Sustainable Connections CREATING THRIVING COMMUNITIES THROUGH INNOVATIVE IDEAS, COLLABORATION, AND ACTION. Wed, 13 Nov 2019 08:20:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sustainable Connections 32 32 Cascadia Mushrooms Wed, 13 Nov 2019 00:56:33 +0000 Healing people and the planet

By Alex Smith

November 2019

It’s rare that a delicious food can have a positive impact on the environment. As a conscientious consumer, we try to minimize the environmental impact of the food we eat. Tasty, nutritious food that positively impacts the ecosystem is a holy grail of sorts. Salmon harvest nutrients from the sea and return to their spawning grounds to fertilize our forests. Honey is the byproduct of bees fertilizing wildflowers and fruit crops. Regenerative livestock systems can revitalize soils and create rich environments where plants thrive.

But we often forget about the overlooked kingdom of fungus in making meal choices. These organisms help to make nutrients available to plants, break down dead plant matter, and are crucial to a healthy biome. It just so happens that they also produce fruiting bodies in the form of mushrooms that are both delicious and healing.

This intersection of tasty food, personal healing, and positive environmental impacts is what led Alex Winstead to start Cascadia Mushrooms. Since studying Environmental Science and Mycology at The Evergreen State College, he’s had a keen interest in how we can find food that is beneficial to both humans and the earth.


Once graduated, Alex worked with Paul Stamets, a well-known mycologist and owner of Fungi Perfecti. After soaking up as much knowledge as he could, Alex moved to Bellingham and continued to grow mushrooms as a hobby, but the desire to enter the food economy was strong. The lack of business experience didn’t deter him, though, and he began by leasing property and by 2006 he was selling at the Bellingham Farmers Market under the business name Cascadia Mushrooms.

Three years later, Alex had his own property. Fast forward ten years to present day, and you’ll find a diverse operation selling culinary and medicinal mushrooms (although the line between the two is a bit blurry). Mushrooms grown on-site are certified organic because, in his words, “we like to keep ourselves honest.”


The mushrooms cultivated on site are largely considered culinary mushrooms – mushrooms that are sought after for good flavor and texture. Oyster and shiitake are the most popular in this realm, because both have rich flavor profiles and work well with a wide variety of dishes. They can be good meat substitutes because of their meaty texture. “I’ve heard stories of vegetarian restaurant customers sending back dishes with my mushrooms because they thought it was meat,” Alex recounts. The nutrition and health benefits are great as well, providing vitamins, amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), and immune boosting properties.

Cascadia Mushrooms also grows and harvests medicinal mushrooms. Reishi mushrooms, which they grow organically, offer a broad range of health benefits from boosting the immune system to helping the body fight off cancer. Wild harvested lion’s mane mushrooms stimulate neural growth while also being delicious with the flavor and texture of crab or shrimp – great in a soup or stir fry.


You may be reading this and thinking “I just don’t like mushrooms” (although if that’s the case you probably haven’t gotten this far). I can relate to this attitude. I spent many years avoiding mushrooms, but I’ve been converted. In the words of Alex, “If you don’t like mushrooms, try ours.” These aren’t your typical button mushrooms. “We grow the best mushrooms here for the people who live here.” One huge difference is freshness. Mushrooms hit store shelves or farmers market booths within 3 days of harvest, so they stay tasty and have just the right firm bite.

Often the foods that taste best are the foods that our body craves. Humans have been consuming mushrooms for at least 5,000 years and it is no surprise that we still desire them. The health benefits and savory flavor are convincing enough, but the positive environmental impact is also a major draw. “Without fungus, there wouldn’t be life,” says Alex.

You can find Cascadia Mushrooms at the Bellingham Farmers Market, Community Food Co-op, Haggen, and local restaurants such as Aslan Brewing, Rock and Rye, DeAnna’s, Archer Ale House, Temple Bar, Mount Bakery, and Chuckanut Brewing.

Cascadia Mushrooms

Complex Conundrums Thu, 07 Nov 2019 20:48:26 +0000 By Mark Peterson

Sustainability pursuits don’t exist in vacuum and despite our hopes and dreams they are still subject to Newton’s 3rd law of Physics. We sometimes refer to this law loosely as action-reaction, where the force exerted is the action and the force experienced as a consequence is the reaction. In many cases the variables are hard to pin down and we push somewhere, hoping we have executed the right action, only to find out the reaction isn’t the outcome we anticipated.

Take for example lithium batteries. They are relatively low maintenance, have a very low self-discharge, can be made small enough to work in many smaller electronic devices. They have the very real potential to help store energy from a green power grid. But they also are prone to catch fire or explode if damaged – not good! Other unfortunate realities include a relatively short life, water consumption in manufacturing and environmental degradation during the lithium extraction process and finally improper disposal of the ever increasing number of electronic devices they power.

Lately, like many of you, the amount of plastics in our world and the ever increasing problem of reusing, recycling or disposing of them has been top of my mind. Plastics are everywhere and some are integral to the functioning of our modern society and offer great benefits especially for crucial services like health care. Yet, we are awash in plastics literally and figuratively from the excess use of plastics that make no sense like the massive blister packaging for a small container of dental floss. Sadly, there seem to be no end in sight, and while the issue is getting a lot of media play, I am somewhat cynical in my outlook as there seems to be precious too few creative policies to stem the tide.

Yet, I hold out hope that governments, entrepreneurs and consumers will begin to realize that we need to change our behaviors significantly. Efforts must go beyond plastic straw and grocery bag bans. We need to do something big and soon. Recently, Waste Management the largest waste hauler company in the United States committed to no longer sending their plastics collected for recycling overseas to developing countries with suspect environmental policies that could result in plastics littered into our environment. While this is a laudable action, the reaction is that this added influx (or surplus) of plastics threatens to completely overwhelm any domestic recycling capacity and will most certainly result in plastics collected in the USA for recycling will either be landfilled or incinerated.

This is why we must look for other actions that result in a more positive reaction. An example of an innovative use of recycled plastic is for use in road paving where plastics can replace some of the bitumen that is used as a binder for the asphalt.  While the technology is in its infancy there are some encouraging signs that incorporating recycled plastics for road construction can help divert plastics from landfill and put them to beneficial use rather than burying them in the ground where it will remain for centuries to come. It remains to be seen if the action to use recycled plastics in roads yields the positive reactions we are hoping for. But, I’m encouraged the people around the world that have much more knowledge and expertise than I, are being creative and working hard to solve the complex conundrums our modern society is currently facing.

Functional Foods, LLC Thu, 07 Nov 2019 04:25:10 +0000 Functional Foods, LLC

(360) 354-0607

Manufacture, Packing and Distribution of Organic ethnic Foods like Flour and Corn Tortillas, Flatbreads, Salsas, Specialty and Functional Foods.
Functional Foods will deliver the highest quality foods, made with the cleanest components, enhancing a meal’s flavor and nutrition.
Functional Foods’ mission is to please the most demanding palates with unmatched flavors and textures and to strive for the use of highly nutritional ingredients that would enhance everyone’s meal experience. When possible, our supply chain will ensure utilization of raw and packaging materials from local, renewable sources, and will strive for social responsibility at all levels.


Sustainable Practices:

Sales Methods: Wholesale;Goods

Neighborhood: Lynden

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Free Range Flowers Wed, 06 Nov 2019 14:07:07 +0000 Free Range Flowers6222 Medcalf Rd. Bellingham WA, 98226

(360) 922-4918

Consciously grown and harvested with heart, Free Range Flowers are fresh, long-lasting seasonal blooms for florists, wholesale, DIY and Free Range’s wedding and event design. Using organic methods, Celeste and Jay grow a diversity of high-quality specialty cut flowers and foliage on a farm overflowing with color and scent to feed the soul and fill the vase.

Sustainable Practices:

Sales Methods: In-Store;Wholesale;Vending

Neighborhood: No Storefront

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Chef at Rifugio’s Country Italian Cuisine Fri, 01 Nov 2019 18:59:06 +0000 Company: Rifugio’s Country Italian Cuisine

Closing date: Open until filled

Send resume or additional questions to:, or call (360) 592-2888.

Skiyou Ranch Sun, 27 Oct 2019 22:29:58 +0000 Skiyou Ranch26910 Duffy Road Sedro-Woolley WA, 98284

(360) 708-3292

100% Grass Fed Certified Organic Angus Beef . We are a 4th generation family farm . Our farm is dedicated to raising the healthiest animals in a sustainble environment . We take pride in what we do and are proud to share our Beef with the local community.


Sustainable Practices: Eat Local First;USDA Certified Organic

Sales Methods: Online Store;Wholesale;Goods;Vending

Neighborhood: Sedro-Woolley

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Cascadia Weekly Fri, 25 Oct 2019 22:27:38 +0000 Cascadia Weekly

(360) 647-8200

*This business is a Sustaining Member of Sustainable Connections! Sustaining Business Members go above-and-beyond to support the work of Sustainable Connections and to make our place an amazing one to live, work and play in. They are model businesses, inspiring change-makers invested in our local economy and we hope you will help us celebrate them by supporting and shopping with them.

Reporting from the heart of Cascadia. Local free weekly publication of news, events, and opinion. Current and past issues available online.
Contact Stephanie Young, Advertising Manager:

PO Box 2833, Bellingham, WA 98227

Sustainable Practices:

Sales Methods: Online Store;Goods;Pick-Up/Delivery

Neighborhood: Downtown: State/Chestnut

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Farm Director at Cloud Mountain Farm Center Wed, 23 Oct 2019 23:26:31 +0000 Are you a dynamic leader who is passionate about farming, providing training and technical assistance to other farmers, and the sustainability of diversified agriculture in Northwestern Washington? Learn more about this new position at Cloud Mountain Farm Center.

Bayport Financial Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:19:23 +0000 Bayport Financial2620 N. Harbor Loop Dr #26 Bellingham WA, 98225

(360) 332-8900

Consultation, analysis, and financial product alternatives for socially and environmentally concerned individuals, businesses and nonprofits. Retirement, education, charitable and special needs planning. Free initial consultation.

Sustainable Practices: PSE Green Power Purchaser;Toward Zero Waste;Watershed Pledge

Sales Methods:

Neighborhood: Marina/Marine Dr/Squalicum

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Pasta Maker at Bellingham Pasta Company Tue, 15 Oct 2019 19:48:39 +0000 Company: Bellingham Pasta Company

Closing date: Open until filled

Send resume or additional questions to: