THE ROOT ISSUE
Root Into Yourself
Learn about the Root Chakra
Root into Your Community
Rethink Your Lawn! Grass Is in the Past
In this issue, entitled “Root,” we hope you find inspiration and a community that’s willing to root together, so that we can grow together, for many years to come.
Weight for eighteen years, and is Managing Editor of the Coop Scoop. When not at the coop, Rebecca is a teacher, musician, and writer, currently working on a memoir about her experience with Cushing’s Syndrome. Email her at Contact@RebeccaAngel.com.
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My roots can grow?
How long before my roots can grow?
Before it gets too tired?
N O ST
How many times can I extend my hand,
The microcosm of the Co-op and the macrocosm of our country, and even of the planet, requires everyone to settle in and dig deep. We may all feel calloused and tired, but no one can wait for that perfect moment to commit. We will never be entirely ready, but the time is now.
Asparagus is a commitment: it takes at least three years before harvest and then will continue to regrow in the same spot for years to come. No one plants asparagus unless they are planning on staying. Ironically, I didn’t plant asparagus until the year my husband lost his job and we didn’t know what our future would be. It was then I realized that there was
Before a callus appears?
How many times can my heart break,
no perfect time to do it. There never would be. I had to take a chance and start planting roots now. That was also the year I began to volunteer regularly at Honest Weight.
The microcosm of the Co-op and the macrocosm of our country, and even of the planet, requires everyone to settle in and dig deep.
It took fifteen years of living in the same house before I finally planted asparagus. I was a kid who moved around a lot, and by the time I reached high school, I had switched schools seven times.
E VE R
Letter from An editor
These are ly rics from a song, “Uprooted,” that I wrote in my twenties after moving into the house where I currently live. I feared I would have to move again and again, and so felt unable to root in my home, my land, my community. Settling down is hard when we live in uncertain times.
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Honest Weight Food Co-op is a memberowned and -operated consumer cooperative that is committed to providing the community with affordable, high quality natural foods and products for healthy living. Our mission is to promote more equitable, participatory, and
Ecologically sustainable ways of living. Honest weight is open to the public, seven days a week. The Coop Scoop is produced bimonthly by our Education Department and offered free of charge as part of our mission. To view online, Please visit www.honestweight.coop/coopscoop.
Rebecca Angel, has been a part of Honest Weight for eighteen years, and is
Managing Editor of the Coop Scoop. When not at the co-op, Rebecca is a teacher, musician, and writer, currently working on a memoir about her experience with Cushing’s Syndrome. Email her at Contact@RebeccaAngel.com. Heather Bonikowski, our Content Editor, is a lexicographer for dictionary.com and a foreign language instructor. She relocated from Austin in 2017, after triplechecking that there was a co-op here for her to join. Holley Davis, our Layout Designer, lives in Troy and works in communications. When she’s not at the Troy Farmers Market or trying new recipes, you can find her running a half marathon in every state. Carol Reid, our Assistant Editor, is a retired cataloger at the New York State Library, where she worked for over 35 years. She wrote a 10-year blog called “Typo of the Day for Librarians” and has been a Co-op member since the 1980s.
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firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 2473-6155 (print) ISSN 2473-6163 (online) The Coop Scoop is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider. We are not responsible for errors or omissions. Honest Weight is not responsible for, and does not necessarily agree with, our guest writers’ articles.
Cover photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash
LETTER FROM AN EDITOR
BE LIKE A TREE
WINTER ROOTS OF ALL KINDS
THE ROOT OF US ALL
URBAN WALKING AND GETTING GROUNDED
THE GRASS IS NEVER GREENER: LAWN BEGONE
Rebecca Angel Deanna Beyer
Sarah Goldberg Anna Aperans
Mecca Andrade Joann Ryann
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GETTING TO THE ROOT OF PROCRASTINATION
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Be Like a Tree by Deanna Beyer
Trees are excellent meditators—they sit rooted in one spot for years, watching all that goes by. Lately, I’ve been thinking about this gem dropped during a meditation workshop long ago. For years, saplings around the world have dug their roots deep into the earth, reached for the sun, and resolutely refused to allow difficult situations to impede their growth. Some succumb to the elements, some survive, and some truly thrive. Humans are a lot like trees.
2020 has provided us with a rare chance to engage in what I like to think of as the Ultimate Buddhist Bootcamp. It feels kind of like living in our own reality TV show, one that has been airing live 24/7 since March, with a still, yet-to-be-determined finale date. Think about it: looking back at what used to be—meeting friends for dinner, going to a concert, traveling ANYWHERE—creates a sense of lack, of suffering. Looking forward—insert list from above and add “going out without a damn mask”—creates a tremendous sense of uncertainty and FOMO, which can also lead to suffering. To find peace and balance, we need to live right here, in this very moment. To be grateful and happy with what is, not was, or may be. Very Buddhist. And kinda like trees. 6
Let’s face it, during challenging times we all have our ways of coping. Some of us set about working longer hours or sleeping more, learning to bake bread, plant gardens, renovate our homes, hike the ADK46, clean out closets, read books, pick up new workout routines, try new recipes or languages, binge-watch every original series on Netflix, take up macrame, shop online, and/or start canning (to handle the garden haul, of course!). My local wine-slinger informed me that business is up almost 200% since March. We’ve done it all. No judgments here, just notice if you recognize yourself. We have exhausted ourselves with busy-ness, with being otherwise occupied so that we don’t have to stop and be. As a culture, we pride ourselves on being busy, so the very idea of just being is sometimes uncomfortable and hard. Really, really hard. Especially as we gaze towards the horizon, looking for a finish line that is nowhere in sight. A Google search of “Resilient Trees” or “Unusual Tree Growth,” demonstrates extraordinary ways that trees show off their adaptability and resilience. There are crooked, even sideways-leaning trees that have grown to maturity despite extreme wind patterns. Lone trees growing at the tip of rocky mountains, or through cracks in giant boulders. There is even a forest of trees growing on an COOP SCOOP
abandoned ship in the shallow waters of Cockle Bay, off the coast of Australia.
Now is the time to practice being like trees. It is the perfect opportunity to dive into the depths of being. To stop and feel grounded in this space and time. To look at the roots of our souls and notice where we might be stuck, have become inflexible, or attached to that which may be hindering us from growth. To root out belief systems that no longer serve the greatest good, and to nourish what is depleted.
Branched by Sarah Goldberg
The pine trees my brother and I would throw our biplanes toward, the same ones our mother would have to knock free with a broom are now so tall I
The real winners here are the dogs who, already Buddhist by nature, have never been as happy and are probably wondering what has taken us so long to get with the program!
have to crane my neck to see branches.
This is also a moment to honor how we have grown, whether strong and tall, wide and sturdy, or thin and bending in the wind. To note the places where we have been altered or changed by circumstance and blessed by the heart prints of lives, like initials carved into bark.
they stepped too close.
To embrace where we flourish, bloom, and bear fruit. It is very personal, transformative work that (with practice) allows us to stay deeply rooted and present to what is happening in our lives at this moment. It invites balance, peace, and happiness into our hearts. It’s something that so many people need desperately right now. I know I do. Writing this, I am reminded of the Survivor Tree, the American Elm in Oklahoma City with roots stretching back to the early days of Oklahoma’s statehood. It bore witness to the violence and withstood the full force of one of the worst attacks on American soil. Twenty-five years later, it still lives and grows as a symbol of hope and resilience. Humans are a lot like trees. Deanna Beyer is the Education & Engagement Coordinator at Honest
Weight and has worked in and around health and wellness for over 20 years. A long-time teacher and practitioner of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, she focuses on helping to make these practices accessible to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations—practicing the yoga of life. She can be reached at email@example.com. WINTER 2020
I thought the only good thing roots were good for was tripping passersby if
A failsafe— a way to stay safe, hidden limbs buried beneath or between cracked pavement and loose stones. With age, I have studied roots of plants and roots of my own. Did you know? Did you know even when pulled free or torn apart we all can plant roots elsewhere and new blooms can start? Did you know? We don’t all grow straight down? Sarah Goldberg is a young adult living in the Capital Region.
She enjoys singing in the car, intellectual debates with friends, and a really good milkshake. Sarah graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Creative Writing in 2015 and has since moved back home to work with the public and learn marketing. 7
Winter Roots of All Kinds by Anna Aperans
Winter is a time for ref lections a nd ac t i v it ie s t h at f o s t e r togetherness. With the colder weather approaching, we yearn to spend time with our loved ones inside, and this year, with t he ongoing pandemic, our gatherings might look a little different. However, there are still ways in which you can foster a sense of togetherness, a feeling of being rooted in one’s community, family, and the natural world. These activities are meant to be easy and low-maintenance, and most importantly, afford you an opportunity to connect with your loved ones and make special memories.
Feeling “Rooted” in One’s Community: Shout Outs for Essential Workers When I was working as a teacher, I liked giving “Shout Outs” to colleagues who were seen doing something k ind, helpf ul, or inspiring in my school. A “Shout Out” is like a big “Thank You”
There are still ways in which you can foster a sense of togetherness 8
and there is no group of people who currently deserve bigger “Shout Outs” than our amazing Essential Workers! Recently, my son and I created thank you cards for essential workers who have helped our family. We delivered cards to our mail-woman, package delivery service worker, and the local farm that has supplied us with fresh vegetables throughout the past spring and summer. This nice activity made me engage with community members in a meaningful way.
Recently, my son and I created thank you cards for essential workers who have helped our family My son and I made the cards with finger paint and watercolor paper (any thick paper would do). I brushed fingerpaint on his hand and then stuck it on the paper. Next to each finger on his hand, I wrote how an essential worker has been helpful and special to us during this unprecedented time. This family activity can
be done with all ages! My son, who is 17 months, liked to feel the wet paint on his hands, and if you have an older child, they can help you brainstorm a list of essential workers that have helped your family!
Feeling “Rooted” in Nature: Building Forest Homes One of my fondest memories of childhood was making “Forest Homes” w ith my friends at Latvian summer camp in upstate New York. We collected pine cones, twigs, leaves, moss, acorns, and so much more from the forest floor and constructed beautiful miniature homes. Winter is a wonderful time to go out with your child into the woods. There is so much to be seen and found now that the leaves are gone and the forest floor is scattered with artifacts from past seasons.
There is so much to be seen and found now that the leaves are gone and the forest floor is scattered with artifacts from past seasons COOP SCOOP
Anna’s powder biscuits sous chef
My son and I have recently begun building forest homes together. I collect an assortment of natural items and he places the items however he wishes in a designated location. If you have an older child, you can pretend to build a cozy home for a chipmunk or for a forest fairy! Let your imagination run wild. This is a wonderful, low-key, and relaxing activity that can be done with all ages and the end result is different every time.
Feeling “Rooted” through Cooking: Baking Powder Biscuits
be found online. To make these biscuits you will need:
I remember my mother making t hese simple a nd delicious biscuits when we were young. Whenever it gets cold, I have an instant craving for them. They are so easy to make and can usually be made with common household staples. They pair well with soups, and winter is definitely the season for soup making! Cooking has always made me feel rooted to my heritage and to my family. I have enjoyed making these with my son as it gives us a chance to connect, have some fun, and share in a family tradition.
Cooking has always made me feel rooted to my heritage and to my family. When we make these together, the process is quite messy (his hands become sticky and he has a hard time resisting eating large amounts of butter), but he has learned, throughout it all, to knead dough quite well. I like to use the Baking Powder Biscuits King Arthur Recipe that can
● 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (preferably King Arthur, from the bulk section) ● 1 tsp salt ● 1 Tbsp baking powder ● 6 Tbsp room-temp. butter ● 1 to 1 ⅛ cups of cold whole milk
Instructions ● Preheat oven to 425°F and place rack in the upper third. ● Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar, then work in butter until mixture is crumbly. ● Add milk and mix dough until it is cohesive. Divide dough into 12 portions. ● Bake biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Enjoy! Anna Aperans lives with her husband and son in Troy, NY. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and was working as a teacher before her son was born. She has master’s degrees in elementary and special education and loves being with children! She enjoys baking, gardening with her son and husband, visiting the amazing people who work at Honest Weight, and spending time with her parents, brother, and sister-in-law.
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The Root of Us All by Mecca Andrade
The chakra system is an ancient system conceptualizing energy. Originating in India, it is becoming a popular topic of discussion in this time of increasing mindfulness of health and wellbeing. Chakra is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “wheel,” which imagines that life force energy moves, spins, and rotates as a regular wheel does. The Chakras are described as points through which energy flows up and down the body and are connected to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Each “wheel” spins on an axis of sorts and has its own speed, and ideally will ebb and flow steadily. Since they are not actually seen with the naked eye, we can visualize them by drawing an imaginary line, straight down the back from the base of your head down to the lower back, with these seven energy centers aligned along with it.
Each Chakra is also connected to and represented by a different color, and correlates with a different organ system within the human body, as well. The color scheme correlates with the colors on the spectrum of the rainbow, from red and orange to indigo and violet. The acronym ROYGBIV can be used as a mnemonic device for identification and ordering of the associated colors. If there is anything 10
Defining our relationship to the earth, the root is responsible for our feelings about our safety, security, and material needs preventing the flow of the chakra’s fluid-like energy, it can result in an issue with the correlating body part/organ system. For example, an imbalance in the throat chakra, which is responsible for the thyroid gland, would impact organs such as the throat, neck, ears, and anything affiliated with the thyroid gland. The throat chakra also governs communication, speech, and writing, so the ability to effectively complete tasks in those areas may also be affected.
Chakras also each have a Sanskrit name, as well as activities designed to align them and to maintain a healthy balance. Consequently, as they can become under-balanced or closed, or can be over-balanced or too open, various meditations and exercises are available to help realign them. COOP SCOOP
The root chakra, knownunder as Muladhara is instead trapped himself the weightChakra, of a story associated with the color until red, the first color on the he hasn’t fully confronted now. instead trapped weight a story spectrum, and ishimself locatedunder at the the base of theofspine, or he hasn’t fully confronted until now. coccyx area. The root is the first or “base” chakra; From beneath Wagamese’s prose emerges a it has the slowest speed and corresponds to the significant question - do our stories definea From beneath Wagamese’s prose emerges adrenal glands.
us,significant or do we question define our- do stories? our stories define us, orisdo our stories? Eldon notwe thedefine only character of the novel to have We need to ensure that the root is firmly
endured life, has Eldon is suffering—Franklin’s not the only character of thetoo, novel to been have plagued with struggle. He has yearned for the and deeply planted, ready to support endured suffering—Franklin’s life, too, has been attention a father who He never him plagued of with struggle. hasshowed yearned forcare, the and has ached for knowledge of the mother he attention of a father who never showed him care, never knew. Rather running from troubles, Defining our relationship to the earth, the root and has ached forthan knowledge of thehis mother he however, Franklin seems to meet them head on in isnever responsible for our our safety, knew. Rather thanfeelings running about from his troubles, asecurity, way that and sets him decidedly apartAs from hissurvival father. material the however, Franklin seems needs. to meet them head on in center thatsets governs our thought processes, a way that him decidedly apart from his father.it In part, it is Franklin’s appreciation for nature and aligns with Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory. the he forgesappreciation with his Native American In connection part, is Franklin’s for nature and The rootitchakra, as its name suggests, is deep, heritage that helps him find his way through an the connection he forges with his Native American firm, and provides support to the other chakras. The arduous childhood. Wagamese’s exquisitely vivid heritage that rely helps hisstability. way through an other chakras onhim it forfind their Although descriptions of the natural worldexquisitely illustrate vivid how, arduous childhood. Wagamese’s each chakra is important, possessing its own role time and again, Franklin finds peaceillustrate in the beauty descriptions theis natural world how, and tasks, the of root the anchor from which all the and solitude of nature: “The sky was clearing and others stem, making it the chakra of primary focus. andsun solitude of nature: sky was and the splattered light“The against the clearing green-black Since the other chakras are impacted by the status the sun light the green-black boughs ofsplattered the trees and theagainst birds came alive with it of the root, we need to ensure that the root is firmly boughs of the treesin and came with it and he lost himself thethe feelbirds of the landalive shrugging and deeply planted, ready to support: it needs to be and he lost himself in the feel of the land shrugging itself into wakefulness.” aligned and effectively balanced first. itself into wakefulness.”
Activities that help to balance the chakras include meditation, visualizations, and holding or keeping natural stones on your person, to absorb negative energies that affect the balance of the chakras. Stones, such as red jasper, tourmaline, and clear quartz, are said to possess qualities that bring enlightenment and empower the body (healthline. com). Other exercises include seeing an image of the color in your mind, “seeing red” for example, to balance the root chakra.
UP SPICE UP SPICE YOUR YOUR FALL FALL SEASON SEASON
Additionally, getting out in nature, walking barefoot in the soil or grass helps with grounding, as well as taking a hot shower, or getting a pedicure.
at The Arts Center of the Capital Region
There are a host of quizzes and surveys online that at The Arts Center of the Capital Region individuals can take in order to determine which chakra may be out of balance. And just as with most things in life, progress is a process. The journey can Register only begin once you know the root of thefor issue.
Registertoday! for classes today! nurse, and Mecca “Majick” Andradesartscenteronline.org is aclasses mother, grandmother, ARTSagent. CENTER independentTHE travel She enjoys outings with family, swimming, and, artscenteronline.org of course, writing. can find her on Facebook at @mecca.johnson.16, or THE ARTSYou CENTER OF THE CAPITAL REGION 265 RIVER ST, TROY, NY 12180 (518) OF THE273-0552 CA PITAL REGION 265 RIVER ST, TROY, NY 12180 (518) 273-0552
on her blog/bath shop at majesticmedicine.com.
Illustration by Catherine LaPointe Illustration by Catherine LaPointe
Issues with the root chakra may result We can the inWe impaired spatialbeyond understanding. can move move beyond the
stories of our past to stories of our past to become the authors of become the authors of our future. our future.
Some explain this feeling as wandering aimlessly, like having a destination without transportation, and feeling lost as a result. The same would apply if a root was not firmly planted in the soil: the lack of support from the surrounding soil would prevent proper growth. Physical conditions associated In thean end, Wagameseroot does not pretend for back a moment with imbalanced include pain, In the end, Wagamese doeschakra not pretend for a moment to ignore the cold, harsh reality of our world: “The sciatica, varicose veins, constipation, diarrhea, water to ignore the cold, harsh reality of our world: “The war becameand theissues knowledge thatlower life can strip you retention, with the extremities, war became the knowledge that life can strip you raw, that some holes are never filled, some gaps not legs, hip, groin, calf, and knees. chinked, some chill winds relentless in their pitch chinked, some chill winds relentless in their pitch and yowl.” Perhaps, however, it is in the telling—or and yowl.” Perhaps, however, it is in the telling—or in the mere acknowledgment—that we can move Activities that help to balance in the mere acknowledgment—that we can move beyond the stories of our past to become the authors beyond the stories of our past to become the authors the chakras include meditation, ofofour ourfuture. future.
visualizations, and holding or keeping Natalie from SUNY Albany with a degree in English. natural oninin2014 your person Nataliegraduated graduated from stones SUNY Albany 2014 with a degree in English. She currently serves wine, tends grapevines, and helps with everything in She currently serves wine, tends grapevines, and helps with everything in between betweenatata asmall smallfarm/winery farm/wineryininValley ValleyFalls, Falls, NY. NY. WINTER 2020 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018
(518)-330-3262 · firstname.lastname@example.org NEed an advertisement designed? We can help
with that too! Email kim for more info!
Urban Walking and Getting Grounded by Joann Ryan
Roots, Part 1 There i s somet h i ng about walking that grounds me. It is a connection, a rootedness, that I feel, whether I am on a concrete sidewalk, a flagstone path, or a grassy lawn, that is about more than gravity or movement. I feel light and energized in the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other. When time is short, I walk in my neighborhood. My destination is the Ten Broeck Mansion gardens at the north end of the Ten Broeck Triangle Park. My pace slows to a stroll, the stroll to a meander. With the sun rising in the east, warming my back, I wander among the f lourishing beds of flowers, marveling at the changes in color and fragrance that a week makes. What are those roots doing underneath those leaves? When time is not an issue, I walk around the ref lecting pools on the Empire State Plaza, climb 12
the museum stairs, resting a few moments in the sculpture garden, before returning to the plaza to watch the ducks swim. This summer, the maple trees that form the boundary between the plaza deck and the roadbed are undergoing replacement. This formal urban forest thrives in raised marble encased beds. Their enormous root system amazes me. Then too, so do the huge mounds of earth, waiting to shelter the new tree roots in the wind-swept plaza in winter.
This formal urban forest thrives in raised marble encased beds. Their enormous root system amazes me. The reflecting pools are starting to drain. It’s amazing how much hardware lies below the surface of the water. The fountains that shoot water into the air are visible,
but their “roots” are pipes, valves, and dif ferent-sized nozzles. Preparation for the ice rink signals that winter is on its way. I start walking a little after daylight before the plaza crews start working. As the sun rises and shortens the buildings’ shadows, the fountains start up. It is time to return home to my roots, shower, and dress for work. Recently, it occurred to me that I do not remember my mother or her contemporaries walking for exercise. I recall Mom “exercising” in the privacy of her bedroom, but not in public, and certainly not in a gym. She called this exercise, “stationary walking.” Her routine consisted of standing in place by her dresser and moving from heel to toe, left-right, left-right. Counting was necessary, and so she bounced up onto the balls of her feet counting one, and back down counting two. Her workout (though I doubt she would have COOP SCOOP
called it that) was accomplished without lycra, sneakers, or a treadmill. Rooted in place, next to her dresser for support if needed, Mom exercised in private.
Roots, Part 2 What does the word root or roots mean to you? I put this question to people that I work with, and others that I’ve met along the way. When I asked a medical office technician about roots, her response was a question. She asked, “Are you walking or driving?” It took me a few seconds to realize she heard route, not root. I repeated, spelling it out, and her response was instantaneous. “I’ve been uprooted by this pandemic.” Her hands flew into her hair and as she pulled it, her eyes teared up. “It is so hard not to worry about my children and my paycheck. I am sorry to unload on you, really sorry. My world has turned upside down. I cannot catch a break.” I sat with her and listened.
What does the word root or roots mean to you? I made a brief business trip in late May to southern Pennsylvania. I stayed at the Ragged Edge, a bed and breakfast inn near Chambersburg. As I enjoyed
a classic breakfast of oatmeal, blueberries, and brown sugar, I asked my host what roots meant to her. She flung her arms open wide, smiled, and said: “Faith, family, and friends keep me rooted. Our strength in each other gives us staying power through this worrisome time of pandemics.” She had emigrated from Russia as a child and her speech still had a slight accent. Fluent in four languages and an accomplished pianist, she lamented that her accent was sometimes a hindrance in business. I wondered why something like an accent might unsettle or “uproot” others.
Our strength in each other gives us staying power through this worrisome time of pandemics A dear friend retired from the state government, to care for her 92-year-old mother at home. “Root?” she asked me. “Root, root, root for the team. Any team, all the teams. They need cheering up and cheering onward.” Caring for her mother at home eases her heart. Nursing home quarantines and possible death are paths she hopes to avoid. I was surprised to hear her upbeat reply to my question about roots. Her world,
like so many of us, has shrunk to property lines. My house cleaner responded to
Are our social and emotional roots strong and well-nourished? my question about roots with a long tale about a root canal. The story was not that funny, and at the same time, it was, because as she spoke, her emotions flitted across her face so rapidly that I was spellbound. Her root canal experience was a cause for celebration. I asked, “What did you do to celebrate?” She said she slept the better part of a day and night. She chose a wonderful way to heal her roots. Are we all well-grounded in bleak times such as now? Are our social and emotional roots strong and well-nourished? We, like the trees and plants around us, share a cyclical rhythm for growth and change. Take time to care for yourself and stay warm and wellrooted this winter! Joann Ryan is an urban planner living and working in downtown Albany. She enjoys walking and gardening. Her Zen garden is mostly hardscape with specimen rocks acquired in travels. It is also where she grows and trains Bonsai. Bonsai means tree in tray and the miniature trees balance the ruggedness of the rocks nicely.
The Grass Is Never Greener: Lawn Begone! by Ben Goldberg photo (R) by Liza Molloy
“The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass.” —Wendell Berry Since the 1950s and the sprawling development of the suburbs across the country, a verdant carpet of weed-free turf has been an integral part of the American Dream. In spite of the science, in spite of the facts, and in spite of the dire perils of climate change, our lawn devotion has grown like a virus nurtured by chemical companies and lawn and garden mega-corps. For example: ● About 40 billion acres of land are devoted to lawns, about half the amount of land used to grow major food crops such as corn and wheat. ● American lawns overwhelmingly consist of non-native grasses, and in many parts of the country, lawns are grown where lawns should not be, dependent on massive amounts of water, chemicals that are questionable at the least and demonstrably dangerous at most, chemicals that can pollute water, earth, and air and that wind up in the food chain.
“To bee or not to bee - that is the question - Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the stinks and yarrows of outrageous weeds, or to take arms against a sea of chemical sprayers and by opposing end them...” -Ben Goldberg imagines a new Hamlet, by Sustainable Shakespeare 14
● In 2018, Americans spent almost $50 billion on lawn care. ● Each year we apply about 80 million tons of synthetic chemicals on our lawns, 67 million pounds of pesticides—4 times more pesticides than on farmland. ● U.S. lawns use two-thirds more water than farmland, more than 9 billion gallons of water per day, and most municipalities use between 30 and 60 percent of their potable water on lawns. ● Americans spend about 30 hours per year per citizen mowing lawns. ● According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), almost 600 million gallons of gas are used in lawn and garden equipment each year, producing a major portion of all non-automotive gas emissions, which are associated with all kinds of very serious prenatal and chronic illnesses.
Each year we apply about 80 million tons of synthetic chemicals on our lawns So why did we become non-pagan lawn worshippers, shackled to our mowers and chemical sprayers? In addition to our emulation of European nobility and American Gilded Age robber barons, and the American penchant for dominating and exploiting nature for profit, a variety of significant developments helped fuel the growth of residential turf lawns in the 19th and 20th centuries, including: COOP SCOOP
● Affordable rotary mowers followed eventually by gas-powered mowers. ● Development by the chemical industry of a range of petrochemicals, fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides designed for routine use on lawns. ● Clover declared a weed: This beneficial native grass was once the most common lawn plant and part of most U.S. seed mixes. Clover is evergreen, drought-tolerant, low-growing, and capable of manufacturing its own fertilizer by attaching nitrogen from the atmosphere to its roots. In 1948, however, commercial Weed ‘n’ Feed, a combination herbicide and fertilizer, arrived on the market. Weed ‘n’ Feed categorized clover as a weed, eradicating it in most lawns… for no valid reason.
We are reconsidering our attachment to turf-grass lawns from the perspectives of health, ecology, and sustainability.
Reconsider your lawn “…The perfect lawn…[is] the perfect antithesis of an ecological system.” —Sara Stein, gardening writer “I’ve heard lawns compared to a biological desert. That’s really unfair, because deserts can be very diverse places.” —Steve Windhager, botanist
● The development of large suburban pre-planned developments, typically with lawns. According to Abraham Levitt, who developed a 17,000 home suburb in Levittown, NY (1948–1952): “No single feature of a suburban residential community contributes as much to the charm and beauty of the individual home and the locality as well-kept lawns.” ● Research and development in turfgrass science in the 1950s, which spurred the development of non-native perennial grasses and monocultural lawns dependent on overwatering and the application of a variety of chemicals, many of which proved to be toxic for life forms and for the environment as a whole. A luscious lawn became a “requirement” for good suburban living and neighborly relations, with some communities even fining residents with ill-kept lawns. Because we have become more (if not yet adequately) aware of the need to be good stewards of our planet and our immediate environment, we are reconsidering our attachment to turf-grass lawns from the perspectives of health, ecology, and sustainability. Additionally, lawns typically consist of a single non-native crop—they are WINTER 2020
“I became convinced that lawn care had about as much to do with gardening as floor waxing, or road paving. Gardening was a subtle process of give and take with the landscape, a search for some middle ground between culture and nature. A lawn was nature under culture’s boot.” —Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, 1991 “A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.” —Michael Pollan, Gardening Means War, 1988 “Our bodies deal with thousands of chemicals that were not in the environment 50 years ago—and some not even 20 years ago.” —Aristo Vojdani, Department of Preventive Medicine, Loma Linda University
Additionally, lawns typically consist of a single non-native crop - they are monocultures 15
monocultures—and such large, maintenance-andchemical-heavy expanses do not provide suitable habitat for a beneficially diverse variety of life forms, from microorganisms and beneficial insects to pollinators and avian wildlife (for natural insect pest control). And they require more water than bio-diverse plots do. In other words, green space is not so green.
Long-term and cumulative exposure to thousands of widely used chemicals - even low-dose exposure - are associated with a wide range of serious health, reproductive, and developmental problems According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tests on fruits and vegetables have shown traces and residue of more than 450 types of pesticides… in what should and can be our healthiest foods (as well as in myriad other domestic sectors). We (and our kids and pets) are also exposed more to toxins when we spend time outside playing and recreating on the treated lawn. Long-term and cumulative exposure to thousands of widely used chemicals— even low-dose exposure—are associated with a wide range of serious health, reproductive, a nd de velopment a l problem s. Therefore, garden organically and do not use chemicals; think/act “organic” and “sustainable” (see thespruce.com/organic-weed-control-2153150 for more information).
● Can’t tolerate weeds? Deal with them manually (remember weeding?) or w ith non-toxic treatments like common household vinegar— not chemically. ● Plant a variety of natives—ground covers, shrubs, and native wildflowers. If you have space, make a meadow with a few (mown or mulched) paths for sauntering about. ● If lawn and garden equipment is necessary, use manual tools or electric-powered tools, corded, or battery. ● Grow other stuff (organically)—healthy, nonpoisoned vegetables and fruits. Grow flowers.
Notes For more on the sad history of the lawn, also see: ● GreenPal’s The Complete History of Lawns (Illustrated): https://bit.ly/31WGbjW ● Westminster Lawn’s A Brief History of Lawns: westminsterlawn.com/brief-history-of-lawns Ben Goldberg (who is that masked man?) writes, edits, walks dogs, notices birds, gardens, and is replacing/killing his lawn right here in Albany.
Garden organically and do not use chemicals; think and act organically and sustainably! Here are some things you can do: ● For play areas, minimize lawns, use native grasses (e.g., encourage the growth of clover), and tend to these grasses organically. They will reseed themselves. Use mulches or ground covers instead of grass. ● Learn to appreciate weeds. Weeds tell us a lot about soil conditions, many are edible, or are food sources for pollinators. 16
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Producer Profile by Pat Sahr
We truly value the small businesses and dedicated individuals who work hard to create the exceptional goods and products we carry here at Honest Weight Food Co-op. We think these inspirational stories demonstrate the importance of supporting local, and why we’re so committed to it!
GRATEFUL VILLAGES FOUND IN OUR WELLNESS DEPARTMENT
The name Grateful Villages might be familiar to Co-op shoppers as the producer of a hand sanitizer sold in the store. In March, during the early days of pandemic panic, this was an item that was in great demand and hard to find in the Capital District. In fact, it was always out of stock. Jordan Alexander and his staff at Grateful Villages realized that if they wanted this product available for the people they serve, they would have to produce it themselves. Their hand sanitizer is sold in various area retail stores. Proceeds make it possible to manufacture hand sanitizer that can be given away for free to people in the Albany community, as well as to essential workers around the state. With offices currently located at 578 Clinton Ave., Grateful Villages is a 501c3 nonprofit 18
project in partnership with The Eden’s Rose Foundation. Directed by Jordan Alexander and a board of community stakeholders, it is focused on the communities of West Hill and the South End. It is dedicated to identifying communit y need s, t hen connecting residents to programs that can address those needs.
Grateful Villages is a voice for the community and a resource for community connections. For example, Alexander might recommend a financial literacy program to someone who is struggling to make ends meet, or promote an incarceration prevention program for young people at risk. Grateful Villages also makes fresh food available
to these communities through partnerships with Albany Victory Gardens and Bridge the Gap.
Proceeds from hand sanitizer sales make it possible to manufacture hand sanitizer that can be given away for free Jordan A lexander describes Grateful Villages as a voice for the community and a resource for community help connections. The sale of hand sanitizer is one source of funding for this organization. You can support it with your purchase. Pat Sahr has been a member of the Co-op
since 2005. She contributes to the Coop Scoop as the writer of the Producer Profiles. Sahr says, “It’s a pleasure being part of the Honest Weight family, and I’ve especially enjoyed communicating with the various producers whose products are sold at the Co-op!” COOP SCOOP
Albany Victory Gardens by Pat Sahr
Albany Victory Gardens (AVG) is a project of the Eden’s Rose Foundation.
AVG is sponsoring a Pandemic Food Giveaway each week, Monday to Thursday.
Greg Sheldon is the project coordinator, and he works with a committee made up of community residents, also known as “urban farmers,” who are dedicated to effecting change in low-income communities in the Capital District.
Currently, AVG is sponsoring a Pandemic Food Giveaway each week, Monday through Thursday, at 579 Clinton Ave. This program is run by neighborhood volunteers, and 150 families are regularly served.
The mission of the AVG is to build community through the establishment of an organic, sustainable community food system The mission of the AVG is to build community through the establishment of an organic, sustainable community food system. The first step in this process is the acquisition of blighted vacant lots. However, before prospective gardens can be planted, the soil must be remediated, that is, restored to agricultural viability. This requires a huge amount of compost, the basis for which is provided by Honest Weight Food Co-op. In fact, Honest Weight contributes 3,0005,000 pounds of food scraps weekly to the gardens!
Once the soil is prepared, garden plots are given to community members who are interested in growing their own food. They are also given seeds, tools, and if they are new to gardening, guidance. Initially, these gardeners may grow food just for themselves; in time they may produce enough to share with neighbors and, eventually, enough to sell at the Garden Market. Those who sell produce at the market keep the proceeds, so all money earned remains with the gardeners. WINTER 2020
Another initiative of AVG is called ALLBeeNY. It involves 12 functioning bee colonies that are used to teach beekeeping to farmers and young people. In addition, a blueberry orchard is thriving on Clinton Ave., between Quail St. and North Lake Ave. Future projects will focus on raising chickens, and the establishment of space on the corner of 1st and Quail Streets. The former will be an additional teaching program. The latter will involve people from the community displaying items they’ve designed, or sharing cultural information. A third program, still in the planning stages, is called “Front Lines.” Its goal is to create a walking nature trail by remediating the soil in 20 vacant lots and growing many varieties of native plants there, which will be labeled for educational purposes.
AVG is a vibrant organization, that brings residents of diverse backgrounds together to improve their lives and their communities. Volunteers make it work, but there is a need for more workers to share the load. If you have a passion for gardening, beekeeping, or raising chickens, if you enjoy working with young people, or if you just feel inspired to lend a helping hand wherever these projects might need you, please send a message expressing your interest to the Albany Victory Gardens Facebook page (@AlbanyVictoryGardens). 19
The Fridge Doula, Jammella!
Free Food Fridge Albany by Honest Weight’s Marketing Department
Bright, hand-painted refrigerators are popping up all over the sidewalks of Albany! They are part of an innovative mutual aid program started by co-op owner and community activist, or as we like to refer to her—The Fridge Doula, Jammella Anderson. The mission is to help make fresh food and produce accessible to all, especially those in marginalized neighborhoods and communities. “Everyone should have access to food without jumping through hoops or having to prove they are impoverished,” says Anderson. Food insecurity has been a longtime issue in Albany, and the pandemic has highlighted the lack of access to fresh food in urban neighborhoods. On August 11th, we joined Jammella on a trip in the Honest Weight van to pick up the very first donated fridge from Lowe’s. Jammella plugged the fridge in outside of The Free School on Elm Street, we filled it up to the brim 20
with co-op favorites, and just like that, Free Food Fridge Albany came to life. In t he week s a nd mont hs following the birth of the Elm Street fridge, the initiative has grown exponentially. There are now five fridges living in Albany, one on the way in Troy, and more popping up all the time. Similar programs are running in cities large and small across this country to help those whose food needs just aren’t being met. The fridges are regularly stocked by the co-op and many other local sponsors, including individuals, restaurants, stores, and farms that provide fresh options like produce, dairy, and to-go meals. People can take what they need or want, when they need or want it, with no strings or stigma attached. If you’re able to fill one of the following roles to help close the gap on food insecurity in the Capital Region, we implore you
to step up to the plate. Free Food Fridge Albany is seeking: ● Individuals to shop weekly or monthly to help fill a fridge ● Individuals to make monetary contributions ● Restaurants to provide readyto-eat, prepared foods and meals ● Farmers and growers to donate fresh produce ● Locations to host a fridge To learn more or to get involved, v isit @f reefoodf ridgealbany on Instagram or the website freefoodfridgealbany.com. We also encourage you to follow Jammella Anderson directly on social media—@jammella on Instagram or Jammella Anderson on Facebook. She is nothing short of an awe-inspiring human being, and we at the co-op are humbled to be able to work with her on this initiative and future endeavors. COOP SCOOP
Let the Sunshine In! by Honest Weight’s Marketing Department
Honest Weight Food Co-op is happy to announce that we will be 100% Community Solar Powered beginning in early 2021. We are working with a local company, Bullrock Community Solar, to achieve this exciting goal. This collaboration is a result of a member-driven initiative to shift the co-op toward more sustainable energy sources, reduce carbon emissions, and protect the future of our planet. You might be wondering, “What exactly is ‘Community Solar?’” Community Solar is unique in that the power-generation system derives its energy from a large number of solar-collection panels. These “solar farms” are typically located on large remote tracts of open land. The electricity generated on these farms is channeled directly into the area’s power grid, allowing it to be used by anyone once they subscribe to a community solar program. There are some amazing benefits of using Community Solar, including the following: ● ● ● ● ● ●
It’s clean, renewable and safe It generates zero carbon emissions Can be used by any National Grid customer No need to change providers Both renters and homeowners can participate Doesn’t require the purchase/rental of roof-top/ backyard panels ● There is NO cost to join, participate, or leave the program ● No long-term commitment ● Reduction of up to 10% on your current electric rate Honest Weight’s Environment Committee has spent the past year carefully reviewing and vetting WINTER 2020
a number of local solar providers. The committee is composed of staff and member-owners. They eventually made the recommendation to move forward with Bullrock Solar, one of the most experienced and respected solar companies in the Northeast with deep New York roots. Honest Weight will be drawing from Bullrock’s nearest solar farm, located in Castleton, New York. The great news is that Honest Weight memberowners and customers are invited to join us and make the switch to clean solar energy! By signing up, you can experience all of the benefits of Community Solar with no cost or long-term commitment. It’s super easy to participate! All you need to do is sign up. Bullrock will analyze your past electricity usage and will reserve a portion of the solar farm’s expected output to meet your expected usage. Bullrock communicates your usage information directly with National Grid, who then reduces your electric bill accordingly. You continue to pay your utility bill as usual. Pretty simple. As a thank you for your participation in this program, Bullock will send you either a $25 Honest Weight gift card or make a $25 donation to The Sky is Not Limited, a nonprofit that uses solar to power water project in rural Tanzania. We all know that climate change is happening. It is critical that we continue to find ways to use sustainable, renewable energy and reduce our impact on the planet. Honest Weight is committed to doing our part. Join us and make a difference in our community. For more information, please visit our website: honestweight.coop. 21
Getting to the Root of Procrastination by Rebecca Angel
Last spring, it was a year into my new life as an empty nester, and three years of recovering from a long illness called Cushing’s, before things began to bother me. In general, my world was tame and quiet, but a big chunk of my backyard was a complete mess: choking vines, half-composted yard waste piles, random stones my elderly mother had dropped here and there for an unfinished project, and my definition of weeds. In my inner world, creative projects that had been sidelined for years began calling, and my website was completely out of date. It was time to clear out. Some days I would just stand in my yard, cataloging all that needed to be done and then go back inside to reorganize my spice cabinet. I made a beautifully detailed list of every creative project that I had started and never completed (some back when my first child was a baby!) and then made so much pesto I had to give it away to my neighbors. At first, I didn’t realize these were signs of procrastination because I was being productive, just in the wrong direction. I made more lists, perused the plant department at the Co-op, listened to podcasts about creativity, and completed unimportant busywork. It wasn’t until I listened to a guided meditation on procrastination by Tom Evans (tomevans.co/meditations), that I finally woke up to my problem.
Many people confuse procrastination with being lazy. That’s not true. Many people confuse procrastination with being lazy. That’s not true. Procrastination is the avoidance of very specific tasks. In that meditation, I realized I was procrastinating and was left wondering why. Didn’t I want my yard to be clean so I could plant that herb garden I talked about? Didn’t I want to work on my memoir, record songs, and have a pretty 22
website to showcase my talents? Yes! And no. Doing more work in meditation and finally therapy (which I started for writer’s block), I realized both roots of procrastination were tangled up in fear—and my expectations of others.
The roots of my procrastination were tangled up in fear - and my expectations of others. When my family first moved to this house, my husband and mother were big on planting and gardening. Instead of getting in between their claiming of space, I stuck to the inside of the house— my space. Now, I needed to get confirmation from my mother that she was never going to do the yard work needed, and from my husband that he trusted my choice in plants, before I could begin. I did, and they were all (green) thumbs up to me, so I started clearing, cleaning, and creating my own little space. Since childhood, there were times where my voice had been silenced—as a female, as a victim of abuse, and from being bullied as an adult. These all created blocks to delving into my creative projects. They all needed to be looked at and uprooted before I could plant anything new. The process, of course, is not linear or one with a defined ending, but even just starting it sparked my energy. I prioritized, and then made headway. A year later, I am in a writing group to help with my memoir, my website is slowly but surely looking better, and I’m making short videos with original music regularly on social media. One day, in a patch of tiger lilies, I spotted a footlong shoot of shrubbery, leftover from the previous owners of the property. I tugged and strained and had to seriously put my back into it to yank out the three-foot root underneath. I had broken a sweat but didn’t give up until it was all exposed and out. Then I dumped it into a garbage bag, dusted off my hands, and went inside to write my next chapter. COOP SCOOP
Enjoy a Warming, Grounding, Comforting Meal on a Cold Winter’s Evening
Recipe Corner by Melanie Pores
Melanie’s Favorite Shepherd’s Pie Yields: 9 servings Prep Time: 10-15 minutes | Cook Time: 25-30 minutes | Total Time: 35-40 minutes
In Ayurvedic medicine, the 5000-year-old “Science of Life” from India, the winter season is considered a time when the constitutional elements of “Vata,” such as cold and dryness, combined with the “Kapha” element of heaviness, build in our bodies.
● 1 ½ cups almond flour ● ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
Vegetable layers Although I have included broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and roasted sweet peppers in my recipe’s vegetable layers, feel free to substitute your favorite veggies for your vegetable layers and your favorite spices. ● 1 cup riced cauliflower or broccoli (from 1 large head) ● 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes ● ¼ tsp garlic powder ● ¼ tsp onion powder ● Himalayan pink salt and black pepper to taste ● 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped ● 1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained and rinsed ● 1 cup chopped roasted sweet pepper (I use one from a jar of red or yellow sweet peppers)
The cold and heavy nature of winter dries our skin and sinuses, and also creates a heaviness that produces mucus, making our bodies more vulnerable to colds and viruses. To counteract these potential imbalances, Ayurveda teaches us that it is important to seek foods and incorporate lifestyle practices that are both grounding and warming. Consuming root crops—such as sweet potatoes, yucca, squash, and parsnips—is a wonderful way to help “ground” you, and adding some “warming” spices—such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper, chili, or cayenne pepper— to your meals helps to aid digestion and is an effective way to rekindle and nurture your immune system during this cold and heavy season. If you are looking for a warming, grounding, and comforting meal to enjoy on a cold winter’s evening, be sure to try my recipe below for sweet and savory Shepherd’s Pie; it will likely bring a smile to your face and warm your belly and bones!
I enjoy my Shepherd’s Pie with a sweet potato Directions topping, but you can use any root crops that you 1. Preheat oven to 400° F (I use my oven set to the convection like or have on hand for the topping. setting) and grease a 7×9 inch baking dish. ● 1 ½ cups mashed cooked sweet potato 2. Mix melted coconut oil with the almond flour. Spoon into ● 4 oz goat cheese (I like to use figan even layer on the bottom of the casserole dish. flavored goat cheese) 3. Follow with a layer of riced cauliflower or broccoli. ● ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk 4. On top of the riced cauliflower or broccoli, layer the (I use almond/coconut milk beverage as nutritional yeast mixed with the garlic and onion powders; it is fairly creamy) season with Himalayan pink salt and black pepper to taste. ● ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 5. Follow that layer with the chopped artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and roasted sweet pepper. Melanie Pores is presently retired after having served a 30+ year 6. Whisk together the mashed sweet potatoes, goat cheese, career as a bilingual teacher, teacher-trainer, resource specialist, and non-dairy milk. Pour the sweet potato, goat cheese, school board member, adjunct professor, educational researcher, and policy analyst. She has facilitated the Co-op’s Spanish and milk mixture on top of the layered vegetables. Conversation Group for the past 5 years. She has presently switched to facilitating the group as a Zoom Group on Friday 7. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden mornings from 10 am-12 noon. brown. Check progress after 20 minutes.
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