Healthy Living Market’s Eli Lesser-Goldsmith recently spoke against a controversial decision by the USDA to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa.  As a natural foods provider, the news that “the USDA ruling did not provide restrictions on planting GMO alfalfa next to organic crops,” has left us, along with other retailers, wondering how much this will affect the ability to keep altered grains from organic crops.

According to New Hope 360’s Natural Merchandiser, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture <http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome> recent decision to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa is affecting more than organic dairies and grass-fed ranchers worried about feeding cattle GMO contaminated crops.  Natural foods retailers fear the decision will make it harder to stock organic products throughout the store.”

Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, part owner and general manager of Healthy Living Market <http://www.healthylivingmarket.com/> based in Burlington, VT echoed the sentiment. “This decision will affect everything in the store because cross-pollination is eminent.”  “Europe has resisted the use of GMOs, why can’t the United States follow suit?”

What do you think about the USDA’s decision to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa? Read the entire article here and let us know in the comments section!


We’ve all heard it: “gluten-free this” and “gluten-free that”. But what is it all really about?

When Healthy Living was a new, tiny store gluten-free options were limited to one brand and a few terrible-tasting options.  Gradually, interest in gluten-free diets grew as people attributed a wide range of symptoms to gluten.  Happily, when we moved to our new store 3 years ago, the range of products had grown immensely and we dedicated an entire area of our store to the world of gluten-free foods.  We are happy to offer the largest selection of gluten-free grocery, frozen and fresh products in Vermont….and just about anywhere else we’ve traveled!  We’re proud of our fantastic gluten-free department.  Kids with gluten intolerance can now eat pizza, we can all have gluten-free cupcakes, and life is much more delicious!
Scoop 1: Believe it or not, the FDA doesn’t have a regulation on gluten-free prepackaged foods (foods that are prepared AND gluten-free). The term “gluten-free” is currently a proposed FDA regulation, basically a voluntary label for prepackaged foods that contain no wheat, barley, rye or any crossbreed of these grains. To be “gluten-free,” food must not contain ingredients, like wheat flour, that have not been through processing to remove gluten and must not contain ingredients that have been derived with no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten.
Scoop 2: Why are people choosing “gluten-free” anyway? Gluten has been linked to Celiac Disease and a number of other ailments. What is Celiac Disease?(As written by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) “Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.” This condition is successfully treated with a gluten-free diet.  There are many other proposed benefits to going gluten-free, from weight loss to increased energy to improved digestion to cleared skin conditions. In addition, studies suggest that a gluten- free diet may have a therapeutic effect on children with autism.  For more on Celiac disease, gluten and other medical information, click these links.
Scoop 3: Gluten-free is not just about the ingredients, it also includes the processing plant, packaging and efforts to uphold the “gluten-free” commitment. For example, Blue Diamond Nut-Thins http://www.bluediamond.com are manufactured in a facility that processes both gluten & gluten-free products. They have a dedicated area for gluten-free production to avoid and prevent cross-contamination. At Blue Diamond, good manufacturing practices and allergen control policy are strictly monitored during the manufacturing process and the finished products are tested for gluten residue to ensure every lot is validated. In fact, Blue Diamond has set the gluten detection limit at <10ppm (to ensure product compliance with both US and Canada regulation which currently set at <20ppm). It is important to research manufacturers and review the source of fillers, additives and other food ingredients.

Did you make a resolution to yourself to learn to cook, or to sharpen your cooking skills?  Let Nina help you!  The Learning Center offers a variety of cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes all year long.

Here are just a few of the classes being offered in January to kick off the year.

Exotic Curry: Spice It Up, Thursday January 6, 5:30-7:30pm Mid winter got you feeling a little lackluster in the dinner department? Well, we’ve got a class to spice things up and inspire all your senses! This class is both educational and instructional–you’ll learn a bit about the spice trade, its history and the influence of flavor on cultural cuisine. We’ll discuss the regional differences in curry, preparation techniques and serving basics. Together, we’ll be making a Red Curry Paste from whole spices and aromatics, Thai Chicken Panang Curry, Yellow Curry Aloo Gobi, and traditional Sweet and Hot Apple Chutney. Once the curries are finished, it’s time for an after-class feast!

This hands-on class costs $45. Click here to register.

Couples’ Cooking: Vegetarian Dinner for Two, Please! Friday, January 7, 5:30-8:00pm This class, a Vegetarian Couples Cooking Class, is a fresh, fun way for you to connect with that special someone while learning how to prepare a delicious, vegetarian feast. Chef-Couple, Nina Lesser- Goldsmith and her husband, Zach Minot, will show you how to work as a dynamic duo in the kitchen while boosting your vegetarian recipe repertoire.  The menu includes: Caramelized Onion, Zucchini and Parmesan Terrine; Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Galette; Green Salad with Farro, Cherries, Walnuts and Pomegranate Vinaigrette; and Indian Pudding.

This class costs $75/couple and is hands-on!  Click here to register.

Pintxos: A Spanish Tapas Eating Bonanza, Friday, January 14, 5:30-7:30pm This exciting class is inspired by Nina Lesser-Goldsmith’s recent trip to Spain, where she found a love of Pintxos, or Spanish Tapas native to the Basque region. She will delight you with stories of cultural and culinary tradition as well as recipes for a variety of authentic Pintxos. Pintxos literally means “toothpick” and these Tapas were traditionally served at bars, on toothpicks, between 5-9:30 PM (before the late meals) in what she calls a Basque-style eating bonanza. She’ll also discuss other ingredients native to the Basque region, including an effervescent wine called Txakolina. If you’d like some Spanish flavor in your life, join Nina for this truly unique cooking class!

This demonstration class costs $20.  Click here to register.

Sauce is Boss: Learn the Secrets of a Saucier, Friday, January 21, 5:30-8:00pm Making a fine sauce is an art In this class, you will learn the secrets that go into making the perfect sauce. We will discuss the importance of stock, types of stock and techniques for making them deeply flavorful, perfectly clear and just the right consistency. We will cover thickening, serving and uses on the plate. In addition, we’ll go over the five “French Mother Sauces,” and make a few in class! Be prepared to wow some taste buds and answer the question: “What’s in this sauce?”  Sauces will include a classic Red Wine Reduction, Hollandaise Sauce, Bechamel Sauce (and Mornay), and a Roasted Tomato Buerre Blanc.

This hands-on class costs $45.  Click here to register.


Photo Tuesday

Clue: This nutty bar didn’t win just one star.

Share the product’s name and flavor in the comments section for a chance to win a 20% off coupon to the store!

You may remember us posting about pine nuts back in July and the recent “pine mouth” discovery certain varieties of nuts from Asia are causing  This recent article in The Washington Post mentions pine mouth and drives home the importance of eating locally and knowing where your food is sourced from.

Healthy Living does not order pine nuts from Asia, and is strongly committed to the quality of food we put on our shelves.  Our pine nuts come from Spain, and we’re currently working with farmers in the United States and hope to have their products on our shelves by January.

So, with the holidays happening right now, don’t be afraid to use pine nuts in your festive dishes!


Photo Tuesday!

Clue: Used in stuffing or for breakfast on Christmas morning, this product will make spice up any holiday meal.

First correct response in the comments section will win a 20% off coupon to the store!

Nina and Katy were recently featured in a story on NECN about how to cut down the calories in holiday meals without cutting down on flavor.  Click on the image to watch the video!