by Steven Paul Winkelstein
The history of Alfalfa’s Market is a rich one, grown in the eclectic, spirited soil that is the Boulder community. As some native Boulderites may recollect, we started germinating as Pearl Street Market over 35 years ago in 1979.
From our inception, we were a community gathering place, and a small, local business. From there the company moved to Arapahoe & Broadway, took on our current name, and blossomed into eleven stores. It was around this time that the merger between Alfalfa’s and Wild Oats took place. Eventually, the original owners and ideals that took root so long ago on Pearl Street faded. They were not gone forever.
When the original founders got together on Earth Day four years ago, and decided that they were going to bring back a natural grocery icon, they pledged to hold dear the same values that made Alfalfa’s special over three decades before. Though Alfalfa’s Market has gone through many changes, we are still, to this day, a community center and a small, local business. Today, we are taking a hard look at what our community looks like in 2015. Knowing that we are still a “cutting” of an immensely beautiful organization, our goal is not to start over. It has been almost four years since we started taking root again. We’re proud of what has grown so far, but the way we Alfalfians see it, the fruits of our labors are bearing now, and the flowering potential of our community impact, is just beginning. Enough with the plant metaphors? OK, but just for now.
The first step for us is to reconnect with what is most important to us– you. For the past few years our work has been great. We’ve consistently delivered the best Bike to Work Day spread in town, thrown legendary tasting fairs, hosted speakers and meetings in our community room, featured and promoted local vendors, and continued to honor you by choosing to be responsible with our voluntary GMO-labeling, composting efforts, and our continuous commitment to bring in the best products we can find. Our recent “lowering prices” campaign was enacted because we are listening to what you want. We even opened up a gorgeous second location in Louisville when the community sent thousands of Alfalfa’s seeds our way, asking us to come. Yes, we’ve been working hard and doing a pretty swell job for a small, local grocery store! The best part about all of this community love, is what’s to come.
Number one? We want to have fun. The Alfalfians are bringing it back, and we need you to help us. We’ll start today, but let’s celebrate in Boulder on our B’Earthday – 4/22. We want to invite you to party hardy with us on that following Saturday, the 25th. All of the event information will be posted on our Facebook page, our website, and sent out in our email newsletter, The Fresh Press. By the way, I really hope you follow us on Facebook and Instagram, because we have been posting special offers, hilarious photos of our COO in funky blonde wigs, and of course, event news.
It’s not just our birthday that we celebrate. Events are happening all the time at Alfalfa’s, both in Boulder and our beautiful Louisville location. In Boulder, we celebrate our amazing beer and wine cellar twice a week with free tastings on Tuesdays and Fridays. The first Saturday of every month is “Taste of Alfalfa’s” where one of the department managers feature free samples and expert knowledge in our demo kitchen. In both stores we feature a “Chef of the Month” that we hand-pick from our local communities. In Louisville, we host story time for the kids and enjoy amazing talks and demos in our state-of-the-art community room.
As an Alfalfian of three years, I look forward to continuing the Alfalfa’s tradition of community, commitment to the highest food standards, and having a blast every day of our lives. If you haven’t been in to see us in a while, please pop in. We’ll be looking for you. And incase we don’t see you, have a delicious day.
–Steven Paul Winkelstein is the editor of Alfalfa’s Roots, award winning author of six books, and the Marketing Coordinator for Alfalfa’s Market.
Local Spotlight: Boulder Lamb
Founded a little over two years ago on a quiet 27 acres west of Longmont, Boulder Lamb owners Clint and MaryKay Buckner endeavor to succeed in the livestock industry’s middle space, between the small hobby farm and the huge factory feed-lot. “It takes patience and perseverance to sustain a 100% grass-fed, and anti-biotic and GMO-free flock, but that’s what people want and what we believe in,” says MaryKay. “It gives us great pleasure to raise our animals the way nature intended.”
Ranching and farming run deep within both sides of the Buckner’s families, with six generations and over 130 years of running flocks and raising produce from Vermont, to Nebraska, to Idaho, and now, Colorado. Bred, born and raised on GMO-free pastures, the Buckner’s lambs are a product of a Columbia/Ramboullet ewe cross-bred with either a Suffolk or Hampshire buck. The result is a wonderfully mild, tender lamb that appeals to those who don’t care for a strong gamey taste, and won’t disappoint true lamb lovers. “From meatballs to chili, tacos to stews, our lamb is so mild that we use it in recipes the same way we would beef and even pork,“ says MaryKay.
In partnership with Bar-J Quarter Circle ranch, another local ranch with three generations of roots in Boulder County, Boulder Lamb provides Alfalfa’s customers with a truly home-grown, 100% grass-fed beef. The ranch’s 100 shorthorn breeding pairs roam Boulder County’s open spaces, feeding on GMO-free alfalfa and grasses.
The Buckners take great pride in producing the freshest and finest quality meat, at a local ranch where you can see first hand the pastures the animals graze, how they are cared for, and the Buckner’s thoughtful approach to sustainable land management. “This work can be challenging physically and in many other ways, but it’s what we love doing,” Clint explains. “There is a great deal of satisfaction in it.”
On a whim about 6 months ago, Clint and MaryKay purchased a few Berkshire pigs, wondering what it would be like to add pork to their rapidly growing ranch. “The result was incredible,” says Clint. “Folks just couldn’t get enough. They tell us it actually tastes like pork – what it used to taste like before factory farming turned it into ‘the other white meat’.” Since then they have been raising a small passel for Alfalfa’s and a few local restaurants exclusively, “Our plan is to continue to expand our number of sows, as pork seems to be one of those meats that is really hard to find sustainably and humanely raised,” continues MaryKay.
“Ultimately, we want people to know where their food comes from,” Clint said. “We truly believe that what we’re doing is the essence of what Boulder County stands for – feeding local people with local products.”
Having the largest selection of organic produce in Colorado isn’t just a great tagline for us, it’s part of our core values. Since produce is a part of nearly every meal, and because our fruits and veggies have the most direct relationship between Mother Earth and your belly, we take extra care to offer the cleanest, best-tasting produce available. When possible we buy from local farmers, and if you’ve ever been in our store, you know that we buy from a LOT of local farmers! Take a sneak peak at some of the upcoming stars of the early spring season.
Red Spring Onion
Description– These sweet and savory favorites began to pop into our stores in February. They are typically harvested for their juicy, bulbous roots.
History– Onions are one of the oldest of all cultivated veggies on the planet. Thought to have native roots in Central Asia, it’s been cultivated throughout history in India and the Middle East.
Selection– Look for freshness and glossy textures. Stems should be firm and bright green to red.
Nutritional Benefits– From flavonoids to sulfides, Alliums (of which onions are a part) are shown to help with cardiovascular, support bone, act as an anti-inflammatory, and may provide cancer protection.
Preparation– Grill or roast these babies alone or with other veggies. Try pairing with fish or poultry, or using as a spice. Add salt and oil to taste.
Description– Mizuna starts at the end of winter and comes in through spring. It’s a Japanese mustard green with long, flat leaves with a bright, pleasantly sharp taste.
Selection– Look for fresh, bright green leaves. Avoid wilting and over-floppiness.
Nutritional Benefits– Beta carotene, vitamins, and minerals are a product of this plant’s chlorophyll-rich dark green leaves. May reduce risk of cancer.
Preparation– Garnish salads, burgers, and sandwiches with raw Mizuna. If cooking, lightly steam or sauté these delicate, peppery greens.
Spring Green Garlic
Description– Long shoots, light to dark green, with petite garlic bulbs that result in a more concentrated flavor. Look for spring green garlic after the winter breaks.
History– Garlic is native to Central and South Asia, and was later brought in and cultivated in Egypt and India.
Selection– Firm shoots with strong green colors follows by a sturdy, bright bulb of garlic with unbroken skin.
Nutritional Benefits– Garlic has a whole host of nutritional benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties to cardiovascular health and antiviral/antibacterial abilities. HEALTH TIP: let your garlic sit after you chop it for increased effectiveness of the garlic’s Alliinase enzymes.
Preparation– The sky is the limit when preparing garlic. The latest research shows that eating raw garlic is the most beneficial for your health. But whether you are sautéing, grilling, or roasting, it is always recommended to crush your garlic first, in order to maintain the health benefits and get the most out of it’s signature flavor.
Old Alfalfian, New Alfalfian
By Paul McLean
I started off in the natural food industry at Alfalfa’s back in the 1990’s because I wanted to understand where my food was coming from. Believing that food should be clean and healthy, I’ve always longed for an organic lifestyle. You’ll understand why that’s important to me in a moment.
When Alfalfa’s merged with Wild Oats, I went along for the journey. Soon after, I was a part of Whole Foods, where I became an industry leader, guiding over 30 stores all over the North East. As I grew during my 25 years of experience, so did the industry. It’s been a real pleasure watching the natural foods world become a powerful force for changing lives. I know it’s changed mine.
In October 2014, I decided to return to Alfalfa’s, where my roots began. I wanted to come back to a brand that had deep meaning, deep standards, and took care of their people. For Alfalfa’s it’s always been about that trustful bond we keep with our customer.
The old saying, “you are what you eat” is solid truth. It’s all about what kind of lifestyle you want to live. I have a daughter with special needs—she’s the sun in my solar system, and when she entered my life, I wanted to improve our lifestyle, because I saw how important those decisions are. We’ve done that through our healthy choices, and returning to my roots here at Alfalfa’s Market is one of the healthiest choices I’ve ever made. I look forward to having fun again with our amazing team of creative, innovative people.
I’ll see you in the store!
Guest Spotlight: Michael Sandrock
Michael Sandrock is an accomplished sports journalist with over 10 years of sports writing experience. He’s a two-time winner and two-time runner-up of the Colorado Press Association Best Sports Story of the Year and has received the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists award for sports writing. Michael is currently the sports editor of the Colorado Daily newspaper and freelances for several running publications, including Running Times, Runner’s World, American Runner, and Footnotes.
An avid runner for 25 years, Michael is a training partner for many elite runners. He earned varsity letters in track and cross country from the University of Colorado, where he graduated with honors, and holds personal bests of a 2:24 marathon, 30:23 10K, and 14:48 5K. He coached high school track and cross-country and also coached track for the United States Information Agency in Africa.
Michael is the founder of the “Shoes for Africa” project where runners donate new and used running shoes and clothes for underprivileged athletes in several countries, including the United States.
Michael is a member of the Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists.
Michael eats at Alfalfa’s about 8 days a week.
Artists At Alfalfa’s
Emily Snyder from Boulder
I am a passionate creative who specializes in graphic design and jewelry design. Art has always been my joy, ever-growing from oil paints, to pottery, to silver wire and crystals. I am also passionate about wellness & sustainability, initiatives which I try to incorporate as themes into many of my pieces.
Jewelry has become a focus for me because it allows me a way to share my art with others in a way that I feel is more personal than a painting or sculpture, and provides healing energy to the owner. I frequently create custom pieces for clients where we discuss issues they might be having, or qualities that they would like to bring into their lives, and I use the energies of the crystals as tools in bringing that intention to reality. You can check out more pictures of my work at www.emilysnyderdesign.com.
I am very excited to be a part of the Alfalfa’s team. It has been a journey for me to find the right fit as a graphic designer, because standards of quality and product safety are very important to me. Alfalfa’s is the first company whose mission I have found to be in line with my own, and I am elated to have the opportunity to work on creating the visual expression of the company.
Marie Grubb from Louisville
I love being able to come to work and be creative. It makes it even better that Alfalfa’s is committed to using the best available, all natural and organic ingredients in their bakeries. My two girls are what originally got me into cake decorating and my wonderful husband has been supportive of my cake decorating and baking hobbies. I am grateful I have had the chance to expand the cake program at Alfalfa’s.
I am currently a student at Eco Tech Institute studying Electrical Engineering Technologies and plan to work in the renewable energy field upon completion of my studies.
Local Partner Spotlight
Jo Schaalman and Jules Peláez are co-authors of the book “The Conscious Cleanse: Lose Weight, Heal Your Body and Transform Your Life in 14 Days”, a best-selling, step-by-step guide to help you live your most vibrant life. Together they’ve led thousands of people with their online supported cleanse through their accessible and light-hearted approach. They’ve been dubbed “the real deal” by Founder and Chief Creative Director Bobbi Brown, of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Beauty Editor of the TODAY show. To learn more about Jo and Jules and to download a free e-cookbook for a sampling of the delicious food served up on the Conscious Cleanse, please visit consciouscleanse.com.
Be sure to look for the Conscious Cleanse seal of approval stamp throughout the store. Jo and Jules have personally hand selected an array of delicious, healthy, cleanse-friendly products throughout Alfalfa’s. Be sure to try one of their very own recipes in our prepared foods section (deli? not sure what you call the culinary section) today.
Kelly Elle Larisey
Over the past two years, I’ve reversed my patterns of emotional eating and have lost over 65 lbs. by living, eating, and embodying the paleo lifestyle—just a shift in my relationship to food completely transformed my life.
My favorite place to shop in Boulder is Alfalfa’s—the vibrant energy, the fresh and delicious foods, and the wonderful feel of true community. The seeds had been planted and I fell in love with Alfalfa’s.
It was only natural that my relationship with Alfalfa’s blossomed!
You may have met me in-store during one of my cooking demos—you’ll begin to see me around the store more often, and, if you do, stop me and say, “HI!”
Starting March 3, my cast-iron skillet stamp of paleo approval will be on all of my favorite paleo products throughout the Boulder store. Also, my original recipes will be available on store shelves to help create simple, easy, and flavorful paleo dishes with my favorite paleo products. In addition to finding the recipes in store, you can also follow my blog at www.thepaleobite.com.