By Joe Romano,
Mr. Natural! What does it all mean?
Mr. Natural: Don't mean sheeit...
Back in the sixties, when underground comics were in their heyday, a mystical guru named Mr. Natural was created by the counterculture comix artist R. Crumb. "Stick with me folks, I've got all the answers" ... "Heaven? Well, it's a little corny, if you ask me" ... "If you don't know by now, don't mess wit' it" — these were just a few of the stabs at insight made by the little bearded huckster. Chock-full of empty aphorisms, Mr. Natural was more hype than substance, more con man than wise man, exhorting his disciples to eat only his line of "Mr. Natural Brand Foods."
It seems he was onto something. When applied to food, the term natural is the perfect scam. It is wholly unregulated and devoid of meaning. The average consumer is not aware of the term's insignificance, equating it with organic, at least on some level.
And now, because the term natural is as dubious a guide to nutritional enlightenment as Mr. Natural himself, some courts have seen fit to protect the consumer.
According to CBS News, Kellogg's will stop using the labels "All Natural" or "Nothing Artificial" on Kashi products. The company will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was charged with misleading people with those phrases on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients.
By Tina Wright
Dairy farmers in central New York celebrate June as Dairy Month with parades and dairy promotions. This year, higher milk prices for dairy farmers and soaring demand for Greek-style yogurt should add some happy froth to their milkshakes. Moore Family Farm, an organic dairy farm in Lansing, will host an Organic Valley Farm Discovery Day on Saturday, June 21 from 11 am to 2 pm. The public is invited to meet the cows, see the pasture, and visit the family farm up-close and personal.
At GreenStar, shoppers have a wide choice of local and organic milk. In 2013, the dairy segment at GreenStar, which includes dairy, butter, and eggs (but not cheese), produced $587,575 in sales. Nearly two-thirds was locally sourced.
Organic Valley offers everything from organic whole milk to organic lactose-free milk. While Organic Valley is a national brand, most Organic Valley milk offered at GreenStar comes from local farms and is processed in local plants. And there is plenty of competition from local brands.
Lucienne Binkerd-Dale, the Grocery Assistant Manager in charge of the dairy department, said, "I've definitely seen in the last few years people wanting pasture [dairy products] and local. More people are going for the local milk. Ithaca Milk flies out of here." Formerly under the Meadow Creek label, Ithaca Milk is part of the Finger Lakes Farm group. They are bringing on new farms but can't keep up with demand for their un-homogenized "cream at the top" milk.
By Kristie Snyder
Crooked Carrot Community Supported Kitchen is no ordinary business, a fact that's reflected even in its name. When two of its co-founders, Johanna Brown and Silas Conroy, were developing the concept for a "community supported kitchen," something new to Ithaca, they also happened to be working at Stick and Stone Farm "washing thousands of pounds of carrots," Silas explained. They sorted out their favorite misfits, "and by the end we had an amazing collection of crooked carrots. That was the context in which we made the choice of name. As our business has grown, we've become fond of the perseverance metaphor embodied in the crooked carrot — a living thing meeting an obstacle and finding a way to keep growing."
When you set foot in Crooked Carrot's kitchen, currently located at Stick and Stone Farm in Ulysses, you'll immediately notice that the place smells amazing. Fresh flowers decorate the small, efficiently organized space, and quart-sized mason jars of spices line the shelves. Napa cabbages the size and shape of sleeping babies recline on a work table, ready to be transformed, via the magic of lacto-fermentation, into tasty kim chi. In a corner, 300 pounds each of sauerkraut and dilled green beans ferment in barrels.
The four owners of Crooked Carrot began their venture in 2011, and built their business somewhat in reverse. "It was always part of the vision to have our own farm, but we created the market first," said Silas. "There was already an abundant fresh food market in the area," added Johanna, "and we didn't want to directly compete." Thus, the venture began as a "Community Supported Kitchen," or CSK. Members of the Full Plate Farm Collective CSA could purchase Crooked Carrot shares as well, receiving weekly installments of prepared food meant to complement the CSA offerings — dressings, sauces, etc. — along with seasonal soups and other dishes, and lacto-fermented pickles. The raw ingredients were sourced from a variety of organic farms within 30 miles of Ithaca — Stick and Stone, Remembrance, and The Good Life Farms among them. Over time, the share has evolved to offer more ready-to-eat foods — and the pickles remain. A sample week's offering from October included a vegan or chicken Mole Taco Filling, Smoked Pepper Squash soup, Cilantro Black Beans, Tomatillo Salsa, and various pickled items. This past June, Crooked Carrot began wholesaling its pickled products to local suppliers, including GreenStar. You can also find Crooked Carrot's cooking at local festivals such as Chili Fest, and they offer catering services as well.
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New in Grocery
|Keep it Cool with Great Local Products|
Organic pizza in great new flavors? Yes, please! And check out local dryer balls and applesauce from two area farms.
Have you found Hudson Valley Flat Bread pizzas (83 percent or more organic) in our freezers? Look again: they're there at a lower price and in several new flavors (Roasted Goat cheese, anyone?). Next, from Fibers N Creations of Willseyville, NY, we've got dryer balls made from local hand-felted wool, an all-natural way to soften laundry and decrease drying time. (Lace them with drops of essential oil!) Think local for applesauce, too. We've just added one from Crooked Carrot Farms, straight outta Danby, made from a delicious mix of apple varieties and packed in a handsome 24-oz. jar. Then there's Black Diamond Farm applesauce from Trumansburg, which includes homegrown heirloom apples. Their pint-sized option has a great texture, and no sugar. In the sweetness department, we've added Madugno A4 maple syrup, family made and family run, from Deposit, NY. GreenStar is their first retailer outside of their own farm stand! Finally, beat Ithaca heat with an Ithaca innovation: Celia's Ice Pops come in awesome flavors (apple cider rosemary!).