Joe Hardiman, our produce merchandiser, has been on the phone nonstop this week. It's the time of year when he's running like crazy to keep favorites in stock so you can barbecue, picnic and lunch without fear of running out of staples: summer corn, organic salad greens, local berries and more.
He's excited that bunch carrots from Nash's Organic Produce in Sequim have arrived! They're a perennial Kid Picks item due to their sweetness and crunch.
Other produce news:
- Many Hands organic blueberries are still in stock. Don't miss enjoying these beauties with your breakfast oatmeal or quinoa, in smoothies, in a crisp or slump or, of course, in pancakes.
- The first of the local, organic peaches will arrive next week. Look for local, organic nectarines around the first week of August.
- Organic Blue Lake variety green beans should arrive next week from Rent's Due Ranch.
- Hope you've been loving that crazy-good organic garlic that sold so quick. Look for another good variety toward the end of August from Rent's Due.
You never know what you'll overhear in a co-op office. Yesterday, it was Scott, one of our merchandisers, reminding his family over the phone to "turn on the scarecrow."
Turns out it had to do with Scott's chickens. They've been the apple of his eye since he brought them home as chicks around the end of March, fluffy golf balls with beaks and lil' stick legs. Here's Dizzy back in the day (all photos courtesy Scott's daughter, Kylie):
And here's Dizzy now!
That "scarecrow" is a modern-day gardening device that emits bursts of water when a motion sensor notices the chickens have clucked too close to their family garden, lured perhaps by the scent of ripe strawberries on the breeze.
The chicken idea came to roost after Scott's dog Gunner, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, passed away last winter after 12 years with his family. After that sadness, they thought long and hard about what type of pet would bring them joy. Scott pondered whether a pet could also produce something practical -- like eggs. Soon, the flock was in their life, wandering the yard, nibbling stalks of grass, pecking beneath the sunshine.
"It's nice to go out with a glass of wine and watch them scurry around," Scott said -- a dust bath here, a little piece of strawberry leaf there. Beyond their organic feed, he's learned they like treats of grapes, oatmeal and yogurt. Yogurt? "You put it in a bowl and then stand back. It gets messy." He's watched them squabble over freshly shelled green peas.
They'll begin to lay at about 5 to 7 months of age, depending on the breed (Scott has Araucana and Plymouth Rock, both from his local Grange in Issaquah). He finally found a good home for the roosters after discovering them in his brood.
Apparently, Penny and Sparky like people watching as much as Scott's family enjoys chicken watching.
I'd like to introduce you to a neat person I met Monday at Tent City 4, the roving homeless camp that has settled at St. Jude's Parish in Redmond. His name is Paridon Williams, but PCC Redmond shoppers may better recognize him as the friendly man who often sells "Real Change" newspapers outside.
He volunteered to help the crew from PCC Redmond serve dinner to homeless folks Monday night. Afterward, he shared one of the many lists he's created over the years to remind shoppers and other people he encounters of 50 small ways they can help one another (and ultimately, humanity).
Here's a close-up of that list (he even has versions printed in Arabic and Chinese). "Applaud someone who is trying" really hit me. How often do we recognize the people around us for their efforts to change, or to improve themselves and their communities, to learn something new? It doesn't have to stop just because we're no longer small children.
Paridon believes in positive energy to the extent that he'll push himself to smile even when he's feeling down. Smiles are contagious, he says. Now he's putting together a book of "Paridon Williams' 50 Ways to Help Another" that will include a piece on voting written by Redmond store director Celeste Coxen and pieces written by others in the community.
You can't hear me, but I am applauding someone who is trying.
What did you enjoy for dinner yesterday? And where?
Last night I joined more than 50 homeless folks for dinner in the basement of St. Jude's Parish in Redmond, the site of the roving Tent City 4 homeless camp. Volunteers from nearby PCC Redmond served up a hot meal of PCC vittles: Meatloaf crafted from fresh-ground buffalo, a Cuban black bean torta, creamy potato salad, ripe red Washington cherries and jugs of icy cool Odwalla lemonade.
Did I mention the organic green salad, served by Justine?
And the fresh blueberry crisp?
Delicious. And a gut check for myself and others for whom full bellies are something taken for granted. Talking to Karl, a recently homeless former welder from Detroit, put life into perspective (he's in the hat on the right).
Here's a man who had to leave behind everything he knows, including friends and family, in hopes of a second chance at a career. "I've never been so down in my life," he said. "I've been through a few of these things and I've never seen it so bad as far as the economy."
It makes you want to do more. Last night, the Redmond team was able to bring a smile to Karl's exhausted face via five helpings of meatloaf he said reminded him of Mom's cooking. What will we do tomorrow to help our neighbors in need? Here are a few ideas.
Celeste, the PCC Redmond store director, was thrilled by how many store volunteers stepped up to help. Some came in over the weekend to prep in the deli on their days off. The produce manager came in early to bake dessert. Paridon Williams, a Real Change vendor at the Redmond store, volunteered to serve (he's the tall fellow with the smile like a sunbeam below). Even the idea to bring dinner to Tent City came internally, from the mother of courtesy clerk Tim, whose family has attended the parish for decades.
"Working at events like this is an eye opener because we work in a place bursting with great food. To have people who are hungry -- that's really sad," said Celeste. "And if we can help alleviate that, that's really great."
BRING THE KIDS to compete under the sun in the PCC Kids Triathlon, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, July 19 (5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S., Seattle). Each participant (ages 6-12) gets a t-shirt, medal and a PCC gift card. The Kid Picks Mobile will sample an array of healthy foods starting at 7 a.m. Learn more and register online at seafair.com
This morning I learned how to make:
- an ice cream sandwich as big as a frisbee
- risotto with sugar peas
- Brussels sprouts with white beans, pasta and hazelnuts
- organic raspberry jam
And so can you! Visit our video library to watch Chef Lynne Vea cook up a storm on KING 5 TV's "Gardening With Ciscoe" show and in a series of cooking videos that premiered at spring's annual meeting. Once you're there, pay a virtual visit to two of our local producers, Theo Chocolate and Ballard Organics. Stay tuned for even more videos as the year progresses!
"Many Hands will be here Saturday," said Joe.
"Gasp!" replied the office.
Many Hands is Many Hands organic blueberries, a summer tradition here at PCC. Each year we look forward to the tiny, deep blue globes that burst with flavor. I'll add them to my oatmeal and yogurt. Others are rifling through their mental recipe boxes, searching for that favorite cobbler, slump or pie to put them to great use. Of course, if you're really busy, eating them out of hand works just fine as well ;)
In other produce news, organic Walla Walla sweet onions from Walla Walla River Organics now are just 99 cents a pound. For that price you really can eat them like an apple -- and add them to your burger, and make an onion-and-butter sandwich, and brown them on the stove to top your veggie dog, and the list goes on.
Two of my friends who attended Whitman University in Walla^2 both received boxes of Walla Walla onions after they accepted. Pretty cute.
Hooray for summer!
Vroom vroom ... you know who you are. The type who ditched your ride last summer to help save the environment, save on parking, save on gas or save yourself by switching to a bike for more exercise. But what about those times you really need a car?
Zipcar, that handy car membership service, enables you to have wheels when alternatives are too tricky. It's tough to haul a Christmas tree on public transit, or carry home a new IKEA bookshelf on the back of the back, or get all those PCC shopping bags home from a monthly discount shop.
Happy Monday everyone! Gray days like this put me in a great mood to write, and also, to read. I found a comfy nook at home Sunday during that sudden rainstorm to finally nibble at "In Defense of Food," Michael Pollan's latest tome that ponders modern eating.
Have you read it? Poor thing had sat on my bedside table for months, sandwiched between "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and "Bento Box in the Heartland" for months. I've been excited to read it after Omnivore's Dilemma, which will be read en masse by incoming freshmen at Washington State University this fall. So many food books, so little time.
So I'm happy to introduce PCC Reads, what I hope can become a space for us to discuss the food/health/green/cooking/memoirs we're reading, and a space to recommend much-loved works to others. To kick this off, I'll be blogging about this latest Pollan book as I work my way through. Each month, I'll introduce another book suggested by someone in the PCC community (that could be you!). I hope you'll join in and share your valuable thoughts and life experience.
Initial thoughts on IDOF: What is food? Pollan urges us to lay off eating food with printed health claims, as that implies it likely came in a package and was processed to a certain extent. Is this too limited a view of what could constitute quality food? I sit here thinking of the soy products (with health claims) relished by my vegan sister-in-law, an incredibly conscientious eater. I'm sure he will explore these questions as I get deeper into this book. I do like his concept of considering the cooking of our grandparents when in doubt about how to eat in this time of abundance. I'm pretty familiar with all the foods from the Japanese side of my family; it's not as clear to me what my French-Canadian grandmother liked to cook. Will investigate!
There's no shortage of fun this summer, and thankfully we even have the sun on our side this year! Look for PCC at events throughout the region or join us at Edmonds or Redmond for weekend barbecues!