Almondina offers several flavors but Gingerspice is my favorite. These days, many cookies with ginger in the name actually contain no ginger. It’s the same with ginger ale. Big box manufacturers use food coloring and/or molasses to simulate the color ginger adds to recipes. No worries about faking the ginger component with Almondina ginger cookies. They are dotted with chewy bits of real ginger. They’re made in the United States and were first produced in 1929. Visit this site for more info. (See recipe in side bar.)

Nature’s Path makes a variety of dry cereals. Some of them are better than others. In my opinion, their spelt-based cereal has a lot in common with cardboard. However, their Millet Rice Oatbran cereal is good.

—by Naomi Jackson, Membership Coordinator

Apparently word has spread that Hampden Park Co-op is a great place to shop and volunteer. This is good news; it also means we have a lot of volunteers looking for open shifts. Be patient, plan ahead, and, out of courtesy to the other volunteers, remove your name from the calendar as soon as you know you have a schedule conflict.

If you have a flexible schedule, there is a sign-up sheet for people who are able to come in on short notice, in case we have a last-minute cancellation. Leave us your name, phone number, and the times and days you are available.

Getting that gardening itch, now that the holidays are over and winter is soon to wane? Just imagine: purple, yellow, green, and orange cherry tomatoes, white eggplant, deep green watermelon with star- and moon-shaped speckles, black-eyed susans and petunias that grow on long vines, beans with purplegreen leaves and rose-colored pods, ribbed and striped slicing tomatoes, white sunflowers, and bushy, globe-shaped basil. With heirlooms you can add beautiful, interesting, and tasty varieties to your garden, preserve old and rare cultivars of plants, and fight agribusiness and corporate greed and control—all at the same time.

—by Piyali Nath Dalal, HPC Member

—by Kjersti Hanneman, HPC Member

—by Kate Wagner, HPC Member

The consumption of fish and seafood increases dramatically in February and March, as many Christians observe the season of Lent. This is a good time to educate ourselves about how to buy, store, prepare, and cook fish safely, as well as how much fish is safe to eat.

Buy the Best

Fish tastes “fishy” when it hasn’t been handled properly. To avoid “fishy” fish, use your senses when making your purchase. Fish should have a fresh and mild odor. It should be firm to the touch and “spring back” into place after you remove your finger. If you can see your finger print after you touch it, or if it has a strong odor, it's not fresh.

—by Heidi Goar, HPC Member

I don’t know about you, but I am a total snob when it comes to buying food. Totally self-righteous. I have been a proud volunteer member of HPC for years and I shop here almost exclusively. In fact, I drive from the West Side of St. Paul to shop here. I don’t go to other co-ops much because they are too glitzy, too “corporate.” I like HPC because it’s quaint; there isn’t enough room for everything and you have to say “excuse me” a lot as you squeeze through the aisles. I can chat with three or four people each time I stop in. I am allowed to use the bathroom even when I am not volunteering (mum’s the word).

—by Meredith Sommers, HPC Member

Jim Fruth of Pequot Lakes has been foraging for wild edibles for 35 years. He began by tapping maple trees in the spring, boiling down the liquid until it became syrup. Today he and his spouse, Esther, have a business that depends upon his foraging for ingredients and Esther’s cooking these ingredients to make jams, jellies, and syrups. Their motto is “Making life sweeter one piece of toast at a time.”

Brambleberry Farm began selling its wild products in nearby farmers’ markets in 1999. Now, in addition to daily markets, it has a store with a kitchen along highway 371, south of Pequot Lakes; and its delicious products are sold wholesale and online.

Jim knows what he is looking for as he searches the woodlands and roadsides for fruits that include chokeberries, huckleberries, raspberries, black cherries, and juneberries. A trained horticulturist, Jim finds voluptuous wild plants, “tames them, and makes them more useable.” This means that in addition to foraging, Jim grows hundreds of plants on 1.25 acres of land. These are plants that he has developed by cross-pollination, saving and sowing the seeds of the ones with the best flavor and capacity.

—by Lois Braun, HPC Member (October/November 2006)

About 45% of all land in this country is used for agriculture, more than for any other single activity. Thus agricultural policy is everybody’s business, not just that of farmers. Farm policy affects you even though you live in a city, and even though you might not have any family left on the farm. It affects you because, not only do you eat food, but you drink water, breathe air, and pay taxes. It affects you if you like to fish, canoe, or swim in natural bodies of water.

As a human being, you deserve safe nourishing food, clean air, and clean water. The farm bill should deliver these, but it doesn’t; and thus it is wasting taxpayers’ money—YOUR money. In the farm bill we are not getting what we pay for. Discussions are starting now about the next farm bill, which will come out in 2007. It is time for city people to get involved.

Origins of the Farm Program

The original idea of the farm program was good. It started at a time when the majority of our nation’s population were farmers, and a majority of farmers were poor due in part to wildly fluctuating crop prices. So price support systems were enacted that made up the difference to farmers when prices of “commodity crops” (corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, cotton) fell below a baseline.

Why It Hasn't Worked