We welcome your comments and give each one attention and serious consideration. Send them to or fill out a Customer Comment form in the Owner Resources area. Each month a small selection is printed in the Reader. The rest can be found in the commons or in the binder near Customer Service. Thank you!
Q: My spouse and I have been members for 5 years and avid readers of the Co-op Newsletter. I want to thank you sincerely for the sensitivity and kindness with which you address serious (and sometimes less-serious) concerns from member-owners. I am hoping to recognize your emotional strength publicly and encourage you to continue responding in kindness. Given the immediate and motivating nature of complaints, it is easy to understand why so many of the comments in the newsletter are framed with an upset or angry tone. Our concern is that the language of violence in these comments can easily be mirrored and reproduced from hurt feelings or defensiveness by you or even by readers like us. Thank you for always giving the member-owner the benefit of the doubt and choosing to respond with compassion and understanding. Your responses (and responsiveness) serve as a model for non-violence that makes us proud, not only to shop at the Willy Street Co-op, but also to live in Madison and have you as neighbors and friends.
A: On behalf of all Co-op employees, I would like to express our gratitude for your appreciation and encouragement. Thank you so much for your kind words of support. Regards, Liz Hawley, Co-op Services Assistant
Q: PLEASE put more recipes on your website!
A: We’re adding at least six new recipes per month to our website, and are also adding groups of dozens more as we are able. Thanks for your request and your enthusiasm! -Brendon Smith, Director of Communications
Q: No more avocado BLT? Not cool!
A: Don’t be sad... our decision to take the Avocado BLT wrap off the menu is only temporary. We made this decision because avocados won’t be as readily available to us. In the winter months we’ll have fewer sources and the tomato will not be the quality that we have become accustomed to in the summer. It’ll be back. I promise! Thanks! - Gina Jimenez-Lalor, Deli Manager–Willy East
PIZZA DOUGH DEMAND
Q: I love that you stock pizza dough now, but you’re out over half the time I come for it. Please stock more!
A: I understand your frustration. This is a relatively new product for us and we are still in the process of monitoring its movement. It does appear to be selling pretty well lately, so we can definitely get more on the shelves for you. Thanks! -Gina Jimenez-Lalor, Deli Manager–Willy East
SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT
Q: I can “live with” your salad bar dressings, but I don’t like them. You could do better.
A: Do you have a favorite dressing that you’d like to see? The Annie’s dressings that we currently carry on the salad bar are top sellers in our grocery department. We also have Renaissance Farms dressings that provide a nice locally prepared option. If there I something else you’d like to see, we’d be happy to consider it. Thanks! -Megan Blodgett, Outgoing Deli Manager–Willy East
Q: My kids love the chicken soup! Might it be possible to have a soup schedule so I could know when to shop for the soup? Thanks!
A: Thanks for the request! The chicken soup is one of our most popular. Unfortunately we don’t necessarily know which soup we will have on a day-to-day basis. Our Kitchen decides based on what’s seasonal and what ingredients are on hand. If you want to know what soups we have, you’re welcome to call ahead before you visit the store. Thanks again! -Megan Blodgett, Outgoing Deli Manager–Willy East
PIE CRUST CONSISTENCY
Q: I have been buying the Co-op pie crusts from the freezer since you first introduced them. They seem different lately. For instance, the edge, which used to be nicely defined, now gets “fat” and like puff pastry. Was the recipe changed? If so, please go back to your original recipe. Thanks!
A: I’m sorry that some of the frozen pie shells that you’ve purchased from us recently have been unsatisfactory. The recipe hasn’t changed. What I think it sounds like has been happening is that they are being rolled out thicker than before. The machine that we use to produce the pie shells has a lever that is adjusted to control how thin the dough is rolled out. I’ll make sure the bakers are all aware what the proper setting for that lever is and that we are all rolling the dough out to the same thickness. I’ll also check to make sure that the machine itself has not become of out alignment and that the number the lever is set to is still producing dough sheets to our desired dimensions. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and I hope that these steps we are taking will ensure that the shells go back to being how you remember them. Thanks! -Andy Giamber, Bakery Coordinator
Q: Concerning Salad Bar: Willy Street Co-op observes strict standards for fruits and veggies. Never would have an organic apple and non-organic displayed next to each other in case they touched. But in the salad bar there are meat dishes next to veggie. Someone might use same spoon or spill meat into veggie. Please separate and segregate meat away from veggie dishes to make vegans and vegetarians happy. Thank you.
A: We try as much as possible to make sure that meat does not get mixed with vegetarian food on the salad bar, however because of the nature of the self-serve bar, we can’t guarantee that any of the food on the bar is totally free of contamination. For this reason, I recommend that anyone with a food allergy or a strict dietary regimen (such as vegan or vegetarian) eat from our service case or grab and go if they want to be absolutely sure they don’t get contaminated food. Thanks! -Megan Blodgett, Outgoing Deli Manager–Willy East
Q: How come the Co-op almost always has green bananas which do not ripen at home. All the other grocery stores I know of, the Jenifer St Market, Whole Foods, even Copps, have nice ripe yellow bananas. They must have a system for ripening them. Can the Co-op check with them and do the same?
A: We’re receiving fair trade bananas from two different sources, every day of the week except Wednesdays. I find that our Monday delivery is the most inconsistent, and the bananas are more often than not greener than we’d like. Banana stages range 1-6, with 1 being completely green, and 6 being “you’d better eat it now or make bread.” We request stage 4: almost full color with a few days of shelf life left on it at room temp.
Our buyers are toning their orders numbers down for the Monday delivery. Due to the volume of bananas we sell (10,000lbs/week!!!), we are unable to store and ripen the product as we have nowhere to put it! We leave this up to our distributors, who rely on “banana houses” to hold and manage the ripening of their bananas. There are several banana houses in the Midwest, and that is all they do: hold and ripen bananas. Whole Foods and Copps are getting bananas from their central warehouse, which gives them an advantage over smaller independents. Jenifer St. works with a couple of the same organic suppliers as Willy St., so when our fair trade bananas are green, so are theirs.
Bananas typically take two to three weeks after the order has been placed to reach American ports. They’re then shipped to the banana houses, and stored in a controlled atmosphere where ripening is either deterred or promoted based on demand. One “house” may be managing product owned by several competing distributors. While some distributors manage their own product, most don’t due to the cost and labor involved.
Bananas that do not ripen properly have not been handled properly post harvest. This summer, banana sales tanked, and due to order/shipping logistics, suppliers got long on product. They were being held “green” far too long. After being pulled from the banana house and shipped to retailers like us, some of the product ripened fine, some didn’t.
As I stated, we’re requesting stage 4 product, and are now sourcing from a third distributor who is facing the same challenges. We’ll continue to work with our distributors to correct the problem!
So, don’t count on yellow bananas on Mondays. We typically get bananas that are ripe or with color other days of the week.
Hope this answers your question, and thanks for shopping the Co-op. -Andy Johnston, Produce Manager–Willy East