<h2>Valentines Day Treats</h2> <p>Its February already and with only two weeks until Valentine&apos;s Day take this opportunity to give your special Valentine some organic, fair trade chocolate this year. Take a look in the Featured Items category on our order page to see the wide range of chocolate options we have for you. Nothing says &quot;I Love You&quot; more than rolling up your sleeves and getting out the rolling pin in the kitchen. We have excellent ingredients and some rich ideas for a homemade Valentine this year.</p> <h2>Some Thoughts About Food Security</h2> <p>For most of us, food comes from the grocery stores, and they are always overfilled with lots of great, colourful choices whether you are there on Sunday night or Wednesday afternoon. Rarely do we ever stop and take a moment to reflect on how the food arrives there and what would happen if the trucks stopped coming.</p> <p>The majority of the food in major outlets is imported from outside Western Canada. Even in the middle of our growing season grocery stores carry apples from New Zealand, lettuce from Mexico and boxed food from Eastern Canada and the United States. I have lectured extensively in Alberta about how the food system since World War II has evolved into this very efficient pipeline of food production and transportation that completely bypasses local production and centralizes outside of Alberta. This has delivered an excellent value for consumers with lower prices, lots of choice and continuous supply. What most consumers don&apos;t realize is how fragile the whole process is.</p> <p>This winter we have seen significant transportation interruptions on our two major transport links to our food - The north and south TransCanada Highways. On multiple occasions either or both of these highways have been closed by avalanche, accident or other incident that disrupts our supply and food shelves begin to empty quickly. A complete highway closure for more than 48 hours can have a devastating impact on inventory levels in Northern Alberta. We also all remember the floods last spring on Cougar Creek in Canmore that shut the TransCanada for weeks. Last year a bridge near Seattle collapsed closing Interstate 5 northbound and this sent the food system into temporary chaos as trucks coming up from Mexico and California needed to be rerouted for many weeks.</p> <p>Weather can affect transportation links, production yields, and ultimately prices. Interruptions in our food supply cause scarcity which result in higher prices across the entire supply chain.</p> <p>Unfortunately, with the current imports and transport-focused food system, we have no control over this situation. There is no doubt that our weather is changing. We see it every spring at our farm when blossom on the fruit trees comes just a few days earlier than the year before. We see it when the snow-pack levels in our aquifer are the lowest ever in recorded history. And we see it when every grower in Alberta can now expect to see catastrophic hail at least once each season.</p> <p>In winter, extreme weather creates transportation disruptions and in summer extreme weather creates crop destruction, new pests and unpredictable seasons.</p> <p><img style=&quot;BORDER-BOTTOM: white 15px solid; BORDER-LEFT: white 15px solid; BORDER-TOP: white 15px solid; BORDER-RIGHT: white 15px solid&quot; title=&quot;2014_Salinas_Drought&quot; alt=&quot;2014_Salinas_Drought&quot; align=&quot;left&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/salinas_drought.jpg&quot; /></p> <p>This is happening right now. In California, the salad bowl of our continent, growers are experiencing one of the three worst droughts in state history. <a title=&quot;63% of the state&quot; href=&quot;http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;>63% of the state</a> is currently experiencing extreme to exceptional drought levels. They need a full foot of rainfall to break this drought. This picture was taken by one of our friends near Salinas, California. In just one year what is usually a green, fertile growing environment has become a near desert. Right now, this part of the world is providing Western Canada with nearly all our fresh produce. If this drought continues I wonder where we will get our food, and how much we will need to pay for it?</p> <h2>How The Organic Box is Changing Things in Edmonton</h2> <p>At The Organic Box, we started back in 2010 as a way to become part of the solution. We set out to expand the local organic food economy in Edmonton by following these five principles:</p> <p><strong>1. If it grows here in season, we will grow more of it.</strong> We have expanded our ground crop production from less than 25 acres in our first year to over 240 acres in our fifth year. This has been done in partnership with our existing growers here in Alberta, by introducing new growers into our food family, and by growing our own summer fruits in BC. We want to grow lots of food here in Alberta and BC to ensure we have a secure, sustainable supply.</p> <p><strong>2. Extend the growing season by starting earlier and finishing later.</strong> By operating 12 months of the year we can push the envelope on local food production and look for ways to start growing earlier in the season and have multiple crops and multiple harvests to take us later into the fall. We have seen many new greenhouses built to supply our members, we have come up with innovative crop techniques to get going sooner, and we have experimented with harvesting after freezes in the fall and leaving crops in the ground over winter.</p> <p><strong>3. Store more, save more.</strong> During the cold winter months (like right now) we have actual tonnes of food that was harvested in 2013, put into storage and we are now drawing on today. Root crops like Carrots, Potatoes, Beets, Parsnips, Onions, Shallots, and fruits like Apples, Pears and frozen berries. We have seen investments in storage trailers, coolers, and warehousing, and this spring we are embarking on a project to double our storage capacity for the harvest coming in the fall of 2014.</p> <p><strong>4. Process more food in Western Canada. </strong>Fruits and Veg are only one section in your fridge. We started with vegetables in 2010 but now we have secured and developed multiple new food categories that are processed and packaged for sale by independent, local producers that you can support. Milk and Dairy, Bakery, Oils, Snacks, Cereals, Flours, Grains, Sauces and more. We have a virtual pantry of over 500 processed products that we have carefully chosen, and in some cases nurtured, for you to enjoy. </p> <p><strong>5. For non-local things (like lettuce in February), build direct, lasting relationships into the supply chain. </strong>This will help to ensure we are at the top of list if supply constraints or quality issues come into play. We pay our growers a full price, we never put price pressure on a producer, and we always pay on time. We know who is producing our food from far away and they know us. We are doing the work for you so you can have a sense of security that your box will always have quality, independent food in it that is sustainably produced and ethically sourced.</p> <p>Since World War II, the pendulum on food security has swung completely away from having a majority local, secure food source for our community. We are trying find a new balance between fresh produce sourcing and long term storage that will result in a larger proportion of food in our community coming from secure, local sources. At the same time, we continuously work to build the relationships we need with distant producers to ensure that their products are available to us here in Northern Alberta when we need them. It is a constant balance. </p> <p>At The Organic Box we are always growing, always looking for ways to get better, and always trying to find ways to fill more of your shopping basket with Alberta and BC food producers. We can do it! You are helping!</p> <p>Havea Great Week!</p> <p>Danny.<br />Founder, The Organic Box.</p> <h2>FeaturedProducts and Producers:</h2> <table cellspacing=&quot;15&quot; cellpadding=&quot;0&quot; bgcolor=&quot;#edf0e9&quot;> <tbody> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;GFBreadDeal&quot; alt=&quot;GFBreadDeal&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/GFBreadDeal.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2>A FreeBox of Cereal!!</h2> <p>We are becoming a premier source for the best in organic baked goods, with our great local suppliers in Prairie Mill and Bon Ton, and now our gluten free breads that we have available from Silver Hills Bakery. Silver Hills has helped us put together this great promotion to launch the new cereals from One Degree Organics... </p> <p><strong>When you buy a loaf of Gluten Free bread from Silver Hills, you will receive 1 box of Gluten Free cereal from One Degree Organics... FREE of charge. *</strong></p> <p>We are really excited to have this promotion available for you. It will operate as a bit of a lottery so you can be pleasantly surprised as to the variety of bread and cereal that you&apos;ll receive. </p> <p>Silver Hills Gluten Free <strong>Bread</strong>:<br />Omega Flax<br />Chia Chia</p> <p>One Degree Gluten Free <strong>Cereal</strong>:<br />Brown Rice Cacao Crisps<br />Brown Rice Crisps<br />Ancient Maize Flakes</p> <p>* Limit of one per customer. </p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;VDay&quot; alt=&quot;VDay&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/VDayChocolate.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2>Valentine&apos;s Day is coming! </h2> <p>The celebration of love is on it way. Although we think we should be celebrating our love for one another everyday! And what better way to show appreciation and support than with certified organic, absolutely delicious artesanal chocolate?? At The Organic Box we have some of the best chocolate around. Always melt in your mouth, whether it is from Camino, Organic Fair, The Chocolate Doctors, or Over The Hill Orchards.</p> <p>So this season, when you&apos;re thinking of your significant other, go for the chocolate bars. </p> <p>May we suggest:</p> <p><strong>Organic Fair Sakura Chocolate Bar</strong> - a delightful blend of sundried cherries and candied ginger<br /><strong>Camino Dark Chili Hot Chocolate </strong>- a spicy hot chocolate is the sure-fire way to relax with your loved ones<br /><strong>The Chocolate Doctors Peppermint Chocolate Spread </strong>- so creamy, smooth, and minty. </p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;mixedmushrooms&quot; alt=&quot;mixedmushrooms&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/photo 3 (2).jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2>Mixed Mushrooms</h2> <p>Mushrooms are the best, but there are sooo many different types. So we made a plan with Michael Aventi at Mona Foods to design a mixed mushroom box. This gives you a great variety of mushrooms to try out, and some of them you&apos;ve probably never seen before. </p> <p>This mixed mushroom box has a 1/4 lb of oyster mushrooms, 1/4 shiitake mushrooms, and 1/4 beech mushrooms. </p> <p>We think you&apos;ll love it, and may it inspire you to try new recipes. Think gourmet mushroom soups, rich stir fries, and sauteed goodness. Especially with green beans. </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>