Giving back

Category Archives: Co-op Community

Giving back
15th August, 2018

The Co-op’s charitable donations are making a difference in the community.

Photo: Vigil outside the Windsor office of Macquarie MP, Susan Templeman, to mark five years detention on Manus and Nauru and 12 deaths.

End of financial year (EOFY) at the Co-op involves some serious number crunching, a bout of tedious auditing and the much more rewarding task of sharing a percentage of our profits. And while we regularly donate to various local community groups and social justice organisations throughout the year – including Katoomba Community Neighbourhood Centre, Mid Mountains Community Hub, Aboriginal Culture and Resource Centre, Earth Recovery/Food Rescue at Junction 142, and Blue Mountains Cancer Help – this financial year we were also able to make some extra donations to deserving local community groups.

Among them is the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) which champions the rights of, and provides practical assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in western Sydney.

George Winston, Fundraising Coordinator at BMRSG, says the money received from the Co-op will be used to continue their vital work. “The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group committee is hugely grateful for the cash donation from the Co-op which will help us to maintain 76 asylum seeker families in western Sydney,” Mr Winston says. “We help people with food, school supplies, medical costs, rent assistance and other essentials, so cash injections are crucial.”

Photo: Two ‘Nannas’ knitting at the Blue Mountains Music Festival to invite people to ask about the treatment of those seeking asylum.

There are currently 480 members of the BMRSG but Mr Winston says they are always looking for people who can donate skills, money and energy to the cause.

“Some of our members visit asylum seekers in western Sydney and detainees in Villawood Detention Centre. And we have a community and political advocacy group that works with schools and other organisations to increase awareness and influence politicians, so there are many ways to get involved,” he says.

To become a member or donate to the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group go to www.bmrsg.org.au or contact George Winston directly on funds@bmrsg.org,au or 0490 179347.

Child’s play

Another beneficiary was Katoomba North Public School who received a donation to help fund improvements to the playground. Principal, Cathy Clark, says the money was greatly appreciated. “The support of the Food Co-op means that together with P & C fundraising we will have sufficient money to grind protruding tree roots in the playground, spread mulch to make an even playing surface, and erect a cubby house,” she said.

This calendar year also saw the implementation of the Nourishing Families project at North Katoomba Community Hub. The brainchild of Prue Adams, former Marketing and Member Liaison Officer at the Co-op, Nourishing Families brought together Jackie Spolc from the Hub and holistic nutrition coach Danielle O’Donoghue to develop a program of community cooking classes aimed at educating participants in how to prepare tasty nutritious food. The four-term program, partly funded by a grant from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (supported by Scenic World) and donations from local councillors, has been a great success to date and application for funding for next year’s project is underway.

Can we fix it?
15th August, 2018

Can we fix it? Yes we can, with your help! Toolo, the not-for-profit Katoomba Tool Library, is calling for volunteer repairers for the new Katoomba Repair Café.

Are you a Mr or Ms Fixit? Do you have mending skills you’d like to share with the community? Then we need you at Katoomba’s Repair Café.

Toolo  and the Blue Mountains Food Co-op are launching a Repair Café at Junction 142 in Katoomba on 15th September. Repair Cafés are non-monetary shopfronts for an international sustainability movement that is all about repairing damaged or broken household items that would otherwise end up in landfill. Repair Cafés offer communities the chance to learn how to mend clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, computer equipment and more by providing tools, materials and volunteers with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

Just rewards

As incentive, volunteer repairers will receive a free years membership with the Co-op (valued at $35) for their first Repair Café and volunteer points for time spent at the Repair Café on subsequent dates. If volunteers are already members of the Co-op they will receive volunteer points.

To register your interest contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com

POSITION VACANT – Coordinator role

The Repair Café Mender Coordinator is a volunteer position whose main responsibility is to liaise directly with the volunteer menders from the community, provide them with rostered shifts, provide an orientation and safety induction, and collect and file volunteer paperwork. The Repair Café Mender Coordinator should be familiar with basic computer skills, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets. This volunteer position is for approximately 8 hours per month and entitles the successful candidate to free membership of the Blue Mountains Food Co-op, valued at $35 (or volunteer points if already a member) and full membership to the Blue Mountains Tool Library valued at $99. To apply contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Grow heirloom fruit & veg
15th August, 2018

ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms

The latest edition in the ABC Organic Gardener’s Essential Guide series celebrates the incredible world of heirlooms. From 900-year-old ‘Purple Dragon’ carrots, to apples and oranges that arrived with the First Fleet, Heirlooms shows you how to grow your own and recommends the best cultivars for your patch.

Featuring content previously published in the popular magazine plus new articles by trusted horticultural writers including Penny Woodward and Justin Russell, the ‘mook’ (a cross between a book and a magazine) includes advice and tips for growing old-fashioned fruit, veg and flowers, seed-saving, raising heritage chook and pig breeds, and even the joy of scything. Heirlooms would make a welcome addition to your gardening reference library or a great gift for a green thumb.

We have two copies to giveaway. Simply email your contact details to  hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au with Heirlooms in the subject line, and a brief description or photo of any heirloom fruit or veg you’ve grown to be eligible to win.

ABC Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms is on sale in newsagents and from ABC Centres and abc.net.au/shop and retails for $10.99.

 

Natural healing
15th August, 2018

Herbs for mums ‘n bubs

Get to grips with gripe and beat the baby blues with soothing natural remedies from our in-store practitioner, Chris Ireland.

The Co-op stocks a wide range of beautiful organic herbs that can be used safely through pregnancy and after birth. This article will detail some recipes for regulating breast milk flow, keeping mum’s spirits up in the days after birth, and helping manage digestive discomfort in the new bub.

Breast milk tea

Classically nutritive herbs, fennel and fenugreek seeds can be combined to help increase milk flow in the new mum. Rosemary Gladstar, a doyenne of modern herbalism, internationally renowned for her technical knowledge and stewardship in the global herbalist community, suggests the following breast milk tea:

4 parts fennel seed

2 parts nettle

2 parts raspberry leaf

½ part fenugreek seed

Use 4-6 tablespoons of herbs to a litre of water. Bruise the seeds lightly and add them and the herbs to cold water. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over low heat, with the pot covered. Remove from the heat and infuse for 20 minutes. Strain. Drink 3-4 cups daily.

Beat the baby blues

For lifting the spirits when feeling a bit overwhelmed in the days after birth, this lovely Joy tea is another Rosemary Gladstar classic:

2 parts chamomile

3 parts lemon balm

2 parts hibiscus flowers

2 parts rose petals

1/8 part lavender flowers

1/8 part cardamom pods, chopped

Use 4-6 tablespoons of herbs per litre of water. Add herbs to a pot and pour boiling water over them. Infuse for 5-10 minutes, covered. Strain out herbs. Drink immediately or serve chilled in summer.

DIY gripe water

Get to grips with gripe using this simple DIY recipe:

1 Tbsp fennel seeds

½ inch piece fresh ginger grated

1 tsp chamomile

125ml (½ cup) filtered water

Lightly bruise fennel seeds. Pour boiling water over herbs, cover pot and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out herbs, ginger and seeds carefully with a coffee filter.

Kept covered in a closed and sterilised jar in the fridge this mix will last for 2-3 days. For infants small drop doses may be used, and for older babies up to a teaspoon of the mix may be diluted and given in a bottle of water. For best results, use after feeding and before bed.

NB: If problems persist consult a medical practitioner.

 

Dog day afternoon
9th August, 2018

Gone to the dogs

We eat well, so why shouldn’t our dogs? Bring your four-legged friend to the Co-op on Thursday 30th August between 1 – 3.30pm for an afternoon of doggy diet discussion complete with canine canapés from Miso’s Treats and The Dog Baker.

Miso’s Treats

Based in Katoomba, Miso’s Treats are all natural, dehydrated dog treats that are low in fat with no added salt, sugar or preservatives. Only the best quality ingredients are used, with a preference for Australian, free-range and organic products whenever possible. Miso’s Treats contain at least 45% vegetables so they’re very healthy and many have no grains or dairy and so are suitable for dogs with allergy issues.

Miso’s Treats also offers dehydrated single ingredient treats like Grass Fed Beef Strips and Free Range Chicken Jerky, and dehydrated fruit and vegetables that dogs love such as Sweet Potato, Carrots, Apples and Pears.

“Miso” (above) and “Rosie” (top) photos by Paul Watkins.

facebook.com/Miso’sTreats

The Dog Baker

Sue Barclay, chief baker at The Dog Baker – a boutique Blue Mountains business – admits that prior to starting The Dog Baker she paid little attention to the ingredients in popular commercial dog treats. But when she finally did, it proved a scary read. “The ingredients included excessive amounts of salt, additive numbers (a very long list), sugar and generic references to unspecified meat products,” says Sue.  “No wonder my dogs were always gasping for a drink after feeding them treats. It seemed we had been inadvertently overdosing them on salt and other unknown additives.”

Sue realised the only way to ensure her dogs ate healthy treats was to make them herself. And so, after numerous experimental batches and lots of taste testing by her dogs, neighbourhood and friends’ dogs, and even a hungry teenage son, The Dog Baker was born. Using natural human-grade ingredients The Dog Baker treat range includes Apple Cheese Buckwheat biscuits, Banana Peanut Butter Carob bones and Sardine, Mint & Parsley paws.

dogbaker.com.au

The scoop on poop

If aliens chose to observe human behaviour through the lens of an off-leash dog park they would probably assume that dogs were the superior race. They’ve trained us well, our furry, four-legged friends, as we dutifully follow them around picking up after them. Aliens might also wonder why we are using environmentally damaging plastic bags to scoop the poop when there are much better eco-friendly alternatives.

The dog bags provided by Blue Mountains City Council in dispensers at off leash dog parks are degradable, meaning they break down into tiny little pieces of plastic over many, many years but remain in the eco-system as a pollutant and a danger to wildlife. The Co-op stocks Biobags, biodegradable dog poop bags made from a resin derived from plants, vegetable oils and compostable polymers that are completely compostable:  https://biobagworld.com.au/product/50-biodegradable-dog-poop-bags/

And because there is still much consumer confusion regarding the meaning of biodegradable, compostable, and bioplastic, here’s a nifty explanation from Choice magazine:

https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/packaging-labelling-and-advertising/packaging/articles/biodegradable-plastic

July in store
12th July, 2018

Purple haze

This month sees an influx of rare and unusual fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on purple!

Cauliflowers

Mark Twain described cauliflowers as “cabbages with college educations”. These purple ones, in store now for a limited time, are not only smart but also packed with anthocyanin – a flavonoid found in blueberries and grapes – thought to have anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Purple and yellow carrots

Carrots are packed with minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium, and are a good source of vitamin C, niacin and folate. The absorption of the protective beta carotene is increased by slightly cooking or finely pulverising.

Dragon fruit

Most of us associate dragon fruit with tropical salads we’ve eaten on holiday in south east Asia, but did you know that the dragon fruit, or Pitaya, comes from a cactus native to the Americas?

In the big Little Shop

Check out our fantastic range of bamboo, stainless steel and glass drinking straws (and cleaning brushes) because plastic straws suck!

Pop up cake stall
11th July, 2018

Local maker Cocoa Ruby will be bringing her beautiful vegan cakes to the Co-op Wednesday 18th July.

Featuring four of her favourite creations:

Raspberry, White Chocolate and Rose Cheesecake

Choc Mint and Matcha Mudslide

Chai Cheesecake

Black Forest Cake.

Come on down for a yummy treat and a chat to sweeten up winter!

Winter wellness tips
11th July, 2018

In our last newsletter we ran a competition to win a Winter Wellness pack. To enter we asked newsletter subscribers for their tips for staying healthy during the colder months. Here are the fabulous entries we received starting with our winner Michaela Dabson’s ode to winter wellness and finishing with a spicy recipe for Sarah de Graaf’s Hot Devil Drink.

Winner:

Citrus, ginger, laughter, friends,

Epsom salt baths with 2tsp of bicarb soda added for efficacy.

Log fires lit with dried citrus peel,

Pumpkin and sweet potato soup,

Brassicas, sunlight, motion.

Flubru – boil up garlic, fresh chilli, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamon, ginger root, teaspoon of fenugreek seeds till soft.  Strain, Add lemon and zest, favorite honey (and a tot of whisky?). This tried and tested remedy for the winter flu blues can blow your socks off or gently soothe, depending on the proportions. It goes very well with a log fire, a comfy cushion and a book.  May it bring comfort, leading to wellness.

Fresh ginger and turmeric with your breakfast yoghurt and in “Golden Milk” before bed time. Recipe: turmeric, ginger, cloves, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon & honey simmered in almond milk. Strain before drinking!

Stay active. Walk each day – even if it’s cold. Get some sun as well. Grab a friend to make it more fun. Staying connected helps beat the winter blues.

Keep your digestive fire alive with warm meals, nourishing teas and fresh soft homemade produce! Organic porridge with cinnamon, fresh vegetable congee and hearty coconut cream pumpkin soups!

A 10 minute morning meditation! Enable clarity and calmness to brace the chilly weather! Connect back with the inhale-exhale to embrace all that these beautiful months will deliver

Keep friends close! Connect with friends over organic chai, hot cocoa and organic coffee pots! Social connection lifts the spirit and fuels the soul with positive vibes.

Prioritising gut health in winter is an effective way to avoid the flu and getting run down. To make your own; all you need is shredded cabbage, carrot, ginger, turmeric and salt.

My tip is homemade chicken soup filled with delicious vegetables and noodles, followed by stewed pears with cinnamon and brown sugar.

The way to fight colds is to boost yourself beforehand. A colourful and tasty vegie soup with a tomato base and garlic, ginger, lemon juice plus protein helps my immunity.

Continue to get out and exercise, whether it be a bushwalking, mulching the garden or a walk around the block. Dress appropriately for the weather and enjoy the fresh air, the sun and Vitamin D. This will keep your mood elevated and help your body stay healthy.

Get plenty of sleep, Stay hydrated (so easy to not feel thirsty in colder months). Broth it up! And keep moving!

Hot Devils Death drink. It contains all and every herb and spice you can find in your cupboard with an emphasis on warming herbs/spices. If you have a healthy collection of spices don’t get too excited.

Essentials  – ginger fresh root

– pepper

– lemon juice and rind

– garlic (or not if you don’t eat alium)

– honey

– cinnamon

– cayenne

Others may include

– chilli flakes

– cloves

– liquorice dried root

– orange rind

– turmeric fresh or ground

– lemongrass fresh or dried

– fenugreek leaf or seed

– fennel seeds

– star anise

– ginger ground

– white pepper ground

Boil the ginger in 1.5 cups of water till the water shows colour and smells spicy.

If using fresh turmeric and lemongrass turn down the heat and add them and the rind of the lemon and orange. Keep at a simmer fro about 5 mins then add the seeds, dried and ground herbs after a further 5 minutes add the dried leaf herbs.

The brew should be very strong and often bitter too. Have it as a generous shot mixed with the juice of half a lemon. Throw back if needed. Follow with a chaser of a large teaspoon of honey. Or if you can drink it at a lower temperature you can add the honey. Keep the remaining and have a shot with the lemon juice every 4 hours or so. If you do this at the hint of a sniffle or headache expect to feel better the following day. It is excellent followed by savouring a tea of dried sage by the fire. A devilishly hot way to employ alchemy against the horrid bugaloos in winter.

 

 

 

Lyttleton Stores co-op
10th July, 2018

Lyttleton Stores is becoming a co-operative, which means more of the community will own and run the resources they have built so far, and make decisions about the future they share. As a community co-operative, Lyttleton will operate an organic grocery store, local artisan made wares store, workshop space, community hub, permaculture garden and commercial kitchen that transforms food waste.

It is currently run by a collective of people who combine their love of organic home grown food and artisan made craft ware. Their mission is to connect customers, makers, teachers and growers, while encouraging conscious, ethical, local economies moving towards a no-waste, lower energy future in the mid-mountains. And they are asking for your support to establish a substantial membership base.

So spread the word and check out the store (if you haven’t already) or consider making a contribution to their crowdfunding campaign here https://pozible.com/project/lyttleton-stores-co-operative

From little things big things grow. The Blue Mountains Food Co-op was small once too!

Photo: Luisa Brimble

Fishy business
10th July, 2018

We’ve all heard the adage we are what we eat, but what about the one that goes we eat what we wear?

Blue Mountains Food Co-op supplier Import Ants recently published an alarming story about Fish, Fibres and Food.

Here is an edited version.

When fish eat fibres, the fish and the fibres end up on our dinner plate. But there is more to the story!

Fish like eating microplastic fibres

Fibres absorb chemical pollutants and pathogens

Food that we eat from the sea has significant amounts of plastic in it

But why do fish eat these fibres?   

New research has found that the “scent” of plastic appeals to foraging fish just as much as the scent of their natural food. So fish are being tricked into eating plastic because of how it smells. And with all the plastics that are entering our oceans it is not just fish that are affected by them.

At Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus, Dr. Sarah Dudas leads a team dissolving oyster guts to leave behind the microplastics they have ingested and she is finding them in almost every shellfish.

Prawns, oysters and other molluscs are filter-feeders. When these filter-feeders are eaten by larger marine life they act as a gateway into the food chain.

So where are these plastic fibres coming from?

There has been a lot of research lately that is showing that much of this plastic fibre is coming from our laundry. Every load of synthetic clothing empties an estimated 1.7 grams of microfibers into the water stream, and these are not filtered out at treatment plants.

In 2013, Dr Peter Ross director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program, began sampling water off the coast of British Columbia for microplastics.  His study published in Science Direct found 9,200 particles of microplastic per cubic meter of seawater.

Using a spectrometer he found these microplastic particles originated from four main sources. Micro-beads common in toothpaste & cosmetics, polystyrene from packaging, nurdles the hard resin pellets used as the raw material for other plastic products, however the majority were from microfibers in synthetic fabrics.

Food we eat

Plastics and chemicals are finding their way into the food chain.

In a study published in the science journal Nature in 2015, marine researchers bought fish at public markets in California and Indonesia and examined their stomach contents. Around one in four fish at markets in both locations had plastic particles in their guts.

However, it is the chemical makeup of plastic that may be having a more harmful effect.

Rolf Halden, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Environmental Security suggests that the chemicals used to make plastic may migrate into the fish flesh and thus the edible parts of seafood.

We know that microplastics act as a sponge, absorbing chemicals in the water. These may sometimes be found “in accumulated concentrations that may be harmful to humans”, says Halden.

In Australia, researchers in a controlled laboratory study headed by Bradley Clarke, an environmental scientist at RMIT University, spiked microbeads from face cleaners with “environmentally relevant” concentrations of the pollutant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and fed them to Murray River rainbow fish. They found 12.5 per cent of PBDEs from the microbeads leached into the tissue of the fish.

It is already known that PBDE levels in seafood biomagnify up the food chain. PBDEs and other similar pollutants are linked to neurological health problems, impaired immune function and fertility problems.

So what can we do?

It is easy to feel that your choices make only a small difference to what is a very large problem. But we know that corporations and governments don’t change without financial incentive or public pressure. So you have more power as a consumer than you think.

  • Woolworths and Coles have now banned single-use plastic bags in stores across Australia.

  • Starbucks in the UK have removed plastic straws and cutlery from their shelves. Customers have to ask if they want them. March 2018

  • McDonald’s shareholders are considering a proposal to remove plastic straws in May 2018

  • Australian retailers are phasing out microbeads – April 2018 – a recent federal government commissioned assessment of 4400 relevant supermarket and pharmacy products found only six per cent still contained microbeads

Australia has been slow at legislating to reduce plastics in our environment, preferring voluntary agreements with the manufacturers. We can do better. However, with the growth of people power and some wonderful groups like Boomerang Alliance and Take 3 for the Sea pushing for government and industry to improve, change is on its way.

  • Switch to a non-plastic kitchen scourer like the Eco Max Kitchen Scrubber

  • Support companies that have policies to reduce plastics

  • Use a reusable cup and drink bottle

  • Take your own carry bag and say no to the plastic bag at the checkout

  • Don’t buy things packaged in polystyrene or excessive plastic packaging

  • Do buy natural fabrics and avoid synthetic fibres

  • Use a no phosphorus Bio-compatible laundry detergent then reuse your grey water on the garden

  • Say no to straws, plastic cotton buds, cutlery and lollies on plastic sticks

  • Use your own container and fill up at a bulk food shop

So be the change you want to see in the world and remember every little step we each take together makes a giant difference.

To read the full article from Import Ants click here.

 

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