—by Jesse Winsell, Chair of Hampden Park Co-op Board of Directors

I recently had a breakthrough moment that made me realize why mission/vision is important for an organization. Before this, I must admit that I did not see a need for an organization to have a mission. “Mission Shmission,” I would think to myself.

To me, it mattered more that the co-op was doing a good job attracting customers and serving its member-owners. This stuff matters, of course, but my personal breakthrough helped me realize that having a mission is critical to defining what a “good job” means, and how the organization should be “serving” its members and the community.

—by Roxy Bergeron

—by Stacie Robinson

In Chinese philosophy, persimmons are seen as symbolic of the passage from youth to maturity—the transformation from rigidity and bitterness, yielding to sweetness and tenderness with age. This is more than just a proverb, it’s important epicurean advice. When unripe, the flesh of a persimmon is firm and unyielding, high tannin levels lead to a bitter flavor, and thick skin has a chalky flavor. Bleh! But as the fruit ripens, it softens as cells break down a bit, releasing sugars, and leading to a delicate, almost creamy texture and rich sweetness. Mmmm!

—by Melissa Williams

—by Nicole Infinity

There are a range of environmental, economic and health concerns impacted by winter celebrations. The over-consumption of stuff, food, and alcohol can lead to debt, stress, unwanted weight gain, damage to the environment, extra clutter from unwanted/unneeded purchases and gifts, and generally an unpleasant time. There are some solutions for these problems, some of which will take work and others that are quite simple.

It has been brought up many times, but the first step of the recycling triad is “reduce.” Each year folks from all over the world choose to celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead of Black Friday. Some go further and don’t purchase anything through the end of December: Buy Nothing Xmas.

—by Jerry McClelland

A few years ago as my husband and I left snowy Minnesota for some Costa Rican sun, I was hoping to see coffee growing for the first time. Maybe I would even see fair trade at its source, so to speak.

A conventional coffee plantation

Once we arrived in Monteverde in central Costa Rica, I searched through flyers at our small hotel advertising coffee tours. The only tour I found was to the Don Juan Coffee Plantation (I’m not kidding; that was the name). We rode in a van to this plantation. Rows of beautiful, green coffee bushes undulated over the rolling hills, and the visitors' center was hospitable to North American tourists.

—by Roxanne Bergeron

Back in 2007, one of China’s favorite nut meats—the curvy, flesh-colored walnut that, when shelled, looks a tiny bit like brains—jumped in price due to a global shortage. This downturn in availability and uptick in cost inspired Chinese nut lovers to peer around the globe in search of a less costly alternative.

Pecans to China

As it happens, that year the United States had a bumper crop of pecans. Chinese buyers began arriving, literally carrying cash- money in suitcases, to entice growers in the southern United States, who supply 80% of the world’s pecans, to prioritize sales in their direction.1,2

—contributed by Chris Meusburger

This is my Grandma Margarett’s recipe that she brought with her from Ireland when she came to America. The recipe has always been special to me because she would only cook it on St. Patrick’s Day, and the whole family would go to my Grandma’s house and have a big corned beef brisket dinner. I hope everyone who uses this recipe comes to love it as I have all these years.

Corned Beef Brisket

whole black and white peppercorns
potatoes, cut into large chunks
green cabbage, cut in chunks or separated into individual leaves
corned beef brisket*

—contributed by April Alfuth

This is a recipe that I got from Tatyana Barrett who emigrated from Russia with her family when she was a young child. It is absolutely the best tasting borsch to cross my palate. I cook a lot, but had only made borsch probably three times in my adult life. Now I make it about once a month in the winter season. It calls for meat and I usually use pork ribs, but I have made it with Kielbasa Tofurky for my vegan relatives. It is just as tasty. I believe it is because you saute most of the vegetables before you add them to the pot.


For stock*, place in a large pot:
1–2 lbs of meat (any meat, preferably with a bone)
2 tablespoons salt
1–2 whole onions
3–4 bay leaves

Thank you to Huong Nguyen, Matt Hass, and Melvyn Jones for their years of service on our board of directors, and welcome to newly- elected board members Mark Chapin, Paul Hannemann, and Paul Moore.