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The Stories We Share

      Recently I found myself relating the story behind the baking spices display area of our stores, the place we now call Grandma’s Kitchen. There really was a time not long ago where the story of cooking in most media had lost its way, with very few glimpses of the real spirit behind cooking that makes it so valuable. What was being presented was a vision of cooking great for advertisers, but not so great for keeping the spirit of cooking alive. We were in search of a path to bring cooking back to where it lives in our lives — a place of compassion—a place of love.

      Using a kitchen to display the baking spices really started as a way to break up the look and add variety to our stores. We thought going for a slightly older style kitchen would make for a bit more fun. Watching customers move through the new display, it quickly became apparent we were on to something much more than simply fun. Checking out at the register, customers would say things like, “that’s my kitchen growing up” or “that was just like a trip back to my grandma’s kitchen.” From their joy in what they were sharing with us, it was clear this was not just trivia to them. What they were sharing was something personal, something with great meaning in their lives.

      If you are very lucky in childhood, in between all the little hurts and injustices along the road to growing up, there are moments where you get to be somebody's special little someone. Maybe it's someone making you those impractically small pancakes you love so much. Or maybe it's your birthday and your grandma has baked you your very favorite cake with your very favorite frosting. The energy and euphoria of

  these moments really do change lives and transform futures, and by our customers’ reactions to Grandma’s Kitchen, it is something that stays with us forever. Grandma’s Kitchen was a breakthrough for us along the path to finding where the spirit of cooking lives.

      I think we’ve found something very similar to our Grandma’s Kitchen moment in response to our call for farmers with music in their lives for this Harvest issue. Cooking and music have much in common. Both are at their best when they are coming from—and giving back to—the people. While I thought it would be a long search to fill a catalog, we were very quickly overwhelmed with wonderful thoughtful musical farming cooks very open to sharing the connections that matter most in their lives. Music, like cooking, brings us together, unites families, connects communities and celebrates our lives. Cooking and music both mean something. Thanks to all who shared so much of your lives here. You’ve made this a very special catalog.

      And then there’s the very delicious, very flavorful Northwoods Seasoning. Northwoods is a blend born out of great kindness with a story and a history all its own, but with a gentle flavor so timeless it fits right into today and is incredibly ready to become a future tradition for all those you share your table and life with. Great for burgers or steak, potatoes in every form possible, roasted vegetables and really-really good chicken wings. Open your door to Northwoods and it will make itself right at home. You will be glad it did.

Happy Harvests,