Report on the AGM from the Karma Board of Directors

Thank you, everyone, who planned and participated in Karma’s first-ever virtual AGM.It was a surprising success—81 Karma members registered and 53 participated! Next year, we hope to build on this success, integrating zoom for our 2021 AGM as either a hybrid meeting if we can meet or virtual again. Thank you, Kitty Choi, Karma friend and Zoom IT expert, Kristy van Beek, our President and meeting organizer extraordinaire, and Howard Kaplan, IT specialist and our vote-vetting program designer who ensured our elections’ legitimacy. Also, thank you, to our excellent Corporate Secretary, Jim O’Reilly for coordinating the many submissions, preparing the complete AGM package, and making sure it was available in print format for pickup at Karma. 


To summarize, we began by receiving the reports from our President, Kristy van Beek, who summarized the board’s efforts in the last year, and General Manager, Talia McGuire, who provided a more detailed report covering operational projects and changes such as the laneway mural project and moving to a more convenient online bill payment system just before the pandemic arrived.  Our auditor, Kriens-Larose, presented Karma’s Financial Statements, and we had a $44,191 surplus for the fiscal year June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, as we benefitted from the early pandemic shopping waves. 

Our newly acclaimed 2-year term board members are Gillian Kranias, Charlie Lior, Libby Mills, Judy Skinner, and Caitlin Smith. Our newly acclaimed 1-year term board member is Kristy van Beek, who joins continuing board members Andrea Dawber, Mandy Hindle, Tristan Laing and Lev Jaeger as they complete their second year on the board. The Anti-Oppression Statement and Product Policy were both accepted overwhelmingly by the membership after discussion. Caitlin Smith presented the Donation Program and Donation Policy, and Andrea Dawber provided an overview of updates to our Privacy Policy that ensure we adhere to the Donor Bill of Rights.

View the 2020 AGM Draft Minutes here. Please send any comments to Jim O’Reilly, Corporate Secretary, at secretary@karmacoop.org .

Next steps for our 2020-21 board: On November 5, 2020 Karma’s 2019-20 board met with the 2020-21 for a one-hour meet and greet, answering questions about executive roles, time commitments, and introducing some of the strategic projects for the year ahead. On November 14, 2020, Karma’s 2019-20 board will provide an orientation and training for our 2020-21 board members with the aim of improving our board succession and transition to better support incoming board members and management. On this day, we will elect our executive positions, determine the committee liaisons, and dig into some of the strategic projects, prioritizing the most pressing needs.

The Perfect Hummus

by Amelia Bailey

Photo by Nicholas Barbaros on Unsplash

Ahhh, Hummus. A seemingly simple dish, and yet that perfect balance of acidity, earthiness and creamy texture eludes me!

Finally, I’ve found the perfect hummus recipe with one secret ingredient: baking soda. It is SO simple, and the results are perfect. Thank you Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi and your cookbook Jerusalem!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas

1 teaspoon baking soda

6 1/2 cups water1 cup plus

2 tablespoons tahini (light roast)

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, crushed

6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water

1 pinch salt, to taste

1 dash good-quality olive oil, to serve (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Put chickpeas in a bowl with cold water at least twice their volume. Soak overnight.

2. Drain chickpeas. Place dried chickpeas and baking soda in medium saucepan over high heat. Fry for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and skim off any foam. Let cook for about 20-40 minutes, until chickpeas are very tender, break up easily when pressed, but not completely mushy. I cook my Karma chickpeas for only 20 minutes and they’re ready!

3. Drain chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups cooked chickpeas. Place chickpeas in food processor until it forms a stiff paste. With machine still running, add tahini, lemon, garlic, and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Slowly drizzle icewater and let mix for about 5 minutes, until creamy. 

4. Let sit for about 30 minutes before serving. I like my hummus roiom temperature, so if storing in the fridge, take out 30 minutes ahead of time. Can be topped with olive oil, roasted pine nuts, cumin, paprika, and extra chickpeas. 

Getting choosy about cheese

by Jennifer Knoch

My friend recently announced his attention to switch to a plant-based diet, with one exception . . . cheese. And I both applaud the intention and understand the exception, because how can a bunch of old milk taste so good?

Cheese has a higher environmental price tag because it takes a LOT of milk to make it — ten pounds of milk to make one pound of hard cheese, on average. That means a lot of animals, usually cows, who need a lot of land, water, and feed to raise, plus they produce methane, a greenhouse gas up to over 20 times as powerful as CO2. The dairy industry is working on carbon-cutting strategies, such as adjusting cows’ diets and installing methane digesters, but unless they remove the cow from the equation, cheese is still likely to be a carbon heavyweight. 

The biggest way to reduce your cheese impact is, of course, to eat less of it, but are there any rules of thumb to make indulging a little gentler on the planet? Absolutely.

Softer cheese > harder cheese

Lovers of brie, rejoice! Soft cheeses require less milk, which means they have a lower climate impact. They also don’t have to be aged, which involves storage at a climate-controlled temperature for months or even years. Dairy researcher Steve Zeng named feta the most climate-friendly cheese, but goat cheese, brie, camembert, and even mozzarella get a pass.

Is one animal really baaaaaaad?

Does it matter what kind of animal made the milk? Not really. Cows need the most feed and make the most methane, but they also produce a lot more milk than sheep or goats. Sheep may be even gassier than cows for the amount of milk they produce.

Support a local producer.

A local producer doesn’t automatically have a smaller footprint, but they may manage animals more responsibly and humanely. You’ll also do some good by supporting a local business. My favourite local cheese is Montforte Dairy’s Waltzing Matilda.

Try a vegan cheese replacement.

There are now a range of vegan cheese options, from an everyday replacement like Daiya or fancy artisanal cashew cheese like Culcherd that certainly wouldn’t look out of place on a rustic wood plank. For a dash of cheesy flavour (and bonus B vitamins), I integrate nutritional yeast (Karma has it in bulk) into some recipes, like one of my top salad dressings.

Store it properly.

Now that we know how precious cheese is, don’t let it go to waste! I’ve been known to cut off mouldly parts of a hard cheese and carry on eating it, and the Mayo Clinic backs this strategy if you cut away one inch around the mould. (Eating mouldy soft cheese is widely considered a no-no.) Ideally store it in a designated cheese drawer in your fridge, but certainly don’t store it in the door, as I used to. Storing it in plastic isn’t great — ideally rewrap in beeswax wraps or parchment (which you can reuse).

Another AGM… report from the General Manager

Photo by Isabella and Louisa Fischer on Unsplash

Another AGM down in the history books! Our 48th and first ever virtual AGM was a great success thanks to the hard work of the Board of Directors. Special thanks to Kristy van Beek for leading the charge and ensuring a smooth AGM. Also, a very big thank you to Kitty Choi who volunteered her time to help us with the technical aspects of leading a virtual AGM, and to Howard Kaplan for ensuring our voting process was fair and accurate. With over 50 participants, it was the best attended AGM I have seen in all of my 8 years as General Manager! It was great to see so many of you, some of whom I haven’t seen since the pandemic started. 

I would like to say a very big thank you to the 2019-2020 Board of Directors who worked so hard over their terms.  We had some some big things to work through this year and they did so as a cohesive team.  The hours needed to be on the Board can be a sacrifice, and this year was no exception. Thank you all for your energy and love for Karma. It was a pleasure to have been able to work with you all! I’d also like to welcome the new Karma Board! Once again, we have a full complement of directors!  I look forward to working with you all. 

One important item that was noted at the AGM is the low member recruitment we’ve started this year off with. This was largely due to the temporary suspension of accepting trial shoppers and new members at the beginning of the pandemic. It is something we will need to work hard at this year. One thing that can help us bring new folks to the store would be through social media. If you are in the store, or at home and want to share something you love about Karma, please mention us in your social posts and we will be able to re-share your content with our audiences. Instagram stories in particular are great ways to increase our audience and member base. 

We’ve been busy at the store keeping up with increased sales and trying to keep things moving forward. Very soon we will be getting a new and improved set up for our bulk cleaner department. I know this has been a very user unfriendly section of our store, so I am excited to improve it so it is easier and tidier for you to get your cleaners in bulk.  We have also been working hard on the online store set up, though the process has been slow moving. 

We will be adapting our hand washing station and door duty shifts to consider the colder temperatures. Don’t worry! As a member on door duty, we won’t make you sit out in the cold! We also won’t make you wash your hands with freezing cold water either. We’re waiting on an order of hand sanitizer to arrive at which point, we will dismantle our hand washing station. 

I hope you all have a wonderful November, and I hope to see you around the store. Don’t forget to try some new apple varieties! There are some goodies to be had there! 

Be well Karma members!

Talia

Photo: Lauren Kolyn @laurenkolyn_studio

What I’ve Gained as a Young Professional Sitting on Co-op Boards

by Kristy vanBeek, Karma Co-op President

In December 2013, I moved into a housing co-op in the heart of downtown Toronto. At the time, I was a busy consultative business to business sales professional, and I was very grateful for the privilege of a coveted spot in a housing co-operative downtown Toronto. At the time, I knew very little about cooperatives, their history, or how they were organized. I heard that it was a duty of the members to attend each Annual General Meeting, and so I did. I loved being tapped into my community, and the opportunity to meet and greet with my neighbours and fellow co-opers. 

Early on I was encouraged to run for the board, and initially I couldn’t commit the time. I finally ran in 2016, and have been on an intensive learning curve ever since, having served in roles ranging from director at large, to staff liaison, to vice-president, and president. It’s incredible to reflect on what I have learned in the past four years, and to look ahead to see how this experience might shape my future, both personally and professionally. 

As with many not-for-profit organizations, co-operative organizations are run by a dedicated group of volunteers who govern the co-op, and are responsible for setting policy and developing a strategic plan. By devoting time to volunteer opportunities on boards, I have received valuable training and practice in governance and the role of boards, reviewing financial reports, budgeting and financial planning, understanding the various considerations to maintaining capital assets, understanding risk and legal liabilities, marketing and communications, and human resources. Although I had some experience in these areas coming into this experience, it can be rare to get the opportunity to have oversight of all areas of a business within a work environment, unless you are a director already or an entrepreneur. The beauty of working within a strong team of directors is that you don’t have to be an expert in all areas – we are a team and we work together to find the right path for the organization. 

By far the best thing about participating in the board at Karma is the people. I have met so many incredible individuals who dedicate time to this amazing gem of a co-op, and I am continually impressed and amazed by the community within Karma. 

I encourage any members wishing to expand their professional repertoire to get involved with Karma! We will welcome you with open arms, and look forward to having new ideas at our next onboarding happening Saturday, November 14th. 

Bring on the Squash!

by Karma’s General Manager, Talia McGuire

As the growing season comes to an end, we are welcoming all of fall’s bounty! Conversations about the countless types of squash and apples available are frequently heard at cash. Carnival or Sunspot? Akane or Freedom? The produce display is such a beautiful sight these days, it’s hard to hold back on your produce purchases.  Bring on the squash I say! 

October is the month of our Annual General Meeting, where a new Board of Directors takes their place to lead the co-op into the next year. I would like to say a very big thank you to the current board who has seen us through the challenges of the year. They were an amazing bunch to work with and we accomplished so much! The co-op has been very lucky to have every single one of you. Thank you for all for your dedication and relentless energy you’ve brought to the co-op.  I will miss you. To the new Board I say, “Welcome!”.  I look forward to working with you!

In store news, we were very happy to welcome Karina to the team earlier this month. Welcome Karina! We are looking very forward to working with you! In other store news, our new and improved website is now live! Thanks to the immense work of Neil Joyes, we now have an improved site that is much more user friendly, and it’s mobile friendly! Thank you Neill!

As recommendations are now suggesting we limit contact only to those we live with, our Thanksgiving rituals are going to look a lot different this year. However you are spending the day, I want to wish you all a very happy long weekend filled with good food and loved ones. Take good care Karma members. ❤️

In co-operation,

Talia McGuire

Seed Saving and the New Karma Seed Library!

Maybe you’re a seasoned gardener, or maybe you got caught up in the spring’s fever that made seeds sales skyrocket and the supply get a little scarce. Next year will likely be a little less intense, but in any case it’s easy to save seed for next year’s sowing — with lots to spare. Plants offer a kind of mind-boggling generosity and hold the potential for a future that is more abundant than the present — a welcome narrative in tough times.  

Next spring, we’ll offer a Karma seed library for members, where you can “borrow” seeds for free in the early spring and return more saved seed in the fall. If you’d like to contribute to the Karma Seed Library, drop off any seeds you’d like to share in the marked box underneath the members’ table. Make sure they’re labelled with the variety and the date they were saved. If you’d like to package them individually, that’s helpful (I fold these easy origami envelopes) but not strictly necessary.  

If you’re new to seed saving, a few general principles apply: 

  • Always pick a large, ripe (even overripe) fruit from a healthy plant. 
  • Only save seed from heirloom or open-pollinated plants: hybrid (or F1) varieties don’t reproduce faithfully. (Check your seed package or google the name of your plant to check.) 
  • It’s useful to pop newly harvested seeds in the freezer for a couple of days to kill off any diseases or stowaway insects. 
  • Label every seed variety as you collect it. You think you’ll remember, but if you’re like me you often forget how forgetful you are. 
  • Only store seeds that are fully dry, and store them in a cool place. 

Here are a few seeds you could be saving right now: 

  • Beans: Some of the easiest seed to save! Allow the pod to mature then dry out on the vine. When the dried pods rattle, bring them in, and remove seeds from pods. (Follow the same process for peas, sweet peas, and morning glories.)
  • Annual herbs: Dill and coriander produce flowers that turn to sprays of seeds. When they dry out, harvest and crumble off the seeds. Basil seeds are can be shaken out of mature flowers left to dry. Once flowers are starting to dry out, try cutting the flowers and finish the drying in a paper bag.  
  • Peppers: Remove the seeds from the pepper, then put them in a jar and add water. Skim off any floating seeds, then drain and spread the seeds on a plate or (ideally) a screen to dry. (This also works for zucchini, squash, melons, and pumpkin seeds, which benefit from being overripe.)
  • Tomatoes: These seeds are surrounded by a gelatinous sac, which means we need an extra step to break it down: scoop the seeds and all their gloop into a jar and add a little water. Cover with parchment paper or a loose lid. Let the mixture get nice and mouldy over two to five days. At that point, hold your breath (it doesn’t smell great), remove any floating seeds in with the mould, rinse the remaining seeds, and lay on a plate to dry. (This is also how you save cucumber and cucamelon seeds. Choose cucumbers that are hard and yellow — long past when you’d want to eat them.) 
  • Flower seeds: Right now there are lots of common flower seeds available to harvest: cut the head off a sunflower that’s formed seed (if the squirrels haven’t done it for you), scout the pale green brain-like nasturtium seeds beneath plants, pull off the closed fists of calendula seed heads or the spiky balls of cosmos once they’re dry. 

Saving seed is a great way to promote food security, preserve diversity, share with your community, and all the hopefulness of spring in mind. 

Questions about the Karma Seed Library? Email Jen! 

October Report from the Board of Directors

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I wish to extend my warm and heart-felt appreciations to every one of you for contributing to the amazing success of our food co-op during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a massive co-operative effort by staff, board, members, and community to navigate so many changes, so quickly, and in the midst of so much uncertainty during the past six months. 

Every aspect of Karma’s operations has evolved during the crisis, and we have accomplished so much together—even while remaining safely apart. As an organization and as a community, we have consistently demonstrated our tenacity, creativity, resilience, caring, and capacity to achieve more than any of us would have imagined before the pandemic.

I am especially grateful to my fellow Board members for their dedication and hard-work this past year, and to our ever-present General Manager, Talia McGuire, who has shouldered so much of the necessary logistics and problem-solving to transform our operations.  As a continuing member of Karma’s 2020-21 Board, I am excited to see what we can accomplish together in the year ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving celebrations to you and your family, Karma friends!

Favourite traditional pumpkin pie or pudding recipe

  1. Steam one 2+ pound organic pie pumpkin with skin on till soft to touch with fork, or toss peeled, seeded pumpkin pieces in a bowl with quarter cup of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of white sugar, then roast on a baking sheet for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees till tender and caramelized.
  2. Blend steamed or roasted pumpkin till smooth. I keep the skin on steamed pumpkin for deeper colour.
  3. Set aside to cool. 
  4. If making pie, prepare the pastry while the pumpkin steams or roasts. I like all butter or half shortening-half butter pie crusts. Always pre-bake or blind bake the crust for custard pies to prevent a soggy bottom. Covering the raw pastry once fitted in the pie plate with an egg wash will moisture-seal the crust.  I recommend setting aside some pastry scraps for patching up the cracks or gaps as the baked crust shrinks, and this will prevent the pumpkin filling from leaking when it is added to the shell.
  5. Blend the following filling ingredients till mixture is consistent:

1.5 cups of pureed pumpkin, cooled

1 cup whipping cream

3 eggs

Half cup of brown sugar 

1-2 tablespoon of molasses (only with steamed pumpkin)

1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Quarter teaspoon of nutmeg

1 pinch of cloves

2 pinches of sea salt

1-2 tablespoons of brandy, optional

  1. Fill 9-inch pre-baked pie shell with pumpkin filling, and bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees or till pie is firm to touch but jiggles a little when moved.
  2. Alternately for pumpkin pudding, bake pie filling in greased glass dish till similarly firm but a bit jiggly when moved.
  3. Set pie or pudding on counter to cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.