Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Great Yogurty State of New York

The slow and steady march of change has come to the isle of cool serenity known as the yogurt case. We are trying bit by bit to bring in more local yogurt. New York is the third largest dairy-producing state (behind California and Wisconsin), and of course that means some things have to go.

Over the past few months we have added more flavors from the Evans Farmhouse organic line. It's often a mix of flavors based on production so look for a rotating cast of characters with plain, lemon, raspberry, and maple making up the bulk of our offerings. They recently discontinued the magnificent blackberry. Evans is both an organic dairy and organic creamery based in the Catskills. As a creamery they produce and package the Kortright Creek goat yogurts (also from the Catskills) that we offer in plain, maple, and raspberry flavors.

We've expanded the Liberte line, starting with the organic flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and vanilla. We then added Liberte's goat cheese-style yogurts of the honey, raspberry, strawberry, and plain varieties. Liberte is a local brand as it is within 500 miles—milk from a Vermont cooperative and produced in Quebec.

Recently, we've also added a couple of the Siggi's yogurts: plain, pomegranate passion, and orange mint. Siggi's makes an Icelandic-style of strained yogurt called Skyr—it's not unlike a strained Greek yogurt and it's made from New York state milk.

Fage Total yogurt, one of our top-selling products in the case, has switched its production over to a New York facility so that it no longer has to import its product.

Sky Top is a New York state product that has joined our yogurt-y crew recently and is hopefully coming out with a low-fat variety in the coming months.

Our other yogurts that are sourced and produced locally and have been stalwarts include Hawthorne Valley, Stonyfield, Butterworks, Coach Farms, Erivan, Old Chatam, and Seven Stars.

Some of the yogurts that have been discontinued recently are Cascade Fresh small cups—my reasoning is that they are at a similar price point to Stonyfield, a product that is both organic and local; Cascade Fresh is neither. Woodstock buffalo yogurts have also been absent because the company has ceased to exist. We are eagerly awaiting their next incarnation.


Popping Pickles and Puffy Tangelos

Recently, a member returned a jar of Batampte pickles because it was not vacuum sealed. Allen Zimmerman called Batampte and was told that none of the jarred pickles are vacuum sealed since they are sold from the refrigerated section. We were also told that Batampte never ever used vacuum-sealed jars.
Pickles sold in aisle 6 are in vacuum-sealed jars since they are not refrigerated.

In produce news…
What is it about mineola tangelos that make them appear puffy? The easily compressed malleable skin is characteristic of tangelos and are not a reason to give them to the soup kitchen. It is an indication of maturity. So enjoy!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's not love but it's cheap
The mind-blowing beer sale continues...

This sale has been going on for about a week but will end when what we have on hand sells out. One of our distributors is doing some spring cleaning/rearranging (no joke) and they are having a beer warehouse version of a stoop sale. PSFC is the early bird cleaning up on seasonals and bits and pieces at 50-70% off regular prices.

Here's what we have at $0.71 a bottle: Weyerbacher Double Simcoe, Great Divide Denver Pale Ale, Great Divide Hibernation, and Great Divide St. Bridget's Porter, and a couple cases of Otter Creek Spring Kolsch.

At $0.61 a bottle we've got two cases of Thomas Hooker Irish Red left as of this posting.

At $0.50 a bottle we have Sprecher Winter Lager (this is a 16 oz. bottle people!) and one case of Southern Tier Old Man Winter.

cheers, Anngel

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Seeds and the end of times . . .

Grow 'em while you can folks. The last of the coop's seeds are on the shelf in the produce aisle. Mostly lettuces and spinach.

Local Beer Stuff

So, you all may have noticed that the Northwest is busting at the seams with good beer. New York alone is producing a prodigious amount of quality beers – Blue Point, Brooklyn beers, Butternuts, Schmaltz, Ommegang, Southern Tier, Original Sin, and the rare and delicious Captain Lawrence. And Pennsylvania is no slouch either with Stoudt's (a serious trailblazer), Weyerbacher, Troeg's, and Victory. Delaware has Dogfish, NH and MA are getting in on the action with Smuttynose and Southampton respectively. And of course Vermont is kickin' it with the organics – Wolaver and Orlio – not to mention Long Trail, Magic Hat, Otter Creek, and Woodchuck.

Cali and Colorado may be the #1 and #2 biggest producers of craft beer in the country but as a region the Northeast is giving them a run for the money. (Somebody do the square miles to barrels of beer conversion please!)

At any rate, the coop hasn't been promoting local beers per se but, I just wanted to draw attention to the wealth of local products that are on the shelf. There will always be Stone (CA), Oskar Blues (CO), Samuel Smith (UK), the Belgians, and the growing cadre of fine Midwestern brewers and I will continue to make these beers available but, as Northeasterners we certainly have cause for pride of place and beer.

- Anngel

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on Produce

It's been a month since I have written and a lot has happened. We continue to experience scattered high prices. As you would expect, high prices are driven by higher fuel costs, poor growing conditions and product scarcity.
You might be surprised to learn that much of the higher prices that you experience right now in produce is entirely normal and what you should expect in April and May, and follow a pattern that happens every year. (But certainly worse than ever this year.) The world food shortages and highest fuel costs ever have coincided with the predictable, seasonally normal high prices to produce a "perfect storm."

At the General Meeting on April 29 I reported that organic broccoli had gone to over $4.00 a bunch. I predicted that the price would soon fall as the current growing regions begin to warm up. Today the price is $2.52. There is every reason to be concerned about the future of our food, its cost and even its availability, but don't forget that late spring is when produce stops growing where it has all winter and is just starting up where our warm weather supplies come from, including of course, our local farms.

Here's what's locally available so far (not much):

Minimally treated apples continue to be available from Hepworth Farms: empire, fuji, golden delicious, honeycrisp, jonagold, mutsu, stayman winesap.

New York State organic asparagus started May 14, and the New Jersey conventional started on the 15th.

Other conventional local items are dill, arugula, mint and parsleys.

Sporadically available local organics include dandelions, mustards, arugula, spinach, lettuces, shallot greens, watercress, radishes, rhubarb, kale, pea tendrils and collards.

Fiddlehead fern supplies remain strong, but the local ramps are already winding down.

Remember that you can learn which produce is local by checking elsewhere in our website, or on the individual shelf signs, or by looking for the green highlights on the produce banners at either end of the produce aisle. Seek out the local items, learn how to eat something new; in exchange for a fair price, you will get the freshest, finest foods and do a little bit to keep local family farms alive.
—Allen Zimmerman