Q: I buy water from your water filtration system. I would like to know more about it. Does it contain any fluoride?
A: Thanks for asking about the reverse osmosis water we sell at the Co-op. I checked in with our Maintenance Department and they gave me the following information:
The reverse osmosis (RO) systems that we use at all three store locations are rented through Total Water Treatment Systems, which is a Madison-based distributor and service provider for Culligan water treatment equipment. These systems process water from the municipal water supply through several stages:
• Municipal supply water is run through a water softener to remove calcium and magnesium
• Two stages of carbon pre-filtration to remove large particles from the municipal supply water that make it past the water softening stage
• Filtration through a 5-micron spun polypropylene sediment filter to remove ultra-fine particles such as sand, rust, salt and mineral scale from the municipal supply water
• Filtration through the semi-permeable reverse osmosis membrane to remove up to 99% of total dissolved solids
• Ultraviolet sterilization and another stage of carbon filtration (to remove odors, taste, discoloration and chlorine) prior to being dispensed
• The resulting “product water” is pumped through a constantly moving, closed distribution loop to further ensure that there is no chance for algae or bacterial growth
• A second ultraviolet sterilization happens as the “product water” is being dispensed
The RO systems are subject to monthly service, which includes 5-micron filter changes and coliform bacteria tests. There are also quarterly changes of the carbon pre-filter cartridges as well as annual sterilization of the entire system. The ultraviolet sterilization lamps are also checked monthly and changed as needed.
We have not had full spectrum tests of the product water at any of our stores due to it being very cost prohibitive. Based on info we’ve gathered over the years, the reverse osmosis process typically removes 87% of fluoride content from the municipal supply water. It is possible that the systems we rent remove more than that due to them being industrial grade systems but there is no way of knowing for sure without a full analysis of the product water.
Please let me know if there is anything else we may do for you! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I was super excited about your double dollars program except my FoodShare Quest card replenishes on the 8th of the month and keeps falling a day or two after Tuesday. I cant really wait another 5-6 days for food (until the next Tuesday) though because by the time the card is replenished I’ve already been waiting for food for a week or longer because my FoodShare doesn’t go far enough each month, in general. Id really like to take advantage of the double dollars but because it’s limited to only the one day per week when it’s valid, I keep missing out month after month after month. A program like this only helps if you can actually use it! Thanks for your consideration
A: Thanks for writing. I’m sorry that Tuesdays aren’t days that work well for you, and I’m sure that any day (or days) of the week we select for issuing Double Dollars coupons would not be serviceable for all of our customers. While I wish we currently had the means to expand the program or change the days, we do not have that option at this time. The $40,000 we received for the program through the USDA was designed to last through the end of March, 2017, and in order to make the funds last, we can only offer the program once per week. At this point in time, it looks likely that the funds we have to issue coupons may be outpaced by demand, meaning we will likely run out within the next couple Tuesdays, ahead of schedule. When we designed the pilot and wrote the grant, the day of the week we settled on for issuing coupons was Tuesdays and we have a commitment to carry out the pilot per the design that was approved. We are currently working with our grant partners to devise plans for future funding and that includes determining how much funding we would need to continue the program and what it would take to expand the days of the week that people can be issued Double Dollars coupons (Double Dollars coupons can be redeemed any day of the week, but we can only issue them at this time on Tuesdays).
We’re so glad to hear that you are interested in the program. I hope that you will be able to find a way to take advantage of the Double Dollars opportunity either during its pilot phase or sometime in the future, and if you can’t take advantage at the Co-op this year, that you may be able to use the Double Dollars program at participating farmers’ markets this summer (vouchers are available different days of the week depending on the market schedules). In the meantime, know that we are keeping track of all the feedback we receive about the program, and this will help us make improvements moving forward, so thanks much! Please let us know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Broccoli Stalks vs. Florets
Q: Tired of paying for broccoli stems and throwing them away? Then don’t. They’re as nutritious as the florets. Look it up on the web— nutrition of broccoli stems and florets. See BERKELEYWELLNESS.com: Broccoli Stalks vs. Florets. I have a food processor and shred my stems and florets and mix them into my salads. Or you can slice them finely and cook them in butter or olive oil or coconut oil until tender and flavorful.
A: Thanks for your suggestion! We’ve found that customers tend to look askance at us when we recommend using broccoli stems, but it’s been received better when other customers say so! I hope to get this into the newsletter to share the information. Have a nice week. -Brendon Smith, Director of Communications
Reader Ad Agreement
Q: I downloaded the pdf of the Reader Ad Agreement and it requires a signature. That implies that I have to mail or hand in the agreement. How does one sign an agreement and then email it. I assume that the ad will appear in the print and online newsletter. Can I pay for the reserved ads up front or do I wait for the monthly billing? When I send in the pdf of the ad I assume it’ll be reviewed to see if it’s acceptable for publication. Thanks
A: You can mail in your agreement, bring it in to the store or scan or take a picture of it and email it back. Any of those are fine. The ad will appear in print and online. Ads must be submitted camera-ready at the specs listed here: www.willystreet.coop/advertising. Ad reservation deadline is the 10th of each month and camera-ready copy is due the 15th. I will definitely take a look at your ad and let you know if there are any issues with it when you turn it in. Our Finance department sends out monthly billing statements, so you don’t have to pay up front (unless you want to; we can arrange that if you prefer).
Thanks for writing and let me know if you have any other questions! You can write to me here. Or call me at 608-237-1230. -Liz Wermcrantz, Editor
Q: The bus monitor has been broken for nearly two weeks now and serves only to confuse and confound I,as well as others. I’m sure, would prefer a simple clock to a non-functioning monitor stuck on 19 minutes northbound and 5 minutes southbound.
A: Thank you so much for your feedback! I am so sorry that the bus kiosk was not working correctly. I have taken multiple steps to ensure that it doesn’t get frozen again. You are always welcome to notify an employee at Customer Service so that we can remedy any issues that come up at the store as soon as possible.
Other Co-op Owners have requested additional bus kiosk features, such as a weather widget, which we’ve already committed to providing very soon. When working, the kiosk does show the current time in the upper right corner. Thanks for shopping at Willy Street Co-op! Best Regards, James Phetteplace, Director of IT
Q: please remove conventional and non-organic foods from your willy north location
A: Thank you for the suggestion, I appreciate your commitment to eating organic foods. As a cooperatively owned grocery store, our job is to provide the products that our Owners collectively want us to carry. We hope that all of our Owners enjoy the services that they utilize and can also appreciate that other services are available to meet the requests of their fellow cooperators. Any product that is not certified organic could be considered a conventional item, and we have carried conventional items at all locations for years (even when Willy East was our only location). This flexibility helps us meet the needs, tastes, values, and budgets of our other Owners. Selling non-organic products also allows us to support local and regional suppliers, many of which may be too small to benefit from the cost of organic certification. For those reasons, we have no plans to be a 100% organic store. I hope you will continue to enjoy the organic products we offer. If there are specific organic products that you would like us to carry, please let us know what those products are so that we may see if we can get them on the shelves for you. Sincerely, Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: Will there be a t-shirt design contest this year? If so, what is the deadline?
A: Thanks for your question! We are not planning to run the contest this year—there tended to be more interest in the contest than in the resulting t-shirts and we often ended the year with hundreds of dollars with of t-shirts that we couldn’t sell. We have been talking about potential changes we could make to the contest, but it likely wouldn’t happen until next year at the earliest. We’ll consider this a vote to figure out something and offer it again!
Q: I am sorry to learn that you will no longer offer bag credits. Although a small credit is received, it is still a nice incentive.
It is difficult to believe that (1) customers who take the time and make the effort to bring a bag(s)/box when they shop are considered “favored” customers and (2) people cannot find or afford reusable bags. We are not talking designer shopping bags but ANY bag/box in which one can carry items.
Because of your decision, I will no longer CHIP. I consider the money you withhold from the bag credit will act as my CHIP donation.
A: Thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the bag credit program all these years. We take all of the feedback we hear from our Owners seriously and we did receive feedback regarding both the reusable bag incentive program as well as the cost of reusable bags that impacted the decision we made to change the program. While the money we save thanks to your reuse of bags will support Double Dollars and help people with lower income stretch their food budgets further, Community Shares of Wisconsin is a separate nonprofit from us and Iam sorry to hear that you will no longer support their Community CHIP program in light of our decision. We will keep your feedback in mind when we conduct a review how our customers receive our new program. Please let me know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
North product mix
Q: I wanted to write and thank you for the manner in which you have chosen your product mix at Willy North.
Your willingness to listen to the requests and recommendations of area residents for familiar and affordable food choices demonstrates an open-minded attitude, and shows your true desire to aid those who need you the most.
I am fortunate enough, at this point in my life, to be able to enjoy (and afford) local and organic food products, and believe that they do taste better and provide better nutrition.
However, I have also been on the other side as well, where the available funds needed to be stretched to fill the stomachs present, and what could be viewed as ’the best’ choices were not the economically viable ones.
I applaud your selection from another aspect as well, in that I have recently needed to do some grocery shopping for my mother who’s dementia will not allow any substitution of favored brands. The selection at Willy North (“Brownberry Ovens Whole Wheat Bread in the red labeled wrapper,” Miracle Whip, and Pam!) allow me to do more shopping in one location, and save a trip to a second store.
Having said this, I have read several letters in the Reader from members taking you to task for not maintaining what they perceive to be a ‘purity of vision and mission‘ at Willy North.
I would suggest to them that if the sight of a variety of products that they deem unworthy of shelf space in ‘their’ co-op offends their moral code, don’t go to Willy North.
Patronize Willy West, or the Mother Ship on Willy street, if the Purity Of Essence of your shopping experience outweighs all other factors.
(Oh, and good luck finding parking places there. Just sayin’.)
A: Thanks for sharing your positive feedback about the product mix and customer service we have provided in opening and growing Willy North. Thank you, also, for sharing your story about the food choices you have had to make over the course of your life, including the heartfelt choices you make for your mother. I’m glad to hear we’re meeting your family’s needs and making shopping more efficient for you.
Our business started very small, serving the people who came together in one neighborhood over 40 years ago. Throughout the years, it has been transparent discussions, quality products and services, and a willingness to adapt and change that have made more and more people want to shop and belong. Our growth has been carefully managed in part because of our Owners holding us to task, and while that sometimes leads to uncomfortable conversations, airing differences and sometimes exposing short-sightedness of Owners or staff or all of us, I am glad that we can have these kinds of conversations so that we can learn from each other and really find out what we can do to provide the offerings and services most appreciated Co-op-wide.
Your Co-op is committed to being an inclusive grocery store where everyone is welcome at any location, in accordance with the Cooperative Principles, our mission and our ends. The staff understands that individual health is subjective according to nutritional, financial, personal and cultural needs and values. We are committed to continuing to tailor all our locations to need and by collective request because ultimately we are here to provide service.
We appreciate your contribution to the conversation. Please let me know if there is anything else I may do for you!-Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Double Dollar Program and bag Credit change
Q: Zillion of thanks for the double dollar program and for using the bag incentive for this too. Thank you also for your decision to make double dollars available for fruit and veggies. I have volunteered for years at the farmers market and been involved with the double dollar program there. It is great BUT I find it terrible that market dollars can be used for baked goods, which take a substantial amount of market dollars for no healthy nutrition. I know that many people think a choice should not be imposed but I disagree strongly and hope that the Coop will keep the present policy of fruit and veggies. In addition to keeping people healthy, it supports our superb local farmers.
A: Thanks for writing! I’m so glad to hear that you appreciate both our Double Dollars program and our re-purposing of the reusable bag incentive to fund the program at both the Co-op and the farmers’ markets. We made the decision to limit the coupons to fruits and vegetables based on the guidelines from the USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant that funded the program. Moving forward, our plan is to first attempt to raise enough funds to keep the program going as we had done in the pilot, meaning that at a minimum, we would issue coupons on Tuesdays and they would be eligible for Produce Department purchases any day of the week from late fall to early spring. If we are able to raise more funds, we can then consider ways to expand the program, and in that case, we may look at making the coupons eligible for redemption of other specific items in the store, using the guidance and nutritional expertise of our public and private partners in the program to guide those decisions. We’ll keep your feedback in mind, as well as the feedback we hear from other Owners, should we become positioned to consider an expansion of that sort. We appreciate your support! Please let me know if there is anything else we may do for you. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: Thank you for coming to the north side. Please consider purchasing more non-California produce, e.g. Satsumas from Alabama and peaches from Georgia or South Carolina. Thank you.
A: Thanks for the suggestions. We don’t have a whole lot of access to fresh produce from the states you mention. It is often shipped to the east coast markets only. That said, I’ll keep my eyes out for any opportunities that come our way. Best, Megan Minnick
CHEESE AND COMMENTS
Q: Dear Willy, two quick things: 1) could you please handle more organic cheese at Willy North. There are so many organic cheese companies out there and you only handle Organic valley. We don’t need so many “fancy” yuppie types of cheese that might taste good but don’t have the ethics behind their products that Willy Co-op members have long held dear. If it’s not organic then the environment was sprayed with chemicals to grow the crop to feed the cow. as a side note: Organic Valley does sell 1lb chunks of cheese for a cheaper per pound price (it’s at Jenifer St Mkt for around $7.90 a pound)... this would be welcome at Willy. 2) Some of us ARE members (myself included), but want to share our thoughts anonymously with our Co-op. Not because we have mean comments, but because we are shy. Why do we have to give our member number if it’s not relevant to our inquiry?
A: Thanks for writing. I have logged your product request for our Purchasing Department’s review and consideration and I’ve also let them know about the pricing you found on Organic Valley cheese elsewhere. If more organic cheeses are available to us and we think will be popular with our Owners, we’ll get them on our shelves and let you know.
Regarding your comments about the ethics around organic cheese production, it’s true, certifying organic can be one way to signal a producer’s commitments, though it is not the only indicator of practices, quality or ethics. You might find it interesting that we sell hundreds varieties of cheese Co-op-wide, about 80% of it is from Wisconsin, and most of it is not organic. One of the big reasons for this is that we support local farmers and most of the cheese producers we work with are very, very small. Dairy farms that are certified organic require farmers to take cows who fall ill and need certain types of care out of production for an entire year before their milk can be considered organic again. This, and other aspects of organic certification and maintenance may make certifying cost-prohibitive for small producers regardless of their practices. To find out how a small farmer grows their feed, it may be better to ask the producer directly or check out their website than to rely on whether or not they carry a certification.
We ask for your name and Owner number because when you provide us feedback, we want to give you a personalized answer, and it’s much easier for us to dialogue if we ask for your information. Your Owner number helps us make sure that we have your correct contact information, which is really helpful if a customer’s handwriting is not as easy to read, or if the customer makes a typo when providing their contact information. You are essentially giving us the tools to make sure we know who to contact with a response or with questions. Providing your Owner number also signals to us that you have a stake in our business. It’s helpful to us to know that our Owners are trying to communicate with us and that we should keep in mind any Owner benefits that may come into play when we respond. I was unable to find your Owner record with only your first name and the email that you provided.
Please let me know if I may assist you further! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services