Provender Alliance conference and Co-op Month

I’ve had a busy last month or so, and haven’t been able to demo any recipes for the last five weeks, so I thought I’d update you on what’s been going on with me and with our co-op!

Smoke plume from the Hood River fire in September. © Melissa Elkins 2012

The Co-op is a dedicated member of the Provender Alliance, a group of natural food distributors, manufacturers, co-ops, and natural food stores in the Western Corridor (WA, OR, CA, ID, and MT) interested in networking, education, and inspiring their communities.  I was asked to serve as the Conference Kitchen Liaison for this year’s annual conference (held Sept 26th – 28th in Hood River, OR) and it was a fantastic experience.  The Best Western Hood River Inn hosted us, and it was my job to secure the donations of ingredients that their talented Chef and kitchen staff turned into delicious meals for conference attendees.  The hotel is unique in that they allow us to create the menu with them and source our own ingredients, and they were able to accommodate meals for just about everyone by offering gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options at every meal.

There was a forest fire 2 miles from the hotel during the conference – this is the view of the smoky haze from outside my room! The view is of the Columbia River, with WA on the left and OR on the right. © Melissa Elkins 2012

While my main focus was the food, I did get to attend some of the fantastic workshops offered as well as attend the amazing (and slightly scary – check out the links to see what I mean!) keynote addresses given by Maude Barlow from Food and Water Watch (if you drink water, you should watch her in the movie FLOW, which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it) and Matthew Dillon of Seed Matters.  Both of these individuals are doing incredible work in raising awareness and fighting for two vital issues that impact our entire planet and should be on the forefront of everyone’s minds – access to fresh, clean water and access to organic seeds.

Happy customers! © Community Food Co-op 2012

On another note, October 1st marked the start of National Co-op Month (as well as Non-GMO month, and Organic Harvest Month), and we always have fun things going on to celebrate – unfortunately I was on a two-week vacation so I didn’t get to be here for the festivities.  We held two owner appreciation days earlier this month (one at each store) where we had food demos, giveaways, and a raffle for great prizes.  Both were a great success, and are a fun way for us to say thank you to all of our owners.

© Community Food Co-op 2012

We also co-sponsored showings of In Organic We Trust at the Pickford Film Center on October 22nd and Shift Change (also at the Pickford, and the filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions after the showing) coming up on November 3rd.  We held a plant pot collection day as well, where customers brought in their used pots to be recycled/reused by a local farm (see the photo on our Facebook page).  All in all, we’ve had a great month appreciating staff and owners for all that they enable us to do for our community.

Wynne Marks, Cordata Produce Manager, sampling local apples for customers during Owner Appreciation Day this month. © Community Food Co-op 2012

Next week I’ll be back to blogging about recipes…stay tuned!

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