santa fe community coop

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Dreaming New Mexico Farm Facts

image_largefarm facts

many thanks to Dreaming New Mexico, a bioneers collaborative project

• number of farms: 20,930, a growth of over 35% since 2002. the large increase is, in part, adding native amercan farmers to census. land in farms: 43.2 million acres (about 60% of State). about 87% of the farmland is range and pasture. number of acres in farms decreased by 4% since 2002.

•  average size of farm: 2,066 ac. median size: 40 ac.

• full owners: 15,850 (39% of all acres). Part owners and renters: 4,007 (54% of all acres). tenants: 1,073 (7% of all acres).total operators; 32,109.

• agriculture is primary occupation: 10,040 (48% of operators).

• farm is place of residence for operators (76%).

• operators who worked zero days on farm in past year (36%); who worked 200 or more days (35%).

• farmers younger than 35: 818. Percent of total farmers (4%). farmers above 60 years of age: 9,140 (45%).

• farms with less than $2,50 worth of sales: 10,496 or 50%.farms with over $100,000 in sales: 1,689 or 8%.

A central element of the Dreaming New Mexico project is to help build a far more self-reliant local food system including a community-based, restoration economy that:

  • Strengthens the vitality of the environmental and social fabric of the state and region
  • Builds local prosperity, creates good jobs and locally owned businesses
  • Places a central emphasis on providing food security while honoring vital cultural traditions and bio-cultural diversity

Lots more information about New Mexico foodsheds in this 50+ page pamphlet, DNMAgeofLocalFoodshedsandAFairTradeStateBooklet.pdf.


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New To Our Web Site

We just posted our recenbasket200tly completed BY-LAWS and BOARD MEETING MINUTES for the last two months. Check out PROGRESS-TO-DATE to find out what we’ve accomplished and what’s ahead.  We will keep you posted on our progress, so check for updates!

For Members, the Coop will be scheduling a General Meeting so everyone who wants to can get involved. Look for an email with information on date, time, and location.

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The Trusted, Integrated Community

imagesOne of my favorites! Repost from Seth Godin

n the long run, there are only two sustainable positions–you sell less for less or you sell more for more.

It’s tempting to think that you can pull a Wal-mart and appear to deliver more for less, but that’s far more rare than it appears. And the market is smart (and getting smarter) so delivering less for more, while apparently a great gig, doesn’t last.

People are going to figure out what’s on offer, and they’re going to seek out real value. For some, that means getting a little less (less service, less quality, less panache) and paying less, or getting a lot more (more meaning, more insight, more joy) and paying a bit more.

Time to pick.

[After I published it, I realized that something about this post isn’t quite right.] Here’s my take:

More or less are simple concepts to understand in the scarcity-based industrial economy. If I want to put better butter in the croissants, I need to pay more and charge more for it…

On the other hand, the connection economy isn’t based on scarcity. And in an abundant world of connection (where tribes become more valuable as they scale, where vulnerability and art are valuable in and of themselves) then in fact, yes, you can have more for less. The benefits of the trusted, integrated community, the one that gives permission and seeks to be in sync–these benefits actually open the door for delivering more… in exchange for the guts and the tears it takes to do that scary work that we seek to connect over.

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New Mexico: Chile Hot Spot

Repost from Bonny Wolf

ristra200Dried red chiles — strung into ristras — hang in many New Mexican homes and are used for cooking throughout the year. The state is the largest producer of chiles in the United States.

The Spanish conquistadors brought chiles to New Mexico in the 16th century, and they’ve been part of the cuisine and culture ever since. The chile is so valued that it’s been named the state vegetable (even though it’s technically a fruit). The modern New Mexican chile was developed in the late 1800s by Fabian Garcia, a horticulturalist at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts — today’s New Mexico State University. He wanted to breed a more standardized New Mexican chile.

In 1896, the sheriff of Ventura County, Calif., brought chile seeds back from a trip to New Mexico and planted them near Anaheim. The name stuck, and Anaheim chile is the generic name often given to the New Mexican chile.stew200-s3

However, there has been much breeding and improving over the years, so you’ll see chiles called Espanola, Sandia, Nu Mex, Big Jim, Long Green and others.

Recipes for breakfast quesadillas with New Mexican red chile sauce and green chile stew.

How to Roast Peppers

Place whole peppers over a gas or charcoal grill or under a broiler. They should be turned frequently with tongs until all sides are charred.
Put the charred peppers into a plastic bag and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
Wear gloves to peel peppers, to keep seeds from eyes and skin. Peel the peppers (the skin should come right off) and remove the seeds and stems. Chop the pepper and set aside until ready to use. They may also be frozen in plastic bags with all the air squeezed out.

Hot Tips

Dairy products are the best way to combat that burning sensation. There is a substance in dairy products that counteracts the heat in the chile. So if your mouth feels like it’s on fire, drink a glass of milk.Try to keep the chile away from body parts. The oil can burn your skin and hurt your eyes. Wear gloves when handling chiles.
The chile’s heat comes from a chemical compound called capsaicinoids. They are located on the membrane of the chile. Many people think seeds are where the heat lives. Actually, they absorb it from the membrane.

Matt Romero Roasting Chili's

Chili farmer Matt Romero turns his roaster by hand at our very own Farmers’ Market.

Source: New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute

About the Author  Bonny Wolf is Kitchen Window‘s contributing editor and a commentator on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. She also hosts the Kitchen Window podcast. Her book of food essays, Talking with My Mouth Full, is out in stores. You can find more information at

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A Simple Fix for Farming – a third path

Repost from Mark Bittman, New York Times, Opinionator, October 19, 2012

IT’S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to.

This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.

The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.

The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.

In short, there was only upside — and no downside at all — associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it’s a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.

No one expects Iowa corn and soybean farmers to turn this thing around tomorrow, but one might at least hope that the U.S.D.A.would trumpet the outcome. The agency declined to comment when I asked about it. One can guess that perhaps no one at the higher levels even knows about it, or that they’re afraid to tell Monsanto about agency-supported research that demonstrates a decreased need for chemicals. (A conspiracy theorist might note that the journals Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences both turned down the study. It was finally published in PLOS One; I first read about it on the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site.)

Rosie Gainsborough

Debates about how we grow food are usually presented in a simplistic, black-and-white way, conventional versus organic. (The spectrum that includes conventional on one end and organic on the other is not unlike the one that opposes the standard American diet with veganism.) In farming, you have loads of chemicals and disastrous environmental impact against an orthodox, even dogmatic method that is difficult to carry out on a large scale.

But seeing organic as the only alternative to industrial agriculture, or veganism as the only alternative to supersize me, is a bit like saying that the only alternative to the ravages of capitalism is Stalinism; there are other ways. And positioning organic as the only alternative allows its opponents to point to its flaws and say, “See? We have to remain with conventional.”

The Marsden Farm study points to a third path. And though critics of this path can be predictably counted on to say it’s moving backward, the increased yields, markedly decreased input of chemicals, reduced energy costs and stable profits tell another story, one of serious progress.

Nor was this a rinky-dink study: the background and scientific rigor of the authors — who represent the U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Research Service as well as two of the country’s leading agricultural universities — are unimpeachable. When I asked Adam Davis, an author of the study who works for the U.S.D.A., to summarize the findings, he said, “These were simple changes patterned after those used by North American farmers for generations. What we found was that if you don’t hold the natural forces back they are going to work for you.”

THIS means that not only is weed suppression a direct result of systematic and increased crop rotation along with mulching, cultivation and other non-chemical techniques, but that by not poisoning the fields, we make it possible for insects, rodents and other critters to do their part and eat weeds and their seeds. In addition, by growing forage crops for cattle or other ruminants you can raise healthy animals that not only contribute to the health of the fields but provide fertilizer. (The same manure that’s a benefit in a system like this is a pollutant in large-scale, confined animal-rearing operations, where thousands of animals make manure disposal an extreme challenge.)

Perhaps most difficult to quantify is that this kind of farming — more thoughtful and less reflexive — requires more walking of the fields, more observations, more applications of fertilizer and chemicals if, when and where they’re needed, rather than on an all-inclusive schedule. “You substitute producer knowledge for blindly using inputs,” Davis says.

So: combine crop rotation, the re-integration of animals into crop production and intelligent farming, and you can use chemicals (to paraphrase the report’s abstract) to fine-tune rather than drive the system, with no loss in performance and in fact the gain of animal products.

Why wouldn’t a farmer go this route? One answer is that first he or she has to hear about it. Another, says Matt Liebman, one of the authors of the study and an agronomy professor at Iowa State, is that, “There’s no cost assigned to environmental externalities” — the environmental damage done by industrial farming, analogous to the health damage done by the “cheap” standard American diet — “and the profitability of doing things with lots of chemical input isn’t questioned.”

This study not only questions those assumptions, it demonstrates that the chemicals contributing to “environmental externalities” can be drastically reduced at no sacrifice, except to that of the bottom line of chemical companies. That direction is in the interest of most of us — or at least those whose well-being doesn’t rely on that bottom line.

Sadly, it seems there isn’t a government agency up to the task of encouraging things to move that way, even in the face of convincing evidence.

Note from the Coop: Even the organic protocol allows targeted application of chemical fertilizers when critical to a crop’s survivial.

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Updated FAQ featuring new incentives for 400 Founding Members and links to the Coop’s new, online subscription form with options to pay with Visa/MC, PayPal or check.

Q:      What is the Santa Fe Community Coop?

A:     A new grocery store that bridges the North and South sides, bringing high quality affordable food to everyone; a grocery store where your voice will be heard.

The Coop will offer one-stop-shopping for healthy, nutritious food; mostly organic and non-GMO, local whenever possible. 

It will be home to a rich and progressive culture where Santa Feans actively participate in improving their own lives and lives of others. 

Built on a solid ecological model, the backbone of the coop is an energy efficient system that optimizes thermal outputs, recycles grey water, deploys solar energy, and uses healthy, high-yield agricultural technologies.

Q:      There are a lot of grocery stores in Santa Fe. Why do you think we need another one?

A:     The Santa Fe Community Coop is as much about community as it is about food. The Coop will have a cozy eating area, a community room, culturally attuned nutritional programs, cooking classes, child-care and desks for homework, home-made stocks and sauces, and more.

Importantly, our food will be affordable, so everyone in the community can enjoy the benefits of high quality, nutritious food.

Q:      Why do you think the cooperative will be successful?

A:     We are following in the footsteps of the most successful food coop in the country, the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn. With $48 million in sales and 16,000 active members, it is one of the top five independent grocery stores in the country.

While most natural food stores charge a mark-up of 65% or more, the PSFC charges a mark-up of only 21%, saving shoppers 20% to 40% a year, between $2,400 to $4,800 a year for a family of four. At the outset, the Santa Fe Community Coop’s mark-up will be 29%.  The Coop hopes to reduce this over time.

Mostly organic, the PSFC stocks 85% organic compared to Whole Foods’ 26%

With the cost of food rising 4% to 7% a year, healthy, affordable food is rapidly disappearing from the commercial marketplace. The Santa Fe Community Coop fills this gap.

Q:      How is it different from La Montanita?

A:     Just as there is more than one grocery store in Santa Fe, there can be more than one cooperative. A second coop will expand local options for high quality, healthy, affordable food.

The Santa Fe Community Coop is a uniquely member-driven organization. Only members can shop; everyone is welcome to join. Members participate actively in the coop’s ownership, operations and governance. We have special membership options for those with low incomes or disabilities.

Q:      Why should I join?

A:     If you want to enjoy fresh, high quality food and vibrant community, we’re the grocery store for you. We welcome all, multi-generational New Mexicans and newcomers . . . singles, families and seniors.

Q:      What does it cost to join?

A:       Every Member will pay an annual $25 Membership Fee, make a one-time $100 Pledge, and be required to fulfill the Coop’s work requirement, currently two 2 3/4 shifts every four weeks. All adults over 21 in your household must be Members.

The Coop also has an out-of-town membership that allows folks who do not live in Santa Fe year-round to shop 12 times a year. It has the same Membership Fee and Pledge requirements; however, you will only be asked to work two shifts.

Q:     How do I join?

A:     Click here!

You can pay your $100 per Member pledge with Visa/MC or PayPal or you can send  a check. Pay the full amount or sign-up for monthly or quarterly installments.

If you are one of 400 Founding Members, the Coop will waive your first year’s $25 Membership Fee.

Q:     When will it open?

A:     Our projected opening is early 2015.

Q:      Why should I join now?

A:     Our business plan demonstrates that 400 members are needed to ensure the right location, get bank financing and complete our build-out.

The Coop is waiving the $25 Membership Fee for the first year for its 400 Founding Members.Y our name will be included on our special Founding Member wall, and you will  have the pleasure of knowing that helped make this outstanding contribution to our community possible.

No membership contributions will be spent until we have 400 members. If we do not have 400 members by December 31, 2013, all monies will be returned.

Q:      How do I get more information?

A:     If you have questions, email the Coop at The Coop also holds monthly Community Gatherings. Check for logistics by clicking COMMUNITY CALENDAR on our Home page.

Q:      How can I participate?

A:     Help the Coop recruit members. You can find out more about the Coop and its recruiting process at Volunteer Gatherings. Check for dates and locations, coming soon, by clicking COMMUNITY CALENDAR on our Home Page.

The Coop also invites you to join a work group. Or, if you have special skills that you want to volunteer, please let us know! The Design Team is currently  designing the Coop’s building, so let us know if you have skills you would like to contribute. The Coop always need graphic design, and we will soon need web programming and design skills. Marketing, financial and administrative skills are always welcome.   

If you like the Community Coop, please tell your friends about it! “Follow” at, “Like” Santa Fe Community Coop on Facebook.

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Hunger Reflects Inequality

Mark Bittman, in hisbanner-res-dec-en June 25, New York Times Opinionator, asserts, “In this day hunger comes not because there is not enough food; it comes because some are unable to either buy it or produce it. Hunger represents inequality: there are no hungry people with money. Alleviating hunger, in part, is recognizing that the right to eat is equivalent to the right to breathe, which trumps the right to make profits. The real heroes in the world of food are those who recognize this, and who work to improve the kind of low-input agriculture upon which the majority of the world’s people — and the vast majority of farmers — rely.

To digress, briefly, Mark Bittman, in an earlier article on Monsanto and GMO’s and more broadly, big ag, summarizes his conversations with Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist and plant pathologist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.. Gurian-Sherman’s view is that Roundup Ready seeds allowed farmers to spend less time and energy controlling weeds. But the temporary nature of the gains was predictable: “There was no better way to create weeds tolerant to glyphosate (Roundup) than to spray all of them intensively for a few years, and that’s what was done.”

The result is that the biggest crisis in monocrop agriculture – something like 90 percent of all soybeans and 70 percent of corn is grown using Roundup Ready seed – lies in glyphosate’s inability to any longer provide total or even predictable control, because around a dozen weed species have developed resistance to it. “Any ecologist would have predicted this, and many did,” Gurian-Sherman said.

In the case of seeds containing the Bt toxin, insect resistance took longer to develop because breeders, knowing that insects evolve faster than new crop species can normally be generated, have deployed several variations of the Bt toxin in an effort to reduce the “selection pressure.” But, says Gurian-Sherman, “We’re starting to see that resistance now.”

In other words, GMO’s aren’t working; Bittman provides information on what is. He offers a useful synopsis of the “who’s who” of food policy wonks and activists who’ve made significant inroads in the study of sustainable food systems and food equity. Borrowing freely from Bittman’s article:

Doug Gurian-Sherman mentioned Zeyaur Khan, who developed the “push-pull” system of pest control in sub-Saharan Africa. The system uses a legume to “push” stem borers away from desired crops (mostly corn); at the same time, a “pull” crop is planted nearby, one that attracts the stem borers. “Input costs are low for farmers using this system,” says Gurian-Sherman, “while yields are often more than doubled.” Neither of those things can be said of the genetically modified Bt corn, which is designed to achieve the same results. [Planting legumes, of course, also fixes nitrogen in the soil, which means lowered use of chemical fertilizers.]

Raj Patel, author of “Stuffed and Starved” and a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, talked about the international peasant organization, La Via Campesina. A visit to their web site returns a passionate appeal to “put the aspirations, needs and livelihoods of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. Food sovereignty prioritizes local food production and consumption. It gives a country the right to protect its local producers from cheap imports and to control production.” See their moving call to action, the Jakharta Call.

bannerAnna Lappé, director of Food MythBusters and author, most recently, of Diet for a Hot Planet, nominates the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, who advocates the internationally recognized position on the “right to food” has visited dozens of countries to learn about and address food insecurity. “De Schutter’s promotion of agroecological solutions,” says Lappé, “is rooted in the understanding that the chemical approach breeds debt and dependency on costly inputs like fertilizer, chemicals or genetically engineered seeds. As he told me [Bittman] a few years ago, ‘We have failed to end hunger using the traditional recipe that saw hunger as a technical problem, requiring only that we produce more. We’ve failed because we’ve underestimated the need to empower people and hold governments accountable.’”

Speaking of Lappés, Tom Philpott, a food and agriculture writer at Mother Jones, brings up Anna’s mother, Frances Moore Lappé: “Her central insights in Diet for a Small Planet — that growing grain to feed animals for meat is grievously inefficient; that the world already produces more than enough calories and the real problem is economic inequality — have become so commonplace in alternative-ag circles, so accepted, that we forget where they came from. (Now if policy makers would only listen!) She is an unsung intellectual giant, and her work remains vital today.”

Finally, Michael Pollan, Knight professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and author, most recently, of Cooked, speaks about Miguel Altieri, an agronomist at Berkeley and one of the world’s leading proponents of agroecology.“Altieri has shown that casting the future of farming as either low-yield subsistence agriculture or export-oriented industrial farming is a false choice,” Pollan says. “Working with peasant farmers in Latin America, he has demonstrated that impressive increases in yield can be achieved by means of crop diversification, integrated pest management, and nutrient cycling. Small-holder farms currently produce half the world’s food, and Altieri’s work suggests that they could produce considerably more without shifting to capital-intensive export crops that often undermine rural economies and diminish food security. Altieri is also an eloquent advocate of ‘food sovereignty,’ the principle that localities and nations should be able to retain control of their food systems rather than leave them at the mercy of the global market.”

Bittman concludes by acknowledging Lester Brown, founder of both Worldwatch and the Earth Policy Institute; Matt Liebman of Iowa State and his pioneering work on sustainable agriculture; and Vandana Shiva, who has devoted her life to a long list of  progressive environmental and agricultural causes.

Many roads to travel and lessons to learn. Even though many of the thought provoking ideas about food production in Bittman’s article are about agriculture in impoverished countries, in many ways our system of agriculture is no healthier or no more under our control than is theirs. The Coop is a vision of empowerment, a path to food and health equity. I hope this article provides a jumping off place for your learning and growth. It did for mine.