Food Deserts: Kristina Welch Of ‘The Co-op at 1st’ On How They Are Helping To Address The Problem of People Having Limited Access to Healthy & Affordable Food Options

compost pile

Unique Ways to Minimize Your Food Waste

When we think about food accessibility, we also think about sustainability. Given that we are a market and food subscription service, we believe it’s crucial to focus on eliminating food waste – one of the best ways is to repurpose food scraps! 

 

Did you know that across the globe, there are about 2.8 trillion pounds of food wasted annually? That’s enough to feed more than a third of the human population. While not everyone can donate food or money to others in need, we can all do our part to eliminate food waste and make sure we make the most out of the resources we have. 

annual food waste

In this blog, we hope to teach you some unique ways to eliminate some food waste that might come out of your kitchen. Ideally, we all would use all of our groceries before they go rotten, but that doesn’t always happen, so it’s good to have these tricks in your back pocket for when you might need them. 

 

We have published previous blogs on making vegetable stock from scraps and growing vegetables from scraps – this blog will focus on other things that might go to waste, like fruit, bread, coffee and eggs. 

 

Don’t Throw Away The Skins

The skins of fruits and vegetables are often full of nutrients, so it’s important to make sure you aren’t just throwing them away. For example, potato skins can be baked into a delicious chip; cucumber skin can be used as a green in a salad. Likewise, an orange peel can be cooked to make marmalade or candied for a healthier, sweet treat!

baked potato skins

Save The Seeds

If you have a green thumb and are interested in growing produce, it’s a good idea to save the seeds from your fruits and vegetables. You can use these to plant next year so that you have free, organic produce at your disposal. If you don’t have the time or resources for a garden, at least save the seeds from pumpkins and squash so you can roast them and have a healthy snack. 

save seeds to plant

Turn Stale Bread into Breadcrumbs

If you have a loaf of bread that has gone stale or have some picky eaters that don’t eat the ends of the bread, then you can save that to make breadcrumbs. Then, all you have to do is blend or food process the bread into crumbs and cook them in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, mixing halfway through. 

make breadcrumbs

Save Your Eggshells for Fertilizer 

Eggshells can make an excellent fertilizer for indoor and outdoor plants alike! They are a great source of calcium and potassium. The trick is to boil water, add the eggshells, and sit overnight to extract the nutrients. Then, use that water to hydrate your plants! 

reuse eggshells

Coffee Grounds Are A Great Fertilizer and Natural Aromatic 

There is something so comfortable about waking up to a fresh pot of coffee in the morning, but many people throw those aromatic, used coffee grounds away. Instead, you can sprinkle those directly into the soil of your house plants or vegetable garden. If you aren’t the green thumb around, find a neighbor who can use them – or they are fantastic to compost. 

coffee grounds reused

Composting

One of the easiest ways to repurpose your food scraps is to compost them. Compost is used to enrich soil and make it nutrient-dense, which minimizes the need for additional fertilization. There are local composting programs if you don’t want to manage the process yourself. There are things that you should and should not compost. For example, you shouldn’t compost things like lard or dairy products, but eggshells are acceptable (and encouraged!) If you live in an apartment, check out this great guide for how to compost in an apartment

compost pile

Make a Bone Stock 

If you are cooking a whole chicken, turkey, or otherwise bone-in meat product, make sure you save the bones to make your bone broth. Not only is bone broth packed full of nutrients, but it encourages you to take advantage of every piece of the animal. You can freeze bones as you collect them until you have enough to make a stock, or if you have a whole bird, then you can use the entire thing. 

bone stock

Food Preservation and Storage

One of the most underrated ways to extend your food is the preserve it or can it. For example, if you make too much salsa one day, just throw it in a mason jar and can it, or throw your extra gravy or tomato sauce into a freezer-safe bag for safe storage (and quick defrosting!) If you have leftover vegetables, consider preserving them or pickling them in vinegar. We love the taste, and it helps us stretch our vegetables even further. 

store food in freezer

There are lots of creative ways to minimize your food waste! The most important thing to remember is that you make a conscious effort to do so. Keep doing your research, keep telling your friends, and most importantly, keep doing your part. 

 

If you found this blog helpful, do us a favor and share it on social media! 

holiday lights

Budget Friendly Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

The holidays can be a wonderful time but they can also be stressful. Trying to create that holiday magic on a budget can be more complicated than you think, mainly because our instinct is to go all-out for the holidays.

We think it’s important to remember that the holiday season is not just about gifts – it’s about creating new memories and experiences with the people you love the most.

That’s why we decided to put together this list of five budget-friendly ways to celebrate the holidays. These ideas are all centered around spending time together which we believe to be the reason for the season!

Give a Group Experience Instead of Individual Gifts

If you are shopping for your entire family, consider getting a group gift or experience instead of giving everyone individual gifts. This is a great way to get your whole family together for the holidays, plus a lot of places offer discounts on larger groups or family tickets. This way you can save some money you would otherwise spend on individual gifts and you get to have a great time with your family (or friends!).

If you are looking for some great, budget-friendly holiday activities in Denver, then check out the Trail of Lights at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield or the nightly City and County Building light show!

holiday lights

Homemade Gifts or Baked Goods

If you just can’t help yourself from giving gifts, it’s worth exploring more budget-friendly gift options like baked goods. After all, who doesn’t like a fresh-baked tray of cookies? Homemade baked goods go a long way and they always add a personal touch that something like a store-bought gift card can’t offer. Plus, making a simple cookie like a chocolate chip will only cost about $5 to make a whole batch!

If baking isn’t your thing, try to get crafty in other ways! Homemade throw pillows or tie blankets are a fun activity for the whole family to make together – getting the materials can be affordable if you get scrap fabrics! There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can show you how to make the perfect DIY holiday gift.

cookies as presents

Check Out the Holiday Lights Around your Neighborhood

One of the best things about the holiday season is that there are plenty of holiday decorations and lights around town to see without having to buy or put up our own! So instead of buying lights or putting up your yard decorations, consider making a new tradition of exploring the light displays around your neighborhood. Colorado people take their lights seriously which means there is plenty to see!

To make the night a little more fun, you could consider packing snacks or a picnic or making it a special treat with some hot chocolate and marshmallows.

holiday lights

Enjoy the Outdoors

We are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful states in the country which gives us a lot of natural (pun intended) opportunities to get out and enjoy the beauty for free! Consider driving to the foothills and finding the perfect sledding hill or rent snowshoes for an afternoon hike.

Presents are lovely but we are firm believers that creating experiences and memories is more impactful, which is why we love the idea of creating new traditions outside whenever we can!

If you have a pet that you’d like to include in the festivities, consider exploring one of the dog parks that Cherry Creek State Park or Chatfield State Park has to offer!

family winter hike

DIY Ornaments and Decorations

While you might not want to go out and spend a lot of money on holiday lights and decorations, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have any! One of our favorite holiday decorations is the classic pinecone and lucky for us, there is no shortage of them (you can even ask the squirrels!). So, pick up a few pinecones on your next walk – with a bit of glitter glue and string, you can have unique, personalized holiday decorations that don’t break the bank.

Other DIY decoration ideas include popcorn lanyards or dried fruit decorations such as lemon and orange slices. The bottom line is there are plenty of natural or affordable decorations that you can repurpose for your holiday celebrations! 

While we love celebrating the holidays with our family and friends, the last thing we want is to add unnecessary financial stress during an otherwise joyous season. So we hope these budget-friendly holiday ideas help you celebrate this season.

diy ornament

If you use any of these ideas, we’d love to see them! Tag us on social media so we can re-share.

filled community fridge

Where You Can Find a Community Fridge in Denver

A pivotal part of our mission as a Co-Op is to help our community address food insecurity and accessibility. We fundamentally believe that everyone should have access to nutritious food without worrying about how to afford it.

 

That’s why we love the Denver Community Fridge Project. We are aligned with their goals and are eager to help however we can – we have filled a few fridges with some healthy donations, and we thought it’d be helpful for us to spread the word, too.

 

What is a community fridge?

A community fridge is a refrigerator located in a neighborhood filled by community partners, organizations and individuals. They are intended to help fight food insecurity and have become a great way to get food to families in need discretely.

 

Who manages it?

Community fridges are often considered a mutual aid project, which means that multiple people and organizations contribute to them. Essentially, it means that people are working together as opposed to institutions. We like this approach because we think it’s always better when we work together!

 

How does it get filled?

There are a few ways these fridges get filled! Organizations like ours will donate pre-made meals and fresh produce deliver it ourselves. Some individuals will donate fresh produce or store-bought meals or food items. It’s important to note that all pre-made meals must come from a commercial kitchen which means that homemade meals are not accepted.

filled community fridge

 

Does it get cleaned?

As a mutual aid project, some of the maintenance comes from the people who contribute. There are guidelines on the Denver Community Fridge page about etiquette for the fridges. If you are donating to one and see food that needs to be removed or something that needs to be cleaned, it’s requested you spend extra time to help the community and get that taken care of.

 

Can I just take food from it?

Yes! This essentially operates on an “honor system” meaning there is a general expectation that only people suffering from food insecurity take food from the fridge, but it’s a no-questions-asked situation. We want everyone to feel comfortable getting the food they need!

 

How can I get involved?

There are a few ways to get involved. If you live in Denver or the surrounding areas and would like to donate produce or meals, check out the community fridge locations for the one closest to you so you may drop off your donation! If you don’t have the time or resources to contribute to a fridge directly, consider donating or volunteering with an organization that actively contributes to them.

 

What can I donate?

Fresh produce is always welcome along with dairy items, non-perishable pantry items and prepared meals. As we mentioned, prepared meals can only come from kitchens that meet certain safety standards, i.e., commercial kitchens so please refrain from donating homemade meals as they will be thrown away. Also, raw meat and expired or rotting food is not allowed. The goal is to give people fresh and edible food. Additionally, if you have small items such as a can opener or a pair of gloves, feel free to donate these. But please understand community fridges are not donation centers such as Goodwill or ARC.

denver community fridge

We love the emergence of community fridges and believe they serve an important purpose in addressing food insecurity. If you are interested in getting involved or are a community member who is in need of resources, make sure you get in touch with the team at the Denver Community Fridge Project or contact us and we can help you further. 

 

Top 5 Reasons to Get a Food Subscription Box

Have you noticed recently how businesses are evolving to get their customers everything they need in the most efficient, effective and convenient way possible? Well, The Co-Op at 1st is no exception to that trend. We have recently introduced our new My Food Box subscription, which is a hybrid subscription box containing pre-made meals, fresh produce along with eggs, dairy and more. 

 

Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the country – there is so much you can do here! From hiking and biking to gardening at a local community garden, to seeing Denver and learning about its rich history. With so much to do, and what often feels like so little time, the last thing most people want to do is go to the grocery store. 

family hiking

The convenience of a food subscription box like the My Food Box is unmatched, which is why you should consider signing up! There are week-to-week and monthly options for you, depending on what makes sense for your lifestyle. 

 

In an effort to get you out of the grocery store and into the greatness that is Colorado, we put together the top 5 benefits and reasons that you should sign up for our food box. 

 

1) Convenience

  • We did the math, and if you live a mile from a grocery store and are shopping for just two people, you can account for about two hours of time including transportation, shopping and putting the groceries away. Having your groceries and a pre-made meal delivered to you, or ready for pick-up, can save you at least two hours a week, assuming you’re not shopping for more people. A food box subscription is the ultimate convenience and it helps you to maximize your time. Convenience isn’t just your time though! We have all run into “writer’s block” when thinking about what we want to cook, and it’s helpful to have the brain work taken out of grocery shopping and meal preparation. 

 

2) High-Quality Products 

  • Have you ever been to the grocery store looking for a fresh ear of corn or a big, juicy peach only to find that your options are the furthest things from “the cream of the crop”? When you order your food through a subscription service like ours, you’ll get only the freshest produce from local farmers and partners. We try to get you the best produce and dairy products available in Colorado so you can feel good about the ingredients you are putting in your meals. Our pre-made meals are also locally made from chefs at Food Bridge who pride themselves on bringing exciting flavors and ingredients to all their dishes.

3) More time to do what you love 

  • When you live in Colorado, it’s really easy to fill your time. You can go explore in the mountains, you can go play in the city, you can hang out in your neighborhood and start a garden – the world is your Rocky Mountain Oyster (we had to!). If you add the time that it takes to grocery shop weekly, and add a night of cooking and preparing meals, you’re looking at at least 5 hours of time that you could be spending doing what you love. Unless, of course, doing what you love is cooking, in which case you should come shop for fresh ingredients at our indoor, year-round Farmers Market!

 

4) Expands your palette 

  • You’ve heard the age-old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, we aren’t saying that your family meatloaf recipe is broken – we are just saying that you might not want to eat it ALL the time. A food subscription box ensures an exciting variety of produce and food options like locally-grown mushrooms, delicious jams or humanely-raised meat products. It will be like an exciting surprise every time it arrives or you pick it up! If you come up with any fun recipes while using our My Food Box, be sure to share those recipes with us so we can feature your creativity! 

 

5) Supports Local Business

  • While sometimes the Big Box grocery stores have a little more variety, smaller markets and produce subscription boxes directly support the local economy and associated businesses by shopping small. We work with all different types of businesses from local artisans who make the jelly we include to dairy and produce farmers right here in Colorado. By subscribing to a locally-based food subscription box like ours, you are supporting your local farmers and business owners while getting all the benefits and delicious food that you can find at most big box grocery stores. 

food subscription box

As you can see, there are plenty of great reasons to add a food subscription box to your weekly routine. Plus, who doesn’t love getting packages when they come home from work or step outside to let the dog out? 

 

An additional benefit of our subscription in particular is that we accept SNAP Benefits and Double Bucks as payment methods along with credit/debit card, check and cash. Our ultimate mission is to make good, healthy food accessible to everybody. That’s also why we offer delivery and pick-up; we don’t want transportation to get in the way of you being able to eat healthy and live the life you deserve to live.

 

The Co-Op at 1st is driven by the mission statement that Good Food = Good Health and we take the responsibility of making healthy food accessible very seriously. Our My Food Box subscription is a great way to take advantage of our programs without having to leave the comfort of your home. 

 

If you are a My Food Box subscriber and you have any fun recipes to share, please reach out to us at i[email protected] for the opportunity to be featured on our blog and social media! 

 

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