Local Food

Cherries and the lavender air

The Plum Palate - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 8:13pm
  Since I didn’t know what to cook the other night, I asked my daughter to gather some lettuce from the kids’ garden. We have to eat it soon, I’m sure. We’ve had weeks of warm, dry weather. It may only be the patchy shade from the cherry tree that has, so far, kept it […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Golden jam

The Plum Palate - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:10pm
Last spring we planted a stand of ‘Anne’ raspberries, between the fence and the walkway in the back yard. These are golden raspberries, plump sweet ones that grew all through the summer, in defiance of the grower, who told us it could be a year before we saw a yield. The new plants are prolific […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

A pound of tiny strawberries

The Plum Palate - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 7:57am
A couple of weeks ago my father-in-law and I went rummaging through their neighbor’s groundcover, uncovering tiny strawberries. Even the largest ones were no bigger than the fingernail on my index finger. The seeds were the inverse of those on a supermarket strawberry–instead of a seed at the base of a dimple, these perched halfway […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Gather, Eat, Drink: Little General Food Shop

Thurston Talk - Sat, 06/28/2014 - 9:41am



By Jennifer Crain

van dorm sponsorKim Murillo remembers climbing down a weathered wooden staircase as a child, one that led from her family’s apartment to the grocery store they operated beneath it, in hopes of getting a popsicle.

Her grandfather bought the family grocery and hardware store in the village of Silverton, on the shore of British Columbia’s Slocan Lake, in the 1960s. He and his wife ran the store along with their three sons. Murillo’s father returned to settle there as an adult to help run the store, her mother became the butcher, and the small scenic town became Murillo’s birthplace and the source of her earliest memories as well as her work ethic.

olympia food shopping

Kim Murillo, right, opened Little General Food Shop this spring in downtown Olympia. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

“Everybody was there and everybody took care of the work,” she remembers.

Perhaps it’s Murillo’s early exposure to a small community’s close-knit character and homespun buying habits that makes her a dream-seeker when it comes to her own retail store, Little General Food Shop, which she opened in downtown Olympia in the spring. Though she didn’t want to re-create the past, Murillo says her desire to open the store was influenced by her Canadian hometown and the distinct personalities of neighborhoods she’s experienced in larger cities.

“Visiting Vancouver and other places, some of the neighborhoods are more defined because people don’t have to leave them to get the amenities that they need. I was sort of going for that kind of a thing,” she says, adding that she thinks downtown can use a general store to serve those who work at the Capitol, visitors to the city, downtown businesses and, perhaps, become a catalyst for would-be downtown dwellers. “If you can make it more appealing and easier to live downtown, then I think people would.”

olympia shopping

Murillo partners with local businesses, such as The Bearded Lady and Nineveh Assyrian, to cater to the lunchtime tastes of her customers. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

The store’s open design and tempting merchandise makes it an ideal meet-up spot. Here is a place where you can browse and buy, nibble and chat, lunch and people-watch. The latter happens best while tucking into a paper-wrapped sandwich from The Bearded Lady, seated on a bright orange metal barstool at the wooden lunch counter that’s nestled along a bank of windows at the front of the store. It’s a neighborly place, even if you’re only grabbing a solo lunch.

Murillo credits the store’s welcoming vibe to local designer Roussa Cassel, who conceptualized the interior. Cassell, who also designed the Capitol Boulevard location for Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, says her role was to help Murillo figure out the flow of the space. The two decided to remove some interior walls, take out the lowered ceiling, and incorporate glass into the divider that separates the back area from the main shop. Cassel is the one who placed the counter at the windows, noting that she and Murillo prioritized “opening it up as much as possible and creating a connection between the outside and the inside.”

olympia shopping

The shop’s special collection of artisanal foods and drinks make it a go-to spot for unusual or gourmet items. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

The bright color scheme and whimsical nature of the interior is homey and sweet. The orange barstools are matched by light fixtures of the same color and the back wall is painted by Olympia artist Scott Young in William Steig-style miniature scenes. The woodwork, bins, and shelving are light maple and the store is studded with a few antique finds, such as a giant wooden spool Murillo bought from a lumber dealer in Shelton—a find she adorns with pussy willows and stacks with jams and English crackers.

As far as stocking the store, Murillo operates from a single, simple idea: to sell the kinds of foods she likes to eat. Little General’s coolers contain a broad range of delicious looking finds from near and far. There are plenty of local and regional delicacies, such as Olympic Provisions charcuterie out of Portland, Flying Cow Creamery’s yogurt from Adna, and Peace, Love and Raw’s RawNaimo bars, made three streets over. But what makes the store a wonder, and different from other food retailers in town, is a broad selection of imported specialty foods, from the decadent (Italian buffalo milk butter, anyone?) to the quirky and fun.

“I have a weakness for coffee in a can,” Murillo laughs, picking up a tiny Illy can, like the ones she drank from in Japan.

olympia shopping

The coolers are filled with regional delicacies and small-batch, local products. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

Bottles of drinking vinegar are on a shelf on the far wall, a throwback to the days before carbonation (people mixed vinegar with simple fruit syrups to make a drink that’s enjoying a comeback, called a shrub). The shelves are also full of small bottles of artisanal goods, what Murillo calls “dish makers.” These are the sauces and condiments that make something like sautéed vegetables into a meal with character.

There are specialty mustards from Seattle’s Mustard and Co., for instance, tomato and garlic relishes, chutneys, and fine vinegars. These may cost more than the corresponding supermarket versions but they aren’t meant to be everyday purchases. A little bit of honey curry mustard goes a long way.

But Little General has plenty of everyday items as well. They carry selected fruits and vegetables, cheeses and crackers, and staples such as quinoa, couscous, and masa flour. Their most popular section is the grab-and-go cooler, with a wide array of foods made in Olympia. There are sandwiches from The Bearded Lady, plenty of salads from Nineveh Assyrian, and ready-to-eat pot pies from Pockets Full of Pie. Top it off with a RawNaimo bar or one of Cobb’s Treats’ peanut butter cups.

 Michael Hartley.

The store where Kim Murillo spent her first years, in Silverton, British Columbia. Photo credit: Michael Hartley.

Drinks are covered, too. They stock a careful selection of wines, a number of beers, and specialty drinks such as local ciders from Whitewood Cider Company.

Murillo says she’s already brought in new items at the request of her customers and is working closely with businesses such as Nineveh Assysrian to customize the experience for shoppers.

“There’s a really good communication channel already it’s great to be able to have that symbiotic sort of local business relationship,” she says. “It’s one of the best things that’s happening. I’m hoping things like that (offer a way of) changing the way people do the grocery shopping experience.”

Little General Food Shop

313 Fifth Avenue SE in Olympia




Categories: Local Food Blogs


The Plum Palate - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 6:11am
It’s been months since I borrowed Lucy Knisley’s book, Relish, from a friend. Maybe five. And another two, at least, since I read it. But it’s still on my bedside table. And my  daughter still whips out the copies of the recipe pages she made after she read it. We’ve eaten a lot of huevos […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Thrifty Thurston Digs 7 U-Pick Farms Near Olympia

Thurston Talk - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

Capitol City Honda sponsorWhy do U-pick? When I asked my friends for their perspective, I expected to hear about the practicalities–the break in price point, for instance, or the quality control benefits of personally hand-selecting each berry.

Yet while these are certainly valid factors, the main draw is emotional. “I still remember doing U-pick with my grandparents as a kid,” Bethany Bidwell reminisces. “We had fun doing it. We also were proud of my grandmother’s jam because we ‘helped pick the berries.’”

olympia u pick farm

One of the benefits of visiting a U-pick farm? You can taste the berries as you go.

Sara Hanna, a local mother of three, concurs. She points out the pros of U-pick from a parenting perspective. “I think the benefit of U-pick berries—and going to a farm to get veggies—is teaching your children where food comes from. For those of us who don’t have an area for a garden, U-pick is a great place to teach our kids that berries don’t come in a plastic container from a store. They are grown on bushes and in the dirt.” She adds, “How lucky are we that we live in this beautiful state where we have the opportunity to experience that with our families?”

Megan Conklin, another local parent, has some practical tips for first-time families picking. Time and amenities should definitely be considered. How long will picking take? Should the need arise, can you buy pre-picked berries? Does the farm have restrooms available for pickers? Conklin says, “We love to go pick strawberries at Spooner’s. With four kiddos, it is by far the easiest berry to U-pick. They are so big that you are done in fifteen minutes!”

Some additional advice: it’s always best to call ahead or check the website to see if the crops are ready for picking. Unless otherwise noted, assume that you should pay with cash. Finally, if you’re looking for a farm outside the Olympia area, check out pickyourown.org; they offer a detailed list of the nation’s U-pick farms, organized by state and county.

Without further ado, here are seven Olympia area U-pick farms.

Strawberries and Raspberries

strawberriesStrawberries are generally available in June and July, although weather and demand affect the season. U-pick raspberries tend to be available in July and August.

Spooner Berry Farms (3327 Yelm Highway, Olympia) opens daily from 8am to 6pm for strawberry picking. The 2014 price for U-pick is $1.65 per pound. Portable toilets are available for pickers. A tractor pulls the Berry Express from the U-pick pay station to the U-pick plants. The farm provides wire baskets lined with cardboard cartons for picking; you take the berries home in the carton. Pay by cash, check, or card. Phone: 360-456-4554.

Pigman’s Organic Produce (10633 Steilacoom Road SE, Olympia) offers U-pick for both strawberries and raspberries. As the name suggests, they are certified organic. Generally, they are open for picking Monday through Wednesday, 10am to 5pm and can also open by appointment. U-pick strawberry prices for 2014 are $2.75 per pint, $14 for 6 pints (a half-flat), and $27 for 12 pints (a flat). Phone: 360-491-3276. Email: PigmansProduce@gmail.com.


Depending on weather and the specific berry varieties grown on a farm, blueberries can be available as soon as mid-July and as late as early September.

olympia upick farmThe Black Lake Blueberry Farm (3105 – 54th Ave SW, Olympia) doesn’t use any pesticides on their crops. Restrooms are available for pickers. Bring your own containers to take home the berries. Please note that the fields are closed on rainy days. Pay by cash or check. Phone: 360-480-2452 (no calls after 8pm, please).

Carr’s Blueberry Farm (3844 – 1/2 Gull Harbor Road NE, Olympia) is certified organic for all crops grown on the premises. The 2013 U-pick blueberry price was $2.25 a pound. Pre-picked berries are also available. Bring your own containers to take home the berries. Open seven days a week, dawn to dusk. Pay by cash or check.  Phone: 360-352-3622.

Friendly Grove Blueberries, formerly known as Dan and Crown Blueberry Lane, (3102 Friendly Grove Road NE, Olympia) grows organic blueberries. The 2013 U-pick price was $2 a pound for most of the season, but at the end of the season they sold for $1 a pound. These farmers loan sunhats to pickers. Phone: 360-357-3837.

Gile Blueberry Farm  (3641 Gull Harbor Road NE, Olympia) is open daily from 9:00am to 8:00pm. They have containers for picking and, if necessary, boxes for you to take home your berries. Pickyourown.org lists their 2014 per pound prices as $1.50 for U-pick and $2.25 for pre-picked. Phone: 360-352-4847.

Teddies Berries (6344 – 123rd Ave SW, Olympia) minimizes use of pesticides and other chemicals. Bring your own containers to take home the berries. 2013 pricing was $1.30 a pound for U-pick, with $1 “retro pricing” at the end of the season. Pay by cash or check. Phone: 360-357-8370. Email: teddiesberries@comcast.net.

strawberriesThrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at submit@thurstontalk.com.  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


Categories: Local Food Blogs

Westside Store Exterior Painting

Olympia Food Coop - Tue, 06/17/2014 - 7:28pm
Update: Painting will begin 6/20 Friday morning on the North side of the building and will end on Tuesday 6/24

The West-Side store exterior is going to be painted soon! Depending on the weather, the work will start on June 20th or 23rd.  
This project should take about 2 days. Flying Colors, the company hired for the West-Side, are active Co-op members and have been great to work with so far.  They are aware of the effects this type of work can have on a retail environment.  
Flying Colors will be using low VOC products.  And to lessen the impact they will be starting work in the entrance area before the store hours.
The Eastside store will be open as usual if you'd rather switch stores for those two days. Check back here for updates; and please contact us if you have any further questions or comments.

Here's looking forward to brighter tones and a more vibrant Welcome to the store!

Categories: Local Food Blogs

June Garden

Erica's Garden - Sat, 06/14/2014 - 9:21am

May kind of just got swallowed up, didn’t it? Where’d it go?

I’ve been really enjoying the beautiful weather we have been having this spring. I’ve seen a ton of dragonflies sunning themselves on my pea trellis. I have been a super lazy gardener this year. I had a lot of things eaten by deer (which may have sent me into a mini-meltdown) but I rallied and decided not to worry about it.


That’s my gardening philosophy this year.

Categories: Local Food Blogs

2014 Local Eats!

Olympia Food Coop - Thu, 06/12/2014 - 7:45pm
Local Eats!
Join us as we celebrate our Local Vendors this weekend at both stores!  Westside: Sat. June 14th 11-5Eastside: Sun. June 15th  11-5 Come learn about the growing local economy of our community and meet the people who make it happen.  Local vendors will be on hand sampling their offerings and available to answer your questions.  These are some our favorite food and products to carry.  We're proud and delighted to host this event, and celebrate our local abundance -- see you there!

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Bright ideas at the Mother Earth News Fair

The Plum Palate - Fri, 06/06/2014 - 7:45am
I wasn’t early enough to grab a chair at the pressure cooking demonstration on Sunday morning, when I went to the Mother Earth News Fair*, so I watched from the back as the presenter, Jill Nussinow, finished a dish with vinegar and smoked salt. I’ve been hooked on pressure cooking ever since my first pressure-cooked […]
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Olympia Food Co-op Boycott FAQs

Olympia Food Coop - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 9:11am
Olympia Food Co-op Boycott FAQs

Why does the Co-op take political stands? What other countries does the Co-op boycott?How did the Co-op come to join the boycott of Israeli products?What does “block” or “consent” mean at the Co-op?Why didn’t members vote on the boycott before it was enacted?Are all boycotts decided by the Board?How many products were affected by the Israeli boycott?Has the Co-op lost money due to the boycott?Is the Co-op boycotting all Jewish businesses? Is the Co-op Anti-Semitic?Did the boycott create division in the community?Why isn’t the Co-op pursuing community dialogue or a reconciliation process right now? MORE FAQs

Why does the Co-op take political stands? Politics are at the heart of what makes the Co-op different from other grocery stores. Organic standards, fair trade, and GMO policies are all political stands that the Co-op weighs in on, from the products on our shelves to the signs on our doors. Being political is part of the Co-op’s purpose. Our mission statement directs the kinds of work we do, and that includes encouraging economic and social justice, making good food accessible to more people, fostering a socially and economically egalitarian society, making human effects on the earth and its inhabitants positive and renewing, and supporting local production. Other, conventional grocery stores are also political. Many of them donate to political parties or other causes. The difference is that the Co-op’s political decisions are based on our mission statement, are transparent, and can be directly changed by member vote.
What other countries does the Co-op boycott?In addition to the boycott of Israeli goods, the Co-op also boycotts products from China. This is due to China’s ongoing human rights violations against the Tibetan people. In the past, the Co-op has boycotted Norway, for its decision to resume commercial whaling, and the state of Colorado, for anti-gay legislation passed in the early 90s. The Co-op has also boycotted individual companies, including IAMS, Gardenburger, and Coca Cola.Some individuals have suggested that the Co-op should boycott producers in the United States, because of U.S. human rights violations at home and abroad. Although we disagree with many actions, past and present, at home and abroad, taken by the U.S. government, it would not be possible to run a co-op while boycotting U.S. producers. Furthermore, such a decision would be in direct opposition to our goal of “supporting local production”.
How did the Co-op come to join the boycott of Israeli products?Please see “How the Co-op made the Boycott Decision” 
What does “block” or “consent” mean at the Co-op?The Co-op Board and staff both use consensus process to make decisions. In consensus decision-making, there is no majority vote. Instead, everyone must either consent (agree) or stand-aside (similar to abstaining from a vote) in order for a decision to be made. Any single person can “block” a decision. There are many different forms of consensus. Wikipedia gives a good overview of general consensus history, theory and practice at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making.
Why didn’t members vote on the boycott of Israeli products before it was enacted?There are three main reasons that the Board did not call for a member vote when considering the boycott in 2010:
  • It has never been a practice of the Co-op to ask members to vote on boycotts. The Co-op has instituted many boycotts, but has never brought one to a member vote.
  • The Co-op had already spent more than a year considering the boycott suggestion at the time that members—and staff—asked the Board to make a decision.
  • The Board felt that the boycott clearly fell under both the Co-op’s mission and current boycott policy, which stated, “Whenever possible, the Olympia Food Co-op will honor nationally recognized boycotts which are called for reasons that are compatible with our goals and mission statement.”
However, any member may collect signatures to put the issue on a Co-op ballot via the “Member Initiated Ballot” process. http://olympiafood.coop/MIBProcedurePetitionReqs.pdf
Are all boycotts decided by the Board?At the moment, the current boycott policy remains in effect, and the Board also continues to have the right to make decisions, too, per the Co-op’s bylaws. The boycott policy is available at http://olympiafood.coop/boycott. The recommendations of the Boycott Policy Committee have not yet been considered, due to the ongoing lawsuit.
How many products were affected by the Israeli boycott?The Co-op stopped selling about nine products. They included gluten-free and regular ice cream cones, moisturizer, baby wipes, crackers, and several flavors of dairy-free chocolate bars. The boycott affected approximately 0.075 percent of the Co-op’s inventory.
Has the Co-op lost money due to the boycott?Sales and memberships continued to rise in the months after the boycott was enacted, as well as in the years since. Although some of this rise may be attributable to the enactment of the boycott, it could also be due to other factors; it is difficult to say for sure. Although a small number of Co-op members rescinded their membership after the boycott was enacted, more joined the Co-op. In the future, we hope to regain the trust and reactivate the memberships of those who have left.
Is the Co-op boycotting all Jewish businesses? Is the Co-op Anti-Semitic?The Co-op continues to sell products made by Jewish producers, and to stock ritual and holiday Jewish foods. We strive to work against both Anti-Jewish and Anti-Arab racism. We have passed on information and held trainings on Anti-Semitism within the community since the boycott was enacted. We do not believe that criticizing the government of Israel is anti-Semitic. Did the boycott create division in the community?Members of the Co-op, and members of the larger community, held strong views about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict before the Co-op enacted the boycott of Israeli products in support of Palestinian human rights. The enactment of the Israeli product boycott did not create divisions within the community – but it did expose divisions that already existed.
Why isn’t the Co-op pursuing community dialogue or a reconciliation process right now? Because we are involved in a lawsuit, we have not been able to undertake the additional dialogue within the community that we, and many others, feel is needed. This includes reconciliation processes and community dialogue (as recommended by the Co-op Conversation) as well as updating the Co-op’s boycott policy. There are several reasons that the Board has decided to pause this work:
  1. The lawsuit poses a financial risk to the Co-op. The plaintiffs have argued that, even if they lose their appeal, the Co-op should pay any fees or fines they incurred because they are suing on behalf of the Co-op. (Page 46 of their appeal, available at http://ccrjustice.org/files/Davisv.Cox_AppellantsBrief(02-22-2013).pdf).
Conversely, if the plaintiffs wintheir appeal, the indemnification clause in the Co-op’s bylaws requires the Co-op to pay any fees or fines assessed to the defendants. (See part III, section 18 of the Co-op’s bylaws for information on indemnification of Board members.) Until the lawsuit is resolved, the Co-op’s financial risk remains unclear.
  1. As long as the lawsuit is ongoing, individual member and community comments could be used by either the plaintiffs or defendants in the lawsuit. Open dialogue is not possible when it is only attended by those individuals who are willing to take the risk that their comments might become part of a lawsuit.
  2. Full participation in reconciliation processes is not possible when some parties cannot take part because they are parties in a lawsuit. Regardless of whether an individual is in the right or in the wrong, the threat of their statements being used against them in court precludes open dialogue.
The Board is committed to continuing our work on the Co-op Conversation’s recommendations, and on the boycott policy review, as soon as the lawsuit is resolved. The Co-op Conversation report can be read at http://coopconversation.org/2012/10/01/co-op-conversation-board-report-2/.
MORE FAQsThe Olympia Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions group also maintains its own FAQ sheet on the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott. Members looking for an additional perspective can read them at http://www.olympiabds.org/resources/faq.html.

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Olympia Food Co-op Lawsuit FAQs

Olympia Food Coop - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 9:11am

Olympia Food Co-op

For an overview of what has happened in the lawsuit to-date, see the Lawsuit section of the Co-op’s Boycott Overview (link). All court filings can be read on the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page (http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/davis-v-cox).
Frequently Asked Questions Who is suing, and who is being sued? Is the Co-op being sued?What is an anti-SLAPP motion and why did the defendants use it?How is the lawsuit about free speech?Was the outcome of the lawsuit impacted by the Co-op’s incorporation under the Washington State Nonprofit statute? Is the Co-op seeking damages against the Plaintiffs? What is the Citizens United ruling, and why is it cited in the defense to this lawsuit? Does this mean that the Co-op endorses the Citizens United ruling? How much does the lawsuit cost the Co-op? What is going on with the lawsuit right now? Who is suing, and who is being sued? The lawsuit was brought by five Co-op members: Kent L. Davis, Linda Davis, Susan G. Trinin, Jeffery I. Trinin and Susan Mayer. The defendants who are being sued are: Grace Cox, Erin Genia, Eric Mapes, Jayne Rossman (formerly Kaszynski), Harry Levine, Jackie Krzyzek, Julia Sokoloff, TJ Johnson, Rochelle Gause, Rob Richards, John Nason, Ron Lavigne, John Regan, Joellen Reineck Wilhelm, Suzanne Shafer, and Jessica Laing.
Except for Grace, Jayne and Harry (who are all staff members), the defendants were volunteer Board members at or after the time of the board vote on the boycott.
Is the Co-op being sued?No. The lawsuit has been filed as a “derivative” lawsuit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_suit), in which the five plaintiffs claim to bring the case on behalf of the Co-op itself. The defendants disagree with this, and have said so in their legal filings. The current and former Board members were sued individually, but retained counsel as a group.
What is an anti-SLAPP motion and why did the defendants use it?A SLAPP is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. According to Tim Wyrwich in the Washington State Law Review, “Plaintiffs file SLAPPs to interfere with the protected free expression of defendants. A SLAPP has little or no chance of success in the courts. Even without a successful court judgment, though, a SLAPP accomplishes an ulterior goal: forcing defendants who legally exercised their constitutional rights of free expression into costly litigation that chills their current and future involvement in public debate.” (https://digital.law.washington.edu/dspace-law/bitstream/handle/1773.1/1063/86WLR663.pdf?sequence=1)Washington State has an anti-SLAPP law that protects defendants from frivolous SLAPPs, and this is what the defendants used to protect themselves against this suit.There are many reasons that the defendants chose to counter-file a SLAPP motion:
  • Most importantly, evidence strongly suggests that this lawsuit is a SLAPP.
  • Furthermore, in situations like this one where the plaintiffs can’t show that they have a likelihood of winning the case, the SLAPP counter-motion protects the defendants and the Co-op itself from the cost and burden of the litigation process.

In lawsuits about the free speech rights of the defendant, the plaintiff must show by “clear and convincing evidence a probability of prevailing on the claim”.
In plain speech, this means that plaintiffs must convince the court that their lawsuit is not frivolous before the court requires the defendants (and, in this case, the Co-op itself) to spend a lot of time and money on the case. In this case, the court decided that the suit was meritless, and spared the Co-op and defendants’ attorneys from spending even more time defending against it.
  • Lastly, the SLAPP counter-motion speeds the processing of the case, so that defendants spend less time in between court hearings. As the lawsuit was filed in 2011 and continues to date, this might be difficult to believe. But the lawsuit could be taking significantly longer, if not for the SLAPP law’s protections.

How is the lawsuit about free speech?The lawsuit is about free speech in two ways:
  • Defending the Co-op Board’s right to free speech on behalf of the Co-op
  • Supporting our state’s Anti-SLAPP law, which protects the free speech of other activists and citizens.
The lawsuit was filed because of the Board of Directors’ decision to join the boycott of Israeli products in support of Palestinian human rights. In their complaint, the plaintiffs ask the court to “permanentlyenjoin the OFC Board from enforcing or otherwise abiding by the Israel Boycott…” (emphasis added.) By filing this lawsuit, the plaintiffs have attempted to override the decision of democratically elected Co-op Board members.As part of their appeal, plaintiffs have argued that Washington State’s anti-SLAPP law is unconstitutional and that it should be struck down. In defending themselves, the Co-op’s past and current board members are defending our state’s anti-SLAPP law, too. Washington’s anti-SLAPP law provides important protections to activists. Without it, individuals, corporations, and others can file meritless lawsuits against activists, forcing them to either spend huge sums of money to defend themselves in court, or settle on unfavorable terms. Animal rights activists, environmentalists, unions, and many other groups have been faced with SLAPPs and have used laws like Washington’s in their defense. In Gordon v. Marrone, Judge Colabella stated: “SLAPP suits come in many forms camouflaged as ordinary lawsuits. The conceptual thread that binds them is that they are suits without substantial merit that are brought by private interests to ‘stop citizens from exercising their political rights or to punish them for having done so’… The ripple effect of such suits in our society is enormous. Persons who have been outspoken on issues of public importance targeted in such suits or who have witnessed such suits will often choose in the future to stay silent. Short of a gun to the head, a greater threat to First Amendment expression can scarcely be imagined.”
In continuing to fight the lawsuit, the defendants are also working to support our state’s strong anti-SLAPP law.

Was the outcome of the lawsuit impacted by the Co-op’s incorporation under the Washington State Nonprofit statute? The Co-op’s incorporation status was not the cause of the court’s ruling in defendants’ favor. The lawsuit was ruled a “SLAPP” (or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”). The SLAPP law applies regardless of how the Co-op is incorporated. Here’s why: in all legally recognized organizations having a Board of Directors (whether they are cooperatives, non-profits, or corporations), the Board is legally required to follow the organization’s bylaws. The Co-op’s bylaws (http://olympiafood.coop/bylaws.html) give the Board – as the elected representatives of the membership – the power to oversee all operations of the Co-op. The plaintiffs argue that the Board is guilty of acting “ultra vires”, or of exceeding its powers under our bylaws. They claim that the Board was legally required to follow the staff boycott policy, which states that all staff members must consent for them to approve a boycott.The trial court has stated this argument is incorrect for at least the following two reasons.
  • First, the Board did follow the boycott policy: they sent it to staff for consent. When staff consent failed, they took the issue up at the request of both a staff committee and Co-op members. Furthermore, when the Board approved the current boycott policy in 1993, the meeting notes stated that the “BOD can discuss if they take issue with any particular decision.” Boycott decisions were intended to be open to review by the Board.
  • The bylaws specifically give the Board the power to adopt policies in support of the Co-op’s mission, resolve staff disagreements, and oversee the entire operation of the store. The boycott policy is not part of our bylaws, and cannot override the Bylaws.
Regardless of how the Co-op is incorporated, the same standards apply for all types of organizations: the Board is answerable to the bylaws.As a final note, there are many misconceptions about the Co-op’s legal status and whether or not we are a real co-op. To clarify: all consumer cooperatives in Washington are incorporated under nonprofit statutes. The only difference between the Olympia Food Co-op and newer cooperatives is that newer cooperatives are incorporated under a nonprofit statute that allows them to give patronage refunds. As part of the Co-op’s Strategic Priorities, which were based on the 2012 Co-op Conversation, the Board has researched other ways to incorporate, and is embarking on a process to gather member feedback on the possibility of changing our incorporation. This was presented to members at the 2013 Annual Meeting; more feedback opportunities will be planned in 2014. Any decision to change our incorporation status would need to pass a member vote, per Co-op bylaws.

Is the Co-op seeking damages against the Plaintiffs? Fees and statutory awards were granted to the defendants when the lawsuit was declared a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). These fees and awards are part of the SLAPP law itself. Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to protect against frivolous lawsuits. One way that Washington’s law does so is by requiring people who file SLAPPs to pay fees, costs, and a statutory award. This is meant to deter people from filing such lawsuits. The law requires that when a lawsuit is deemed to be a SLAPP, the plaintiff has to pay a prevailing party $10,000. Because the plaintiffs sued sixteen people, the law required that they pay $10,000 per defendant, for a total of $160,000. The judge’s decision on this point was made based on precedent. The award of these statutory damages is mandatory, under the statute.The SLAPP law also requires that plaintiffs pay the legal fees of the defendants, but unlike the $10,000 penalty, a specific amount is not set by the law. The amount awarded to the defendants’ lawyers (about $62,000) was set by the judge.
What is the Citizens United ruling, and why is it cited in the defense to this lawsuit? Does this mean that the Co-op endorses the Citizens United ruling? Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission “is a U.S. constitutional law case, in which the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission). Or in other words, the court ruled that corporations and other organizations can give unlimited sums to political causes and campaigns. The Citizen’s United decision was cited by the defendants’ legal team in court filings because it is the most recent Supreme Court decision upholding the right of organizations to free speech. Specifically, the citation in the Co-op lawsuit is a footnote that says, “First amendment protection extends to corporations and decisions made by a corporate board of directors.” The fact that it was cited in the case does notmean that the Co-op agrees with the ramifications of the Citizens United ruling for unlimited corporate election spending. In the Co-op’s case, the right to free speech means that the Co-op can take a stand on topics ranging from organic standards and GMO foods to speaking out on social issues. Without the right to free speech, the government could theoretically regulate which issues the Co-op was “allowed” to make decisions about, and what the scope of our decisions could be. An organizational “right to free speech” also means that other groups that we tend to agree with (like labor unions, farmworker alliances, and anti-war groups) cannot have their speech rights taken away by the government. Some people think that any legal framework in which organizations have a “right to free speech” is wrong. Others think that it is unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns that are the biggest problem. There are many complex and nuanced arguments about what is right; there may be better ways for organizations to be protected from government interference than considering them legal entities with free speech rights. In our current system, these free speech rights allow the Co-op to take positions as an organization - that is why it is cited in the lawsuit. However, the Supreme Court’s decision (in Citizens United) that money is a type of speech, and that therefore no government can limit campaign contributions of corporations, is not one supported by the Co-op. Lastly, Citizens United was one of more than 100 cases cited by the defendants’ legal team. It is possible that there are others that the Co-op itself, or individual defendants, disagree with. However, lawsuits are argued based on case law and legal precedent, and to refuse to use any cases which defendants did not wholly agree with would be impractical, as a matter of consensus, and prejudicial to the position being defended.
How much does the lawsuit cost the Co-op? In terms of money, the lawsuit costs the Co-op very little. However, it has hampered the Co-op’s ability to communicate freely, which is a different type of “cost”.The Co-op’s bylaws provide that the Co-op will pay for the legal defense, fines, or other costs of Board members. The defendants worked hard to secure legal assistance that does not cost the Co-op money.The defendants’ legal team includes members of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Davis Wright Tremaine, as well as the National Lawyer’s Guild. The legal team is not charging for their services, but some of the lawyers might receive court awarded fees. If fees are not awarded, the Co-op and defendants will owe nothing. The lawsuit has, however, cost the Co-op in terms of our freedom of communication. Because the Co-op is involved in a lawsuit, we have not been able to undertake the additional dialogue within the community that we, and many others, feel is needed. This includes reconciliation processes and community dialogue (as recommended by the Co-op Conversation) as well as updating the Co-op’s boycott policy. There are several reasons that the Board has decided to pause this work:
  1. The lawsuit poses a financial risk to the Co-op. The plaintiffs have argued that, even if they lose the lawsuit, the Co-op should pay any fees or fines they incurred because they are suing on behalf of the Co-op. (Page 46 of their appeal, available at http://ccrjustice.org/files/Davisv.Cox_AppellantsBrief(02-22-2013).pdf). Conversely, if the plaintiffs win the lawsuit, the Co-op could be ordered to pay for the plaintiffs’ legal fees. Meanwhile, the Co-op’s bylaws provide that it will pay the expenses of Board members (e.g. the defendants). Until the lawsuit is resolved, the Co-op’s financial risk remains unclear.
  2. As long as the lawsuit is ongoing, individual member and community comments could be used by either the plaintiffs or defendants in the lawsuit. Open dialogue is not possible when it is only attended by those individuals who are willing to take the risk that their comments might become part of an ongoing lawsuit.
  3. Full participation in reconciliation processes is not possible when some parties cannot take part because they are named in an ongoing lawsuit. Regardless of whether an individual is in the right or in the wrong, the threat of their statements being used against them in court precludes open dialogue.
The Board is committed to continuing their work on the Co-op Conversation’s recommendations, and on the boycott policy review, as soon as the lawsuit is resolved.
What is going on with the lawsuit right now? On April 7, 2014, attorneys for both parties were informed that the Washington State Court of Appeals had ruled in favor of the 16 defendants by upholding the Thurston County Superior Court ruling by Judge Thomas McPhee. The earlier ruling dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiffs have the right to petition for review or reconsideration of the appeal, with a deadline of May 7th. For more information: http://bit.ly/Otzk8P

Categories: Local Food Blogs

OFC Boycott Overview

Olympia Food Coop - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 9:10am

OFC Boycott OverviewFinal draft

The Olympia Food Co-op joined the boycott of Israeli products in support of Palestinian human rights in 2010. This document provides a brief overview of Co-op boycotts, how we came to join the boycott of products made in Israel, and what has happened in the years since it was enacted. In addition to this overview, you may want to read our Boycott FAQs and Lawsuit FAQs.
Olympia Food Co-op: How we choose productsProduct SelectionCo-op BoycottsWhat is a boycott?OFC’s Boycott PolicyHistory of Israeli product boycottHow the Co-op made the Boycott DecisionCommunity ResponseAfter the BoycottMember ForumNext StepsElectionsRevised boycott languageStaff and Community Education on Anti-Semitism and IslamophobiaThe Co-op ConversationThe LawsuitStatus of Lawsuit

Olympia Food Co-op: How we choose productsProduct SelectionThe Olympia Food Co-op makes decisions about which products to stock based on many factors, from food quality to social justice. Product decisions made by individual managers or department teams are governed by our Product Selection Guidelines. Some considerations in choosing products for the store include: whether the food is organically grown; environmental impact; food politics/boycotts (including GMO status); packaging considerations; whether the product is local, or created by a collective or cooperative business; economics; special dietary needs or desires as well as cultural considerations; whether additives and preservatives are used; and how meat or poultry is raised. You can read our Product Selection Guidelines athttp://olympiafood.coop/productselection.html.
Co-op BoycottsThe Co-op’s boycott policy states that “whenever possible, the Olympia Food Co-op will honor nationally recognized boycotts which are called for reasons that are compatible with our goals and mission statement.” You can read the full boycott policy at http://olympiafood.coop/boycott. The Co-op has a long history of taking part in boycotts called against individual companies, states, or countries. Currently, the Co-op boycotts:
  • products made in China, in support of Tibetan human rights;
  • products made in Israel, in support of Palestinian human rights;
  • Coca Cola products, due to union busting activities, particularly in South America.
The Co-op has also joined many boycotts in the past, including:
  • Colorado, due to anti-gay legislation passed in the early 90s;
  • Norway, due to its decision to resume commercial whaling;
  • IAMS pet food, due to its sponsorship of the Iditarod sled race;
  • The Nature Conserve, due to inhumane animal trapping by the organization that its proceeds supported.

What is a boycott?“A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott1/5/2014). Although the idea and practice of boycotting has existed for a long time, the term “boycott” wasn’t coined until 1880, in Ireland. At that time, Irish tenant farmers organized against the feudal management of Irish land by absentee landlords. In County Mayo, a group of tenants demanding lower rents and an end to evictions instituted a form of social shunning against the absentee landlord's local agent, Captain Charles Boycott. Since then, innumerable boycotts have been called across the globe. Boycotts are aimed at individuals, companies, organizations, municipalities and nations. Some notable boycotts include:
  • The American boycott of British goods during the American Revolution
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott during the Civil Rights movement
  • The United Farm Workers’ grape and lettuce boycotts
  • The Indian boycott of British goods led by Mohandas Gandhi
  • The boycott of South African products and investments to protest apartheid

OFC’s Boycott PolicyYou can read the Co-op’s current boycott policy at http://olympiafood.coop/boycott.
History of Israeli product boycott:In 2005, a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups (ranging from lawyers’ associations to childcare centers, farmers, and others) called for a boycott of Israeli products, divestment from Israeli companies, and sanctions. Their call stated that:“These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
A growing number of organizations and individuals have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Some notable supporters have included Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Alice Walker, Steven Hawking, and Howard Zinn, as well as organizations such as the American Studies Association, Pax Christi, and Jewish Voice for Peace. More information about the movement and its supporters can be found at www.bdsmovement.net.
How the Co-op made the Boycott DecisionIn March of 2009, a volunteer at the Olympia Food Co-op suggested that the Co-op consider joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement by boycotting products made in Israel. Over the next year, other suggestion forms were received that also urged the Co-op to join the boycott. The original suggestion made its way to the Front End/Member Services group at the Co-op (this group includes staff members who work as cashiers, in customer service, and in various administrative roles). From this group, it made its way to the Merchandising team, the group responsible for considering boycott recommendations and proposing boycotts to the rest of the staff.The Co-op’s boycott policy (http://olympiafood.coop/boycott) states that,“Whenever possible, the Olympia Food Co-op will honor nationally recognized boycotts which are called for reasons that are compatible with our goals and mission statement.” It also states that “the staff… will decide by consensus whether or not to honor a boycott.”In May of 2010, the Merchandising team reported to the Board that they could not come to a decision about whether to propose the boycott to the staff collective and asked the Board to take up the issue. The Merchandising team recommended a membership forum, followed by a membership vote. At the Board’s May 20th2010 meeting, the Merchandising team’s recommendation was considered. A small group of Co-op members attended the meeting and urged the Board to approve the boycott. Instead, the Board determined that staff should attempt to obtain consensus, as the boycott policy stated. The matter was sent to staff, where several staff members indicated their intent to block the boycott. (For information on what “blocking” and “consent” means at the Co-op, see “What does “block” or“consent” mean at the Co-op?).  The staff representative to the Board and another staff member attended the next all-staff meetings; they let staff know that the Board planned to consider the issue at their next meeting and they gathered staff feedback to be shared with the Board. Staff opinions on the boycott were wide-ranging: some staff members strongly supported the boycott, some strongly opposed it, and some fell in the middle or expressed uncertainty.At the July 2010 meeting, Board members received this staff feedback and heard comments from about thirty people who attended the meeting to urge the Co-op to join the boycott. After robust discussion, the Board came to consensus to enact the boycott of Israeli products. The decision was based on the evidence presented as well as the Co-op’s mission, bylaws, and boycott policy. The Staff Representative stood aside from the decision, because staff members held differing opinions. The Board immediately set a date for a member forum to discuss the decision, and noted that if members strongly disagreed with the decision, the Co-op’s Member Initiated Ballot process remained an option. (The Member Initiated Ballot Process can be found at http://olympiafood.coop/MIBProcedurePetitionReqs.pdf).
Member and Community ResponseCommunity response to the adoption of the boycott was mixed. Some members strongly supported the boycott; other members strongly opposed the boycott. Members who supported or opposed the boycott did so for a variety of reasons. Many members either did not have an opinion or didn’t feel that they knew enough to form an opinion. The group It’s Our Co-op formed to urge the Co-op to end the boycott. Meanwhile, Olympia BDS rallied support around the decision. Members of both of these groups protested (or showed their support) outside of the stores in the first few weeks after the decision was made. Many other organizations and groups in the community worked together to host speakers and other educational events which expressed nuanced and varied views on Israel and Palestine. After a national group, Stand With Us, made contacting the Co-op about our boycott decision their “action of the week”, thousands of emails and phone calls flooded the Co-op. Staff and Board were overwhelmed, and it became nearly impossible to determine which of the emails were from actual Co-op members, and which were from people in other states or even other countries. Although Stand With Us’ suggested messages were polite, many of the telephone calls that staff received were abusive, with callers cursing and threatening whoever picked up the phone. Caller ID showed that these calls were arriving from as far as the East coast, and abroad. The response was far broader than the Board had originally anticipated; it was a challenging time for staff and Board, and also for the community.
After the BoycottThe Co-op took steps to reach out to Co-op members after the boycott was announced, and committed to making changes based on member feedback. Member ForumThe member forum on the boycott decision was held in August of 2010. During the event, more than 300 people packed the room, and members gave passionate testimony about the boycott. Opinion was mixed, with some strongly opposing, and others strongly supporting the boycott. Every member who wanted to speak was given a chance to do so; the Board of Directors and members listened to testimony for three hours. Next StepsIn September, following the member forum and other meetings with community members, the Board reported back to the community on the next steps. They pledged to create a Boycott Policy Committee to propose long-term changes to the Co-op’s current policy. They also reported that the Board had considered rescinding the boycott, but did not reach consensus to do so.ElectionsFrom October 15 – November 15, 2010, the Co-op held its annual elections for the Board of directors. The boycott decision dominated the election, with most candidates expressing strong opinions about the topic. The Olympia BDS group endorsed five candidates, and signed up to distribute information on their endorsements in front of the stores.All groups were welcome to table in front of the stores, but Olympia BDS was the only one who chose to do so.It’s Our Co-op held an open forum to which all candidates were invited to speak and answer questions; they provided Co-op ballots via their website, but did not endorse particular candidates. A record number of votes (1093) were cast in the 2010 election. Candidates endorsed by Olympia BDS won by a large margin; the five BDS-endorsed candidates received between 545-693 votes each, while the next runner up received 315, and the lowest vote-receiving candidate received 132. You can read all of the vote totals on the Co-op’s blog athttp://olympiafoodcoop.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html.Revised boycott languageThe Board held meetings with various groups in the community, including members of the synagogue and It’s Our Co-op, members of the local mosque, and members of Olympia BDS. In February of 2011, the Board consented to new language as to “what will end the boycott”. The change was based on complaints that the original language was too broad and could lend itself to a variety of interpretations; that it precluded a two-state solution; and that language around Palestinian refugees returning to their homes precluded the option of accepting compensation in lieu of a return to the original property. The old and new language is as follows:Original versionWhat will end the boycott.

The Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycott, Divest and Sanction of Israel outlines the following conditions for ending the boycott.

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
New version:
The Olympia Food Co-op's participation in the boycott will end when the following conditions are met:

1A. Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. These lands have been identified as occupied by organizations and agencies as diverse as the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. State Department, the International Court of Justice, International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

1B. Israel dismantles the Wall in accordance with the 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice.

2. Israel recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.

3. Israel agrees to a plan to allow Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours” to do so, or to receive just compensation for their losses.

Staff and Community Education on Anti-Semitism and IslamophobiaBecause speaking out about Israel and Palestine also requires taking a stand against the anti-Semitism that surrounds the issue, the Co-op published blog posts with information on “Anti-Semitism and Progressive Movements” as well as “Islamophobia”. In June of 2011, the Co-op sponsored two free trainings for Co-op staff and for community members on “Interrupting Anti-Semitism and Anti-Arab Racism: a hands-on workshop from Jewish and Arab perspectives”.
The Co-op ConversationIn early 2012, the Co-op engaged in a multi-month process to engage members in conversations about the future of the Co-op. The boycott of Israeli products was one topic within this conversation. The final Co-op Conversation report (http://coopconversation.org/2012/10/01/co-op-conversation-board-report-2/) included the following recommendations on the boycott.

  1. Establish a task force to create a structure for reconciliation with clearly defined goals with a timeline for completing the process.
  2. Use an outside facilitator trained in conflict resolution.
  3. Determine when this process ends and the co-op moves forward. There must be a conclusion.
  4. Develop a transparent, thorough and participatory process for decision-making about future boycotts.

The Co-op plans to pursue these recommendations once the boycott-related lawsuit is resolved.
The LawsuitIn early June 2011, fifteen current and former Board members received a letter threatening a lawsuit if the boycott decision was not rescinded. The letter, from five Co-op members, alleged procedural violations and gave recipients thirty days in which to rescind the boycott. The recipients of the letter included:
  • Board members who began their terms in January of 2011, and who were not on the Board when the decision was made
  • Board members who were on the Board when the decision was made but whose terms ended in December 2010 and who were no longer on the Board
  • Two staff members, including the former staff representative to the Board and a staff member who had served as the fill-in staff representative to the Board for a few months
“If you do what we demand,” the letter stated, “this situation may be resolved amicably and efficiently. If not, we will bring legal action against you, and this process will become considerably more complicated, burdensome, and expensive than it has already.” The full text of the letter is available as Exhibit A of the following document:http://ccrjustice.org/files/Johnson%20Decl%20in%20Support%20of%20Defs'%20Opposition.pdf.The Board responded, stating that although the members had broadly alleged procedural violations, they had not stated how the Board had violated the bylaws or mission of the organization. The Board requested that they provide more specific allegations for them to respond to. Finally, the Board reminded them that the Member Initiated ballot process was still a viable option to change the boycott decision. The full text of the response is available on page 132 (Exhibit X) of the following documenthttp://ccrjustice.org/files/Levine_Declaration_in_Supp_of_Defs'_Motion_to_Strike.pdf. In July 2011, sixteen current and former Board members(including all former letter recipients, plus the current staff representative to the Board) received a letter from a lawyer on behalf of the five members. The letter stated that the Board should already know what the procedural violations were; that it was the Board’s responsibility to take action rather than the members’; and that since the Board had not rescinded the boycott, they would “proceed accordingly.” The full text of the response is available on page 134 (Exhibit Y) of the following document http://ccrjustice.org/files/Levine_Declaration_in_Supp_of_Defs'_Motion_to_Strike.pdf.The five members filed their lawsuit in early September 2011. Filings from the defendants and the plaintiffs can be found on the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page: http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/davis-v-cox.
Status of LawsuitIn February 2012, the superior court judge ruled in the defendants’ (current and former Board members) favor, agreeing that the lawsuit was a “SLAPP” or “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” A SLAPP is a meritless lawsuit in which the real purpose is to chill free speech, even if it purports to address other topics. In February 2013, the plaintiffs appealed the SLAPP ruling to the Washington State Supreme Court. As part of their appeal, plaintiffs urged the court to declare Washington State’s anti-SLAPP law unconstitutional.In August 2013, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, and sent the appeal to the State Appeals Court. Oral argument in the Appellate court was heard February 24, 2014. Attorneys for the co-defendants were informed on April 7ththat the court had once again found in their favor, upholding the original judgment. On May 7, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a petition for discretionary review of the ruling. The Washington State Supreme Court will make the decision whether or not to grant the review. The lawsuit continues to place reconciliation efforts (such as those recommended by the Co-op Conversation report), Co-op sponsored community dialogue, and work on modifying the Co-op’s boycott policy on hold. The Board is committed to taking further steps when the lawsuit has been resolved and no community members need fear that their comments might be used against them in court.

Links to incorporate in final version:Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions http://www.bdsmovement.net/callLawsuit filings http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/davis-v-coxStand With Us Action of the Week https://www.standwithus.com/news/article.asp?id=1539
Center for Constitutional Rights Case Page http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/davis-v-cox
Categories: Local Food Blogs

Coffee Anyone? – Five Coffee Shops Perfect for Small Group Meetings

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 8:58am



By Kate Scriven

creative officeEveryone’s lives are busy.  We are pulled between different obligations and responsibilities and try to balance these with recreation and friendships.  And often, whether social or business related, we need a place to meet.  Gather with friends to catch up, meet a committee for a planning meeting, convene a focus group outside of work, or assemble with a monthly club.

Coffee shops abound in the northwest, but a busy Starbucks isn’t always conducive to conversation or collaboration needed at a small group meeting.  However, there are some terrific venues for a great cup of coffee, some tasty eats, and space for your group to spread out a bit and accomplish their goals – business or personal.

olympia coffee shop

Phoebe’s Pastry Café provides a cozy neighborhood feel for small group gatherings. Excellent food options make this a good choice for breakfast or lunch meetings.

Phoebe’s Pastry Café – 1800 Cooper Point Rd SW Bldg 13 in Olympia

This Westside coffee shop, bakery, and deli is a gem hidden in plain view.  Tucked on the edge of a vast office park just above the busy Trader Joes/Barnes and Nobel shopping area and just below the Olympia Auto Mall, Phoebe’s is a place you should know.  Their hallmark is their amazing baked goods.  However, they serve locally roasted Batdorf and Bronson coffee and a full menu of salads, soups and sandwiches (including amazing breakfast sandwiches).

The space is comfortable, spacious, and gives patrons room to breathe.  Booths and tables fill the space and are easily combined for groups.  Outlets are conveniently place around the walls for laptops or other meeting “gear.”  This writer can often be found in a booth tapping the keys, Americano in hand, or planning the publishing calendar with the ThurstonTalk team.

Traditions Fair Trade Café -  300 5th Ave SW in Olympia

Traditions is centrally located in downtown Olympia just across from Capitol Lake.  With a view of the lake and Capitol dome, it’s a perfect spot to bring groups new to our city.  However, the long-standing Olympia café plays host to many local get-togethers, group gatherings, and club monthly meetings.

While there are not private spaces, the large café and broad range of food and beverage choices make it an easy choice to accommodate groups of all sizes.  There is even performance space available, as the café often hosts live music events.  Call ahead if your group would like to access this unique feature.

In the spirit of community – both in Olympia and the greater world – Traditions is a welcoming place to create connections and promote conversations.

forza coffee lacey

Lacey Forza is known for it’s excellent coffee as well as a great place to gather.

Forrey’s Forza Coffee – 130 Marvin Rd SE Suite 130 in Lacey

Forrey’s Forza is just over a year old and has already become a neighborhood gathering spot.  Enjoy great coffee, a full menu of food options including owner Tom Forrey’s famous pies, along with beer and wine.  A great feature of Forrey’s Forza is their meeting room.  Off to one side, the room has enough seating for 12-15 people around two tables.  There is also a flat screen TV which, with an HDMI cable, can connect to your computer for presentations or group viewings of online meetings.

The space is open for anyone to use, however, they do require reservations as the space is popular and books quickly.  While there is not a “rental” fee for the room, you must purchase a $25 gift card when you reserve.  This can be used to purchase food or beverages for the meeting itself or simply tucked in your pocket to use later.  If a private space with a door that actually closes is what you need, Forrey’s Forza is for you.

Mud Bay Coffee Company – 1600 Cooper Point Rd SW in Olympia

olympia coffee shop

Mud Bay Coffee Company’s Westside café has a private meeting room that can be reserved or simply arrive early and gather tables for your group.

Also on Olympia’s Westside, Mud Bay Coffee Company has a warm and inviting small café atmosphere.  But beyond the rock-clad fireplace lies a small, intimate conference room available for meetings of up to 18 people.  While this room is utilized as seating for the main café when not reserved, it is often booked for its light, bright space and central location.

Use of the room does require reservations and a fee for use.  However, if you are leading a more formal meeting and needing space for small group work, it’s worth the cost.  The space is flexible with moveable tables and chairs and the friendly staff is very accommodating should you need special arrangements for your meeting.  Just call – the friendly staff can set it up for you.

The Bread Peddler – 222 N Capitol Way in Olympia

Many of us are familiar with this bustling downtown eatery.  Beloved for its fresh breads and pastries as well as the homemade soups and sandwiches, the space has now expanded to include a very spacious banquet room with seating for 20 to 30 people.  The room is tucked behind the kitchens and is accessed through the shared hallway in the main building.

Groups can reserve the space for no cost when ordering food and drink from the café.  Simply order at the counter and head on back to the space.  It is extremely quiet and private and has enough space to handle whatever configuration your group needs.  Should you want to rent the space for a more formal event, the staff can advise you of the options available.


Categories: Local Food Blogs

Find a Farmers Market around Olympia and Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 8:49am



providence medical group sponsorOlympia proudly boasts many local farmers and agripreneurs.  A ‘Buy Local’ vision permeates our community.  What better way to support local families than shopping at a farmers market.  Farmers markets are more than simply buying local produce.  They create community.  Talk to local farmers that painstakingly grew the food that you are putting on your family’s table.  Visit one of these farmers market during throughout the summer and early fall and dine on delicious produce.


west olympia farmers market

Find local goods and produce at the West Olympia Farmers’ Market each Tuesday from mid-May to mid-October. 
Photo credit: West Olympia Farmers Market.

West Olympia Farmers Market

1515 Harrison Avenue West in Olympia

Tuesdays from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Celebrating its fourth season, the West Olympia Farmers Market is truly home grown.  Neighbors walk to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church to find their favorite vendors.  The market hosts local musicians and often includes a raffle.  Learn more about vendors and special events by following their Facebook page.


Tumwater Town Center Farmers Market

Intersection of Capitol Boulevard and Israel Road in Tumwater

Wednesdays from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

This mid-day market features many picnic items and specialty foods that you may not find anywhere else.  Grab lunch and then shop local vendors for what’s going on your table for dinner.  This market is also a local favorite for finding unique artisan gifts.  Many Wednesdays are themed so watch their calendar for special events.  You can also connect with the Tumwater Farmers Market through Facebook.


Farmers market apples

Olympia Farmers Market

700 Capitol Way N in Olympia

Thursdays through Sundays from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

The granddaddy of local farmers markets, the Olympia Farmers Market is a fan favorite.  Local farmers display their produce alongside artisan crafts, plants, bakery treats, and meat vendors.  Grab everything you need for a fresh dinner.  Delight your taste buds at the food vendors, while listening to local music.  Grab a scoop of ice cream or a balloon animal for the kids.  Read a complete story on entertaining your kids at the Olympia Farmers Market by clicking here.  Watch for special events on Facebook.

tenino farmers market

Tenino Farmers Market hosts Salsa Saturday where you can learn how to create sweet, savory or classic salsa using market ingredients.

Tenino Farmers Market

301 Old Hwy 99 SE in Tenino

Saturdays from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Now in its tenth season, the Tenino Farmers Market brings you the divine local produce from this corner of Thurston County.  The market hosts special events like Salsa Saturday where visitors learn how to make sweet, savory and classic salsa using seasonal ingredients.  Get updates on what vendors will be stocking by following their Facebook page.


Yelm Farmers Market

17835 State Route 507 in Yelm

Sundays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

When your refrigerator is bare at the end of the weekend, head over to the Yelm Farmers Market.  Local produce, baked goods, and pastured meat and poultry are popular staples at the Yelm Farmers Market.  Many of their local vendors are featured on their Facebook page.

lacey farmers market

The Lacey Community Market days are themed. Pet Day falls on September 13, 2014 this year. Photo credit: City of Lacey.

Lacey Community Market

Huntamer Park in Lacey

July 12, August 9, and September 13 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

The Lacey Community Market is an eclectic mix of traditional and non-traditional market items.  Find seasonal produce alongside handmade crafts. Snacks sold onsite will keep you fueled to visit all the vendors.  The July market day focuses on Yard & Garden, August features Family Fun and September highlights pets.  Find the event schedule for each market day here.


Categories: Local Food Blogs

Summer Co-op Conversation!

Olympia Food Coop - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 3:58pm
Join the Co-op Conversation!

Wednesday, June 4th 6pm-8pm, at the Olympia Center, rm 101.

Come join Board members, Staff members, and Working members for a casual conversation about some improvements to the Co-op's systems.  See you there!

This is the first of two planned conversations this year.  Look for the next one this Fall

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

I have a confession. I love to mess up a perfectly good recipe, on purpose. I adore any recipe writer who is detailed and precise about their explanations and measurements. It helps me figure out how far I can veer before crashing into disaster. Becoming a decent cook is similar to any skill in life. Once you learn the basics you can begin tweaking, fiddling and meddling until you find your pulse. Your mark. Your touch. Typically, I try to follow a recipe exactly as written on the first attempt. Any attempt after, however, is fair game. Even at first attempt, I am liable to cut diagonally instead of vertically. I might add a handful of chopped basil instead of measuring it out precisely to 1/4 cup. I want to stay within the confines of the recipe without letting it confine my spirit, my passion for food. I, more than most, can become so lost in perfectly executing the details that I completely forget to enjoy myself. The final product may look and taste perfect but it will lack heart, soul and passion.

I’m really trying to remind myself of this lesson, especially lately. I fear I have gotten into a spell of looking a life as far to precise and perfect. As a set of skills I must develop and execute to succeed. As though anything in life that is executed perfectly, without heart, ever inspires anyone, including me. Inspiration is a feeling you get when you see someone else showcase a part of themselves that comes from a deep spark within. Perfection has nothing to do with that spark. This recipe falls right into that opportunity. Originally taken from Molly Wizenbergs book “A Homemade Life”, it is dictated with precision. She tells you how much to use, how thinly to slice and which way to cut and shape each vegetable. It doesn’t really matter. Really. I chopped and seeded with abandon. I measured and guessed. I threw in a bit of curry powered, garam masala and nutmeg. It still tasted delicious. In fact, I got so wrapped up in the process that I completely forgot to take a final picture. I think, in spirit, that is best. Then you never know what it was “supposed to” look like. You will only know what you created, how it tasted on your tongue and the way it made you feel when you were creating and that is all you need to know.

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant rounds in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in small bowl and brush onto eggplant. Flip slices and brush second slices as well, taking care that each as a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping slices halfway through, until soft and lightly browned on each side. Remove from oven and cool. (You can do this step a day or two ahead and refrigerate)

Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10—12 minutes. Remove it from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Add a bit of oil if pan is dry. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, but now browned, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, over and cook for 5 minutes. Add eggplant, zucchini, stir to incorporate and cook until everything is very tender, 15-20 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard bay leaf and stir in basil.

Serve hot, warm or room temperature, with additional salt for sprinkling. This dish is even better a day or two later, as the flavors get time to mesh.

1 lb eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds
olive oil
1 lb zucchini, trimmed, halved, lengthwise and sliced in to 1/2-inch thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Apple Tarte Tatin

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

I will begin this post with a great deal of apologizing. It will be the kind, however, that is done by any good friend that has been gone for far too long. The kind of apology that occurs after I knock the door, you open and I thrust a delicious dessert, still warm from the oven; begging to be drenched in vanilla ice cream and consumed. That is the only way to apologize for such an unexplained absence. I am not only apologizing to you, my dear friend, but to Molly Wizenberg. Writer of “A Homemade Life”, creater of the blog “Orangette” and my current personal hero. I believe the next few posts will be a direct copy of every recipe from her book. I can’t help myself. In my defense, she really should not have written such beautiful stories and recipes to match. As with any good idea, I want to try everything she writes about because she makes it all sound not only incredible, but familiar.

Familiar in the way you feel about your best friends spaghetti sauce and the way it always fills your house with the smell of love, comfort and safety. Familiar in the way that your favorite cookie recipe automatically makes everything feel right, even if they whole day fell to pieces. I want to make every recipe in Molly’s book because I feel like I know her and thus know the food she makes. I not only want to taste it all, I want to feel the way she feels when she eats it. Powerful stuff. So forgive the next few posts as I lavish adoration and attention. She may or may not be my idol right now, but I’m sure it will be evident the former is true.

I hope, only hope, to find some way to convey that feeling to everyone here. I want you to try these recipes that I create, not only because they will feed your bellies but because they will nourish your soul. I want to become familiar with y’all. In that spirit, I’m going to make it clear that my absence has occurred due to a family move to Austin, Texas. We are simultaneously settled, settling and unsettled. I’ve been inspired and found a renewed energy around being in the kitchen. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been doing. Tonight, however, I start with Molly’s Tarte Tatin.

It doesn’t look glamorous, and isn’t even the very first thing I would choose if waiting in line at a local bakery. I would be the fool in the end. This is astounding. My husband likened it to “creme brulee but better”. It is really best warm and served with a simple vanilla ice cream. I landed on this recipe because Molly described it as “a housewife in stilettos” and “it doesn’t dally with small talk. It reaches for your leg under the table”. Who wouldn’t want to eat something that is described with such passion? I know I am first in line. In fact, bakeries should really start describing their pastries in a similar manner…I would love to see what they invent.

Molly recommends puff pastry and I bought what I thought was puff pastry but was called Filo Dough. I’m not sure if they are really the same thing but it worked just fine. I just skipped the step where she asks you to roll out the dough really thin. I actually think I put to little dough in the pastry and would just put all of it in next time. It was still heart stopping and phenomenal…I can’t imagine how much better it would taste with even more dough. I may have just fainted from elation while writing that last sentence.

I also made a choice to buy whatever crisp, sweet apples I could find and used whole wheat pastry dough. Small changes but it didn’t seem to alter the incredible complexity of taste…as long as butter and sugar is involved…you are typically set. Since I don’t want to completely steal Molly’s thunder, I am making you go to her original post for directions. It’s the least I can do for a woman who talks about food the way a person might talk about a lover.

Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5-6 large Apples
6 Tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter
About 14 ounces puff pastry

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Cheesy Spinach Crackers

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

A friend of mine had posted a link to a recipe for home made goldfish crackers a few months ago. I tried the recipe and my son gobbled down the entire batch, along with an entire group of mom’s I meet with on Monday mornings. It was such an enormous hit I thought often about making them again. Just as I got up the motivation I saw another post by a food blogger I follow that made spinach crackers. Whoa. The two recipes began making love in my mind and made this little baby. It was born from a desire to make great crackers with even more nutritional punch. My first attempt was soggy and sticky. I added more flour and less water and got a winner.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Or just use 1 baking sheet and bake 2 separate batches like I did. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, dill). With a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. In a blender, blend the water and spinach until smooth. Now pour this into the flour and butter mixture. Stir this mixture until it just comes together and then gently knead with hands until it forms a ball. Be sure not to over handle the dough.

Split the dough in half. On a non-stick mat or lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough very thin (1/16th inch). Cut with cookie cutters or with a pizza roller. Gently lift off with fingers and place on prepared sheet (no need to space far apart as they don’t spread). Repeat as necessary. Sprinkle with more salt (I used Herbamare and it tasted amazing!) Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating pan half way through baking to ensure more even baking. Crackers should be lightly golden when ready. My crackers took 10 minutes, but watch closely after 8 minutes. Be careful because they burn quickly. Cool completely on baking sheet and serve immediately. Store leftovers in a glass container.

1 & 1/2 cups (5 oz) 100% whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp), plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp dried dill weed (or other herbs/spices of choice)
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh spinach (30 grams)
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, grated

Categories: Local Food Blogs

Bake Sale for the Food Bank

Pure Hunger - Sun, 11/04/2012 - 1:00am

I know at every post you read you deeply wish I would just show up on your door step with everything cooked and ready for your immediate consumption. I know your drool at every photo, short circuits your keyboard and you’ve bought 100 in the last two years I have been posting. I know you bookmark the recipes with every intention of trying them on some night when inspiration and energy consumes you, only to discover you end up falling asleep on the couch every night with a empty bowl of ice cream on the coffee table. Oh I know. I know because I do it to. I bookmark recipes from other blogs and tear out photos and inspiration from magazines and Pinterest. All the while wishing they would just materialize in front of me so I could eat it. Sometimes it is not the baking and cooking I enjoy so much. It is actually just the eating. I also know how excited I would be if some of my favorite bloggers were just happening to sell their baked goods. I would probably pee my pants due to complete elation if I knew I could buy these goods and the proceeds would go to benefit my local food bank. I just might have a heart attack if I could also meet these bloggers. Guess what? It’s happening. Jenni from The Plum Palate is putting together an incredible event to benefit the Olympia Food Bank. You should check out her write up for the full details but I can promise incredible food from eight local food bloggers at only 1$ per item. Seriously? You gotta do it. Oh and did I mention there will be a raffle to win gift certificates to some incredible local bakeries such as Bearded Lady, San Francisco Street Bakery, Blue Heron Bakery, 8 Arms Bakery, and Bonjour Cupcakes.

Both cash and food donations will be valid for tickets you can exchange for baked goods. And remember, the food bank accepts both perishable and non-perishable items. That means you can donate almost anything, from a package of pasta to a bunch of carrots. I will be there from 5-7 and I will be making the following:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seven Layer Cookies

Vegan Brownies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows

Visit our Facebook event page. Come down. Enter a raffle. Donate and eat some food all for an incredible cause.

Friday, April 27 from 5-10
Located at Make Olympia street market at Arts Walk, 100 block of Columbia
All proceeds benefit the Olympia Food Bank
1$ or food donation for each baked good
Raffle with gift certificates from local bakeries

Bloggers that will be participating:

Christine Ciancetta

Fresh Scratch

Krista and Jess


Real Food NW


The Plum Palate

Categories: Local Food Blogs
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