October 13th, 2015 by Kathie
The Port Townsend Food Co-op has earned the GreenChill 2014 Achievement Award for Best Emissions Rate from the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership. This award goes to the partner with the lowest corporate-wide refrigerant emissions rate of all the 11,000 partners which includes well-known retailers such as Target, Whole Foods Market, Hanover Co-op stores and many others.
Refrigerants used by supermarkets are harmful to the environment when emitted into the atmosphere; some harm the ozone layer, and most are very potent greenhouse gases. Refrigerants that are commonly used in supermarket refrigeration systems are anywhere from 1,800 to 4,000 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide.
“For comparison, our emissions rate for 2014 was 2.6 percent or 12 pounds of refrigerant, said René Tanner, Facilities and Maintenance Manager for The Food Co-op. “A typical supermarket leaks 1,000 pounds into the atmosphere annually. That is because we do in-house preventative maintenance on our refrigeration equipment and catch things early before they become a large problem. We also work with a responsive refrigeration contractor, Mayda Mechanical LLC.”
The EPA’s GreenChill Partnership works with supermarkets to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change. The Partnership helps supermarkets transition to environmentally friendlier refrigerants; reduce harmful refrigerant emissions; and adopt greener refrigeration technologies and environmental best practices.
For more information on the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/greenchill. Anyone may use the EPA’s climate change calculator for references to put the climate impact of refrigerants into context. It calculates equivalency results for passenger vehicles, gallons of gasoline, forests, etc. Find it at http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html.
To learn more about The Food Co-op’s environmental efforts, please read the store’s recently published 2014 Sustainability Report.
September 8th, 2015 by Rachel Williams
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!
September 1st, 2015 by Rachel Williams
August 27th, 2015 by Mindy
There’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!
August 13th, 2015 by Rachel Williams
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
or Rachel Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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.
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
July 27th, 2015 by Kathie
Thank 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: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll462.xml
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!
July 21st, 2015 by Kathie
On 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).
July 14th, 2015 by Kathie
As 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!