Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Our Food Blog. Gather Round the table.- Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New USDA Guidelines Lower Pork Cooking Temperature

Prior to 1970 pork consumption in the US was dropping yearly at pork had a reputation for being too fat to be a healthy meat choice.  Realizing that this was bad for business the US pork producers took steps to change the genetics, breeding, and feeding of pigs in order to produce a leaner, healthier protein source.  Their efforts proved successful so much so that their next step was to lobby the USDA and ask that they test and eventually reduce the required cooking time for pork because people were overcooking the pork and getting a very dry tasteless meat using the old standards.    In 2011 the FDA announced new cooking guidelines from the nation’s food-safety agency.  In fact, the UDDA made a rather significant change to cooking directions for pork reducing the safe internal temperature a full 15 degrees Fahrenheit.   The new guideline states that pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time.

“Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” said Dianne Bettin, a pork producer from Truman, Minn., and chair of the Pork Checkoff’s Domestic Marketing Committee. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy – and safe – temperature.”

The revised recommendation applies to pork whole-muscle cuts, such as loin, chops, and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of cut or cooking method, both the USDA and National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature.

Tags :  pork
Let’s support Earth Day all year simply be thinking more about what we eat.- Tuesday, April 24, 2018

We just celebrated Earth Day this past Sunday and hopefully you were aware of it’s coming and took some steps to help support our mother Earth that day and plan to continue to do so in the future  As I was reading something recently related to the Earth Day events taking place globally two food-related topics came to mind that I thought appropriate to pass along to our customers since we are of course an environmentally responsible food retailer.

One topic relates to the sustainable benefits that can be derived from eating more organically grown or produced foods.  In order to conserve precious resources and reverse the negative effects of greenhouse gasses, we should think about supporting foods that do a better job of reducing their carbon footprint as they are grown, picked and packaged.  Some of the biggest energy hogs in agriculture are avoided when we make a conscious effort to select foods grown using organic farming.  Unlike conventional farming methods, organic farming prohibits the use of energy-intensive chemical pesticides and fossil-fuel-based fertilizers.  In fact, organic farming uses 45 percent less energy and creates 40 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than conventional framing, according to data from the Rodale Institute's 30-year farming-system trials.

The other area that most all of us can do a better job with is food waste.  We are a country of excesses and somehow, we have convinced ourselves that the only good meal is one where so much food is available that we feel challenged to take it all in even though we know it will leave us feeling stuffed and overfilled.  We are a nation where adult obesity rates now exceed 35 percent in five states and top 30 percent in 25 states.  We need to eat less and exercise more.  So why would the owner of a food store be telling customers to eat less?  Simply stated it’s good for all of us and it will keep you healthier and let you live longer.   Of course, it’s not just a matter of quantity, it’s really more about quality.  Concentrating more on fresh, vitamin-rich foods and steering clear of heavily process foods, sugar-laden drinks and sweet treats.  

There is, however, another benefit to eating less, it means less food waste. In the US, Food waste has reached staggering proportions, with 1,400 calories of food wasted per person per day.   When you compare that to the fact that in all of Asia and Africa the daily consumption of food is under 2,800 calories,  you realize that we throw away over half what they get to eat.  All of this waste takes a tremendous amount of oil to grow, 185 million barrels every year. That's 46 times the amount that gushed out of the Deepwater Horizon during the 2010 oil spill. If we all paid a bit more attention to the amount of food we prepare or that we order when eating out, we would dramatically reduce the waste of food and at the same time reduce the waistline of our clothes.

Thanks for thinking about healthier eating.

Andy

Plastic Pollution, it’s real and we need to stop it NOW!- Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The invention of plastic in 1907 was considered a breakthrough. Plastic products soon became a common component of everyone’s’ life and we thought nothing of it’s potential negative effects.  For many years, we only perceived the benefits of plastic and knew little of the damaging consequences for human health, natural ecosystems and the climate. Plastics are a problem mostly due to their un-biodegradable nature, the materials used for plastic production (hydrocarbon molecules—derived from the refining of oil and natural gas), and the challenges behind properly discarding them.

The immense scope of the problem – what we have done so far to fix it and what we can all do to mitigate its damage.  More than 9 billion tons of plastic has been produced since 1950, and the vast majority of it is still around. A new study that tracked the global manufacture and distribution of plastics since they became widespread after World War II found that only 2 billion tons of that plastic is still in use. Seven billion tons is stuck on Earth as garbage in landfills, recycled trash or pollution in the environment, including deep oceans, where it’s been discovered in the mouths of whales and the bellies of dead seabirds that mistook it for food. A small amount is eliminated in incinerators.

As plastic becomes near-indestructible mountains of garbage on land and swirling vortexes of trash on the high seas, humans keep making more. Half of the plastic that people mostly use once and toss away was created in the past 30 years, the study says.  The highest recycling rates in 2014 were in Europe (30 percent) and China (25 percent), whereas in the United States, plastic recycling has remained steady at 9 percent.”

Recycling, while it seems is the best solution to the problem, only delays plastic’s inevitable trip to a trash bin. Incineration is the only way to assure that plastic is eliminated, and Europe and China by far lead the United States in that category as well, up to 40 percent compared with 16 percent.

But burning plastic is risky because if the emissions aren’t carefully filtered, harmful chemicals become air pollution. Like other countries, the United States has been slow to enforce regulations on industry emissions.

Want to help eliminate your plastic consumption?  Here are some ideas anyone can try.

  • Avoid Fast Food / Cook at Home - Not only is it healthier but making your own meals doesn’t involve takeout containers or doggy bags. For those times when you do order in or eat out, tell the establishment you don’t need any plastic cutlery or, for some serious extra credit, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.
  • Stop buying bottled water - Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. If you’re nervous about the quality of your local tap water, look for a model with a built-in filter.
  • Pass on Plastic Straws - One of the easiest ways to keep plastic out of the landfill is to refuse plastic straws. Simply inform your waiter or waitress that you don't need one, and make sure to specify this when ordering at a drive-thru. Can't fathom giving up the convenience of straws? Purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass drinking straw. Restaurants are less likely to bring you a plastic one if they see that you've brought your own.
  • Avoid microbeads - Those little plastic scrubbers found in so many beauty products—facial scrubs, toothpaste, body washes—might look harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants. Unfortunately, they also look just like food to some marine animals. Opt for products with natural exfoliants, like oatmeal or salt, instead.
  • Bring your own bag - If you're already bringing reusable bags to our store, you're on the right track, but if you're still using plastic produce bags, it's time to make a change. Purchase some reusable produce bags and help keep even more plastic out of the landfill. However, avoid those bags made from nylon or polyester because they're also made from plastic. Opt for cotton ones instead.
  • Don't use plasticware -Say goodbye to disposable knives, spoons, forks and even sporks. If you often forget to pack silverware in your lunch, or if you know your favorite restaurant only has plasticware, start keeping a set of utensils. It's sure to reduce your carbon “forkprint”.
  • Pack a lunch the eco-friendly way - Instead of packing snacks and sandwiches in bags, put them in reusable containers you have at home, or try lunch accessories like reusable snack bags. You can also opt for fresh fruit instead of single-serving fruit cups and buy items like yogurt and pudding in bulk and simply put a portion in a reusable dish for lunch.
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With more than a billion participants worldwide, Earth Day Matters- Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This coming Sunday is Earth Day, an annual event.  Each year worldwide events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 50,000 partners in 193 countries to build environmental democracy. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. We work through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.  Devoting special a day to helping to demonstrate how much we care about the future of our planet. No matter what you like to do best, there's a way to get involved in Earth Day. You could plant a tree, make a meal with locally-grown vegetables, educate a family member, clean up trash in your neighborhood, set up a bird feeder or save power — the possibilities are endless.

Just imagine if we could get just 10% of Earth’s population to do something to actively promote Earth Day what an impact it could have on our home planet.  We at Prisco’s feel strongly that it is everyone’s duty to act responsibility toward preserving the planet and we encourage each of our customers to seriously consider taking some step to help reduce the negative impact we humans unwittingly do to cause our Earth stress.  This is the only home we have so let’s remember that everyone’s help is needed and appreciated and no good deed toward Mother Earth is a waste of time or resources.

For 2017 Earth Day Network is focused on promoting ways to secure a future free of plastic pollution.  From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.

I’d encourage each of you to read this week’s food blog.  I’ll admit that this week’s topic is not as usual devoted to food but indirectly it is about a problem that does impact our food supply.   In support of this year’s theme of working to eliminate plastic pollution, the blog offers a number of simple suggestions anyone can follow up on to promote the elimination of plastic pollution that is choking our oceans, cluttering our highways and encroaching on our healthy way of life.

Happy Earth day.

Andy

Tags :  Earth Day
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Our Ground Beef is all natural – always was & always will be!- Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ground Beef is by far the largest beef category in an American supermarket's fresh meat department, accounting for as much as one-third of all beef sold. In our store that’s especially true because we have earned a well-deserved reputation for excellent quality in our ground beef.

All ground beef is definitely not alike. At Prisco’s, we staked our reputation on the consistent quality of our ground beef from the time my Great grandfather opened our first store. It was his son and my Grandpa, Tony, who went away to school to learn the science of butchering under the strictest of USDA standards, and Grandpa Tony always insisted on the following:

  1. All of our meats would get ground in the store by our butchers.
  2. Nothing but the trimmings of the meat offered for sale in the meat case would ever be added to the meat in the grinder.
  3. The ratio of lean meat to fat would be clearly and accurately indicated on each package.
  4. Beef, chicken, pork and lamb would be ground in small batches to assure that we never produced more of any cut than could be sold in a day or two out of our case. Grandpa Tony would always insist that, If we kept our ground meats fresh and lean, people would buy them on a regular basis.

So how is that any different from the ground beef you can buy at other big chains and giant box stores? Actually, there is a great deal of difference. At most large stores today, little if any of the ground meat is ground on premises.  “So what’s wrong with that?” you ask, "Aren’t they just being more cost effective grinding meat at a central location in larger batches and farming it out to stores where needed?"

The answer is a definite maybe, at best. You see once the meat is ground off premises the store loses control of what is in the meat and where it came from. For example, if ground in-store you are using up the trimmings of what is cut and sold in-store. If the store runs a chuck sale it will increase its supply of chuck trimmings, and as the supply of chuck trimmings increases it tends to put pressure on the price of ground chuck as we now need to move more tonnage in order to reduce the excess supply.

If we were a large chain the supply is controlled centrally and the excess inventory of chuck from one group of stores can be shipped to other stores that tend to sell more ground chuck, and pricing overall may not need to be adjusted. Additionally, the large box stores and chains will buy a large portion of their ground meat directly from large packing houses. Here, efficiency and cost are the primary drivers, not quality.

The beef used for commercially ground beef are often mature cattle (over 30 months of age) which tend to be less tender, making it ideal for ground beef production since the process of grinding provides tenderness to these muscles. At times other additives are included to help extend the shelf life and coloration of the meat. While not a danger to your health, these practices are most definitely not adding quality to your food experience.

We know that our customers know that they will always get fresh, ground in-store meats at Prisco’s, and that’s what keeps them coming back time and again for more.

 

Andy

All-American Blueberries- Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Native to North America, blueberries have been around for more than 13,000 years – so they have deep roots in our country’s history. Today, we’re still reaping the health benefits of blueberries, and are discovering they have more to offer than our ancestors could have ever imagined.

The North American blueberry season and harvest runs from April to late September. Blueberries are very low in calories (only 80 in a full cup) and they are packed full of health benefits so don’t hold back, enjoy your blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C and are high in manganese. Vitamin C is necessary for growth and development of tissues and promotes wound healing. Manganese helps the body process cholesterol and nutrients such as carbohydrates and protein. 

Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and adds bulk to your diet, which may help you feel full faster.

They can be used as a natural food dye, and legend has it that early American colonists boiled them with milk to make gray paint. Perfect blueberries are dusty blue in color, so don’t rush off to rinse that dust away until you are ready to eat them as this will speed up the spoilage process.

In the early 20th century, people didn’t think blueberries could be domesticated, but Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey farmer, was determined to grow a flourishing industry for cultivated blueberries. In 1911, she teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to identify wild plants with the most desirable properties, and crossbred the bushes to create vibrant new blueberry varieties. Coville and White harvested and sold the first commercial crop of blueberries out of Whitesbog, N.J.

 

Best Vegetables for Early Spring Planting- Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Living here in the upper Midwest we all know it’s a bit risky getting out in our gardens too soon and trying to use sheer willpower to ward off the possibility of a late frost. The ground is still too damp for many vegetables to be planted, but there are a handful of hearty performers that can go in the garden, even before the last frost date has passed. One of the benefits that these early starters have is that there are fewer insects and disease pests around in early spring, so your vegetables should get off to a good start.

The cool, wet weather of Spring is the perfect time to grow lettuce, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. You may need to take precautionary steps to protect your lettuce as it gets started, but, oh, it never tastes better than when it’s grown in the crisp spring air. Anyone who has ever had a bowl of tender leafy lettuce picked minutes ago that is drizzled in a homemade dressing of bacon bits, sugar, vinegar, and water knows that this is the nirvana of fresh garden delights. You will get the earliest and longest harvest from the cut-and-come-again varieties. Lettuce may require a little frost protection in spring, but it won’t bolt, and you will probably have time for 2-3 crops.

In addition to dying the Chicago River green on March 17th, there’s another tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Peas don't like freezing temperatures, but they dislike heat worse. So, if you love fresh picked-from-the-garden peas, don’t miss the window of opportunity. Get out there and plant a crop of your favorites, whether its shelling peas, snow peas, or sugar snap peas.

Spinach must be grown in cool weather too, or it will quickly bolt to seed.  Spinach grows extremely quickly so you don’t have to wait long to enjoy it, but you’ll also have to keep planting new spinach to extend the harvest. Getting spinach to grow is easy. Keeping your spinach growing takes some extra care, but it's worth it. Another thing good about planting the spinach early is that it will grow in the shade of crops that will be taking off just as your spinach fades.

 

Welcome back to our local Snowbirds!- Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April 1st always marks the official end of the snowbird season and we couldn’t be happier. We’ve missed you and we are very happy to see you back walking the aisles of the store and filling up your carts with needed provisions. It seems so long ago that we were baking up that pumpkin pie and setting aside the Christmas roast for you when the 2017 holiday season was merrily upon us. Shortly after the last verse of auld lang syne, things quieted down considerably and those us who remained behind did our best to slog through January, February and March, eager for the first sign of new life, for the first sign of Spring. As far as Midwest winters go, it really was nothing remarkable.

As expected, we had our spell of deep arctic cold for several days and there were a few snow storms, where seeing over the snow piles on the side of the driveway were a challenge. In general, however, you didn’t miss too much of the excitement in Florida, Arizona, or whatever warm hideaway you escaped to.

Well, we hope that you are back home in good health and we couldn’t be more pleased to see you. In fact, we decided to celebrate your return this week and we are inviting all of our customers in on the treat. Watch your mail box for a postcard from us inviting you to come in and stock up your refrigerator and cabinets, and in the process earn the ingredients for a free breakfast. That’s right, you can earn a free dozen eggs, a carton of Simply orange juice, and a pound of Boar’s Head bacon.

So, once again all you snowbirds, welcome home, and thanks for bringing back a breath of Springtime warmth with you.

 

Andy

Organic Foods – Good For you and Good for the Environment.- Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Over the past several years we have made attempts to expand the amount of organic foods that we offer in each department. I have to say that it has been a difficult task for a number of reasons... For example, consider the following facts that are associated with foods that carry the USDA Organic moniker:

  1. By definition, organic foods are raised naturally so they contain no un-natural preservatives which means that many items have a relatively short shelf life.
  2. Couple that with the fact that organic products are more expensive to produce, and the certification process makes them more difficult to bring to market cost effectively.
  3. There has always been confusion on the part of the general public as to what the term organic means versus natural, or non-GMO.
  4. In the case of organic produce, the non-use of chemical fertilizers often means that the produce will not be perfectly shaped, so no perfectly round tomatoes or shiny, flawless apples. Unfortunately, for most consumers food appearance means more that taste or nutritional content.

So, you can sum up the hurdles to selling organic foods in a sentence: Organics are expensive, somewhat confusing, and need to sell quickly in order to remain fresh. For all these reasons, Prisco’s and other food retailers have had lots of pushes to support a wider organic assortment only to be faced with the need to pair back when sales cannot be sustained.

The truth is, we as food purveyors see the value and need to support organic food and we are determined to do all we can to help educate our customers on the benefits of organic food. We will continue to offer more organic items at affordable prices in the hopes that our customers who value organic foods continue to seek them out and purchase them. I’d encourage you to continue reading this week's blog, which provides a list of 10 great reasons to pick up more organic food every time that you shop.  

Oh, one more thing, we recently added several new organic items to our dairy department and in order to encourage folks to try them, we are offering a bonus of 50 Prisco’s Bonus Points on over a dozen different items including milk, eggs, butter, sour cream, creamers, and cottage cheese. Look for signs in our dairy department.

From our family to yours, Happy Easter. We will be open Easter for your convenience but on a shorter schedule so that our employees may spend time with their families. Easter Sunday our hours will be from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

 

- Andy

Organic Foods – A Choice Worth Making!- Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Do you value good, wholesome and sustainable organic food? Here are ten reasons you should.

  1. Avoid chemicals - Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the cocktail of chemical poisons present in commercially grown food.
  2. Benefit from more nutrients - Organically grown foods have more nutrients—vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients—than commercially grown foods because the soil is managed and nourished with sustainable practices and responsible standards.
  3. Better taste - Organically grown foods generally taste better because nourished, well balanced soil produces healthy, strong plants.
  4. Avoid GMOs - Genetically engineered (GE) food and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are contaminating our food supply at an alarming rate, with repercussions beyond understanding.
  5. Avoid hormones, antibiotics and drugs in animal products - Conventional meat and dairy are the highest risk foods for contamination by harmful substances. More than 90% of the pesticides Americans consume are found in the fat and tissue of meat and dairy products.
  6. Preserve our ecosystems - Organic farming supports eco-sustenance, or farming in harmony with nature.
  7. Reduce pollution and protect water and soil - Agricultural chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers are contaminating our environment, poisoning our precious water supplies, and destroying the value of fertile farmland.
  8. Preserve agricultural diversity - The rampant loss of species occurring today is a major environmental concern. It is estimated that 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost in the last century.
  9. Support farming directly – Organic farms tend to be small family owned farms, not gigantic mega farms where the emphasis is on cost reduction and crop yield with little regard for quality, nutrition, or the environment.
  10. Keep our children and future safe - Putting our money where our mouths are is a powerful position to take in the $1 trillion food industry in America. Spending dollars in the organic sector is a direct vote for a sustainable future for the many generations to come.