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.

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 atmarketing@foodconspiracy.coop.  If you have technical problems accessing the survey, please contact Shelly Hadley at michelle.hadley@uwrf.edu or shellyhad@gmail.com.

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 Facebook.com/meganekimble 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 outreach@foodconspiracy.coop

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.