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Tony’s Chocolonely

A lonely fight against child slavery in the chocolate industry

Have you tried Tony’s Chocolonely? Beyond the high quality and great taste, there is something else about Tony’s Chocolonely that sets it far apart from other chocolatiers: Tony’s is 100% free of exploitation.  

Tony’s is committed to making ethical practices the norm in the chocolate industry. When we sit down to enjoy a chocolate bar, we often do not consider the human cost of chocolate production. According to the Global Slavery Index, over 50 million individuals are trapped in modern-day slavery, and the chocolate industry participates in this exploitation. 

In 2003, Dutch journalist Teun van de Keuken brought the issue of forced labor to the public’s eye through his investigative reporting of the cocoa industry. Despite facing resistance from major chocolate companies, Tuen and his team took matters into their own hands. They created 5,000 Fairtrade, traceable milk chocolate bars that were 100% slavery-free. These bars, named “Tony’s Chocolonely,” were intended as a one-time initiative but proved to be highly successful and led to the birth of the brand. 

We’re honored to stock a wide selection of Tony’s Chocolonely at the Co-op. Learn more about Tony’s Chocolonely and their bold mission in this short video.

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Blue Greens Salad Recipe

Salad in a bowl with mixed greens, red onions, banana peppers, and blueberries.

Serves 3  |  Prep time: 15 minutes

ingredients

  • 16 oz. salad greens
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pickled banana peppers or pickled green beans
  • Salad Girl Lemony Herb Vinaigrette

instructions

  1. Wash and dry the salad greens, then place them in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the thinly sliced red onion, chopped dill, and chopped basil to the salad greens and toss to combine.
  3. Scatter the fresh blueberries and sliced green onions over the top of the salad.
  4. Add the pickled banana peppers or pickled green beans for a tangy kick.
  5. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts over the salad.
  6. Toss with Salad Girl Lemony Herb Vinaigrette and enjoy the delicious combination of flavors!

Salad Girl is a local, family-owned fresh organic salad dressing company located in Willernie, MN. Salad Girl Organic Dressings are dairy-free, gluten-free, certified kosher, and non-GMO. Try Lemony Herb Vinaigrette & Marinade, a perfect compliment to the Blue Greens Salad.

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Local Producer Profile: North Circle Seeds

sowing the seeds of success

As the world becomes more modern, where the pace of change often distracts us, it’s easy to overlook the small seeds of change that feed our communities. North Circle Seeds, a seed collective in Vergas, Minnesota, is dedicated to maintaining a bio-diverse collection of seeds gathered through a meticulous seed-saving process. North Circle Seeds is significantly impacting the preservation of genetic diversity and championing the cause of sustainable agriculture.

The story of North Circle Seeds begins with Zachary Paige, whose business journey started on a farm in Vermont in 2009. Intrigued by the farm’s organic practices, he felt there was a missing component and was left wondering why the farmers weren’t saving their seeds. This curiosity ignited a passion within him. Zachary left the farm and moved to Arizona to attend school, where he immersed himself in seed-saving techniques and the history of seeds, and conducted research into the significant loss of diversity caused by neglecting seed preservation. Zachary recalls, “It amped me up. That was in 2012, and ever since then, I’ve been on this train of wanting to save all the seeds that I grow.” As his collection of seeds grew, so did his commitment to preserving rare and endangered plant varieties. In 2019, he purchased 46 acres in Vergas, Minnesota and launched North Circle Seeds. In 2020, the farm earned organic certification.

North Circle Seeds is committed to promoting biodiversity. They focus primarily on open-pollinated varieties. Open-pollinated plants allow for natural cross-pollination, resulting in diverse genetic traits that can adapt to different environmental conditions. By preserving and sharing open-pollinated seed varieties, North Circle Seeds empowers farmers and gardeners to spread and foster biodiversity.

Zachary shares, “We’re trying to sell open-pollinated seeds, where people can save them independently. And we think that’s a good thing, not trying to have people buy seeds from us every year.”

The seed-saving process is intricate and fascinating. Most seeds are grown in Vargas, but North Circle Seeds has also built a regional collective of seed keepers. They partner with nine farms to grow and collect seeds, including The Boreal Farm, a 2023 Grow Local Food Fund recipient. By cooperating with multiple experienced seed keepers, the task of species diversity becomes significantly more manageable. It begins with careful crop selection, where each variety is chosen for its unique attributes, such as flavor, productivity, or adaptability to specific growing environments. Seeds are then harvested and processed, ensuring that only the highest-quality seeds make it into North Circle Seeds’ collection.

Once seeds are harvested, they undergo thorough drying and cleaning. This helps to eliminate any moisture that could cause mold or rot during storage. Cleaning the seeds involves winnowing, sifting, and hand-sorting to remove debris, damaged seeds, or chaff. This scrupulous process guarantees that only viable seeds are packaged and sent to stores and customers. 

Beyond its mission of preserving heirloom plants, North Circle Seeds actively engages in community programs and initiatives, sharing their expertise to promote environmentally conscious agriculture. They collaborate with local educational institutions and organizations, offering workshops, seed swaps, and resources about seed-saving techniques. The final stage of preparing the seeds for sale germinates another opportunity for outreach and engagement, as community members come together to hand-package the seeds. 

North Circle Seeds is a shining example of the importance of small seed companies in safeguarding biodiversity and fostering sustainable agriculture. With every seed they preserve and every gardener and farmer they empower, they sow the seeds of a more resilient and diverse food system—a legacy that could endure for generations to come.

The Boreal Farm, located in Rice Lake, Minnesota, is a USDA Certified Organic farm. Over four years ago they supplied North Circle Seeds with the core seeds for Sugar Daddy Snap Peas and have been growing seeds for them ever since. The Boreal Farm was a 2023 Grow Local Food Fund Recipient. 

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Mixed Citrus Salad Recipe

Slices of citrus fruits on a plate with crumbled goat cheese and sliced fresh basil and mint.

ingredients

  • 4 navel and/or blood oranges
  • 2 grapefruit (pink or red)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 mint leaves, chopped
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Peel citrus fruit and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, removing any seeds.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange citrus slices on a platter. Drizzle with as much honey-balsamic vinegar as you like. Sprinkle with basil, mint, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Top salad with crumbled goat cheese and serve immediately.
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Local Producer Profile: Northern Waters Smokehaus

A local favorite for smoked fish sandwiches

Northern Waters Smokehaus is celebrated for its exceptional smoked fish, handcrafted sandwiches, and delectable delicacies. Founded in 1998 by Eric Goerdt, Northern Waters Smokehaus has consistently served the Duluth community with pride and dedication. Known for smoked fish, exquisite charcuterie, and fantastic sandwiches, the Smokehouse has been dedicated to using top-quality ingredients from nearby lakes and sustainable farms for over 25 years.

In November 2023, they turned the open sign off for the last time in the cozy little corner of the DeWitt-Sietz Marketplace. With a few flicks of the fins, they moved their operation to the lower floor in the same building, significantly scaling up in size.

Eric shared guiding principles the business brought with them from their first location to their new storefront: “We never underestimate our customers, we never abandon our co-workers, we never dumb our food or culture down, and we never let the dark side win. We always look to our food as the beacon—the answer to most questions, difficulties, and problems our business faces.”

Situated near Lake Superior, Northern Waters Smokehaus is committed to sourcing fresh, high-quality fish. They partner with Duluth native and Co-op producer Dave Rogotzke and his company, Simple Gifts Syrup and Salmon, who catches King Salmon and Sockeye Salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Additionally, they source wild Lake Trout, Whitefish, and Herring, from Lake Superior Fish Company in Knife River, Minnesota and Bodin’s Fisheries of Bayfield, Wisconsin, which fishes the Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior’s South Shore. The Smokehaus adheres to core principles of curing, smoking, and packaging each product with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring customers experience the purest flavors of the region. Alongside their renowned fish, they offer handcrafted sausages, bison jerky, bacon, charcuterie, and more.

Northern Waters Smokehaus is dedicated to sustainability, incorporating environmentally friendly practices into their business. By collaborating with regional fisheries that prioritize the conservation of fish populations, this supports the local economy while safeguarding natural ecology. By choosing Northern Waters Smokehaus patrons can indulge in culinary delights while supporting a business that promotes the local economy and sustainable practices.

Recently, Northern Waters products were added to the Co-op deli section, allowing patrons the convenience to relish the same quality and culinary expertise that has made this Smokehaus a local favorite. 

While the Duluth community adores Northern Waters Smokehaus, their off-site sales have earned them national recognition. Through online platforms, customers from across the United States can order and enjoy the distinct flavors by this Minnesota Smokehaus. Positive word-of-mouth testimonials and glowing online reviews bolster their reputation, attracting customers from near and far who seek the quality and authenticity embodied by this beloved Minnesota Smokehaus. 

Whether strolling through Canal Park or planning a get-together at home, Northern Waters Smokehaus’s commitment to excellence, sustainability, and customer satisfaction offers an unforgettable culinary experience that will leave you craving more.

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