PT Food Co-op

Port Townsend Food Co-op, 414 Kearney St., Port Townsend, WA, 98368
Open Every Day 8am-9pm
Phone: (360) 385-2883

Co-op Financial Literacy Study Group

September 8th, 2015 by Rachel Williams

Coop Financial Study GroupNEW DATE & LOCATION:

September 22 6:30pm, at the New Co-op Annex, 2110 Lawrence Street

Come learn financial terms and concepts, as well as how Board, Staff, and member owners of the Food Co-op can use financial information to help our Co-op thrive!

General Manager Kenna Eaton will give a quick breakdown of The Food Co-op’s finances, followed by a brief overview of how The Food Co-op uses Open Book Management to engage staff with the financial health of the organization.

Sarah Hadlock, of The Business Guides, will lead a tutorial in the terms and concepts required for financial literacy, as it relates to the Co-op.

A board member will give a quick presentation on the Board’s fiduciary responsibilities.

Together, we will open up a discussion of how our new understanding of finances relates to our responsibility as member owners of The Food Co-op.

All member-owners, as well as prospective member owners, are welcome. We hope to see you there!

The Annex has moved!

September 1st, 2015 by Rachel Williams

The Food Co-op’s Annex is now located at 2110 Lawrence Street, next door to Crossroads Music.

Coop Annex New LocationWe look forward to having you join us in the new space for a board meeting or other event sometime soon!

The September 1st board meeting will be the first held at the new location.

Stock Up in September & Save!

August 27th, 2015 by Mindy

EP 2015

EP 2015There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about preparing for “the BIG one”- but here in Port Townsend we have been talking about emergency preparedness [EP] for many years. We know our members take being prepared for any emergency- large or small- seriously and that’s why we support National Preparedness month in September.

For the entire month of September Co-op owners can stock up by ordering from the UNFI Buyer’s Club catalog at NO ADDITIONAL MARK-UP and with NO MINIMUM order. This special pricing is a great way to save money on the essentials or any item you eat, or drink, on a regular basis; cans of tuna or boxes of coconut milk, bulk sacks of rice or a case of chocolate – whatever you need for the long winter ahead or for the long emergency, we can help.

Ask at the Member Services Desk for more information and to get some great deals!


Your Opportunity to “Taste” Board Membership

August 13th, 2015 by Rachel Williams

From Your Food Co-op BoardBOD Tractor Photo

Sometimes owner-members approach us about serving on the Co-op Board but express reservations about making a 3-year commitment or running in a competitive election. Here’s an opportunity for one or more of you! One of our Board members will likely be leaving before next year’s election. Our by-laws allow for the direct appointment of one or more members to serve until the following election (subject to a board vote). So, if you wish to get a “taste” of what it’s like to be shaping the exciting future of the Co-op, this is a chance for you to try out the role before making a long-term commitment!

If you are interested:

  • Come to our September 1 and/or October 6 Board meetings at the Annex. The Annex is moving to 2110 Lawrence Street—please check the website and the Board’s board for updates on the move.
  • Pick up an application and information packet from the Member Services Desk (MSD). Fill out the application form and either submit it to Rachel at or drop it off at the Member Services Desk by October 8. And please note, you need to attend at least one Board meeting as part of the application process.

If you have any questions, contact:

Janet Welch at

or Rachel Williams at

Thoughts from your Board: Our Prices and the Cost of Good Food

August 6th, 2015 by Rachel Williams

By Lisa Barclay, Board Secretary

As the board secretary, I’m responsible for answering notes, letters, and emails sent to The Food Co-op board. This month there were only two notes and both were anonymous, so I couldn’t reply directly, but since both were on a topic that comes up a lot—prices—I’m using our blog to talk a bit about it.

The first note suggested that now that we were having $10,000 sales days, we should lower prices to help members on lower incomes. The second note asked why we hadn’t instituted the Centsibles program a long time ago. As you can see, in a way, the second note answers the first!

1% Profit

Why don’t we just lower the prices all around? Well, we only make about a 1% profit, so even if we lowered prices across the board to make 0% profit, it would not make a very noticeable difference in any particular item. And we have to make a little profit in order to be prepared for inevitable but unpredictable costs like refrigerators giving up the ghost prematurely. We save most of what is left at the end of the year for future improvements, but our new member patronage dividend plan will allow us to give some of it to our members.

Kudos to Centsibles!  IMG_5632

To answer the second note about why didn’t we institute Centsibles earlier? We did. Well, actually, we had a similar but smaller list for years of staple items we sold just above cost. But members didn’t always notice the signs indicating these items, plus we wanted to expand the number and types of foods so that a person could cook three meals a day with them. So we came up with 60+ items of the Centsibles program and Mindy made beautiful—and large—signs to mark them in the store.

Why 1%—Where Does the Money Go?

After the cost of goods, our largest expenses by far are for our staff—wages and benefits—then the building and equipment, and finally, taxes. It takes a lot of people to run a store, plus our owners expect more from their co-op staff than from a conventional store. And we have a great staff. I’m always amazed by the lengths they go to help members—Katy describing how to cook gluten-free pasta or Rodney explaining the difference between cultured and non-cultured butter—and members posing questions they could never ask at a conventional store, as when the person in line behind me asked Charlie if he knew anything about making one’s own kefir. Or there’s cheese maven Josephine, who borrowed a book on wines from the deli manager so she could help owner-members choose a wine to go with their cheese (or anything else).

Organic Apples to Apples

When we’ve paid our expenses, we have just that 1% or so. Then why do prices seem high compared to conventional store? Well, often they aren’t. We regularly compare our prices with the big stores, and we generally do pretty well, considering we don’t have anything like their buying power. If you compare apples to apples—that is, organic to organic—our prices are competitive and sometimes even better. And our local produce is truly local, the farmers deliver it themselves!

Government Subsidizes Conventional Foods

For packaged goods, we are at a disadvantage for two main reasons. First, large stores and chains have much more buying power than we do, so they pay lower prices for goods from the start. Second, the federal government subsidizes corn and soy, and since most conventional packaged foods contain one or both of these ingredients in some form, they are much cheaper than organic. The government actually penalizes organic farmers by making them jump through a lot of hoops as well as pay for certification. Since the government started subsidizing corn and soy, the price of packaged foods has gone down around 40% and real food has gone up around 40%!  That is why soft drinks are cheap and one reason diabetes rates have sky rocketed. It would be great if the government subsidized healthy food from the start instead of big mono crops like soy and corn, but they don’t, so as shoppers, we have to make choices.

In the mean time, The Food Co-op will continue to work to keep a wide selection of foods as affordable as possible.

Join the discussion!

The Food Co-op board will be hosting a series of presentations and discussions this fall around these kinds of topics, so keep an eye on the Board’s board and calendar for dates, and come join us. Topics include:

September –  Co-op Finances: What do those numbers in the annual report mean? September 22 at the Co-op Annex,  6:30 to 8:30pm.

October—Organic or Local: Which is Most Important? (hint: it depends…). Date/time TBD

November—P6, labeling to promote cooperativeness, local, and small businesses. Date/time TBD

DARK Act – The Next Step

July 27th, 2015 by Kathie

Dark ActThank you to all who called your U.S. House representative regarding the DARK Act, aka HB 1599. If you called Rep. Derek Kilmer, it was effective. He voted “no.” However, this legislation did indeed pass the House, and that was expected. Of the 10 Representatives from Washington State, 6 voted “no” and 4 voted “yes.” Here is how the vote went down in the entire House:

The next step for the bill is the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, it is calculated that a vote going along Republican party lines would need 5 or 6 Democrat Senators to pass. As the Senate vote draws closer, we will ask you to call U.S. Senators Murray and Cantwell. Thank you!


Stop the DARK Act!

July 21st, 2015 by Kathie

gmo hb 1599On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on an anti-labeling act for GMOs. Known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 by its advocates and the DARK Act by its opponents, it is more generically known as HB 1599. We oppose this law as does the National Co-op Grocers, the food co-op cooperative of which we are a member.

This law would block mandatory GMO labeling at the state and national levels. You can learn more about the bill by reading “DARK Act is moving through Congress quickly.”

If you are also opposed to HB 1599, we urge you to contact your House representative. If you live on the Olympic Peninsula, your congressman is Rep. Derek Kilmer. He can be reached through the above link or by calling 202-225-5916 (District of Columbia) or 360-797-3623 (Port Angeles). 

Sweet Cherry Pie — Yum!

July 14th, 2015 by Kathie

Valentis-Cherry-Pie-735x380As you may have noticed, fruits and berries are all early this year because of the dry, hot weather. What that means for Washington farmers is an early harvest, especially for organic sweet cherries. For us that means we need to move them out of the store….fast! For you, our customer, that means a SALE! Now, until supplies last, organic sweet cherries are $2.99 lb. Buy as much or as little as you like and freeze some for later! One pound of cherries is approximately two cups. You do want to buy cherries with their stems attached as they keep longer and are fresher.

Let’s say you love cherry pie. But let’s also say that you think you need sour pie cherries for that. Untrue! A lot of people think only the sour pie cherries are suitable for pie, however you CAN make cherry pie with sweet cherries. It might have a different flavor than sour cherry pie, but it’s still cherry pie with less added sugar. And less sugar is a good thing.

Try this recipe for Sweet Cherry Pie from the Smitten Kitchen blog, and see for yourself!

Some folks cook the cherries on the stove before assembling the pie. This recipe for Cherry Pie-in-a-Jar does exactly that. Pie-in-a-Jar makes a great gift when you have run out of ideas or are short on cash, especially if you already have frozen cherries on hand.

One other thing about cherries in general is that they can be a real pain to process for freezing. The trick to making it easier, it has been said, is to de-stem the cherries, but leave the pit in, and freeze. When you decide to use the cherries, let them defrost about halfway and the pits will just pop out. You can also freeze the cherries halfway, pit them, and then stick them in the freezer. It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Here’s another way to pit cherries that looks pretty easy. All you need is a chopstick and an empty bottle.

Cherries are a lot more versatile than you might think, so load up, freeze them, and explore the possibilities!



Connecting the GMO dots

July 7th, 2015 by Kathie

GMO bookThis month, The Food Co-op adds GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) education to its shelves in the form of red dots. The dots indicate products that may have genetically modified ingredients. The next time you shop, look for the DOT program chart on the end of aisles, and then look for the dots on the shelves. You’ll notice that there are not many red dots. Our buyers have done a great job!

Why Are We Getting Dotty?
We want to give members the information they need to make food choices. This is the number one reason. Reason number two is that corporate agriculture dominates the national discussion, which has led to a lack of regulation about labelling. We must step it up on a local level because it is not being done on a national level. At least 26 countries have banned and/or labeled GMO food, but so far in the US, only Vermont has been able to get a label law passed. Our state tried to pass an initiative for GMO labeling, but corporate opponents of I-522 spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat it. Millions of citizens want to know what their food is made of, but millions of corporate dollars are working hard to keep GMO labeling from becoming law. Until that hopefully inevitable day comes, The Food Co-op is taking its own steps to help members connect the dots and make informed choices.

How We Got Dotty
It is easy to buy safe produce when you know the farmer who grew it. That’s also true of processed products carrying the USDA organic or the Non-GMO Project label, but what about everything else on the shelf? Last year the Co-op’s Product Research Committee (PRC) began reading the labels of all the products in the store, searching for ingredients that might be GMO – non-organic soy, cottonseed, beet sugar, corn, canola, alfalfa, and papaya. If any of these suspects were listed in the top five ingredients, we contacted vendors and asked questions. The PRC drew a line at the top five ingredients because those usually constitute 90% or more of a product’s contents, and we believed checking the first five ingredients was doable (and much more thorough than the top three ingredients that a survey at the Ashland co-op had done). To see the full survey, look for the notebook located under the Boards board at the front of the store.

Getting answers wasn’t easy – larger corporations don’t always want to be forthcoming, and smaller businesses may not have the personnel to ferret out the answers or the money to go through the Non-GMO Project verification process. Plus, the landscape is changing for the better all the time, so the PRC had to keep circling back to recheck products.

Some companies nimbly skirted the question until our persistent queries forced them to answer, but a few ignored our inquiries. If, after three requests for information, we receive no answer, or if they respond that they do not source non-GMO ingredients, their product gets a red dot. These items won’t be taken off the shelf, but they will be flagged, allowing Food Co-op members to choose.

The Good News
When we began this process, we were a little nervous because we’d all heard the stories about how 70 percent of products probably have GMO ingredients. While that might be true of conventional grocery stores, it certainly wasn’t true of our beloved co-op.

Good news to keep in mind:

  • Our audit revealed only a small percentage of products needed additional research. Our buyers have done a notable job steering clear of GMO ingredients.
  • Most products flagged in the audit were verified by producers as being non-GMO.
  • We have now recorded over 1,000 Non-GMO Project verified products and many more USDA organic products.
  • Our buying process prevents any new products from inadvertently slipping GMO ingredients into our store in the future.

The Work Continues
The PRC is not done with this task. We are still gathering information on some sections of the store, and we will continue to update our information as well as the binder. The ability to make healthier choices—and changing the market through those choices—is the point of this extensive exercise in transparency. So, go forth and change the world by changing the market place!

The Food Co-op Product Research Committee


News form the Board – Facilities Evolution Update July 2015

June 30th, 2015 by Rachel Williams

Hello, Fellow Member-Owners,

The Food Co-op Board has decided that even though there may not always be fresh news to tell, we should write an Evolution Update each month to let you know how things are going as we explore our facilities options. So here is the first update!*

Last fall, we formed a committee to map out the process for the Co-op’s evolution, comprised of our general manager, Kenna Eaton; our board assistant, Rachel Williams; and four board members, with board member David Wayne Johnson as committee chair. We named ourselves the Evolutionary Road Crew, or ERC—who says boards can’t have a sense of humor?

ERC divided the work on our facilities into several stages:

  • Phase 1: Define our facility needs
  • Phase 2: Identify a short list of options for feasibility study
  • Phase 3: Evaluate options, then board decision on preferred option(s)
  • Phase 4: Preliminary design and budget; ask for member approval
  • Phase 5: Pre-work work: contracts, permits, etc.
  • Phase 6: Remodel or construction or ?

We completed Phase I in the spring, and so we are currently working on Phases 2 and 3. As we’ve noted before, there is no perfect option. We are searching out all the feasible options, so that we can pick the most likely possibilities and study them more thoroughly. Since this process sometimes involves real estate or other organizations, we cannot always go into detail. If you are too open about your ideas and plans, the perfect piece of property might be snatched up before you can agree to purchase it! And sometimes the details are not ours to share.

To help with Phases 2 and 3, we are enlisting community members with expertise in various pertinent areas to be part of a work group to study our options. Summer is a busy time, but we plan to convene this work group as soon as we can.

We are trying to be comprehensive in our exploration of options, and we welcome any ideas a member might have on some new possibility. Maybe you and several of your friends want to start a development cooperative and build the perfect community center to include the Co-op! We love to hear all ideas, especially ideas that benefit everybody.

In addition to this blog and the Commons, you can check the Board’s Board at the front of the store (next to the bathrooms) for updates, information, and events. As a for instance, we are in the process of planning some events next fall where members, staff, and the board can learn about various topics pertinent to our co-op and then talk about them:  Organic: What Is It and Why Is It Important? (And how does it differ from natural?); Financial Literacy: What Do Those Numbers in the Annual Report Mean?; P6: Labeling Local, Small, and Cooperative Products (Is it for us?);  and we also plan to cover food topics this winter, such as Healthy Food Access.

So, until our next blog, we’ll see you at the Coop!

Cooperatively Yours,

Janet, Monica, Henry, David Wayne, Patricia, Peter, and Lisa

Coop Evolution

*To see earlier blogs on Co-op Evolution, including why we are looking to improve our facilities, please follow the links below, or scroll back through the blog and look for the Co-op Evolution image.

News from the Board: We Finished Phase 1 (4/13/2015)

News from the Board: Advisory Poll Responses (2/10/2015)

Your turn – Advisory Poll on Facilities (1/16/2015)

News from the Board – Consciously Choosing Tradeoffs (1/13/2015)

News from the Board – Co-op Facilities Evolution (12/26/2014)