Q: Good morning, I am trying to find out where your rotisserie chickens come from, but I wasn’t able to find the name of your producer on the website. I wondered if someone could tell me who provides the rotisserie chickens? Thank you!
A: Thanks for letting me know that you couldn’t get this information about our chickens. That tells me we need to look at ways to communicate it more clearly. In the meantime, I will tell you that our chickens cooked in rotisserie at Willy West are from Bell and Evans (www.bellandevans.com/). They are the air-chilled as well as antibiotic- and hormone-free birds. We hope to offer a line of organic Bell and Evans rotisserie chickens in the near future. Thanks again for writing in! -Patrick Schroeder, Prepared Foods Category Manager
Q: I’ve shopped at Willy St. Co-op for about 15 years now and have always been more or less happy with the offerings. However, lately a few of my favorites seem to have disappeared and I’m really disappointed. One is the re-organization of the non-dairy yogurt cups. I’m not terribly picky about which brand of non-dairy yogurt I eat, or whether it’s soy/almond/coconut. However, it’s annoying that today I counted about four different brands, yet each had the same flavor line-up. I really miss cherry and some sort of peach or peach/mango flavor. Doesn’t anyone offer these flavors? Willy St. Co-op got me hooked on Turano whole wheat bread a few years ago, and it, too, has disappeared from the shelves. I’ve emailed twice on this issue and never got a reply. It’s a wonderful whole wheat bread that holds up to spreads and sandwich toppings, makes fantastic toast, and tastes delicious. Today’s disappointment arrived when I went to the freezer section to get my favorite frozen summer treat: Tofutti Totally Fudge Treats. I notice Fudgesicles are still in the freezer, but not the delicious vegan alternative. Will these return? As I said before, normally I’m impressed with the product selection and the helpfulness of the staff. But these missing products are a big disappointment. The yogurt and bread issues are driving me to shop more at Hyvee and Woodman’s—and I have a strong and irrational dislike of Woodman’s. Please stop making me shop there. :) thanks.
A: Thanks for writing with your concerns! We did have to eliminate some low selling items for the East Remodel, and to make way for new products, but we are also committed to bringing things back per customer request as space permits. I will definitely add your requests to our list, and we will do our best to make sure you can find what you’re looking for at the Co-op! Best Regards. -Megan Minnick, Director of Purchasing
Q: Wondering if there is any news on a third site? We moved to the east side from the west side and miss the incredible staff and convenience of Willy West. Wondering what’s next!
A: Thanks for your question! I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoy us. Identifying a third site location has taken longer than anticipated, and we plan to have a location identified by the end of Fiscal Year 2016 (June, 2016). Stay tuned! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I’m not certain what’s happening at Willy West but I continue to see your prices rising and your product quality falling. I just purchased a bag of Jonagold apples this week and 2 of 2 now have been mealy and not worth eating and all for $10 a bag? Come on! And cauliflower? Don’t even go there! I purchased one last week at practically $7.50 and it was NOT large by any means and then found a larger one yesterday at Whole Foods (where I really do not like to shop but may have to change my habits!) for $3.99, and it was fresher and yes, ORGANIC! Come on, Co-op—I thought you were for your owners but it doesn’t appear that way so much any more. Tired of rotten berries, fruit, and veggies for WAY TOO HIGH PRICES!
A: Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback.
I’m sorry to hear that you have been unhappy with our produce quality and prices. We take pride in our produce department and strive to offer the highest quality produce available for the lowest price. If you are ever dissatisfied with the products you buy from Willy Street Co-op, we are happy to give you a full refund on the item.
We have found that as demand for organic produce has continued to increase faster than supply, prices have gone up. The best way to save in the produce department (and get the best quality) is to shop sales and local/seasonal items.
We are also happy to cut you a sample of anything in our produce department before you make a purchase. Please ask if you would like to try something. Our staff taste tests items on a daily basis, but we do also get new shipments in on a daily basis, so it’s not possible for us to taste everything!
Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to help! Thanks again for taking the time to comment. -Brandy Schroeder, Produce Manager–West
Vegan deli items
Q: Are there any items in the deli that are safe for vegans?
A: Thank you for taking the time to write to us! We have lots of vegan options available in our deli. We also take several precautions to be sure that your vegan food stays that way. On our hot bar we separate our vegan options from our traditional-style offerings. At West, all vegan/vegetarian food is put on one side of our hot bar (nearest to the cheese department.) If any vegetarian dishes are put on that side they are put in the front of the well, to be sure that nothing is dripped or dropped into a vegan dish to contaminate it. We practice a similar style in our cold case, keeping all vegan food on a top shelf, or at the front of the case, where nothing can be dripped or dropped into it.
I hope this helps put your mind at ease while shopping with us! Thank you again for writing. -Renee Strobel, Deli Manager–West
Q: I would like to see Willy Street Co-op support environmentally friendly GMOs and support GMOs developed by smaller companies and research facilities. Most co-ops and environmentally focused grocery stores have an anti-science approach to GMOs, that often hurts the environment more than helps (for instance organically grown crops sometimes uses far more pesticides and herbicides, and contributes far more to herbicide-resistant weeds, than GM crops do). I would love to see my co-op be at the forefront of supporting ethical GM produce to take the power away from big agribusiness and support further advances in sustainable agriculture. For instance, I would like to see GM pest-resistant produce (rainbow papaya being the classic example), Bt GM (not sprayed, as many organics are) crops, and support of pest and drought resistant produce. With all the focus on organic and non-GMO agriculture, I worry the co-op will become less about providing the best scientifically supported ethical and environmentally friendly products and will instead base product offerings on fear-mongering and food fads. In that vein, I would love to see the co-op providing good information on GM technology and help teach people the truth about GMOs to combat the baseless fear, so people can make truly informed decisions about how to best support farmers and companies providing the healthiest and most sustainable products.
A: Thanks for writing. We don’t have a position on whether or not GMO food is safe to eat. The Co-op’s stance on GMOs is simple. We support federal standards for GMO labeling. We believe in helping our Owners make informed decisions because consumers should have a choice as to what types of foods they wish to purchase. Whether or not food is produced organically or with the use of GMOs, consumers have the right to know. That is why we support the Non-GMO Project. While it supports labeling products that are GMO-free, it is one of the few current ways (aside from organic labeling) that people can transparently find outhow their food was produced, and that is what we are all about. We are currently working on a class for Owners to learn more about how to read labels, and we are also working with Community Shares of Wisconsin to begin a discussion series with a variety of their member nonprofits. We agree that discussions regarding food production should be based in fact. We will request that the environmental organizations under the Community Shares umbrella consider GMOs as a topic for their public discussions. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services