Q: I’ve just watched a video that makes me wonder about the chicken you sell. The video is at better-chicken.org. I know you don’t sell Perdue chicken, but the Bell and Evans website offers only the vague assurance that the “chickens are raised and processed in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country, in a modern facility, using only the latest air-chilled technology.” I don’t see much evidence that this chicken is bred and raised to any standard of freedom from cruelty. Are they pastured? Allowed sunlight, fresh air, and room to flap their wings? Are they able to enjoy life without the pain of bodies overbred for fast growth and large breast size? I can’t tell. I don’t even like white meat, and I would certainly like to know that the chickens got to live a natural life and be chickens. I try to buy as little chicken as possible because of my concerns about the overbreeding done to chickens and the ease with which reassuring-sounding claims are made. Please tell me how you are looking out for me as a consumer, for the farmer as a producer, and for the welfare of the animals we are eating. Thank you.
A: Thank you for writing to me about your concerns. We do our best to source products that are local, humane and sustainable. We also need the product to have consistent quality and meet the volume that we need to satisfy our owners. We feel Bell & Evans meets most of these needs. Bell & Evans is third-party certified humane by GAP (Global Animal Partnership). Here is a video about the Bell & Evans animal welfare standards: http://www.bellandevans.com/content/humane-animal-welfare. Our only unfulfilled wishes with B&E is they are not pasture-raised, and they are not local. If you have any more questions feel free to contact me here at the store and I would be happy to talk to you. Thanks, Jeremy Johnson, Meat Manager–West
CHICKEN AT NIGHT
Q: Please keep chicken on hot bar later in evening past 6pm. I have stopped here many times on Sunday and the chicken is always gone. Thank you.
A: Thanks for writing in. We have to watch costs closely on our hot bars to maintain the price, so we run those more expensive items out and restock conservatively to control loss. Sorry that you were frustrated in your effort to buy chicken off our bar; please do feel free to call ahead and have some set aside for you. Thanks again for writing in. -Josh Perkins, Prepared Foods Director
DOGS ON PREMISES
Q: Today I walked my people-friendly dog to Willy Street Co-op West in order to avoid using my car and wanting to exercise both my dog and me. I know my dog and accept the responsibility of parking him outside the bicycle area by the store. (It is winter and the temps are very cold so there were no bikes or people around outside) While in the store, a friendly employee sought me out to advise that dogs are never welcome on the premises and told me that I could never walk him to the store again. Perhaps you’ve had some liability issues in the past with a dog on your premises—I don’t know if that is the reason for banishing dogs. Nevertheless, perhaps the Board could come up with a solution that allows customer(s) to walk a dog to the store with a designated spot for leaving him/her while the customer is shopping. It seems reasonable to me knowing that I take full responsibility for my dog. I feel like your current policy discourages foot traffic and pedestrian options and forces me to drive my car if I want to get my dog outside and shop at the same time.
A: Thank you for the feedback. Store policy of this nature is operational and implemented at the staff level. You are correct in assuming that our policy that prohibits leaving pets unattended outside the store or in the parking lot protects the store. It furthermore protects other customers, and protects the pets as well. We appreciate that many of our Owners and patrons are responsible pet owners, yet we also need to account for the possibility of unexpected or uncontrollable circumstances that may occur when a pet is unattended. Animal shelters and handlers recommend this policy as well, citing agitation from other people or animals and pets getting loose or stolen as reason for concern. If you wish to bring your pet with you on future errands to the Co-op, you may consider bringing another person with you, who can stay with the pet while you shop. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: You have a BPA Checklist here http://www.willystreet.coop/bisphenol but it says it hasn’t been updated since 2012. Any chance you’ve got a more recent version?
A: Thanks for asking. We do not have a more recent list presently. We recently acknowledged internally that we have a number of processes that were developed separate from one another regarding what we screen products for, and we are currently working on a more comprehensive process to get more frequently up-to-date information for our Owners. It may take a bit to get our new vendor questioning and information presentation process in place, but once we get a system established, we hope you will see much more information such as BPA usage updated on a more regular basis. If there is a specific product that you are wondering about in the meantime, please do not hesitate to ask. We appreciate the feedback, as it helps us know that our plans to better serve you are headed in the right direction! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Great customer service
Q: I called over to the meat department to inquire with them about having any Paleo-compliant Italian sausages and the woman that helped me (I can’t remember her name..maybe Jess? But I’m not sure..) offered the most exceptional customer service that I have had in a very long time and it was so refreshing as she was definitely going out of her way and doing something that she didn’t need to do for me. She explained that they didn’t have any fresh sausage, but that they were making it this afternoon and she would love to set some aside for me without any added sugars. I was so pleasantly surprised! Thank you SO much, Willy Street West for being awesome!!
A: Thank you for your kind words. We pride ourselves on being a full service meat department, with our main focus being customer service. I am glad we were able to accommodate your request that day, there may be times that that might not be possible, but with 24 hours notice we can do just about anything. If you ever want a sausage made just call and we will be happy to make it, and the butcher who helped you, her name is Anna, and she is awesome. Thanks, Jeremy Johnson, Meat Manager–West
Q: As always, WE LOVE OUR COOP! Friendly, helpful, responsive, and LOCAL!
What’s your policy on “vaping” (activating E-cigarettes) in the store. I recently got yet another bronchial infection after exposure—and the corps. will NEVER tell the truth, but they are all unhealthy. Pls. post a sign? TNX!
A: As I was looking for our smoking policy, which we do not have, as state law dictates the policy, I noticed that recently the City of Madison added E-cigarettes to the city indoor smoking ban. Rest assured, due to that, you should not encounter E-cigarette vapors inside our store.
Please let me know if I can assist you further. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I just gotta say, the Co-op’s organic bananas are always on point. I mean ALWAYS! When I walk inlooking for some top-notch organic bananas at a decent price, I know I’m about to win. This is for real. Your organic banana game is the best in the city. No doubt that in moments of weakness, I’ve definitely stopped in to a large chain grocery store hoping to bring home some ripe organic bananas...but dude, they will let you down! I’m about go all 2004 Gwen Stefani here on the east side because you got me like, “Yo! This place is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!” So yeah, props for all that. I’m proud to be on team Willie Street Co-op. Cheers!
A: Thanks for the kind words; I’ll pass them on to staff! -Andy Johnston, Produce Manager–East