The Vine Newsletter Archive

October/November 2015 Features

​Co-ops tackle pricing with Field Day low price organic brand —
look for new “Everyday Value” tags
BriarPatch and co-ops around the country are having a field day with lowering prices! In September we lowered prices even more on a slew of already low-priced organic products from the Field Day brand (see list at right), and brought in even more Field Day products. Read more

Leaf fungus threatens organic coffee, Equal Exchange helps
Growing coffee on far-flung mountain slopes in ways that respect the earth and build rural communities is quite an accomplishment. Though it involves significant challenges that must regularly be overcome, an unusual new threat is hitting many communities hard, all at once. Read more

New wines from Argentina co-op have it all:  fair trade, low price, delicious taste
It’s a perfect environment for growing grapes. La Riojana Co-op is located in northwestern Argentina, with its arid climate, warm days and cool nights, and alluvial type soil. Read more 

Commemorative wine label celebrates BriarPatch’s 40th
In celebration of the Patch’s upcoming 40th anniversary, in November the store will be releasing a red and a white wine, made and bottled at Montoliva Vineyard and Winery, and sporting BriarPatch’s anniversary label, designed by local artist Cru Dorsey. Read more

Action alert: GMO laws in U.S. Senate / Avoiding GMOs #1:  Know at-risk ingredients
Both of California’s Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, support mandatory GMO labeling. Senator Boxer has introduced the “Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act,” which would require foods made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such, using international standards. Read more

Tending the nasal passage, gateway to winter wellness
For thousands of years the yogis of India have placed a great emphasis on the virtues of maintaining healthy nasal and sinus passages to achieve optimal health. Read more

It’s time to return to root vegetables
Fall is here, and so is the autumn harvest. Fall vegetables are packed with nutrients, easy to prepare, hearty, and rich in flavor. Read more

Cooking ClassesClick here to read our cooking class descriptions, see the schedule for upcoming classes, and reserve your space!

Click here to download the Cooking Class Schedule and Descriptions from the October/November 2015 Vine (PDF 650k)

Farm-to-school program benefits when you round up at the register
by Erika Kosina
This October and November we can all make a big difference with our spare change. If you round up to the next dollar as you check out at BriarPatch, you can support Sierra Harvest, a local nonprofit whose mission is to educate, inspire, and connect Nevada County families to fresh, local, seasonal food. Read more

Co-op makes decision to remain at Sierra College Drive
There’s no place like home. Sometimes a long journey makes you glad to get back to where you started. This is the moral of the story, now, for BriarPatch Co-op’s two years of research into options for the store’s future. Read more

Making our store the best it can be
As you’ve read on the front page, after long considering how to respond to our unprecedented growth, we’ve decided to stay right where we are — and make this store the very best it can be. Read more

Home Sweet Home: a look back at how cooperation got us to this beautiful, thriving store
by Alan Weisberg, Board President
In late August, the BriarPatch Board approved our General Manager’s recommendation that we stay at our current site for at least the next ten years, and develop and implement a plan to improve it. Read more

Free health care clinic at GV Vets Hall Nov. 14-15
A group of local residents has been working with a Roseville non-profit called California Care Force to bring free health care to our community. Read more

Scenes from August Filaki Farm tour
Juan Jose Domingo of Filaki Farm in Brown’s Valley gave a tour of his farm to an interested crowd on a hot, but lovely, Sunday in August. Read more

“Bounty of the County” event serves local fare
You are invited to a festive evening of food and wine – a Farm to Table celebration in historic downtown Grass Valley. Read more


August/September 2015 Features

​The time is ripe to get to know our local food and farms
Editor’s Note from Stephanie Mandel: Is it just me, or are people around here very, very excited about vegetables? Vegetables at the farmers markets, growing vegetables at home, children tasting new vegetables, and — of course— locally- and regionally-grown vegetables at BriarPatch. Read more

BriarPatch’s 5th Annual Farm Tour features Filaki Farms, a model of farm innovation, variety, and beauty
Sunday, August 16 at 9:00 a.m. -then enjoy lunch and the lakes of North Yuba

Just beyond the Yuba River, which defines the border between Nevada and Yuba counties, is a region called the Yuba Foothills, or North Yuba. This hilly rural landscape is home to a variety of farms and food artisans who are happy to bring their products to the more populous Grass Valley and Nevada City area. Read more

Kitty ThomasLove these locally-made products
BriarPatch Merchandiser Kitty Thomas picks her faves & raves for August and September. Read more 

Mountain Bounty Farm finds success and sustainability through teamwork and mentorship
by Mellisa Hannum
Nestled into the forested contours of the San Juan Ridge, Mountain Bounty Farm boasts 16 acres of farmland on two sites, both just about two miles to the Yuba River. The remaining 50 acres of the farm consists of thriving forests and meadows.
Read more

Cooking ClassesClick here to read our cooking class descriptions, see the schedule for upcoming classes, and reserve your space!

Click here to download the Cooking Class Schedule and Descriptions from the August/September 2015 Vine (PDF 600k)

Shopper Survey data and comments guide store direction
by Chris Maher, General Manager
This survey is one of the key inputs we use in planning store improvements and direction. Your feedback is much appreciated as management, staff, and Board strive to understand your concerns and meet your needs. Read more

Co-op shoppers share hundreds of thoughtful comments
Read more

Help local pollinators!
Bear Yuba Land Trust helps create healthy landscapes for bees and pollinators
Pollinators are a vital part of a healthy environment and are essential to the food we eat. They play an irreplaceable role by moving pollen between flowers, thus ensuring the growth of seeds and fruits. Fully one third of everything we eat depends on pollinators to propagate! Read more

Co-op to install Peace Pole Sept. 21
May peace prevail on Earth.” That’s the simple message that has been shared all over the world on what are called “Peace Poles,” which have become the most recognized international peace symbol and monument the world over.  As a result of a project that began in 1986, more than 200,000 Peace Poles are now standing in almost every country throughout the world. Read more

Tips for ripening produce and keeping it fresh
Just as people breathe, produce respires. It takes in oxygen and produces carbon dioxide. This process, called oxidation, is responsible for the breakdown (spoilage) of fruits and vegetables after harvest. You can’t stop this natural process, but you can learn how to slow it down and lengthen the life of your produce with some simple tips for storing produce. Read more

June/July 2015 Features

Just Label It​Want GMOs labeled? Contact Congress today to stop
If you would like see GMO foods labeled, it is a critical time to contact your elected officials. Right now, Congress is debating a proposed law that would block mandatory GMO labeling at the national and state levels. Find out more at Just Label ItRead more

survey smiles​Take our online survey by June 30 for a chance to win $50, $100, $200 gift cards
What do you think about BriarPatch Co-op? We want to know! The 2015 Shopper Satisfaction Survey will be open throughout June, just go to Read more

BasilSeason premiere: 30 local farms, 206 vegetables and fruits
Good news! All signs point to abundant crops this summer and fall, for both locally- and regionally-grown fruits and vegetables. Read more

Kitty ThomasMy summertime faves and raves
BriarPatch Merchandiser Kitty Thomas picks products for enjoying the summer. Read more 

Penn Valley Garden Team Sept-2014_2Food Bank’s Healthy Harvest garden
It takes enormous effort and ongoing cash donations to produce this much-appreciated food. If you are interested in volunteering in either garden (seasonally, once a week), please email Ellen Persa at
Read more

Cooking ClassesClick here to read our cooking class descriptions, see the schedule for upcoming classes, and reserve your space!

Click here to download the Cooking Class Section from the June/July 2015 Vine (PDF 600k)

Sierra-HarvestSierra Harvest raises vegetable awareness at 18 schools
Back in 2008, Sierra Harvest started a summer garden nutrition education program for a handful of kids at Hennessy Elementary School. Fast-forward to 2015, and it has grown into a full-time program that serves 18 Nevada County elementary schools, reaching over 6,000 children. Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program is responsible for a garden stand that sells fresh, local produce on a donation basis at each of its schools, field trips to local farms, hands-on educational visits from local farmers, Tasting Week with seasonal foods prepared by local chefs, and the extremely popular Harvest of the Month program. Read more

Store planning to move forward this summer
by Chris Maher, General Manager
In the late spring, as the signs of summer begin to emerge, activity around the co-op settles into a nice buzz that reminds me of a garden. People are able to make greater use of our outdoor area, and the activities taking place there become more diverse. Read more

What I love about the Patch
On Valentine’s Day, Board members at a table in front of the store asked shoppers what they love about BriarPatch. This got me to thinking about my own feelings about the Patch. I decided to muse a bit about the subject in this issue. I am at the store many times a month, primarily as a shopper and an eater, but also as a Board member and advocate. Speaking straight from the heart, let me say this: I simply love the place. But just what is it that I love so much? Read more


April/May 2015 Features

BriarPatch Board Director Election 2015
This year’s Board Director election is contested, meaning that there are more candidates than open seats — four candidates for three seats, to be exact. Read more

Co-op starts “Change Adds Up” program for community
Spring is a perfect time to start something new, and in that spirit BriarPatch is launching a new donation program to generate more support for our community. Read more

Yellow receipts with vitamin C safer for skin
The new receipts at BriarPatch look a little different — and they are different! This new receipt paper, called “Alpha® Free” and developed by Wisconsin-based Appvion, Inc., uses a vitamin C thermal developer… Read more 

Co-ops track energy use, water use, waste diversion, and more
Food co-ops around the country — including BriarPatch — are taking their passion for sustainability to the next level. As they find ways to make a difference in their communities — environmentally, socially, and economically — they’re also measuring, analyzing, and improving these systems through the National Co-op Grocers’ “Co+efficient” program.
Read more

New egg law upsets pecking order
As you may have heard, the California egg industry is going through some major changes. This is why at many stores you can now find cage-free eggs that cost less than “conventional” eggs. What’s driving these changes is that Proposition 2 went fully into effect on January 1. Read more

Cooking ClassesClick here to read our cooking class descriptions, see the schedule for upcoming classes, and reserve your space!

Click here to download the Cooking Class Section from the April/May 2015 Vine (PDF 600k)

Mood—food connection goes both ways
Ever wonder why we often reach for food when we are upset? We know that the foods we eat affect our mood and energy level, and the reverse can also be true: our mood and energy level influence the foods we choose. Read more

Sierra Harvest gives salad bar to Grizzly Hill School
Things have always been a bit different up on the Ridge, and Grizzly Hill Elementary School in the Twin Ridges School District in North San Juan is no exception. With about 100 students, it’s easier for the school to experiment with new ways of doing things, and Grizzly Hill is doing just that with its school meal program. Read more

Co-op impacts detailed in reports to Board and owners
by Chris Maher, General Manager
I am very proud of the efforts that we make throughout our co-op to reduce the environmental impact of our business and further our social mission. This month, as we celebrate Earth Day, is a perfect time to focus on sharing these efforts with all of our owners. Read more

Local author offers women insights on body image issues
Local author Anna-Thea will present a book release party for her newly released book titled, “Empower Yourself by Loving Your Body.” Unity in the Gold Country, in Grass Valley, on Tuesday, April 14, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.. Read more

Local “TimeBanking” alternative currency service system starts
How would the quality of your life improve if skills and services that you needed were available without having to pay cash? Read more 

Coffee documentary gives wake up call
Come celebrate Fair Trade Day with us in the BriarPatch Community Room on Friday, May 8 at 7:00 p.m. for an inspiring and thought-provoking documentary, “Connected by Coffee,” about the lives and history of the people who grow the coffee beans that become the coffee we drink. Admission is free. Read more

February/March 2015 Features

seed-mandalaSeed company consolidation threatens organics, diversity, sustainability
by Matthew Dillon
While we may not think about seed when eating breakfast or helping our children into their cotton pajamas at night, seed is the foundational step in feeding and clothing ourselves. Seed is perhaps the most overlooked of the natural resources necessary for food and fiber production — the others being water, soil, and energy. As a natural resource, seed must be stewarded and improved for our own use and benefit, and also for future generations. Read more

Rowen_SierraSeedsPlanting the seeds of a sustainable local food system
If we want a truly sustainable food system, we need to have local seeds,” said Rowen White, explaining the importance of Sierra Seeds, a local seed business based in North San Juan that she co-founded, with Ruby Turple, in 2008. Read more 

Banner GrangeBanner Grange: A year of growth, change, and action
Song Kowbell sang at the Banner Grange screening of the film “Open Sesame” in January, which was attended by over 100 people. In January of 2014, several members of the Banner Grange rang in the new year by going to our state capitol and advocating for the labeling of GMOs in our food supply. This year, almost to the day, many of our members went to yet another rally in Sacramento to champion our right to save seeds and label the food we eat.
Read more

Seed SwapDiscover, mingle, and share at the Community Seed Swap
A collaboration of local agricultural and activist groups are gearing up for the annual Community Seed Swap at the Banner Grange in Grass Valley. Come trade both your knowledge and your seeds! Seeds are the source of life. Nearly every food that we eat is dependent upon seeds. Read more

Cooking ClassesClick here to read our cooking class descriptions, see the schedule for upcoming classes, and reserve your space!

Click here to download the Cooking Class Section from the February/March 2015 Vine (PDF 1.3MB)

David BensonThankful for certified produce from Mexico, S. America
Can you imagine trying to coax every kind of produce out of the ground in winter? In particular, I’m thinking of all those beautiful Mediterranean summer veggies we love to eat, regardless of the season. The fact is, it’s just not possible to pull rabbits out of a hat this far north in winter. Which is why our neighbors to the south step in and do the job for us. Read more

Chris Maher, General ManagerMeeting our goal to be a community gathering place
by Chris Maher, General Manager
In 2010, our Board of Directors approved a set of six ‘Ends Policies’ that define our ideals as a cooperative, above and beyond our success as a business. These policies express the goals toward which we constantly strive, and which guide our operations and our day-to-day decision-making. Read more

Vegetable HeartWays to put your heart first, every day
by James “Slim” Miles. The human heart is the first organ to form as the embryo is developing inside the mother’s womb, and the first heart cell can begin to beat as early as four weeks after conception. Though the heart typically beats approximately 100,000 times a day, it is far more than just a simple pump. It is one of the most important organs in the body, having the capacity to move about 1.5 gallons of blood through itself every minute of every day. In doing so, it actually does more physical work than any other muscle. Read more

alan1_200Planning needs patience, like a working a puzzle
from Alan Weisberg, President
As I write this in the early days of the New Year, I’d like to address two particular themes about the current state of BriarPatch. They represent the questions I hear most often from owners, and the thoughts that I find especially interesting. Read more

December 2014/January 2015 Features
January 9 through 11, 2015 – READ MORE

JSM AvocadosBriarPatch supports strawberry and avocado grower
The BriarPatch Board of Directors recently approved the guarantee of part of a California FarmLink loan to JSM Organics, which has been bringing organic strawberries “farm direct” to BriarPatch for two years. Read more

Cia Bring on 2015 — the local and regional
produce buying plan is ready!

Local tomatoes are out and regional citrus is in. This is the sign of winter at BriarPatch. While our summer crops may now be gone, they are never forgotten. Read more 

Charles-and-Crystal-Local-Wine_mainBriarPatch’s holiday gift secret:
excellent wines, excellent prices
Time for parties, family gatherings, and gifts for the special people in our lives. For those who enjoy good wine and beer, this time of year is full of great choices. Read more

Slim_forMainPowerful winter defenses — beating the bugs, naturally
Benjamin Franklin really nailed the ideal strategy for avoiding disease when he said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We are now well into that time of year when colds and flu have declared open season on us… Read more

Cooking ClassesClick here to read our cooking class descriptions, see the schedule for upcoming classes, and reserve your space!

Click here to download the Cooking Class Section in the December/January Vine (PDF 1.3MB)

TastingMainChefs and students cook up local produce for tastings
A grand total of twenty-five local chefs volunteered their time in Nevada County schools for “Tasting Week,” November 3 through 7. These experienced chefs tickled children’s natural curiosity to expand their experience of different foods and flavors, with a focus on fresh, locally grown food. Read more

Chris Maher, General Manager2014 a year of great strides in our education programs
by Chris Maher, General Manager
It’s hard to believe that another year is coming to a close — another fantastic year for BriarPatch. Apart from our outstanding growth in sales, customers, and new owners, 2014 has been notable for our work in other key areas of our business. Read more

Dinner_OwnerMeeting_MainCo-op owners find joie de vivre at annual meeting
BriarPatch’s “Joie de Vivre” annual Owner Meeting, held October 2 at the Miners Foundry, was a smashing success. A delicious French country meal prepared in our own Co-op kitchen was enjoyed by 500 attendees, who were served in both the main Osborn/Woods Hall and the Stone Hall. Read more

alan1_200Serving on the BriarPatch Board of Directors — here’s what it takes to govern our cooperative store
from Alan Weisberg, President
This column is my annual pitch to Co-op owners to consider running for the BriarPatch Board. I think it’s fair to say that our Board has done much in the past five or six years to improve its governance procedures in order to be ever more responsive to the interests of BriarPatch owners and the well-being of the store. Applications are available at the Customer Service Window and are due by February 15 for the May, 2015 election. Read more

October/November 2014 Features

Questions and answers — how are co-ops different from other business models?  Read more

To-the-Moon-filmUSE-200Stunning co-op facts and a film about a co-op bike trip
There are more than 29,000 co-ops in the U.S., with Americans holding 350 million co-op memberships. Read more

NON-GMOCo-op takes action against GMOs
The call to label GMOs is continuing to gain traction across the U.S. Read more 

yesartwork1Oregon and Colorado to vote soon on GMO labeling The movement to label GMOs has scored some major victories lately. Read more

Alter_Eco_Truffle_PackageFabulous flavors from the finest ingredients: exclusive Alter Eco assorted truffles
There’s a whole new world of chocolate out there. The sweet, rich deliciousness we all love is no longer just good—it can also be really, really good for you. Read more

BrainWhat nutrients feed the brain??
Ask a neurologist how the brain and the process of memory and thought works, and… well… let’s just say the answer will not be so straightforward and concise. Read more

Cooking ClassesCooking Classes!
Read Hilary Dart’s News and Notes from our cooking school.
Read the class descriptions and see the schedule for upcoming classes

NU Salad bar for newsletter contents pageNew fresh foods offered at Nevada Union High School
Read more

cooperation-zone croppedShopper comments inspire store improvements
by Chris Maher, General Manager
Since we know that we will continue to inhabit our current location at least through the middle of 2017, our staff and management has begun to give significant attention to short- and middle-term efforts to improve our space and systems. Read more

Development-Team-smaller Year one: preparation for the right opportunity
from Alan Weisberg, President
The year’s work has been extensive, and we look forward to continuing to explore our three major options: (1) substantial renovation and expansion of our current Sierra College Drive store, (2) complete relocation to a new site, or (3) development of a second store. Read more

walk-a-thon for contentsLooking back at summertime events in our community
View more pictures


August/September 2014 Features
August September 2014 Cover - Jeremy MineauDiscover Local

The Next Generation — Jeremy Mineau established Super Tuber Farm in 2012, growing potatoes, cabbage, carrots, corn, and salad greens on land he leases in Penn Valley and Nevada City.

August – September – October chart showing local and regional produce outlook … Click here

Veggie Starts - no captionPlant your winter vegetables – use locally grown starts
While the idea of planting fall veggies while your tomatoes are still growing may feel a bit odd, now is the time to prepare for those yummy fall and winter veggies. Read more

Organic: sustainable, transparent, and no GMOs
When it comes to food labels, the USDA Certified Organic seal is the gold standard, and it designates much more than just “pesticide-free food.” Read more 

usda logoStudies show organic foods’ nutritional benefits, plus less exposure to pesticides, hormones, antibiotics Organic farming practices are not only beneficial for the environment, but protect our own health as well as the health of future generations. Read more

Erika_Kosina_nocaptionEveryone’s invited to Sierra Harvest farm potlucks
Something special happens when people come together over a meal, especially when everyone contributes something, potluck style. Read more

Cooking class cooksThink you can cook?
Do you have a cooking specialty that you’d like to share with a small, friendly group? We’re always looking for interesting new cooking classes and teachers, and would love to consider your class idea. Read more

Cooking ClassesCooking Classes!
Read the class descriptions and see the schedule for upcoming classes

Deli and Produce departments honored as “Top Performers”
See the pictures 

New co-ops prosper
Food co-ops across the country are growing by leaps and bounds. Read more

CCMABoard and staff inspired at Madison co-op gathering: workshops, tours, bicycling, and Wisconsin cheese
A record high of 580 cooperators from over 150 U.S. co-ops attended the 58th annual Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference held in Madison, Wisconsin in June. Read more

Next Steps logoAnswers to frequently asked questions and concerns about BriarPatch’s Next Steps
We reported some of the survey results in the June/July issue of The Vine and have posted the full results — all 68 pages of them — as well as a compilation of 100 comments online at This article addresses the major points that people raised in the survey and elsewhere, and explains what we’re doing to address them. Read more

Community events feature wine, food, and philosophy
Find out more about Treks for the Mind, Nevada City Uncorked, and Sample the Sierra Farm to Fork Festival

Sweet Roots Farm TourSweet Roots Farm hosts free tour
This is the third year that BriarPatch and Nevada County Grown have co-sponsored a farm tour, free of charge, with coffee and baked goods from the BriarPatch kitchen. Read more 

June/July 2014 Features
Cooking ClassesThe time is ripe to get cooking

Editor’s Note from Stephanie Mandel –
People are really into food these days — reading about food, watching food shows, blogging about food, and sharing about food through social media. Yet along with this increased interest, we’re actually cooking less and less. Read more and visit the BriarPatch Co-op Cooking Class page

Banana TreeBehold the “banana tree”
BriarPatch’s new “banana tree” — the first of its kind in Nevada County — seems to be a big hit, as an announcement of its arrival with a photo posted on the Co-op’s Facebook page garnered over 200 “Likes” and a dozen enthusiastic comments. Read more

Penney the ClownSummer fun at local farms and at the Patch
Penney the Clown will share her fabulous face painting artistry with children throughout June and July on Monday afternoons from 2:15 to 5:15 p.m. It looks like this summer season will feature a bumper crop of local food and farm activities. Read more for dates and descriptions.

Grange dance pictureWhat’s new at the Grange? 
The Banner Grange has been very busy networking with community groups to promote our mutual goals of healthy food and lifestyles. Read more 

Chris MaherParking improvements on the way
I am truly grateful that so many of you took the time to respond to our efforts to engage in a serious conversation regarding BriarPatch’s Next Steps. Read more

The Buckeye RanchThe season starts with garlic from The Buckeye Ranch
The Buckeye Ranch has a long and storied history. It began in 1852, when Matthew Shapero’s ancestors moved to the township of Penn Valley. Their ranch was the nucleus of the family. Read more

golden oysterTumbling Creek mushrooms, organic and biodynamic
We humans have always had a love affair with mushrooms. Even J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about our obsession with the tasty fungi – an appetite only surpassed by that of the hobbits. Read more

Man looking at art exhibitArt exhibit on GMO corn brings knowledge and power
In 2012, on the eve of what some referred to as the End of the Mayan Calendar and the Beginning of a New Dawn of Higher Consciousness, I felt a seed of creativity germinating inside me. Like many these days, I wanted to see some positive change and knew that I could be a catalyst in the food sovereignty movement on a global level. Read more 

Local groups rally for state GMO bill
Right to know activists gathered at the California State Capitol on April 22 to support a bill to label food with genetically modified ingredients. Read more

Julie and DylanChoose positive practices for feeding children……even your pickiest eaters
Parents of toddlers and preschool-aged children often describe their child as a “picky eater.” This can often turn the dinner table into a battleground. During the toddler and preschool years, a child’s rate of growth is relatively slow, as compared to infancy and adolescence. Read more

School program helps children enjoy carrots and more
Sierra Harvest’s Elizabeth Lane is a FoodCorps Service Member who teaches kids about healthy food and where it comes from. Read more

alan1_200Co-op owners support our store in many ways
In April, the BriarPatch Board and staff made a major effort to bring you up to date on our quest to determine how we might expand our store, so we can better serve everyone in the next decade or two. Read more

CHARTCommunity joins the conversation about BriarPatch’s Next Steps through survey and more
Since early 2013, BriarPatch General Manager Chris Maher has led a development team of staff, Board members and industry experts to examine the most effective ways to respond to the ever-increasing demand for the foods and services BriarPatch provides. Read more and visit the Next Steps page with a link to the full survey results.

April/May 2014 Features
egg-cartons-2_200The P.E.R.I.S.H.A.B.L.E.S. bring in A.W.A. — introducing Animal Welfare Approved local eggs 

Editor’s note: BriarPatch’s Perishables Department is proud to offer, for the first time, locally-raised eggs that carry the label “Animal Welfare Approved.” So proud that John Bivens was inspired to tell their story in a most creative manner… Read more

AWA_chickens400Know your egg labels
The Food Labels Exposed app that is available from Animal Welfare Approved explains what the most common terms and claims on food labels really mean, so you can make informed food choices—wherever you are. Read more

Hilary1Reflecting on co-op achievements and opportunities
The sublime beauty of a cooperative is that it embodies the ideals, principles, and mechanics of democracy, in a business environment. Each person who is an owner and receives this newsletter has the opportunity to participate in the guidance and governance of our awesome store. Read more

Board Development Process ReportBriarPatch’s Next Steps:  A Development Process 
After a year of dialogue and research on BriarPatch Co-op’s next steps, the Board has compiled a Development Report to share the information gathered with Co-op owners, shoppers, and staff. Read more 

ELECTION 2014: Six candidates, four seats
For the 2014 election, six candidates are running for four open seats. Each year three of the nine Board Director positions are up for election, for three-year terms. The three candidates with the most votes will serve these three-year terms. The fourth seat is open in this election due to a Director’s early resignation. Therefore, the candidate with the fourth highest number of votes will complete this term, which will be up for election again in 2016. Candidate Forum April 16 A candidate forum will be held on Wednesday, April 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Community Room. Read more

Food Love CampSummer camp teaches children to love fresh veggies
Sierra Harvest’s Food Love Project is an educational farm, located on the Burton Homestead in Nevada City, devoted to promoting nutrition education, food security, and community involvement in the growing, harvesting, eating, and celebration of fresh food. Read more

February/March 2014 Features
Amigo Cantisano4th Annual Sustainable Food and Farm Conference 

Winter workshops and lectures sow seeds of success, supporting the local food movement in Nevada County. A bounty of information about farming and ranching was shared by members of our local community on January 17th, 18th and 19th, 2014. Read more

Local granges see renewed role after long history in American farming The Grange is a grass roots organization that began in 1867 in the aftermath of the destructive and divisive Civil War. It was started to support small family farmers who needed to get back to growing America’s food after that horrific war. Read more

GMO Rally Major food regulation changes due in 2014
2014 is predicted to be pivotal for food safety issues, as the Obama administration works to complete a host of regulations to shore up a system seen as exposing the American public to too many health risks. Read more

GMO RallyTop 10 Non-GMO Labeling achievements of 2013: Mexican corn ban, CT labeling law, new Hawaii law 
2013 was a year of great progress for the non-GMO movement. Landmark efforts to require mandatory labeling at home and abroad helped catapult the GMO issue into the mainstream, and consumer demand for non-GMO choices was off the charts. Here are our top ten non-GMO victories for 2013. Read more 

Backyard Garden ProgramSierra Harvest launches backyard garden program for family health and food self-reliance  
Fully 20 percent of Nevada County residents are struggling to put food on the table, 20 percent are obese, and rates of diabetes are rising nationwide. Read more

Taste for LIfe PosterSupplements boost ATP for cardiac fitness and to increase your energy for living long and well
In this article we first take a look at the heart and some of the common ailments it is prone to, and we then consider some very positive things we can do to cultivate our heart health. Read more

Nextsteps_150Board planning to gather input from owners on growth 
by Chris Maher, General Manager
In case you haven’t already heard, BriarPatch is involved in a development process to chart our future direction. Read more alan1_200

BriarPatch’s goals emphasize building local community 
from Alan Weisberg, Board President
  As always, I had a great time this January attending SYRCL’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival. The focus of this year’s festival was on energy and its role in shaping our future world.  Read more

Map of CaliforniaCalifornia food co-ops in rare boom If all goes according to plan there will be almost twice as many food cooperatives in California in 2016 as there were just 10 years ago, with 11 new co-ops. This is a trend we’re seeing nationwide, with about 200 operating co-ops and 150 communities in some phase of new co-op development. Read more

Author speaks at the GrangeGrange brings author Suzanne Ashworth to speak Seed Swap and Local Food Gathering • Saturday, February 22, 1-4 pm free of charge • Banner Grange, 12629 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley. The seeds that gardeners hold in their hands are living links in an unbroken chain reaching back into antiquity. – Suzanne Ashworth, “Seed To Seed.” Read more

December 2013/January 2014 Features Owen-in-pasture_150
4th Annual Sustainable Food and Farm Conference 

Nevada County’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference is coming soon. This year’s event is the fourth annual and is being held on January 18 and 19 at the Grass Valley Veterans Hall and next door at Grass Valley Charter School. Read more

PiELL-2007_4_Delfino_Judi_34150BriarPatch supports the community  BriarPatch’s community giving programs have grown along with our store, evolving from the dynamic interaction with our owners and the community. Read more

The evidence behind today’s most popular diets — a dietician reveals what each has to offer

While there is no such thing as a “perfect diet,” we can all agree that the Standard American Diet (a.k.a. S.A.D.) is one to be wary of, especially from the standpoint of the prevention of disease. Read more

Wild & Scenic Film Festival explores food issues: GMOs, bees, compost, urban farmers, and more 
This January, the South Yuba River Citizens League’s 12th Annual Wild & Scenic® Film Festival returns January 9 through 12, 2014 to Nevada City and Grass Valley, offering another incredible selection of films. Read more 

Nextsteps_150Answers to your frequently asked questions about the development process  
1. Why are you looking into growth? We’ve been fantastically successful in our current location and we need to deal with some of the issues that our success has brought us. Read more

CafeEnsemble__Pollan_110813_Chris_Michael_1752013 wrap-up: it was a very good year
by Chris Maher, General Manager

In this year’s final issue of the Vine I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to all of you Co-op owners and customers who have supported our Co-op this year. Read more

Co-ops plant trees to offset carbon emissions 
At BriarPatch Co-op, we take pride in fostering the professional growth of our staff, so we send staff members to trainings as often as possible. Read more alan1_200

Fall brings inspiration from Michael Pollan’s talk
from Alan Weisberg, Board President
My recent focus in this column has been on what the Board and Management are now doing in developing plans to expand our business, given the greatly increased demand for what we offer to our ever-expanding number of shoppers. Read more

OwnerMeeting_01_175Co-op owners fill the Foundry at Cajun Carnivale
October Owner Meeting brings together 500 for dinner, presentation, dancing
BriarPatch’s “Cajun Carnivale” Owner Meeting, held October 10 at the Miners Foundry, was a smashing success. Read more

Cooked-hires100A magical evening — Michael Pollan and Beth Ruyak discuss controversial food topics with intelligence and wit
by Mellisa Hannum
The Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Grass Valley was packed with people eagerly awaiting their ‘Evening with Michael Pollan.’ Read more

Wild winter spices add local flair to holiday cooking
 By Alicia Funk
During the winter there is still an abundance of delicious wild foods that we can enjoy as an interesting complement to standard holiday cooking. Read more

October/November 2013 Features

Reed in the wheat fieldNow in the bulk section: historic heirloom wheat variety 
Some years ago I became involved with an organization called The Whole Grain Connection, which was founded by Monica Spiller and based in the Bay Area. Read more

small producers logoBy small farmers, for small farmers: the next step in the evolution of Fair Trade
This fall, the first Fair Trade farmer-owned certification system, referred to as the Small Producer Symbol (SPP, for its Spanish acronym) will be found on logos on Equal Exchange coffees in food co-ops and natural food stores across the country. Read more

Coffee processing in CoyonaBriarPatch envoy Hilary Dart tours Peruvian coffee co-op 
Hilary Dart, BriarPatch’s Volunteer and Demo Coordinator, was part of a group of Food co-op representatives who visited Peru in July. Read more 

Non GMO Month 2013 LogoAvoiding GMOs throughout the store — aisle by aisle  
As we enter the harvest and approach a holiday season full of important meals, celebrating Non-GMO Month this October is a great opportunity to practice avoiding GMOs in the grocery store. Read more

Just Label It LogoJust Label It:  BriarPatch supports right to know campaign
Food labels alert us to potential allergens, help us do the math on our sodium intake, and even reassure us that our morning glass of O.J. is “not from concentrate.” Read more

Local SpendingCo-ops keep more dollars local — local wages, local benefits, local products 
Grocery stores play an important role in local economies, primarily as employers, but also as purchasers of goods and services. Read more

Citrus SliceFortify and lighten up your traditional holiday favorites with clever substitutions that add nutrients … and flavor!
Festive meals complete with all the trimmings are part and parcel of holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, these entrees and trimmings are often calorie-laden dishes that leave us feeling sluggish and regretful. Read more

Chris MaherIt’s a season for welcoming changes, big and small
At this time of year, I always find myself trying to hold on to the last vestiges of summer and resisting the arrival of the colder months. Read more

Owner Meeting Cajun ThemeOctober 10th Owner Meeting to focus on expansion and, of course, having a great time!
Our annual Owners’ Meeting at Miners Foundry is just a few days away on Thursday evening, October 10th. If you don’t yet have a ticket, I’d suggest that you act fast; I’m quite sure the event will again be sold out this year, with nearly 500 people filling both halls of that historic building. Read more

Farm education nonprofits join, forming “Sierra Harvest”
Two of Nevada County’s most ambitious and successful food and farm movement organizations combined their related missions early this September. Read more

August/September 2013 Features


Michael Pollan’s coming to town! 
Friday, November 8, 2013, 8pm. Veterans Memorial Hall, Grass Valley. For the past twenty-five years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment. Read more

TimMeet your local farmer: Tim Van Wagner, First Rain Farm 
Rows of huge leaves of collards and chard practically glow in the sun at First Rain Farm, framed by the dark boughs of evergreens in the background. These healthy plants are only part of what farmer Tim Van Wagner sells to BriarPatch. Read more

Co-ops have the edge in supporting local food systems, building relationships with growers
Supporting local food systems means more than just providing fresh, locally produced products to customers. It also means strengthening the connections between consumers and producers as an investment in our community. Read more

Sierra CommonsSierra Commons: a cooperative office space for entrepreneurs, telecommuters, writers, and more 
Sierra Commons is what we call a “co-working space” in Nevada County. Members share a building, kitchen, fax and printers, internet costs, conference rooms, and two rope swings. Read more 

LiamLiving food with Liam: Cacoco raw chocolate  
There’s a difference between hot chocolate and drinking chocolate. Hot chocolate, of course, is a combination of cocoa powder, milk, and sugar. “Drinking chocolate,” on the other hand, is essentially whole cacao beans dissolved into liquid form, often including a sweetener and various spices. Read more

BriarPatch named a Top 10 Right to Know Grocer in our region
Our Co-op was selected from a field of more than 150 stores, nominated by hundreds of consumers from around the country. Read more

SeniorPushUps1Eating for healthy aging 
A positive mental attitude, regular exercise and adequate sleep, reducing your exposure to toxins, and a balanced, wholesome diet can be factors that influence how you age. Read more

Survey shows overall shopper satisfaction……and generates lots of thoughtful comments and ideas
Thank you to the 385 BriarPatch owners and shoppers who took the 2013 Shopper Satisfaction Survey. We conduct a survey each year to help with operational decisions. Your feedback is much appreciated as management, staff, and Board strive to understand your concerns and meet your needs. Read more

Board forms team to study, analyze, and plan our co-op’s next steps into the future
Not even the most wild-eyed BriarPatch optimist could have predicted the success of our new store when we opened our doors six years ago. Read more

June – July 2013 Features

Name TagBriarPatch implements a livable wage for all employees 

This is an important step in our progress toward fulfilling our Ends Policy, which states that we will be “a major local employer that provides a healthy, fair, and considerate workplace for employees.” Read more

What do BriarPatch employees really think about their jobs? Read the results from the 2013 staff survey
If you owned a food store, you’d want it to be a healthy, fair, and considerate workplace, right? How, then, would you find out how your staff really feels about their jobs? Read more

Average Hourly Wage Major CorpsFood co-ops make social impact with high quality jobs
Retail food cooperatives are efficient and prolific job creators. The average food co-op creates 9.3 jobs for every million dollars in sales. Thus, a typical co-op with $10 million a year in revenue provides employment for over 90 workers. Read more

Jo and JanetCo-op HR staff focuses on safety, training, and more 
Keeping track of over 180 employees is no small job. Though most people don’t think about it, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes for each person on BriarPatch’s staff. Read more 

Environmental pollutant diagramLimit your exposure to environmental pollutants by making smart choices in diet and lifestyle  
An ever-growing body of evidence suggests that it is wise to eat organically grown food and to avoid chemical-laden products in order to avoid health risks associated with exposure to Persistent Organic (as in organic chemicals) Pollutants, otherwise known as POP’s. Read more

Federal Legislation introduced to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods • BriarPatch pledges: “No GE fish” • EPA sued over honeybee deaths • Why we buy organic
For the first time since 2000, in April legislation was introduced in Congress that would require food manufacturers to inform consumers when packaged food contains genetically engineered ingredients. Read more

CookedFascinating food books for summer reading Read more
Cooked by Michael Pollan
Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner • Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Robert Lustig
The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis
• Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
• Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems by Philip Ackerman-Leist.

Paying fair wages at the core of cooperative principles 
by Chris Maher, General Manager
People are often surprised to learn that our co-op is one of the largest employers in Nevada County. The fact is, we are in the top twenty in the entire county, and if you don’t count government and schools, we’re in the top ten. Read more

Inspiration from St. Paul:  We are stronger together!
by Alan Weisberg Board President
First, a confession: I have never been a true co-op stalwart. All the time and energy I have put into BriarPatch these last several years was motivated by my wish to support our store. Being a bit of a “foodie,” I wanted to see the good, healthy, delicious food made available in our community through BriarPatch. But I never truly understood the spirit of being a “co-operator,” a loyalist to co-op principles and to the co-op sector. Read more

Evan StrongLocal raw food restauranteur headed for Olympic gold
Meet Evan Strong, and stay tuned for ways to join BriarPatch in supporting this local hero as he trains for the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. In an unlikely start for one of the world’s best snowboarders, Evan Strong grew up on the waves of Maui, seldom wearing shoes, let alone snow boots. Read more

Flower FarmersLocal flowers from local farmers
The local flower season is here, and the beautiful flower bouquets that greet you at BriarPatch are grown almost exclusively by local flower farmers. Read more

April – May 2013 Features

New seafood guide incorporates both safety and sustainability

Just in time for Earth Day, BriarPatch is distributing new and improved “Low Mercury Lists” to customers, helping them make informed choices based on their family’s health and the health of the oceans. Read more

Make an Earth Day pledge to be a bag re-user every time!
by Bill Drake
Would you ever have guessed that about 25,000 brand-new, large Co+op paper bags go out the BriarPatch door each month? And that since they cost our co-op 11¢ each, that equals a staggering $33,000 a year — Read more

Why reusable bags matter
Why bother with reusing bags? Though they’re made from a renewable resource, new brown paper bags — even those made of 100% recycled paper — have an environmental impact. Producing them uses energy and water, even when the paper is recycled. Read more

Getting greener: reducing our waste and energy use 
We all know about our green building, but what has BriarPatch done lately to take care of the environment? Here are a few recent accomplishments. Read more 

Green living through smart shopping 
by Mellisa Hannum
There are many ways to leave a smaller environmental footprint. Some of them may involve using products you’ve never even considered. The average American family uses as many as 104 rolls of paper towels each yearRead more

Food co-ops outrun conventional stores
It can be difficult for a consumer to evaluate the environmental performance of a grocery store, since some of the most important elements of conservancy – recycling, energy efficiency, and the containment of harmful refrigerants – may not be readily apparent. In a co-op, consumer-owners have the ability to influence their store’s environmental policy. Read more

Keys to preventing Type 2 diabetes
Did you know that one out of four people in America are either diabetic or pre-diabetic? Unfortunately, this disease doesn’t arouse the immediate attention it deserves, because it can simmer quietly for years, all the while damaging the heart, kidneys, eyes, and other organs. Read more

Election 2013 – Meet the candidates – Alana Lucia 
BriarPatch has moved to the forefront of being the community hub for Nevada County. There are more local food options, community education options, and good employment opportunities. As BriarPatch moves forward, I would be an asset in the research and decision-making process in conceptualizing the future of BriarPatch. Read more

Election 2013 – Meet the candidates – Alan Weisberg
I believe my nine years of service have been marked by a strong commitment to BriarPatch, even during some rough times for the Board. In addition to my current role as President, I have served as Vice-President and Treasurer. I have a lot of other Board experience, both as a board member and as a consultant to various boards. Read more

Election 2013 – Meet the candidates – Peter Lockyer
I have served on the BriarPatch Board for the last three years and prior to that I was a member of the Finance Committee of the Co-op. In addition, during my career, I served on many boards and committees and I appreciate the demands placed on the Board in executing its responsibilities. My experience in finance is complementary to the existing Board members and I would hope to continue to provide the Co-op with the benefit of my experience and expertise.  Read more

Coming soon: more parking and 2012 patronage dividend
by Chris Maher, General Manager
The BriarPatch Board and Management have been continuing our research and discussion regarding the remarkable growth of our cooperative. Much of the focus of this work is on measuring the positive impact of our cooperatively owned business. This Earth Day issue of The Vine will help you to better appreciate the environmental impact of our operation. Read more

Why should co-op owners vote in the Board election?
by Alan Weisberg, Board President
Might you be a good potential candidate in the future? If not, do you know other Patch owners who you think have the “right stuff,” who you could ask to consider running? To help you answer these questions, I thought I would outline for you what the Board does. And a good place to begin is by clearing up misconceptions about what the Board does not do. Read more

BriarPatch’s owner volunteers – enthusiasm and spirit
This is a great way to learn (and share), to participate in a comfortable and friendly setting, be of service to the community, and to have fun! It is so amazing that people shopping at the Co-op are really enjoying themselves and the experience. Read more

It’s not too soon to plant cool season veggies
The things to plant now are chard (which will be sweet all summer), kale, broccoli, cauliflower, salad greens, carrots, beets, radishes, cabbage, spinach, and salad herbs, such as cilantro, mints, dill, and parsley. Read more

A visit to Redwood Hill Farm
Redwood Hill Farm is powered by a vast array of solar panels that track the sun. No pesticides or herbicides of any kind are used on the goat farm, vegetable gardens, or on the organic fruit orchards. No growth or milk production hormones are ever used. The goats are fed a completely organic diet whenever organic hay is available. Read more

Cashews in a nutshell: high in nutrients and satisfaction
by Jessica Jones-Hughes, Registered Dietitian and Equal Exchange Banana Coordinator
Over the years, nuts have sometimes been viewed negatively due to their high fat content. While they do contain a high percentage of fat, the fats found in nuts, especially tree nuts like cashews and almonds, are full of what dietitians refer to as “healthy fats,” (or, scientifically, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). Read more

February – March 2013 Features

Answering your price questions

by Chris Maher, General Manager
This issue of The Vine is all about prices. We receive a lot of questions, comments, and yes, even some complaints about the price of organic food. Read more

Pricing at the Patch: part process, part philosophy
by Chris Maher, General Manager
Pricing the goods we sell at BriarPatch Co-op is a carefully considered process that reflects the philosophies and values … Read more

Meeting the demand for local food
by Andrew Meyers
Andrew Meyers - Nevada County GrownOur local farmers and ranchers are quite impressive. This year, the BriarPatch Produce Department sold more locally grown produce than ever before — and by a long shot. The idea of “eat local” has gained wonderful traction in our community. Read more

Owner Specials and BriarPatch Basics

Only at BriarPatch 
BriarPatch Basics and Owner Specials. BriarPatch has not just one, but two low price programs of our very own. We want basic, healthful foods to be affordable for everyone. This is why we offer 50 staple foods, spanning every department, at a constant discount, every day — ranging from milk to multi-grain bread, butter to beans, russet potatoes to rice. Read more 

Cooperating for lower prices, great deals 
by Rick Sheller
Rick ShellerBriarPatch’s membership in the NCGA translates into a variety of savings for the store, and in turn, for our shoppers. There are two important drivers of the cost of food (which the industry lingo refers to as a retailer’s cost of goods sold (COGS). Read more

Save big on healthy food … the co-op way!
View the chart showing regular prices and sale prices (Co-op Deals, Owner Specials, and BriarPatch Basics). Read more

Boy with burger

Hidden costs lurk behind “cheap” food: environmental degradation and health problems
What is the real cost of food? The prices at the checkout stand are obvious, but what about the intangibles? How much more does food cost than what we see on our receipts? Francis Moore Lappé, author of “Diet for a Small Planet,” says, “We’ve actually let market prices lie to us. They don’t register all the hidden costs of our ‘factory farming’ model, costs that undermine the very sustainability of nature’s gifts.” Read more

Food prices: the outlook for 2013 by Mark Warner
The outlook for food prices in the coming year is being affected by several factors. The most prominent factor in the U.S. leading to an increase in food prices is the drought in the Mid-West. … Read more

BriarPatch’s product guidelines
BriarPatch Co-op Community Market strives to provide high quality products and merchandise for our owners and customers at all times. We use the following guidelines for choosing products. The full Merchandising Policy is posted at the abridged version that was printed in The Vine.


How our prices are a reflection of our goals: leadership, fellowship, and fairness 
by Alan Weisberg, President
In shopper surveys we’ve conducted, and from what we hear as board members, prices are a great concern for many BriarPatch owners. Since the job of the Board of Directors is to represent Co-op owners’ interests when you have concerns, we welcome the focus on prices in this edition of the Vine. Read more

Grape Tomatoes - Del Cabo Farm

Del Cabo Co-op brings economic opportunity south, and warm-weather, organic vegetables north – to us!
Nevada County’s growing season may be a bit short, but our shoppers’ appetite for tomatoes knows no bounds. So where does BriarPatch find tomatoes, basil, and other warm-weather favorites during the off-season? One answer is from Del Cabo cooperative, which is striving to make a difference in the organic farming communities of Mexico. Read more

veggie heart artworkSimple steps to improve your heart health
by Julie DeHollander, RD
Here’s the bad news: heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US., and there’s a 25% chance we will each face  some kind of heart issue in our lives. The good news is that by following some basic guidelines, we can stay on the sunny side of these statistics. Read more

Greening the RevolutionPatch presents Friday film series
Films with a focus on food will be shown in the BriarPatch Community Room each Friday night in February. BriarPatch was a proud sponsor of a food film session at SYRCL’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival in January, and is bringing these same films back for those of you who missed them there. Read more

GE (GMO) salmon public comment period open through Feb. 25
On December 21, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an Environmental Assessment (EA) with a “Finding of No Significant Impact” on the controversial AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon. The FDA action is widely viewed as confirmation that the Obama Administration is prepared to approve shortly the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption — in the face of widespread opposition. Read more

December 2012 – January 2013 Features

Ghosts of Christmas past
by Stephanie Mandel
In 1844, on December 21st, on Toad Lane in Rochdale, England, a co-op store opened its doors for the first time. It opened quite late, 8:00 p.m, and then for just two hours, two nights per week. Read more

9 tips for a Green Holiday Season
Here are some tips for making the holiday season wonderfully green. 1. Use Natural Decorations: leaves, birdseed, twigs, logs, and branches can all be used in lots of creative ways. Read moreGet organized for a stress-free holiday season
by Shawn Tuttle
When we think about the good times of holidays past, I’ll bet it’s the memories full of love that stand out. Or is it the raucous good times?  Read moreDelectable Dips for parties 
What’s in the dip? Thanks to your way with spices, that’s what guests will be asking as they wonder why your dips are so delicious and distinctive. Here are some tips to help you whip up your very own version of the ultimate party food. Read moreFrontier Co-op founds “Well Earth”organic training center in Sri Lanka 
Frontier Natural Products Co-op is a leading supplier of organic herbs and spices. Besides being committed to providing quality natural and organic products for consumers, they also have a strong commitment to the people and the land that produce their raw ingredients. Read more

Elster Ranch offers another great local beef option
by Mellisa Hannum
In his search for more local options to meet the needs of our customers, Johnny Miccio, our Meat Department Manager, discovered a cattle ranch that is very close to home. Read moreFarm conference brings great speakers to town (again!)
January 19 - 20, 2013

Nevada County’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference will once again bring together an internationally renowned panel of speakers, local and national farming related businesses and organizations, and the public, for a weekend full of informative lectures… Read moreChronic inflammation: know the triggers 
by Ilene Crystdahl, ND, L.Ac
This article continues the discussion of inflammation begun in the article by Julie DeHollander, RD, CD, in the October/November 2012 issue of The Vine. Chronic inflammation is increasingly being viewed as a key component in the progression of disease… Read moreProtecting children’s health: American Academy of Pediatrics misses the big picture in its flawed organics analysis
by Charlotte Vallaeys, The Cornucopia Institute
For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has weighed in on organic foods for children. In its report, which was widely covered in the national media, the AAP acknowledged that many pesticides are neurotoxins… Read moreChris Maher, BriarPatch General ManagerProp. 37 loss is not without its gains 
by Chris Maher, General Manager
The defeat of Proposition 37 was quite disappointing one for the many people who worked so hard on the campaign. Nonetheless, it was an amazing sight to see such a groundswell of popular support for this important cause…. Read moreAlanBoard to focus on co-op’s future in 2013 
by Alan Weisberg, Board President 
As I shared in the last Vine, our Board and Management have begun to engage in a very serious and lengthy process on how to develop and grow BriarPatch over the next 5, 10, and even 20 years…. Read moreCo-op owners fill the Foundry for another lovely, lively (and delicious!) annual gathering.
By every count, BriarPatch’s “Cooperative Celebration” annual Owner Meeting, held October 8th in the Miners Foundry, was a smashing success. A delicious Mediterranean-style meal prepared in our own Co-op kitchen was enjoyed by some 450 owners, who were served in both the main Osborn/Woods Hall and the Stone Hall…. Read moreHow our co-op fulfills our need for community 
from Lew Sitzer, Board Director
I recently had a nice dinner with some friends who have lived in our community for the last 8 years. BriarPatch came up in the course of conversation, as they recalled the store on Joerschke Drive, and told how they now shop at our bigger store… Read moreCo-op Owner Volunteer Program serves the the community, both inside and outside the store
It’s been over a year since BriarPatch expanded our Owner Volunteer program into the community to support the good work of local non-profit organizations…. Read moreFoodie films featured at Wild and Scenic festivalCafeteria Man - the movie
January 10-13, 2013

Not only do we all need food, but as many of us love to share it, we create elaborate traditions around food. Food is an integral part of the socio-environmental movement. The way we approach farming and eating is changing rapidly…. Read more

October – November 2012 Features

YES on Proposition 37 - your right_to_knowLet’s get out the vote!
BriarPatch joins Yes on 37 effort, will match $100 shopper contributions.
Millions of dollars are pouring into the campaign against Proposition 37, the Right to Know about GMOs initiative. BriarPatch Co-op is donating $5000 to the Yes on 37 campaign. On top of that, the Co-op will match donations of $100 or more to the Yes on 37 campaign…. Read morevote YES on Proposition 37Our golden opportunity
by Stephanie Mandel
It’s October, and around the country our sister food co-ops are beginning to welcome fall’s persimmons, pomegranates, and pumpkins.
They’re also celebrating Co-op Month by selling co-op-labelled fair trade Theo chocolate bars, and… Read moreNon GMO Project LogoWhy Choose Non-GMO Project Verified?
October is Non-GMO Month, and the celebration at BriarPatch will be bigger than ever this year. In nearly 50 countries around the world, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must be labeled because they haven’t been proven safe…. Read moreJulie DeHollanderCommon foods may reduce chronic inflammation by Julie DeHollander, RD, CD
Everything we eat, breathe, think, and feel has an effect on inflammation.Inflammation is influenced by the level of pollutants in our environment, the amount of sleep we get, and… Read moreBack to Basics, chicken and her eggsThe chickens and the eggs by Mellisa Hannum
Back to Basics Farm in Grass Valley, run by Rob and Patty Bielen, sells both chicken and eggs to BriarPatch. Fowler Family Farm, located in Penn Valley, is run by Brad and Alana Fowler with help from farm liaison Theresa Huck…. Read moreDinner Bell Farm Tour - Pigs!Community comes out to tour Dinner Bell Farm
Dinner Bell Farm in Chicago Park, with support from BriarPatch, hosted a farm tour on Sunday, August 12th. Though the morning went from warm to quite hot, this didn’t stop people from coming out to see the farm, or from having a great time…. Read moreEqual Exchange LogoEqual Exchange stands with small farmers by Mellisa Hannum
The concepts of cooperative business and fair trade are integrally mixed in the company philosophy of Equal Exchange. Equal Exchange helped introduce Fair Trade coffees to grocery stores in the United States. It was also the first U.S. company to use Fair Trade Certified sugar as an ingredient, as well as offering it as a stand-alone product…. Read morePachamama Farmer-Direct CoffeePachamama Coffee Co-op owned by farmers by Mellisa Hannum
Pachamama Coffee Co-op is unique. Not only do its farmers receive Fair Trade pricing, but since they’re also the owners, they enjoy all of the profits. Because the members own the company, they are also the ones who invest in its marketing, branding, and distribution…. Read morePercentage of money that stays local when purchasing local vs. purchasing commercialCo-ops turn social, economic profits
National Co-op Grocers Association releases study quantifying the impacts of food co-ops as compared to conventional grocery stores… Read moreChris Maher, BriarPatch General ManagerCo-ops, communities, and growth by Chris Maher, General Manager
Growth has been a major topic of discussion around the co-op of late, as we are currently experiencing double-digit growth in revenues over last year. This growth is being led primarily by our fresh food departments, such as produce, meat and seafood, and prepared foods…. Read moreAlanBriarPatch Co-op today and in the future: planning for the next 5, 10 – and even 20 (!) – yearsby Alan Weisberg, Board PresidentI have fond, exciting memories about the construction period [of the new store building], and will never forget the time the Tibetan monks came to bless the store when it was little more than a shell…. Read moreNo Kid Hungry LogoWorld Food Day: food co-ops join campaign
Every parent knows that a hungry child is a disadvantaged child. Such children can’t grow, develop, and learn like other kids. They have trouble focusing and getting along. They complain often of headaches, stomachaches, and other ailments. They fall behind in virtually every way…. Read moreNational Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) LogoBriarPatch General Manager, Chris Maher, elected to national co-op board
BriarPatch now has a seat on the Board of another co-op. Chris Maher, BriarPatch’s General Manager, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). Chris will attend meetings and lend his talents to this group for a two-year term. Congratulations, Chris!… Read moreInterFaith Food DriveBriarPatch and Interfaith hold food drive
Thank you, shoppers, for donating 700 pounds of food and nearly $500 in cash to the food drive held at BriarPatch on August 24 and 25. All donations went to Interfaith Food Ministry, which spearheaded the drive. BriarPatch pre-filled grocery bags with items requested by IFM, for which shoppers bought for $20 and then donated…. Read moreRyanPatch partners with One-Stop for employee training
by Mellisa Hannum
BriarPatch Co-op recently partnered with the One-Stop Business and Career Center in order to enjoy the benefits of its On-the-Job Training (OJT) program for one of the Co-op’s newly-hired employees, Ryan Orzalli…. Read more


August – September 2012 Features

vote YES on Proposition 37Volunteers needed for GMO ballot battle
by David Edwards
To pass this initiative, we must educate the people of California. And to do this, we need volunteers, people like Pamm Larry, or you, dear reader, who have woken up and decided to take action…. Read moreCCMA March Ben FranklinLiberty thrives in the form of food co-ops, local farms
Editor’s Note – by Stephanie Mandel
We started sharing the stories of local farmers in this newsletter back in 2002. I remember this well; it was my third year at this job, and the Co-op was in our location on Joerschke Drive. Our Produce Manager, Takayo Harriman, suggested that… Read moreBrett with basilYou know their veggies, now meet the farmers!
Township Valley Farm in Browns Valley is a new organic enterprise founded by the Pedley family, Martin, Kim, Brett, and Ben. Willow Creek Farm in Nevada City is a part of the Living Lands Agrarian Network. The farm’s one acre of land off of… Read moreChildren connecting with food 150Farm-to-school programs ready for growth this fall, connecting our kids with their food
Building on a pilot program that began last year, a coalition group called “Live Healthy Nevada County” is gearing up for the launch of a county-wide farm-to-school program…. Read moreWeisswassersBeware of unnecessary, unhealthy sugar in your diet
by Dr. Carolyn Weisswasser and Dr. Gregory Weisswasser
Do the words high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, dextrose and organic evaporated cane juice sound familiar? These are just some of the names that sugar can be called. Let’s face it: sugar is everywhere. So much sugar is added to… Read moreOnce Again - Kim MoriartyEmployee-owned co-op supports fair trade
by Mellisa Hannum
Once Again Nut Butter has a perfect motto, “We spread integrity.” That sense of integrity can be seen in every aspect of Once Again’s operation, from its development and support of domestic and international fair trade, to its… Read moreDavid ThompsonHall of Fame speaker coming soon, to your Owner Meeting on Oct. 8!
To properly celebrate the International Year of the Co-op, BriarPatch is making our 2012 Owner Meeting-Banquet-Party extra special by inviting an acclaimed speaker, Cooperative Hall of Fame Honoree David Thompson…. Read moreKristin OttoFall starts…already?!?
Yep, it’s time to plan and plant for those scrumptious cool season veggies: broccoli, kale, carrots, cabbage, beets, lettuce, and lots more. The idea of planting fall veggies before your tomatoes are ripe may make you feel safe about waiting a bit, but NOW is the time to… Read moreChris at Placer meetingBriarPatch supports GMO ballot initiative campaign
by Chris Maher, General Manager
As readers of the Vine know, BriarPatch has taken a strong stance against the proliferation of genetically engineered ingredients in our food system. In the past two years we have hosted events and initiated campaigns to raise our customers’ awareness of this important issue…. Read moreRick Sheller Vine articleCo-ops across the U.S. support local economic initiatives
by Rick Sheller, Vice President
August is the month we dedicate to local products — to the people that grow the produce, give us our local eggs, and produce the other local products BriarPatch proudly sells to us all. To view the number of local and regional suppliers our Co-op supports, simply go the web site and click on “Shop at the Patch,” then “Local”. There you can see all the farmers and… Read moresurvey resultsSurvey shows overall shopper satisfaction
Thank you to the 1000 BriarPatch owners and shoppers who took the time to complete the Co-op’s 2012 Shopper Satisfaction Survey. The feedback is much appreciated as management, staff, and the Board of Directors strive to understand your concerns and meet your needs…. Read moreComments reveal concerns about rising food prices
377 of the 1,000 shopppers who took the survey this year added a comment under question number 16, “Is there anything else you want to say about BriarPatch?” Here is a sample of their responses…. Read more

June – July 2012 Features

Mooney Flat FarmLook for early season veggies from these new-to-us farms
Drew has been selling his produce wholesale for the last couple of years, but has been operating a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture by subscription, since he began. Though most of year he’s a one-man operation… Read moreLocals offer luscious skin care
Among the high quality skin care and healing products offered at BriarPatch are excellent creams, lotions, and oils made by your Nevada County neighbors. Each of these… Read moreFlower FarmersOur flowers are not only gorgeous, they’re local!
Why buy locally grown flowers at BriarPatch? 1. To support our neighbor-farmers by creating and sustaining a market for their beautiful and unsprayed flowers… Read moreHow to get kids into local food (and good food into them)
Eat your veggies!” “Clean your plate!” “You don’t know what’s good for you!” When it comes to eating healthy foods, these are the mantras some parents use, with the good intention of… Read moreYuba River Charter School Home Study Farm ProgramCharter program teaches local food and farming
by Raelynn Noel, Program Coordinator and Education Specialist
The Yuba River Charter School Home Study Farm Program is hosted at the Woolman Semester School campus at the Sierra Friends Center. This program, based in Waldorf methods, began… Read moreSalmon survival, a brave rooster, and stockyard fish
An eatery in Tennessee has something new to crow about. Gus’ Fried Chicken Restaurant has a daily, well-combed visitor. Three months ago… Read moreAlaffia shea butterAlaffia Shea Butter Co-op
When Olowo-n’djo Tchala was a child in Togo, West Africa, he would work alongside his mother collecting nuts from shea trees to sell to government-sponsored shea nut buyers. Women traditionally gathered these nuts, and even though shea butter production has a long history as an indigenous product in Togo, it allows for… Read more2012 International Year of CooperativesREI knows no boundaries
REI is a leading outdoor gear and apparel retailer that has been serving outdoor enthusiasts in the United States for over 70 years. Their passion for… Read moreLetters:
Fair Trade USA supporter responds to “crisis” article

As a Nevada City native, long time supporter and customer of BriarPatch, and current Fair Trade USA employee, I am disheartened to see your post about Fair Trade USA and Equal Exchange… Read moreLabel GMOsGMO labeling initiative signatures are in
by David Edwards
The GMO labeling initiative is now awaiting approval from the California Attorney General. At least 504,760 signatures were needed, and statewide we’ve gathered… Read moreChris Maher, BriarPatch Co-op General Manager - for Vine pageSales growth brings challenges and visions
by Chris Maher, General Manager
As anyone who has circled the parking lot looking for a spot can attest, the store has gotten busier since the beginning of the year. In 2011 our sales exceeded… Read moreJeff Gold - Vine pageOur co-op community hub
by Jeff Gold, Board President
I remember our meetings in 2003 when the possibilities of a new BriarPatch store were just germinating. Back then, the old Joerschke Drive store had tight aisles… Read more

April – May 2012 Features

A farmer’s musings on spring
by Alan Haight, Riverhill Farm
At Riverhill Farm we work a piece of land that is easy to take pleasure in. There are subtleties in the lay of our growing fields, and changes in slope and …Read moreSpring clean your body
by Julie DeHollander, RD, CD
As the spring season moves in, it is an excellent time to spring clean your body — a time to let go of bad habits and replace them with …Read moreThe joys and pains of growing grains
by Reed Hamilton, Grass Valley Grains
As a small-scale local grain grower, I’m often asked for crops I don’t grow and products that I don’t produce. People often wonder, then: How do I …Read moreMars menus, cattle rustling, and chocolate mousse for breakfast
by Mellisa Hannum
Menu Fatigue on Mars: Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Hawaii-Manoa are looking for six volunteers to live in a …Read moreCrisis brewing in Fair Trade
Deep controversies in the Fair Trade movement have been simmering over the past decade. Today, the situation has reached a boiling point. Read more…Board works behind the scenes to further the Co-op vision
One of the benefits of being a BriarPatch Co-op owner is being able to cast a vote in the election of our Board of Directors. Four Board positions are open this year, and… Read moreCalifornia almond grower co-op leads its industry
by Mellisa Hannum
In spring, California’s valley is blanketed in a glory of orchards in bloom. Soft, white petals flutter overhead and cover the ground, turning it downy and fragrant …Read moreRemembering Fred Kelly
Fred Kelly began working at BriarPatch in early April of 2011, as a Grocery Clerk. He is sorely missed by all of us at BriarPatch and in the Nevada County community. To help Fred’s family with a memorial contribution, checks payable to Deborah Corrick may be left at the Customer Service window, attention Jackie W. More…Remembering Jacob Wolfe
Jacob Wolfe, an early pillar of BriarPatch and one of its first Presidents, passed away peacefully on February 21st, surrounded by the love of his family and friends.
Donations in memory of Jacob may be sent to the Nevada County Food Bank or the U.C. Davis Hospice. More…