South Philly Food Co-op on

Thanks to for giving a mention of our upcoming Spring Community Forum! Questions about the forum can be directed to southphillyfoodcoop[at]gmail[dot]com or you can go on Facebook for more details and to RSVP.

There's An App For That

Please join us for the South Philly Food Co-op's next event, "There's An App For That." It's Sunday, February 27th at 6 pm at the Philly Community Wellness at 1241 Carpenter Street. We're hosting an appetizer potluck and recipe exchange where we’ll also share and discuss our favorite food blogs, websites, apps, and cookbooks. By the end of the night will have full bellies, food inspiration, and a community generated blog post! What To Bring: Bring your ready to eat appetizer and a copy of the recipe. Also bring your a list of your favorite food or cooking blogs, apps, and cookbooks. If you feel like it, bring your copy of your favorite cookbook so others can browse through recipes and see what you like about the book. We'll Provide: There will be a sink and hot water for tea. We'll also provide plates, napkins and utensils. We will not have an oven available so if your dish needs to be hot, please cook it before you arrive. Please RSVP and look for more information on Facebook.

Meet a Committee Member: Julie Haynes

On which committee do you serve?

I am currently the secretary for the Outreach Committee.

What do you do for a living?

I am a teacher.

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

A good friend.

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

I am really interested in buying local food.

Why should people join a food co-op?

People should help support their community and want to educate the local population about healthy food.

What is your favorite meal to cook and why?

That's not a fair question to ask.  Too many.  Lots of seafood and vegetables.

Minimalist gets a new home

I'm a recent convert to the work of Mark Bittman at the New York Times. In fact, before I got involved with this Co-op effort I had never really heard of him. Not being much of a cook myself, I had never really followed his Minimalist column but my impression was he made an effort to convince take-out and restaurant addicted Manhattanites that they could in fact cook for themselves with food they found at the corner bodega in a kitchen that was barely large enough to hold a medium-sized saucepan. I've visited many a friend who lives in Manhattan and can count on one hand the number of times I've seen any of them cook or even have non-perishable food in their apartments. So clearly Bittman's work was necessary and will be missed. He has since moved on to a weekly opinion column which moves away from recipes and lifestyle tips to policy discussions and pointed critiques of lifestyle choices (especially the one that thinks processed food are a way to save much needed net surfing time). His latest column poses the question about whether eating real food is even possible. Or, borrowing a slogan coined by his Times colleague Michael Pollan, is it possible to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants"? The hook for this column was the recent release of the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (which he acknowledges seems a little late but also explains the reason for). The much discussed criticism of the guidelines, which have otherwised been praised for finally acknowledging that Americans need to eat less (a "guideline" that goes against the USDA's other mission of promoting American manufactured and produced food) is that they are asymmetrical in that they explain which foods are good to eat but which nutrients should be avoided (being careful not to offend the meat or dairy industry by telling Americans to eat less meat or fewer Three Musketeers bars). We've tweeted about other food policy writers like Marion Nestle who have made this point and it is an important one. Until the USDA resolves this multiple personality disorder, the U.S. Federal government will continue to lack an agency or authority that is purely on the side of our nutritional well-being (HHS has WAY too much on its plate to play this role). So your reading assignment is to catch up on the new Bittman column, including the Food Manifesto that he kicked things off with and let what he writes bounce around your brain for a little bit. You may not agree with everything but at least it'll get you thinking about the choices you make when you go to hunt down your dinner at the local supermarket. It has for me!

We Won!

Ignite Philly is part of a world-wide network that hosts semi-regular events where individuals and organizations give short 5 minute presentations to entertain and educate viewers on a wide variety of subjects. As Ignite describes it,

Each presenter is on stage for a total of 5 minutes (20 slides, at 15 seconds each slide). These talks are a ’spark’ if you will, they are lightning fast and leave people with a new idea to mull over and talk about.

Recently at Ignite Philly 6, Outreach Committee members Mary Beth Hertz and Julie Haynes gave a presentation on the SPFC and our goals of educating South Philadelphians on sustainable food practice and opening a member-owned community grocery store.

This week came the exciting news that the co-op was chosen as the winner of the last Ignite! As part of their goal to promote organizations that will have a meaningful and immediate impact on the community, the organizers chose us as the recipient of the proceeds from the door, a big boost to our initial fundraising.

Many thanks to the Ignite organizers and a hearty congrats to Mary Beth and Julie for their hard work. You can see video and slides of their presentation here and attend Ignite Philly 7 on Thursday, February 10 at Johnny Brenda's. Come on out, it's always a fun time.

Meet a Committee Member: Josh Richards

On which committee do you serve?

Legal & Finance

What do you do for a living?

I am a lawyer.

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

I came to an open meeting at SPOAC and loved the idea of helping to open a food co-op.

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

Access to high quality food is important to me and the community of a co-op is a great bonus.

Why should people join a food co-op?

Community and high-quality food plus knowing that the money they spend goes back into their own neighborhood.

What is your favorite meal to cook and why?

Deep dish veggie lasagna.  It's a fun process and the result can cheer up anyone.

Factovore - or Fact-based Eating

I could never be a vegetarian. There are simply too many members of the animal kingdom that have had the misfortune of being made way to0 tasty by whichever process you tend to be believe in (whether God made the yellowfin tuna such a tasty sushi treat or it evolved over millions of years to find itself a desired part of my diet). I've also read and carefully considered the arguments made on both sides of the vegan/vegetarian vs. omnivore debate side for why we humans may or may not have evolved to eat meat. I'm not one to judge the choices anyone has made and I do think there is little argument against the idea that Americans in general eat waaaay too much beef, poultry, fish, etc. (a trend that is catching on around the world as developing countries try to be like us). So no. I won't be going cold turkey on cold turkey anytime soon. I do, however, want to try to line my own diet up with a sustainably acceptable (not to mention healthier) ratio of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to meat and dairy. But until recently, I struggled to find a simple rule or method to help me settle into that acceptable ratio (which I estimate is probably 2-3 servings of meat per week rather than the normal 2-3 servings per day that "the market" with its artificially low meat prices would guide one toward). Thankfully, right around the first of the year (when you're most likely to find such work) I read an account by a writer who was undergoing a similar struggle. Francis Lam writing for Salon laid out his "No Cheap Chicken" manifesto after being exhorted by a lunch meat brand to avoid its competitors' products by asking "How do you think the make cheap chicken?" The commercial was right. I have no idea exactly how they make cheap chicken (or cheap beef or cheap fish for that matter) but I've read enough Omnivore's Dilemma-type work and seen enough Food Inc.-type movies to know I don't really want to know. So, similar to Lam, I've made it my goal to eat only foods whose origins and production methods I am reasonably sure of. Food with facts. I will be a factovore. (Yep, just what you need, another term to throw in with ovo-lacto-vegetarian, locavore and agrarian-urbanist.) How does a Co-op (or a CSA of which Alison and I are members) help with this process? Answering this question goes a long way toward explaining my primary reason for wanting a local food co-op in this area. It can be about connecting consumers to the producers of their food more directly and minimizing the role of the agro-industrial complex that has come to touch almost every part of our food system. With the owners of the co-op being its customers (and not some number-crunching corporation) I can be assured that policies on what products to carry will be thoughtfully considered and be based on more than just the lowest possible price. How's the resolution going? On the meat end of things fairly well. The only beef I've eaten this month were hamburgers that came from cows raised on Alison's aunt and uncle's farm (so I REALLY know the producer) and I've avoided almost all other meat entirely (aside from the pepperoni I had a pizza a couple weeks ago). I'm still working on eating only fruits and vegetables whose origins I'm aware of and the Greens Grow CSA is helpful with that. Admittedly, giving up Reese's Peanut Butter cups and several other processed foods has been difficult. For all intents and purposes, choosing my diet based on knowing where my food comes from effectively rules out a lot of choices. How do I know exactly where the yellowfin tuna on the sushi came from? It also means paying a little more for other choices. But in the end, the price of a pound of sustainably-raised beef is an effective signal for just how much of it should be in my diet (which, in theory, could reduce other health-care related costs in the future). Feel free to share in the comments your own thought processes as you decide what foods to buy, cook and serve. In the future, in order to make this kind of decision-making a little more universally accessible, I hope to do a little more research into how to make these choices on a tight budget when "cheap calories" in processed foods and $0.99 per pound ground beef can be so tempting.

Warrior On

A big thanks to Genevieve Sherrow, author of Gluten-free Warrior, who braved the cold to come out and speak to South Philly Food Co-op this past Sunday. Genevieve first discovered she was gluten-intolerant after she moved from Philly to the Pacific Northwest to enroll in a Master’s Program in Nutrition at Bastyr University, a Seattle-based institution that specializes in natural health science degree programs. While her symptoms were partially triggered by stress, Genevieve didn’t find any stress in the transition to gluten-free living in foodie-central Seattle, host to grocery stores and restaurants stocked with lots of gluten-free options.

With her diverse training from Bastyr, including culinary classes focused on Whole Foods Production, Traditional Chinese Medicine Nutrition and Ayurvedic Nutrition, she observed her cooking abilities changing dramatically at home. Her instincts in the kitchen improved and she began experimenting with different foods and cooking techniques, and so began the evolution of Gluten-free Warrior. The cookbook focuses on whole foods that are naturally gluten-free such as whole grains (millet, buckwheat, quinoa, tef), legumes, vegetables with strong nutritional profiles like sea vegetables, root vegetables, ginger, leafy greens, some meats and fish, and Asian-style sauces and condiments (tamari, fish sauce, mirin, cooking sake, umeboshi plum vinegar),


Gluten-free Warrior contains 60 whole foods recipes, each extensively tested by at least 2 people from a group of over 30 volunteer recipe testers. Many of the recipes tested as “kid-friendly” - most surprisingly Garlic Sauteéd Collards. The book is overwhelmingly vegetarian and includes several vegan options. Gluten-free foodies who love brunch will be happy to find more than ten new breakfast recipes including warming whole grain porridges. During the Sunday night book discussion, South Philly Food Co-op was able to taste-test two recipes – The Warrior’s Jewish Apple Cake and the Blue-est Muffins prepared as a cornbread. Both were easy to make and received rave reviews by our group.


Some great questions were raised in the Q & A portion of the talk – specifically “How do you navigate the restaurant scene when your diet is gluten-free?” The future co-oper who asked this question said she had many experiences where she was told her dishes were gluten-free only to suffer a reaction a few hours later. Unaware of the consequences, a restaurant may cross contaminate gluten from other parts of the kitchen when preparing a gluten-free plate. Genevieve suggested sticking to restaurants whose cuisine generally does not contain gluten-filled ingredients. Here in South Philly we are lucky to have authentic Mexican restaurants that use corn tortillas and Vietnamese restaurants that offer rice noodles. Restaurants are catching on to the need to offer gluten-free menu options and gluten-free non-profit organizations are helping them do that. National Foundation of Celiac Awareness hosts “Appetite for Awareness”, a local gluten-free festival featuring a vendor marketplace, cooking demos, and food provided by chefs from your favorite Philly restaurants. Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) organizes a gluten-free training and certification to restaurant owners and maintains a searchable list of participating restaurants at the website for the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program.  Very helpful if you are traveling and don’t have access to a kitchen or a good grocery store! Beyond that, the best thing to do is to call the restaurant and ask if they offer gluten-free options and how they manage issues of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

If you weren’t able to make it out to the book discussion, you can catch up with Genevieve at book events around the city. Check out the Gluten Free Warrior Blog or sign up for her mailing list ( to keep up-to-date on where she’ll be next. You can also purchase her book at several local bookstores:

Garland of Letters Bookstore, South Street
The Cookbook Stall, Reading Terminal Market
Wooden Shoe Books, 7th and South
Giovanni's Room, 12th and Pine
Headhouse Books, 2nd Street off South

We’d also like to thank Philly Community Wellness for being a great host to the event. Our next community event “There’s an App For That” will be on Sunday February 27th, 2011 at 6pm at Philly Community Wellness (1241 Carpenter). It’s an appetizer potluck and recipe exchange. We will also discuss our favorite food blogs, apps, and cookbooks. By the end of the night will have full bellies, food inspiration, and a community generated blog post! Stay tuned for more details.


Monday Night Dinner

I just finished reading Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life, and now have a whole host of new recipes to try. I don’t know about you, but a quick and healthy dinner is just what I’m looking for in January and this salad meets both of those requirements. Luckily, I keep a wedge of my favorite parmesan cheese in the frig.
Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper by Molly Wizenberg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pressed garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
First, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Next, prepare the cabbage by cutting into quarters, remove and discard the white core, and slice the cabbage as thinly as you can. In a bowl, toss the cabbage with a large spoonful or two of the dressing. Add the parmesan and toss again. Top with freshly ground pepper and taste for seasoning.
I think you’ll find that this salad is salty, tangy and crunchy. Serve as a side dish with a some roasted chicken or pair with a crusty baguette for an easy lunch.Simple can also be perfect.

Nobody Bakes a Cake as Tasty as a Tastykake

Your out-of-town friends probably think we're known for cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, or even cream cheese. Maybe it's throwing snowballs at Santa or the late night danger of Independence Hall. Or the best starting pitching...ever. But when it comes to sweets, many Philadelphians' hearts and stomachs rest with the locally manufactured Tastykake. And for a while there it looked like Tastykake might not make it. Fortunately the company has been granted a temporary reprieve through the efforts of our plump former mayor/governor and $6.5 million in public and private financing. While the future is still unsure for Tastykake, it sure tastes sweet right now. What's your favorite? Butterscotch krimpets? Kandy Kakes? Or the fancy Tasty Klair pie?