October

The summer season has all but faded away. We are well on our way to peak color here in Northern Michigan. Most days have a welcome chill to them that has us reaching for a warm cup of soup and our favorite sweater. As we enter into this beautiful time of year, there seems to be a collective weariness in the air. Fall always has a touch of that after a well-spent summer, but this year has asked more of all of us than we ever anticipated. There is more to come. This is the time of year that reminds us to take a breath, put on a pot of tea, and settle in.

We love the harvest season at the Grain Train. The colors, the smell, the FOOD!  Have you had the local apples yet this year? Gingergolds, Honey Crisps and the local favorite, SweeTango—yum! Start your day with this Morning Apple Crumble or this Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake. It’s never too early to start testing recipes for Thanksgiving and this Apple Celery Stuffing is the perfect place to start. 

Local squash is also here, and it is oh so delicious!. This year we have acorn, pie pumpkins, delicata, red kuri, butternut, kabocha and, of course, spaghetti squash. This Kabocha Squash Soup is just the thing for a cool fall day. These Spiced Squash Pancakes are sure to get the whole family excited about breakfast! How about trying the best of both worlds with Cinnamon Apple Stuffed Squash or  Butternut Apple Bisque!

Of course we need to talk turkey!  We will be taking pre-orders soon for Duerksen, fresh never frozen, local free range turkeys. Keep an eye out for the launch of the preorder season. We will also have delicious options from our Bakery/Deli on the pre-order form as well.

We also need to talk about what is a little different this fall. Due to the pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes, a time of year where we always see a more limited produce supply available, is amplified. Especially when it comes to organic items. We are sourcing locally as much as possible but not all products are available within our area. As a result, we are bringing in conventionally grown products to remain in stock. These products will be clearly identified for your convenience. We will continue to work diligently to bring you the best products on the market.

We are hard at work on the holidays and are confident you will be able to find what you are looking for and so much more. We know that baking is a big deal over the next couple of months and we are already securing what you will need to have your holiday tables full of your family favorites. As the weather gets cooler, keep our Curbside program in mind. We would love to shop for you so you can stay in your slippers if you like. We won’t tell. See you in the stores or Curbside

October 01, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Hello September!

Though September means we are beginning our fond farewells to summer, we can look back with gratitude for the many sunny days and the endless bounty that summer brought. Yes, this summer has been like no other and has had its challenges, but we can rightly say it felt good to keep the focus on being who we are—your trusted source for local, natural, and organic foods.

There is a lot of talk about getting back to normal and finding our new normal, but today we are here to celebrate the here and now. There is no going back or rushing forward, today we are filled to the brim with the local season’s harvest. Our stores are open and taking every precaution to keep our community healthy and safe, and we can’t wait to see you!

Did you know that September is National Family Meals Month? As your family is going back to school—however that may look to each of you—we are here to help make sure that getting food on your table is one thing you don’t have to think too hard about. For some, a family meal might be pulling out grandma’s favorite recipe and learning all about how she made it. For others, it's picking up your favorite foods, ready to heat and eat, and sitting down with each other and sharing the stories of how our day went. The only ingredients that are a must for a family meal are appetites, eaters, food, time & place.

 So many delicious local goods have just come in or are about to arrive, and they are destined to make even the simplest meal stand out. Tomatoes from Bear Creek Organic Farm and Coveyou Scenic Farm are still going strong, though their season will soon begin to wane. Local sweet corn from Bolts Farm is in and ready for the grill this holiday weekend. Last week we saw local and regional apricots, peaches, and nectarines arrive. Unfortunately, some of these items—like the nectarines—are here and quickly gone. This week we are expecting local rainbow carrot bunches from Zibimijwang Farm, garlic from Bluestem Farm, sweet onions from Bear Creek Organic Farm, and red potatoes from Providence Farm. We can’t wait to see the first local apple and winter squash arrive!

 Make sure you check our Grab & Go case for fresh food straight from our Bakery/Deli. Keep an eye out for options made from the season’s apples, delicious winter squash, roasted chicken dishes, and of course, root vegetables. With our heat & eat options, you can get a hot meal on the table in minutes. We don’t even mind if you take the credit. 

Check out this selection of Labor Day Recipes and Tips for the weekend. We hope that you and yours have a happy, safe, and relaxing Labor Day weekend. We will be closed on Monday, September 7, to give our staff a much needed day of rest. We are open all weekend and will open again on Tuesday at our regular hours. Stay safe out there! We look forward to seeing you at the stores or Curbside

September 02, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Hello August!

Though in some ways this summer is like no others, there are so many things that do remain the same; sunny days, warm nights, temperate lakes to swim in, and an abundance of fresh food all come to mind. We wait all year for our favorite crops to arrive each season and then they are here for such a short time it's important to celebrate them in the moment. And since we haven’t talked much about products this spring and summer, it’s time to dig in to the Taste of the Season

Right now we are all about tomatoes! We have local, organic heirloom, slicers, and grape tomatoes from Bear Creek Organic Farm and Coveyou Scenic Farm. This is one crop we have around for a little longer than others, but be sure to get your fill while they are here. We have what you need to make your own Pesto, Caprese Salad, or Bruschetta. Or give these Stuffed Tomatoes with Pesto and Orzo a try. Looking for a showstopper? Try Cherry Tomato and Pesto Galettes!

 

We are stocked right now with local and regional organic blueberries. We have 10 lb, 5 lb, and pints from Better Way Farms in South Haven, and Mitchell’s Organics from Grand Junction, MI. Blueberries are here and gone so quickly. Mitchell’s Organics let us know that this is likely our only delivery of their 5 lb boxes. So this is the perfect time to fill the freezer. Just put them in a single layer on a sheet pan, freeze, and once they are frozen, bag them up to to enjoy year-round. There's nothing better than a little taste of summer straight from your freezer on a wintry day! Of course, you'll want to enjoy some fresh as well.

You don’t hear from me, Mindy, all that often, but my summer go-to breakfast has been a simple parfait made with layers of Stonyfield Organic Banilla Yogurt, Tiera Farms Granola, and fresh, local organic blueberries. So easy and so good. And there is always the classic Blueberry Pie or Mixed Berry Crumble to bake. This Banana Berry Baked Oats recipe works great with fresh or frozen blueberries and is the perfect make-ahead breakfast. Grilled Salmon with Blueberry Salsa for dinner has summer written all over it—and it's an easy recipe that only takes 30 minutes to prepare.

If you want to be thinking ahead—we are just waiting to hear from Farmer’s Daughter that their peaches are in—then this Blueberry Peach Bread Pudding is something to look forward to!

So keep an eye out for our Taste of the Season e-blasts and social media posts to know when we have new arrivals. Remember, some of these are here for a day or two and gone until next year. We expect local peaches and corn to be next and are looking forward to apples and winter squash later in the season. So as you enjoy all that August has to offer, stop by to stock up on all the flavors of summer! See you at the stores or Curbside

August 06, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Concern For Community

The Grain Train exists to inspire our community to make well informed health choices for both people and planet.

Today, the Global Ends visioned by our Board of Directors takes on a little different meaning than just the food we sell. You may have seen our No Mask, No Entry, No Exemption policy. We do not make this decision lightly, as we know there is much division in our communities and in the country around mask wearing. We also know that there are individuals who are not medically able to wear masks. The bottom line for us is that we are committed to the safety of our staff and the customers in our stores, and at this time everyone wearing a mask when inside the stores is the highest level of safety we know.

We sincerely care about each and every staff person, customer, and community member. Concern for Community is one of the 7 Cooperative Principles we follow as a Natural Foods Cooperative. Today, requiring masks and social distancing in the Grain Train is one way we are putting this principle into action.

We know that not everyone is able to wear a mask and we are committed to serving these customers. We would love to help anyone get set up with our Curbside Program. We have waived any fees associated with this program so there is no extra cost for us to do your shopping. We have added the option of paying online so you don’t even have to sign for your order when you get here. We want this to be an easy, contactless option.

For us, this policy isn’t because we have to, it is because we think it is the right thing to do for our staff and customers—the right thing to do for our community. Our intention is not to discriminate or say who is right or wrong, it is simply a safety measure during a global pandemic. Thank you for being a part of the Grain Train community. We are so grateful for your business and understanding. This policy is just another way we can care for one another.

See you at the stores, masks on or curbside! 

July 16, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

It's July!

 

It's the peak of summer here in Northern Michigan. The lakes are getting warmer, we are seeing more and more of our summer friends coming to visit, and the forecast is sunny and HOT for days to come. There is a lot to celebrate this holiday weekend. This year we all are celebrating a little differently with the health of each other, our communities, and humanity in the forefront of our minds. First off, we are here for whatever your 4th of July celebrations look like this year. You can always take a peek online to check out our selection at the Petoskey store. You have the option of shopping in our stores or you can use our new curbside service. Just order online and pick up curbside. Order by 8 PM to pick up your order the following day.

When coming to the stores, please remember to bring your mask. We are upholding a no mask/no entry policy. Those medically unable to wear a mask are an exception, though in this case we would be more than happy to shop for you. We also are continuing to limit the number of shoppers in the stores to make social distancing possible. We monitor this at the door, so if we are not there asking you to wait, come on in. We appreciate your mindfulness to maintain a 6-ft. distance from other customers and staff. As the COVID-19 virus is on the rise again throughout the country, we continue to uphold all of our practices to keep staff and shoppers safe. Thank you for your patience and compliance.

Our 4th of July hours are 8 AM - 6 PM in Petoskey and 9 AM - 5 PM in Boyne City. Both stores will be open regular hours on the rest of the weekend. We also have senior and immune compromised hours now on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in Petoskey from 8 AM - 9 AM, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Boyne City from 9 AM - 10 AM.

 

On this holiday weekend with celebrations taking place around freedom and independence, social justice and humanitarian rights remain at the forefront of many of our minds and conversations. Here are a couple of local events that might be of interest. You can virtually stop by the Skill Swap brought to you by Crosshatch and Title Track. This Saturday’s program is Decolonizing Our Thoughtlife from 11 AM - 12:30 PM. You can find it here on Earthwork Harvest Gathering’s Facebook page.

Another event taking place on Saturday, July 4th at 11 AM, at the corner of US 31 and Mitchell St.—which has become known as the People’s Corner—is a sit-in with social distancing and mask wearing observed. Anishnaabe jingle dancers and drummers will gather to perform a community healing dance specifically focused on racial equality and the BLM movement. More information here. Though these are not Grain Train affiliated events, the Grain Train stands with organizations and people who strive for a more just and equitable world. However you are celebrating, we wish you safety and a weekend of good food! Stop by and see us or place an order online. We look forward to seeing you at the store or curbside! Happy 4th!
July 01, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

GRAIN TRAIN CURBSIDE

It sure is exciting to have our Grain Train Curbside program up and running! You can now shop online for your favorite Grain Train goods and pick them up curbside at the Petoskey store. If you haven’t checked it out, here it is. We know you've been waiting for this program and we thank you for your patience as we worked to make it happen. Many of you who reached out to us early on about a curbside program became our test team. Thank you to everyone who helped us with that. We sure hope you enjoy this service. It is here to stay!

When the pandemic hit our area in March, our Boyne City store was able to quickly offer a grassroots curbside program that they are still operating today. In Petoskey, we are just big enough that adding this program too quickly would have added too much stress on our team who were working hard to keep the doors open with safety and sanitization as our main priority. We knew that we wanted our Curbside program here for the long run as we worked towards that end. The results of that work is Grain Train Curbside.

One of our new realities is that we don't have as many staff working on the sales floor during open hours. This is so you can safely shop and maintain a safe distance from your fellow shoppers and staff. We knew that having an online marketplace was going to be an important part of our Curbside program. If you want to know if a product is in stock, you can check on the website. That goes for customers who are coming in to the store, too. If you are coming from out of town and want to know if your favorite product is in stock, just check our website before you come. Currently, we just don’t have the same capacity to answer the phone and check on products during open hours as we did in the past, so we are working hard to make sure that the answers are clear for you to find.


Grain Train Curbside is open to everyone, just like shopping in our stores. Being a member is not required. Here are a few other things you need to know:

  • Grain Train Curbside orders are picked up at the Petoskey store only.
  • Orders placed by 8 PM will be ready for next day pick-up.
  • Pick-up days and times are Tuesday through Saturday between 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM. You choose your day and time when you place your order.
  • For now, payment will be taken at your vehicle at time of pickup. We are working on taking online payment.


So, please check it out. Follow the instructions here to create an account, read the FAQ page here, and place your first order! Grain Train Curbside is just one more way we are Making a Difference One Bite at a Time. We ask for your help in utilizing the FAQ and online platform to answer some of the questions we would have gladly answered in person just a few short months ago. We move forward together with the health and safety of all as our priority.

Until next time, see you at the stores…or curbside! 

June 18, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

A New Day

It's June, the Strawberry Moon. The first full moon in June will be here Friday. Many of us in the area wait to put our more delicate plants in our gardens until this week. The leaves have come out and we have had our first hot days to remind us what the coming months will feel like. 

It is so nice to see faces we have not seen since last summer. We know that coming into our stores is a little bit different this year. Our state continues to open up with the safety of all as the number one priority, and we mirror this priority. We continue to require face masks while inside the stores. Thank you for remembering this when you come to shop with us. We are also continuing to monitor the number of customers in our stores and will let you know if you need to wait outside for a few moments. We know this all takes a little getting used to and we thank you for your patience and understanding. 

Today our customer service looks a little different, too. We have a night crew stocking the store after hours so that more of you can be in shopping during the day and still be able to maintain social distance. Know that we are still here working hard to serve you, it's just that our service has shifted to fit into the world we find ourselves in today. You will meet our door greeters who are there to inform you of anything you need to know to make sure your shopping experience is a safe one. As always, your favorite cashiers are here and ready to process your order. As is the case with so many things, customer service is still very important to us—it just looks a little different today. 

We are so close to being able to share our new online curbside platform with you. We have been testing this program over the last few weeks. Thank you to all that have tested this program with us. Your patience as we ironed out the best path forward has been wonderful. Look for a reveal in the very near future! 

Though our world is a fractured one, we continue to see a current of hope running throughout. Community has never been more important than it is today and we thank you for being a part of the Grain Train community. We also thank you for allowing us to be a part of yours. We are getting through these times together, one step at a time. Keep on taking care of one another and we will see you in the stores.

June 02, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Looking Forward

We look forward to saying hello to all of our downtown neighbors as they reopen their restaurants, bars, and stores this holiday weekend! As an essential business that has remained open during the duration of the pandemic, we know how much thought and intention each one of our neighbors will put into ensuring their business is safe for staff and customers alike. We hope you will extend the same courtesy and patience to each of them as you have to us. It’s been a couple of months since we have had significant traffic in our downtowns, and this weekend is likely to have some learning curves for us all.

How does this holiday weekend look for us at the Grain Train? We are open all weekend so stop by and see us! To give our staff a much deserved break on Memorial Day, however, we will be taking the day off and both stores will be closed on Monday, May 25. We'll be back open at 8 AM in Petoskey and 9 AM in Boyne City on Tuesday, May 26.

 

As you see, both Petoskey and Boyne City have new expanded hours. Boyne City has added from 9-10 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a senior and immune compromised shopping hour. Petoskey will continue to offer an hour each day, 8-9 AM, to these customers.

We are excited that we now have a third register safety open at the Petoskey store. We are working on permanent plexiglass at the registers as we do not see this precaution as something that will go away anytime soon. We are also keeping in place our sanitization efforts and will continue to have a door greeter monitoring the number of customers in the store. We are committed to being a safe place for our customers and staff for the long run. Per the Governor's order, we continue to require that face masks be worn when inside our stores. We know that these practices ask all of us to slow down and be mindful of one another, and we thank you for doing this. It is how we each care for each other.

With restaurants opening this weekend, you are likely wondering about the Market Cafe. Currently, we are in a wait-and-see mode and have no plans to open the Cafe this Friday in relation to the Governor's reopening plan. We will keep you updated as we have more information about the Cafe.

We look forward to seeing you and hope we all continue to support one another in a way that keeps our communities safe. We hope you enjoy this holiday weekend. Here are some tasty Memorial Day recipes to get your mouth watering and your shopping list prepared! This weekend, and always, we give thanks to those who have given their lives while protecting our country.

See you at the stores! 

May 20, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

THE LONG RUN

It feels so good to be into a new month. One with flowers blooming, wild leeks galore, trilliums just peeking out to say hello and, dare we hope, morel mushrooms coming in abundance. As summer gets closer, it seems like there is a quiver of excitement growing in all of us to get out of our houses and reconnect with life. We are finding our way with social distancing and mask-wearing—all of it becoming a part of the norm as much as it can be. We are all moving forward despite not knowing what is coming next.

We are seeing some of our summer customers returning at the same time as more businesses are opening up with precautionary measures in place for the safety of their staff and customers alike. At the Grain Train, we are making sure that when you come into our stores, safety is still the number one priority. We continue to ask you to remember that wearing your face mask while in the store and waiting as we keep our customer counts to a number that allows for social distancing, is an act of kindness for the whole community. We know that upholding a limit on the number of customers in the store slows things down and that this will become even more apparent as summer gets closer. We are working every day to find a safe way to open another register and other measures that can help the flow of customers in the Petoskey store. We are also working to supply more Grab and Go meal options in the Deli.

One thing that has been a guiding factor for us at the Grain Train is that we are in this for the long run. Next year will be our 50th year as a Natural Foods Cooperative. Everything we are doing today is for the safety of our staff, customers, and the future of the Grain Train. We have heard many thanks for our proactive measures during this pandemic. Those are going to be around as long as they are necessary and many will become a part of the future.

Currently, we are hard at work on developing a curbside program in Petoskey that, again, is focused on the long run. When we roll it out, we want to make sure that it is ready to meet your needs. The work we have put into this program is to not only help with social distancing and to keep our staff and customers safe, but it is also for our customers of the future. We know that time will always be important to you and with this service we hope we put a little more time on your clocks as we shop for you. We can’t wait to announce this program! Thank you for your patience in its development.

Things might be different, hard and uncertain, but we are finding our way right along with you and we will continue to be your community-owned grocery store. See you at the stores! 

 

May 06, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

MAY DAY

This Friday, May 1st, is halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. For some, this day is known as May Day or Beltane and is celebrated by leaving flowers on their neighbors' doors and other activities to welcome the season. Right now the weather and seasons parallel life. As we waiver between the cool days of early spring and the warm days of summer, we are also navigating our way between the uncertainties of this pandemic and finding a new normal.

Summer is coming and how that plays out for us here in Northern Michigan is still unknown. What we do know is that we are going to be here for you with the foods you depend on us for. We continue to have a full Grab and Go case at the Petoskey store for those of you who are looking for heat and eat options. We also continue to offer packaged hot soup daily at the Petoskey store and also have our Grab and Go and Freezer sections stocked with soup to-go from the Deli. We continue to receive regular shipments and we are taking extra measures to have the rice, broth, and flour you need. With the local growing season kicking off, you will start to see expanded local offerings as they become available. 

We are and will continue to take social distancing and sanitization very seriously. A mask is required while inside our stores for the safety of all and per our governor’s order. Thank you for waiting outside when we are at capacity inside. We will be at the door letting you know if we need you to wait a few minutes until others have left. It is a gift you give to our staff and each other when you wait outside 6-feet apart. We know that all of this takes time and that a quick trip into the store isn’t what it once was, but we are all finding our way. We still have senior and immune-compromised hours from 9-10 AM daily and, if you are looking for a less congested time to shop, 6-8 PM might be something to consider. 

Thank you for your patronage and the kind words of support of our team that you have been sharing with us. It might be fun on Friday to decorate your windows with flowers to say Happy May Day to your friends and neighbors. Or maybe a day out in the garden or the yard is just what you need to welcome a new month. We will be here with open doors should you be coming to see us. As always, it is an honor to serve you and we look forward to your next visit. 

April 29, 2020 by Mindy Taylor