Sunday, July 31, 2005

Republican introduces hemp in Congress A bill is being sponsored by a Texas republican to lift federal restrictions on "industrial" hemp farming, which includes food products. Hemp is cannabis bred to remove the psychotropic properties. It is legal to grow hemp in Canada, and it is reportedly a high profit crop there (Gourmet News, Aug). It is increasingly being used in body care products and foods. Hemp is high protein and its oil is high in essential fatty acids. The Coop carries Nutiva hemp nuts, and Dr. Bronner's Alpsnacks feature hemp. We also carry Nutiva hemp oil above the yogurt & are looking into adding Manitoba hemp butter.

Manufacturers who "donate" profits

I'm always suspicious when a company boasts it donates x amount of profit to various causes--generally environmental groups. (Newman's Own is one company I trust actually donates a lot of money.) But the Aug Gourmet News report on Endangered Species Chocolate confirms my mistrust. Apparently the founder is suing the new 51% shareholders, who have fired him. Citing mismanagement of the company, the new owners point out that they were unable to find any records that any money was donated to help save endangered species. Now that is the whole point of that chocolate's appeal--each flavor with a signature attractrive photo, from bats to belugas. Endangered Species chocolate is not Fair Trade, it is not organic, but it has a great marketing hook it is not fulfilling. Apparently he was losing money, not making a profit. Another way to not make a profit is for the owners to pay themselves a big salary. So that is a very iffy statement--donate a percentage of profit. They shouldn't be allowed to state that if there is no profit. There doesn't seem to be any oversight of this claim. Do I feel confident the new owners will do any better--not really. They say the business is in terrible shape, but why did they buy it other than to grab the marketing concept?
Aaron's kosher chicken and meat

Murray's chickens are back and we will still have Coleman chickens. However, we will not be carrying the organic Coleman chickens. They are being replaced by Aaron's (Rubashkin's) kosher chickens. There have been requests to expand the line of kosher chicken cuts. Aaron's will deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are carrying whole chickens, boneless breasts, split breasts, legs, drumsticks and wings. We currently have a very good price on Aaron's wings--.74/lb.
Aaron's meat is kosher, grass fed with no hormones or antibiotics, grown in Uruguay. It will be sold out of the freezer. Cuts are kebabs, stew, ribeye steak and thin-sliced.
Visitors/students Throughout the year we get a number of visitors wanting to learn about how the Coop works. Each year we get students from Clark University studying urban planning. July was particularly busy, and Joe Holtz met with a number of groups.
A coop member who teaches adults about nutrition brought his class.
A reporter from Montana public radio came to the Coop because Joe has been working with a group in Missoula who are trying to form a coop based on our model. Joe has consulted with them a number of times, and last year one of the group came to visit. Joe is pleased they are going slowly, working on their financial projections, securing a space, doing lots of planning. They anticipate opening in a year.
Six students and a teacher from Groundworks, a program in East New York, came for advice on handling perishable food. They plan to open a market two days a week selling perishables. Groundworks introduces kids to various businesses.
We also have three students working for seven weeks at the Coop this summer. Daniel, Kevin and John are being paid by NYC Summer Youth Employment Program. They have been very reliable and eager to learn.
Kashi has discontinued Kashi Medley (very popular at the Coop) and changed the packaging on their other cereals. A quick check confirmed that the ingredients are the same for one product--Kashi Seven in the Morning, now Kashi Seven Grain ( a Grapenuts knockoff). We don't have any old packaging for the other flavors, but I would guess Kellogg's is just changing the box and the name. In case anyone is confused, Kashi cereals are not made solely from buckwheat (kasha)--but from 7 grains, including wheat high up on the list. They are not organic and are owned by Kellog's.

We've also done some reorganizing, etc in the cereal aisle. Always a dilemma about whether to arrange shelves alphabetically or by type, ie, all the muesli's, all the raisin brans, all the cheery little o's.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Amy Hepworth’s truck was totalled on the Manhattan Bridge this morning, full of fresh produce for us. The driver of the tractor trailer behind Hepworth’s truck fell asleep, rear ended Hepworth’s truck, which then plowed into a stalled Mitsubishi car, propelling them forward more than 100 feet on the bridge. Fortunately, no one was killed and Ben, Amy’s driver, wasn’t injured. Just took hours to extract the vehicles, helicopters hovering—bridge closed. They’ll be loading the produce on another truck for us—lots of lettuce, greens, cucumbers, eggplants, beans, parsley, squash, tomatoes, basil and minimally treated nectarines. Amy very distraught--not easy being a farmer plus having to deal with the Big City.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Repellents, sun tan lotions--the CDC recommended the essential oil lemon eucalytpus as a critter repellent that does not contain DEET. It is part of their West Nile precautions.
-Click here for more info- However, they didn't specify how to use it or dilute it. A member requested we carry this product, and we have Aura Cacia brand with the suntan lotions on the back end display across from the meat. I tried it on a birding trip in the Catskills, used it sparingly on my ankles, wrists, neck--it seemed to work, wasn't too smelly, a little like citronella, but not so strong. However, it stung briefly when I put it on my face--it is concentrated, strong, one of those products not recommended for pregnant women, small children.

Natures Gate suntan lotions, the Coop standard, has changed its packaging--you may not recognize it. It is on sale now.

Now the pendulum seems to be swinging to the position that too little sun is not good either. Vitamin D is manufactured by the body when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is currently being touted as having a role in preventing various maladies, including PMS, osteoporosis and prostate cancer. On a routine exam, my Vitamin D level was tested for the first time, and it was determined to be mildly deficient. And at at the same time being warned to stay out of the sun, I opted not to take a heavy duty Vitamin D supplement, as I was told it is an accumulative vitamin and you can take too much, so followup tests would be needed. What to do? A little more sun and Carlson's cod liver oil. I'm assuming a teaspoon of Carlson's lemon cod liver oil is safe, the lemon masks the fish taste and the bonus is all the those essential omega-3 fatty acids.
No longer available items--Miso mayo tops the list--maybe, maybe another supplier will be carrying it. Less certain are rice vinegars, haven't been able to get either Eden or Spectrum. Spectrum's shortening & Spectrum spread haven't been available from manufacturer. I suspect that this has something to do with the trans fat, hydrogenated oils issue--lots of companies are redoing their products. More on than later..

On the plus side, Spectrum coconut oil, organic, semi-refined for cooking is back.

Coop t-shirts--there was a snafu with the order--the t-shirts didn't get printed (and the person I spoke to left the company), so we're selling blank organic Patagonia t-shirts, very good price, get them while they last. Will be working on coop t-shirts.
New items…Good Health Quilts, a tasty Triscuit type cracker , low salt, being sold top shelf Aisle 6B.
Equal Exchange does not have any Ethiopian coffee beans right now but we are selling it ground in the packaged coffee area, under the teas, at a sale price of $4.24/12 oz. We are filling the empty bulk bin, with Zapatista medium roast beans—let us know if you like it.
New beverages—Teas’ green jasmine & white tea, both unsweetened, on shelves with bottled teas, across from the beer, Aisle 2. I was surprised by how much I liked the combination of green tea & jasmine, it adds a slightly sweet flavor & doesn’t require sugar. I like Numi’s Monkey King green tea & jasmine tea bags, sold aisle 5B. Its flavor holds up well with lots of ice cubes.
Also a new Ceres flavor—papaya.

The Switch sodas--only the lemonade has been in stock, black cherry & tangerine not available the past couple of weeks.