Autumn means pot roasting!

A heart-healthy meal for Heart Month

According to the American Heart Association, “a healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons in the fight against heart disease.” We’ve put together this meal idea in honor of National Heart Month.  Read more …

Fair Trade First Hand: Biodiversity Abounds

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Kerala, India with Alter Eco Foods to visit their coconut farmers and learn about the impact of fair trade. This is post two of four; click here to read part one.

One of the things I find really awesome about shopping at (and working for) Mississippi Market is the effort we put into getting to know our producers. Some of our deliveries are brought by people who were working in the fields or with livestock just the other day, have their name on the company, or are regular customers themselves. Going on the Eat Local Farm Tour in the summer is always a fun adventure, and the local profiles we have on the shelves highlight excellent opportunities to keep money in the local economy.

However, this trip to India was a reminder for me that while local is important, it’s quite difficult to escape the global food system we live in—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Our main priority in Kerala was visiting coconut farms, but we stopped at others along the way, and spoke with many small-scale organic farmers.

Biodivesrity

Agriculture, as I’m used to, revolves around plots of land dedicated to a specific crop. I kept waiting to see something like this on our tours, but at our first stop at a farming community way up in the hills, our guide Tomy stopped the path and said, “Now from here, I can see about 20 plants this family uses at home and takes to market.”

He proceeded to turn in place and point out cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, coffee, mango, papaya, coconut, betel nut, tulsi/holy basil, lime, cacao, and a handful of other fruits, veggies, and herbs I didn’t grab the names of. At the end of our tour, members of the community gathered to hear Kate, Alter Eco’s president, talk about their work state-side and emphasis in supporting fair trade coconut in the region. Community members, in turn, spoke of what fair trade has meant for their community and offered snacks of small bananas, fresh passion fruit, and coconut water straight from the fruit.

Coconut water

Another day we stopped at a women’s farming collective to share in their harvest.

Womens Collecttive_web

When they heard a group of interested Americans was coming, they held off for a couple days to allow us to take part in the inaugural picking of long beans. We came across a brilliant fuchsia-colored fruit, too, called jambakka locally.

Jess with Beans

We stayed a night with a farming family, and had a guided tour of part of his one-acre homestead, stopping at some of the same plants Tomy pointed out a few days prior. Like many, Suraj taps rubber trees to press and sell rubber (pictured below) at market.

Rubber curing

He cut open a nutmeg fruit to show the nut and red mace, and the next day offered us a taste of a vinegary beverage they make using the fruit. Suraj also showed off his biogas system. His family owns two cows and two goats, and the floor of the animal shed allows the waste to run though into a small cistern. Here, the natural gasses from this are piped to the house for cooking and heating fuel while the solid remnant gets cleaned out into a compost pile which is full of earthworms. Every month or so, this gets rotated around and used to pot new seedlings, heaped around trees, and shared with neighbors who might not have animals of their own. He was proud of how waste-less this system really is: “good soil, good food” Suraj said.

Good soil, good food.

Here again, there were no large plots, just a biodiverse acre of land he does the rounds of every day, harvesting what’s in season, tending to plants and weeding as necessary. For him, and for many others we talked to, farming is busy, but not grueling. They make enough money at market with their harvests to have a comfortable life, send their children to school, and invest back into their land and community, and still have plenty of time to spend with family, playing badminton at the local court, and carve roots of downed trees into animal figurines. I bet a view like this, from his front porch, isn’t tiring, either.

Porch view_web

Next up: From Tree to Oil
Ben Zamora-Weiss is the Grocery Manager at our Selby store.

Last minute game plan for the Big Game

I’ve spent the last weeks oblivious to football season and have had no plans to watch the Super Bowl. But, now that it’s here, it feels like a good excuse to have some friends over Read more …

Touchdown treats

Once the nacho plate is gone and the chili bowls are empty, these sweet treats will taste like a touchdown after a long drive down the field. Read more …

Passing Play: Potluck dishes for game day

Invited to a potluck for the Big Game? These recipes are easy to make, use seasonal ingredients, and pair well with almost anything.  Read more …

Super Bowl Game Plan

From drinks to snacks to entree ideas, we’ve got a Super Bowl Game Plan ready for you.  Read more …

Ultimate Veggie Platters

These veggie platters offer up some great ideas for bringing more vegetables to the table. Read more …

Curried chicken wings & Raita Sauce

Spice up your Super Bowl with these curried chicken wings and then cool it down with a mild raita sauce.  Read more …

Hot Sauce Scrimmage

We have some serious hot sauce fans at the co-op and we were curious if there was a consensus on a clear favorite. Thus, the hot sauce scrimmage was born! Read more …

Fair Trade First Hand: Destination Kerala

Last year, Mississippi Market took part in a contest to sell fair trade Alter Eco’s chocolate truffle variety packs; maybe you, dear reader, were even one of the awesome customers who purchased a box. Read more …