People's is Moving Toward Zero Waste, & We Need Your Help!

By Brita Zeiler, Bulk Herb & Tea Buyer

When People’s was founded in 1970, one of the driving forces was providing more access to food produced close to home for the community with minimal packaging. Over recent years, the popularity of committing to a sustainable lifestyle with a goal of reducing personal waste in small and large ways has grown, giving rise to the Zero Waste lifestyle and movement. The movement has an emphasis on bulk shopping, home cooking, and DIY body care products and cleaners. 

Throughout the years, People has remained a hub for folks striving to live a more sustainable lifestyle with our unique product selection and buying guidelines. We sell a plethora of items in bulk, including: bulk dried and perishable foods, spices, herbs, teas, supplements, body care products, cleaning products, and kombucha. The Bulk Team at People’s is thrilled to share that we continue to further our work in limiting waste and getting closer to a Zero Waste model in our operations. 

What do we mean by going Zero Waste? While there are no magical pipelines that seamlessly transport sprouted organic almonds from the field to our store free of packaging, we are striving to reduce the amount of waste that goes into food production, transportation, and storage as much as possible. We are taking into consideration the waste and inputs required to grow or manufacture a product, its packaging, its delivery, and how it will be disposed of. We understand that we will need to take small steps in order to make a big impact. 

Already, many of our bulk products are delivered in reusable containers that we return to the supplier for refill. We’ve also begun saving and sharing shipping materials with local businesses, rather than recycle or throw them out. We have been working with the local Health Department to re-introduce our reusable container program in bulk, so shoppers have access to sanitary, no-cost reusable containers. There are many more ideas we’d like to implement, and we would appreciate your input on what changes you’d like to see in store. 

This Fall, People’s will be starting a monthly gathering for Member-Owners, community members, People’s staff, and Board of Directors members to gather in the interest of working toward a Zero Waste operation for People’s. In these meetings, we will decide on priorities and projects to move forward on, with the support of our community. We will also be hosting skill-building workshops so you can learn to make your own zero waste products from the bulk section. We hope you can join us and collaborate with us. 

People’s Zero Waste Community Engagement Group - Tuesday, October 15th, 5:00-6:30pm

Do you have a vision for how People’s can support a Zero Waste future? Do you want to learn more about what you can do to help? As individuals and as a community we need to strategize ways to reduce our dependence on single use plastics and overall reduce our waste. People’s has been a leader in sustainability for 50 years, and we are striving to stay engaged in our commitment to this legacy. In this first meeting, we will be introducing our vision and gauge the priorities of projects and engagements at People’s and the broader community. Join us for this meeting to be a part of the People’s Zero Waste Community Engagement Group! There will be snacks from our bulk and produce departments to enjoy. 

RSVP Here!

Zero Waste 101: People’s Bulk Section Basics - Friday, October 18th, 5:00-6:30pm

People’s offers an incredible selection of local, artisan, and affordable products in our bulk section. In this class, People’s bulk buyers will share their strategies for reducing excess packaging in the grocery industry, insight into their selective buying practices, along with sampling some of their favorite items. 

There will be a demonstration of bulk shopping strategies that reduce the necessity of single use containers. 

RSVP Here!

DIY Face & Body Moisturizer Workshop - Saturday, November 2nd, 3:30-5:00pm

Making your own face and body moisturizers is easy, low waste, and cost effective. Customize healing balms to your skin's needs, whether you are suffering with dry, itchy, eczema, or acne prone skin. Learn to choose the ideal ingredients from our bulk section for your skin type, along with a demonstration of how to make your own face and body cream.

Participants will take home a jar of the face cream we make in class, along with handouts to take home.

RSVP Here!

Zero Waste Craft Making for Holiday Gifts: Face Masks & Bath Soaks - Sunday, December 8th, 2-3:30pm

Give yourself or a friend the gift of a relaxing home spa experience with sustainability in mind! In this workshop we will be making a wonderfully scented bath soak blend and face mask with ingredients that can be purchased in bulk. Learn tips on how to take care of your skin in Winter, while taking home an awesome homemade spa package. Kiddos welcome!

Co-op Month 2019!

Co-op Month is the Best Time to Invest!

For nearly 50 years, People’s has thrived in this little pocket of our neighborhood thanks to our Member-Owners who have invested in our Co-op, and thanks to People’s workers past and present who have put so much care into keeping this place open and stocked every day.

This October, support and celebrate our Co-op by investing in your share! And to thank you all for supporting and caring for our Co-op, you’ll get some special incentives for investing in October:

  • Invest $15 or more and you’ll get an Equal Exchange Chocolate Bar!

  • Invest $30 or more and you’ll get a chocolate bar and a People’s Bandana!

  • Invest $60 or more and you’ll get a chocolate bar, a bandana, and a bottle of La Riojana Olive Oil!

Three lucky folks who invest in their share during Co-op Month will find a golden ticket with one of their incentives! If you find one, you could win:

If you’ve already invested the full $180 (the full cost of a share), don’t worry! You can invest up to $300 in the Co-op and still get all of these great incentives. Those extra dollars mean a lot here!

Columbia Blossom: Anticipating the Arrival of Our Community's Favorite Stone Fruits

By Sofie Sherman-Burton

Summertime can feel like a waiting game among the produce racks. Are the garlic scapes here? Do we have local cucumbers yet? When will the local tomatoes be here? Is that a Jimmy Nardello pepper already? But there is no local produce that I get more excited for than the fruit that Jim Reed grows at Columbia Blossom Organic Orchards. 

Located in Mosier, Oregon near the Columbia River, Columbia Blossom was the first certified organic orchard in Wasco County way back in 1992. The orchard spans about 30 acres and includes 16 different varieties of fruit: a few different kinds of cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, and grapes. Jim aggressively prunes his trees to make sure that the size and flavor of the fruit are what he is after. Between rows of trees, alfalfa is grown as a natural fertilizer, and bats and birds provide the pest control. All of the fruit is also ripened on the tree or vine, and the sugars are tested with a refractometer before the fruit is harvested to make sure they are sweet enough. Once harvested, the fruit makes its way to People’s within a day of picking. All of that extra care and consideration makes Jim’s apricots, nectarines, cherries, and grapes some of the best fruit I’ve tasted anywhere. The wait is a bit torturous, especially when subpar stone fruit starts arriving from California, but it’s all worth it. 

Grilled Nectarine Salad

One way to make Columbia Blossom’s perfect white nectarines even more delicious? Put them on the grill! A little caramelization adds a depth of flavor that pairs well with the nectarine’s sweetness. And it’s a great use of slightly underripe fruit. This salad is delicious, but you can also top grilled nectarines with ice cream or whipped cream (and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup) for a very simple and very delicious dessert. If you don’t have a grill, go ahead and sear the nectarines in a cast iron pan!

  • 4 cups of your favorite salad greens (like arugula, our bulk salad mix, or spinach)

  • 2 nectarines

  • 2 tablespoons walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, feta, or vegan cheese (optional, of course)

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together and set them aside. 

To grill the nectarines, cut them in half and remove the pits. Drizzle each piece with olive oil. Grill them with the cut sides down for 2-3 minutes over a medium-high temperature. 

In a large bowl, toss your greens with the salad dressing. Place on a serving platter (or individual plates if that’s your style) and top with the nectarines, nuts, and cheese, if using. I like to serve this salad with the whole nectarine halves, but you might prefer to slice them. 

Super Simple Apricot Jam

This spread can be as simple as apricots and sugar, but you can add some lemon juice or a vanilla bean if that’s your jam (sorry). It’s also a super simple ratio: just weigh your apricots, divide the weight by three, and add that amount of sugar!

  • 3 parts apricots

  • 1 part sugar

Pit your apricots and roughly dice them. Mix them with the sugar, and set them aside for at least an hour, ideally overnight. Put the fruit in a pot and set it over low heat. Bring the fruit to a boil, stirring occasionally. As the jam thickens, stir almost constantly! Getting the jam to the right consistency will take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the width of the pan, the heat of the stove, and the water in the fruit. When the jam is glossy, thick on your spoon, and starts coating the sides of your pan, it’s done. Store it in jars, and process it in a water bath if you want! Otherwise, store it in the fridge. Slather it all over everything. 

Beam me up, Host Defense!

Paul Stamets’ mushroom products help people and the planet live long and prosper.

By Paul Conrad, Member-Owner

Since Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock first boldly went in the 1960’s, the many iterations of Star Trek have been part of popular culture. Countless viewers mentally time traveled to a future where humanity thrives and spreads to the stars. The current Star Trek Discovery has its own unique time-travel twist. One of the lead characters, astromycologist Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets, is the 23rd-century version of a genuine 21st-century namesake, the legendary mycologist Paul Stamets. The contemporary Paul Stamets is the founder and president of Fungi Perfecti, makers of the Host Defense line of mushroom-based nutritional supplements sold here at People’s Food Co-op. 

23rd-century Lt. Stamets harnesses fungal power to create a “spore drive” that can instantaneously transport the Discovery across vast reaches of space. 21st-century Paul Stamets is the author of half a dozen books on mushroom cultivation, mushroom identification and the use of fungi to improve human and planetary health. He is also the holder of a dozen fungal-related patents. Stamets is dedicated to utilizing the power of mushroom-bearing fungi to help reverse the damage humankind has wreaked on our ecosystem so we can survive until the 23rd century. Host Defense is part of that effort.


The mushrooms we are familiar with are the visible parts of larger organisms. They are “fruiting bodies,” the reproductive organs of subterranean fungal beings comprised of mycelium – cobweb-like networks of cells that extend beneath the surface, exchanging nutrients and engaging in symbiotic relationships with the myriad plants, bacteria and other beings that make up living soils.

Found in soils, and decomposing vegetal matter from forest floors to compost piles, mycelium networks are ubiquitous upon the Earth. Stamets believes that mycelium networks embody a planetary intelligence. 

“The mycelium is an exposed sentient membrane, aware and responsive to changes in its environment... A complex and resourceful structure for sharing information, mycelium can adapt and evolve through the ever-changing forces of nature... like a matrix, a biomolecular superhighway, the mycelium is in constant dialogue with its environment, reacting to and governing the flow of essential nutrients cycling through the food chain.... I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet.”
— Paul Stamets in “Mycelium Running”

Stamets has made it his life’s mission to partner with fungal intelligence to create solutions to some of the existential environmental challenges we humans have created. He is the originator of the emerging field of mycorestoration, the applied use of fungi to repair and restore weakened and compromised ecosystems. This includes mycofiltration (using mycelial mats to remove pathogens and chemical pollutants from water), mycoremediation (using fungi to degrade or remove toxins from contaminated soils), and mycopesticides (using fungi to both attract and kill insect pests including termites, carpenter ants, and disease vectors like mosquitos and flies). 

The Host Defense line of supplements is all about the protection and restoration of our internal ecosystems. Since our hunter-gatherer days, humans have known about the beneficial properties of particular mushrooms and contemporary scientific research bears traditional wisdom out. Paul Stamets and Host Defense take things to the next step by incorporating the rest of the fungal organism, the mycelium network, to create fungi-based nutritional formulas that:

  • support stress and fatigue reduction;

  • augment the body's immune system;

  • provide support for daily environmental assaults

  • deliver enzymes to support digestion and absorption of nutrients;

  • & provide polysaccharides to increase the activity & impact of natural killer cells and macrophages.*

Host Defense harnesses mycelium power by taking pure fungal strains, inoculating them onto an organic brown rice substrate, and growing them under strictly controlled conditions at their Washington State production facility. During the growing process, enzymes in the mycelium break down starches and sugars in the brown rice substrate, forming complex substances with their own complimentary immune-enhancing benefits. Once harvested, the mycelium, the digested brown rice substrate and, in some cases, the fruiting bodies and/or primordia are then processed for maximum effectiveness. The mushroom products in Host Defense capsules are carefully heated to release their active compounds, then freeze dried. The mycelium in Host Defense extracts and sprays go through a two-step alcohol and cold water extraction process. Those containing fruiting bodies receive an additional hot-water extraction. 

Mushroom 2.jpg

People’s sells a selection of Host Defense mushroom capsules, extracts, and sprays. They include single-variety products such as Chaga Extract (for anti-oxidant support), Lion’s Mane Extract (which promotes mental clarity, focus and attention), Cordyceps Capsules (for enhanced energy and stamina) and Turkey Tail Capsules (for immune system support). We also offer several Host Defense multi-mushroom formulas (MyCommunity Extract, MycoShield Spray and  Stamets 7 Functional Food Mushroom Blend) for enhanced immune system support.*

Host Defense mushroom products are certified organic. They use mushroom fruitbodies and mycelium that are sustainably cultivated, protecting wild species and their environments. A portion of proceeds from Host Defense sales are devoted to saving rare strains of mushrooms that dwell within old growth forests and supporting ongoing research initiatives, like the BeeFriendly Campaign to help preserve endangered pollinators. The processing, extractions, and formulations of Host Defense products are state of the art, drawing on Paul Stamets’ four decades of experience as a pioneering mycologist. Your purchase of Host Defense products helps Paul Stamets and Fungi Perfecti in their work to build a healthier world with the power of mushrooms. 

To learn more about Paul Stamets and his pioneering work on the environmental and health benefits of mushrooms and fungal mycelium, check out his TED Talks on YouTube. To meet Lt. Commander Paul Stamets of Starship Discovery, go here.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Long-term Planning Update

A lot has changed since People’s started in 1970. We’ve changed what we sell, gone through many different forms of management, expanded our building, and adopted Ends that define our goals and aspirations toward making a better Co-op, a stronger community, and a better world. Our Ends statement, adopted in 2007, reads:

A passionate community working together for sustainability, progressive land and animal stewardship, human rights, social and economic justice.

  • Thriving cooperative and local economies

  • A safe, welcoming community where all are valued

  • A Democratic workplace where all workers' voices are valued

  • Access to healthful foods our customers can trust

Even after so much growth and change over nearly 50 years, there are (of course) many challenges our community faces today. The landscape of natural food stores is very different and much more competitive than ever before. Walmart is now the largest seller of organic food in the U.S. New grocers selling many of the same products that People’s does are popping up in our community. These stores don’t prioritize people, the planet, and animals over profits as fervently as we do, and as a result, are able to cut corners. This makes it hard for the Co-op to compete, which in turn makes it harder for us to do things like pay employees a living wage. How do we uphold our Ends while competing with large corporations? How do we expand in a way that fits into the values we’re committed to as a community – the reason why People’s exists at all? The challenges these questions present make it hard for us to move forward with a second store at this time, and the financial situation that competition has helped create make it nearly impossible.

After a thorough investigation and weighing of cost and benefits, People’s will not be moving forward with a second store in the Lents neighborhood at this time. This was not an easy decision to make, and we want to thank all of the Member-Owners and the Lents community for all that they have contributed to our investigation and otherwise helped us along this long process. We will be wrapping up the long-term planning process by fleshing out a business plan that prioritizes financial stability, both at our current location and in the long-term.

One of the options we’ll outline in that business plan is to find another opportunity to open a second store sometime in the future, maybe even in Lents. We are still holding all of the relationships we’ve made and the knowledge we’ve gained as we move forward. For now, though, it doesn’t make sense for us to pursue the particular opportunity we’ve been researching in Lents Town Center any further.

This year, we are focusing on growing and investing within our current walls. If we are going to be successful in spite of so much competition, we need to make sure that we are operating as efficiently as possible. We are addressing questions like how to prioritize work tasks, revisiting our capacity for work and taking on new roles, shifting structures to streamline processes, fixing up infrastructure in the current building, adapting our products and pricing to increase sales, and so much more. All of this we are doing with our Ends in mind and the effects changes are having on workers, our Member-Owners, our customers, and the wider community. Before we can pursue more opportunities for growth, we need to have a handle on operations at our current store.

Along with pursuing options for a second store, we are also still looking at ideas such as finding a warehouse space and a kitchen to expand our selection of prepared foods. Do you know of opportunities in these areas that People’s should look into? If so, let us know! We need everyone to help us in these next steps. We would love to hear your thoughts at

Decolonizing Turmeric with Diaspora Co.

By Sofie Sherman-Burton, Marketing & Membership Manager and Comanager

The prospect of building alternatives to totally unjust food systems built on the exploitation of people and the land for the benefit of a handful of corporate executives is… really daunting. Lucky for all of us, Sana Javeri Kadri wasn’t too intimidated to take on the spice industry. 

Sana founded Diaspora Co. turmeric in the summer of 2017. A year before, after graduating from college, she had seen turmeric exploding in popularity and questioned who was benefiting from this boom. So Sana flew home to India to find farmers growing turmeric to start her own single origin spice company.

At first, finding a farmer that was growing exceptional turmeric using sustainable growing methods was harder than Sana anticipated. Many turmeric farmers, stuck in the cycle of industrialized agriculture, spray their turmeric crops with pesticides. Thankfully, Sana connected with the Indian Institute of Spices Research, who had both seeds for heirloom turmeric and connections with farmers that were willing to grow it for her. 

Sana ended up partnering with Mr. Prabhu, a fourth generation turmeric farmer who grows his turmeric without the use of pesticides and is in the second year of the organic certification process, which takes three years. The heirloom turmeric that he grows requires less water and is higher in curcumin, the chemical that makes turmeric so yellow and delivers the spice’s health benefits; about 4.6% compared to less than 2.5% in most commercial turmeric (if it has any at all). Diaspora Co. turmeric is also super fresh. Batches of turmeric grown in the last year are milled three times annually which is great for making sure that turmeric’s floral flavor is intact and helps maintain the curcumin potency. 

Mr. Prabhu’s farm is run by his family except during the harvest season when he pays the workers he hires considerably more than neighboring farms. All of this is reflected in the price that Diaspora Co. pays him for his turmeric: $1.50 to $1.50 per pound, which is significantly higher than the market rate of 15¢ per pound. 

But that’s not even all of it. As a queer woman of color, Sana wanted to be sure to make social justice a central part of Diaspora Co. Paying Mr. Prabhu so much more than the conventional spice market and prioritizing heirloom, organic turmeric is part of that. Those efforts work to decolonize and disrupt the corporate spice trade, with its history mired in colonial conquest. Paying Indian farmers generously also creates a less exploitative system of buying and trading an indigenous, culturally significant crop. Sana is also always looking at other ways to make Diaspora Co. radically inclusive in everything from hiring to business operations. That means hiring queer folks and people of color and deciding to pack all of the turmeric in-house instead of hiring a larger packing company to do it for her. It also means wrestling with decisions like selling Diaspora Co. on Amazon and being transparent about why. 

When I get down thinking about just how bad our food system is and all of the powerful structures that keep it in place, companies like Diaspora Co. give me a little faith that we can build systems that are better for people and the planet. The only question is, how can I eat way more turmeric? Luckily, Diaspora Co. compiled a sweet zine of recipes, including the two hot beverages below.

Turmeric Coffee.JPG

Turmeric Coffee

This little recipe finally convinced me to put butter in my coffee, and now I am a zealot! It tempers the effects of the caffeine and is gentler on my guts. The Ancient Organics ghee is particularly delicious and offers delicious nutty notes. If you don’t have a blender, I’ve found that vigorously shaking this mixture in a mason jar (wrapped in a towel I don’t mind staining with turmeric) works pretty well. 

  • 1 cup brewed coffee

  • 1 ¼ teaspoon ghee

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric

  • ½ teaspoon coconut sugar or 1 ½ inch piece of jaggery

  • Pinch of ground cardamom (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened hemp or almond milk

Add your hot coffee to the blender along with the ghee, turmeric, sweetener of choice, and non-dairy milk. Add a pinch of cardamom if you’re feeling like it! 

Give it a quick high-powered blend (about 30 seconds), just to make sure the ghee emulsifies and the mixture becomes foamy. 

If you over blend, you risk the fat separating, which will give you a weird gloopy drink. Gloopy drink woes can be remedied by adding a splash more boiling hot water or coffee to the blender to melt the ghee back into the mixture. 

Pour the ghee coffee into a mug and enjoy!

Turmeric Tonic Tea

  • 3 inches whole fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch pieces

  • 1 heaping teaspoon turmeric

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 2 cups filtered water

  • 1 ¼ teaspoon organic apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon raw honey (optional)

Add the ginger to a saucepan over medium-high heat, along with the turmeric, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil. 

Allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes to steep and infuse the ginger and turmeric. If you are sick or want a more fiery and strong tonic, increase the heat back up to medium high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the process of boiling and simmering three more times. Then strain the liquid into a mug and enjoy!

Herbal Infused Syrups for Winter Wellness

By Brita Zeiler, Bulk Herb & Tea Buyer and Comanager

Herbal infused syrups are concentrated herbal teas, preserved in sugar or honey. Historically, herbal syrups were used to sweeten the taste of bitter medicinal herbs to make them more palatable and prolong preservation. They are a versatile alternative to alcohol-based tinctures for children or people avoiding alcohol. The classic herbal syrup many of us employ during cold & flu season is elderberry syrup, used to stimulate immune function and fight infection. 

Herbal infused syrups can be made for both medicine or for flavoring. Syrups can be added to teas, cocktails or mocktails, made into herbal sodas, or simply eaten by the spoonful with delight. It is a fun and creative process: let your favorite sweet flavors guide you!

For adults, add a tablespoon of this syrup to hot tea, a hot toddy, sparkling water for an herbal soda, spoon over ice cream, or simply eat by the spoonful. Adjust dosage to 1 teaspoon for children. 

Herbal Sore Throat & Cough Syrup

This herbal syrup can be used to prevent a cold, or used during an acute cough or sore throat to soothe and increase recovery time. Syrups can be a great alternative to alcohol-based tinctures for children and people avoiding alcohol. They are also fun and delicious! 

Elecampane root is an expectorant, supporting the respiratory tract move excess mucus out of the system. It is also rich in inulin, a prebiotic that supports beneficial gut flora. Other herbs & spices bolster the immune system while adding a delicious earthy spiced flavor. 

  • ¼ cup dried rosehips

  • ¼ cup red clover blossoms

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips

  • 1 tablespoon dried ginger

  • 1 teaspoon dried elecampane root

  • 3 whole cloves

  • 1 quart water

  • 1-2 cups sugar or honey, depending on your preferred sweetness/sweetener

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Add the herb and spice mixture to the pot of water, and reduce heat to a simmer. Maintain a simmer while stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups. Strain herbal infusion and return it to a clean pot. Add 1-2 cups of sweetener to the pot with strained herbal infusion. Dissolve the sugar or honey on low heat, stirring to ensure the pan doesn’t scorch. Once the sugars are completely dissolved, transfer syrup to a jar or bottle. Store herbal syrup in the fridge for up to 6 weeks – but it is unlikely it will last that long!

Endless Grey Days Creativity-Inspiring Syrup

This heart-opening blend is both delicious and tonifying to the heart and circulatory system. The sweet and spicy flavors of peppercorn, damiana, fennel cardamom, rose, and vanilla open the senses to joy, pleasure, and possibility. Together, these herbs open energetic and circulatory pathways to allow creativity to flourish. 

  • ¼ cup rose petals

  • 1 tablespoon hawthorn berries

  • 1 teaspoon damiana

  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 5 cardamom pods

  • ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean, or vanilla extract

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Add the herb and spice mixture to the pot of water, and reduce heat to a simmer. Maintain a simmer while stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups. Strain herbal infusion and return it to a clean pot. Add 1-2 cups of sweetener to the pot with strained herbal infusion. Dissolve the sugar or honey on low heat, stirring to ensure the pan doesn’t scorch. Once the sugars are completely dissolved, transfer syrup to a jar or bottle. Store herbal syrup in the fridge for up to 6 weeks – but it is unlikely it will last that long!

What makes wine organic?

By Ryan Gaughn, Alcohol Buyer and Comanager

Curating the wine selection at People’s is so much fun, but not always easy. As the alcohol buyer, it’s my burden to make challenging choices between a beautiful world of all the wines I want to carry, and the limited space we have in the store for them. I am guided by one principle which you, loyal wine enthusiasts, have repeatedly asked for in the selection: organic wines.

Customers, Member-Owners, and staff often approach me with the question, “Why aren’t there more organic wines at People’s?” It turns out that many of the wines in our selection are made from grapes grown organically, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with a cursory view.  

Over the years I have cultivated relationships with vendor partners at People’s, who I meet with regularly to try out new bottles for our selection.  These vendors know in advance that the wines I’m interested in need to meet the Co-op’s buying guidelines; non-GMO, vegetarian/vegan, and organic, whenever possible. They also need to be affordable to most of the people who shop here.

As a result, there are many bottles on the shelf that contain organically grown grapes, and many others which also qualify as Biodynamic (a process of land stewardship that takes organic farming to the next level.) Montinore Vineyards of Forest Grove, OR, the largest organic and biodynamic vineyard and winery in the country, is strongly represented. There are other French and Italian bottles which also come from wine growing regions where organic farming has been a standard since long before the authorities gave it a name.

Why, then, aren’t these wines labelled clearly with a USDA “Organic” certification label, so that customers can readily see that information? The two most prominent answers are sulphur-dioxide, and economies of scale.

As a food ingredient, Sulphur-dioxide, or SO2, is used in preserving dried fruit. “Sulphurized” fruits retain more of their original coloring, and are generally shelf stable for longer periods of time. The addition of SO2 to food is considered by the USDA to be too much human intervention to qualify a product as organic. Thus, you will never find organic yellow raisins, or organic bright orange dried apricots.

In the world of wine making, sulphurization is very common. Fermented grapes, like most fruit, contain naturally occuring levels of sulphur. Winemakers will add SO2 to wine as a stabilizing agent. Because wine must often travel great distances, be stored in multiple settings, sometimes at fluctuating temperatures, sulphur plays an important role in preserving the wine between winery and consumer. Many wineries, such as Montinore, are certified organic, but also add SO2 to the finished product for quality control reasons.  

In contrast, you will find a select few bottles in our selection which do have USDA organic labels. These are produced by Frey Vineyards, of California. Frey sources grapes from Certified Organic vineyards, but they refrain from adding sulphur-dioxide to the finish product.

Because the addition of SO2 disqualifies U.S. wines from organic certification, many winemakers bypass the certification altogether. Emphasis on quality control and brand consistency outweigh the marketing advantage of a USDA Organic symbol, even if the vineyard goes to great lengths to grow grapes organically.  Furthermore, wine is unique in agriculture in that many consumers travel at length to visit the places where the grapes are grown. This exposure to the fields and techniques of wineries, generates a wine enthusiast culture in which growing methods must be of high caliber in order for wines to be valued as exceptional.

This winter, I invite you to try out some of my favorite wines featuring organic and biodynamic grown grapes!

Montinore Estate: Pinot Noir (Vegan) 

Forest Grove, OR


It's hard to find a Pinot that reflects its place, is farmed biodynamically, and offers such complexity at this price point. Made to drink now, as a "go to" wine, but you'll feel like you're drinking a special occasion bottle. Plush red fruit, fine tannins and round texture. Delicious and balanced, and can pair with everything from savory slow cooked beans to fresh seasonal vegetables.

Frey: Agriculturist (Certified Organic & Vegan) Red Wine    

Mendocino County, California


An approachable blend of family-farmed grapes. Bright garnet hue with a sturdy structure and grippy character that has a remarkable ability to pair with most foods. Gather around the table or fireside and enjoy a smooth, lingering finish.

Troon Vineyards: Vermentino

Applegate Valley, 

Southern Oregon


Exceptionally fragrant and fresh, but not at all a light wine, it offers surprising richness on the palate with a savory, creamy freshness. All of Troon's vineyards are Certified Salmon Safe, and they are currently in transition to organic and biodynamic certification.  An incredible expression of Southern Oregon winemaking.

Wrestling with Values & Growth: A Long-term Planning Update

Since the summer of 2018, the Collective Management has been actively investigating opening a second store in the Lents Town Center near SE 92nd & Foster. That process has included gathering feedback from current Member-Owners, engaging with folks that live near the proposed second store about their thoughts and concerns, taking a look at our staff capacity, and putting together financial projections about how a second store could work out.

While some Member-Owners have expressed concern about the possibility of a second store in Lents, many others have shared their support for a People’s in a new neighborhood. We’ve also heard widespread enthusiasm from the Lents community about the possibility of a People’s there, as well as some questions about how to make sure that the store reflects the neighborhood and its needs.

As we consider both staff capacity and how it interacts with the financial projections for a store in Lents, things become more complicated. The Collective has struggled with high turnover for the past few years, and in 2018 that meant investing significant time (and therefore money) training and supporting new staff. At the same time, our financial projections tell us that if a second store in Lents is going to be successful, we need to decrease our labor hours and expenses significantly. And with sales declining steadily, maintaining that high labor percentage costs to the Co-op more, proportionate to what we’re bringing in. If we’re going to open a second store and run it successfully, we’re going to need to operate this business much more efficiently.

This presents a conundrum because of the way that we run our business. Of course, operating the Co-op sustainably and making a profit is an important part of our work – that’s a huge reason why we’ve invested so much time and money trying to create a long-term plan that will work for People’s. But there are other things that we value, too! We have a democratic workplace where all workers get to have a say in the decisions that are made about how the store is run. We’re also committed to confronting and dismantling systems of oppression that show up here, including: white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and classism. We make decisions about how to care for our building or supply the store that are sometimes more expensive because they are better for the earth or workers throughout the supply chain. And we try to compensate workers fairly for the work that they do here, including a generous health care package and a wage scale that doesn’t distinguish between different kinds of work.

Unlike many other businesses that prioritize economic returns over how they do business or decide to do the work outlined above only when its convenient, working to live out the values expressed in our Ends is a central part of our work at People’s. It’s what makes this place different and is one reason why the Co-op is so important to so many people.

The Collective is working hard to figure out what it will look like for the staff to reduce our labor expenses while maintaining or even growing our sales. We’re reaching out to the broader co-op community for help and guidance, and communicating closely with the Board about the changes we are working towards. We hope that we can do this work within a time frame that will work for the Lents Town Center project because we are really excited about what we could bring to Lents and are invested in the relationships that we’ve already formed there. We’ll have more information to share about how we’ll be proceeding in the spring, but for now we are taking time to focus on our internal operations and the work that needs to happen for us to be ready to grow.

If you have skills, questions, or input to offer, we always welcome them. Feel free to reach out to the Long-term Planning Committee at

Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce

By Paul Conrad, Member-Owner

In the beginning, there was Tabasco. Throughout most of the 20th century, supermarket shelves offered few other alternatives for folks that wanted more heat to their eats. But as diverse communities grew and thrived in this country, and as more eaters began sampling cuisines from all over the world, their palates were exposed to the distinctive burns of pepper sauces from Asia, Central and South America, and Africa that they may not have experienced before. Today, Tabasco Sauce shares the condiment shelf with hot sauces such as Thai Sriracha, Mexican Cholula, Korean Gochujang, as well as a selection of the hundreds of other hot sauces that have hit the market over the past couple decades.

Annual US hot sauce sales have passed the billion dollar mark after increasing 150% since 2000. There are hot sauces containing bourbon and other liquors, tropical fruits, green apples, blueberries, garlic, bacon flavoring, and on and on. There is, however, only one hot sauce made with kombucha, and People’s was the first store to sell it

Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce was created by Portland chef Karel Vitek. For thirteen years, he and his wife Monka ran Tabor, a famed downtown food cart serving what Karel describes as Czech “grandmother” food, traditional goulash, stews, and dumplings. But as he was serving up food whose zingiest ingredients were black pepper and Hungarian paprika, Karel developed a taste for hot sauce. Starting with Tabasco, he kept searching for more and more heat, but while his taste buds craved the burn, his gut paid the price. Most hot sauces consist of roasted peppers and other ingredients in a vinegar base. As Karel’s palate developed an increasing tolerance for pepper heat, the unpleasant sour of the vinegar began to dominate.

More than a decade ago Karel began to experiment with kombucha as a hot sauce base. Kombucha is by far the most popular product in People’s Food Co-op’s beverage coolers, with 10 different brands and over 30 different flavors. These products all begin with sweetened tea fermented by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Kombucha beverages are tangy, naturally effervescent, and are touted for their probiotic, antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Karel is definitely a kombucha believer and extols these benefits on the Stinging Kombucha website ( But kombucha’s unique sweet/sour flavor and living nature are what inspired him to build his hot sauce around it. “A mature kombucha has about the same pH (acidity) as vinegar, but has sweetness and is less bitey and obtrusive. It doesn’t leave the sour aftertaste vinegar does,” Karel notes.

Since kombucha is a living, fermenting process, its sweet to sour ratio changes over time as its sugars are consumed. This gave Karel plenty of opportunity to experiment with different acidity levels. During the first year or so of the development process, it also left him with plenty of messes to clean up when early iterations of his recipe burst in the refrigerator as fermentation ran out of control.

After years of experimentation, he settled on a three-step fermentation process. First, ferment the kombucha to the point where just about all the sugar is digested and the culture is practically dormant. Next, revive the culture by adding a melange of four different carefully roasted hot pepper varieties and allow this mixture to ferment to near dormancy. Then, add the final ingredients, bottle the not-quite-finished product and chill it, allowing Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce to continue a slow fermentation process while under refrigeration. It matures and develops more flavor and depth as it waits in your refrigerator.

What about those additional ingredients, eggplant and red-cabbage sauerkraut? The eggplant gives Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce extra body so that it stays on your food rather than leaching through onto the plate. The sauerkraut is the result of further synergy.

“For years, some buddies and I have been having weekly get-togethers at The BeerMongers down on 12th and Division,” Karel recalls. “We drink beer and talk politics and whatever. Most evenings I’d bring in samples of the different recipes I was working on for the guys to try. They most always preferred the ones that had sauerkraut in them. It seems to bring everything together and seal the deal.”

And what a deal it is. The variety of peppers (serrano, habanero, cayenne and sweet chili) produce a complex flavor profile that changes as it lingers in your mouth. It’s a pleasant burn but not an inferno. Best of all, it won’t leave your taste buds blasted. It makes its statement and then subsides, leaving you still able to savor your dish. It augments without overpowering. As Karel says, “I believe the kombucha base gives the heat experience a soft landing.”

Dealing with a living product creates challenges for Karel’s growing business. The vast majority of hot sauces are shelf stable and inhabit the condiment section in the grocery aisles. Since Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce must reside in the refrigerated section, it doesn’t get to grab the eyeballs of shoppers scanning the condiment shelf looking for a new flavor experience. Friends have suggested he cook his sauce down to stop fermentation and make it shelf stable. Karel won’t hear of it. He is passionate about his living, changing hot sauce.

Just how passionate is illustrated by the way Karel and family use Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce at home. “We keep Stinging Kombucha in a small ceramic crock out on the kitchen counter,” Karel says. “It continues to ferment and gets fizzy and smells great and never tastes the same way twice.” 

It’s hard to imagine a more vivid and flavorful example of a “living food.” Look for it in the refrigerated section at People’s, next to the kombuchas that inspired it.

We've Reduced Our SNAP Match to $5 & We Are Really Sad About It

By Ashley Todd, Farmers’ Market Coordinator and comanager

Nearly four years ago I started working with Farmers Market Fund to secure federal funding to increase our Farmers’ Market SNAP Match from $5 to $10. This program gives folks using SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps) extra money to spend at the Farmers’ Market, which helps both folks on low incomes and local farmers and food producers. Doubling our match from $5 to $10  seemed like a total long shot, and I wasn’t sure how the more restrictive benefits required by the federal grant would be received by our shoppers. But I figured we had nothing to lose, so I gave it a go. 

When we received the funding, the impact on our community was immediate. Customers lined up each week, eager to spend their additional food dollars on local produce and handcrafted foods. Vendors benefitted too, watching their market earnings steadily increase as people spent more each market day. Over the 3 years we offered the $10 match, hundreds of families spent their additional food dollars supporting dozens of local farmers and producers. While all the work we do here at People’s is driven by our values, The Farmers’ Market’s SNAP Match program is one of the clearest ways I have seen us working toward our Ends of “access to healthful foods our customers can trust” and “thriving cooperative & local economies.”

Unfortunately, in late 2017 we found out that our federal funding was drying up, due to the Federal Government’s increasing demand that programs be “innovative” and tech-driven, rather than simply being helpful. But it felt so important – and so good – to provide such a tangible benefit to the community, so we decided to continue funding the program in 2018 ourselves. We worked out a plan to keep offering the $10 Match, using a combination of People’s money, round-up drives at the register, and a generous donation from Farmers’ Market Fund.

In late 2018, as we neared the end of our fiscal year, we were again faced with the question of how to continue funding the $10 SNAP Match. Alas, the outlook was not as good as it had been the year before. While the success of the program was certainly a boon to our shoppers and vendors, it was fantastically expensive for People’s; in 2018 we distributed nearly $24,000 in SNAP matching funds. 

In addition to not having adequate cash available to  continue funding a $10 match ourselves, we also can not afford to pay staff to work on the intensive fundraising campaign that would be required to cover the nearly $12,000 budget shortfall. We are super bummed to have cut a benefit that we know really impacts people’s lives. More than 60 families per week have been using the SNAP Match program, and spending nearly $24,000 in matching dollars alone with our vendors. The impact of reducing the match to $5 is not insignificant, and we know some folks in our community will really feel that loss.

We still believe, deeply, in the power of communities to support and take care of each other. And we believe that the Co-op has a role in building that kind of community of support & care. In 2019, we hope to find a way to bring the match back up to $10. If you have ideas or fundraising skills you’d like to share, or if you’d like to make a contribution to our SNAP Match fund, please contact me at

On Sale: Wreaths by the Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas

We are thrilled to be able to sell wreaths made by the Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas this December! The wreaths are on sale for $40, with $35 going straight to the Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas who make 1000 wreaths each year.

The wreath-making project employs at least 10 women part-time during three months in the winter, when farm work is rare and families struggle to pay for basic necessities. The money made selling wreaths goes to families’ household expenses like rent, utilities, warm clothing, food, and holiday expenses, as well as to support the year round efforts of the Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas.


Since 1992, the Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas (or Women Fighting for Progress) have been making wreaths every winter to support work of the nonprofit. The organization of farmworker women, born out of Oregon’s farmworker union PCUN, creates economic development opportunities and promotes leadership for women in their communities, as well as advocates for improved living and working conditions. Their goals include:

  • Developing stronger women’s leadership within the farmworker movement and larger community through plans created and carried out by farmworker women to address their needs and reality;

  • Creating a vehicle for mutual support among farmworker women;

  • Developing an organized, collective response to home and workplace issues and conditions which discriminate against or oppress women;

  • Continuing their radio program “Mujeres de la Comunidad” on 95.9FM Radio Movimiento: La Voz del Pueblo in order to share basic health information for women;

  • Creating paths through which farmworker women can provide themselves greater economic independence.

You can read more about the Mujeres Luchadores Progresistas and their work by visiting their website.

Supporting Indigenous Communities This Thanksgiving

While many of us take time every November to see family and friends, share a good meal, and express thanks, the Thanksgiving holiday has a past that is mired in the violence of colonization. Support Indigenous people this week by donating to and sharing information about these organizations doing incredible work to support native communities:

This might even be an opportunity to pass the hat at a gathering that you attend and start a conversation about the different causes each of these organizations seek to address.

Celebration Wines for the Season of Feasts!

This week, our Alcohol Buyer Ryan Gaughan put some of our favorite organic wines (and a cider, too!) on sale to help you make meals with friends and family extra special. These wines also make fantastic gifts and would be welcome at any dinner party, making it well worth your while to stock up or order a whole case for all the special celebrations ahead. These deals are all good through the end of the day on Thursday, November 22nd. We’ll also be sampling a handful of these within the next few days, so stop by and try before you buy!

Montinore Estate Reserve Pinot Noir

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$22.99 (reg. $26.99)

From certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyards. This is the best expression of Pinot Noir from the estate in Forest Grove, OR. It is high toned and elegant with a velvety texture and a lingering finish with notes of cherry, plum, spice and earthy quality. This wine drinks far higher than its price point and is good now but will age beautifully for years to come.

Montinore Pinot Gris

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$11.49 (reg. $12.49)

From certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyards. This dry style Pinot Gris begins with aromatics of bright citrus and tropical fruit that lead to a firm foundation of apple, mango and a hint of savory and spice on the palate, finishing crisp and bright.

Montinore Vivacé Sparkling Wine

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$15.29 reg. $17.99

From certified Organic and Biodynamic vineyards. Vivacé is Italian for, "in a brisk, spirited manner," which perfectly describes this aromatic sparkling wine full of citrus, honey, melon, and floral notes. It is fun, fresh, and vibrant with a creamy texture and bright finish. The Gewurztraminer, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Riesling that make up this blend is all estate grown in Forest Grove, OR.

Woodbox Ice Cider

$16.99 (reg. $19.99)

Ice cider is a special alcoholic apple cider made from frozen apple juice, which concentrates the sugars and results in a higher alcohol content than other ciders. Woodbox’s Ice Cider is aged 6 months in whiskey barrels – the result is layer upon layer of dark caramel, bourbon notes, and a balanced flavorful finish. Cryo-concentrated to four times its normal strength for a warming feeling through and through.

Try it in the store this Tuesday, November 20th from 3-6pm!

Syncline Seduction Red


$16.99 (reg. $19.99)

A Washington red inspired by the Rhone valley, this blend mimics a great Cotes du Rhone. It exhibits black cherry, raspberry, baking spice, and black pepper aromas and flavors. The bright, fresh finish provides a versatile wine that is compatible with many foods and occasions. This winery is Organic and Biodynamic.

Try it in the store this Wednesday, November 21st from 2-5pm!

Reyneke Vinehugger White Wine


$12.49 (reg. $14.49)

Reyneke is certified organic and is the first farm in South Africa to achieve Demeter International biodynamic certification. This wine is dry and extremely food friendly, expressing notes of honeysuckle, melon, yellow apple, with a lingering minerality.

Try it in the store this Wednesday, November 21st from 2-5pm!

J. Christopher Pinot Noir

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$23.99 (reg. $27.99)

An outstanding representation of naturally made Oregon wine, this is light-medium weight with lots of complexity of strawberry, cola, and spice. It has depth and complexity that lasts long beyond the finish with velvety smooth texture. This wine will pair well with cooked grains and roasted vegetables.

Try it in the store this Wednesday, November 21st from 2-5pm!

Bounty Baskets 2018

For those in our community that need support this November, People’s Food Co-op and some local vendors have partnered to provide 80 free, vegetarian, food baskets.

We donate these baskets every November to support those with limited access to healthful foods. Around Thanksgiving especially, we are called to address the harm caused by colonization. Settler colonialism and white supremacy limit many of our community members' access to resources, and we aim to share the abundance and generosity of local vendors to directly support those at the intersections of these oppressions at this time of year. This work fulfills our Ends of social and economic justice as well as progressive land stewardship.

Bounty Baskets will be allotted on Friday, November 16th by a random number generator. You must have completed an application to be eligible for a basket. We will update this post if any baskets are still available after November 16th. As we have a limited quantity of baskets available, please assess your personal need before applying for a basket.

Applications are now closed.

Only 80 baskets are available, and baskets are limited to one per household. A link to the online application is available above, and paper applications are available at the register in the store. If there are still baskets available after that Friday, Nov. 16th, the remaining baskets will be allotted first-come, first-serve based on application date and time.

Basket pick-up will be on Wednesday November 21st from 4-8pm in the Community Room. The Community Room is located up a flight of stairs. It is accessible by elevator lift as well – just let a cashier know that you need to use it and they will help you.

Food baskets are designed to feed about 4 people and will likely include:

  • Tofurky and Tofurky Gravy

  • Organic produce: yams, potatoes, squash, onions, garlic, greens, apples

  • One pie crust & one can of pumpkin pie mix

  • $10 voucher for the People’s Farmers Market on Wednesdays 2-7pm

  • Other food items: 1 can cranberry jelly, a loaf of bread, and tortillas

Basket contents may vary. If you have any questions, please email If you need any help in filling out an application, please feel free to call the co-op, and a worker will walk through the application and fill it out on your behalf.

Many thanks to our generous vendors who donated! We couldn’t do this without them.


Melchemy Craft Mead: Makers in the Forest

By Ryan Gaughn, Alcohol Buyer

As the alcohol buyer at the Co-op, it’s one of my great pleasures to discover new, exciting beverages for our shelves – products which stand out from the crowd and speak to the place we share on this planet.  Mead is one of these specialties that, with a somewhat undeserved bad reputation, is nevertheless perhaps one of the truest expressions of our region’s flora.

Mead is known as the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. It is the end product of fermented honey, water, and additional botanicals. Evidence of human production of mead dates as far back as 7000 BC in China, where found pottery remnants contain chemical clues of the beverage. Mead has played a prominent role in Greek and Scandinavian early civilization, where it was often produced in places or times when making wine from grapes was not available (or not yet known of). Several centuries of innovations in alcohol production – beer and various liquors, primarily – and the international transport of wine resulted in greatly decreased mead production, to the point where it was almost forgotten.


In recent years, the Pacific Northwest has seen a burgeoning revival of this ancient delight. Spurred by innovation (and an overtapped beer market) but definitely rooted in a quest to continue the legacy of PNW craft beverage exceptionalism – mead producers in Oregon & Washington have dug up the old techniques, and thrown out the overly sweet amateur mead stand-ins. Just as wine and cider consumers have grown accustomed to terroir – the idea that the ingredients in an alcoholic beverage can impart a sense of the place in which they are grown – so, too, does honey production suggest the flavors of plants and crops in our bioregion. Bees, afterall, are critical players in modern human survival, being responsible for a massive portion of the pollination required in industrial farming, both conventional and organic.

I’m very pleased to present Melchemy Craft Mead as a harbinger of the great things to come for this category of alcohol.  Produced by two friends, Tim and Jeffree, from their beautiful communal home and farm property in Carson, WA, Melchemy Mead holds many values – as a brand and a product – that are in alignment with the Ends Statement at People’s:

A passionate community working together for sustainability, progressive land and animal stewardship, human rights, social and economic justice.

My visit to Melchemy began shortly after a trip over Bridge of the Gods, and into the beginning of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southern Washington. The property is nestled into a  tree lined mountain side, and it doesn’t take long to feel as if you’ve left much of the contemporary world behind. It’s difficult to believe that not that long ago colonizing interests coordinated the large scale clear cutting of timber in this region. In fact, the land we were standing on was probably devoid of vegetation in the mid-20th century, like much of this part of the Columbia Gorge, as trees were pulled from the land en masse to fund the accumulation of capital.

“We have a neighbor who logged in this area,” Jeffree tells me.  “He can tell you exactly which acres came down, for miles. It’s a source of pride for him, and many people in this community.”


Jeffree’s speaking to a reality of life and economic existence in the region which has profound implications. The land we’re standing on as we talk is the ancestral home of the Wishram Tribe, members of what is currently known as the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. For centuries, the Wishram harvested food from the forest and the great river which flowed below it. As this area was colonized, workers from around the world were imported to extract seemingly endless natural resources.

In current Carson, WA – as in much of Skamania County – the remnants of small, colonizer communities linger around a severely diminished timber industry. For much of the latter part of the 20th century, environmentalists and the timber industry in this region engaged in struggles mutually held as critical for human survival and prosperity under the backdrop of the Gifford Pinchot, some of the last remaining, pristine rainforest in the state.

“How do you make money in the forest, other than cutting down trees?” Jeffree asks. It’s a great question, because the geography of land here – mountainous, rugged – prohibits large scale agriculture and urbanity from sprawling along its surface.

Addressing this question, and breathing new economic (and sustainable) life into Skamania County is a key component of Melchemy’s mission. Tim and Jeffree routinely participate in the South Gifford Pinchot Collaborative, a democratic multi-stakeholder advocacy organization frequently attended by the U.S. Forest Service. It’s part of a next generation of forest preservation, in which environmentalists, logging communities, tribes, and business owners meet to talk face to face about balancing the survival of the forest with the economy of sustainable logging. Melchemy Craft Mead has a place in that, operating as a small business with a big mission: build a producer and service economy in the region with as minimal environmental impact as possible.

Beehives kept on the land represent that work. The homestead employs biodynamic farming practices, in which the plants and animals of the surrounding area, along with the seasonal elements of wind, sun, and rain, are integrated into land use decisions. The bees here collect pollen from the Wind River Valley, imparting terroir into the honey they produce. While some of the honey harvested from their hives ends up in Melchemy products, much more is needed to achieve the 17 gallons required for a 275 bottle batch. Priorities are placed on sourcing the most local honey possible, with 10% coming from an ultra local network of beekeepers, and the remainder being sourced from elsewhere in the Columbia Gorge and the Willamette Valley.

Jeffree and Tim are quick to dispel what appears to be a growing piece of misinformation, perhaps promulgated by new mead producers, that increased production of honey counteracts the diminishment of bee populations. Many consumers have become aware of Colony Collapse Disorder, and other complications in bee survival that have been publicized in recent years.  Much of the threat to bees is directly correlated to their interstate transportation for agricultural purposes – primarily to California, and especially for almond tree pollination – and the bees’ exposure to transport stress, pesticides, and herbicides throughout the duration of their work in the fields. While it would be ideal for Melchemy to source honey exclusively from beekeepers who do not participate in this practice, it is simply not economically feasible for them to do so and keep their prices accessible. “The economy values bees for pollination fees,” Tim tells me. “The honey is a by-product.”

Melchemy believes very strongly in this degree of transparency in what they do – from the ingredients sourced for their mead, to their place as landowners and business people in their community. Each bottle produced is hand numbered; you can view the ingredients used in the bottle and their sourcing by visiting their website and correlating the batch number. Their website,, also contains a great deal of information about the mead making process and the founders’ philosophy of land stewardship and community development. One exciting piece of this for me is their commitment to developing Melchemy as a worker-owned business. Both partners want to participate in a business that directly profits the people who produce its products, rather than a small group of investors.


I invite you to enjoy Melchemy Craft Mead this upcoming fall and winter. This mead is a perfect compliment to feasting in the colder months, and a lively addition to cheer around the dinner table. We currently carry “Uprooted” – infused with ginger, turmeric, and peppercorn – and blackberry-infused “Triple Bee”. Both are aged in oak barrels, and are not overly sweet or syrupy.

These meads retail at $21.99, but are on sale at $18.99 throughout the month of October. Come give them a try!

Apply for the Winter Craft Fair!

Every December, we invite artists, crafters, and artisans to help us put on a winter craft fair in the Community Room! This year, the fair is on Wednesday, December 12th from 2-7 pm during the Farmers’ Market. We’re hoping for a diverse array of offerings, and are inviting potential vendors to apply for the Winter Craft Fair by Wednesday, October 24th. If you are interested, please apply!

We’ve had a wide array of vendors in the past, including:

  • Woodworkers

  • Clothing makers

  • Zinesters, card makers, journal crafters and other paper product creators

  • Candle creators

  • Folks that make body care products

  • Ceramicists

  • Knitters

  • Stained glass makers

  • Jewelers

  • Jam makers

  • And more!

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

October is Co-op Month!

Own it this October!

It’s Co-op Month, the best time to invest!

Member-Owners are the reason that our Co-op exists. From the very beginning, People’s has been formed and molded by folks that saw a need to put in the time, work, and money to make this place get started and keep going. Member-Owner investments in the Co-op mean that we can tend to the needs of our space, our business, and our community.

We’re able to keep this special kind of business going because of all of the people that show up and invest in their belief in an alternative and the difference People’s offers. Every year during October, we take a moment to appreciate the work that we all do to keep this place going: whether that’s shopping, working, or purchasing a share of the Co-op.

To say thanks for being here, for investing, and for sharing this Co-op with us, there are some special incentives for investing in People’s:

  • Invest $15+: Equal Exchange Chocolate Bar + Reusable Stainless Steel Straw

  • Invest $30+: Chocolate + Straw + Reusable Produce Bags designed by local artist Tess Rubinstein

  • Invest 60+: Chocolate + Straw + Produce Bags + Equal Exchange Palestinian Olive Oil

& Golden Tickets!

Three lucky Member-Owners will find a golden ticket in with their chocolate, straw, bags, or olive oil. If you find a golden ticket, you will get some amazing prizes:


→ Be one of the first 50 folks to invest in your share, and you’ll get a free bottle of Dr. Bronner’s!

→ We’re having a 10% off sale on October 20th! Let’s celebrate Co-op Month by saving on all our favorites, and maybe even trying something new.

→ Join us for a screening of the film Food for Change all about the history of co-op’s in America on Saturday, October 13th at 7pm! We’ll have popcorn and time afterward for discussion.

→ Get to know other folks here! Come to the Co-op Community Potluck on Tuesday, October 30th at 6:30pm.

All you have to do to become a Member-Owner or invest in your share is to ask a cashier next time you are at the Co-op. It’s quick, convenient, and you’ll get to go home with a bunch of great stuff!

If you’ve already invested $180 (the full cost of a share), don’t worry! You can invest up to $300 in the Co-op and still get all of these great incentives. Those extra dollars mean a lot here!

Invest & Win: Bags from North St.!

This Co-op Month, we are thrilled to be offering a few special prizes for folks that become a Member-Owner or make an investment in their share throughout the month of October. There are already some great incentives for investing this month (you can read more about them here), but in with the chocolate bars, reusable produce bags, and other prizes will be three golden tickets: one for a skillet from Finex, another for a People’s tote bag stuffed full of our favorite fall essentials, and another for a pair of bags from North St. Bags.

North St. Bags are made a quick bike ride away in Ladd’s Addition near Hawthorne Boulevard. Owner Curtis Williams started the company from his basement in 2009 with one industrial sewing machine and the desire to make a super functional pannier that could be converted into a backpack. Without any significant sewing experience, it took a while to get the design right, but since then Curtis has grown the company and the product line to include a range of panniers, bags, backpacks, and more.

A tour of the North St. Bags show room and work space.

While the company has grown, the commitment to making bags in house from predominantly materials made in the USA has stayed the same. Bags from North St. are also made to order, and customers get to pick their color schemes and other details whether they’re ordering a fanny pack or a pannier. North St. bags also carry a lifetime guarantee, and the nice folks there can handle all kinds of repairs.

During Co-op Month, one lucky Member-Owner will find a golden ticket in with their other incentive that is good for their choice of either a pair of Gladstone Grocery Panniers or two Tabor Totes with a matching Pittock Pouch.

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The Tabor Totes in the large and regular sizes make the best diaper bag, gym companion, or grocery shopping tote. They are super durable, made from 1000 Denier CORDURA® nylon. The matching large Pittock Pouch help to keep your bag organized and small items from getting lost in the bottom of your bag.


The Gladstone Grocery Panniers are perfect for running errands, picnic rides, and trips to the farmers market. Made with 1000 Denier CORDURA® nylon, these panniers can stand up to the Portland rain and look great doing it.

Come by the Co-op to become a Member-Owner or invest in your share, and with any luck win some of these terrific bags!

Invest & Win: A Finex Cast Iron Pan!

This Co-op Month, we are thrilled to be offering a few special prizes for folks that become a Member-Owner or make an investment in their share throughout the month of October. There are already some great incentives for investing this month (you can read more about them here), but in with the chocolate bars, reusable produce bags, and other prizes will be three golden tickets: one for bags from North St. Bags, another for a People’s tote bag stuffed full of our favorite fall essentials, and a cast iron pan from Finex!

Finex was founded by Mike Whitehead in 2012 after his wife started throwing out all of their nonstick cookware. He couldn’t find a suitable, healthier replacement on the market, but became obsessed with vintage cast iron skillets from the 1940s and ‘50s and decided to start making the pan that he had been looking for. Finex set out to recreate the classic 12-inch skillet and tried a lot of different designs, ultimately settling on a unique octagonal shape and coiled handle. The octagonal shape a big advantage: it eliminates the need for a pour spout on the side of the pan. You can easily pour from any of its eight corners, while a lid will still fit tight without releasing steam or heat to help your cooking. The squarer sides can also make flipping food over easier if you use the corners for leverage. The coiled stainless steel handle doesn’t get hot and cools faster, making the pan easier to handle.

The finishing and seasoning of the Finex pans also makes them something special. They are crafted in a way that gives them the same nonstick sheen of old cast iron pans, and lightly seasoned with organic flaxseed oil for a perfect cooking surface and an almost golden sheen. The pans are all polished by ceramic stones (check out the video on your right), and then tossed in oil-coated birdseed for the perfect application.

Finex pans are made in the USA of pure iron, just like the vintage cast iron that Mike was originally ogling. Each pan passes through the factory here in Portland to be polished and assembled, with most of the components coming from within 25 miles of the Portland factory. Each 12-inch pan has four parts that have to be assembled by hand.

A tour of the Finex factory in NW Portland.

Another great thing about this special cast iron is that you can really beat it up and still return it to fantastic working condition. Scorch it, scratch it, or even leave it to rust, but with some good oil and a little elbow grease you can fix it back up and have it ready for cooking again in no time. Finex pans also come with a lifetime guarantee, and are made to be passed down from generation to generation. The helpful folks there will help you with any pan challenges that you come across.

Come by the Co-op to become a Member-Owner or invest in your share, and with any luck win a lifetime of cooking with this awesome cast iron!

Skillet Baked Savory Cornbread


I enjoy cooking in cast iron on the stove top, but I also love baking in a skillet. This cornbread recipe makes use of delicious local fresh corn that we currently have in the produce department, as well as the terrific cornmeal and polenta from the bulk section. I love this cornbread with the savory flavors of jalapeño and onion, but leave them out if you would rather slather your cornbread with honey or jam.

  • ½ cup of polenta or grits

  • 1 cup buttermilk, or vegan milk or regular milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice added

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup or 2 ounces grated cheddar cheese (optional)

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten, or 2 flax eggs (recipe follows)

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup

  • 1 cobs worth of sweet corn kernels or ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (optional)

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced chives or green onions (optional)

  • 5 to 6 tablespoons butter, or substitute olive oil or other vegan option

For the topping:

  • ½-1 jalapeño thinly sliced (red or green is great!)

  • ¼ of a red onion, sliced as thin as you can!

  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese

Heat your oven to 400°. In a medium bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, stir the polenta and buttermilk together. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. If you are adding the cheese, stir it into the dried ingredients. Stir the eggs into the buttermilk and polenta mixture, along with with the sugar, corn, and/or chives.

Meanwhile, melt your butter in your 12-inch skillet in the oven. Once it is melted, add all but 2 tablespoons to the polenta-buttermilk mixture. If you are using olive oil, add 3-4 tablespoons of room temperature oil to the polenta-buttermilk mixture, and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix carefully until the dry ingredients are just moistened – don’t overmix it!

When the butter or oil in the skillet is hot, pour the butter into the skillet. It should sizzle a bit! Sprinkle the top with jalapeño, onion, and cheddar cheese. If you want a spicier cornbread, add the whole jalapeño or mix some into the batter with the wet ingredients. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean out of the middle and the cornbread is firm. Slice the cornbread and eat up!

For Two Flax Eggs:

  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon water

Stir the water and flax meal together in a small bowl. Let rest for five minutes, and then use in this recipe!