March 2012: The Arroyo Food Coop and Cooking for Health

by Karen Voelkening-Behegan

Our March meeting took place at the Nature Friends Clubhouse in Sierra Madre, and it was nice to have daylight savings time to brighten up the place! This time we had 2 special guests: Patrick Reagan of the Arroyo Food Co-op and Gina Gonzales with Cooking for Health.

After our usual delectable meal, we had some community announcements followed by 2 presentations. First, Patrick Reagan gave us a brief synopsis of the latest news on the Arroyo Food Co-op. In the works since 2008, the Arroyo Food Co-op is gathering memberships and plans to open once they have 500 invested members. A couple years ago when Patrick first visited our group, the co-op had just under 300 members. Now, almost at the 500 mark, the co-op’s goal is to open before the end of the year. In exchange for their support, co-op members will have access to special shopping privileges as well as a share in some of the profits of the co-op. The goal is to provide a wide variety of wholesome, local, organic (or pesticide-free), nutrient-dense foods at competitive prices while supporting local farmers. Members have a huge influence as to what will be offered at the store, and product research is well underway. Prices will be kept down by locating the store in an affordable rent district, and keeping a small and efficient management hierarchy. The only level above management will be the Board of Directors, which is strictly volunteer. The Pasadena Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation is working on cultivating a close relationship with the co-op so we can help them bring high quality foods to our area. Patrick will continue to be a regular guest at our meetings and give us updates at critical points during the co-op’s development. We hope to see him again before the end of the year. To find out more about the Arroyo Food Co-op, or to become a member, go to: http://arroyofoodcoop.com/.

Next, Gina Gonzales gave a professional presentation about healthy food and cooking. Using a Salad Master food grater, she whipped up a delicious salad full of all kinds of raw organic fruits and vegetables including cabbage, apples, carrots, red cabbage, celery, mangos, and even some citrus and citrus zest for flavor. During the food preparation, aided by 2 assistants, Gina warmed up 4 different cooking pots filled with an inch of water and some baking soda. When the salad was done and the pots were finished simmering, we all got a lesson in cooking utensil toxicity. Each pot had a different composition, leaching different metals & other chemicals into the water. We all sampled a spoonful of water from each pot, and got to taste for ourselves the difference. Not surprisingly, the water from the Salad Master pot tasted the most like pure baking soda, while the water from a high grade stainless pot came in a close but slightly metallic second. The water from the other pots tasted unbelievably metallic and bitter by comparison. Besides the lack of leaching, another nice feature of Gina’s cookware is a trademark warning mechanism which activates when the temperature gets to 187 degrees. This feature enables the cook to turn down the heat before the food reaches the boiling point, not only preserving many nutrients, but also shortening the cooking time by sealing the lid and raising the pressure inside the pot. For those of us who spend more money on higher quality food, watching Gina’s presentation was a real education. To close, Gina offered a free full-course home-cooked dinner to anyone willing to host a more in-depth demonstration of the cookware in action. To get in touch with Gina, or find out more about Salad Master products, go to: http://cookingforhealthinc.com/index.html.
With another nice evening behind us, it’s time to look forward to our next meeting in April when we will celebrate the 2nd anniversary of our first WAPF-Pasadena meeting that took place on Earth Day in 2010! Our special guest for the evening will be Jolie Assina who will host our 3rd Ethnic Night with the special topic: Equitorial Culinary Traditions!

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