Page 1




MONIQUE SALHAB ntil asked to write this month’s article, I admittedly had not known much about Black Cooperatives in the United States. My concrete knowledge of the existence of Black Cooperatives was close to nil. I have read W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, where he discussed the issue of the “color line” and the need for the black community to engage in economic cooperation (a.k.a. Black Group Economy)— which would permit communities to prosper together. Simply stated, the historical and cultural significance (and impact) of Black Cooperatives in the US is definitely not something the non-colored “authors” of history would want to publicize. Goddess forbid they would have sounded the alarm that Black folks could establish themselves as an economic giant through cooperative building and organizing!



Decades prior to Martin Luther King, Jr. organizing thousands through non-violance direct action, Du Bois was organizing the black community to empower itself via cooperative methods within its own neighborhoods, cities and states. In 1919, a Memphis, TN, group established itself as the Citizens’ Co-operative Stores—only one year after originally organizing as the Negro Cooperative Guild. This group operated five stores and grew to 75,000 people! Nevertheless, Du Bois did not stop there; throughout his life, he tirelessly worked to educate black communities to embrace their strength as a people and to actively wield their economic power. Throughout history, there are examples of informal Black Cooperatives which date back from the 1700’s to the modernized existence of Black Cooperatives today. One cooperative

(and union) which stands out, is the Knights Of Labor (KoL). Established in the mid1800s, KoL was integrated with both white and black labor workers. KoL fought to improve worker’s rights, establish equal pay and create safe working conditions. Then there’s the existence of the Colored Farmer’s National Alliance and Cooperative Union (CFNAU) from the 1870s through the 1890s. This cooperative assisted black farmers by teaching improved farming methods and establishing port exchanges along the Gulf areas of the United States. The CFNAU created pathways for black farmers to become more self-sustainable and create long-term goals for their success. Nannie (Nanny) Helen Burroughs was the founder of the Cooperatives of D.C.—along with two additional organizations—which manufactured brooms and mattresses, while selling fresh farm produce to residents of the D.C. area. Fast forward to today. The Ujamaa Women’s Collective, based out of Pittsburgh, is a women’s cooperative selling cosmetics, food and hand-made fibers. Southern Grassroots Economies assists with worker cooperative planning in the South. The Atlanta based cooperative Us Lifting Us is actively creating an interconnected network of Black-owned cooperatives within the various communities of Atlanta. Du Bois did well to document the growth and existence of black cooperatives from the early 1900s to the mid-1900s. Fourteen articles were published in the Crisis—the magazine for the National Alliance for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—illustrating the power of black economics and organizing. The list of successful Black Cooperatives goes on and on! There are

written documents, books and stories of successful Black Cooperatives throughout the existence of the United States. Black economics paved the way for individuals (and whole communities) to be empowered and to navigate the oppressive and exploitative methods of white society—banking, farming, education, consumer products, etc.

RECOMMENDED READING • The Souls of Black Folk, By W.E.B. Du Bois • Economic Cooperation Among Negro-Americans, study completed by W.E.B. Du Bois • Collective Courage, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Ph.D. • Federation of Southern Cooperatives is dedicated to assisting black farmers in the South










Dr. Ruby will share one of her healthy recipes in this FREE talk and tasting workshop. SEE YOU THERE.

SUN. FEB. 26



BY ROBIN SEYDEL La Montañita Co-op is pleased to once again be a sponsor of New Mexico’s 2017 Black History Month activities and celebrations. As Black History Month organizer Catherine McGill writes:


he New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee’s mission is to preserve the rich cultural heritage that African Americans have contributed to the state of New Mexico and the United States. The non-profit committee does this by working year round to build coalitions, leverage resources and create programming within the African American community. In February it produces an annual slate of events in that provide themed weeks of activities.” This is Dr. Ruby Lathon’s third year sharing her expertise on the health benefits of raw foods and how to prepare them. We are thrilled that she is willing to come back to the Westside location again this year for another FREE seminar and raw food workshop on February 26 at 11am. For the full 2015 Black History Month event schedule go to:






La Montañita Co-op's Veteran Farmer Project Winter Class schedule continues in February. See the class schedule below.


nstructors for the classes range from experts in their fields to experts within their communities, and we are happy to have them take the time to share their knowledge and experience with us. Come prepared with note-taking materials and lots of questions!

The classes are geared to veterans and their families but the larger community is welcome to attend these FREE classes, space permitting.

SINCE SPACE IS LIMITED PLEASE RSVP TO: or, or call 217-2027. Classes will be held at the Bernalillo County Extension Office, 1510 Menaul Boulevard NW, in Albuquerque, from 3–4:15pm.

FEBRUARY 23: LOVING CARE FOR BACKYARD CHICKENS WITH SANDY AND KIRK HIVELY. Sandy and Kirk are backyard farmers who have been keeping chickens for many years using organic practices. They donated chickens to the farm and helped us learn how to do our best for our chickens so they do their best for us.

MARCH 2: HUMANE ANIMAL TRAPPING WITH ROB DIXON. Rob has worn a variety of hats over the years including wilderness survival education and environmental protection work with a variety of non-profit organizations. Learn how to humanely trap and relocate critters that can undo all your farm and garden work.

GROWING THE LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM La Montañita Cooperative A Community-Owned Natural Foods Grocery Store Nob Hill 7am – 10pm M – Su 3500 Central SE, ABQ, NM 87106 505-265-4631 Rio Grande 7am – 10pm M – Su 2400 Rio Grande NW, ABQ, NM 87104 505-242-8800 Gallup 8am – 8pm M – Su 105 E Coal, Gallup, NM 87301 505-863-5383 Santa Fe 7am – 10pm M – Su 913 West Alameda, Santa Fe, NM 87501 505-984-2852 Westside 7am – 10pm M – Su 3601 Old Airport Ave, ABQ, NM 87114 505-503-2550 GRABnGO 8am – 6pm M – F, 11am – 3pm Sa UNM Bookstore, 2301 Central SW, ABQ, NM 87131 505-277-9586 Cooperative Distribution Center 9am – 5pm, M – F 901 Menaul NE, ABQ, NM 87107 505-217-2010 Support Office 9am – 5pm, M – F 901 Menaul NE, ABQ, NM 87107 505-217-2001 Support Staff: 217-2001 TOLL FREE: 877-775-2667 (COOP) • Interim Co-op Retail Officer/William Prokopiak 217-2001 • Controller/John Heckes 217-2029 • Computers/Info Technology Rob Dixon 217-2011 • Human Resources/Sharret Rose 217-2023 • Marketing/Karolyn Cannata-Winge 217-2024 • Membership/Robin Seydel 217-2027 • CDC/MichelleFranklin 217-2010




CERTIFICATION PROGRAM BY BRYAN CRAWFORD GARRETT AND SARAH GRANT ccording to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), organic food sales in New Mexico are currently around $40 million per year and there are over 150 organic certified operations (farms, processors, handlers, etc.) statewide. In addition, about half of all organic products grown in New Mexico are sold within 100 miles of their origin, which contributes to strengthening local food systems and economies. Nationwide the organic food industry had sales of $43.3 billion in 2015, and the growth rate from 2014-2015 was 10.8%, which was significantly greater than the overall food market growth of 3.3% over the same period. These recent trends illustrate the economic opportunities in the New Mexico organic sector, not to mention the benefits from local organic agriculture to the environment and community social capital and development.


In Fall 2016, NMDA convened public meetings to consider the future of the NMDA Organic Certification Program. The aim of the meetings was to discuss potential future funding options, as the program is facing a funding shortfall, having run an average annual deficit of nearly $100,000 the past four years. NMDA has stated that the revenue gained by the program—which includes payments from organic producers and other operators for application and assessment fees—is supposed to cover operating costs but the changes made to the program have never been significant enough to enable this. In practice, the fee structure has never provided enough revenue to cover expenses. In FY16, certification revenue totaled $187,466; anticipated operating expenses for FY17 are $309,738. To address the funding challenges and based on input that NMDA received, the agency has developed a series of five options to consider to enable the program to more fully cover its costs. In addition to these options that NMDA has already presented, with funding support from the Thornburg Foundation, we developed a whitepaper listing additional options for the program’s funding structure. The additional options were developed based upon discussions with several certified organic operators and other program stakeholders in New Mexico as well as a review of other state-managed and thirdparty certifier programs to look at how they fund and implement organic certification.

Store Team Leaders: • Mark Lane/Nob Hill 265-4631 • James Esqueda/Westside 505-503-2550 • Lynn Frost/Interim Santa Fe 984-2852 • Leaf Ashley/Gallup 575-863-5383 • Joe Phy/Rio Grande 505-242-8800

Membership response to the newsletter is appreciated. Email the Managing Editor, Copyright ©2017 La Montañita Food Co-op Reprints by prior permission. The Co-op Connection is printed on 100% recycled paper with 100% soy inks. It is recyclable.



The benefits of a growing organic food industry in New Mexico and the importance of a state-wide program to support that industry are clear, although determining the best course of action for how to structure the program in both the short and long run remains a challenge. It was our intention that our review of the New Mexico Organic Certification Program would help further the discussion for addressing the program’s immediate funding issues.

SARAH GRANT has worked with farmers and farmers markets in New Mexico since 1990. She was a commissioner on the original New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission. BRYAN CRAWFORD GARRETT lives in Albuquerque and is an independent consultant who focuses on strengthening local food systems.


Membership Costs: $15 for 1 year/ $200 Lifetime Membership + tax

Membership information is available at all six Co-op locations, or call 217-2027 or 877-775-2667 email: website:

Some of the findings from our review of the certification programs (including the one in New Mexico) includes: • THERE ARE NUMEROUS WAYS TO STRUCTURE FEES FOR CERTIFICATION. No two programs have the exact same fee structures, but all programs use some combination of application fees, assessment fees, and/or inspection fees to raise revenue. Application and assessment fees vary quite widely, and inspection costs can be calculated using hourly rates or based on the size of the farm/operation. In comparison to the other state and thirdparty certification programs reviewed, the fees that smallerscale operations pay in New Mexico are lower than in other programs, due to a low application fee and not having additional fees for the program-mandated annual inspection. • OTHER STATES PUSH FOR COST RECOVERY AS THEY ALSO SUBSIDIZE THEIR PROGRAMS. The organic certification programs in Colorado, Oregon, and Texas are all housed in each state’s Department of Agriculture. While some degree of cost recovery is important and expected for each of these programs, none of them appear to be recovering the full costs of their operations. • EQUITY CONSIDERATIONS ARE IMPORTANT, AND IN NEW MEXICO LARGER OPERATIONS HAVE HISTORICALLY COVERED A LARGER PROPORTION OF THE OVERALL FEES Given equity considerations, it is important for smaller-scale operations to pay a smaller share of the fees, and this has been the case in New Mexico in the past.

The full whitepaper with detailed funding options for the program is available at

Co-op Board of Directors: email: • Elise Wheeler, President • Chad Jones, Vice President • Allena Satpathi, Secretary • Jerry Anaya, Director • Gina Dennis, Director • James Esqueda, Director • Greg Gould, Director • Marissa Joe, Director

Co-op Connection Staff: • Managing Editor: Robin Seydel 217-2027 • Layout and Design: foxyrock inc • Cover/Centerfold: Co-op Marketing Dept. • Advertising: JR Riegel, 217-2016 • Editorial Assistants: JR Riegel/ Monique Salhab/ • Printing: Santa Fe New Mexican

February 2017 2


IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE PLANTING OF A SEED. TRULY. BY SUSANNE MIKKELSON hese days, grocery shopping and eating out can be an arduous task, particularly if you care about any number of food-related topics—from the origins of your food, to the manner in which it was produced, to its attributes for your health, and so on. It’s complicated. Mass marketing can be our enemy when it comes to knowing our food and understanding what we are eating.


As a result, more and more of us are reverting to the habits of our ancestors, be it going back to the basics of supporting our neighbors who farm and ranch, to raising our own gardens, to growing for small-scale markets or commercial sales, and to studying the roots—and seeds—of the vegetation that sustains us. And, it does really all begin with a seed. Whether you are a backyard gardener and are just beginning to toy with the idea of saving the seeds from your resilient plants this coming season, an avid large-scale gardener and food preserver who sells to local markets, or you are actually into or considering getting into seed production, the Mountain West Seed Summit will have something for you! This unique conference will bring together “seed stewards,” groups and individuals committed to preserving seed diversity, from the Mountain West region and beyond for three days of engagement in, learning and sharing of seed knowledge.

The Mountain West Seed Summit is organized to inspire, engage and train seed producers—from backyard and community gardeners to commercial farmers—from across the region, with an emphasis on traditional seed saving practices. The conference will highlight knowledge and skill on the interface between indigenous seed knowledge and contemporary approaches to sustainable seed saving and enterprises. The convening will kick off on March 2, with a pre-conference field trip/tour of northern New Mexico seed saving and production, including a stop at the Tesuque Pueblo Farm and Seed Bank, a seed bank located on the Pueblo’s 70-acre farm featuring a diverse collection of traditional food and medicinal crop seeds from the Tesuque culture and around the world; as well as the Alcalde Research Center in Rio Arriba County, for a presentation on some of the latest research happening right here in our region. The trip will also include a tour of the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, for a diverse, beautiful and well-rounded day of informal education. The two-day Summit that follows on March 3 and 4 will inspire knowledge seeking, sharing and impartment among expert presenters from all around the country and participants of all levels and interests. But this will not be your typical conference, as it will include a seed exchange reception, yoga practice, and other activities that will help cultivate and enrich an ongoing seed community in the Rocky Mountain region. The Mountain West Seed Summit is brought to you by the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, with generous sponsors such as La Montañita Food Co-op and the McCune Charitable Foundation. For information about the Summit or to register, visit summit. If need more information please contact Lee-Ann at or by phone at 970-560-5486, or contact Susann at or by phone 575-418-7657.


February 2017 3


EXCHANGE DONATE-A-DIME ORGANIZATION OF THE MONTH POST-ADOPTION AND FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES: Information, resources, training, and access to adoption-competent therapeutic supports are provided to sustain and support adoptive families and to ensure permanency for children.

BY BRITTON SLAGEL he Adoption Exchange, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 1983 by concerned social workers and child advocates seeking to fill a major void in the child welfare system and to enhance safety and permanence in the lives of foster children. In its 34year history, The Adoption Exchange has become a leader in best practices for children in foster care and programs that impact national trends in child welfare.


The Adoption Exchange believes every child deserves a family and provides support and expertise before, during, and after the adoption process. Child-focused recruitment and family support are at the heart of The Adoption Exchange’s mission. Each year, we recruit families on behalf of more than 1,300 youth. Current core programs include: CHILD-FOCUSED FAMILY RECRUITMENT: The Adoption Exchange is a national leader in the field, and we support these families throughout their foster-to-adopt process. EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Child welfare professionals, foster families, and adoptive families are provided with training and knowledge-building opportunities through the agency’s pre-adoption classes, webinars, and trainings. Additionally, we house the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment, which provides technical assistance and capacity building to child welfare agencies and professionals. This program serves all 50 states and U.S. tribes and territories.

There are currently 400,000 youth in the foster care system nationwide; 100,000 are available for adoption. Many of the youth have been waiting in the system for more than five years and often endure some of life’s greatest challenges. Each year, nearly 21,000 of these children will age out of foster care at just 18 years old without knowing the love and stability of a permanent home. Children who age out face a difficult and often dangerous future and experience staggeringly high rates of incarceration, poverty, homelessness, unintended pregnancies, interrupted educations, and crime when compared to children who are adopted. Only half of those who age out will be employed by their mid-20s, 60 percent of men will be convicted of a crime, 40 percent of women will need to receive public assistance, and only one in 100 will go to college.


2400 Rio Grande. Blvd. NW 505-242-8800

In contrast, children who are adopted are emotionally, physically, and financially healthier. They are 110 percent more likely to go to college, 200 percent more likely to seek treatment for mental and emotional health problems, and have 75 percent higher incomes over their lifetimes. To date, the agency has helped over 8,400 children find the love and stability of a permanent family. The Adoption Exchange strives to ensure the permanency and success of adoptive relationships through its comprehensive and innovative approach.


UNM Bookstore 505-277-9586

In addition to donating your dime, other ways you can support The Adoption Exchange are on: You may contact Jen Padgett via email at or call her directly at 303-755-4756, extension 260.




TO KEEP YOU ON TRACK EDITORS NOTE: Once Again the Co-op is honored to partner with the New Mexico Black History Month Coalition to bring in nationally celebrated healer Dr. Ruby Lathon. Hear her at the Westside Coop Store on Feb. 26th at 11am for a FREE talk and food tasting.




This month your bag credit donations go to THE ADOPTION EXCHANGE: working to enhance safety and permanence in the lives of foster children. In DECEMBER your bag credit donations totaling $2,659.29 went to the The Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico.




3601 Old Airport Ave. NW 505-503-2550

Coors Blvd.

Alamed a Blvd.


the central nervous system and is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 7. Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in body products (toothpaste, lotions, soaps, shampoos). SLS is not just a skin irritant; it is a hormone disruptor that impairs the immune system. 8. Try juice fasting. Juice fasting helps the body heal a number of serious and minor ailments in relatively short order. Even a one-day fast can provide needed rest to your system. The most effective juice fasts are three or more days in length. 9. Don’t sit too long. Sitting for long periods without moving has also been shown to cause organ damage and takes years off your life. Find ways to move throughout your day like standing for phone calls and during meetings. 10. Get adequate sleep. The body does most of its repair when asleep. 11. Go Veg! Eating veggies gives our bodies healing nutrients to stay well. A completely plant-based diet has been shown to have even more benefits, such as preventing diabetes, reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease, increasing the libido, improving and protecting your skin, and more! 12. BONUS: Watch the Veggie Chest with Dr. Ruby for healthy, easy and delicious vegan recipes. Check out my videos at: or go to

Old A irpor t Ave .

BY RUBY LATHON, PHD 1. Get a health road map. Make a plan for the changes that you will make to improve your health for the coming months. Get support from friends, nutritionist, or health practitioners if needed. Write your plan down and set a start date—then get started! 2. Drink two glasses of water upon rising. Water hydrates the body, it provides a boost of energy and will get you up and moving faster. 3. Add lemon or apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your morning water for added alkalinity. Fresh lemon juice gives a boost of enzymes, while organic ACV adds much-needed probiotics (good bacteria) and contains antiviral properties. 4. Practice deep breathing daily (or multiple times a day). When you take very deep and long breaths, it stimulates the lymphatic system, helps detoxify the body, improves brain health, helps alleviate pain, and improves mood! Take in a deep breath through the nose, hold it, then slowly release through the mouth. Repeat five times. 5. Avoid plastics as much as possible. Plastics contain dangerous substances such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates that build up in our system and can disrupt the hormonal balance in men and women, cause cancers, and increase risk of asthma, just to name a few. Use glass instead of plastic for food storage and preparation. Do not microwave in plastic. In fact, don’t microwave at all! 6. Avoid aluminum contact with food (i.e., baking powder), cooking equipment (pans, foil, soda cans) and deodorants. Aluminum attacks

Old Airport Ave. Co-op Values Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Co-op Principles 1 Voluntary and Open Membership 2 Democratic Member Control 3 Member Economic Participation 4 Autonomy and Independence 5 Education, Training and Information 6 Cooperation among Cooperatives 7 Concern for Community The Co-op Connection News is published by La Montañita Co-op to provide information on La Montañita Co-op, the cooperative movement, and the links between food, health, environment and community issues. Opinions expressed herein are of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Co-op.


February 2017 4 LETTERS

EDITOR OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD AND MEMBERS, I was very disturbed when I learned that after Gina Dennis had been approved as part of the Board candidate slate, on the first day of the Board election, she disclosed her affiliation and support of the Take Back the Co-op (“TBTC”) group. This action in and by itself puts into question her and the group’s ethical values, integrity and level of professionalism. What is even more disturbing is that this important development had not been communicated to the member-owners in advance, many of whom (myself included) voted for her without the necessary full disclosure in a timely fashion. Due to this, I believe the election was fraudulent and it needs to be reversed. Additionally Ms. Dennis should not be allowed to perform her board duties until she discloses her affiliation with the “TBTC” group in a new election. I want my vote back! Furthermore, at the December 20 meeting, which I attended, Ms. Dennis was very vocal about her dislike of the policy that new board members were not allowed to "share power.” First of all, every board member has power. I am treasurer at my condo’s association board and it is not our practice to allow any newcomer to have a executive governing position because of the lack of experience and knowledge. La Montañita is a much larger and different organization and nobody should expect an executive governing position without the adequate experience and knowledge required to perform effectively. Our Co-op is not in the same environment of 40 years ago when it started using the mom-and-pop business model. We are, first and foremost, a different economic model which we need to sustain, support and grow in response to the for profit model. In my 19 years of membership, especially at the Westside store where I shop now (I started at Nob Hill, then moved to Rio Grande and now the Westside as it’s close to my

condo) I try to educate any individual that I talk to about the economic model we represent.

of their complicity in supporting Ms. Dennis’ fraudulent and duplicitous election behavior.

The market conditions have changed and, in reality, we should be celebrating that the organic/natural food industries are growing and thriving. In return, it is presenting a tremendous challenge to co-ops like ours and these changes demand sound business strategies to stay alive. To do so, it requires individuals with ample, solid experience in the food industry that can implement innovative devices including partnering with other co-ops to strengthen our ability to offer organic food at a reasonable price and attract other people to this worthy economic model. They should also exhibit a high level of professionalism and ethical values.


Notwithstanding, the manner in which any of the “TBTC” group's reservations and critiques have been put forth, they can be resolved by engaging in an open dialogue, being transparent, with a view of how best to continue providing organic, natural food at a reasonable price, attracting new members to this economic model and working towards making the Westside store more profitable. That store was badly needed as those of us who live on the Westside, especially seniors on fixed incomes have previously had to drive a great distance to the Rio Grande store. Since the general manager started a very aggressive marketing campaign, I have seen an incredible improvement in the movement of customers, sales and I understand profitability. It happened with other co-op stores, like the Rio Grande location, which took a long time to become profitable. Any employee discontent can also be discussed with an open mind by both sides to reach an amicable solution for all parties involved. And it should be remembered that personnel issues by law are confidential issues. In summary, the first order of business is to suspend Ms. Dennis’ board responsibilities until a new, less fraudulent election can be accomplished. Again, I urge the board to present the other “TBTC” board members up for re-election as well because


MARTA, Thank you for the opportunity to discuss some of the issues/concerns you have. Both Julie Anderson and Gina Dennis were appointed by the Board of Directors, not elected by the members, to the Board in May 2016 in accordance with the Bylaws Section 2.5. As appointees, their term of appointment was until the November 2016 General Election. If you voted for someone in the November election, thank you for successfully exercising your member vote! At this time, the Bylaws do not provide for a "revote" that can or will be done. The Co-op Board has many responsibilities, outlined in Section 2.7 of the Bylaws which we take very seriously and which require a team approach. Each Directors opinion and thoughts are required and desired. The President, as the head of the board is not the sole deciding authority, nor is any other Director on the board. As you know, collaboration in decision-making is the most effective way to run a Board. Finally, you state that the November 2016 election was “fraudulent”. As requested in the response email to you on January 13, 2016, please explain what you feel constituted the fraudulence in the election; which Bylaws or Policies were not adhered to. THANK YOU FOR BEING A VALUED CO-OP MEMBER, YOUR BOARD


DEAR CO-OP MEMBERS, Thank you to Michelle Franklin for her succinct synopsis of the current tenor of changes on the Board and the "Take Back the Co-op" movement. I, for one, was an active member of the coop during the 1970's, and if that is what the Take Back movement is about, they have no clue what they're doing. The Coop was in a state of massive flux and chaos during those early days. It was not pretty. It was a mess. To aggrandize the "good old days" is to dismiss huge progress made over the past 40 years and set the clock "waaay" back. Do not make the mistake of not learning from the past, Take Backers. Look very carefully at the progress made. A subjective, unbiased look is essential for understanding where we were, how far we've come, and where we need to go. Don't make the mistake of being on the wrong side of progress. IN THE CO-OPERATIVE SPIRIT, CATHY SCHUELER

CATHY, This Board takes very seriously our responsibilities and the health of the Co-op, its Team Members and Member/Owners are what guide each decision. We appreciate and hear your comments. THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTER. YOUR BOARD

DEAR CO-OP BOARD AND MEMBERS, Yesterday, we visited the Co-op for the first time and, upon chatting with several staff members (like Zeke, he's amazing), decided to purchase a membership. On the way out, we were given several items such as a brochure and the January edition of the Co-op Connection News. Upon arriving home and reading the newsletter, however, we were dismayed to find numerous articles containing political commentary or thinly veiled editorial opinions about the recent national election. As an example, the featured "Letter to the Editor" railed against a minority of co-op members who are apparently trying to make changes, calling their tactics "Trumpish." While we understand that the election was hotly contested and has raised a lot of strong feelings about the future direction of our country, we don't believe that Co-op communications are appropriate vehicles for certain individuals to vent their own political views or denigrate those that don't fully agree with them. In fact, this practice serves to undermine the very values that the Co-op claims to espouse. If the Co-op is truly interested in collaborative partnerships, community cohesion, and democracy, it will work harder to ensure that Co-op communications express tolerance and respect for everyone without endorsing or

tearing down one side or another. The priorities of the Coop: good farming practices, local farming, organic certification, nutritious recipes, and healthy eating are apolitical, unifying, and relevant to everyone. Let's stay focused on our shared mission. MICHELE AND MICHAEL MOORE BERNALILLO P.S. We are both registered independents and do not work for either party.

MICHELE, We really appreciate your comments and do hope that everyone in the Co-op community consciously engages to ensure we are more careful and deliberate in our tone and communications, whether it is on the aisle in a store or in a letter. Together we are a stronger Cooperative; and that means we all are individuals with diverse ideas and deserving of respect. Marissa Joe, Director, is working with Robin, our Member Engagement Manager, on these very issues. Thank you for your feedback! YOUR BOARD






DEAR CO-OP MEMBERS, Over the last year, our Co-op community has become divided, and it is getting in the way of fulfilling the Co-op’s vision. How did this happen? In early 2016, out of deep concern over changes being introduced at La Montañita, member-owners began to communicate with each other and to organize. These groups eventually evolved into what is now the Take Back the Co-op movement, which began promoting a platform of transparency; worker rights; and organic, local, and sustainable products. While the Co-op is known as a community-owned business featuring democratic member control, efforts made by memberowners to participate in democratic decision-making did not gain traction and actually seemed to be unwelcome. Since April, a steady stream of information released to the Co-op membership has influenced the way things have unfolded. Portions of the information were inaccurate, and have led some member-owners to feel great mistrust and anger. At this time, we are asking those of you in the Co-op community who feel that anger and mistrust to try to suspend judgement and consider that things are not always what they seem to be. A few examples might help: Last February, the Co-op began selling conventional (pesticideladen) produce labeled “Clean 15”. Management explained that this


decision was based on input from 300 member-owners (less than 2% of the membership) who, at Co-op Cafes held in 2015, asked for improved access to La Montañita. We were told that the less expensive, non-organic produce would make shopping at the Coop affordable for lower income members of the community. Co-op shoppers, store workers, and others voiced strong objections at Board meetings, Town Halls, and Cafes, citing concerns around environmental, social justice, and health issues as well as low sales of “Clean 15” produce—all to no avail. Those who objected to the non-organic produce were portrayed negatively, as hard-hearted and not wanting to bring the full community into La Montañita. But now, as of December, after months of poor sales and lots of waste, “Clean 15” produce has been removed from Co-op stores. But it was discontinued because it wasn’t profitable, not because of a lack of consistency with Co-op values. For 20 years, La Montañita’s primary distributor of organic produce was Veritable Vegetable, a woman-owned small business dedicated to sustainable values. This changed when Robinson Fresh trucking company was brought on as a replacement in September as a way to save on cost. Robinson Fresh was retained for 3 months despite the fact that the change in distributors resulted in multiple problems for Co-op produce departments and member-owners noticed a drop in the quality of product on the shelves. Ultimately,

Member LETTERS TO THE EDITOR are printed in the order in which they are received, space permitting. Letters containing profanity will not be printed. Letters are the expressed opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent La Montañita Co-op.

Veritable Vegetable was restored as the primary produce distributor in December, but only when it was discovered that it is actually more expensive to purchase from Robinson Fresh. Another example of an issue that appears one way on the surface but has a different explanation came up at the December meeting of the Board of Directors. A few member-owners expressed outrage that the newly-elected Board members had not yet attended an orientation. It seemed they interpreted this as a gesture of defiance and a refusal on the part of the new Directors to cooperate. However, after the meeting we found out that two orientation dates were scheduled during the busy month of December, and some of the Directors weren’t able to attend because they didn’t have availability on those dates. Additionally, we have heard one of these new members mention that they accessed the orientation materials online. We do not interpret this as defiant or uncooperative. Instead of letting these kinds of issues divide us, shouldn’t we be uniting around our shared values? We could be having personal conversations exploring ways to maintain sustainable local economy, support sound environmental practices, and strengthen our cooperative community. We are all members of the Coop. We all want the Co-op to succeed and stay open. Let's work together and find solutions. SINCERELY, GINGER LAWLOR, CARLOS PANTERA, PENINA BALLEN, EMILY CONWAY GINGER, CARLOS, PENINA, AND EMILY, Your Board cannot agree more with your statement “We all are members of the Co-op… Let’s work together and find solutions.” Thank you! YOUR BOARD


February 2017 5


BOARD OF DIRECTORS DEAR TEAM MEMBERS AND MEMBER-OWNERS: a Montañita Co-op is undergoing reorganization effective February 9. This is a strategic decision to ensure the viability and survivability of the Co-op after the over $390K loss in FY2016. We are streamlining the operations, increasing efficiency and decreasing cost. So, what will we look like? The General Manager, Operations Director and Merchandizing Category Manager positions are being eliminated and there will be two new Divisions: Cooperative Retail Division and Cooperative Support and Operations Division. The Officers leading these divisions report directly to the Board of Directors. The Store Team Leaders and CDC Director will report directly to the Cooperative Retail Officer. All other supporting functions will report to the Cooperative Operations and Support Officer.


We are thrilled to share that Will Prokopiak will serve in the newly crafted position as Interim Cooperative Retail Officer (CRO). We will work very closely with him over the next four months. Will is a phenomenal contributor and provides deep expertise as it relates to retail, operations and initia-

tives across all levels of our Co-op. Will has been with the Co-op since 1990 and a Store Team Leader in Santa Fe for 11 years. We are proud to be promoting such an extraordinary person, who has shown tremendous loyalty to the LMC, love for New Mexico and steadfast commitment to cooperative values. We are still deciding on the right person to lead as the Interim Cooperative Operations and Support Officer (COSO). Until such time, the Directors of IT, Marketing, Finance and Membership will report directly to the Board.

February Calendar

of Events

Our Co-op has an annual revenue exceeding $40M, and this re-organization puts us on the path to a sound financial position powered by an unparalleled community of over 16,000 member-owners and dedicated team members. There are multiple events and forums and a variety of ways for you, as member-owners, to get more involved in the many dimensions of the Co-op. We are protectors of the soil and waterways capable of contributing to New Mexico's food systems and local economies in new and profound ways. These are unprecedented times, and our cooperative is a people-powered institution that thrives on member engagement, transparency and democracy. We thank you for your dedication to the mission of the Co-op. ELISE WHEELER, PRESIDENT, CHAD JONES, VICE PRESIDENT, ALLENA SATPATHI, SECRETARY, JERRY ANAYA, DIRECTOR, GINA N. DENNIS, DIRECTOR, JAMES ESQUEDA, DIRECTOR, GREGORY GOULD, DIRECTOR, MARISSA JOE, DIRECTOR


STRONG COMMUNITY BY BEN SELDEN, LOCAL ENTERPRISE ASSISTANCE FUND (LEAF) e have described many types of co-ops in this column, each using the principles of cooperative ownership in the context of its own industry to benefit members and stakeholders while promoting equality, fairness, and community.


One type of co-op LEAF has not yet covered in this column is the housing cooperative. Specifically, the manufactured (“mobile”) home community model where residents own their individual manufactured home, but become joint owners of the larger property where their homes sit. The United States has 50,000 manufactured home communities, home to nearly 3 million people— and 75% of them are low-income families. To finance the residents’ purchase of the land underneath their homes, LEAF works with ROC USA, a nonprofit dedicated to educating and empowering manufactured home owners to work together to convert for-sale mobile home parks into resident owned communities. The cooperative structure can be incredibly impactful to these communities because manufactured home parks are typically owned by outside investors. These investors set the rent for any housing units on their land, and can decide to sell if they wish, displacing hundreds of low-income families. Most “mobile homes” aren’t exactly “mobile” anymore, and moving can cause great personal and financial stress on the low-income or disadvantaged homeowners. Many of these homeowners simply cannot afford to move. Displacement isn’t the only threat; absentee landowners can neglect needed property repairs and even critical infrastructure systems like sewage because these systems are frequently not a part of city grids. In addition, landowners can increase land rents at will to drive homeowners away without technically evicting them. How can these problems be avoided while simultaneously providing landowners the fair value for their





land? You guessed it—the co-op model! When a group of homeowners purchase the land on which they live, they become a resident-owned community, a form of housing cooperative. This ownership allows for community members to meet together and make decisions about the rent; paying themselves collectively to upkeep the land; quality of life improvements; and common infrastructure. These transactions may seem like a mere technicality, but they have a profound impact on the lives of the residents, from their financial situation to their sense of community. One homeowner from a Massachusetts resident-owned community explained, “I have lived in this park for 15 years and before this transaction, I only knew five or six families around my home. Now everyone knows everyone and we are a real community.” Another beneficiary of this co-op housing model spoke at a recent conference and said, “Now I know that until the day I die, no one will kick me out of my home!” Economically, initial studies indicate the value of resident-owners homes increases at least 15% after conversion from an investor-owned park to resident ownership. For low-income families, this jump in the value of their home can make a significant difference in saving for retirement. But resident-owners still often face many challenges after becoming owners. In particular, they must take it upon themselves to improve community infrastructure and raise their own quality of life. Most other affordable homeownership projects benefit from public resources but since these communities are privately owned, they receive no public funding. The maintenance and cultivation of communal spaces and essential infrastructure falls to the responsibility of the newly formed residential community. Organizations like LEAF and ROC USA can help, but until affordable housing solutions grow to include this widespread source of housing for low-income families, this cooperative solution will unfortunately scale slowly.

LOAN PROGRAM • Quick and easy application process • Loans from $250 to $15,000, or more in exceptional cases • Repayment terms tailored to the needs of our community of food producers • Applications taken in an ongoing basis To set up a meeting to learn more or for a Loan Application or help with your application, call or email Robin at: 505-217-2027, toll free 877-775-2667 or e-mail:

2/23, 3/2 Veteran Farmer Project classes, Bernalillo County Extension Office, 1510 Menual Blvd. NW, Albuquerque. See page 1. 2/21 BoD Meeting Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St. NW, Albuquerque at 5:30pm


A Solution-Based System

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.



April 23, 10am-5pm AT YOUR NOB HILL CO-OP!

The promise of a better neighborhood for low-income families through resident owned cooperative housing is illustrated well by Wheel Estates Tenants Association, Inc. Wheel Estates is a manufactured home community in northwestern Massachusetts where almost all of the households earn incomes equal to half that of the area’s median income. LEAF partnered with ROC USA to lend to this community of 188 homes, and Wheel Estates put the capital to good use—repairing water and sewage pipes, putting in essential storm-water improvements, and fixing private community roads. In addition, they were able to upgrade the community building. Resident-owned communities are a fascinating use of the cooperative model that creates an immediate and significant impact. Co-ops can truly change and better people’s lives!



2016 BOARD RESULTS EDITORS NOTE: It was brought to my attention that the final results for the Board of Directors elections were not printed in the January issue of the Co-op Connection News. My deepest apologies for this oversight. -ROBIN SEYDEL, EDITOR Based on these results, Gina Dennis, Marissa Joe and Chad Jones will be seated on the La Montañita Co-op Board of Directors for three-year terms beginning in 2017; and Elise Wheeler will be seated on the Board of Directors for a one-year term.


Ian Colburn Gina Dennis James Glover Marissa Joe Chad Jones John Kwait Ariana Marchello Silda Mason Carlos Pantera Elise Wheeler Courtney White Django Zeaman

164 1,202 194 1,044 903 533 550 128 237 887 592 250


BULK FOOD DEPT • save money • save the environment • eat healthy

4 If anything symbolizes the benefits of shopping at the Co-op, it’s the bulk department. While most chain stores now sell a few things in bulk (often times it’s just candy), it was the wave of co-ops formed in

the benefits of

the late 1960s and ‘70s that brought buying in bulk back to consumers.


La Montañita carries over 250 bulk items. Saving money and eating healthier are just two of the many reasons to shop the Co-op bulk department. by Robin Seydel, Community Outreach Coordinator





save a bundle !

$0.00 - $74.99 for a 10% Discount $75.00 - $174.99 for a 15% Discount $175+ for a 20% Discount

If you will be purchasing larger quantities or cases of your favorite products, please special order them 7 days in advance of your Volume Discount shopping trip to be sure we have everything you need in stock and ready for you to pick up when you arrive. The Volume Discount cannot be added to any other ownership participation discount, special order discount or any other discount. Your ownership MUST be current to take advantage of this discount offer.



*plus tax






It’s clear that with packaged products what you are paying for is just that—the packaging. Often you get only 12 ounces of food or less compared to the price of a whole pound of the same item in the Co-op’s bulk department. In other cases you are paying for branding and marketing costs. Breakfast cereal is a good example. Products that are similar to boxed cereals, both hot and cold, can all be found in the Co-op bulk bins. When you compare prices, ounce for ounce, the Co-op’s bulk products win hands down. And you can often get more of the organic variety for the same price you may pay for the conventional brand name package. Look for your favorites in the bulk department including a variety of oats—quick cooking (which will be way less expensive per breakfast and cook just as easily as those one serving packages), rolled, thick and regular oats—“oatios” and other cold crunchy cereals, granolas, multigrain hot cereals and more. Check it out and save!

====================== BENEFIT 2:


Save those inches around your waistline. Much of what is contained in the bulk bins are low-fat, high-fiber foods—the healthiest you can find. Probably the quickest way to lose those extra pounds is to cut out any processed foods with their high sugar, salt and fat content. As we hear from heart experts to cancer survivors, from the USDA’s food pyramid to health professionals concerned about endocrine disrupting chemicals, a healthy diet (just add exercise!) largely depends on the grains, beans, nuts and seeds that are the foundation of the bulk department.

into a pot. Stir once or twice to evenly distribute in the pan, cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce the flame to a low simmer and allow to cook slowly. Remember do not stir, as stirring breaks the molecular-like structure the grain sets up as it cooks, causing the grain to become pasty. To make sure all the water has been taken up by the grain, tilt the pot; when no water runs down the side it is done. Let it sit for a moment or two before fluffing with a fork.



Here again the benefits of buying bulk are obvious. Less packaging means less waste going in your One of the keys to perfect brown recycling or garbage and less rice, fluffy millet or ideal quinoa going to the landfill. It means is to refrain from stirring grains while they are cooking. The easiest fewer trees cut down for that cardboard/paper box and less way to cook grains is to put one cup of grain and two cups of water dioxin produced when wood pulp

bags, jars, empty shampoo, hand cream, tamari or whatever bottles and refill them in the bulk liquids section, again reducing waste and saving money. Don’t have your own containers to refill? Never fear! You will find a wide variety of reuseable and affordable containers at the Co-op to meet all your shopping needs.



Using bulk foods rather than processed foods allows you to stretch your family’s food dollar. Penny for penny and dollar for dollar, you get more value and greater nutrition in the bulk department. Not only are you getting more for your money, you are also getting a higher quality, with a reduced amount of chemical residues, additives and preservatives. Plus, you can try a new food without a huge investment in a whole package. You can purchase just what you need to give it a try. Like it? You can then buy whatever quantity fits your needs. And because our bulk departments are so popular, the bins are refilled daily. You can count on all the items being wonderfully fresh.



Ask Travis, our Rio Grande Bulk Department Team Leader

buying in bulk means less packaging & more nutirents. compare prices. our bulk department wins hands down.

is bleached with chlorine and the waste from the process is released into the environment. Also, less plastic is manufactured and used, leading to yet another reduction in dioxins (produced during the manufacture of all plastics) that are released into the environment. Also, you can bring in your own

Shopping the bulk department is fun and easy. Remember to weigh any containers brought from home before you fill them so you don’t have to pay for the weight of the container. Please write the bulk bin code on the labels and use the twist ties you will find handily located around the bulk bins. Check out the enormous selection of grains, beans, pasta, nuts, seeds, baking supplies, snacks, cereals, trail mixes and more. Try something new and let the bulk department help you with your resolve to eat healthier.


February 2017 8



DINNER PANCAKES (Gluten-free) Serves 4 / Prep and cook time: 30 minutes 6 eggs 1 1/3 cups rice flour 1 1/3 cups corn flour 1 heaping tsp psyllium husk powder 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 1 1/3 cups water

Before beginning make sure the butter is very cold—frozen butter works great. Keeping the butter cold and working quickly on the recipe does make a difference in how the biscuits turn out. Whisk the psyllium husk powder (if using) into the flour. Cut the butter into the flour. This step can be easily accomplished in a food processor by blending the butter and flour together until the pieces of butter are roughly pea sized and evenly distributed. Transfer the butter-flour mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until all the flour is just moistened. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or oil a deep dish iron skillet). Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheet. Bake the biscuits at 450º F until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Optional savory ingredients: 1 small summer squash, grated 1 large carrot, finely grated Spices such as curry or pepper


Mix all of the above ingredients well. Batter will be a little on the thin side. Heat a high temperature oil in a frying pan to medium. Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into pan. When the top of the pancake begins to bubble, carefully flip it over to cook on the other side. When the pancake is done, remove to a serving plate. Continue with the rest of the batter. To make the process go quicker, you can also heat 2–3 frying pans at once and cook the pancakes in all the pans simultaneously.

BLACK BEAN STEW Serves 6 / Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: CALORIES 297; CALORIES FROM FAT 55; TOTAL FAT 6G; SATURATED FAT 2G; TRANS FAT 0G; CHOLESTEROL 186MG; SODIUM 289MG; TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 49G; DIETARY FIBER 3G; SUGARS 1G; PROTEIN 10G DROP BISCUITS (Gluten-free) Makes about 8 biscuits / Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 20 minutes 1 heaping tsp psyllium husk powder (for gluten-free recipe only) 2 cups flour, gluten-free or wheat 1/2 cup frozen butter, chopped into small pieces 1 T sugar 3 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 3/4 cup milk


1 onion, diced 2 sweet peppers, diced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 Polish-style sausage, removed from casing and crumbled (optional) 2 tsp paprika 1 tsp dried oregano 2 cups broth 1 cup water 2 cups cooked black beans 1 cup roasted tomatillos (roasted tomatoes can be substituted) In a large sauce pan, sauté the onions, sweet peppers and garlic on medium until beginning to soften. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer the soup on medium low for about 20 minutes to let the flavors meld and the beans to heat through. Serve piping hot. NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: CALORIES 217; CALORIES 102; TOTAL FAT 11G; SATURATED FAT 4G; TRANS FAT 0G; CHOLESTEROL 27MG; SODIUM 517MG; TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 18G; DIETARY FIBER 6G; SUGARS 2G; PROTEIN 11G FROM FAT




BY AMYLEE UDELL ome families make use of a certain day in February to share heart shaped cards and chocolates. I say, any excuse to share love and chocolate! We can all go out to the store in February and grab a box of chocolates or candy wrapped in pink and red; but if you'd like to make things a little more wholesome or would like to give your kids a hands-on project to share with others, there are many easy and less-mess ideas that are fun and yummy. Here are a few projects that meet my reduced crafting ability.


CHOCOLATE SPOONS - Great for making your coffee or milk chocolate flavored. Melt chocolate chips (or your own baking chocolate, adding sweetener if needed) and dip plastic or wooden spoons into it. Set on parchment paper to harden. Consider sprinkling peppermint candy or cinnamon before the chocolate cools to add a flavor kick. Have fun packaging them, adding ribbons and other decorative touches. HOT CHOCOLATE POPS - Similar to above but add milk or cream. The cream helps to give the cube the right texture when it solidifies. Use ice cube trays, or cut into cubes or use fun forms and then insert a popsicle stick. Again, wrap up in pretty paper EASY TRUFFLES - This one could get messy. But it's only got a few ingredients and the kids will feel like gourmets! Chocolate, cream and butter (plus sweetener if your chocolate isn't sweet) are blended and rolled into balls. You can then roll them into different toppings for different flavors and looks. Try crushed peppermints, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, or crushed nuts. MUD CUPS - Fun for kids! These are those cups that look like pots of dirt. Let the kids crush chocolate sandwich cookies in a plastic bag. Fill the "pot" with chocolate pudding, cover with the crushed cookies. Top with

February 2017 9 gummy worms. Or make "flowers" out of cut fruit or gum balls stuck on tooth picks. Let the kids get creative! EASIEST HOMEMADE CHOCOLATES - There are many variations of this recipe online. Take two parts coconut oil to one part cocoa powder. Add honey or sweetener to your liking. Perhaps a little vanilla. Maybe a touch of salt. I've also done this with added nut butter. You simply mix and melt together. You could even hide a nut or a small candy in the middle as it hardens. These solidify when chilled and are fun for kids to pour into molds or even just ice trays. They are delicious, nutritious and yes, a bit messy when they start melting on warm little fingers. CHOCOLATE PLAY DOUGH - You probably have the basic ingredients at home, just add cocoa powder. Kids can just play with it and have fun or shape the dough into treat looking pieces or pretend they're expert bakers. The following ideas are easy, taking basic items and adding some simple touches to make a treat that stands out enough for the kids to know it's really special • CHOCOLATE DIPPED ANYTHING: Melt chocolate and let the kids dip into it! Try fruit of any kind, homemade bread, crackers, marshmallows, nuts, pretzels, potato chips... bacon? Are we getting too crazy? • MAKE CHOCOLATE "MOUSSE" by whipping up some heavy cream or silken tofu with cocoa powder and a touch of sugar. You can add some variety by using different extracts, like mint, almond, coconut or just vanilla. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. • CHOCOLATE DRIZZLED ON ANYTHING makes that item look more elegant. Drizzle melted chocolate on fruit, simple cookies, homemade cakes or cheese cakes. • CRUSH CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKERS or sandwich cookies and sprinkle on a simple cake, on crackers spread with nut butter or cream cheese. AMYLEE UDELL is a mom of three busy girls. She's finding ways to maximize her time keeping everyone nourished and warm, with just a touch of sweetness. She blogs about those efforts at


February 2017 10




BY JOHN AND TRUDY KRETSINGER, SWEET GRASS BEEF COOPERATIVE he member education meeting on December 20, 2016 spoke to the ability of La Montañita Co-op (LMC) to secure reliable, adequate supplies of consistently top quality, locally produced food of all kinds for its members and other customers.


For some time, high quality grass-fed beef has been recognized as worthy for LMC to spend extra effort to secure. And while there is plenty of land in New Mexico for cow/calf production, the irrigated pastures needed for grass finishing are by and large tied up with dairy production, one of New Mexico’s major commodity exports. Because of this, the local rancher who was the LMC grass-fed beef supplier for many years frequently hit a wall in production and resorted to buying calves from ranches in the San Luis Valley that he found reliable to properly finish cattle. When he lost his lease and could no long supply beef, he encouraged a group of ranchers from both Colorado and New Mexico to take on the project. It was his opinion that the year ‘round fresh market would best be served by a group of producers across the region, with varied growing conditions and calving seasons. Thus the inception of Sweet Grass Co-op, which has supplied La Montañita since 2010 from cattle that are born on ranches in New Mexico and Colorado and move throughout their lives along the Rio Grande basin. There is a long history of this kind of movement of livestock up and down the watershed for production and trade, mimicking prehistoric migratory patterns of the great grazing herds that ranged across the West. The most successful early human settlements were those that exercised mindful stewardship to maximize resources of water and soil. A grand example of this was in the 1800’s when settlers in the Chimayo area of New Mexico recognized that while they could grow virtually everything they needed for a balanced diet, they would be better off specializing in those things they did best, using the surplus to trade for the rest of what they needed. They established a trade route into the San Luis Valley of Colorado, a hundred miles to the north. Following the autumn harvest, they carried chiles, orchard fruit, and their beautiful wool weavings in covered wagons, bringing back loads of potatoes, wheat, and beans. According to Arturo Jaramillo and Dan Jaramillo of Rancho de Chimayo, these trains of sometimes a dozen wagons continued even after the installation of the Chile Line in the 1880’s, the railroad spur between Lamy (just outside Santa Fe) and Antonito (in the southern San Luis Valley), which would have been easier than wagon trains. Their exchange rate was carefully established, and the barter system was

maintained until it was displaced by a cash economy, sometime after World War I. John Wesley Powell would likely have approved of the kind of creative, conservative agricultural practices that were the basis for the Chimayo-San Luis trade route. Powell was a geologist and cartographer employed by the U.S. Government to perform scientific investigation of the western territories of the U.S. in 1869. Powell’s assessment was that there was not sufficient rainfall in the west to sustain agriculture. Instead, he urged conservation, limited grazing, and minimal, carefully planned irrigation. In his proposed plan for development of the West, he devised a map which laid out divisions based on watersheds. Powell foretold that if the residents of a watershed cooperatively owned and managed the water, they would avoid conflict and litigation. On his colorful map of the West, the Rio Grande watershed is depicted in deep emerald green, covering the area from just east of the Continental Divide in the San Juan Mountains, through the San Luis Valley and New Mexico, ending just past what is currently El Paso, Texas. The decades following the Civil War were a time of raucous expansion and development, largely driven by railroad companies. These businesses benefited from agricultural development, as they could sell land they had been granted for building the railroads. They lobbied Congress hard and unfortunately were louder than John Wesley Powell. As a result, the borders of most western states were based on a consistent number of degrees latitude and longitude, equitably divided, to fit into the grid system that facilitated the sale of real estate. Thus, we have a series of boundaries cutting our watershed into many pieces. As predicted by John Wesley Powell, controversies over water ensued. In 1939 the Rio Grande Compact was approved by the U.S. Congress to equitably apportion the waters of the Rio Grande amongst the states that lay within its drainage: Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. As with most water law, the Compact is not perfect, not to everyone’s liking, but it is better than constant dispute, breaks down arbitrary boundaries, and is a viable tool to mitigate the ravages extractive capitalism




BRETT BAKKER nly slightly more palatable than “traditional” GMOs (OH help us! There’s no GMO anything considered “traditional”), Gene Editing is (for now anyway) “only” snipping, tweaking or turning off certain gene sequences rather than full on genetic engineering, which is mostly inserting genes from other organisms. Since it does not fit the standard definition of GMOs, labeling requirements as well as government oversight and regulation for Editing is, thus far, non-existent. The USDA/National Organic Program rules prohibit what are euphemistically called “excluded methods”, a term for GMOs first used by the NOP back in 2000, when the program went into effect. Much like the Wild West growth of the internet, regulation hasn’t kept up with technology which, like much else in our world, is moving much too fast for prudent and considered choices. Stay tuned for more details. BY


someone from a “Management” background rather than a blue collar fighter for worker rights? But I digress! Given the president-elect’s fondness for something called a Taco Bowl and the “food” his campaign provided for reporters (gummy bears, Ritz Bits, Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos and hot dogs) I don’t expect the new administration to be particularly open to most, if any, food and agriculture legislation that us tree-huggin’ granola-sniffin’ weirdos are prone to favor. Then there’s Health and Human Services nominee, Representative Tom Price who voted against the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which overhauled school meal nutrition standards to cut back on sugar, salt and fat. But,


OF FOXES AND HENHOUSES There has always been (and always will be) questionable political appointments and stacked decks. But there is also a social justice issue to address: access to food is a social justice concern. A government that cares about the health of its people ought to be concerned with issues from seed to restaurant to grocery and the dizzying scope of labor that makes it all possible. And is it just me or is it odd that the head of the “Labor” Department is consistently


At Ampersand Sustainable Living Center's Off-grid site EFFECTIVE CHANGE can start in a small and gentle way with the help of Permaculture's guiding principles. By exploring strategies like Optimizing the Edge and Making the Least Change for the Greatest Effect, we can work towards self sufficiency and community resilience. While many of us agree with the ethics of Permaculture (Care for the Earth, Care for People, and Fair Share of Surplus), deepening our

set in motion when the railroads urged everyone to get on board. Aside from water legislation, another great tool, and perhaps equally as complex, is the development of local food economies, such as what came about in Chimayo right about the time of the railroads’ onslaught in the West. Chimayo was locality done right. They recognized they could get more for less if they maximized their resources of water, soil, and climate. They moved beyond exclusionary subsistence farming, developed the products they grew best and which would bring the highest trade value. The food web they created built stronger, more self-reliant and resilient communities, and encouraged regional cohesion. It was exactly the opposite of what the railroads wrought. Regional cohesion is what La Montañita is bringing about on a much grander scale. For the last forty years it has been building a food web to serve millions of people, within the cumbersome boundaries of limited water, land, and labor. It is a phenomenal task, one that will save us, one that is worth moving forward together.

The most successful early human settlements were those that EXERCISED



you might say that was 2010. In the past! Well, consider this: every five years, HHS partners with the USDA to update School Dietary Guidelines, so Price would certainly be involved in the coming revisions. His environmental voting record too, is lacking: he has been in favor of de-authorizing critical habitat for endangered species and the declassification of CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) manure as a pollutant or hazardous. Price has voted against tax incentives and credits for renewable energy and energy conservation. You may say that I’m taking into account some stances that these guys have taken that are not relevant to their current nominations. But I must also point out that even a fox who has never eaten any of your chickens is still not really a good candidate to guard your henhouse.

commitment to them can be best accomplished as a collective journey that takes community support. Ampersand's site demonstrates many examples of Permaculture design and our experience with building community can offer insight. However, the right next steps for you will arise from your personal lifestyle and inspiration. Find more ways to demonstrate this care for the earth and for people in a way that speaks to your spirit and adds a level of fulfillment to your life. RSVP to to register. Discounts available.


February 2017 11



is UNFI—which distributes Amy’s Kitchen (family-owned), Bob’s Red Mill (employee-owned) and other coop favorites. UNFI was started by natural food truckers and warehouse workers, appears in Socially Responsible Investment portfolios, and is now a major distributor of small brands to co-ops and natural food stores.



Americans are brainwashed to believe that bigger and cheaper is better and we are entitled to eat foods in any season, from any part of the globe. That has to change if we humans are going to survive on this planet. So read labels: see where it’s made and who owns the brand. Look for certifications for the things you care about—fair trade, cooperative, sustainably grown, nonGMO, USDA organic, etc. (Companies donating a percentage of proceeds cannot take the place of higher social and environmental standards.)

BY MARIANNE DICKENSON s you walk down the aisles in the Co-op or “natural food” stores, how many familiar natural and organic brands would you guess are now owned by giant corporations? Would it surprise you to learn that Coca-Cola owns Odwalla Juices? Hormel owns Applegate Farms? General Mills owns Annie’s Homegrown, Muir Glen and Cascadian Farms, among other organic brands? Does it strike you as odd that Burt’s Bees is now owned by Clorox, the cleaning chemical manufacturer?


The benefit to large corporations in gobbling up successful brands in the rapidly growing natural/organic segment of the market is pretty obvious. Not only do they increase sales and profits, their new owners look like responsible corporate citizens offering cleaner, greener, healthier products with built-in brand loyalty and consumer trust. (Optimists see this as a way corporations can be influenced to be more socially and environmentally responsible. Critics and cynics point out many problems with this development.) Unilever is one of those companies vowing to be more socially responsible—they champion real women’s looks over fashion model looks in their Dove soap commercials for example. Oxfam is reporting in their update of their Behind The Brands research on the social and environmental records of the 10 largest global food companies that Unilever is the best and most improved of the ten. However, that research looked at the entire supply chain of all those giant food and beverage companies, most of whose products are not organic, or even nutritious. When Unilever acquired Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream they promised to keep the operations based in Vermont. But has the socially responsible image

of Ben and Jerry’s benefitted producers or consumers, or the residents of Vermont? Not so much. According to organic farming advocates, the dairy cows producing the milk are kept in CAFOs (Confined Animal Farm Operations), fed GMO-produced/pesticide laced feed, and their milk bought at prices that don’t cover the costs of production—contributing to pollution, contamination and farmer bankruptcies in order to sell Ben & Jerry’s at a “competitive” price. The sad fact is that Big Ag/Big Food has jumped on the bandwagon to give the appearance of improving foods, but hides the fact that destructive, extractive food production practices are still the norm and getting worse in some ways. While foods are being advertised in meaningless Newspeak—“natural, pure, farm-fresh” and now “antibiotic-free, preservative-free” and so on—the same industry giants are fighting mandatory labeling of GMO contents and Countries of Origin along with restrictions on pesticide and antibiotic use. To “meet consumer demand,” the USDA is constantly pressured to allow into its Organic certifying program practices that clearly are factory farming, not regenerative/sustainable practices (that also includes hydroponics— growing in greenhouses in sterile media with liquid nutrients added—which does not result in soil regeneration and carbon sequestering). ARE there any corporations that are better— with values closer to our own?




NO ARTISTIC BACKGROUND IS NECESSARY! These are a series of FREE workshops where combat fatigues are shredded into small strips and then, through a papermaking process, are transformed into paper and decorated by Veterans. It is a fun and healing process. Participants are encouraged to bring cotton fatigues/t-shirts, which were worn during their military service; we sill supply used fatigues for folks who need them. Lunch, papermaking equipment and all other materials will be provided. Workshops consist of three Sunday sessions, and it is important for participants to attend all three sessions, which will be held at Off Center Arts, at 808 Park Ave. SW in Albuquerque. The end results are beautiful prayer flags, which will be displayed during the month of April at Off Center Arts. These workshops are funded by New Mexico Arts and in collaboration with The Museum of American Military Family, Off Center Arts and Santa Fe Community College. The instructor, Claire Lisance has worked with Veterans and has a background in papermaking and counseling. There are 10 slots available per workshop plus a waitlist. Please sign up ASAP! WORKSHOPS FOR FEMALE VETERANS: SUNDAYS March 19, 26, and April 2, 10:30am-4:30pm.

TO REGISTER: email: Or call or text Claire at 505-450-1357.

“B Corps” or Benefit Corporations are producers worldwide who have chosen to use “business as a force for good” and be certified as meeting higher standards of social and environmental practice, transparency and accountability. Some of our most venerable brands are B Corps—like Dr. Bronner’s and Dr. Hauschka (find a list of B Corp brands in the coop stores, or look them up online). However, B Corporation status is voluntary and not legally enforced except to the extent that their incorporation and operating policies spell out how they make decisions based on the “triple bottom line”—people, planet, profit. How well B Corps resist being changed for the worse by corporate takeovers will be seen now that Unilever has acquired Seventh Generation. One reason some small or regional brands sell out is that marketing and distribution is hard to do on their own. One option independent natural/organic producers have

For more information about organic and sustainable standards and abuses, check out these websites: ard%20Update/scorecardapril2016.ashx






AT THE OPEN SPACE VISITOR CENTER FEBRUARY 19, 10–11:30AM Where: Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd NW, Albuquerque, Cost: Free To pre-register, call 897-8831. Limited space available. For children and kids at heart aged 6 and over.




he Xeriscape Council of New Mexico began in 1987 with the desire to make landscape design and construction more environmentally responsible in the southwest. Climate extremes and the opportunity to use plants to clean stormwater and green our cities made joining forces with Arid LID a logical step toward taking our original message about beautiful water conservative landscaping to a more holistic level. The theme of our 22nd conference, Growing Community Relationships: Just Add Water, offers strategies for coming together around a resource central to all our lives. The conference runs February 23–24 at the Sheraton Albuquerque Airport Hotel. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico we’re changing the format of the Land and Water Summit program in a way we hope will make us all more effective in our work. After John Fleck sets the collaborative agenda with his myth busting talk Water is for Fighting Over, we will break out into small talking circles. We will ask

and answer four questions as we listen to speakers and each other regarding being more effective working with colleagues in addressing water issues: 1) What is the present situation and how do you feel about it? 2) What are the worst possible outcomes of confronting / not confronting the present situation? 3) What are the best possible outcomes of confronting the present situation? and finally, 4) What beliefs, behaviors, strategies and actions will foster the best possible outcomes. We’ll then proceed through Thursday’s presentations. Friday morning we’ll break out into different small groups revisiting the 4 questions and Jeff will explain his strategies for conflict resolution. Hint: it’s about listening. Then we’ll retake our seats at the tables and continue the presentations. We’ll end the Summit in small groups answering the four consensus building questions and posing a fifth: What now, where do we go from here? We will collect comments, ideas, conflicts and collaborations and post them on the website to keep the process flowing. As always, we hope you find yourself inspired and energized to make positive change happen. Together we can work smarter to create positive change in our communities. For information visit

La Montañita Co-op Connection News, February 2017  
La Montañita Co-op Connection News, February 2017