Q: I just read in a recent Food & Water Watch newsletter that California Crops are being sprayed with fracking wastewater, including some certified organic crops. This is disturbing since the wastewater contains all sorts of toxic chemicals. Do you have a way of checking with your sources for organic produce from CA (or anywhere else where there is access to fracking wastewater) on whether any of those farms are using fracking wastewater? Hopefully, none of your sources are using fracking wastewater, and if they are, that you are no longer buying from them. Thank you!
A: Thanks for writing. I agree—the use of wastewater from fracking and oil drilling on organic crops is a very disturbing development that’s come out of the now years long California drought situation.
We do our utmost to purchase product from farms in California (and beyond) that are using the most ethical and sustainable practices, and not using fracking or drilling wastewater to irrigate their crops. That said, we purchaseall of our non-local product through third party distributors, and it is not always possible to verify growing practices beyond the certified organic label. Sometimes, in order to procure organic produce and have a wide variety of items available, we don’t have a choice in which farm it may come from.
The one failsafe way to be sure that the produce you are purchasing is not using fracking or oil drilling wastewater is to purchase local produce. We have a direct relationship with our local farms and we have the utmost confidence in their growing practices.
There is an online petition from the Cornucopia Institute that is urging the USDA to include a prohibition of this wastewater in the National Organic Standards. Getting these standards changed would be a really great step in ensuring that our organic food remains free from the contaminants that are associated with this wastewater.
Thanks again for writing. Megan Minnick, Director of Purchasing
Q: Will you ever stop charging an extra 5% for non-members? Certain products at Willy East like Blue Sky soda are split apart in three different places. Will you ever bring them together? Wouldn’t it be better to have the bread in a freezer?
A: Thanks for sharing your ideas. At this point in time, we do not have plans to remove the 5% surcharge for non-owners. It looks like you were a past Owner in 2012. If you would like to become an Owner again, please stop by Customer Service at either location to get set up.
We merchandise some products in several locations to provide convenience to our customers who are shopping for certain types of items. That is why you may see items like single beverages near prepared foods for our grab-and-go shoppers in addition to carrying them by the pack in the beverage aisle. If there is a specific flavor of Blue Sky soda you are looking for, please ask in the store, and I’m sure we’ll be able to find it for you.
Bread is sold per the recommendations of our suppliers, and we offer a wide variety so the customer may choose a bread stored to their liking. Some are delivered fresh, and intended to be sold that way. Some are delivered frozen and we are instructed to merchandise them frozen. Others are delivered frozen and recommended for the cooler case, so that customers may purchase them ready for use. If you are interested in frozen bread, you may want to check out our frozen section and pick out a brand you like, or consider purchasing some bread from the fresh aisle and freezing it for later use.
Please let us know if we may assist you further. Thanks again. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: While checking out Monday morning, I asked the cashier if she knew the delivery date for a specific product. She called up someone from grocery who did not know, but asked around for 5-10 minutes to find an answer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to tell me and I left planning to check back for the product later. Later that evening, I received a call from Joe with the answer I sought! This means the team did not give up on finding an answer and went so far as to look me up by my order that morning to retrieve my phone number and let me know. I want to thank Joe and the whole team involved for their commitment to a single owner question. Well done!
A: Thanks for giving us this great feedback! We’ve passed your compliments on to Joe and the rest of the team. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you! -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Pens, Cookies, Deli
Q: 1. No pens, tape at PB [peanut butter] area
2. Your cookies (single) have really gone up in price. Any reason?
3. Hot deli —choices not good
A: Thanks for sharing these issues with us. We dohave pens and tape located in the bagging stations of the bulk aisle; due to space limitations we are unable to locate pens and tape directly next to the bulk peanut butter grinder.
Since 2013, most varieties of Willy Street Co-op brand single-packed cookies have remained at $1.49 each. I’d be happy to seek more information for you if there is a specific cookie or time-frame you would like me to investigate.
I’m also sorry to hear that you didn’t find something to enjoy on the hot bar when you visited. The menu does change frequently, and you may view the menu on our website ahead of your visit at www.willystreet.coop/menus so that you can plan ahead if you like. If there is a specific dish you were hoping to see or if you purchased food that wasn’t up to standard, please let us know and we would be happy to see what we can do for you.
Please let me know if I may assist you further. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: I found I like Daiya fake cheese a lot, but I stopped buying it because it contains palm oil. I think some of your other cheeses do, too. Chao fake cheese doesn’t, and it’s very good. I’ve stopped buying things that contain palm oil. I don’t think you can tell if any palm oil is sustainably sourced. I want to ask you to please not provide any foods that contain palm oil, since it is destroying huge swaths of habitat for endangered species, and adding greatly to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I think it’s irresponsible to use it at this time.
A: Thanks for writing regarding your concerns about palm oil. I share many of these concerns, and this is not a topic we take lightly.
An article (www.willystreet.coop/reader/palm-oil-making-sense-the-controversy) that was published in our Reader in 2013 may be helpful to you.
At this point in time, we do everything we can to ensure that the palm oil used in the products we carry is sourced sustainably, and to continue to push suppliers to think very seriously about this issue when they develop their recipes. We also always try to carry alternatives (like the Chao cheese) that do not contain palm oil for those who wish to avoid it all together.
We also have a documented process for owners to follow if they wish to initiate a Co-op Wide Boycott (www.willystreet.coop/boycott-policy) of an item like this.
I hope this helps answer your concerns. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Best Regards, Megan Minnick, Director of Purchasing
Q: Hi, I’ve shopped at the willy st. co-op for 5 years, and I’ve probably had to throw out roughly 1/5th of the avocados I buy there because they are rotten. The other 4/5ths are good, to be sure, but are there no quality standards on avocado ripeness? Anyway, you owe me 100 avocados. You know what, better make it 125 just to be safe?
A: Thanks for contacting us regarding your avocado purchases.
First off, if you’re an owner and you’re ever unhappy with any purchase, you can go to the customer service desk at either of our stores and receive a full refund.
Regarding avocados specifically - we usually maintain two displays: One for ripe avocados and one for unripe avocados. Our general rule for ripe avocados is that they should be the consistency of “cold butter,” which should make them able to withstand the trip home in a grocery bag, but still ripe enough to eat right away.
If you buy ripe avocados, I would recommend storing them in a refrigerator unless you are using them immediately—otherwise they will quickly become overripe.
If you plan to wait a few days to a week before using the fruit, I would recommend purchasing unripe avocados and ripening them at home.
If you have any questions, or suspect any avocados on our shelves to be of poor quality, please let a product stocker know so we can cut one and test it before you buy. I hope that helps, thanks again for writing!
Best, Megan Minnick, Director of Purchasing