Meet a Committe Member: Mary Beth Hertz

On which committee do you serve?

I am secretary of the Steering Committee.

What do you do for a living?

I am a technology teacher in a small elementary school in North Philadelphia.

How did you get involved with the food co-op?

I attended the informational PSCA meeting last Spring and the rest is history!

Why do you want a food co-op in South Philly?

I lived and ate in a co-operative house for 4 years while at Oberlin College. I loved the way we chose what was in our kitchen, the sense of community, the focus on local, sustainable products.  I also am kind of a food snob :) I am excited to bring this kind of experience and business into my neighborhood.

Why should people join a food co-op?

A food co-op is unlike any other place that you will shop. As a member, you have a say in what you see on the shelves, you are part of a community of people who are invested in their community and you have a say in the direction the business takes through your vote and involvement.

What is your favorite meal to cook and why?

I love making soups of all kinds because they are easy, tasty and comforting. My most recent favorite was a lentil soup with sausage. I also like to make Vichyssoise (potato leek soup).

Great Apps, part 1: Appetizer edition

You may remember that about two weeks ago we had the second in our series of educational events, the title of which was "There's an App for That!" (which, we swear, we totally made up before Apple did.) Picky from the great restaurant and food blog Messy and Picky gave the event a great write-up and, proving his cred as a really good blogger, posted it the next day! (We'll get to that level some day. We promise.) Mary Rizzo from our Legal/Finance committee also attended and provided a nice review (with pictures, no less). Both of those write-ups gave a little tease about the kinds of foods we shared. But now for the main course... the recipes! Without further ado here they are: Spicy Thai Cabbage Salad (brought by "Picky") Mix in a bowl:
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple sugar/brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
Chop and add to mixture:
  • 1/3 to 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 1 carrot julienne fine
  • handful of radishes matchsticked
  • other radish of your liking
  Sit for at least 30 minutes then add:
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • handful of shelled peanuts
  • handful of lettuce/salad mix
Garlicky Eggplant Spread from Bon Appetit (provided by Karen) 8 servings
  • 2 large eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, slivered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried crumbledd
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • Pita bread
  • chopped fresh oregano
Preheat over to 450 degrees F. Cut slits in eggplants with tip of knife and insert garlic sliver into each slit. Place eggplants in baking pan and bake until very tender, about 1 hour. Cut each eggplant in half and cool slightly. Scrape eggplant pulp from skin into colander and let drain. Transfer eggplant to processor. Add oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oregano and cumin. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Line platter with lettuce. Halve tomato slices and arrange around edge of platter. Cut pita into wedges and arrange around platter. Mound eggplant mixture in center. Sprinkle with oregano. Tofu and Lime Dip from The Passionate Vegetarian (brought by Karen - yes, two Karens in attendance)
  • tofu
  • cilantro
  • scallions
  • garlic
  • oil
  • horseradish
  • lime
  • salt and pepper
For dipping - artichokes. Garnish - olives and artichokes Oven-Fried Rice Balls with Gruyère from Dana Treat (provided by Alison Fritz) Brussel Sprout Salad (provided by Mary) Baked Gigantes in Tomato Sauce (provided by Lori) And Cassie (from our Steering and Legal/Finance Committees and the person who has been organizing these great events) brought: Olive Tapenade From: a combination of recipes (Alton Brown, Emeril,
  • 3/4 pound pitted black olives, such as Kalamata
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½  lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
If you have a food processor or blender, you can simply process all ingredients for a few seconds, being careful not to process too finely, since tapenade should not be smooth. If you don't have afood processor, finely mince the olives and garlic, then combine with all the other ingredients, mixing well. Hummus From:
  • 2 cups canned chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ½ lemon, squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • Fried chick peas
Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and fried chick peas. Fried Chick Peas Some canned chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Olive oil for frying
Heat about ½ inch oil in a pan, enough so the chick peas can float. Mix dry ingredients. Dredge chick peas in flour mixture. Test the heat of the oil by placing one chick pea in the pan. When it cracks, the oil is ready. In small batches, fry the chick peas until crisp (you’ll hear them pop and crack). Remove chick peas and place on paper towel to cool. Be careful during the frying process because when the oil is just hot enough, the chick peas will pop and splatter hot oil on you. It’s a good idea to have a mesh cover handy. Clearly, everyone who attended ate quite well. See what you missed! Coming up next: favorite cookbooks and food-related magazines, movies, memoirs, websites, blogs and, of course, smart phone apps!

The New Young Farmers

The New York Times published a wonderful story about a newer, younger generation of farmers that are starting to change the American landscape. There are now younger farmers, spurred on by the local food movement, that have jumped into farming and trying to make this their livelihood. The are also facing a lot of difficulties too. It is hard to find and buy land and equipment. They also need to learn the basics of farming, which, as you can guess, is not easy. While the article focuses on the Eugene, Oregon, you can see how this  is being repeated across the country and our area. A really good read if you want to learn a little about what new farmers are facing.

Homemade Ricotta

Have you ever tried making homemade ricotta?  I found a recipe on one of my favorite food blogs and tried it out.  It was so easy and delicious!  All you need is milk, lemon juice, salt, and a cheese cloth.

First, heat 1 quart or 4 cups of milk over medium high heat and stir constantly.

As it comes to a slow boil, add the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Continue stirring until you start to see it curdle (about 2 minutes).

Then pour the mixture into the strainer that is lined with the cheese cloth.  Let the liquid discard for a few minutes then hang the cheese cloth for about an hour (I tied it to my faucet above my sink).

Transfer the curds to a covered container and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.  I used mine in a chocolate ricotta mousse for Valentine's Day.  Makes about 8 ounces.

Please note that I altered the recipe from The Italian Dish so if you decide to make your own, use one or the other to avoid any mishaps.

Co-op update for March 2011

In this Issue:

  • What We’ve Been Up To
  • Upcoming Events
  • Become a Member of the South Philly Food Co-op
You’re the best (yes you!): Our plans to open a food co-op in South Philly are really moving along and we wanted to THANK everyone for their patience and continued interest in what we’re doing! Keep reading to hear about what we’ve been up to, what we have planned and how you can support the effort.

What We’ve Been Up To:

We’ve been busy presenting the South Philly Food Co-op at neighborhood civic association meetings and collecting surveys of people’s opinions, including their level of interest in the co-op. Thanks to everyone who has filled out our survey—more than 800 of you—and those who haven’t can take the survey here. We held our first fundraiser at the South Philadelphia Taproom in early December and it was a huge success—more than 80 people turned out for drink and food specials. A great time was had by all! And have you heard of Ignite Philly? It’s a chance to present a “spark” of a great idea planned to happen in Philadelphia in short 5 minute bursts…they obviously thought our 5 minutes were explosive because they awarded us with $1000! _____________________________________________

Upcoming Events:

Come out and meet the South Philly Food Co-op! Spring Community Forum Monday, March 21 at 7pm (limited parking available) Neumann-Goretti High School Auditorium Entrance at 11th and Moore Streets We are hosting a community forum where we’ll share our progress and plans to open the South Philly Food Co-op. It’s a chance for everyone to meet one another and for those of you in the community to ask any and all questions you may have about the project. It’s also a chance for you to find out more about how you can lend a hand (we’re always looking for more people with time, energy and/or fancy skills). RSVP on our Facebook page. We hope to see you there! Whole Foods for the Whole Family Sunday, March 27th at 6pm Philly Community Wellness at 1241 Carpenter Street Keep your family healthy with the foods that you’ll be able to find at your local co-operative. Join Marie Winters, ND as she discusses the benefits and medicinal properties of everyday fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Find out how eating seasonally helps to keep the body naturally healthy, and discuss ways to use the first spring fruits and vegetables to improve your health and wellbeing. Learn about gentle detoxing using food and juice, immune support for the whole family, keeping your heart healthy naturally, maintaining hormonal balance with your diet. RSVP on our Facebook page or by emailing Are you interested in leading a discussion or organizing an educational/fundraising event? Email We are planning additional education events and fundraisers for the spring and summer and are looking for people who are connected to businesses, restaurants, authors, speakers or performance artists. If you have a good idea for a co-op fundraiser or an educational event and are interested in helping get it off the ground, please email us. We have the volunteers and resources to help make it happen. _____________________________________________

Become a Member of the South Philly Food Co-op!

Ready to become a member of the co-op? We’re planning to kick off our Membership Drive this summer. Stay tuned for more details and come to the Forum to learn what it means to be a member-owner of the co-op. Remember: We own It – and we need to work for it! Thanks again and looking forward to seeing you soon! The Steering Committee Alison Fritz, Chair Maria Camoratto, Vice Chair Mary Beth Hertz, Secretary Cassie Plummer, Inter-Committee Liaison, Legal & Finance Committee Julia Koprak John Raezer Marsha Shiflet

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

Ever had a light money week and felt torn by the organic vs. conventional question? Here is a simple list of the 12 produce items that have been tagged as the "Dirty Dozen" (and you should ALWAYS purchase organically) and the "Clean 15" that you can scrape by with (although it might not taste as good!)

The fruits and vegetables on “The Dirty Dozen” list, when conventionally grown, tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, with some testing positive for as many as 67. For produce on the “dirty” list, you should definitely go organic — unless you relish the idea of consuming a chemical cocktail.

“The Dirty Dozen” list includes:
•domestic blueberries
•sweet bell peppers
•spinach, kale and collard greens
•imported grapes

All the produce on “The Clean 15” bore little to no traces of pesticides, and is safe to consume in non-organic form.

"The Clean 15" list includes:
•sweet corn
•sweet peas
•kiwi fruit
•sweet potatoes
•sweet onions

**list and images from (

Spring Community Forum

Come out and meet the South Philly Food Co-op! Community Forum Spring Monday, March 21 at 7pm (limited parking available) Neumann-Goretti High School Auditorium.  Entrance @ 11th and Moore We are hosting a community-wide meeting where we’ll share our progress and future plans to open a food co-op in South Philly. Come learn about who we are, what we’ve been up to and how to get involved. It’ll also be a great opportunity for those of you in the community to ask any and all questions you may have about the project. Stay tuned for more details and check out the Facebook event.

Whole Foods for the Whole Family

Join us Sunday, March 27 from 6pm - 8 at Philly Community Wellness (1241 Carpenter Street). We'll be talking about keeping your family healthy with the foods that you’ll be able to find at your local co-operative. Join Marie Winters, ND as she discusses the benefits and medicinal properties of everyday fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Find out how eating seasonally helps to keep the body naturally healthy, and discuss ways to use the first spring fruits and vegetables to improve your health and wellbeing. Marie will provide recipes for making medicines and tonics from common kitchen cupboard ingredients, and she’ll provide food samples as well. Topics to be covered include:
  • Gentle detoxing using food and juice
  • Immune support for the whole family
  • Keeping your heart healthy naturally
  • Maintaining hormonal balance with your diet.
Bring your questions. She’ll answer them. Please check out our Facebook page for more info and RSVP for the event.

Meet a Committee Member: Alison Fritz

On which committee do you serve?

Chair of the Steering Committee and Inter-committee liaison to the Outreach Committee.

What do you do for a living?

Associate Director of Donor Relations at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

How did you get involved with the food co-op?

I really enjoyed being a member of Weavers Way in Mt. Airy from 2003 - 2005, and wondered why there weren't more stores like it in Philadelphia. When my husband and I moved to South Philadelphia in 2008, I was encouraged to learn about a local buying club and previous co-op start-up activity. With the help of Weavers Way, we presented the co-op model at a neighborhood meeting in April and got a great response. The initiative took off from there and I've met some really wonderful people who I wouldn't have known without the help of the co-op (see! it's connecting us already!).

Why do you want a food co-op in South Philly?

Well, I love food. Love Food. Love eating it, cooking it, shopping for it, and talking about it. More than that, I think it's important to know where our food comes from, how it was grown or raised, how it has been processed, and ultimately how it got to the table and into our bodies. By being a part of a member-owned co-op, we will all get to exercise some small measure of ownership and control over these issues - while supporting the local economy and working together.

Why should people join a food co-op?

Really good food, support for local and socially responsible food suppliers, and a chance to get to know and work with your neighbors. One of the reasons I wanted to move to South Philly was to have a chance at the "neighborhoodness" (is that a word?) that I remember from my childhood. With all of the change and residential turnover that our community has seen over the last few years, this co-op could be one of the things that helps unite us again.

What is your favorite meal to cook and why?

Gosh, I don't know. It's hard to pick one dish because I really like to test our new recipes and our menu tends to be dictated by whatever we picked up in our CSA share that week. I guess the staples in my house are: homemade pizza, black bean burgers, hummus, roasted broccoli, and braised kale. I've also been on a bit of a kimchi kick lately.

I love the ritual of looking through my cookbooks and picking out new things to try, and then the act of prepping, chopping, bubbling, and sizzling. Sometimes the experience of preparing a meal can be more soul satisfying than actually eating it.

5 ways the Co-op can help regional food security (and vice versa)

Though it applies to everything contributors to this blog write, it should be expressly stated that any opinions below are solely those of the author and DO NOT reflect any policies, rules, or decisions made the South Philly Food Co-op's steering, legal/finance, or outreach committees. Earlier this month the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) released "Eating Here: Greater Philadelphia’s Food System Plan" (abstract .pdf here). The report is the latest step in a process that began a couple years back with the convening of the Greater Philadelphia Food System Stakeholder Committee and the publication of The Greater Philadelphia Food System Study, "a large surveying effort and analysis that identified prominent stakeholders, successful programs, regional competitive advantages, recommendations for improvement, and differing interests." I spent the better part of the weekend reading through the full report specifically looking for ways that the report's message about food system security and its recommended actions could relate to the food co-op model and what we're trying to accomplish here in South Philadelphia. The report is full of recommendations that a co-op with the mission of the South Philly Food Co-op could help to make a reality. There are also a number of recommendations that if implemented could, in turn, make the co-op more viable and more competitive with corporate food retailers whose profit motive takes precedence - as it naturally should - often contributing to many of the poor dietary and environmental indicators cited in the report. (Keep reading below for some items I've pulled from the report. A warning, though, I tend to get a little wordy.) For example, on page 51 the report references the difficulties faced by farming and food businesses as they seek access to capital for start-up and expansion (a difficulty which this Co-op is seeking answers to right now). The report offers hope:

...many financial institutions have a growing interest in supporting sustainable businesses that have a triple-bottom line—people, profit and planet. Greater Philadelphia has a number of financial organizations interested in supporting the growing local food and healthy food movements, in addition to the emerging social enterprise movement.

It goes on to list a few of those institutions as examples. Obviously such institutions aren't going to throw money out there at every start-up food concern that comes along, but an organization with a large and growing number of dedicated individuals, who can prove that there is a market for the kind of mission-based business represented by this co-op can have hope of securing the support it needs. And while getting that critical mass of people is clearly the most difficult part of this process, being able to give them a reason to believe that their time, effort and money has a reasonably good chance of being leveraged into institutional financial support makes it just a little easier. The report also recommends making improvements to the supply chain so that the "efficiencies of the global food system" (think supermarket chains and big box retailers who also sell food) can be applied to the regional food system. The "direct market chain" - one system that a food co-op would support - in which producers are put directly in contact with consumers has the benefit "of providing consumers with detailed information about where and by whom the products are produced." (Actually, as a "middle man" of sorts, the co-op model may technically be an example of the hybrid or intermediated chain but connecting producer and consumer more directly can be among its goals.) In order to help, say, a small local co-op compete with the big players the report says:

Applying technological innovations already employed by the global food system to intermediated and direct market supply chains can increase transportation efficiencies, which in turn can lead to more affordable local products and more accurate information on product origins for the consumer.

The sooner the better! There are a number of ways the co-op (and existing co-ops in the region) could help the recommendations in the report become reality. In fact, a strong system of food co-ops (as mission-based, rather than purely profit-based businesses) could help implementation of all the recommendations in the report. But the following especially stood out: Promote the use of new technology and community-based communication outlets by all partners—government, private sector, and nonprofits—to educate people about healthy food. (p 59) Approaches to reduce hunger should emphasize creating jobs with livable wages and empowering those personally affected. (p 76) Though there's some argument about his motivations, Henry Ford's idea of paying his workers a high wage they could afford the cars he was selling is an example of how a co-op with a goal of paying its workers a living wage could help create a number of well-paying semi-skilled-labor jobs that in turn reduce poverty and hunger. Advocate for food labels that allow consumers to make more informed decisions and enable food producers to be more fully compensated. (p 77) I've written about fact-o-vore based eating before so it's no surprise that this is one of my primary motivations for wanting a co-op. Overall, the takeaway for any of us involved in starting a food co-op is that we're not doing this in a vacuum. As the report makes clear (just with its list of "stakeholders") these issues are being considered at some of the highest levels of regional government and by hundreds of different organizations. Food security, like energy security, will be one of the foremost issues of the 21st century. It's clear that the system that has been in place for the past 50 years or so needs to be fixed, if not totally overhauled. While we continue working on our community's part of this fix, the report ends with some recommendations for individuals:

Individuals can support the region’s economy and heritage by purchasing fresh, locally grown foods from a nearby farmers’ market or by joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. If one has the space, growing a garden will improve a household’s food security. Many municipalities and some neighborhoods have composting programs. Private companies have started to meet the need to compost household food waste. The region has an extensive park and trail network, encouraging people to get outside, enjoy the outdoors, and exercise or commute to work. Lastly, individuals can protect open space and farmland by voting for municipal, county, and state funding referendums or becoming a member of a land trust.