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Hey Moms & Dads! Fun for your Kids—Co+op Explorers!

Co+op Explorer Kids get a FREE PIECE of ORGANIC FRUIT every time they visit!  To become a card-carrying Co+op Explorer, kids 12 and under simply need to bring you (their grown-up person) to the Hospitality Desk and ask to join the club. That’s it!

When you sign up - each kiddo will be issued their very own super-official Co+op Explorers membership card, sticker, temporary tattoo, and HIGH FIVE! Pretty cool!

They’ll also be eligible to WIN a PRIZE each month through our in-store coloring challenge AND we’ll send a birthday e-mail (actually it goes to you, their grown up, but if you could pass it along we’d appreciate it) letting them know they’ve got a BIRTHDAY SURPRISE from all of us here at the co-op!

Since we launched our Co+op Explorer’s program last year, we’ve had over 300 kids SIGN UP! WOOHOO!

Glad to see so many kids putting those tiny shopping carts to good use! 

Once kids are signed up, here's how it works:

        1. Kids and parents stop by our fruit basket near the tiny carts.

        2. Choose a piece of organic fruit from the basket.

        3. Take a sticker & wear it to show off their Co+op Explorer pride!

        4. Peels can be thrown away in any of our compost bins.


That's all there is to it! If you have any questions, please ask at the Hospitality Desk.

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Farmgrass Fest Four

Farmgrass Fest is back for its fourth year, with Wheatsville returning as the title sponsor of this farm-inspired, non-profit music festival.

Farmgrass is dedicated to promoting the mental and physical well-being of local independent farmers. Proceeds from the fourth annual Farmgrass Fest on May 12-13 provide emergency medical funds that support local growers when they are injured or require other medical support. Since 2014, Farmgrass has donated over $35,000 to keep farmers happy, healthy and growing.  

“I was in an accident that kept me from doing my job and feeding my family,” said Skip Connett of Green Gate Farms, the first beneficiary of the farmers’ emergency fund. “The donation that the Farmgrass organization provided was a lifesaver.”  

Minutes from Austin, this family-friendly music festival includes an outdoor movie screening of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” on Friday night in addition to a full lineup of great Americana music Saturday. Hosted at the Simmons Family Farm in Niederwald, the festival lineup kicks off with our 2017 online contest winner (entry details will be posted soon to Facebook), followed by local duo Lil Darlin. High Plains Jamboree will keep your feet stomping and warm up the dance floor for The Lost Pines. Then Hot Club of Cowtown gets the crowd hootin’ and hollerin’ for headliners Whiskey Shivers and Shinyribs.  

Early bird tickets are on sale for $50 (children 12 and under are free) and include camping for both Friday and Saturday nights (pickin’ circles are complimentary). Multiple food vendors will provide locally-sourced meal options and Energy Island will provide Parkour and kids activities all day on Saturday. Get Tickets at Framgrass.org

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Interested in Running for the Board? Learn more!

Our co-op has seen lots of recent changes in this past year: increased livable wages for staff members, a major Guadalupe renovation, and 3 new board members have been seated. These changes, along with the changes in our country as a whole, can make members feel disillusioned – where do I, as an individual, stand with these rapid transformations? How can I contribute?

As a newer board member myself, I faced these challenging questions. At the right moment when I questioned the quality of my leadership, I read this poem by Rumi: 

“I am so small I can barely be seen. How can this great love be inside of me? Look at your eyes. They are small but, they see enormous things.”

We are a 20,000 member strong co-op. We know that we have strength in numbers, our combined love for the co-op mission, and the friendliness of our Wheatsville community. However, as individuals, that number can be intimidating when it comes to asking ourselves how we can lead.

As our 2018 election season ramps up for the fall, we have 4 seats opening and we need dedicated members to start asking themselves if Wheatsville board work is how they want to serve our community.

When I was in my candidacy, I found that a great way to get my Wheatsville-potential-board-candidate feet wet is by coming to monthly board meetings and seeing first-hand what board work is really like. In addition to coming to board meetings, we also invite you to join one of our committees! We have spots open for the Nominations and Audit & Review Committees and we’d love to engage you in our board work. If you’d like to learn more about committee work, follow this link and scroll to “Join a Committee” https://wheatsville.coop/membership/board-of-directors - we’d love to hear from you by May 3rd if you’re interested in joining!

Candidate applications for the 2018 elections are open at the beginning of May and are due July 1st. We hope to see you at one of our upcoming monthly board meetings and that you feel empowered to join a committee. If you have more questions about what candidacy looks like or how to get involved, email us at nominations@wheatsville.com.

Board work is already a unique experience. Layer that with your love for Wheatsville and it has the potential to change your life! —Julie Le, Board Member

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Our Green Features: Earth Day 2017

Wheatsville Green Features

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one  thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson

As a community owned co-op, we take our Cooperative Values & Principles very seriously. We fulfill the ideals of Principle #7, Concern for Community, in a number of different ways – one of which is being a good environmental steward. Through thoughtful, small daily actions – such as sorting our trash from recycling and compost after we eat – we can make a HUGE impact.
 
Thank you for doing your part – bringing your containers to refill, remembering your reusable bags, sorting your trash, composting, planting gardens, collecting rainwater, and for supporting your co-op!
 
Here are some things your co-op does to stay green:

  1. We recycle metal, cardboard, plastic, paper, glass, food scraps, and cooking oil
  2. Break it Down, our local recyclers, estimate that we divert 20 tons of cardboard each month between both stores. That’s the equivalent of 3 elephants!

  3. Break it Down also estimates that we divert 100 tons of recycling (cardboard, glass, and plastic) each month between both stores. That’s the same as 50 full-grown cows!

  4. Wheatsville is part of Austin Energy’s Green Choice program which uses the money we pay for utilities to build wind farms and help Austin reach its goal of 55% renewable energy use by 2025! Wheatsville came in at #29 on Green Power Partnership’s Top 30 Retail stores, you can view the full list here: www.epa.gov/greenpower/green-power-partnership-top-30-retail

  5. S. Lamar has 57 SolaTubes which use highly reflective fiber optic tubes to direct sunlight into our store so that we don’t have to use as much electricity. 

  6. Ceiling lights at S. Lamar adjust intensity depending on the amount of natural sunlight coming in from our SolaTubes.
  7. We only buy energy efficient coolers, refrigeration units, and equipment.

  8. We offer bulk refills of wellness products like Dr.Bronner’s soaps, lotions and laundry detergent!

  9. We use noVOC or lowVOC building materials and paint in order to have an odor-free store. 

  10. Our waterless urinal at S. Lamar saves 1.5 gallons of water per flush! 12 flushes per day saves 6,552 gallons of water per year!

  11. Our rainwater collection tanks at Guadalupe give us enough water to irrigate all of our landscaping!

  12. Our paper bags are made with 100% recovered fiber, minimum of 85% post consumer content, and are printed with water-based inks.

  13. Lots of bike parking, showers for staff, a bike to work benefit for staff members who ride 8+ hours/month. 

  14. Concrete parking lots, light paint colors, and awnings help keep us cool through the hot summers.

  15. Email receipts, double-sided receipts, and no receipts option significantly cut down the amount of paper register tape (BPA free) we have to buy.
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Local Vendor Spotlight: Vital Farms

Vital Farm Folks Interview by Chris Moore, Chill & Bulk Coordinator

How long has Vital Farms been farming, and what sets your standards apart from other farmers’?

Vital Farms was started in 2007 by our founder Matt O’Hayer and his wife, Catherine. They purchased a small farm in South Austin and began tending a flock of 20 hens, believing that there was a better way to produce eggs, sustainably and humanely. As the company grew, we began working together with small family farms to pioneer the Pasture-Raised standard here in the US, providing a minimum of 108 sq ft of green, organically maintained pasture for each and every hen. We’ve been Certified Humane since 2010, and even helped Humane Farm Animal Care develop the Pasture-Raised standard for egg laying hens.

How long has Vital Farms been on Wheatsville’s shelves?

Wheatsville Food Co-op was one of our very first retail partners here in Austin. Our partnership goes way back to 2008, and is very special to us. We are grateful to Wheatsville for believing in our mission early on.

Vital Farms produce different types of eggs. Is there one that is better than the rest? What makes them all different?

Pasture-Raised is the gold standard for eggs, and all of the eggs we produce reflects our passion for treating our hens humanely and bringing the very best eggs to market. Every single one of our hens are Certified Humane, Raised and Handled, and enjoy a standard of living that we believe all hens should have. They go outside every single day, and enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and 108 sq ft of green pasture each to roam and forage. The only difference in our organic brand and non-organic brand is in the supplemental feed we give our girls, to keep them healthy.

Vital farms has recently started to produce butter, what made you go in that direction?

We launched our butter in late 2015. We wanted to extend our Pasture-Raised farming standard to our other favorite Girls on Grass: cows!

What do you like most about Wheatsville Food Co-op?

Wheatsville is a great place to discover something new. There are so many great and innovative products coming out from mission-driven food companies that want to change the way we produce and consume food. We find ourselves in very good company at the co-op!

Is there anything new in the works at Vital Farms?

We’re always working on leading pasture-raised. We’ve got lots of exciting things in the works that we can’t wait to introduce to the world. Follow our Facebook and Instagram for the latest!

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with our patrons?

Our Baked Eggs with Fine Herbs was recently featured in the Vital Times, our mini newsletter that is included with every carton of our eggs. It’s absolutely delicious, very easy to make, and takes no time at all! You can also find our other great recipes on our website: www.vitalfarms.com/recipes

Baked Eggs with Fine Herbs

Ingredients
3 Large Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs
½ TBS Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Unsalted Butter
1 TBS Heavy Cream
1 TBS Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ TBS Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Finely chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped Sage
1 tsp chopped Rosemary
1 tsp chopped Thyme
 salt and pepper to taste

• Set oven to Broil, and let heat for about 5 minutes. Place rack no higher than 6 inches from the burner.
• Take a shallow gratin dish, and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in the dish. Place in oven and heat until the cream and butter start bubbling, about 5 minutes.
• Mix chopped herbs, garlic, and grated parmesan cheese together and set aside.
• Crack 3 eggs carefully into a small bowl, taking care not to puncture the yolk.
• Once the cream and butter are bubbling hot, remove the gratin dish from the oven and set on a trivet. Pour the eggs into the gratin dish and sprinkle with the herbed parmesan mixture until well covered. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally   all over.
• Place gratin dish back in the oven and broil for about 5 minutes. The dish should be done when the edges of the gratin and the garlic from the herb mixture are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 1-2 minutes, to cool and set the eggs.
• Enjoy with a slice of baguette or your favorite bread.

For more information about Vital Farms: http://www.vitalfarms.com

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Response: How to Raise Worker Wages

On Thursday, March 30th, the Chronicle reported on the work we’ve done with livable wages & benefits at Wheatsville over the past year, How to Raise Worker Wages by Jack Craver, as part of a much larger article about the challenge of workers making a livable wage in Austin. The co-op has worked long and hard on behalf of both our owners and 235 staff members to get all staff earning a livable wage with benefits and we’re pleased to be the concrete example of a business doing right by its employees in the article.

We know that you have a lot of choices for where you buy your food. This article strongly suggests that the kind of businesses you choose to support matter. Sure, in many ways choosing your grocer seems like such a small act – buying a loaf of bread, apple, or jug of milk. But the fact is when you shop here at the co-op, you support livable wages & benefits and a co-op full of PEOPLE, just like you, that come to work every day and try to make a positive impact in this world.  YOUR SHOP MATTERS. PEOPLE MATTER.

While we know that we have not satisfied every staff member or owner around our wage issues, we have worked very hard, and have done our best to address a very complicated problem as shown in the article. This issue is not just a Wheatsville issue, a box store issue, an independent business issue – this is a community issue. How are we lining up to take care of each other? How do we ensure good paying jobs for the future?

Our co-op was started 41 years ago as an alternative to other grocery stores. We listened, we fought, we joined together, we worked hard, we changed, we grew, we acted. We approached the Livable Wage & Benefits problem the same way we’ve been operating years - TOGETHER. Each of us brings a different perspective – but through open and honest dialogue and respectfully listening to each other’s point of view, we solve problems.

We’re happy the Chronicle decided to dig deeper into a complicated issue and glad that we can be a positive example of a good approach to dealing with this challenge. At the same time, we’re pressing forward to ensure that our co-op thrives and survives for another several decades and are glad that we can do so by being a good employer.

We appreciate your support, patronage, feedback, contribution, and criticism. It’s all part of the ecosystem that allows us to grow stronger together!

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Local Vendor Spotlight:Kosmic Kombucha

What was the origin of Kosmic Kombucha

Kosmic Kombucha is lovingly brewed in the heart of Austin by Omar and Mina Rios, who made their separate ways to UT back in the ’90s. Omar studied business administration and came from El Paso. Mina traveled even further to earn her degrees in education, as she hails from Maracaibo, Venezuela. After college, Mina pursued a career in math education, and Omar served as a paramedic. Thanks to their shared passion for yoga, it wasn’t long before the yoga community of Austin introduced them to kombucha. For years, they purchased home-brewed booch from a fellow yogi. When she decided not to brew her own tea anymore, Omar and Mina jumped in to fill the void—and in the summer of 2010, Kosmic Kombucha was born.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea with a rich history that began in China, where it has been celebrated for millennia as an “immortal health elixir.” The heart and soul of this living drink is a layered culture of yeast and bacteria (called the scoby) that grows on top of the tea throughout the fermentation process. After a short period, fermentation yields raw kombucha, a lightly effervescent tea with unmistakable notes of vinegar. The flavor of raw kombucha can range from tart to sweet—based on the amount of sugar fed to the culture, the duration of the fermentation process, and other factors that are tremendously interesting to those who brew the beverage and tremendously dull to those who simply enjoy it. The key takeaway for people who want to know what they’re putting into their bodies, however, is that raw kombucha is made with nothing but tea, water, sugar, and the all-important scoby.

Is kombucha good for you?

Skeptics doubt that kombucha is an “immortal health elixir” because it’s tough to find people who are celebrating their two thousandth birthdays. Okay, so maybe “immortal” is a bit hyperbolic. Nevertheless, kombucha contains beneficial acids, probiotics, antioxidants, and amino acids. Kombucha is claimed to promote digestive health, support liver function, and alkalize the body. Some proponents of the drink even believe that it may help fend off cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases, but you don’t have to verify any of the more grandiose claims to feel refreshed by a glass of kombucha after a bike ride or a long walk.

How are the flavors developed?

As Kosmic’s brewmistress, Mina goes through meticulous testing (and tasting!) procedures when developing new flavors with a variety of fresh, organic, and delicious ingredients. To help us celebrate our 40th birthday last year, Kosmic developed an exclusive flavor just for Wheatsville. It’s called “Wheatsville’s Pear of the Dog” and it’s got a prickly pear Mexican martini flavor that was named and flavor tested by the Wheatsville staff. With its beautiful dark pink color and refreshing flavor it’s a staff favorite!

photos by Kelly Stevens

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Guadalupe Refresh!

As the seasons make their rounds and the holidays breeze by, our stores see thousands of shoppers in a week. After lots of planning, our Guadalupe store refresh includes new products and fixtures, improved shopper flow, maintenance to our physical store, and lots more! Look for:

  • Expanded selection in fresh foods: produce, meat, deli & bakery!

  • New and improved selections for our prepared foods including more grab & go deli items, hot food and salad bar!

  • Improved wait time for sandwiches along with some new menu items!

  • Larger self-serve coffee bar to help improve flow and increase variety!

  • Beer and wine on tap for when you want to join a friend for a drink!

  • Additional energy efficient coolers that will help us increase our product variety!

  • NEW Fresh Seal packaging for meat!

  • Improved lighting and flooring!

  • Fresh paint for the exterior and interior!

To make room for some of these new features we’ve pared our grocery selection down to our most popular favorites which include all of our Co+op Basics, increased shelf space in Wellness, and have moved our meat-cutting room to S.Lamar in order to offer our Fresh Seal packaged meat and seafood items.

We’re very excited about these changes and hope you will be, too! Work will be finished mid-March. Thank you for your patronage!

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