From the GM—May 2018

Dear Karma Members,

It’s official. Spring has sprung! The local greens have started to make their way through our doors, and we’re looking forward to what’s to come. We’re patiently awaiting the fiddleheads and wild leeks. We’ll let you know as soon as they arrive!

I am very excited to share with you some very big news. Some of you know that retrofitting our bulk section has been a dream of mine since I started my work as General Manager. Well, this dream is coming true! In mid-June, Karma will be getting new bulk bins! New bins will increase the general aesthetics of the store, make better use of floor space, and keep products fresher, longer. It will also mean no more pre-bagging bulk in plastic bags!! You will be able to get all our bulk in your own receptacles in as little or as much as you like. This will also extend to our frozen bulk items such as wild blueberries and refrigerated bulk items, including parmesan cheese and hemp hearts. Increasing our unpackaged bulk selection will hopefully lead to increased sales in the department. I very much hope you will love the investment! I know the staff and I cannot wait.

In April, we wrapped up our social media campaign. A successful go for our first attempt! We are starting to see an increase in new shoppers who have found out about Karma through social media. Thank you to all the members who participated in sharing their Karma stories with us, and their beautiful faces. And a very, very big thank you to the member who covered the costs of hiring our social media consultant through a generous donation. This will most definitely benefit our co-op. THANK YOU!

Karma is now more energy efficient! We qualified for Toronto Hydro’s refrigeration retrofit program. We received night curtains for our produce display cooler, strip curtains for our walk-in coolers, and a new motor for our produce cooler!

In staffing news, Sierra and Cheyenne are leaving Karma to pursue work in their fields. We are so grateful to them for all of their energy and work that they brought to Karma. We will miss them both and wish them all the very best in whatever comes their way. Best of luck you two! You will be missed!

Prue and Christina are our newest staff members! Prue will be taking over the responsibilities of the HABA department. Welcome both!

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—December 2017

Dear Karma Members,

You know it’s the holidays at Karma when the Darn Tough socks arrive! And they have! As the holidays quickly approach, we are busy preparing for the festivities! We are busy ordering new products and deciding which items our members will enjoy throughout the season. You will be able to find all that you need for your holiday entertaining and, of course, great gift ideas!

To make your holiday shopping easier this year, we are offering our first ever assembled holiday gift bags! These bags feature some of our favourite products and come packaged in Karma totes and reusable bulk bags. You can even order online for quick pick up in store!

You’ll be happy to know that we are once again taking pre-orders for Southbrook Vineyards organic wines. Don’t forget that 10% of wine orders goes back to Karma! So stock up for your holiday entertaining at Karma!

After the positive feedback we received about the West End Food Co-op (WEFC) tourtières last year, we will be taking pre-orders again this year! Handmade in the WEFC kitchen, these traditional Québecois meat pies are made with grass-fed organic ground beef and pork from Hoffnung and Beretta Farms. You can order in store or by emailing me at manager@karmacoop.org.

Enjoy the holidays, Karma members!

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

Recognizing member contributions

Karma Co-op is made up of members who contribute their time, expertise, and passion for local food and products to make this community an open, vibrant, and knowledgeable food store for all of us.

Our members dedicate themselves to many parts of the co-op, including the array of committees we have that help Karma thrive. Some of our members have gone above and beyond, committing years of service on committees, showing leadership, and helping shape the community we have today.

In this e-Chronicle, we turn to our newsletter — The Chronicle — and extend our gratitude to long-serving members of this committee.

Karen Fliess
Karen first joined the Chronicle Committee in 2008, contributing articles and fulfilling the role of publisher and later communications manager, only recently retiring from her position in the spring of 2017. Many meetings were hosted in her home, where committee members shared food and enjoyed tea while reviewing past issues and discussing what stories would appear in the next newsletter. Karen also introduced us to other members through her column “In the aisle.” Individuals and couples were interviewed by Karen, explaining why they shopped at the co-op, what products were their favourites, and what improvements they would appreciate seeing at the store. We are very grateful to Karen for the leadership, order, and high standards she helped to set for our co-op’s newsletter and the many members she worked with on the Chronicle Committee.

Ellen Pauker
Ellen is a professional graphic designer and lent her valuable skills to The Chronicle for more than five years, taking numerous newsletters and transforming them into wonderfully designed co-operative publications. Any member of this committee can tell you this position is no easy task — fitting the articles and photos into the set number of pages, finding creative ways to lay out pages, and making edits, all in a condensed period of time. While Ellen has since retired from her position on the committee, we are very grateful for all the newsletters she designed for us. Thank you, Ellen!

Amy Stein
Amy has been an active editorial contributor, copy editor, proofreader, and content editor of The Chronicle for several years. Thanks to Amy, we’ve been introduced to some of the local farmers and producers of the special food available at the co-op. She is an excellent editor and helped polish many articles over the years. Amy also stepped up and helped engage the committee and membership in discussing the evolution of the newsletter from print to online. We want to thank Amy for these and so many other contributions she’s made to our community over the years. Amy moved on from the committee in the spring of 2017.

by Kate Rusnak

What to call an egg: a visit with the Howick Community Farmers

First published in The Chronicle (Spring 2016)

What do you want to know about the eggs you buy? This is no idle question. I set out to interview some of the people behind the Howick Community Farmers (HCF or Hoffnung) eggs; but they interviewed me, too.

HCF is a three-year-old partnership of farmers in an old-order Mennonite community near Wingham, created to share infrastructure (such as an egg grading station) and sell the combined output from their farms. Besides eggs, HCF sells certified organic flour from their new mill, certified organic maple syrup, pastured beef, ketchup, and more. Since their church community made the collective decision not to use any genetically modified inputs on their farms, the starting point for their egg branding is a clear non-GMO message. Beyond that, however, the labelling gets tricky. Each farm — there are roughly 15 delivering eggs to the grading station each Tuesday — is different. Most of them have flocks of up to 100 laying hens, the maximum allowable number without buying quota. Two farms were grandfathered when quota rules took effect, so are allowed 500 hens. Together, they sell over 15,000 eggs per week. On the day I visited, they were about to print new labels for their pastured organic eggs, while keeping the original label for the conventional eggs. They wanted to hear my perspective on wording, as a city-based consumer.

Organically fed. Elias Brubacher grows organic chicken feed, which most of the other egg producers buy from him. They also buy certified organic mineral supplements, even though the eggs are not certified organic.

Pastured. The hens are on pasture in warm months, with access to pasture in winter. Access does not mean the hens want to go outside – chickens will brave the cold, but they don’t like to walk in snow. At Adam Brubacher’s farm, the hens range freely around the property (he says foxes got quite a few this year), while Elias’s flock of 500 birds is enclosed in the barn beside other livestock when I arrive. Some hens surge outside when Elias opens the doors, but most are content to hang out at the feeders inside the airy barn. Patches of snow keep any from venturing far beyond the doorway.

 

Small flocks. If you do not think of 500 as a small flock, consider that industrial egg producers jam tens of thousands of hens into windowless barns. Last month, Elias’s hens did start pecking each other. (Henpecking can occur even in backyard flocks, but is exacerbated in enclosed space.) He and some helpers clamped little pieces of plastic in front of each hen’s eyes, eliminating aggressive behaviour by preventing them from seeing directly ahead. It feels surreal to walk among the hundreds of active, curious birds … all seemingly decked out in bright red and yellow sunglasses.

 

Harvested forage in winter. After detailed discussion, I am certain that most consumers do not know its significance or meaning (preserved greens, for high nutrient quality in eggs). Adam notes that the amount of harvested forage they get varies across farms, which concerns him even though it is not a focus of consumers.

Quality and integrity are paramount. For example, Adam tells me that one of the farms does not offer enough pasture to sell its eggs under the new pastured organic label. It’s a good-sized barnyard, but he feels there is not enough grass for the size of the flock. Adam has also run experiments to improve yolk quality, which is how they determined that sunlight in winter is a key factor.

As we talk, it becomes clear that Adam is a driving force behind HCF. He is not just working to build the customer base for their farm products, he is working to persuade all the other farmers in his community of the benefits – and the viability – of farming organically. Understanding what their customers value is not just a marketing exercise, it’s part of the mission.

 

by Amy Stein

From the GM — August 2017

Dear Karma Members,

We hope you are enjoying the summer! As people are enjoying vacations and cottages, things tend to slow down here at the store and we experience our usual summer sales slump. That said, we still have lots of exciting things happening around the store for those of you who are staycationing and enjoying the Toronto summer!

We have some great workshops this month, including a repeat of last month’s DIY Sunscreen (back by popular demand) and How to Home Brew! Also, the growing is in full swing, so we are fully stocked with the freshest local produce of the season.

Enjoy!
Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

Meals on a budget: a day in the life

 

The challenge: to produce healthy meals on a tight budget, using all-Karma ingredients

Breakfast: super morning oats

Total cost per serving: $1.38
Prep. time: 12 minutes
Ingredients (for one serving):

½ cup bulk organic rolled oats — $0.16
Small handful of bulk organic nuts/seeds (e.g. walnuts, filberts, pumpkin seeds) — $0.57
Small handful of bulk organic black currants — $0.15
Drizzle of bulk Temple’s Sugar Bush maple syrup — $0.20
Sprinkle of bulk ground cinnamon — $0.05
Splash of milk (of your choice — ours is Hewitt’s goat milk) or yogurt — $0.25

Directions:

1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add oats, smallest pinch of salt. Stir. Reduce to medium heat.
2. Immediately add the nuts/seeds and currants. Stir.
3. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the syrup, cinnamon, and milk/yogurt.

Lunch: Karma-style instant ramen noodle soup

Total cost per serving: $4.07 with kimchi ($3.82 without)
Prep. time: 8 min.

Ingredients (for one serving):

1 package Lotus Foods Jade Green Ramen — $2.49
1 small bok choy (or ½ large bok choy) — $0.75
1 Homestead free-range egg — $0.58
(optional) 1 tbsp. Ontario Natural Food Co-op Organic Kimchi Style Sauerkraut — $0.25

Directions:

1. Follow directions on package to make ramen.
2. While ramen noodles are cooking, boil the egg in a separate pot until medium soft.
3. Break apart bok choy and slice leaves lengthwise. Add to water when ramen noodles are halfway done.
4. Serve in your favourite soup bowl. Add boiled egg and (optional) kimchi.

Dinner: fish on kale and squash

Total cost per serving: $5.23
Prep. time: 50 min.

Ingredients (for four servings):

1 Kabocha squash or 2 small acorn squash — $3.00
1 bunch organic kale — $3.50
2 small portions frozen wild caught salmon — $13.14
Zest of 1 lemon — $0.50
Sprinkle of dill — $0.15
(optional) 1-2 tsp. coconut sugar or maple syrup — $0.10
Olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Chop squash in half. Drizzle olive oil inside squash and on pan. Place halves upside down on pan. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove cooked squash from skin and mash with a fork. Add optional toppings.
3. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Blanche chopped kale in water for 3–4 minutes. Remove kale and rinse under cold water.
4. Place thawed fish in a pan with a little olive oil. Cook fish on low-medium heat with lid on. Add lemon zest and sprinkle dill to taste. When internal temp is 70°C (158°F), it’s ready. Cut each cooked portion of fish in half. Check for bones.
5. First plate the squash, and then the kale, and lastly place the fish on top. It looks pretty and tastes good!

by Kate Tessier

First published in The Chronicle (Spring 2016)

From the GM — July 2017

Dear Karma Members,

Thank you to all who helped us celebrate our 45th anniversary; it was an uplifting and energizing day filled with great company, food, and drink. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!

I would like to say a very big thank you to the sponsors who made our day extra special. Thanks to: Acropolis Organics, AllYum Onion Chips, Auggie’s Pops, Black River Juices, Dale Wilson, Laneway Project, Montforte Dairy, Neal Brothers, ONFC, Pfennings Organics, Southbrook Vineyards, Sunflower Kitchen, Sweets From the Earth, TWB Brewing Co-operative, Urbane Cyclist, and Zara’s Kitchen. Our connections with all of our suppliers have very deep roots, and we’re so grateful for your work and for sharing your products with us over the years.

Also a very big thank you to the Planning Committee and all of the members and staff who helped on the day of. Our 45th anniversary celebration would not have been possible without all of you and your devotion.

I also want to acknowledge Richard Haney, Karma’s founding President, for making the trek to Toronto from Ottawa. It was wonderful to hear his stories of our early years as an organization. It was such a pleasure to have you Richard!

For those of you who weren’t able to join us, don’t worry, we’ll see you at the 50th, if not before!

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM — June 2017

Dear Karma Members,

It’s time to celebrate! If you haven’t already heard, Karma turned 45 on May 16 and we’re having a party to mark our co-op’s milestone! The big day is set for Saturday, June 24 from 2 to 6 pm in our parking lot and along Karma Lane. There are lots of fun activities scheduled and lots of great food and drink to be enjoyed. It is sure to be a great time! We hope you can join us to celebrate 45 years of co-operative action and sustainable food in our community!

In addition to the 45th celebrations, there are lots of other events happening around the store in June. Please see the events listings for more details on the 45th and other events.

Later this month we will be saying a temporary goodbye to Health and Beauty Buyer, Kat Camfield as she embarks on a one-year journey to Victoria, BC. We will miss Kat’s unwavering positivity, compassion, and cheery self. Best of luck to you Kat! We hope the year ahead has many great things in store for you. We look forward to having you back!

Yours co-operatively,
Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

Karma’s New e-Newsletter and Blog

We’re joining forces! Over the past several months, members of our co-op’s board and Chronicle Committee have been working on combining our member e-newsletter with the great content from our printed newsletter, The Chronicle. What you’ve received today is the result of this work: a monthly e-newsletter called the “e-Chronicle.” The e-Chronicle merges the monthly content you’re used to receiving from the board with the more in-depth features and articles found in The Chronicle.

What this means is fewer emails coming to your inbox (combining content means we’ve been able to eliminate emails about the quarterly Chronicle newsletter). It also means more timely access to the content fellow members are researching and writing. We’re embracing digital communications in more ways than one.

As part of this launch, we’re excited to share Karma Co-op’s new blogging section with you. All of the articles in the e-newsletter will also appear on Karma’s website. Content will be posted as soon as it’s ready and will be promoted via the co-op’s social media sites.

Our e-newsletter is meant to be accessible to the public and will be managed by the Chronicle Committee. If you have a story for the e-Chronicle, blog, and/or print Chronicle, you can send it to chronicle@karmacoop.org. Guidelines for submissions are available on our website.

We hope you enjoy the updates and encourage you to share your feedback with the Chronicle Committee.

Kate Rusnak, on behalf of the Karma Co-op Board of Directors