Archive for the ‘Thompson, Lindsey’ Category

Food Co-Ops

One way to support local farms is to shop at a food co-op.  A food co-op is a grocery store that is generally run and owned by it’s members in the community.  These stores typically offer natural or organic food choices and sell locally grown and locally manufactured items.  According to the International Co-operative Alliance, co-ops have seven principles that put their values into practice.


Principles of a Co-Op

The first principle is that it has voluntary and open membership, meaning that anyone can choose to join the co-op if they are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

The second principle is that the co-op must be under democratic member control.  Members have equal voting rights for setting policies and decision making and officials are elected.

The third principle is that members must contribute to and democratically control the capital of their co-operative.

The forth principle is that the co-op must be an autonomous, self –help organization controlled by it’s members.  Even if they join with other organizations or the government, they must maintain this autonomy.

The fifth principle is that the co-op must provide education and training for their members, elected officials, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-op.  The co-op is also responsible for informing the general public about the nature and benefits of their co-op.

The sixth principle is co-ops must work with other co-ops to strengthen each other on a local, national, regional and international level.

The seventh principle is that co-ops must have concern for their community and help development through policies approved by their members.


How does a co-op benefit a community?

According to the Cooperative Development institute, co-ops help build communities socially, economically and environmentally.

They help communities socially by helping to maintain and increase resources.  Co-ops also help build the skills of  democracy and  conflict resolution throughout the population.

Communities benefit economically from co-ops because they help to keep money and resources in the area.  Jobs, profits and resources stay in the community longer because the co-op is controlled by community members.  When people spend more money in locally controlled businesses, like a food co-op, the money is re-circulated in the community.

Co-ops help communities economically as well.  They help members to adopt more responsible  patterns of consumption so fewer resources are used.  By using food that is grown and manufactured locally, less fuel is used to transport the goods and the food does not need chemicals to preserve it, making it healthier and more environmentally friendly.

What are the benefits of being a co-op member?

Being a co-op member has many perks and benefits.  When buying food from a co-op you know where it was grown and who grew it.  You also know that it is fresh and grown in an environmentally friendly way.  In addition to food quality, you are helping your community by becoming a member and get voting rights to decide how the store is run and who is running it.

Most co-ops charge shelf price for their products, giving you an inexpensive price.  Many offer programs allowing you to volunteer at the store in exchange for store gift cerfificates so you can save even more money on your groceries.

Iowa City’s New Pioneer Co-Op

New Pioneer Co-op is the food co-op serving Iowa City and Coralville.  It was founded in 1971 by a group of Iowa City people who desired food free of preservatives, grown on healthy soil and distributed in a way that served human need rather than greed.

The original co-op had a bulk section of grain, beans, peanut butter, honey, granola and cheese.  Working members ran the business while it began to expand in product selection and store size.

Today, the co-op is selling over a million dollars worth of locally grown food annually from over 125 area businesses.  Members pay a low cost for these foods and the money they are paying stays in the local economy.

The co-op also donates to several organizations in the community such as the United Way of Johnson County, The Crisis Center, Table to Table and Local Foods Connection.  Last year over $40,000 was donated to organizations in the community.

“By shopping at the co-op you are also supporting a living wage,” said President Sarah Walz.  “Over 80% of New Pioneer’s employees work full-time with health benefits.”  In addition to being consistent and knowledgeable, the employees and decision makers are all from the community, not a distant corporate office, so they have the Iowa City area in mind when they’re working.

Besides employees earning a living wages from the co-op, paying farmers fairly is of great value to the co-op in supporting a just society.

“Buying locally-grown, fairly traded organic products from New Pioneer Co-op is voting for a better world.  It helps the growth of a society that encourages and honors hard work, offers food that is healthy and free of toxins and pesticides and makes farming methods that do not abuse the land possible,” said Walz.


Is a Food Co-Op Right For You?

If you think that helping your community and local farmers is an important issue to you and you think becoming a co-op member is the right step for you click here to find a co-op near you.



Iowa Wine

When you think about wine the state of Iowa most likely isn’t your first correlation.  According to the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board, Iowa wine and Iowa vineyards created $234.3 million in annual revenue in 2008. This money is the result of:

74 Iowa Wineries

400 Grape Growers

1000 Grape Bearing Acres

186,700 Gallons of Wine

1777 Full Time Jobs

The economic impact of wine in Iowa is a combination of wages paid, retail amounts of wine sold, wine related tourism expenditures and local, state and federal taxes paid.


Although winemaking  in Iowa dates back a few hundred years, half of the state’s vineyards and wineries were established in the past five years.  Iowa growers and wine makers face several challenges, making a profitable wine business difficult in the area.


The largest problems this industry faces in Iowa are developing a sustainable infrastructure, limited knowledge in Iowa winery business planning, limited number of trained workers, and unfavorable climate.

Since the wine industry in Iowa is very recently developed, building it from scratch is difficult and wineries and vineyards are still struggling to figure out how to profit from their businesses.  The newly developing industry still need a significant amount to time and money put into it before it’s structure is solid and is able to grow.  The business is still figuring out how to use it’s resources to grow, sell, and distribute the product.

Given that the industry is new, the business aspect of growing and selling wine in Iowa is still not being figured out as business owners figure out how to compete in the complex wine industry.

Another challenge the developing industry has is lack of knowledgeable workers.  Iowa has a shortage of trained viticulture and enology professionals.  This causes the growing of grapes to be less successful than possible and causes the grape quality to be lower.  Without being able to produce the best possible product it is difficult to compete in the wine industry.

The harsh weather of the Midwest makes vineyards a challenge to run to Iowa.  The grapes are exposed to low temperatures that cause the grapes to go bad when they freeze.  The grapes are also exposed to humid and wet conditions during the growing season that cause rot and a variety of mildews.  In addition to weather challenges, crops are also ruined by some of the insects and wildlife that are abundant in Iowa.  Only certain species of grapes, mostly American, can make it in these conditions.

Further research needs to be done before Iowa vineyards are able to figure out what variations are best and what cultivation techniques are the most effective for this area.

Why Iowa?

Although the wine industry in Iowa is struggling to create a successful business model the industry is gradually becoming profitable and has had rising sales.  It has recently been recognized in the national media for its improving quality.

Along with growing sales, the number of wineries and wine events in Iowa is adding to the state’s tourism, which is a major industry in Iowa.

Visit a Local Winery for a Wine Tasting or Enjoy Some Iowa Wine at Home

Wineries often offer fun events to sample their products and promote their wines.  Some enhance your wine tasting experience by offering parties, concerts or educational experiences.  These events are a good way to sample many kinds of local wine before you buy a whole bottle and can be an enjoyable outing with friends.  To find a winery near you click here.

In addition to visiting a winery to get some locally made wine, many grocery stores, co-ops and businesses sell bottles.  To find a distributer near you and find out what wine you would prefer click here.

Many Iowa City Restaurants Discover the Benefits of Serving Locally Grown Food

Eating locally grown food has many benefits on your health, your food quality, your community and on the environment. Many Iowa City food establishments are choosing use locally grown food from family farms, food co-ops and farmer’s markets for these reasons.

Restaurants see using locally grown food as an effort to support farmers and growers in the area, an opportunity to achieve the freshest and most flavorful taste, a way to reduce their carbon footprint and a chance to create a sense of community through meals.

Many local Iowa City restaurants are choosing to take this approach when purchasing the produce that they serve at their businesses. Local restaurants that have taken this approach include Devotay, The Red Avocado, Atlas, Chef’s Table, Givanni’s, Leaf Kitchen, Montley Cow Café, Oasis Falafel, One Twenty Six, Hearth, Share, and The Wedge Pizzeria.

Buying locally supports the area’s farmers and growers and strengthens the community.  According to the Johnson County Local Food Alliance (JCLFA), supporting local businesses stimulates the social and economic.  When you purchase products locally, you keep money and other resources close to home.  Buying food from your local farmers essentially helps build your community.  Supporting small scale producers also helps them to receive fair working conditions and pay for their employees and allows them to keep producing foods in a clean, safe way.

According to Blooming Foods, corporate agribusiness is increasing, causing independent farmers to earn lower incomes every year. Large corporations do not contribute financially to their communities as much as small scale farm.

In addition to helping the local economy, locally grown produce is fresher than imported foods and is typically more flavorful.  Most locally grown food is also organic and cleaner since it is not mass produced.

Unlike imported foods, locally grown fruits and vegetables are actually bed for freshness and taste.  Foods grown locally are generally safer and healthier because they have not been exposed to hormones, pesticides, antibiotics or other harmful chemicals.

Devotay chef and owner Kurt Michael Friese restaurant started as selling food at the local farmer’s markets so he feels like he should support the small scale growers.  Local produce also is fresher and cleaner.  “I want a world where everyone can enjoy real food.  And by real food I mean there isn’t anything else in it besides food.”

Local farmer, Mike Stutsman of Dirty Face Creek Farm chooses to be organic because “I think it’s a lot better for us and for the world.”

The JCLFA is an advocate of buying local food because it is fresher since it does not have to be transported from a far location. Food that has to be transported long distances also uses more non-renewable resources, fossil fuels and chemicals, making locally grown food the environmentally sound alternative.

The majority of imported food have to be altered to prolong shelf life and are grown to withstand industrial harvesting and extended travel time.  According to Sustainable Table, a typical carrot has to travel 1838 miles to reach your dinner table.

“Essentially it doesn’t make sense to buy tomatoes from Florida when we can grow them here instead,” said Stutsman.

In addition to the carbon footprint caused by the transportation of imported goods, these products also need to be packaged and the packaging materials eventually need to be disposed of causing even more pollution.

President of the JCLFA, James Nisley, explains that buying locally grown food in a celebration of community.  “We share the joys of community based agriculture, where people are connected to the seasons, the land, the food and each other.”

His take on buying from local farmers is that it should be the obvious choice.

Slow Food USA and it’s local chapter, Slow Food Iowa City, are advocates of buying locally grown food as well and links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Their website provides information on restaurants and other places you can buy locally grown produce.

Two University of Iowa students shared their opinion on the local restaurant’s food choice.

“I think it’s great,” said Senior, Kailey Clawson.  “I eat at a lot of these restaurants and can tell that the ingredients they use are really fresh.”

“It’s really cool that these restaurants are supporting the local economy,” said Junior, Jake Kundert.  “Serving good food while saving the planet is always the best choice.”

Overall, the restaurants that buy locally grown food have the right idea.  This choice not only improves the quality of the food that is served, but is cost effective and helps the community.

All photos used in this article were captured at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market and were taken by Lindsey Thompson.

Iranian Woman Faces Punishment Because of Mistaken Identity

On August 28, The Times of London ran a photo of an Iranian woman who was not wearing a head scarf in their paper, identifying the pictured woman as Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.  Since Iranian law requires all women to cover their bodies and hair, Ashtiani faces a punishment of 99 lashes.  The newspaper then said that the picture was not of Ashtiani, but of a Susan Hejrat, a political activist in Sweden.  Ashtianti’s lawyer is fighting her sentence of 99 lashes due to false identification.

First Source: Diana Cates, Religion & Women’s Studies professor at the University of Iowa.  I located this person using the UIowa website.  This professor would be able to give more insight on women and religion in other countries and how they are treated.

Second Source:  Jim Lewers, editor of the Iowa City Press Citizen.  I located this person on the Press Citizen website.  This person would be able to talk about the importance of checking names with stories and the consequences of misprints.

Carly Susral

Carly Susral is the Director of Operations at the University’s production company, SCOPE Productions while balancing being a full-time journalism student.

SCOPE Productions, is the University of Iowa’s student run concert production company.  The group does every aspect of putting on a concert from booking the artist, promoting the show, and doing the production on the day of show.

Although SCOPE works to promote the concerts they are producing, the student organization is interested in making students more aware of music in general.  To get out information on their shows as well as general things in the music industry, SCOPE uses a blog.

As a free form of advertisement, SCOPE uses Twitter and Facebook to promote upcoming shows.

These links show that SCOPE Productions is a successful production company, that brings big concerts and although it is completely student run, is operated and recognized as a professional production company.  These links are all professional websites, used to promote the company.  The social media websites show feedback from students and other members of the community about SCOPE and their shows.  As the Director of Operations, it is impressive that Carly runs a company while balancing her studies.