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

Seasons Change

We at the Grain Train Natural Foods Markets send both a fond farewell to the Shetler Family, extending our gratitude for all their endeavors over the years, and a hearty welcome and hello to The Farmers’ Creamery.

SHETLER DAIRY UPDATE

 

Seasons change and cycle in business, just like in all areas of life. With those changes often come bittersweet goodbyes paired with the opportunities of hello. Shetler Family Dairy has been in operation since 1979. Seeing the Shetler Dairy truck pull in with crates full of milk in their classic glass bottles is a way of life around here at the Grain Train. We were saddened when the Shetler family shared with us recently that they are in the process of selling their operations.

 

Saddened because when you do business with the Shetlers’ you are working with the whole family, three generations of farmers carrying out George and Sally’s vision of alternative and sustainable farming, and that’s a lot of folks to say goodbye to. With the sudden death of Sally Shetler in 2018, followed by the sudden death of George Shetler earlier this year, our hearts have been heavy alongside the whole community with this family. 

 

We are also excited for the Shetler family. The sale of the Shetler Family Dairy operation was something George and Sally set into motion prior to their passing. The farmers they chose to sell to make up The Farmers’ Creamery in Mio, Michigan. To quote the family, “We know the farmers at Farmers’ Creamery and highly recommend them; in fact, we look forward to drinking their milk too! They were hand-selected by Farmer George to carry on the tradition he created of bottling a high quality, healthy product in a special way.” 

 

The "special way" they are talking about starts with the soil and ends with the creamiest milk you’ve ever tasted. You can feel confident that The Farmers' Creamy will be coming to market with a premium dairy product that we look forward to introducing. They will be keeping with Shetler’s tradition of no hormones or antibiotics and the cows will be 100% grass fed. Farmers’ Creamery has purchased all bottling equipment, recipes, processes and even the famous slogan, “Our cows aren’t on drugs but they are on grass.” 

 

We will keep you posted on this transition, but right now it looks like Shetler’s will be shutting down operations on the farm around mid-September and the word from Farmer Nathan at The Farmers' Creamery is we can be expecting their product by early October. Join us in saying a fond farewell to the Shetler Family, extending our well wishes on all their endeavors, and get ready to extend a hearty hello to The Farmers' Creamery. 

 

There will be a couple of weeks between when Shelter’s end production and The Farmers' Creamery begins. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience. We know it will be worth the wait!



 

 

 




August 29, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

Back to School

 

IT'S BACK TO SCHOOL TIME

It’s happening. The sun is setting a little sooner. The summer fields are beginning to show the telltale signs of of a season well spent. It's the time of year where many of our internal clocks are switching from lake-time to a time that includes more schedules to be mindful of. For many of us, this means back to school time has come or is quickly approaching. 


For us at the Grain Train, we are keeping one foot in summer while making sure we have what you need to start the school year with you best plate forward. We want you to feel good about the lunches you are sending out the door in the morning. We are here to help make getting a meal on the table after a long day at work and picking up the kids from multiple practices doable. You got this! 

Right now you can stock up and save on back-to-school staples like Crofter’s Organic Premium Fruit Spread and Santa Cruz Organic Roasted Peanut Butter. Annie’s Homegrown Mac & Cheese is 10/$10, and it is made with organic pasta! You will find many Organic Valley items on sale, and right now every time you choose an Organic Valley product, $1 will be donated to the National Farm School Network’s school garden program. For those lunch boxes we have Honest Kids Organic Juices and Stonyfield Organic Kids Yogurt Tubes at great prices. Not to mention Annie’s Homegrown snacks are on sale too! And Mom, we didn’t forget you, Equal Exchange Organic Coffee bags are $6.99 each right now. 


When it comes to quick and easy meals for a family on the go, our hot and ready chickens roasted right here in our deli are a perfect choice. Grab one of the Earthbound Organic salads in a bag and you have a good start on dinner. Our line of Maple Avenue salads are a great choice to round out your meal. Also, Russell St. Deli soups are made in Detroit with locally grown ingredients are a super tasty heat-and-eat meal. They are vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and contain no additives. What’s not to love?!?


Don’t forget our Grain Train Market Cafe for an after school/before practice snack. We have the best smoothies in town and all sorts of tasty options on our menu to refuel your whole team. If you make a habit of our smoothies or hot coffee drinks, you will love our rewards cards where the 11th one is on us! The Cafe is open until 6 pm Monday-Saturday with seating inside and out. And did we mention free wifi? Stop by and see us! 


Have you checked out strongertogether.coop’s High Five Recipe collection? The entire collection of recipes contain five main ingredients or less so you can keep it simple! This Potato Lasagna recipe is sure to be a family pleaser! Go green with this Goddess Chickpea Salad with Kale, enjoy this while the local cherry tomatoes are still abundant.Yum! There is bound to be something for everyone in these recipes. 


So, enjoy all the sunsets you can and know that we are here 7 days a week to help you with all the details of keeping your family fueled up on food you can feel good about. See you at the stores!




August 26, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

Burrito Day

 

 THURSDAYS AT THE GRAIN TRAIN DELI

You may be like us and scurry to the Hot Bar like a kid on Christmas morning waiting for your burrito every Thursday or maybe this is the first you are hearing of these cheesy delights? Either way we thought we would take you behind the scenes and give you the inside scoop on Burrito Day—

 

Joe starts prepping on Wednesday to make sure there are burritos hot and ready by 11 AM every Thursday. You might have come by in the morning for your breakfast burrito or coffee and have seen him getting them all lined up? He makes up to 160 burritos each week. There are classic bean and cheese, beef, and chicken options. Just like with all of the food we make, there is no artificial anything in these burritos! 

 

One of the things that stands out about our burritos is that they are made with hatch chile peppers. These peppers are specific to Hatch Valley in southern New Mexico. Don’t worry, they only add a really subtle amount of heat and some really nice flavor! 

 

Beyond the Hatch peppers are ingredients you can feel good about. We use Lundberg Family Farms eco-farmed short grain brown rice and organic pinto beans. Our chicken is  antibiotic-free, artificial hormone-free, pastured, grass-fed and synthetic chemical-free, and sourced from Nature’s Acres Chicken in Manton. The burger we use is from Whispering Pines Ranch in Mio, MI and is grass-fed and pasture-raised with no antibiotics or hormones. Put all of that together and you have one tasty burrito that will have you asking if it is Thursday yet! 

 

Well, we hope that has your mouth watering and you marking Thursdays in your work calendars as Burrito Day. See you at the Hot Bar!

 

August 19, 2019 by Mindy Taylor

For the Love of Local

There are so many ways to enjoy fresh and fabulous food right now! Making a simple, delicious, nutrient-packed meal is never easier than in late summer. Maybe all you have to do is walk out your back door with a colander and come back inside with a feast for your table. Then there are the farmer’s markets that are bursting at the seams right now with all of their local splendor. What is better than stopping by to say hi to your favorite farmer and leaving with so much goodness?

 

We also know that getting to the farmer’s market can sometimes be a challenge whether you spend the summer working or playing. That’s why we are here as your 7-days-a-week fresh markets. We are already bursting with this season’s harvest and it will only get better over the next few weeks. 

 

We get so darn excited every week when Open Sky Farms delivers their exquisite local, organic flower bouquets. If you are going to a dinner party, make sure you grab a bunch of those beauties for the host or hostess. While you are at it, grab one for yourself too! At $8.99, they are a steal.

 

Right now we are packed to the gills with local vegetables from Bear Creek Organic Farm, Providence CSA, Bluestem Farm and Coveyou Scenic Farm. Soon we will see the root vegetables, pumpkins and squash start rolling in. You really can’t beat this time of year! 

 

One thing we are super proud of is our history with local food and farms. Did you know in 2018 we purchased $606, 283 in local goods from 44 local producers? A fair amount of that is purchased during the summer months but there are plenty of local goods we carry most, if not all of the year. You can pretty much always find local eggs, honey and maple syrup at our stores. With more farms using hoophouses, we are able to carry local greens much longer into the season than we used to. Bear Creek Organic Farm has their delicious microgreens available year round! Those sure are a welcome delight at any time, but in the winter months they are downright magical. 

 

Outside of purchasing goods, we love to support local foods and farms through our own Micro Loan Program that we partner with Crosshatch on. Since 2016 we have loaned just over $30,000 to nine farmers and producers with the intention to help elevate our local food and farm economy. We will talk more about this program another day but we just had to share a little of what it’s all about. 

 

We sure hope you are enjoying this time of bounty and beauty as much as we are! Until next week, don’t get lost in those August garden weeds, enjoy the farmers markets and, as always, we will see you at the stores! 



August 12, 2019 by Mindy Taylor