The Co-op Deli: Fresh, Organic, GMO Free

Your Co-op deli makes it easy. Soup, salad bar, hot bar, or grab-n-go. Join us for a healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

One of the best parts of my job in early summer is watching the procession of the species. I don’t mean the parade in Downtown Bellingham, although that is awesome too. I’m talking about the procession of fresh produce boxes that makes its way into the Co-op kitchens every morning.

In winter, many of those boxes come from places farther afield, such as California, Canada, and Mexico. But around this time of year, more and more of the boxes are direct from the hands of local farmers.

Made-to-order or grab-n-go, all of our deli sandwiches are made fresh throughout the day. The Co-op bakery café and Cordata store also have pressed-to-order paninis.

When I ran into Joe Hill, assistant manager in the Downtown deli kitchen, I asked him what was new with the procession of produce. Recently, Joe and the other kitchen managers reviewed the salad bar, hot bar, and deli case to assess the state of our non-GMO and organic ingredients.

It turns out that our bar was already almost entirely organic. “We basically have the least-renowned organic salad bar in Bellingham,” Joe told me with a grin.

Every fresh ingredient in the salad bar is organic and non-GMO certified. The few exceptions—black olives, housemade Breadfarm croutons, and mandarin orange slices—cannot be sourced as organic, but are the cleanest available product the kitchen staff can find.

“That is something we’re very proud of,” Joe said. “What we serve is priced affordably, and we are dedicated to absolute transparency of sources and ingredients.”

Along with the organic produce flooding into the kitchen, Prepared Foods Manager Nick Barrett gave me good news about another change. Both the Cordata and Downtown deli kitchens have committed to a new supplier of antibiotic and hormone-free chicken—Smart Chicken—for all the deli food we make from scratch in our kitchens. That includes the hot bar, salad bar, and the chicken dishes and salads in the deli cases.

Founded in 1998 in the Midwest, Smart Chicken strives to be an alternative to the race-to-the-bottom horror show that is American poultry production. Smart Chicken is raised and processed with attention to detail every step of the way. Chickens are fed a high-quality diet, humanely handled, and never given antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products. They are also committed to verifiable humane raising, butchering, and production standards. And, they intentionally make their workplace safe and sustainable.

Our deli never uses any ingredients from the Dirty 12, unless they are organic.

As Nick, Joe, and I finished talking, I heard the background sound of a smoothie being blended. The all-organic, design-your-own smoothie menu at all three Co-op locations has been a hot seller. For example, more than 1,300 people bought a smoothie at the Downtown store in March. As the weather heats up, we’re prepared to make an absolutely ridiculous number of drinks.

If you haven’t visited the Co-op deli, hot bar, salad bar, or organic smoothie and espresso bars lately, we welcome you to stop by for the freshest, tastiest organic food in town made right here in the Co-op kitchens!

Learn more about Smart Chicken.