated. You must pre-register.

Shopper Survey

Last week, we emailed shopper surveys to a random selection of shoppers. If you got a survey, we hope that you will take time to answer some questions regarding our products and services, and regarding your preferences as a shopper/member. Your feedback will provide valuable information to Food Conspiracy Co-op’s management and Board of Directors, helping us to improve store operations and to better serve our shareholders and customers.

If you didn’t get a survey in your email inbox but you’d like to fill one out, you can come to the co-op and fill out a paper copy or you can fill out the survey online at our in-store computer.

Your responses will be anonymous. 

We need you to complete the survey soon –the deadline is January 21, 2014 – so don’t wait!

In appreciation for your participation, everyone who completes their survey will automatically be entered into a drawing for one of five $50 Food Conspiracy Co-op gift cards. If there is more than one adult in your household, please have the adult who is the primary food shopper complete the survey.

Thank you for your time and thoughtful responses.  If you have any questions about the motivation for and use of the survey data, please contact Coley Ward  If you have technical problems accessing the survey, please contact Shelly Hadley at or

How to go unprocessed

By Megan Kimble

This article was featured in the Jan/Feb issue of the Food Conspiracy Co-op’s newsletter, Community News.

A little over two years ago, I set myself a challenge. I would go an entire year without eating a processed food. The first question you might ask—besides “But why?” (and I’ll get to that)—is “What makes a food processed?”

Cooking is a process, as is dicing, heating, fermenting, and preserving; indeed, all foods are processed and often they are the better for it. But increasingly, they are not; today, what we refer to when we speak of processed foods are foods that have been manipulated and molded beyond recognition.

For the purposes of my year, a food was unprocessed if I could theoretically make it in my own kitchen. I ground wheat berries into flour but couldn’t sift out the endosperm—no refined flours. I helped a beekeeper gather honey and used my food processor to grind nuts into butter, but I didn’t refine sugar, stock up on chemicals, or mix emulsifiers.

That meant giving up some of my favorite foods, including low-carb bread or fake cheese or Diet Coke.

Giving up processed foods was a decision both political and personal. Although my year unprocessed was motivated in part by health and weight, by economics and environmentalism, more than anything it was an attempt to connect my dollars to my community. Processed foods represent a $1.25 trillion market across the globe and this market is controlled by only a handful of companies. The giants of our food system are also our political Goliaths, who use this influence to lobby for policies that may or may not serve our interests and health. One way to take a stand against this influence is to redirect our dollars away from these corporations—and the packaged products they produce—and spend them instead in our community, supporting growers and processors who sell locally (and thus must be locally accountable).

Indeed, while unprocessing my food supply began as a very personal project conceived of in my kitchen, it soon drove me out into the Baja Arizona community as I sought to understand how it is we shape food from the raw materials of the world.

I drove to Phoenix and spent an afternoon in the dusty world of Hayden Flour Mills; I stared into the big brown eyes of a cow at Double Check Ranch, grasped the warm udder of Sammy the goat at Chiva Risa Ranch, and walked through the many furrowed fields of vegetables that allow Tucson to keep on eating and thriving. Finally, at the end of my year, I spent two days at Bean Tree Farm, where I helped to slaughter, butcher, and process a sheep. Although it was a colossal endeavor, breaking apart a once-sentient animal, what it taught me was that I didn’t have to undertake it every time I wanted to eat meat—that there was a reason we once clustered into communities. What I learned after eating unprocessed for a year was that I didn’t have to do all my food processing myself; I could work to earn money to support those people in my community who were processing foods—growing vegetables, fermenting cheese, bottling wine, raising cattle—and doing it well.

Unprocessed eating refers to more than just the ingredient label; it is a way of being a consumer in your community.

How to shop unprocessed at the Co-op

Much of my year unprocessed unfolded in the aisles of the Food Conspiracy Co-op, as I fretted up and down the aisles, muttering over ingredient labels or pulling out my smartphone to Google search “What is citric acid.” The effort and time-cost of buying unprocessed is spent upfront, but it can quickly become effortless. Some tips to get you started:

Read ingredient labels. If you don’t really know what it is, it’s processed: Soy lecithin, modified food starch, and xanthium gum are a few regular culprits. Many of these smoothing agents and preservatives are found in low-fat and vegan dairy products like cheese or yogurt. (Soy and almond milks, while great alternatives to cow or goat’s milk, are full of chemicals and emulsifiers to create the same “mouth-feel” as animal milk.)

When you’re reading labels, watch out for artificial sweeteners or refined sugar; don’t buy brands that add either unnecessarily. Mustard, for example, does not really need sugar—look for brands sweetened with honey. Ditto for marinara sauce—tomatoes contain enough natural sugars that you really shouldn’t see “cane syrup” on an ingredient label.

Shop the sales. When you’re on a budget, sometimes spending locally can be a stretch. Each month, the co-op puts different grocery items on sale for all shoppers, through its Co+Op Deals program. Produce specials, also for all shoppers, change each Wednesday. There are also Basic Buys for co-op owners, which offer staple foods at 10% above cost. Stock up on wine, yogurt, frozen corn tortillas, or almond butter. Well, don’t just stock up on my favorites—get whatever you eat consistently and make some space in your cabinet or freezer.

Buy from the bulk bins. Not only do you save packaging waste, you send less of your dollars to the middlemen who make those packages. During my year, whenever I had to travel, I stocked up on Chunks of Energy Carob Squares and tamari almonds.

Ask questions. When I was intimidated by raw milk, I finally just walked up to a co-op employee and said, “So, um, what’s up with raw milk?” When he told me that 30 gallons were delivered once a week from Queen Creek and that demand was so high they couldn’t keep it in stock, I happily jumped on the bandwagon and crowd-sourced my anxiety.

Find your favorites. My favorites are: Cherry Pie Lara Bars (ingredients: cherries, dates, almonds). Honey! I love honey, most especially Happy Bear’s creamed honey, which I eat with a spoon. R.W. Knudsen’s fruit juice plus soda water equals unprocessed cola. La Tauna Tortillas: Not only are they made locally, the Whole Wheat Olive Oil Tortillas are made with only its namesake ingredients, plus salt.

Find your exceptions. Now that my official year unprocessed has ended, I’ve happily returned to buying paper-wrapped bars of chocolate and spicy bottles of Ginger Ale, both of which contain cane sugar (and sometimes preservatives). I have not returned to low-carb bread or fake cheese or Diet Coke or 90 percent of the processed foods I used to love. (After a year off, the first time I tasted Diet Coke, it no longer tasted sweet—just chemical.)

Win a $20 giftcard to the Co-op! Tweet #unprocessed @megankimble or post on with your favorite unprocessed tip, product, or brand.

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Join Megan Kimble, Managing Editor of Edible Bajaat the Hoff Building on January 18 as she talks about her experience eating unprocessed foods for a year. Megan will discuss how to read and understand ingredient labels and more. Space is limited. Please RSVP  be emailing

We’ve got a new bike corral

Photography by Mamta PopatHave you seen our new bike corral? It holds up to 12 bikes and is located just outside our front doors! Thanks to the City of Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Program for installing it.

Get your turkeys here

The Food Conspiracy Co-op has two different types of frozen turkeys for sale this month: Mary’s Natural Turkeys are $2.19/lb and Plainville Organic Turkeys are $3.39/lb. Get yours while supplies last! Good news — contrary to earlier reports, both the organic and natural turkeys are gluten-free.

Sorry, no pre-orders. Birds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please remember it may take up to three days to defrost your frozen turkey.

These turkeys are raised on healthful grains and allowed to roam in areas four times the size of the average commercial turkey ranch. Their high protein diet provides the optimum amount of nutrients for the turkey to grow into a bigger and more flavorful turkey than one typically found in the supermarket.

Dragoon’s new Belgian-style ale benefits Tucson Fire

Tartan 479 is a Belgian-Style Blonde Ale, brewed as a fundraiser for the Tucson Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums Corps. A portion of every growler of Tartan 479 that the Food Conspiracy Co-op sells goes to help the Pipes and Drums in their mission of honoring their fallen brothers and sisters. It’s available on draft in our taproom and at select bars and restaurants in the Tucson area.

It is made from a blend of North American 2-Row and German pils malts, with a bit of Vienna Malt and unmalted barley. It is lightly dry-hopped with Cascade and Sterling hops and is fermented with a Belgian Abbey ale yeast. The result is a balanced Blonde ale–bready and toasty, with a lightly spicy sweetness and subtle fruity hop nose.

Food Conspiracy Co-op Featured in Zócalo and Arizona Daily Star

The Food Conspiracy Co-op was featured in the October issue of  Zócalo

Magazine about our water harvesting and urban micro farm. See page 45.

Also, our new cookbook, Tucson Cooks, was featured in the Arizona Daily Star.

Run for the Board of Directors

The Food Conspiracy Co-op will elect new Board of Directors members in the spring, with the winners announced at the Annual Meeting in early March. This election will fill 5 seats. Each seat serves a three-year term, adjusted according to the Bylaws if necessary to ensure continuity on the Board. (see Bylaws, Article 4.3).

Interested in running for the Food Conspiracy Co-op’s Board of Directors? Head over to the Board of Directors page of this website and download an application.

To run for the board, you must be 18 or older, have been a primary or secondary owner of the co-op for six months prior to the election, and have no conflict of interest with the co-op (Conflict of Interest is explored in Bylaw Article 4.7)

The Food Conspiracy Board will officially endorse up to nine candidates. To receive an endorsement from the Board of Directors you must meet the below minimum requirements:

  1. Attend at least two regular meetings of the Board of Directors in 2013. Board meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month from 6:30pm-8:30pm. There is no meeting in the month of July.
  2. Attend an Orientation for Prospective Board Candidates sessions scheduled throughout the year. 2013 Schedule: Saturday, Sept 14; Wed, September 18th; Sat, October 12th; Wed, Oct 16th. Wednesday sessions will run from 6–7 p.m. and Saturday sessions from noon to 1 p.m. Please RSVP to and let us know what session you plan to attend.
  3. Agree to abide by the Director’s Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct.
  4. Submit your candidate application, two references, and a picture of yourself, to the Elections Committee before 5 p.m. on November 1, 2013, in electronic format.
  5. In the event that more candidates meet all endorsement requirements than the Board can officially endorse (2 candidates +1 per vacancy), each candidate will be interviewed by an interview committee (to include 2 Board Members and 2 non Board Members). Interviews will be held on Saturday November 2nd, and Monday, November 4th. After the interviews, the interview committee will make recommendations about which candidates will be endorsed.

Owners may also nominate themselves for a seat on the Board by submitting a petition signed by 100 owners or one percent of the total number of owners in good standing, whichever is greater (see Bylaws, Article 4.3). Petitions must be submitted by November 1, 2013, in accordance with Bylaw 4.3. While nomination by petition is acceptable, the elections committee strongly encourages interested owners to fulfill the endorsement requirements, as this is the best way to ensure that potential Board members fully understand the work and responsibilities of the Board.

Candidates will have opportunities to present themselves to their fellow owners at two “meet the candidates” events in the month of February, when voting is happening, and through candidates’ statements published in the co-op newsletter.