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!

For the Love of Bulk

For the Love of Bulk

By Kahadish Wa'adabisha, Bulk Buyer, Collective Manager

The History of Bulk

The bulk section at People’s Food Co-op offers a wide array of foodstuffs that are in alignment with values that began in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Around that time, the number of farms were declining and access to healthy, organic and pesticide-free food was not a primary focus. As a result food cooperatives were established by groups of people who wanted to make decisions about production and distribution of foodstuffs and the quality of food we eat. 

Food co-ops were on the front line of creating what are now known as “health food stores”. And between 1969 and 1970 approximately 10,000 food coops were established throughout the United States (People’s Food Coop being one of these co-ops).

The food cooperative movement, specific to the foundation of People’s, is different than the general health food movement in that it is very intentional. It is based on values, as seen in the Rochdale principles which guide the co-op:

  1. Voluntary & open membership
  2. Democratic Member control
  3. Member economic participation
  4. Autonomy & independence 
  5. Education, training & information
  6. Cooperation among cooperatives
  7. Concern for community

Making Bulk Part of your Everyday Life

In our bulk section you’ll notice a wide variety of organically grown grains, beans, seaweeds, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and even so called “super foods”, many of which are locally grown (noted by the Foodshed logos in the store). These items are significant in our co-op history, in that at co-ops used to be the main provider of these items to our community. 

Yet, lifestyles have changed over the last fifty years. People are busy and have so many obligations that they’re running between. Food options have been created that fit this lifestyle—there’smore eating out, grab and go, snacks and prepared food. There is less time given to and available for preparing food at home. 

But preparing food as it was originally intended grounds us in the movement that led to the founding of People’s Food Co-op and other food co-ops. Eating food in its whole form helps to fertilize the garden of our own bodies by honoring food preparation, eating the food we prepare, and returning to sharing food as a community.

Where to Start

There is something intentional in the action of preparing food in its most basic form. It connects us with the community it serves and the earth it comes from.  For example, try making beans instead of buying them canned. Through the process of making food from its whole form, you may find yourself having time to enjoy the beauty and colors of the food you eat. You’ll be honoring the fact that many of us have access to healthy, kindly planted and harvested food. You may be using your own containers and bags andtherefore reducing waste (statistics from the EPA show we generate approximately 80 million tons of waste fr om packaging and containers annually). And you’ll be supporting farmers and taking part in a legacy of food preparation that dates back to generations long before us.

Here's a recipe to get you started.


  • 1 1/2 cups onion 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (or more) curry powder and garam masala
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup fresh tomato or 1, 15 oz canned tomatoes drained
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro


Saute onion, garlic, ginger and spices in olive oil. Add squash, lentils, tomato and salt. Then add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring until the squash is tender for about 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milkand simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro and enjoy as this dish makes you comfy cozy

Introducing Andrew Barton...

Andrew Barton is self taught home cook/supper club chef, originally from Eugene, OR and currently teaching preschool in Portland.  His favorite thing to eat right now are hearty, texture focused salads (like the one below), featuring the best seasonal produce prepared in interesting ways. 

He has been hosting the supper club, Secret Restaurant Portland, collaboratively since 2010 and over the last 2 years, working with Secret Restaurant teammates Peter and Kate Schweitzer on their upcoming cookbook Myrtlewood.  He will be our newest contributor to our blog, previewing recipes from Myrtlewood here, like the one below.  

Want to know more about Myrtlewood?  There is one week left on Myrtlewood's Kickstarter campaign  - to self-publish the first edition of this beautiful cookbook.  Watch the video, read all about it, see some previews, pre-order a book, and tell your friends. There is still a ways to go – help from conscious food consumers and cooks like you, dear reader, is the only way they'll get there. 

For more recipes like this one, check out  Myrtlewood's Kickstarter Campaign . 

For more recipes like this one, check out Myrtlewood's Kickstarter Campaign

Summer Panzanella 

The classic Italian summer dish. A transcendent meal can be made from a little high summer produce and some old bread. 

I made a large batch of rolls for a big lunch that didn't work and had to be replaced with bakery rolls. They were just too crusty, too chewy. I'd taken the Tartine bread recipe and tried to make rolls the same way. Doesn't work! Tartine bread is all about force within the loaf, the gasses expanding, the blistering, charred crust. Well, it was a happy accident because the rolls were the best bread for panzanella imaginable. The flavor was complex, the crumb delectable. I sliced and tore the rolls up into bite sized pieces, made my first batch of panzanella, and froze the rest in a large freezer bag. Each time I wanted more, I'd revive just the quantity I wanted to use wrapped in foil in the oven. I made maybe 6 large bowls of panzanella from mid-August to mid-September using these roll bits again and again. 


  • fresh, ripe tomatoes (several kinds if you can buy or grow them - large or small. Apx 7-12)
  • cucumber(s, if little)
  • the best damn stale bread you can get* (2 or 3 handfuls of cruton-esque pieces)
  • very small (or half a medium) fresh sweet onion
  • garlic, 4 or so cloves
  • white wine vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • red wine (already open, just for cooking or what you are drinking that night)
  • pickled green peppercorns (secret, important ingredient here - available at Pastaworks, you can also substitute capers here)
  • parmesan 
  • fresh mozzarella
  • basil or parsley or celery leaves or whatever strong leafy herb


Dice the onion finely and place it in a non-reactive bowl (a glass pyrex mixing bowl is perfect). Peel and chop the garlic, mincing and adding it. Pour enough white wine vinegar to soak the onion and garlic. Add lemon juice till they are almost submerged. Add olive oil to really bury them. Salt generously. Let this hang out for at least an hour, seriously. You can get away with half and hour but an hour is better. This is the technique that gives this panzanella it's brightness, it's zing. 

If you are cooking other food, work on it now; or take a walk, or read a chapter of your book. Wash, de-stem, and sliced the tomatoes. If using an english cucumber, no need to fuss over it. A regular one; peel a couple lines down the outer skin and scoop out the seeds before cutting. Little lemon cucumbers? Wash the prickles off, but no need to de-seed.

Smash/chop about one teaspoon of pickled green peppercorns. Add them with the tomatoes and the cucumbers to the onion, garlic, acids, and olive oil. 

After 10 minutes or so for these things to become acquainted (and white you grate the parmesan, tear the mozzerella, tear the basil), add the bread pieces. Toss aggressively, splashing in red wine as you go. Try to get the wine to hit half the bread pieces. Toss in the parmesan, the mozz, and the basil/other leafy herbs. Drizzle with olive oil, taste, add more wine, wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, or black pepper to taste.