Letter from the NFC Board – January 22, 2019

Dear NFC Members,

The NFC board of directors met on Saturday, January 5, to discuss the future of your cooperative. We discussed results from the producer survey and responses from members. Overall, we can report that the level of support has been very positive.

The vision and objectives outlined below represent the feelings of the board, and a reflection of the comments we have received. It is our sense that NFC customers want a close connection with those small/family producers who take time to provide quality products. As a whole, our membership does not seem to be as interested in large producers, or those whose approach is to harvest food quickly and/or just throw it in a bag with a label. In effect, we want the best food money can buy, with attention to quality practices, nutrients, animal welfare, local economics, and the Nebraska “Good Life.” We want to hear if you disagree with these understandings or proposed actions. Members can respond in the “Leave a Reply” box below (comments will be made public unless requested otherwise).

Summarizing that into a few points, the reasons for our actions going forward are to…

  • Be a reliable source for consistently high-quality food
  • Expand quality food diversity and availability for NFC shoppers
  • Be a proponent for Nebraska family farms and other providers of quality food
  • Simplify marketing and transport challenges for small producers
  • Establish/restore the reputation of NFC as a respected brand in the marketplace

Almost immediately, we plan to…

  • Begin to fill key cooperative tasks with member volunteers (customers and producers)
  • Open the next order cycle in February, for planned delivery on February 20
  • Temporarily suspend the accounts of members who have not responded about being involved and who have not made other arrangements
  • Set producer and customer margins (markdown/markup) to match actual transportation costs
  • Eliminate the delivery charge, which will be folded into the calculated margins
  • Waive annual membership fees for customers who are volunteering to help with NFC tasks

In the short term, we plan to…

  • Continue to enlist members and producers to perform small NFC tasks
  • Establish producer standards (what sort of producers/products do we want?)
  • Establish tight product packaging standards to ensure quality during shipping
  • Regularly adjust product margins to meet the actual cost of running the cooperative

In the longer term, we plan to…

  • Revisit our membership fees and requirements to ensure they make sense
  • Investigate transitioning from a cooperative to a non-profit corporation
  • Make payments to reduce outstanding debt

With these changes, it is our belief that a clear focus and attention to meaningful quality will bring back many customers, as well as inspire new customers. We need to stop being all things to all people. We are shaking things up considerably, and it may be a while before we find a new equilibrium. However, we believe that the concerted efforts of all our caring members can make NFC a better organization than we have yet seen.

Transition is a challenge for any organization. As we work through these changes, we expect producers and product options will be reduced for a while. As a result, cycle volumes might be limited and we may need to limit ordering frequency to optimize transportation cost. These are all trade-offs. In effect, we might expect our cooperative to contract in size – possibly even as far as when it started in 2006. Hopefully, the contraction will not be that extreme, but we want to be realistic with our expectations.

Thank you for your involvement.
We look forward to serving and working with you all.

The NFC Board

Christmas 2017 Giveaway

Our NFC Marketing Director is giving away two nights at a Hilton Hotel for the largest total purchases between December 2017 and January 2018!


  1. Only Nebraska Food Cooperative (NFC) customers and producers are eligible to enter.
  2. The giveaway prize is valid from 1 February to December 2018.
  3. The giveaway is sponsored by member Bonny Most & Bonnie Smith of BonSquared Creative who are the marketing coordinators for the co-op.
  4. The winning entrant will be the NFC member who makes the largest total purchase for the December 2017 and January 2018 cycle combined.
  5. The winning member will be notified by post, email and/or telephone. It is up to the winner to ensure that their correct contact details are listed on the NFC website members panel.
  6. Should the winner be unreachable or does not respond to notification of having won, after a period of 30 days the prize will roll over to the next in line eligible winner.
  7. The winner’s name may be published by NFC for marketing purposes.
  8. The winner agrees to have a photo taken for use on Social Media and NFC communications without reserve.
  9. The competition consists of 1 (one) major prize in total.
  10. The winner will be eligible to stay at any of the following Hilton Hotels in the USA, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
    1. Hilton Hotels
    2. Embassy Suites
    3. Doubletree
    4. Hilton Garden Inn
    5. Homewood Suites
    6. Hampton Inn & Suites
    7. Home2Suites
  11. The Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels are not included in this offer.
  12. The winner will be entitled to two (2) nights with a maximum of four (4) guests stay.
  13. The prize is non-transferable and does not include travel costs of any kind.
  14. Free Hilton Honors Wifi access is included, however all other room costs must be paid by the winner.
  15. Six weeks (6) notice must be given to Bonny Most prior to the trip.
  16. Cancellations are valid until 24hrs before the date of booking and a new booking can be made at no additional charge.
  17. This is a sponsored gift from an NFC member not the Hilton Hotel or any of its associates. Booking and rebooking will be done under the Most name and arrangements will be handled by Bonny Most directly not an agency or other. Please be considerate when booking your trip.
  18. Prize is valued in USA dollars. Total prize is valued at up to $350.00
  19. Insurance is covered by the Hotel where relevant and the winner agrees to make their own arrangements for personal liability.
  20. Nebraska Food Cooperative, Bonny Most and the Most family, Bonnie Smith, BonSquared Creative, its employees, associates and/or members are not liable for:
    1. any injury, damages, cost and/or expense, theft and/or loss suffered by the winner for the duration of their stay at the chosen Hotel.
    2. for any delays, cancellations, or deferments made;
    3. any travel related event
  21. This giveaway prize is given as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation on behalf of NFC to its members. It may not be redeemed for purchase discount at NFC or cash value of the prize.
  22. The giveaway is offered without prejudice.

Software Update

Greetings NFC members,

In a continuing effort to adjust to the changing needs of the Nebraska Food Cooperative, we have pushed forward with installing the latest release of “Open Food Source” software.  You may notice some minor disruptions as we ensure the system is functioning correctly. NFC is the first organization to benefit from this significant development effort and we should expect a few challenges.

For everyone

  • A new front page with a layout friendly to your mobile devices.
  • Integrated theme throughout the site.
  • Simplified button-style controls and links within the shopping site.

For customers

  • Improved layout of membership and shopping information between the member panel and shopping panel.
  • Product listings with improved controls for moving between pages.
  • Ability to checkout products individually from the customer basket. NOTE: This is a significant change from the past and customers must checkout any products they wish to receive.
  • Customers can now order more products than are actually available. This will give producers a chance to fill larger orders as additional product becomes available. Example: the image at right shows an order of five items where only two are known to be available. The customer will only be charged for what is shipped and there is no guarantee the producer will fill the full request.
  • A button near the top of product lists (Show/Hide Search Options) will allow viewing products in a variety of ways.

For producers

  • Inventory can now be adjusted directly in producer product listings similar to the way customers add products to their basket.
  • Inventory can now be assigned directly by name rather than selecting it from a dropdown list.
  • Product images can now be deleted from a product and can be rotated at 90-degree intervals.
  • The screen for editing products has been totally reworked.
  • The product confirmation process, which was previously confusing, has been simplified greatly. There are no longer “preferred” products. A single version of each product can be made “active”, which will be the version available for customers to order.
  • A button near the top of producer product lists (Show/Hide Search Options) will allow viewing the producer’s products in a variety of ways.
  • Products can now be deleted permanently – but only if they have never been ordered.

What to do if you encounter problems

This software was released as soon as possible and there may still be a few kinks to work out. We ask that customers and producers remain vigilant for anything that seems incorrect and alert webmaster@nebraskafood.org if you encounter anything that seems wrong.

For those who like the technical details:

  • This is the first release of OFSv1.2.0.
  • The software includes a migration from MySQL to MariaDB.
  • We have moved to a new server, upgrading from Debian 6 to Debian 9.
  • The software was developed, in part, through a grant from the USDA and will help other food cooperatives as well.

LPS Lunch Scraps may Fuel Commercial Worm Farm

[Editor’s Note:   Jeremiah Picard and Kate Lottinville with Cook Grow Sew, have satisfied many NFC appetites with their various products over the last two years. We wish them both the best in their worm venture as they recover from their house fire that was a complete loss…except for the worms, thankfully, that were snuggled up in their cozy surroundings (soil).]

January 13, 2015  •  by Algis Laukaitis | Lincoln Journal Star

JeremiahWormsThe Nebraska Farmers Union has come up with a new twist — let’s call it a wiggle — to recycle school cafeteria food scraps. Jeremiah Picard, with the Lincoln-based organization, wants to turn the discarded waste into a useful compost product with a commercial worm farm.

The process is called vermiculture. The goals are to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to the city landfill, create a natural soil-enhancing product that can be used in community and school gardens, and give students a chance to learn about the benefits of composting.

Picard, who has been raising worms in his basement for years, recently received a $26,850 recycling grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and has applied for a $169,046 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. A decision is expected in April.

“We have a site (for the composting operation) potentially scoped. It’s just barely outside the city limits, but we haven’t gotten the grant, yet,” he said. Picard, 39, said he doesn’t want to disclose the location because the project is just in its infancy, and he is waiting to hear from the Trust.

His intention is to build a large greenhouse-type structure for the composting operation and worm farm. Food scraps would be transported in small trucks to the site and ground up by machinery. During the process, air would be “forced” through the waste to increase oxygen and microbial activity. “The forced air will be heated and that also will heat the structure,” Picard said.

He plans to use red wigglers, which are considered the best worms for vermiculture operations because they live well in close, highly populated conditions and don’t burrow.

The vermiculture process creates worm castings, a prized natural fertilizer that helps plants use nutrients already present in the soil. Worm castings are the undigested material, soil and bacteria excreted by a worm after it eats the food scraps.

The Nebraska Farmers Union is partnering with Lincoln Public Schools, Community Crops and the Lincoln Children’s Zoo on the project. Food scraps will be obtained from Culler Middle School initially. Other middle schools could be added in the future.

Brittney Albin, interim recycling coordinator at LPS, said the vermiculture project is a great learning opportunity for students and will complement the district’s existing recycling program. “Composting gives them more hands-on experience. They can see how their waste is going to be turned into a useful product rather than going into a landfill,” Albin said.

Culler Middle School, 5201 Vine St., averages about 11,600 pounds of refuse per month, Albin said, but she doesn’t know how much of that waste comes from the cafeteria specifically.

“However, food waste does make up a large portion of the school waste, so we would expect the vermicomposting program to make a big dent in that number,” Albin said.

Picard is still working out some of the logistics of the project — like transportation and permits — but he hopes to create a “model” from the Culler experience that can be duplicated in other cities.

The greenhouse will include a 40-foot-long by 5-foot-wide bin, capable of housing about 1 million worms. Picard believes the facility could process between 250 and 375 pounds of food waste per day. He plans to start with about 100,000 worms, which under the right conditions, will reproduce rapidly.

Picard plans to follow the example set by Prairieland Dairy in southern Lancaster County and have students at Culler separate food scraps from paper products. The dairy is using food waste from three public schools in Lincoln, and combining it with cow manure to make compost suitable for farming and gardening.

Initially, the Nebraska Farmers Union plans to give the compost to area farmers, schools and community gardens. Picard said the goal is to have enough of the vermicompost to begin fall field trials. Eventually, the organization would like to sell the product, and possibly red wigglers, too.

Monsanto’s Shareholders Meeting

Full Account of Monsanto Shareholder Meeting Jan 30, 2015

[Editor’s note] Zen Honeycutt, Founder of Moms Across America and an unstoppable mom, spoke to Monsanto’s Shareholders at their headquarters in St. Louis on January 30.


The sounds of the boisterous rally crowd faded behind me in the distance as I walked toward building A of Monsanto Headquarters in St. Louis Missouri for the shareholder meeting.  The security stationed on the perimeter of the property, without a word between us, relayed my pending arrival to the headquarters, “Ms. Honeycutt approaching building A”.  The staff inside also knew me by name and greeted me cordially. After a thorough security check and receiving my “Shareowner” sticker, I was escorted to a conference room where Lisa from SumofUs was also sitting. Why I was being sequestered in a room instead of being brought to the conference room?   As if reading my mind, the security person explained that the conference room wasn’t ready yet. Still I thought it odd that I was not able to be in a hallway or near other shareholders.

Several minutes later, a woman walked in and said “I am Zen’s host”, looking right at me. I soon learned that “handler” would have been a better term for her. The staff were prepared. Around 12:50, we were joined by a few other shareholders, (apparently the room really was not ready).  There was another “host” for Lisa who made sure to steer the conversation cheerily to where people are from.

My host was a Mom of a 14 and 10 year old boys, a 19 year employee and a “Monsanto brat”. Her father worked at Monsanto for 35 years.  At 1:00 we were escorted to the conference room and along the way she made a concerted effort to engage in conversation. As we passed the cafeteria however, I stopped the chit chat about our son’s sports and asked her if the cafeteria serves organic food. She seemed to expect the question and immediately answered, “Only if no other source is available. For instance sometimes the only mixed greens or spinach available is organic. Otherwise it is all conventional, and when Sweet Corn is in season we have GMO Sweet Corn and it is fabulous.” As much as I wanted to, I did not comment.

We had entered the shareholder meeting room. It was a huge room with a small stage at front, columns along the edges, media along the sides and refreshments in the back. Approximately 800 people were in the room and when it came time to start, every seat was filled.  I was brought to the middle of the room where there was a wide aisle. I chose to sit directly in line with Hugh Grant’s chair on the stage and behind the microphone. I was assuming she would leave me there with Lisa but no, she sat down beside me, and as she did so, my hopes of leaving my phone on and turning on the recording or video disappeared. We had received a notice as we drove in explaining exactly what would be allowed and not allowed in the room and that recording, including with our cell phones, was forbidden. I was reminded again before the meeting and again as the meeting started. So as much as I wanted to share this experience with our supporters, I chose not to invite a lawsuit or further trouble. Later, with great disappointment, I turned my phone off when requested and I could sense my handler relax beside me.

As we waited, Dan a pediatrician, introduced himself to me. He shared he has left comments on my Facebook page and we had a lively exchange about how glyphosate being a chelator is not of concern to him. He even insisted that glyphosate does not harm us because we don’t have a shikimate pathway. I replied, “but our gut bacteria does, and without our gut bacteria we don’t have an immune system” He said something about having plenty of gut bacteria… and then said we had to agree to disagree. Another gentleman, who ended up being the only other person on stage with Hugh Grant, introduced himself. I noticed that these men were curious and seemed to be looking for some sort of fear from me. I would not comply. I was clear and glad to be there.

Before the meeting began my host let me know that Hugh Grant would likely come introduce himself to me. He did.  I stood and automatically reached my hand out to shake the hand of the CEO of the “Most Evil Company in the World” and said “Nice to meet you, ” with a small smile.  The look in my eye however said something completely different. My eyes said, “I am not afraid of you. I am here to do business and you will listen to me. Bring it on.”

I felt a shift of energy in the room and I sensed many of the eyes in the room were watching us. They knew who I was and they were wondering what we were saying This is how it feels, I thought, when two generals meet in the center of field and talk before battle.

He was slightly taller than I, staunch stature, not very good skin (a clear sign of compromised health) and of calm but commanding presence. He said, “Thank you for coming, we are glad you are here.” The look in his eye was very distant and cool, almost nonexistent, but I read his gaze as, “I am putting up with you.”

I said  “I am glad to be here, and I am thankful for the opportunity, especially to John Harrington. “ He said “You know after all these years I have never met Mr. Harrington.”

“Interesting.”  I thought…. enough of the small talk. I will not be charmed by your heavy Scottish accent.

I said, “You know Mr. Grant, I look forward to the future where Monsanto moves in a new direction, one that does not involve toxic chemicals and hurting our children.”  He said something like “Well, we will take strides to move forward and it will always be based on science. And I think we have done a good job in engaging in conversation. ”

Ha! I thought, you mean your TV commercials about having a conversation that invaded my living room and made me want to punch the TV?

I looked him straight in the eye and said firmly, “We have science to show that Monsanto’s products are hurting our children, sound science. If you are wrong, think about the consequences, they are huge.”

He said “And if you are wrong you are scaring an awful lot of people.”

I responded “And the consequences for them are that they are eating organic, like food used to be. There was nothing wrong with how food used to be.”

Then I lowered my voice just a bit and looked deeper into his eyes. “You know it takes a big man to make such a big and powerful company but it takes and even bigger man to acknowledge when it is not working and change direction. “

He looked taken aback for the tiniest moment.  I said, “I implore you, mothers implore you to change direction.” He shifted his eyes away from me. “We appreciate you being here” and he nodded at his assistant who was beckoning him away.

Many will call me naïve for thinking that speaking with him will change anything. Many might be outright angered. But I was raised by a mother who chooses to see the good in everything. Now I am not saying there is good in Hugh Grant, but there is a desire to appear good. He is extremely brilliant and strategic and he knows it does not look good to appear to not care about doing good. So if one can speak to him on the level of finding a way to appear to be doing good, he will be interested. In fact people can be compelled to do good simply because it looks bad to not do good and they never have to actually be interested in doing good. So, if you follow me, please know that I intended to appeal to the concept of goodness being done. I do not expect Hugh Grant to be good. I do expect him to do what is right for the sake of the future of his company and their profits. I planned to share with the shareholders a myriad of ways in which Monsanto’s products were hurting children and people and therefore were not a method of business which should continue.  The goodness in the shareholders will pressure Monsanto to change ways. I am sure of this in my bones.

 The meeting started at 1:30 with the expected video about how great Monsanto is. “Working with farmers to provide sustainable agriculture, helping to nourish an ever growing world…” it took everything I had not to stand up and yell “YOU LIE!”

As I listened to Hugh Grant introduce several farmers from the Midwest that they had flown in for a visit, I wished I could talk to each and everyone of them personally and share what I know. Then I realized I would be able to. This was an opportunity to speak directly to some of the largest farmers in the country, not just shareholders, and my excitement increased ten fold.  I could not believe I had actually made it in the room and was going to speak. I was so grateful to John Harrington!

Before I spoke there was other business to attend to. They re elected the same board of directors, they discussed electing Deloitte and Touche as their accounting firm and someone talked about how great Monsanto was doing, then it was time to address the referendums.  Lisa from SumOfUs got up and asked a question about conflict of interest. Hugh Grant is on the board of PG&E and members of PG&E are on the committee that helps to decide his salary. Surely this is a conflict of interest? He replied that the salaries are recommended by a  third party of professionals and so no there was no conflict. Next, a ninety something year old woman with stark white hair and a red suit spoke on behalf of a referendum to disclose Monsanto’s lobbying efforts. I admired her commitment. There were no comments after she spoke and Hugh Grant advised the shareholders to vote no because “we are leaders of transparency in the field.” I imagined a chorus of laughter from our supporters. He told them which page to turn to vote and they did.

I was next. Hugh Grant introduced me. This is it, I thought. I went to the microphone took a breath and began:

“My name is Zen Honeycutt and I am representing John Harrington of Harrington Investments.  We are asking for shareholder support for Item No. 5, Shareowner Proxy Access—an essential mechanism for accountability supported by institutional investors and the SEC.

 As the founder of Moms Across America, I speak on behalf of millions of mothers.

 1 out of 2 children in America today have a chronic illness such as asthma, allergies, autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. All of these conditions and more can be directly linked to GMOs and Glyphosate–to Monsanto’s products.

I am here to say on behalf of struggling parents, STOP POISONING our children!  Glyphosate—a patented antibiotic—has been detected in the air, water, food, our children’s urine, our breast milk, Fruit Loops and in nutrients fed to children with cancer, at levels THOUSANDS of times higher than what has been shown to destroy GUT BACTERIA—where 70% of the immune system lies.

Shareholder’s must know that: Without proper gut bacteria our bodies cannot make Tryptophan, Melatonin or Serotonin. Serotonin regulates insulin—and therefore diabetes, which is on course to bankrupt US Healthcare in 13 years.

Without serotonin and melatonin, our bodies cannot prevent insomnia, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. 57.7 million American have mental illness today.

When the gut bacteria is destroyed, food particles and pathogens escape through the intestines, causing allergies and autoimmune diseases.  Allergy ER visits have increased 265% since GMOs.

Glyphosate is a:

DNA mutagen and cell disintegrator allowing toxins into the brain,

A chelator, causing mineral deficiency and the inability to fight cancer,

An endocrine disruptor, causing infertility, sterility, miscarriages and birth defects.

I am submitting hundreds of testimonials from mothers describing what Monsanto products are doing to their children and showing our children get better when they get off GMOs and glyphosate.

I submit studies and papers today showing how glyphosate impacts the gut brain connection, leading to Parkinson’s, Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Alzheimer’s, Celiac’s and Autism and more.  Based on our current diagnosis, we can expect that in 20 years, 50% of our children born will get autism.

I understand no one wants to believe this is true, but has anyone on this Board seen and read the newest studies and reports?

What if the very investments shareholders are making to BUILD a foundation of security for our children and grandchildren are the same investments which are DESTROYING their future? What if instead of creating health and prosperity, you are causing ECONOMIC RUIN?

What if instead trying to help feed millions of people with GMOs, you are in fact hurting GENERATIONS TO COME?

Mothers say, STOP IT. STOP IT NOW.

 You can make a difference that will alter the future of YOUR family and OUR Country. Access and vote a pediatrician onto this board.  Have the courage to create a new future for Monsanto and America. Thank you.”

As I turned to sit I looked around. I felt all eyes on me. I felt my face looked serious and maybe slightly angry, slightly emotional.  I was aware that other presenters might be able to look cool and detached. I was not. I was in it full throttle. I am passionate. I will allow my concern and commitment to show. I think it is one of my greatest strengths. I love my kids and I want all kids to be able to be well. My emotion fuels me.

Hugh Grant said exactly what I thought he would say, that the issues I raised were not actually pertaining to the Shareholder Access Proxy and that the shareholders would be advised to turn to the proxy description and vote according to the topic of the referendum. He said that he would address my concerns later in the Q&A. He advised the shareholders to vote no, because basically things are fine as they are, everyone voted and we moved on. I did not expect it to pass. Tracy from Harrington Investment had shared that it had support and it had a chance of passing, but I have to admit I didn’t expect that it would pass at all. My body was buzzing with energy as I wondered what I would ask next. I knew this was my one chance to cover some topics that I had not covered in the previous three minutes.

Lisa from SumOfUs got up and made her presentation about separating the position of CEO and Chairman of the Board as two separate people, not one, not Hugh Grant as both.  It was of course totally rational and clearly should be adopted. Hugh Grant advised the shareholders not pass the referendum, because basically things are fine as they are. The shareholders voted.

Next an employee shared about how great Monsanto is doing. He and Hugh Grant repeatedly mentioned their commitment to feed people and I knew that I needed to address that in the form of a question.

I had not prepared questions because my husband said I had a habit of over preparing. “Be in the moment” he said. “Your preparation for that part should be to not prepare. Listen to what is being said and ask questions based on what needs to be put in.”

Before Q&A however it was time to hear the results of the vote.

Hugh Grant read the results of the referendums…the accounting referendum passed with 97% yes, the lobbying one only had 24% yes and did not pass. Then… the Shareholder Access Proxy got a 53% yes and therefore passed. I felt an actual pat on my back and I turned and saw smiling faces. The shareholders had passed it! And they were smiling at me. Amazing! Astounding. I felt myself choke up and tears welled up in my eyes. I put my face in my hands and took a deep breath. I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I did not hear the results of the Chairman/CEO referendum, but it did not pass. I looked at Lisa and she said “Great Job.” I knew the credit primarily belonged to  the investment group, John Harrington and especially Tracy Geraghty’s work.  She made sure it was approved by the SEC and investment institutions  To be a small part of the process, to be able to feel like I made a difference, was pure joy in the face of great adversity.

Then it was Q&A time. I rose to my feet as soon as he invited people to come to the microphone. I was nervous. I didn’t know exactly what I would say and I didn’t have a plan for the whole three minutes, but I had to bring up the “feeding the world” issue.

So I asked, from what I can remember, “You have said many times that you are committed to feeding the world. It is a noble cause, I understand that. But there are wonderful farmers like Will Allen in Wisconsin who grows 1 million pounds of food on three acres every year, through Aquaponics, ( fish and veggies) both a protein and vegetables. Without toxic chemicals and without hurting the soil. If Monsanto is truly committed to feeding the world, why aren’t you supporting programs like this?

He responded, basically that Monsanto is implementing all kinds of methods and that they are continually innovating etc. He said that they are also not the only agriculture company, that there are many other systems and we need all of them. He mentioned the soil and their newest research is in microbes in the soil and their benefits. I was aware that they bought a company in 2013 called Novozymes, which focus on soil microbes. This was bad, and I felt it in my gut. Here is a corporation that had damaged the soil with their toxic chemicals and they were now going to try to profit from repairing it. I had heard this was true and wanted to hear it from him.  So I asked him “Are you planning on patenting microbes in the soil?”

Without actually saying yes, he basically described that yes, they were researching the soil microbes and how they can alter them to enhance the performance of the soil to benefit the farmers. My head was spinning. I remember him saying something about how many companies have patented the bacteria for instance, in yogurt, that it was quite common and widely accepted. I was so mad I didn’t have an immediate question or comment and he rambled on about my previous comments during the proxy statement about children. He declared that Roundup has been used for 40 years and there is not one linked to harm. I interrupted and said “That’s what they said about DDT and PCB’s” He looked at me firmly, obviously annoyed. I had broken the rule stated on the agenda not to interrupt. He continued without commenting on my comment. He talked about Germany and how they have continually conducted reviews and reapproved glyphosate for 40 years. He claimed over and over again that Roundup was safe.

I said, “Actually the EPA does not have one single safety study showing the safety of Roundup. Not one. It only has 40 year old studies of glyphosate, not of ALL of the chemical ingredients showing harm.”

He interjected that I had jumped topics and that we were addressing the children and that other people needed to ask questions. I could come back and ask another question after we gave them a turn. I was frustrated, there was so much more I could say about the Seralini study that did test for Roundup and showed sex hormone changes, liver and kidney damage at 0.1ppb of Roundup, the fact that all the studies were done by Monsanto, there were no studies funded by  independent  sources…I silently (and I hope not too obviously) fumed as I sat down. I want to remain in the room and not get hauled off by security, so I contained myself.

The next person at the podium was so obviously a plant I wanted to laugh out loud. He rambled on and on about how Monsanto has saved him money and time and all the benefits has helped his family tremendously. He sounded flat, like a robot. It didn’t sound authentic at all. He got a huge round of applause though, and the next person did basically the same thing.  A Jesuit from South America complemented Monsanto for the benefits they brought but also stated that the spraying of Roundup has had a huge detrimental impact to their farmers. Could they “please stop the aerial spraying over the farms? And thank you for the good work.“  There were so many thoughts buzzing around in my head, I do not remember if Hugh Grant responded to him or not.

Lisa from Sum of us got up and addressed the Shareholder Access Proxy that had passed. She pointed out that it was an advisory, not a compulsory proxy and asked if Monsanto planned on actually implementing it. Hugh Grant looked extra thoughtful for a moment and then the baloney rolled off his tongue.  He rambled on about how they are always engaged in discussion and increasing the dialogue between shareholders and the board. He said that of course he expected to see Lisa back next year and by then he expected that there would be some modifications. This was brilliant that she asked that question because he was suddenly being held accountable for whether or not he was going to acknowledge the majority vote of the shareholders.

I was in line again. Then it was my turn. I chose to focus on the studies this time. I said, “I want to address the studies you mentioned early showing safety, but first I want to share with you why I personally am here. I have three sons, 12, 9 and 6 and they all have food allergies and my husband and I never did. Two have life threatening nut allergies and one son we almost lost twice, I held his hand in the hospital and prayed to God for his life. But when we went organic his allergies went from a 19 down to a .2.  He no longer has life threatening allergies.”

I addressed the shareholders and looked into their eyes.

“And my other son at 8 years old, had  a rash around his mouth, a sudden onset of autism symptoms, his grades dropped from A’s to D’s, he was hitting and had erratic behavior.  I got him tested and he had c.diff, fungus, clostridia, leaky gut, 19 different food intolerances and gut dysbiosis. These are all things cows have when they are exposed to glyphosate. I got him tested for glyphosate and he had 8.7 ppb in his urine, 8 x higher than was found in anyone in Europe. So we went all organic to avoid glyphosate and within 6 weeks, we tested him again and his levels of glyphosate were undetectable. His autism symptoms were also gone and he has not had a single autism symptom since. And I am not the only one, we have hundreds of testimonials. We see our kids get better from autism, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders.” Then I turned back to Hugh Grant.

“I want to address the EPA studies now. You mentioned there are studies going back for 40 years. Well, I have seen those studies and they don’t all show safety. For instance, one study on oysters, showed that after 4 days the oysters were closed and not feeding. Well, what happened on the fifth day? And closed and not feeding…isn’t that akin to a coma? How is that supposed to prove safety?”


I turn back to look at the shareholders. I am making eye contact and addressing them personally. I want them to get my authenticity. I want them to get that I am not just an angry mother. I am an informed citizen.

“Another study showed that white shrimp died after 4 days at levels that were below what is allowed on our food. A study out this past week showed that glyphosate does not biodegrade as the company once claimed. In fact, it remains viable in dark salt water for 351 days. What is in our womb? Dark salty water. How big is a six week old fetus? The size of a shrimp.” I paused.


I saw the gears turning in their heads, I saw faces change with the realization that I might be saying something relevant. I shared how the pig study in Denmark by Ib Pedersen with 3000 pigs clearly showed how when pigs were fed glyphosate sprayed grains their miscarriages increased to 30%, when they did not eat glyphosate, miscarriages went down to 3%, then back up to 30% with glyphosate sprayed grains…at levels BELOW what we eat on our food. I said that we currently have the highest rate of infertility and sterility in recorded history, 30%.


I turned to Hugh Grant and said “You cannot ignore this. With the widespread contamination of our water, urine, breast milk, Fruit Loops and feeding tube liquid, you must be responsible for ways to cut back exposure to our children. Roundup use increased in 2013 by 73%. Why? Because it’s not working. Farmers are using more to kill the same weeds! Some farmers get it though, one for instance, Amish Farmer John Kempf, said that at his farmers conference of 150 farmers, two years ago when asked if they use Roundup, every single one raised their hands. This year only eight did. They understand that Roundup is not working for their soil. It’s destroys the microbes. Can you not see the correlation between destroying the microbes in the soil and the good bacteria in the gut? Without healthy soil we don’t have healthy plants or gut bacteria or healthy people. In addition, the use of Roundup has increased because of the encouragement to spray Roundup as a drying agent at harvest!”

It was flowing out of my mouth almost without thought. I have spoken so many times about this topic that it was automatic. I was passionately making my case. I felt unstoppable.

“Wheat, peas, dry beans/legumes, sugar and more crops are reportedly being sprayed with glyphosate upon harvest to speed up harvest. So it’s not being sprayed just on GMOs. Unless you are eating organic you are likely exposing yourself and your children to levels of glyphosate far above what has been shown to destroy gut bacteria. So considering the widespread contamination, would you at least advise farmers to stop spraying Roundup as a drying agent?”

To my best recollection he said something about how Roundup has the function of being useful in wet areas where fungus or pathogens grow in the crops when they are damp. But then I heard him say that Roundup is recommended to be used as a weed killer on crops before harvest.

Interesting. “So Roundup is NOT recommended as a drying agent to be sprayed before harvest?”

“As legal would say, the question has been answered. Roundup is recommended be used as a weed killer on crops before harvest.”

I wanted him to say it. “So Roundup is NOT recommended as a drying agent?” I asked again.

He replied that this was the third time we had addressed this and that it was time to move on to the next person who had a question. He said I could of course come back in line after others had a turn. I sat down and two more people got in line.

Apparently a nun got up and spoke about the reduction of water and thanks Monsanto. I don’t remember. I do remember when a pediatrician who is an employee of Monsanto, Dan, the pediatrician who introduced himself to me, got up to speak. He declared all his credentials and how he reviews the studies and knows full well how glyphosate works. He sees not one shred of evidence that glyphosate is harmful. He was emphatic and somewhat angry and I couldn’t help but think, completely brainwashed and or extremely well paid. It is impossible to read the studies I have read and not see harm from glyphosate! Birth defects, miscarriages, tumors, sex hormone changes, allergies, etc… I could go on and on. I was incredulous that this doctor was saying what he was saying, really stupendous.  I was compelled and I stood up and got back in line. This time some people chuckled in the crowd. There she goes again they probably thought…and it would not be the first time. I have been told “There goes Zen again about the parades…you’re too pushy…” and it is that very same quality in me that had me stand again.. I could not let the moms struggling with health issues down. I could not let this doctor alter the minds of the shareholders and reassure them to continue to support this toxic farming. I could not let this opportunity go without giving it everything I had.

“Of course, I would not expect a pediatrician who works for Monsanto to say that Monsanto’s products are harmful,” I said when I was once again in front of the microphone. Several people laughed. I could tell they appreciated my willingness to say what needed to be said.  “The fact is, however, that even the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that pesticide exposure is harmful to children and that children should avoid pesticides.”

I don’t remember what else I said that that turn at the microphone. I do remember that a farmer got up between one of my turns and he was practically shaking and crying. He was very upset. He said “I cannot sit here and be attacked while Ms. Honeycutt says that wheat is being sprayed with Roundup as a drying agent. I am the Director of the Wheat Growers association in Texas and I assure you that wheat is NOT being sprayed with Roundup as a drying agent. And as far as labor goes…I cannot find labor. If you want to come work on my farm I will give you my card and you can come work on my farm.” He got a round of laughter and some applause. He continued to talk about how many people cannot afford organic, and how they need food on the table. He handed me his card and I was glad to take it. I was especially glad that he was upset that someone would suggest that Roundup is being sprayed as a drying agent…he must see that as an undesirable practice …I wonder why?

Another farmer got up and after discussing how useful Roundup has been how he feeds 6000 families with his corn crops,…and then said “but the thing is, if not Roundup what then?” My heart leapt with joy! They were wondering what else they could use! They were starting the inquiry! My mission had been accomplished.

Another pediatrician employee of Monsanto got up, a mother, and claimed that all of the studies she saw showed safety. She was very stern and very clear and decided right then and there that she was the one who needed to get my binder. I got my host’s attention silently and pointed to my binder and to the doctor and my host nodded in consent.

Another woman emphatically declared that “ I want people to know there are good people here in this company and with your leadership Hugh Grant we have been able to provide for our families. There are GOOD people here.” It was interesting that now the people getting up to speak at the microphone were almost all essentially speaking to me.

I got up again. “No one is saying that there aren’t good people here.” I replied. “And there are people who love people who are sick in this room too. I bet if I asked you all to raise your hands if you know someone who has autism, allergies asthma, autoimmune disease and cancer, every single person’s hand would go up. These are people you love. I am imploring Monsanto to go in a new direction. You have the resources. I am asking you, the shareholders, to challenge the Board to go in a new direction. Why not? We need waste management and for the oceans to be cleaned up. We need solar and wind power, areas that do not contaminate our children and pollute the planet. I ask you to try going organic and see for yourselves how you feel. Go all organic for three weeks at least, add raw organic sauerkraut every day to your diet to restore your gut bacteria. See how you feel…”

I turned to the front,  “You too Mr, Grant, I invite you to try it. You know, all food used to be organic. We have faith in our farmers to farm as has been done for thousands of years to farm without toxic chemicals. Farmers are ingenious. We are asking you farmers to use your ingenuity. I want to thank everyone for your time and just ask you to please try it, go organic and see how you feel and take Monsanto in a new direction.

I knew it was time for me to sit down. It was after 3:00 pm. I had stated my case. Although I could have talked for hours it was time. Hugh Grant thanks everyone very graciously as he should, for attending, especially emphatically thanking the people who got up to ask Questions, all of us. He said we have had a very lively afternoon and that it was the first time ever that employees got up to speak.

We watched not one, but two commercials for Monsanto at the end. I shook my head with disgust when I saw the second commercial. They actually said “Food is Love” stealing the line from the Prop 37 ad which connected food to our families and nurturing them.

Before leaving the meeting room, my host asked me if I wanted to  give the binder of studies to the pediatrician mom. I said yes. Before we got to her, a serious looking, heavy set woman with black hair stepped in between my host and the pediatrician, obviously trying to circumvent communication. My host explained that we were giving her the studies and the woman in black hair pointed out that she probably would not be able to hold it, so my host should probably hang on to it. I sensed the woman with black hair intensely wanted me out of the room. I stayed, looked the doctor in the eye and asked her to please study the report from Cordoba and birth defects. She said that she specialized in teratogenic effects and so this would be of great interest to her. The way she said it was like a display. It was acting.  My host steered me out of the room and on my way out several people caught my eye and smiled. I was acutely aware of being herded. I told my host I needed to use the restroom. In the restroom a woman immediately stopped me and said quietly, “Thank you for your courage. There are many, many, of us that are with you. Thank you so much for doing what you are doing.” I couldn’t help it. I started crying from joy. The intensity of the day overflowed. It felt so good to hear someone say that, for her to look me in the eye and to know it makes a difference. I thank her repeatedly and hugged her and she left.

Before I left I requested the card of my host so I could follow up and she instructed a security guard in not so many words to keep an eye on me. I realized they didn’t want me running off into their offices and seeing evidence of God knows what. I actually considered it for a moment when the security guard turned away, but decided not to get arrested today. I wanted to go tell the supporters what happened. I felt like I was going to burst. I asked my host before I left, would the shareholders be able to see these studies? “I don’t know what will happen to these studies.” she answered honestly….neither did I. For all we know they are sitting on shelf gathering dust or in an incinerator. I worked for days assembling that binder, testimonials and images. A mom supporter Nanette worked for a week gathering the studies, and the scientists have worked for life times on the work in the binder. Lives have been lost while those studies were being researched. Children have died from cancer in Cordoba and here in the US. mother have lost babies.  People exposing the truth have been beaten, threatened and they have lost their jobs. I have lost a life growing inside me and I have feared for the life of my eldest son from a nut allergy. I have faced my greatest loss and worst fear. Nothing will deter me. I had done my job of speaking up for the moms, who cannot be fired, and who will not stop, who will not give up, because the love for our children will never end.

Excerpt from the book  “Unstoppable Love” by Zen Honeycutt to be released in 2015

Scientific studies can be found at www.momsacrossamerica.com/data

All scientific studies are noted on this press release:


 Wall Street Journal coverage


 Zen and Alexis discuss the outcome minutes after the meeting.


A Tribute to a Beautiful NFC Producer – Barb David

Barb David, Oak Ridge Hydroponic Farms producer, passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2015.

Barb gives a demo.

A loving and giving soul, Barb touched many, many lives over the years. So it was fitting that she shared her last day with her family and friends on such a heartfelt day.

Barb joined NFC the summer of 2014, only one year after she started her hydroponic greenhouse. Her son, Ryan – as well as a few community members and students from Ord – work the fast-growing business alongside Barb.

Often dedicating hours upon hours of her time sharing her start-up perspective, Barb was welcomed as a speaker to many different groups that desired to incorporate healthier choices into their meals.

BibbLettuce1Frequently donating to various organizations, most recently, Barb donated two cases of lettuce to the NSAS Healthy Farms 2015 Conference.

As a producer of beautiful Bibb lettuce, Barb will be remembered for offering healthy, nutritious salad greens to schools, restaurants, hospitals, and homes across Nebraska.

We will miss your beautiful spirit, Barb.

Please keep Barb, her family, and friends in your heart and prayers.

Visitation: Tuesday, February 17,2015, 5-7 pm
Celebration of Life: Wed, February 18, 2015, 11:00 First United Methodist Church, Ord

Oak Ridge Hydroponics:

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NFC is Growing!

Happy 2015!

The Nebraska Food Cooperative is stepping up to meet Nebraska’s ‘local food’ demand. From retail customers to wholesale accounts from Omaha to Ogallala, NFC is meeting the year-round challenge of providing statewide access to healthy, wholesome Nebraska ‘local’ products.

We want to start 2015 off with a big bang!  For each new retail or wholesale customer you refer to and who purchases from NFC by the end of January (two cycles), you will receive 5% off your first February cycle purchases (February 4-8 order cycle) for each referral, up to four new members. Just ask the new member to complete the Membership Application and reference your name in the ‘referral’ box at the bottom of the form. (You must be a current NFC member, as of 1/1/15, to receive the discount.)

Receive 5% off your first March cycle purchases for one new producer referral (producer must be actively selling on NFC by the end of February).

Be part of the healthy local food movement by spreading the word!


City Dwellers can Grow Food in a Risky Climate

by Tim Rinne
November 29, 2014
Lincoln Journal Star

Tim Rinne

It’s been a year of bad news for the security of our food supply.

In March, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that “Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to further erode food security — particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.” All aspects of food security, the report stated, are potentially affected by climate change, “including food access, utilization and price stability.”

Then in May, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Agricultural Development Initiative (co-chaired by former Nebraska Congressman Doug Bereuter) issued a report warning that “Climate change will bring hotter temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent natural disasters. Farmers everywhere will be affected.” If these challenges are not addressed, “consumers will need to be prepared for higher food prices and potential food shortages.”

A month later, two of Bereuter’s Republican colleagues, Henry Paulson (George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary) and George Shultz (Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State), released a risk assessment on the perils climate change poses to agriculture: “Our research shows that under the ‘business as usual’ scenario and assuming no significant adaptation by farmers … the Midwest region as a whole faces likely yield declines of up to 19 percent by midcentury and 63 percent by the end of the century.”

The disconcerting report was followed in September by the release of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s climate assessment for Nebraska, which projected that by midcentury (2041-2070) typical summer temperatures will be “equivalent to those experienced during the 2012 drought and heat wave … which was the driest and hottest year for the state based on the climatological record going back to 1895.”

And finally, building on its 2010 designation of climate change as a “national security threat,” the Department of Defense in October cautioned that “Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.”

In short, our global food supply is at risk. And that’s a problem, because we can no longer feed ourselves locally.

More than 60 years ago, even a renowned farm state like Nebraska gave up growing food for our own diet. We’re still an agricultural titan. But with the wholesale shift to commodity agriculture, we’re growing feed for animals and corn for ethanol — not food for our tables.

As much as anyone living in New York City and Los Angeles, we depend on the global food system to stock our pantries and dish up our meals. Like the rest of America, we’re getting half of our produce — including 70 percent of the lettuce — from the California Central Valley (which is, incidentally, mired in a record-breaking 500-year drought). Even more telling, $4 billion of the $4.4 billion we Nebraskans annually spend on food is leaving the state. We’re not buying food that’s from here. Instead, we’re blithely counting on some faceless, anonymous source to supply all our meals and snacks.

But that’s not going to work anymore. Unless we want to risk going hungry, we’re going to need to start quickly rebuilding our food system. And just as eating is a “local” act (stuffing our mouths is about as local as you can get), we need a food supply that’s locally based as well.

As consumers, we need to be supporting our local farmers and ranchers and building the market for locally produced food. But those of us in the city can’t get by just being eaters any more, either. We’ve got to start pulling our own weight in the food system and begin producing what we can.

While we’ll always be dependent on the countryside for our grains and dairy and meat, what we can produce in the city we can produce better than anyone else. We can grow the perishable items (particularly the lettuce greens) that are the hardest to keep on the grocery store shelf. And because they’re grown and harvested right where we live, they’re fresher and more nutritious.

All over town, from the grass front lawn to the sidewalk space in the city right-of-way, there’s room for beds of lettuce and spinach, carrots and peppers, onions, tomatoes and potatoes. And with the onset of climate change and the threat of food shortages, it’s none too soon to be trying our hands at a little gardening and learning something about our food.

It’s what we as city dwellers can do to help ensure that in the anxious days to come we’ll know where our next meal is coming from.

Junk Food Kills More Than Wars, Famine, Genocide

by Jan Wellman
Published on Honey Colony, August 31, 2014

According to a new study from the School of Medical Sciences at Australia’s University of New South Wales, junk food can alter behavior by causing lasting changes in the brain’s reward circuiting, an alteration that triggers obesity.

Although the UNSW study was conducted on rats, the conclusions are likely applicable to humans because all mammals share similarities in the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in sensing and evaluating the pleasurable aspects of food. (Notice that we also see more overweight pets these days, too.)

Over time, animals (including humans) have evolved a simple mechanism that protects us from overeating: As we eat a particular food, the pleasure we get from eating it and the desire to eat more diminishes relative to other, uneaten foods. This phenomenon, called “sensory-specific satiety” reinforces the natural inclination to seek out a variety of foods, which promotes a healthy, balanced diet.

With junk food, this “shut-off valve” doesn’t work.

Nutrient-poor junk food, termed the “Cafeteria Diet” in this study, contains fatty acids that are not only associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, weight gain, and tissue inflammation, but also increased activity in the areas of the brain that process motivational control and reward behavior.

In the study, one group of rats were fed standard chow; the other, a diet of cookies, cakes, biscuits, and other junk food, for two weeks. They were then subjected to “Pavlovian conditioning tests” — in this case, a sound cue that informed the rats of the next serving.

Rats on a healthy diet that had already eaten ignored the sound cue, while the rats on junk food continued to the next serving even after being satiated. The junk-food rats lost the natural preference for novelty, an effect that lasted even after the rats returned to a normal diet.

In other words, eating junk food programs your brain to eat more junk.

“As the global obesity epidemic intensifies, advertisements may have a greater effect on people who are overweight and make snacks like chocolate bars harder to resist,” said Dr. Amy Reichelt, lead author of the UNSW study.

“It’s like you’ve just had ice cream for lunch, yet you still go and eat more when you hear the ice cream van come by,” said professor Margaret Morris, another UNSW team member.

The rats on a junk food diet had lost their natural preference for healthy foods, the team added.

Junk Food Mortality by the Numbers

The problem with junk food isn’t just that consuming it begets unnatural overeating; it’s also packed with unhealthful fats, toxic chemicals, hormones, mystery pharmaceuticals, fillers, and gross “natural flavors” like beaver-butt juice. Considering that eating all this garbage is practically like swilling Drano, junk food might be the most efficient depopulation strategy ever devised.

Obesity rates have doubled since 1980. In 2008, 500 million people were clinically obese, with body-mass indices greater than 30, while 1.4 billion were clinically overweight, with BMIs greater than 25. The United States is the epicenter of this crisis, as currently, two out of every three Americans are clinically overweight or obese.

According to the Historical Atlas of the 20th Century, 203 million people died last century from war and oppression; this figure includes everyone who died as both military and collateral civilian casualties from conflicts, genocide, politicide (i.e., the extermination of people who share a political belief), mass murders, and famines. That’s an average of 2 million deaths per annum.

Now consider that the World Health Organization estimates that at least 2.8 million people currently die annually from conditions strongly linked to overweight and obesity, such as coronary heart disease, ischemia (brain stroke), and diabetes.

In other words, fat kills 40 percent more people than wars, famine, dictators, murderers, and politicians put together. So, in effect, even Hitler wasn’t as efficient at committing crimes against humanity as the ole Colonel of KFC fame. The difference is, that jovial southerner in the Kentucky bow tie and his engineered-to-please chicken trick you into asking – and paying – for your own demise.

Or if you still think there’s nothing wrong with the “Cafeteria Diet,” listen to Jim Morrison, who believed that “fat is beautiful.” Jim died at the young age of 27.


Growing Food, Growing Community

Growing Food, Growing Community: the Example of the Hawley Hamlet talk was given by Tim Rinne at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Since 2010, Tim and his wife have gone from a measly little tomato patch to six tenths of an acre (the equivalent of roughly 65 yards of a football field). They have planted over 50 fruit and nut trees and two dozen berry beds, set up two chicken coops and two beehives, and now have 20 neighbors actively participating in what they call their hamlet.

They are growing food in the “Hawley Hamlet.” But equally important, they’re growing community. And that’s a good thing. Because given the risks climate change and extreme weather are posing to our environment, we’re going to need all the food and community the city can produce.

Tim is a native son of Nebraska, born in Beatrice, raised in Gering in the Panhandle and for the past 37 years, he has lived in Lincoln. An English Major and UNL alum, Tim has spent most of his adult life involved in Nebraska politics, doing everything from serving as a VISTA volunteer to running local campaigns to his present post as State Coordinator for Nebraskans for Peace (a position he has held for over 20 years).

TEDx Lincoln, December 1, 2014, and published on YouTube.

Inside Back Alley Bakery

Long-time NFC producers, John and Charlotte Hamburger of Hastings, Nebraska, are featured in this NSAS video as candidates for NSAS’s 2015 Producer’s Choice Chef Awards.

Congratulations, John, Charlotte, and the rest of the Back Alley Bakery staff!

(Click on picture to play video.)

Order Cycle Shortens


Starting with the December 2014 cycle, NFC is SHORTENING its ORDER cycle….


Sunday morning through the following Sunday 6 PM,


Wednesday morning through Sunday, 3 PM
Effective Order Cycle:  Wednesday, December 10 – Sunday, December 14, 3 PM

Closing time for the cycle has been moved up to 3 pm (central time) to give our producers more time to fill your order.

So remember, whatever is in your basket at 3:00 Sunday is considered a purchase.

A calendar with the new 2015 cycle dates will be published in the December newsletter and soon on NFC’s home page.

Customer pick-ups the following week will remain the same.

Producer pick-ups may change slightly to accommodate our central route. More producer information will be communicated via the regular Producer Notes email from the general manager.

Welcome Andrew – NFC’s Newest Advisory Board Member!

There are times when one just knows the fit is right.  And that awareness came from both directions pretty much at the same time.

Andrew Hollister, a new NFC producer, has been singing NFC’s praises.  Just some of Andrew’s recent comments to our staff:

By the way, I am blown away that I got orders this first week on the site. I was not expecting any at all. So for me to have sold multiple items more than met my expectations out of the gate.”

“…nothing was harvested that wasn’t already sold. Greatly reducing over harvesting.”

Glad to be adding more to the NFC family. Really, I firmly believe in what you guys do for everyone involved.”

It still amazes me how well your site connects producers and consumers. Just wonderful. I will continue to try to be your best spokesperson as I strongly agree with your concept and design.”

And then Andrew posted this gem on the NSAS list-serv: “I know there are a lot of producers out there like me who don’t have a lot of time to be at the markets. So I just wanted to share that we found Nebraska Food Coop and have products selling out in the first week. On-the-farm pickup from the delivery truck and only a small annual fee to participate. I am not getting paid or anything to mention this, I just want to let more people know that it exists.”

Finding a strong supporter of NFC’s model, the General Manager recommended him for an Advisory Board member role to which the board immediately agreed.

So welcome, Andrew!  It’s great to have you on board!


New Executive Board

According to NFC ByLaws, executive board members are voted by the board for a one-year term at the board meeting immediately following the Annual Membership meeting, which was held in September at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center.

Fall is the season for change, and NFC is not exempt.

Roy Guisinger, NFC’s long-time Chief Information Officer, asked to step down as CIO to fill an Advisory Board member’s role. During his long tenure as NFC’s volunteer programmer, Roy has contributed thousands of hours of software enhancements that has become the backbone of our producer/member cooperative. Without Roy’s dedication in keeping NFC’s system in solid working order, we would not be the organization that we are today.

Another long-tenured board member Stephanie Kennedy, who served as Vice President, asked to step off the executive committee due to her heavy schedule of raising a young child and working on her doctorate in local food systems.

Gary Fehr and Lanette Stec, two of our many committed board members, stepped into the CIO and VP roles, respectively. They will serve on the executive board alongside Randy Wattermann, President; Liz Sarno, Secretary; and Jeremiah Picard, Treasurer.

We will continue to be in good hands with our strong board as NFC continues down the road to sustainability.

New Territory & New Staff

The Nebraska Food Cooperative is growing!

With strong producer, consumer, and school interest in central and western Nebraska for ‘local’ food options, NFC is meeting the challenge by expanding into new territory.

To make this bold move, NFC has hired two additional parttime drivers to make the trek from farm-gate to delivery point. Scott Hanson and Jonathan David will join Kevin Krause as NFC’s distribution backbone.

Scott, a beginning rancher from Grant, will run the I-80 route from Kearney westward, currently to Ogallala on a monthly basis.

Jonathan,  a young farmer who is quite familar with the local food scene, will run the central route.

Please welcome Scott and Jonathan to the NFC family if you happen to meet up with them on their distribution cycle.

Who is Affected by the Proposed FSMA Rules?

Everyone who eats ‘locally’.

Food safety matters because everybody eats – and everybody has a role in keeping food safe from farm to the table. Done right, these new rules can help make our food safer; done wrong, they run the risk of putting farmers out of business, limit consumer choice, and increase the use of chemicals rather than natural fertilizers, among other problems.

But before the rules are finalized, the FDA NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU!  The second comment period closes December 15, 2014. In large part due to National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) comments last year, the FDA announced that it would reexamine several critical areas of the Food Safety Moderization Act (FSMA) proposed rules that have major potential impacts for sustainable farming, as covered in the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule.

We are now in a second public comment period, focused on the ‘re-proposal’ – like a second draft – of key sections of the rules this year for further public comment. The areas they are re-proposing will still require significant public input to shape an outcome that is supportive of sustainable agriculture.

The first comment period closed November 15, 2013. Now it’s time for you to speak up.  How?  Just follow this easy step-by-step process (and short video) How to Submit Comments to send your heartfelt message to the FDA.  The second comment period closes December 15, 2014.

The Nebraska Food Cooperative needs EVERYONE…every local food consumer and every producer of local food…to speak up and submit a comment within the next THREE WEEKS.

So when your family, friends, and you are enjoying your Thanksgiving feast, spread the word about the urgency to comment on these new food safety regulations.

With the right approach, we will be able to help ensure good food safety practices without placing an unfair burden on family farmers. For a safe and sustainable future, FSMA must allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, allow local food and farms to grow and thrive, and treat family farms fairly.


Are You Affected?:

If you operate a business that grows and sells fresh produce – and/or processes, packs, manufactures, or holds food –  your business may be affected by the proposed FSMA rules. Some businesses may not be affected at all, some may be affected by one rule, and some may be affected by both rules.

IMPORTANT: These proposed rules are not yet final, which means they are not yet law. To learn about the FSMA timeline, read NSAC’s FSMA Overview and Background.

The information included below is intended to help individuals gain a better understanding of whether or not their business operation may be impacted by the proposed rules. Farmers and business owners nationwide are reporting confusion in determining if they might be impacted by these rules. If you are uncertain, you are not alone! One major concern about these draft rules is that they are complex and confusing.


  • Do you grow, harvest, pack, or hold (store) fruits or vegetables?
    If yes, you may be affected by the Produce Rule.
  • Do you process, manufacture, pack, or hold (store) human food?
    If yes, you may be affected by the Preventive Controls Rule.
  • Do you BOTH grow, harvest, pack, or hold (store) fruits or vegetables AND process, manufacture, pack, or hold (store) human food?
    If yes, you may be affected by BOTH the Produce Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule.

Download the “Am I Affected?” flowchart to help determine if your farm or business may be subject to the proposed Produce or Preventive Controls Rules!


If you’re a consumer, these rules could, over the long term, impact the kind of food you are able to find and purchase in your community.  The proposed rules may also increase the costs of purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Ultimately, we want to ensure a safe and affordable food supply, strong on-farm conservation of natural resources, and thriving family farms and small value-added farm and food businesses. That translates into fresh, healthy food for communities across the country, from the farmers’ market to the grocery store to the school cafeteria! As a concerned consumer, you absolutely have a say in these proposed rules and should speak out!  The second comment period closes December 15, 2014.

Please note: These rules DO NOT affect home gardeners who grow food for personal consumption – but as a concerned eater, you can still comment!

Additional Resources:

  • Webinar about the impact of FSMA regulations on food hubs, CSAs, and aggregation
  • Webinar on FSMA: Impacts on Farmers, Producers, and States


Source: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

How to Roast a Heritage Turkey

WilliamRubelWilliam Rubel (williamrubel.com) gives us the low-down on cooking a heritage turkey to perfection. Living in California, Rubel’s  two  books are ‘The Magic of Fire’, the book on hearth cooking, and most recently, ‘Bread’, a global history.

Whether you roast your heritage turkey in the oven, or spit- or string-roast it in front of a fire, there are some basic facts you ought to know about how to best handle heritage turkeys.

Heritage turkeys are different from the most common turkey of American commerce. It is helpful to know a little about them before cooking them for the first time.

The modern turkey was developed for a large breast — hence its name Broad Breasted White or Broad Breasted Bronze — and it was also selected fast growth on a high protein diet. Broad breasted turkeys reach marketable size after a few months, while heritage turkeys take much longer to reach marketable weight. Broad Breasted birds are often so heavy their own legs can’t property support them, so Broad Breasted birds tend to be sedentary. Variety, age, physical activity, and feed, are all factors that affect the taste and texture of the heritage turkey you buy.

While variety is a factor in the taste and texture of heritage turkeys, as a rule the turkey variety is not on the label. In any case, heritage turkeys are similar enough to make generalizations possible.

Basic qualities of heritage turkeys:

1. Smaller breast. The breast of heritage birds is smaller in proportion to the rest of the bird than is the breast of the Broad Breasted varieties. This means the balance between white and dark meat is more even that it is with commercial turkeys.

Implications for the cook: White meat is “done” before the dark meat is “done,” and so the closer the balance between white and dark meat, the easier it is to roast the entire bird to perfection.

Historically, cookbook authors suggested covering the breast of roasting turkeys with oiled paper until the bird was almost done, at which point the paper was removed. The instruction to put something over the turkey breast is found in Enlish cookbooks dating from the 17th century all the way up through English and American cookbooks to the early 1960’s, at which point the instruction seems to drop out of cookbooks.

If you cover the breast, I recommend sticking with the traditonal oiled paper rather than substituing alluminum foil. Foil doesn’t let any moisture out, and thus steams the breast in a way that paper does not. When you let water molecules escape through a covering of paper, or cloth, the flesh of the bird is chemically changed in a way that is different from what happens through steaming — which is the effect of sealing the breast with alluminium foil. If you want to cover the breast, then cut out a piece of brown paper from a shopping bag, rub it with cooking oil, and tie it in place with cotton string. Remove it about 30 minutes before the turkey is done.

In my own cooking style I do not cover the breast. Instead, I add additional fat to the breast meat by slipping fat, like butter or olive oil, under the skin over the breast. I will discuss a little, below, turkey should not be over-cooked. Cooking to a temperature that is lower than the current custom. If you cook your bird to 140F you will help insure that the meat is not dry. Always start roasting with a bird that is at room temperature.

2. Leaner birds: The fattest part of a mature heritage turkey is the skin that circled the neck.

Implications for the cook: Hot, quick cooking is a better approach to cooking lean birds than is slow cooking unless you add fat to the flesh which can be done by putting butter or olive oil under the skin, or even by larding with salted pork fat.

My advice, however, is to treat the bird more the way you would game birds — pheasant and ducks are both traditionally cooked hot. I roasted my first heritage turkeys — they were small turkeys (6 pounds each) in a bread oven at 630F for 35 minutes. They were perfect. I cooked them to 140F. I suggest roasting in a hot oven — 425F to 450F.

A second suggestion is to put fat under the skin of the turkey. Those of you familiar with my book, The Magic of Fire, know that I often favor slipping a paste of olive oil and pounded garlic and herbs under the skin of poultry. It is easy to slip oil and/or butter under the breast, and a little more difficult to get it over the leg and thigh. Slip your hand under the breast work it around as best you can. Putting fat under the skin makes the turkey self-basting. Because heritage turkeys have a mild flavor, slipping flavor under the skin with oil and butter as a carrier lets you easily produce a bird of memorable flavor.

2. Size: Heritage turkeys are generally smaller than commercial turkey varieties. Expect turkeys in the range of 9 to 15 pounds, although birds that are both smaller than 9 pounds, and larger than 15 pounds are available.

Implications for the cook: Roast the smaller birds hotter than the bigger birds. I would cook a 6-pound bird even as hot as 630F. A 9-pound bird you might cook at 475F — but no less than 450F. I would roast a 15-pound bird at 425F. I have not tested these other sizes in an oven — at home roast birds hanging from a string in front of my fire — so these temperatures are my best guess.

I know that if you ask around enough you are bound to run across people who will tell you the opposite — they will say to roast the birds slowly. What should you do in the face of conflicting advice? Do what you are most comfortable doing. If what you do doesn’t work out well — then do it differntly next time. As long as you keep an eye on what you are cooking you cannot really fail. If you are spit- or string-roasting in front of the fireplace then the timing depends on the heat of your fire. I tend to roast hot. My most recent times are a 10-pound stuffed turkey in about 1 1 /2 hours and a 15-pound unstuffed turkey in roughly 2 hours.

3. Flavor: As a rule, heritage turkeys have a more subtle, cleaner flavor than commercial turkeys. There is often less of what I have come to think of as a “turkey flavor.” Depending on the variety, and the way it was raised, the flavor may offer a hint of the wild side — or offer an almost blank palate for you to work with.

Implications for the cook: Historically, turkeys were served with a sauce, and it was the sauce, plus the meat, that constituted a serving of turkey. A light sauce made from the pan drippings is alway a good idea. Slipping flavors, herbs, garlic, and salt pounded up with olive oil or butter and slipped under the tukey’s skin is also often a good idea.

4. Aging the turkey: Wild turkeys — turkeys that are hunted — are always hung for a few days before being eaten. You can deepen the flavor of your heritage turkey, and make it more tender, by letting it age in your refrigerator. I have done this with small birds to excellent effect. The idea is to take the turkey out of whatever it might have been packaged in, remove any organs packed in the neck or stomach area, rinse it, and then hang the turkey in your refrigerator, uncovered. If you can’t hang it then let it rest on a platter, but turn it once a day so that no part of the turkey is always resting on the platter. Keep the platter dry — so wash off any fluids that might settle in the platter and then dry it before setting the turkey on it. I aged one of my turkeys this year for a week. My own refrigerator is an old one that frosts up. I have not tested aging a turkey in a frost-free refrigerator. Frost-free refrigerators tend to dry out whatever is stored in them, so this is something you would need to experiment with.

Implications for the cook: Smaller turkeys — under ten pounds — can sometimes be purchased for less than larger turkeys because there is less demand for them. In any case, if you are familiar with aging wild birds, like ducks, then age your heritage turkey in the same way because aging definitely adds a dimension to the roast turkey that cannot be added any other way.

5. Brining the turkey: I do not advise brining heritage turkeys. My own brining theory is to apply brine to secondary poultry — birds that have no flavor. Brine introduces water and salt into the flesh of the bird. This dilutes the natures flavors. While it is true that salt is a flavor enhancer, I think brining is a crude way to develop the flavor of a heritage turkey. I will also mention that the standard method by which birds are cooled after having been slaughtered in American slaughterhouses is to dip them in a bath of cold water. The birds may take up as much as 5% water by weight from this soaking. Letting the bird sit, unwrapped in a frost-free refrigerator of a day or two, see “Aging the turkey,” above, might actually improve flavor by removing some of this excess water.

Basic heritage turkey cooking principles

Starting Temperature
Until the last couple decades, it was assumed that meat was always brought to room temperature before roasting. The 1965 edition of the “Joy of Cooking” advises the turkey be room temperature — 70F — before being cooked. I think this is essential advice for all turkeys. If your turkey was frozen, defrost it in the refrigerator. A few hours before you plan to roast the bird, remove it from the refrigerator and let the bird come to room temperature. The deep flesh, not just the outer half-inch (1 cm), needs to be at or near room temperature before you roast it in order to achieve the best results. If the bird is at 34F (1C) in its interior parts when you start roasting it the breast will be dry long before the deep tissues are cooked.

Cooking temperature
Because heritage turkeys tend to have has little fat, I advise cooking them the way one cooks game birds — quickly. Roast in an oven at 425F to 450F. I have actually roasted small turkeys (6 pounds) in a bread oven at 630 degrees for 35 minutes. My most recent times string-roasting turkeys in front of the fireplace are a 10-pound stuffed turkey in about 1 1 /2 hours and a 15-pound unstuffed turkey in roughly 2 hours.

Finish temperature
Stuffing, if any, is cooked before it is put inside the bird. The stuffing, therefore, is only heated inside the bird, not cooked. If you do stuff a bird, for food safety reasons, stuff it just before roasting. While the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) calls for cooking turkeys until the stuffing is 160F and the bird is 180F in the thigh, these  recommended temperatures are so high that you will dry out the turkey. I would roast a heritage turkey to 140F, and no more. As always, let the bird rest for at least ten minutes before carving.

A note on the cooking termperature: The USDA recommendation of 180F in the deepest part of the thigh and 160F in the stuffing is based on the government’s need to provide a general rule that will cover all health and safety eventualities, including the handling of the bird by people who have not observed basic hygenic princples, like washing their hands before handling the food.

As soon as you get your heritage bird home, take it out of its wrapping. If it arrived in the mail, unpack it and immediatly rinse it. Of course, wash your hands before handling the turkey. It is my understanding that the part of the bird that has the most pathogens is the skin. Even with an internal temperature of 140F the skin of the turkey will be above 220F, way over the temperature needed to sterlize the skin. One needs to balance USDA recommendations against what you know about the source of your meat and the way it was handled.

Eating is not risk-free — and I cannot assure you that my recipe is risk free. I can assure you, however, that a heritage turkey cooked to 140F in a fast oven will remain moist and delicious, while cooking the turkey to 180F is problematic in terms of the final culinary results.

Rediscovering Heritage Chicken

Gina Bisco takes us through a primer on the differences of heritage chicken versus commercial meat production. She delves into the differences the age of the bird makes and how to specifically cook heritage fowl for moist and tender meat.

Take a walk with Gina through the intricacies of production to the table in   “Rediscovering Traditional Meats from Historic Chicken Breeds”.

The chicken meat most of us take for granted today is quite different from what our grandparents experienced. Today commercial chicken meat production is very different from methods and ideas common before the mid-20th century. Those of us who want to conserve old chicken breeds need to understand the traditional chicken meat classes and their excellent cooking qualities.