Beans for Bags

IMG_5956When you bring a reusable shopping bag to the Co-op you’re doing something really cool not only for our entire planet but for our community as well.  The Co-op takes the money (a nickel) that we would have spent on a bag and gives it to a local non-profit.  A token representing the nickel is a bean.  A cashier will give you a bean for each reusable bag you use and you get to drop it in a jar of your choice representing one of three local charities.

We totally have really nice paper bags for anyone to use, but Beans for Bags offers a fun incentive for reusable bags that fund some important programs.

Recipients January-March 2017:

Lower Columbia Q Center’s mission is to be a safe and welcoming resource and support service to the LGBT community, friends, families, and allies of the lower Columbia Region.

Columbia Senior Diners is a nonprofit struggling to make ends meet.  It provides low cost lunches at the Astoria Senior Center.  Seniors who cannot join others in the dining area can have meals delivered to their homes.

Astoria High School Orchestra is planning an educational trip to Disneyland.  The student musicians would have an opportunity to play their instruments as an ensemble for critique and add the music in the final performance to animation.

Click here for an application to become a Beans for Bags recipient.  The Co-op Board of Directors will select new recipients for the final quarter of this year.

Local Organic Cranberry Juice Tasting at the Co-op

Photo by Giles ClementPhoto by Giles Clement

The farmers of Washington state’s first and only certified organic cranberry farm will be sampling out their juice at the Co-op on the first day of our Spring 2015 Owner Appreciation Week.  Stop by the store and try some on Sunday May 10 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Starvation Alley encompasses a total of 10 acres in Seaview Washington and Long Beach. Jared Oakes and Jessika Tantisook took over the farm where Oakes grew up in 2010. They wanted to farm cranberries organically, but were told by farmers and other experts that it wasn’t possible. They explored that assumption and eventually gained organic certification for their farm.
“It is hard, especially in the beginning because we didn’t have any support. If you want to learn to grow organic apples you could probably find enough stuff on line, call universities, or get advice from professionals. That wasn’t available for cranberries. As new farmers transitioning to organic we lost a lot of production for the first two years, hence the value added products,” Tantisook said.

cranberry juice

Starvation Alley created a brand of juice that attracted the attention of the emerging craft cocktail industry. The farmers sell their product to 70 accounts, mostly bars in Portland and Seattle. They sell their juice and cranberries at farmers markets and locally at Astoria Co-op. The juice is raw, unsweetened and undiluted cranberries. It is not heated or pasteurized which Tantisook says enhances the health benefits and taste.

Starvation Alley Farms is building its research database with a goal of spreading sustainable farming and educating consumers about the food system and the importance of supporting local farmers. They are working with two other cranberry growers on the Long Beach Peninsula to transition to organic certification. There are currently only about 300 acres of organic cranberry farms in the U.S. out of 39,000 total acres of producing cranberry bogs.

Spring Farm to Fork Dinner


The Chef. Marco Davis!

Thanks so much for the enthusiasm for local food, Folks!  The event is sold out.

When: Wednesday June 3 at 6 p.m.

Where: Columbia Center Coho Room 2021 Marine Drive Astoria, OR 97103

Event Details:

Some of the first local food crops of the season will be the highlight of a Farm to Fork Demonstration Cooking Class & Dinner in June. Astoria Co-op Grocery, Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Nutritional Department, and Chef Marco Davis have been working together to do a series of these local food events, in an effort to inspire people to eat fresh and healthy foods, with an emphasis on seasonal vegetables. And this time the class will be offered at a new lower price. In the past the cost was $50 and now it is being offered for $35 each or two for $60.

“This is an amazing deal for such a high quality four course meal and wine pairings plus cooking instruction, but we’re going to try and work within a slightly smaller budget this time, because we want to make this accessible for everyone. It is our desire to expose as many people as we can to healthy foods through this event,” Astoria Co-op Grocery Marketing Director Zetty Nemlowill said.


Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Nutrition Services Manager Vann Lovett echoes this desire to connect food, health and the community.

“Good food is so essential to health and well-being. We are excited to have another opportunity to collaborate with the Co-op in providing education to help build a healthy community,” Lovett said.

The Co-op will use its relationships with local farmers and other vendors to provide local and organic ingredients. Foods are harvested just before the class and the menu is designed based on what’s freshest and in season. Chef Marco is currently reaching out to local farmers to see what will be available. He says he will for sure be doing a rhubarb and strawberry dessert. He’s been experimenting with a new recipe for kale pesto, and he’s hoping that salmon will be plentiful. All of Chef Marco’s Farm to Fork dinners just so happen to be gluten free meals. Chef Marco will provide recipes and explain his cooking process as he prepares dinner before your eyes. Many of the growers will also be guests of the dinner, providing information about their farms and the food.



Beans for Bags

FullSizeRender(50)“Beans for Bags” is a popular donation program we’ve seen at several food co-ops and we’re going to give it a try! The aim is to encourage conservation of disposable bags by offering customers a dried bean in exchange for bringing in their own shopping bag; one bean is given for each bag used. The bean represents 5¢, and customers may choose which one of three community organizations they would like to support with their bean.

Shoppers simply place their bean(s) in the slot(s) of their choice in jars located in the store. At the end of each quarter the beans will be counted and each of the organizations will receive a check proportionate to the number of beans they received in their jar.

Current Recipients:

This fall when you bring a reusable shopping bag to the Co-op, you’ll be helping the planet, and supporting some great community causes.

North Coast Watershed: supporting a goal to improve stream habitat to create a sustainable environment for salmon and people.

Camp Kiwanilong: general maintenance, replacing bunk beds, and replacing cabins.

Clatsop Animal Assistance: veterinary care including spay and neuter fees, pet adoption promotion, and any other needs not covered by the Clatsop County Animal Shelter’s budget.

Apply to Become a Recipient:

Community organizations can apply to become recipients of funds and they will be selected by the Co-op Board quarterly.  Click here for an application.

We will update you with how the program is going and hopefully we can all share in the success by turning reusable shopping bags into money for worthy causes, diverting landfill waste, and conserving trees.

Our Parking Lot Gardener at May Lecture

034When our General Manager Matt Stanley asked Horticulturist Becky Graham to take over our parking lot garden, Becky says she had a feeling this would be a very special job, due to the special people who shop and are a part of the Co-op. Becky wants to express what a pleasure it is sharing her skills and passion and we at the Co-op feel the same! We get so many wonderful comments about our garden that makes the parking lot a welcoming space.

“I’ve met hundreds of people who tell me how they’ve appreciated the garden. The fact they make a point to let me know how they appreciate I, that they went up and touched it and smelled it is even better, or asking about a plant. It is kind of an instant connection. That has brought so much joy to me. It’s been a gift. Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” Becky said.

Our May lecture at Fort George Brewery will feature Becky. She has a business called Harvest Moon Designs, and has not only helped transform the Co-op’s outdoor space, but she takes her knowledge and passion about plants all over the community; from the rooftop of the Hotel Elliot to a healing garden that’s in the works at Columbia Memorial Hospital, for example. “Nature inspires, art follows” is a guiding principal in Becky’s designs.

One might imagine finding Becky’s home garden in Knappa on the pages of Sunset magazine. It is made up of raised beds that include an artful combination of edibles, ornamentals, and found objects such as rusty pipes that have been converted into planters.


“I hunt and gather for things that make me weak in the knees. Sometimes I don’t have any idea of how I will use it, but I know I will. I have an old copper washing machine and I know I’m either going to make a water feature out of it or a planter. I play with colors, texture, and materials I love,” Becky said.










Becky calls the garden her classroom, sanctuary, and playground. Part of her career includes garden coaching, helping others design their own gardens. Becky’s lecture will include photos and information to provide examples of things you can do with raised beds, containers, and art, similar to the Co-op’s garden.

“Mixing food you can grow locally in containers as well as ornamental and plants good for pollinators. I think about birds, honey bees, and butterflies. Some art happens naturally. You look and you see a combination of foliage and there’s a butterfly that lands there… that’s art as well as the things you bring in,” Becky said.

You can meet Becky and learn about gardening and design at the Co-op’s monthly food and wellness lecture, “Beers to Your Health” at the Fort George Lovell Showroom located at 426 14th Street in Astoria on Thursday May 14th at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. There are food and drinks available for purchase. The event is free and open to all ages.

March Lecture: Maternal Nutrition

What’s affecting local women’s food choices and its impact on future generations

“Eat healthy,” you hear it all the time; doctors, media, and friends encourage us to eat better for our health. It is easy to say, but it is not always easy to do. A group of community members participated in a project; taking pictures of things that help them eat healthy as well as things that make it harder.

Oregon Health and Science University’s Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network recently finished a research project on what affects maternal nutrition in Clatsop County. This was a “Photo Voice” project where 10 women took pictures of their food environment, in an attempt to identify the barriers and facilitators to good nutrition.

OHSU Research Assistant and Community Liaison Julia Mabry, is taking the resulting presentation around Clatsop County to those interested in food, medicine, and health. She will be the speaker at our lecture this month (March 2015).

“The results are moving, compelling and personal. The women’s stories about healthy eating are important for the public to hear,” Mabry said.

The presentation will cover why it’s important to study maternal nutrition and its effect on epigenetics, or chronic illness in the future. It will also address how personal behavior fits into the larger context of our environment. How our society’s food environment could change for the better will be up for discussion.

Beers to Your Health, our monthly food and wellness lecture happens Thursday March 12 at the Fort George Brewery Lovell Showroom, located at 14th and Exchange Street in downtown Astoria. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the talk starts at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to all ages.

Food and the Future

Spice up the Food you Cook!


Bored with cooking and want to spice things up a bit? Or perhaps you’re trying to lose weight or your doctor has told you to stay away from salt. Either way, we’ve got an event coming up for all cooks. There are methods to make food taste flavorful while being healthy, according to a local spice expert. Pat Milliman, owner of Pat’s Pantry in Astoria, will be the guest speaker at our monthly lecture, “Beers to Your Health” at Fort George Brewery.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as a Tuscan seasoning, a Mediterranean blend on oven baked chicken breasts adding flavor without salt. You can bring flavors together in a way that salt does. Lemon or citric acid can achieve that,” Milliman said.

For foodies looking for the next culinary adventure, Milliman says Zahtar; a Middle Eastern spice has been popular in the last few years. And her personal current favorite is Aleppo Pepper, a deep red crushed chili with a bit of heat and a fruity flavor. She takes it out to eat, sprinkling it on her pizza, or mixes it with scrambled eggs for breakfast—adding the spice to anything that needs a pop of flavor.

Milliman owns Pat’s Pantry with her partner Tom Leiner. The couple specializes in custom blends, combining flavors, to make it simple for their customers to add creativity to their standard recipes. The most exciting part of the business is not so much about spice, but about cooking and food in general.

“I love food. I love everything about food. I love cooking it I love talking about it, I love eating it with people, I love reading about it. I read cook books like most people read novels. In this business I get to talk to people about food every day because people are coming in sharing information with me or asking for information. I love that exchange. I’m always amazed in this little town, how many people end up here from all over the world. So I’ve met some really interesting people, and had great conversations about food,” Milliman said.

Beyond her store, Milliman is an active community member, pitching in at local non-profits; a board member of North Coast Food Web and host of “Food Talk” on Coast Community Radio.

You can attend Milliman’s lecture on Thursday January 8th at the Fort George Lovell Showroom (14th and Duane Streets in Astoria). Doors open at 6 p.m. and the talk is from 7-8 p.m. Food and drinks are available to purchase. The event is free and open to all ages.

November Beers to Your Health

We’re having a screening of the film, Food for Change, at our monthly food and wellness lecture “Beers to Your Health”. See the story of the cooperative food movement in America on Thursday November 13, at 7 p.m. in the Fort George Lovell Showroom. Doors open at 6 p.m. Food and drinks available for purchase. Free and open to all ages.

Final Food for Change PosterJ


Learn about Soup

SoupNightCome meet Maggie Stuckey, author of Soup Night.  She will be our speaker at our monthly lecture, Beers to Your Health at Fort George Brewery’s Lovell Showroom (Corner of 14th and Duane in Astoria) on Thursday October 9 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.)  Free cup of soup from a recipe in the book while supplies last.  Books will be for sale as well.


The Magic of Soup
By Maggie Stuckey, Author of Soup Night

There was a time, not all that long ago, when people knew everyone on their block, when neighbors watched out for each other, helped each other, enjoyed getting together. Nowadays, people are more likely to hurry home from work, stay inside with eyes fixed on some type of screen, interacting with pixels rather than human beings. Many of them wish things were different, but aren’t sure how to break out of their isolation.

Here’s a simple solution: make a huge pot of soup, invite your neighbors over, and watch what happens.
I can tell you what will happen, because I have seen it myself in my home town (Portland).

Within a very short time, strangers become friends. Warm connections develop between people who are very different from one another on the usual measures of occupation, education, and political persuasion. Children, under the loving watchfulness of all the adults, are free to be kids. Meanwhile, their parents are free from the awful modern anxiety of having to watch them every single second. There is less crime. Seniors and people living alone feel more secure, knowing help is right at hand.

All because they get together for a simple supper of soup and bread once a month. They call it Soup Night, and it has become a huge part of their lives. No one wants to miss it.
Once I witnessed the magic of this particular Soup Night, I decided to look a bit farther. And quickly found neighborhood groups all over the country doing much the same thing: Organizing a soup get-together for the explicit purpose of creating community. In Boston, New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Denver, Tucson, folks are making soup and inviting strangers to their home — with amazing results.

Soup is simple, unpretentious, warm, nourishing (in every sense of that word), and has a way of putting people at ease. It’s also easy to make, nutritious, inexpensive, infinitely expandable, and it tastes wonderful. There is nothing better for bringing people together.