October has arrived, bringing more than just all-things-pumpkin-spice. This month we’re celebrating a number of special food-related occasions:
1. Co-op Month
Back in 1948, Minnesota was the first state to declare an official Co-op Month proclamation. Co-op Month has been celebrated annually in October across the U.S. ever since. It’s a time for cooperative businesses like the St. Peter Food Co-op to reflect on their shared principles and to educate others about the value of belonging to a cooperative.
There are more than 40,000 cooperative businesses in the United States with 350 million members (many people belong to more than one co-op). These cooperatives generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, with support from USDA Rural Development. Co-ops generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local and pay local taxes to help support community services. Cooperatives often take part in community improvement programs, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from the cooperative experience.
Anyone is welcome to become an owner of the St. Peter Food Co-op and have a say in Co-op governance.
2. Fair Trade Month
Fair Trade is a global trade model and certification that allows shoppers to quickly identify products that were produced in an ethical manner. Today, Fair Trade benefits more than 1.2 million farming families in 70 developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Globally, the Fair Trade network certifies coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa, fresh fruit and vegetables, sugar, beans and grains, flowers, nuts, oils and butters, honey and spices, wine and apparel, and certified ingredients are now used in ready-to-drink beverages, body care products and spirits. Fair Trade principles include fair prices and credit; fair labor conditions; direct trade; democratic and transparent organizations; community development; and environmental sustainability.
At the St. Peter Food Co-op, all of our bananas are Fair Trade. You can find a variety of other Fair Trade items (including chocolate, coffee, market baskets, and other gifts) around the store—look for the Fair Trade certification sign.
3. National Apple Month
Did you know that the first American to orbit the Earth, astronaut John Glenn, carried pureed applesauce in squeezable tubes on his initial space flight? Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, Apple Month was then expanded to the entire month of October. Besides being a homegrown, American staple, apples are filled with antioxidants, help maintain healthy gut bacteria, and are among the best sources of soluble fiber. Maybe this is the month you should explore some new recipes using your favorite apple variety.
The St. Peter Food Co-op sources our delicious fall apples locally from orchards like Montgomery Orchard.
4. Vegetarian Awareness Month
Every year on October 1st, World Vegetarian Day kicks off Vegetarian Awareness Month. If you’re new to vegetarianism, perhaps this is an opportunity for you to give meatless fare a try (even for a day). Think of it as a challenge—can you avoid meat for one day? For those who already embrace plant-based diets, it’s a time to celebrate! Can’t get into going green for health or ethical reasons? Consider your wallet—meat accounts for an estimated 10% of American food-spending. Eating vegetables, grains and fruit in place of the roughly 250 pounds of beef, chicken, and fish each non-vegetarian eats annually could cut individual food bills by an average $4,000 per year.
The Co-op carries a variety of vegetarian food options, including jackfruit, tempeh, seitan, nuts, fruits, fresh veggies, and more.
5. National Seafood Month
National Seafood Month highlights smart seafood choices, sustainable fisheries, and the health benefits of eating a diet rich in seafood. Seafood has been shown to be a good source of high-quality protein and long chain omega-3 fatty acids; low in saturated fat; and rich in vitamins and minerals. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020) recommend eating 8 or more ounces of seafood per week. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. commercial fishing industry and fish farming generates $154 billion per year in revenue and employs over 1 million seafood workers. The average American added nearly 1 pound of seafood to their diet in 2015 alone, with demand anticipated to continue. To keep up, it’s important that we have a sustainable supply of seafood long into the future.
The St. Peter Food Co-op carries a variety of frozen seafood, including salmon, tilapia, Arctic Char, shrimp, scallops, and more. Check the freezer section in the far back corner!
6. National Cookie Month
Last but not least, October is National Cookie Month! The word cookie is derived from the Dutch word koekie, which means little cake. Celebrate by enjoying your favorite cookie from the Co-op bakery or try your hand at a new recipe (your friends will be delighted to taste-test).