Saturday, December 12, 2009

Winter has finally arrived! It's the perfect temperature for hot soup, homemade bread and fire places. The first COWS order came this past week. The co-op is offering produce shares to it's members this winter. It's a great way to get fresh organic produce throughout the winter without having to shop at Kroger. For the first time round, I think that it went really well. The selection was awesome and the amount of goods each share holder received was hefty. Using the goods from our Cows share, I have already made butternut squash with coconut milk... so good. Last night it was potato leek soup, with all co-op ingredients, I love that! Tonight we are used the beautiful Bartlett pears and made a gluten free pear crisp..... just pulled it out of the oven, I can smell it cooling off in the kitchen. Tomorrow I'll make Broccoli and almond soup, maybe some steamed beets. We also got one pineapple in the share, I'm still pondering what I want to concoct with that.
The Venerable Bean offered some great goods to the co-op shoppers this last week. Coconut cherry muffins, oatmeal raisin cookies, granola bars, chocolate cakes, gluten free brownies (my personal favorite)... and many other grand creations. Aaron does an amazing job!
I've started selling hand made knit and crocheted hats at the co-op, so far they have been popular with the employees, I'm having a hard time keeping my goods stocked....but I'm not complaining. It's fun, and I sure hope that it picks up. We also have oodles of fair trade hand made gifts, bags, calenders, tie dye, soap, incense, candles, wall hangings, journals, scarfs... ect..ect. Check it out!

Christmas time will be interesting down at Mountain Peoples, with not only me, but Lee Casto, and Meredith going home to be with family, Lee and Ash are going to be busy bees! They are such rock stars and so good at what they do that I know it will be alright. I think Darien will be able to help out and maybe some other wonderful people.
Anyhow, on behalf of the co-op I wish you a wonderful holiday. Eat well and take care of your body, take care of the earth. Be good to one another!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hello pretty people! My wonderful boyfriend volunteered my hands and random writing style to take up the Mountain People's blog. This is Natalie, for those of you who don't know me I am a relatively new(since August) employee at the co-op. I am there 6 days a week, so if you shop there, it is likely we have encountered one another.
I am going to try and write some interesting and fun ideas and stories... observations, news, and whatever else floats my boat. For starters I'll give you a heads up about who I am and what I am doing here, here being Morgantown, or here being Mountain People's. My boyfriend Brian and I just moved to Morgantown in April. I am a born and raised Californian, from a city called Santa Rosa about an hour north of San Francisco. Brian talked me into road tripping across the country and moving here with him so he could go to grad school and get his masters in Mechanical Engineering. To be quite frank one of his chief luring devises was the fact that the town had a health food co-op. Wooo! Well that trip is a whole different story.
So here I am in Morgantown, working at the co-op with some fabulous people. I am taking over the blog writing until the Force tells me otherwise. I'm not too sure what would be best to write about or what would most interest you... you being the person that may be reading this. Are you there? Can anybody here me? No really, I'm curious if anybody follows along in co-op realm. Let me know.
Something must be said in this first entry that bring the co-op to the stage.... so.. I'll tell you about the strange and wonderful dinner we just made. I brought home some of the brand new gluten free mung bean pasta, pretty good stuff, very mung beany. Then I made my standard "iron sauce". Don't let it scare you, it's actually pretty tasty. I start by grinding up pumpkin seeds, nettle leaves, kombu, sesame seeds, chia seeds, parsley, and turmeric, then I stir in some tahini and a dash of flax seed oil, water, and sometimes my homemade herbal iron tonic vinegar. It's yummy, and feels so good on the body. We usually eat the sauce with quinoa and steamed kale and other veggies, but the veggie situation was sad tonight, so sauce, carrots and mung bean pasta it was. I liked it, Brian liked it, there are things I would change for sure. Now I can't decide if I want to make a vegan, gluten free pumpkin pie for dessert or go for the usual chocolate hemp milk ice cream that I special order a little too often.... :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Member Meeting

Our Member Meeting is Tuesday, April 21, at 6 PM, in the gym of First Presbyterian Church, 456 Spruce St. We will have a potluck dinner, update on the Co-op, membership information, vote for a change to the bylaws, and meet your candidates for the Board of Directors election. There is a kitchen facility available to heat food, and we will have plates and silverware available. Drinks will be provided. Thanks to First Presbyterian for providing us this space free of charge. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cleaning Workshop
Are you ready for spring cleaning, but you want to avoid all those chemicals in commercial cleaning products and you want to save money too? Come to the Green Spring Cleaning Workshop and learn just how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own household cleaning products, and try them out on real dirt so see how they really work! This workshop is co-sponsored by Our Studio, an environmentally-focused, community art studio that offers classes for children and adults and a series of summer children's day camps ( The workshop will be held on Thursday, April 16, 7:00 PM, at Our Studio, 601-D East Brockway Ave. There is a $10 fee, which covers the cost of a recipe booklet and a choose-it-yourself natural home cleaning kit. To register, email

Painting Rescheduled
The Co-op's new coat of exterior paint has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 26.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Co-op Painting Rescheduled!
Due to the high likelihood of inclement weather this Sunday, we are rescheduling the event. Please stay tuned for details!

Friday, March 20, 2009

We're giving the Co-op a fresh coat of paint!

On Sunday, March 29, volunteers will be giving our Co-op's building a spring sprucing-up. We will be painting the exterior of the store with an earthy, updated color scheme - we think it will look something like the image at right (please pardon my less-than-spectacular photo editing!). Volunteers will meet at 1 PM. In case of bad weather, the painting party will be rescheduled. If you would like to work on the paint crew or donate money toward the purchase of paint, please call the Co-op at (304)291-6131. We'd like to give a big thank you to Co-op member Joe Super for organizing this event!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chunky Noodle Soup

This vegetarian soup doesn't claim to taste like chicken, but it sure is satisfying!

2 medium potatoes, cut in ½ inch chunks
6 oz. whole grain udon or soba noodles
6 c. water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 Tbsp. canola or other light-flavored oil
2 - 3 cloves minced garlic
½ c. whole wheat flour
3 c. dairy or non-dairy milk (unsweetened)
½ c. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. sage (dried)
2 Tbsp. parsley (dried)
1 Tbsp. Frontier Salt-Free Herbal Seasoning (if you don't have this, you can use dill, but the depth of flavor is better with the Frontier blend)
2 tsp salt
1 lb tofu, cut into approx. ½” chunks
1 ½ c. frozen peas

Boil potatoes in 6 c. water. When they begin to get soft, add udon or soba and cook for 9 more minutes. When done, turn off heat but do not drain.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion and carrot in 1 Tbsp. oil in a stockpot. When the onion gets soft, add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Remove from pan. Add the flour and 2 Tbsp. oil, mix well, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to achieve a smooth consistency. Whisk in the nutritional yeast. Stir in the onion-garlic-carrot mixture, sage, parsley, Frontier seasoning, and salt. Add tofu and frozen peas, then pour in the potatoes, noodles, and their water. Stir and heat until warmed through. Serves 4 - 6.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barlean's Total Omega Vegan Swirl

Barlean's is well known for their flax oil and fish oil supplements. Last year, they launched their Omega Swirl line - smoothie-like liquids that are great for people who don't want to swallow bulky pills or choke down a spoonful of oily, fishy-tasting nastiness. There was a fish oil Omega Swirl to provide brain-healthy* DHA and a vegetarian flax oil Swirl for those who want omega-3's without the fish. But flax oil does not contain DHA, and individuals' ability to convert flax omega-3's to DHA varies greatly, so some felt that fish oil was a better supplement.

Fish get their DHA from the algae they eat, and now we can too. Vegetarian DHA is isolated from algae, and since it doesn't come from fish, it is less likely to contain certain environmental contaminants that fish can concentrate. Barlean's Total Omega Vegan Swirl contains flaxseed oil for essential omega-3's and lignans, borage oil for GLA, and algal oil for DHA. Check out the Barlean's web site for more information.

Does it taste good? In one word, yes. Even my 9-year-old son liked it, and given that he complains loudly every time I try to give him any other liquid omega-3 supplement, that is a victory.

The flavor is pomegranate/blueberry, but I don't think it tastes particularly strongly of either - I would call it more of a "mixed berry" flavor. It's sweetened with xylitol, a natural sweetener that is low in calories and used in chewing gum as an alternative to sugar that doesn't promote tooth decay. The texture of Omega Swirl is thick and smooth, and not oily at all. Sometimes flax oil tastes fishy to me, but this is not at all fishy. In a nutshell, I don't have to think of creative ways to hide the flavor of this omega-3 liquid in cereal or yogurt or pasta sauce... it's good to go just as it is.

I did want to mention one important thing about Omega Swirl. The package information warns not to feed it to your pets. This is because of the xylitol used to sweeten it. Xylitol has been shown to be harmful to dogs, and even a small amount can rapidly bring their blood sugar dangerously low and potentially result in death. Dog metabolism is very different from that of humans: chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, and other human foods are toxic to dogs as well.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Equal Exchange Mint Chocolate

I'm a serious chocoholic; some might even say I'm a chocolate snob. My favorites are rich, dark chocolates, but I'm pretty versatile when it comes to this favorite food. But after learning about child slavery on cocoa farms in Africa, I make a point of buying fair trade chocolate in order to avoid supporting this deplorable practice.

Today, on a whim, I bought a bar of Equal Exchange's Mint Chocolate with a Delicate Crunch at the Co-op. Equal Exchange is a worker-owned co-op based in Massachusetts. Their mission is "to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world." I like supporting a company like this.

But warm-hearted feelings aside, did the chocolate taste good?

Wow. This is what Peppermint Patties should taste like, well, if they actually contained real chocolate and had enough of it in them. This was some really good chocolate.

The chocolate is 67% cacao - not quite the 72% cacao I usually crave, but it is clearly a dark chocolate. It contains no milk in its ingredients, and it isn't overly sweet. The clean, fresh note of natural mint is strong without being overwhelming. The crunch is kind of like tiny pieces of candy cane - really, only barely crunchy - not like chocolate bars with big rice crisps.

I gave a piece of it to my son, who usually doesn't like dark chocolate. He asked for another. And another. I had to draw the line. After all, I needed save some to share with my husband.

I think we have a new family favorite...

-K.W., mom, educator, chocoholic, and Co-op member

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making Your Food Dollars Go Farther... without compromising your health

This week, we're beginning a series of healthy, good-tasting, easy, and inexpensive recipes that use ingredients that you can find at Mountain People's Co-op; many use ingredients that are grown or produced within our local region.

These recipes have been trial-run by Co-op member Julie Z. and taste-tested by her family of 4. Julie has gone a step farther and calculated the cost of each recipe, whole and per-serving, when the ingredients are purchased at the Co-op.


Baked Tofu
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari or shoyu)
1 minced clove garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 16-oz. package drained tofu, firm or extra firm
(use WV-made Spring Creek tofu for a local flavor!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Drain water from tofu. Wrap tofu in paper towels. Let set for about 5 minutes.

3. While tofu is draining, combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger and vegetable oil in a small bowl.

4. Slice tofu into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place tofu slices on foil lined baking sheet.

5. Pour soy sauce mixture over tofu. Using a spatula or pancake turner, gently turn slices over to coat both sides with sauce.

6. Bake tofu for 15 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for another 15 minutes. Tofu should be light golden brown and firm. Serve hot in place of meat or cut into slices or cubes and add to a stir-fry, fried rice, soup or salad.

Per Recipe: $ 2.13
Per Serving: $ 0.53

"I made this last week and it was quite yummy!"
-Julie Z., frugal mom

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Product Reviews: Tres Rios Chips, Yoder's Salsa, Moldzyme

I just tried the Tres Rios Blue Corn Chips from the Co-op. These chips are made from organic blue corn by Reyna Foods in Pittsburgh. They are on the shelf right behind the register. They are fantastic! They are super thin and therefore super crisp. They have just the right amount of salt on them--not too much, not too little. At $2.25/bag, EVERYONE who loves chips should give them a try. Be careful though, you might end up being addicted. Good thing we can get stuff by the case!

I also bought a jar of Yoder's Country Kettle medium salsa. I had this salsa at a class at the Co-op and really liked it. The unique thing about this salsa (besides it being fairly local--yay!) is its sweetness. I would not have labeled it medium. To me, a heat lover, it is merely mild. Even so, it has such a great flavor I'd buy it anyway. My kids all liked this salsa which is a coup in itself. It is great with the Tres Rios chips.

-Diane, Co-op member, mom, creative spirit

I wanted to get away from the harmful chemicals used to make vinyl, so when our old shower curtain became brittle and torn, I replaced it with a curtain made from hemp. Hemp is a sturdy fiber with natural anti-mildew properties, and, I admit it, I pushed it to its limits and pretty much abused it. After every shower, it dried out slowly in my humid, poorly-ventilated bathroom, and after several months of this treatment, it started to develop a mildew odor. I washed it with laundry detergent. No good. Washing soda. No help. Vinegar. Borax. Essential oils. None of the natural odor remedies I tried totally got rid of the pervasive mildew stink. Then one day, I saw Moldzyme natural mold and mildew remover at the Co-op, and I thought, why not give this a try before I resort to toxic chemicals or buying a new shower curtain? Moldzyme is made from water, coconut-based surfactants, naturally derived citric acid, and naturally occurring enzymes.

I sprayed my shower curtain generously with Moldzyme, and I was impressed with how quickly the mildew odor actually disappeared. Then I tried Moldzyme on a spot of mold on the wall by the kitchen sink. I had already scrubbed this spot with a natural kitchen cleaner, and it didn't do much, but after I let the Moldzyme sit on it for a few minutes, it wiped away with no problem.

To be honest with you, Moldzyme is a very effective product, but it isn't a miracle cure for every mold problem. The caulk around my kitchen sink is stained black from mold. I know I should just dig the old caulk out and put new in, but I would rather avoid that job if I can. So I sprayed the caulk with Moldzyme, waited, and scrubbed gently for about 30 seconds. This decreased the darkness of the stain, but it didn't get rid of it completely. Same thing happened around the bathtub - the surface mold got lighter, but there was still that buried mold underneath the caulk. Still, it saved me from feeling like I needed to replace the caulk right away. And it didn't put anything toxic next to the kitchen sink and tub!-Chris, Co-op Member

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Closer to Home

Mountain People's Co-op is continually striving to bring you products that are healthy for you and for the planet. Part of this mission is offering products that are made locally, and if a local alternative is not available, regionally. Foods produced closer to home require fewer fossil fuels to transport, and they support the local and regional economy. This week, our blog is showcasing two new regionally-made granolas: Antioxidant Superfruit Granola and Gluten-Free Vanilla Crunch. The gluten free granola is particularly significant. Specialty products such as this are more difficult to find, and we used to source our gluten-free granola from California, over 2,500 miles away. Our new granola is from Massachusetts: not exactly next door, but less than one-quarter the distance that our previous granola had to travel. Here is a review of these two granolas by one of our Co-op taste-testers:

Gluten-Free Vanilla Crunch
This granola is super crunchy thanks to cornflakes and (brown) rice krispies. It makes it very un-granola-like which is a good thing. It's a nice other option to have around. The raisins add chewiness but they're not so numerous that they're overwhelming. Three kinds of seeds add protein--sesame, sunflower and pumpkin. There is a nice vanilla flavor to this granola. I kept refilling my bowl and I'm already looking forward to breakfast when I can have more. I really liked this cereal; can you tell?

Antioxidant Superfruit Granola
This granola was very dense, due no doubt, to lots of really healthy whole grains. The density of the granola necessitates lots of chewing. It reminds me of muesili. A number of varieties of berries (including the power house gogi berry) offer antioxidant benefits. However, there is not a strong berry flavor (like there is in my personal favorite Blueberry/Flax granola from Mountain People's). If I were to guess, I'd guess that this one is healthier. But if I were to buy, and I plan on it, I'd go with the gluten free!

- Diane T, Co-op member, mom, creative spirit

Thursday, January 08, 2009

After the holidays, many of us feel the need to return to a simpler lifestyle that is easier on the pocketbook as well as the body. The foods we eat are an important part of this transition. Mountain People's Co-op's Featured Recipe, Winter Hearth Soup (see recipe below), embodies many of these ideals:
  1. Buy fewer processed foods, and discover the joy and satisfaction of cooking from scratch.
  2. Take advantage of dried foods; they are less expensive and also use less fossil fuel to transport than their liquid counterparts. For example, the organic vegetarian chicken-style broth used in this recipe is the dried powder from the Co-op's bulk cooking ingredients section; the amount used in this recipe costs only $3.20. The equivalent amount of organic vegetarian chicken-style broth in aseptic packs would cost about $5. Similarly, cooking dried chickpeas in your slow-cooker is much less expensive than buying pre-cooked beans in cans.
  3. Save money by buying in bulk. During tough economic times, it isn't necessary to forgo the luxury of herbs and spices in our daily cooking. Buying herbs from the Co-op's bulk jars allows you to buy only as much as you want, and it's much less expensive than buying herbs and spices in jars. Typically, the cost of one of the Co-op's organic dried herbs or spices will be anywhere from 10% - 50% of what you will pay to buy the equivalent product in bottles in the grocery store!
Winter Hearth Soup features a new addition to the Co-op bulk bins: kamut (pronounced ka-moot). Kamut is an ancient relative of wheat. When cooked, it looks like a giant wheat berry, or according to some of our younger taste testers, like a "little canoe". Kamut has a sweet, nutty flavor that lends a heartiness to soups, stews, pilafs, and breads. Nutritionally, kamut contains more high quality protein, unsaturated fatty acid, and minerals than wheat; a 1-cup serving contains 22% of the RDA of protein but only 250 calories. Kamut is also an excellent source of selenium, a trace mineral that helps to protect the body against damage from free radicals. The Co-op now carries both kamut berries and kamut flour. Look for them in the bulk section of the Co-op.

Winter Hearth Soup Recipe
2 c. cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)*
3/4 c. kamut berries, rinsed
2 c. boiling water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrot
1/2 c. chopped celery
4 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
9 Tbsp. organic chicken-style broth powder
7 c. water
2 dried bay leaves
1/3 c. dried lentils, rinsed
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 scant Tbsp. light miso

Place kamut in a heat-safe bowl, cover it with boiling water, and let it stand for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the soup.

In a stock pot, saute the onion, carrot, and celery in the olive oil until the onion begins to soften (about 10 minutes). Add the parsley, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, and garlic, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Combine the broth powder and water, then add to the stock pot along with the drained kamut and bay leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the lentils and pepper, then simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Add chickpeas, simmer several minutes until heated through. Remove a small amount of broth from the pot, whisk in the miso to dissolve, and return it to the pot. Serves 5.

Two Co-op member households met for the evening and taste tested this recipe, along with a salad and fresh loaves of walnut wheat bread and seven-grain bleu from our local artisan bakery, New Day Bakery. We all enjoyed it - what a fabulous meal!
*In a pinch, you can use a 15-oz can of cooked chickpeas. My family prefers the taste (and I prefer the economy and no exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cans) of dried chickpeas, cooked in a slow cooker all day: 3 cups rinsed chickpeas + 5 cups water.