Harvest

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Family gathered all around. A Savory Apple Tart is in the oven and you are about to sit down to a meal that fully captures the season—harvest season. Whether you are planning for your Thanksgiving feast or are just soaking up the local splendor, it really is an exquisite time of year for food. It is starting to look festive around the stores but, just like always—produce really sets the stage.

Right now we have the most delicious Honeycrisp apples from Kriesche Farm in Rudyard, MI. They live up to their name with every bite being so crisp and refreshing with just the right amount of sweet. They are a treat as-is, but if you are looking for some ideas to bring that sweetness into more dishes on your table, we can help with that too.

Start your day with this Morning Apple Crumble alongside a helping of Squash, Apple and Bacon Hash. As you plan for your upcoming holiday meals make sure to give this Cinnamon Apple Stuffed Squash a try. Maybe swap out the dried herbs for Bear Creek Organic Farm fresh herbs in this Apple and Celery Stuffing recipe. Speaking of Bear Creek, their salad mix and micro greens will make any salad pop!




Right now the local squash is really amazing. Check out this guide on picking just the right variety for whatever you are planning. We have organic squash from Providence Organic Farm including Acorn, Buttercup, Butternut, Delicata, Carnival, Spaghetti, and Sweet Dumpling. We also have organic Komboca in stock right now.

Did you know that Delicata and Kobocha squash are known for their tender skins that are perfect for eating? Kobocha squash makes a really tasty soup as well! Speaking of soup, it is downright chilly out there and nothing hits the spot quite like a bowl of soup. Combine a couple of harvest favorites in either of these squash-based soups. Butternut Apple Soup with Ginger and Butternut Apple Bisque are sure to warm you up. These are best served with a warm slice of Spiced Winter Squash Bread. Yum! 

We mentioned chestnuts roasting, and that is because we have fresh chestnuts from Bachi Farm in Williamsburg, MI! According to BBC goodfood, “Fresh chestnuts must always be cooked before use and are never eaten raw, owing to their tannic acid content.” Check out this BBC guide to roasting chestnuts.

Of course, we have all the regulars you expect to find—organic celery, leafy greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, onions, fresh cranberries, pomegranate seeds, and fresh poultry herbs. Whatever you decide to savor during this harvest season, we are here with all the bounty you need 7-days a week! Don’t forget to stop by the Deli Hot Bar or Cafe and taste some of these ingredients in action. See you there!

November 11, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

Time to Talk Turkey!

 

It’s November. It’s November 4th actually. The time changed yesterday and we are seeing reminders of the upcoming holidays everywhere. For us at the Grain Train, the focus of the season remains the same—being the trusted source of what goes on your tables. Making a Difference One Bite At A Time is our mission be it January, June, or November. Though this time of year, there is one item that we think really deserves the spotlight - Duerksen Turkey Farm turkeys. 


Why do we make such a big deal about these turkeys? The short answer is that they are simply worth all the fuss! Let’s talk about why— 


Rick and Sue Duerksen have been running Duerksen Turkey Farm since the late 70s, a tradition they carried on from Rick’s grandmother. In fact, this year marks their 40th anniversary turkey farming! Their four children were raised on the farm and took part in every aspect of the business as well. 


In 2007, they began producing pasture-raised turkeys. Pasture-raised means that these birds are humanely raised and truly cared for. Here’s what the Duerksen’s have to say “ Our turkeys spend their lives in wide open spaces. They dine on tender green grass and breathe fresh country air, while chasing after a delicious meal of a variety of insects and grasshoppers.” 


So today, all their turkeys are pastured-raised, chemical free, antibiotic free, growth hormone free and GMO free. There is a lot of work and intention that goes into these birds and we think you can taste the difference. We know that having a bird you can feel good serving on your holiday table is important to you, and these birds fit the bill—well beak as it may be. 


If you haven't tasted a Duerksen Turkey make sure to stop by the Petoskey store from 2-4 PM on Friday, November 8, to talk turkey with Sue Duerksen herself—which is worth the trip alone! While you are here, be sure and sample a taste of their mouth-watering, oven roasted turkey. The 8th would be a great day to pre-order your holiday bird (unless you are ready to order now—we can help you with that, too). One more perk to stopping by to see Sue on the 8th is that if you pre-order your turkey at that time, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Grain Train Gift Card! 


Duerksen turkeys come to us fresh and never frozen (now, if due to timing you need a frozen bird, we have those, too). That means you are getting the most premium product at its peak. The large size is going quickly! Your ordered turkeys will be available for pick-up at both the Petoskey and Boyne City stores on Tuesday, November 26, and Wednesday, November 27, from 7 AM–9 PM. 


If you are passing on the bird this year, we have you covered, too. We have Tofurky Roast and Tofurky Plant-Based Ham Style Roast, Gardein Holiday Roast, and Field Roast’s Celebration and Cranberry Hazelnut Roast. We also have all the fixings for your table, but we will talk more about those in the next couple weeks. Until next time, stop by and say Hi to Sue on the 8th and we will see you there!

November 04, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

GREAT FOODS START WITH GREAT INGREDIENTS

 


When realizing that the holidays are just around the corner, many things come to mind. How did it get to be this late in the year? Who’s turn is it to buy the turkey? Do I have to invite the WHOLE family? (Did I say that out loud?) Some of those questions only YOU can answer, but when it comes to answering the question, How do I make sure that my holiday table is one that I can feel really good about — we’ve got that one covered for you. 


It might be a little too early for you to want to talk turkey, in fact we are going to do just that next week, but if you ARE ready to order your fresh, local, Duerksen turkey, we are ready to help you with that. If you need a bit of time before you commit, right now is perfect to start thinking about what else will be on your holiday table. 


 




Great food starts with great ingredients. Farmer’s Market Organic Canned Pumpkin is on sale for 2/$4. Trust us when we say you won’t be disappointed with the pumpkin pie recipe on the can. Just don’t tell grandma where you got the recipe from. Have a gluten-free (GF) guest coming for dinner? Just skip the crust, it’s still delicious. Or grab a Wholly Wholesome GF crust from the freezer department. Pumpkin doesn't end with the pie though. Check out this recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. These Pumpkin Parmesan Savory Scones are perfect with a hearty soup or would be delightful for a holiday brunch. We are also taking pre-orders for Chaya’s amazing house-made Maple Pumpkin Pies, so if you want to save room in your oven, we can help with that. 

 


While we are talking about baking, don’t forget that we have alternative sweeteners and flour too. For those of you looking for less sugar yet still wholesome ingredients, Lily's Baking Chips fit that bill. They are also on sale so it is extra easy to give them a try. In fact, if you haven’t tried their chocolate bars, we think you will like what you taste — but don’t take our word for it, give one a try! Here is what Lily’s has to say, “In everything we make, we source Non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients harvested through Fair Trade practices, and ensure every product is botanically sweetened—meaning no refined or processed sugars. The outcome? A chocolate with no added sugar that’s filled to the brim with pure deliciousness.” 

 

From blueberry pie to green bean casserole, Cascadian Farms organic frozen fruits and veggies are in-stock, on-sale, and ready to fill your freezer in preparation for the holidays. At 2/$4 for the organic veggies and 2/$6 for organic fruit, it’s the perfect time to stock up. If frozen isn’t your bag, don’t worry — our Produce section will be stocked up with all the holiday staples!


There is so much more to talk about with the holidays coming up! But we wanted to get the conversation started and whet your whistle with a few ingredients that we know will make your festive dishes pop. Feeling good about what you eat is something we are here to help you with. Next week we WILL be talking Turkey — and Tofurkey for those of you that pass on the bird. Until then, stop by the stores or cafe to warm up with a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee! See you there! 

October 28, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

SOME NEW FAVORITES

 


We all have that one article of clothing that when you get to spend the day in it, regardless of how tattered it is, it is a day well spent. But it’s kind of nice to find some new favorites too, right? This week we thought we'd show off a few products that have made their way into our Co+op Deals flyer that we think you are going to like. That way you can try them out and see if they are a good fit. 


We know that people expect us to have really tasty vegetarian and vegan options. That is by no means all that we sell but it is something we are known for. We were really excited last holiday season when we found Miyoko’s vegan cheese line. We brought in their Cheers to Cheddah Roadhouse spread and two artisanal cheese rounds and our customers LOVED them. We recently brought in their Organic Fresh Vegan Mozz and we think you are going to love this one too. It’s on sale in the flyer right now, so it’s the perfect time to try it out. 


Keeping with our vegan options, if you haven’t tried Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage, we really, really think it’s worth a try even if you are a tried and true brat lover. Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike are raving about these brats and if you grab a bag of Farmhouse Organic Kraut to go along with them, you are well into a meal that you can really sink your teeth into.



Another hidden gem is Tuscan Tamale tamales in our freezer section. These are just simply delicious. They are at a great price right now and make a quick meal on the go. Their Blue Corn & Veggie is our vegan/vegetarian option. The Green Chili Pork & Cheese is a favorite, and if you are looking for something with some kick, try out the Jalapeno & Cheese! There is even a Breakfast Sausage & Cheese that is really, really tasty! We are pretty sure we have your new favorite right here! 


Turmeric has become the new Kale in the natural foods world and we are loving all the options out there! First off, have you tried GT’s Kombucha Seasonal brew? It is like a turmeric pumpkin/apple pie and we have it in bottles and on draft, too! Yum. Stop by the Grain Train Market Cafe to try out a Pumpkin Turmeric Smoothie—you will only be sorry if you miss it before it’s gone. If you are looking for something hot, Numi Organic Teas are on sale right now and we have two turmeric flavors this fall to warm up with, Three Roots and Amber Sun. 


These are just a few reasons to come by and see us this week. We love this time of year! Fall is here and the holidays are coming.You not only can see it, you can smell when you walk in! All of our favorite foods are right at our fingertips. We hope you will keep us in mind as you start to plan your holiday festivities, but more on that to come. For now, see you in the stores and, of course, don’t forget to swing into the Grain Train Cafe for something hot and delicious! 

October 21, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

CELEBRATING OCTOBER

 

 

There is a lot to celebrate in October. The local pumpkins have arrived and they are big, beautiful and a great price! The harvest season is in full swing, bringing with it local and delicious winter squash and root vegetables. Pumpkin spice flavored goodies abound, including lots of fabulous fall flavors at the Grain Train Cafe, and we are gearing up for our Annual Spooky Kids tasting events in Petoskey and Boyne City. Be sure to come to the stores after the Halloween Parades to try all our spooktacular treats!


October is also National Co-op Month. And Non-GMO Month. And Fair Trade Month. Heck, it is even Squirrel Awareness Month! Though holding a selfie contest with your friendly neighborhood squirrel was a tempting topic, we thought instead that we would share what we love about being a co-op and offering fair trade products!

 



There are more than 29,000 co-ops across the country, including worker, producer, service, housing and, of course, retail cooperatives. The Grain Train is a natural foods cooperative that was formed in 1971. That means that we use a cooperative business model that is based on the seven cooperative principles — check them out here if you'd like to know more. The International Co-operative Alliance definition of a co-op is, "Cooperatives are people-centered enterprises owned, controlled, and run by and for their members to realize their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations."


To us, being a co-op means being your community-owned grocery store, and Co-op Month means that we will be celebrating our mission, Making A Difference One Bite At A Time,that has been at the heart of why the Grain Train is here from the beginning. Of course, we celebrate that year-round! The words of our mission may have evolved over time but today we think they get right down to the heart of why we are here. If you want to know more about what makes us a co-op or how to become a member —and we would LOVE to have you as a member—just ask any staff person or check out our website. Everyone has always been and will always be welcome. There are perks to being a member, but you do not have to be one to shop our stores.


 

One of the co-operative principles is cooperation among cooperatives and there are some really great companies we do business with that are not only cooperatives themselves but also practice a fair trade model. Riojana is a cooperative in Argentina that offers organic, fair trade, cooperatively produced olive oils and wine. We are really proud of our relationship with them, from the delicious fair trade products we are able to bring to you, to all of the good that is coming to the Riojana community through the sales of these wines and olive oils. If you haven’t tried their wines, stop by to find your new favorite! At $6.99 a bottle, you can’t find a wine that you would feel better drinking. 


Another company we love to do business with is Equal Exchange. They are all about “Fairness to farmers. A closer connection between people and the farmers we all rely on.” Their mission is “To build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound.” They work to “foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and demonstrate the contribution of work-co-ops and fair trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.” When you see their name and logo on a product you know that not only will it be delicious, it will also be sustainable. Check out all the deals on Equal Exchange available right now! 

 

There are endless reasons we are excited to be your community-owned grocery store and, like we said, we celebrate that every single day. But since it is National Co-op Month, we want to make sure you know how thankful we are that you are a part of the Grain Train—members or not, you are the reason we are here and it’s an honor. There are a lot of amazing fair trade items on our shelves and we think that you will really like the stories behind each and everyone one of them. Check them out as you shop and remember, whatever you are celebrating this month, we have you covered  and look forward to seeing you at the stores!



October 15, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

CBD ABC's

 

We have CBD (Cannabidiol) products on our shelves again! Well, we have hemp-derived topical CBD products on our shelves. You have probably seen CBD oils and other CBD products advertised in all sorts of places. You may have also noticed that we removed all CBD products from our shelves in early 2018. There IS a reason they left our shelves for over a year and have only just returned as topical products. We thought you might like to know why. 



First off, we are proud and honored to be your trusted source for your health and beauty needs. The last thing we ever want to do is remove a product from our shelves that you rely on. When it comes to CBD, it is simply a legality issue and we have chosen to make sure to comply with the law. 

 

Here is what we know. The 2018 Farm Bill allowed for the growing of industrial hemp as an agricultural product. Industrial hemp is the plant Cannabis sativa L. with delta-9-THC concentrations below 0.3%. CBD or Cannabidiol is a substance derived from cannabis plants that does not have psychoactive effects. From there we run into an issue between CBD products that are applied to the skin, which are not regulated by the FDA, and products that are for consumption, which are. 

 

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture,“Products derived from industrial hemp, including CBD oil, fall under several different categories. Any substances that will be added to food, drink, animal feed, or marketed as dietary supplements must first be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that intended use. At this time, the FDA has not approved CBD for use in food, drink, animal feed or as a dietary supplement. Therefore, it’s currently illegal to add CBD into food, animal feed products or drinks or dietary supplements.” 

 

So what does all this mean? Basically, if a product that contains CBD is intended for consumption, it is illegal to sell in Michigan because CBD products are not approved by the FDA. So until the FDA approves CBD products for consumption, you will not find any supplements or food products that contain CBD on our shelves. What we are really excited about is that it IS legal for us to carry topical CBD products and they are back on our shelves. 

 

Make sure to check out +Plus CBD oil hemp balm. We have their regular and extra strength balms on our shelves. Here’s what they have to say about their products, “CBD Oil Balm is made using full spectrum hemp extracts from naturally grown agricultural hemp. From Seed to Shelf™ we at PlusCBD™ Oil ensure to provides the quality, purity and consistency that people rely upon and trust.” 

 

We hope that this helps clear up some of the whats and whys around CBD oil. As soon as we know more, you will too! In the meantime, enjoy the balms and see you at the stores!



October 07, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

Grain Train Market Cafe

 

We talk a lot about ours stores and all the delicious products that we make and sell at them, so we thought it was time to shed a little light on the Grain Train Market Cafe. At the cafe you will find fresh cafe fare featuring delicious, responsibly-sourced ingredients. Just like in our stores, you can count on finding No Artificial Anything! That’s something we are really proud to be able to offer in a cafe setting. 

 

 

So, you might be wondering how the cafe came to be? Well, the long and short of it is that we had been hearing from our membership for years that they would like to see the Grain Train open a restaurant. When the Grand Traverse Pie Company was closing, and the space and equipment became available, we thought — hey, this might be the perfect spot for us. After a lot of planning, number crunching and mindful deliberation, our Board of Directors decided that opening the Cafe was the next step in fulfilling our mission of Making a Difference One Bite At A Time. 

 

The Cafe opened the first week in July 2018. Crazy, some may say. We thought of it more as Carpe Diem, and so it began. It was an exciting first summer and we learned a lot in that first year. By November 2018, Scott Schornak joined us as our Food Service Director of the organization. Scott is someone that is well known and loved in the community and we were excited to have him join our team. We still are!

 

2019 at the Cafe has been about all the little details—improving ticket times and focusing on what recipes and menu items really work, and finding out what items our customers are looking for from the Cafe. When summer of 2019 came around we were ready for what was coming. We had a great summer and we were excited to share the cafe with so many new faces. 

 

Today we offer our breakfast menu all day and whether you choose the Breakfast Burrito or Quiche made with local eggs, or try the Avocado Toast or Loaded Oatmeal, we know you’ll love it! All of our coffee is roasted at Higher Grounds Coffee in Traverse City and is organic and fair trade, not to mention downright delicious! The Turkey Club Sandwich alone will keep you coming back time and time again. It’s just plain good! Especially when you pair it with our side of the day or, even better yet, add one of our house made soups! Fresh baked muffins, scones, and cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth. We have daily lunch specials, too, so be sure to check those out while you are in. The Grain Train Cafe website has our full menus as well as daily specials. 

 

 

 

So, here we are back to fall with winter not far off. You might have noticed on our Specials boards that we are offering a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, but that is only the start. What we know so far is that Scott and his team are testing some falltastic smoothies and hot beverages! We can’t wait to share them with you! Think pumpkin spice, apples and other tastes of the season. Yum!

 

There are bound to be a few more beautiful days this season. Don’t forget that we have a back porch that is dog friendly! It’s the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and a cup of coffee. Just kick back and enjoy these last few weeks of warmer weather before the snow flies. 

 

So if you haven’t tried it, get downtown and do it! Or at least we would like to extend a warm welcome for you to do so. In addition to more traditional offerings we also offer gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. If you have any questions about how to make your order more gluten-friendly or vegan, just ask the staff. They’d be happy to help. 

 

You may have heard about the construction on Mitchell Street Monday and Tuesday? Well, for the entire duration of time there is construction from Emmet to Howard street, we are offering 10% at both the Downtown Petoskey store and the cafe. Come see us!

October 01, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

We're Listening!

 

At the Grain Train, we know that our relationship with owners and shoppers is key to our success. We take pride in the service we provide and continually look for ways to improve it. To that end, we’re excited to introduce a new, additional way to hear from you—


Beginning next week, we’ll randomly invite shoppers to complete a short survey using a link printed on their cash register receipts. Customers who complete the survey will receive an offer for $5.00 off a future purchase.


This new option is in addition to all the other ways you can share your ideas or questions. As always, you can contact us via:


Phone: Give our store(s) a call anytime

Website: Use the Contact Us page to send us a message

Social media:  Share your co-op stories with us

In person: Chat with us about what you love and how we can do better

Comment cards: Request a product, leave a comment, or ask a question

We value your feedback and we look forward to hearing more of it!

September 23, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

Less Can Be More!

Less really can be more, right? Everyday we are confronted with mountains of choices and the reality of 24 hours to spend. Deciding what makes it into your life takes some thought and intention. It can feel great to find something that adds to a little simplicity to your day, especially when you don’t have to compromise the quality you value to do it. We know that the food you put on your table is not an exception to that and so we’ve put together some ideas on how to simplify. 



Who doesn’t like pizza? Grabbing your favorite take out is always a treat but pizza doesn’t have to be a special occasion. Right now you can get Tandoor Chef Naan Pizza ready to go in the oven for just 2/$5.That and a quick salad and dinner is served. Making your own pizza can be quick and easy too! Plus, it is a place you can add lots of veggies without much effort at all. We’ve got what you need to have the pie of your dreams in your oven in minutes! Check out this stronger together article full of pizzariffic ideas! 

Start with Rising Moon Ravioli from the freezer section, then add some Organic Woodstock Frozen Spinach and Mediterranean Organic Sun Dried Tomatoes and you can serve up something delicious in just a few minutes. Plus, these are all on sale right now so it will be easy on your pocket book too. We are also excited to introduce to our freezer section Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta Tortellini or Ravioli. These are perfect for those looking for plant-based and/or dairy-free option. Add your favorite pesto, red or white sauce and you are in for a treat! We even have a vegan white sauce! 


 


What’s for dinner isn’t the only place where less can be more in the food world. We are excited to show off our new line of stasher reusable silicone storage bags. You can even cook in them! There are times a hard container just isn’t what you are looking for any more than the single use Ziploc bag is. Stasher has found a solution to that. Come by the Petoskey store and check them out! 


Along the same vein, we have a selection of To-Go Ware stainless steel lunch containers and bamboo utensil sets. If are looking for just the right vessel to replace single-use cups in your life, we’ve got you covered there too. We have a colorful selection of Klean Kanteen double-walled hot/cold cups, water bottles and even two sizes of insulated food containers. Sometimes having the right set up for lunch helps you get motivated to start packing it. Check out this collection of easy lunch recipes from strongertogether.coop. 


We hope this gets your gears turning on ways to simplify your week while still having the high-quality delicious food you want! Once you start finding ways to keep it simple, the possibilities are endless. Until next time, have a great week! 



September 16, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

What's What With GMO Labeling

Food Labeling

 

It can be hard to keep up with food labeling and what it all means. This can be especially true of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). At the Grain Train, our promise with GMOs has been that we will label all products that we know contain or likely contain GMOs until labeling laws require GMO ingredients to be identified.* We also label all products we know to be free of GMOs so you can easily find those as well. To us, transparency is key. We want you to be able to make the choice that best suits you and your family.

* Update- Though our guidelines promise that we will label all products known to contain GMO ingredients, our purchasing standards are even higher at than that. We do not knowingly purchase GMO products and to our knowledge there are no GMO items at our stores. 

There are some changes coming to GMO labeling and not all of them are particularly clear. We have done our best to sum them up below:

In 2016, Congress passed the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. This is a law that requires food manufacturers, importers, and retailers to disclose information about whether a product is genetically engineered or contains GMO ingredients. The deadline for compliance with this standard is January 1, 2022. 

 You may already be seeing or will soon start to see the USDA Bioengineered or BE logos on what was previously called genetically engineered or GMO foods. Most foods that contain detectable amounts of genetically modified material must be labeled by the start of 2022. There are exceptions such as highly refined oils and sugars.

One area that is particularly confusing is dairy products, eggs, and meat. Products like milk, cheese and animals fed a diet that includes bioengineered grains are NOT subject to labeling unless there are other bioengineered ingredients in the product. To further confuse the issue, companies are prohibited from disclosing bioengineered foods if a top ingredient is beef, pork, poultry, catfish, or eggs. So if a bioengineered corn is used in a cereal it must be labeled but if it is used in a beef stew it cannot be. Learn more about this here. 

You will be able to identify bioengineered foods a number of ways. Companies have the choice of using a written disclosure on the ingredient panel that says bioengineered food or contains a bioengineered food ingredient, using the USDA BIOENGINEERED symbol, or using an electronic or digital disclosure such as a QR code. 

You might have the same question as us, what about the Non-GMO project and all the work they have done? Well, foods that do not contain bioengineered material are still able to be labeled as Non-GMO, so the Non-GMO project will still be labeling products and looking for their logo is an option for GMO or bioengineering avoidance. 

 

Another way to confidently avoid bioengineered foods, should you want to,  is to buy USDA organic products, which by law cannot contain bioengineered materials. Check out this info on USDA Organic Certification. 

We know this is a lot to digest and yet it might still leave you scratching your head. If you have more questions or concerns about GMO or BE labeling, check out the USDA BE Frequently Asked Questions here. As we learn more, we will be sure to share our knowledge with you. As always, enjoy the harvest of the season and we will see you next week!



September 09, 2019 by Mindy Taylor