Traverse City Record-Eagle


September 27, 2012

Everyday Cook: Chef gears up for Co-op Month

TRAVERSE CITY — Oryana Natural Foods Market celebrates Co-Op Month in October with a series of special events, many of which revolve around — what else? — food.

"We're a community co-op," said Tom Sisco, Oryana chef and kitchen manager. "We're owned by people in the community and what we want to do is reach out to the community we live in and offer healthy alternatives.

"A huge part of what Oryana wants to accomplish is education and outreach and a big part of that is teaching how to cook things, using organic and natural products. That might be a little bit different than what (some) people are used to, but just to primarily get it in their mouths and let them taste it and realize it's easy to use and it tastes great."

Oryana also serves as a resource for people who develop special dietary needs. With that in mind, one of the focuses of the month's special events is going to be gluten-free products and recipes. According to, at least 3 million Americans — or about one in 133 — have celiac disease, though many go undiagnosed. People with the disease can experience digestive symptoms and intestinal damage from eating wheat, rye or barley.

"People literally come in here when they find out they have celiac disease: 'I don't know what I can eat, what I can't eat, please help me,'" Sisco said. "We can show them that it's kind of dark for you right now because it's going to change your whole lifestyle, but it doesn't have to upset your life.

"There are alternatives, and I think that's one of the biggest things we do, is show people the alternatives."

Ahead of the month-long celebration, Oryana is holding a mini Native American pow wow this Sunday, Sept. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. Besides some oral history and traditional dance, Oryana will be serving up a dish called Three Sisters Stew, along with Indian fry bread.

Monday, Oct. 1, brings the start of Gluten-Free Week, with samplings of gluten-free products and recipes through Oct. 6. On Friday, Oct. 12, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., staff will lead a Gluten-Free Shopping Tour. Registration is required.

Oct. 7-13 is Fair Trade Week. Fair trade information and products from around the world will be featured, with coffee, chocolate and other items being sampled. Higher Grounds will be offering its fair trade coffee, with Oryana's Lake Street Café sampling fair trade sushi and a chocolate mocha cake made with fair trade ingredients. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, Oryana will donate 2 percent of net sales to On the Ground, which supports sustainable community development in farming regions across the world.

Between Oct. 14 and 20, the focus is on genetically modified foods. Oryana strives to avoid GMO foods, and will provide non-GMO shopping guides while sampling non-GMO products. On Thursday, Oct. 18, free non-GMO popcorn will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Events wrap up with member appreciation days Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 24 and 25. Local vendors and community partners will be presenting demos and offering food tastings and samples.

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, Michigan Blood Services will be on hand from 2 to 6 p.m. with a "Pint for a Pint Bloodmobile." Those who donate a pint of blood will receive a free pint of ice cream.

For complete details, visit or call 947-0191 to register for the Gluten-Free Shopping Tour.

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