Q: Can I get grass-fed tallow through Willy St Coop? Barring that, would it be possible to get ground grass-fed suet so I can render it myself? If either is available, what would the cost per pound be? How about ground organ meats? I’m guessing any of this would need to be a special order when you put in your meat order and possibly the grinding would end up being done in house.
A: We do have a limited supply of grass-fed beef suet, which is available for $1.99/lb by special order. The organ meats that are available are liver, hearts and tongue, at $4.99/lb. The liver we try to keep on hand all the time but the hearts and tongues are available via special order, and yes all of the grinding would be done in house. Thank you for writing, Jeremy Johnson, Meat Manager–West
Q: In your bulk product section you have 2 methods of service; a dispensing device and scooping directly from the bin. I would love to purchase more products but will never touch a product that has a scoop sitting in it that has had multiple people touching it all day long contaminating the product repeatedly. Please consider switching away from any method that involves a scoop where the handle easily falls into the bin laying on the product. Plus who knows what debris was on their hands and fell into that same bin. Love the dispensers with the handles. You could also consider an opaque cover on the top 3/4 so as to block degradation from light exposure. They’d still get to see the bottom 1/4 for a sample view of the product. Thank you.
A: Thank you for your suggestion on improvements to our bulk section. I totally hear you on the scoop issue. Though I don’t feel that we can do away with all scoop bins—just logistically speaking—I can reassure you that our scoops in the aisle are both cleaned and swapped out for sanitized scoops multiple times a week. My staff and I also “police” the aisle multiple times a day to ensure that all scoops are in their holsters and not in the product or hanging loose. I like your idea of opaque covers on some of our bins. I’m not quite sure how we’d implement that but we will look in to options. On the flip side of that I can say that with rare exceptions, the product in our bins is typically there for two days maximum, usually much less. So to some extent our sales and inventory management should help reduce the total time product is in contact with the light. Thank you again for your suggestions! -Patrick Humiston, Grocery Manager–East
Q: Do you have general volunteer opportunities or do these opportunities typically coincide with events?
A: Years ago we did have a volunteer program, and we do not have one any longer. To make a long story short, we are unable to allow volunteerism for work that we can pay people to do, and we are happy that we can now pay for people’s time. I would be happy to point you in the direction of some nonprofits dedicated to food issues who may be seeking volunteers, if you like, just let me know. Thanks for your interest and please let me know if I can assist you further. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services
Q: Do you ever get in other varieties of bananas, like red bananas?
A: East carried red bananas for years, however after years of lossing out the product, we determined offering red bananas was not a good use of our resources. Our average sales were around 4lbs/week, and we often received customer comments regarding the poor quality of the product: they were either too ripe, or would not ripen.
Our West produce department has offered them, but has recently dropped them from the roster as well, as the same issues persist.
If it’s something you really want, you’ll likely need to go the conventional route at another store. Sorry! Andy Johnston, Produce Manager–East
Q: Do you carry black walnut hull powder? I’d use it for fabric dye, but its also medicinal. How about willy west? Thanks.
A: We currently do not stock this product at either Co-op location. However, if you are an Owner, we could likely place a Special Order for you, as one of our main suppliers carries it. They (Frontier Natural Products Co-op) have an online store that you can order from, if you so choose. Check it out here: www.frontiercoop.com/products.php?cn=Black+Walnut+Hulls.
Let me know if you are interested in purchasing it through us, and I will help out with that. Thanks! -Melissa Reiss, Purchasing Assistant
Q: I don’t feel that it is the Co-op’s style to make our own croissants from products that are not even considered local. I believe that we should buy from Batch to support local business and products. I would rather buy their product than WSGC’s ‘new’ bakery since it comes from out of state. And another question, where does the meat come from that is in the Ham and Fennel Croissant?
A: I applaud your interest in supporting Batch, which is a great local business. We’re still stocking a number of their products.
Willy Street Co-op prepared foods uses many Wisconsin products, but we don’t maintain a policy of using only in-state products. As far as I’m aware, Batch doesn’t have such a policy, either. We were given the chance to lower cost and price on these products and bring the sale and fiscal benefit back to our own facility and staff and thought it in the best interests of staff and Owners to do so.
Our Black Forest Ham is from Niman Ranch in Alameda, CA. Niman Ranch also produces cured meats for our delis from livestock raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens, in the company of litter mates and with constant access to food and clean water. More on their animal welfare protocols is available here: www.nimanranch.com/protocols.aspx
Best, Josh Perkins, Prepared Foods Director
East modification ideas
Q: I regularly shop at Willy Street East; I love your products, and have a few ‘modification’ ideas that would make me love them even more.
1. Free-range (or similar) bulk eggs. Your current bulk egg supplier might be free-range, but if so they’re not labeled.
2. Glass-bottle milk in quart bottles. I can’t finish a half-gallon before it goes bad, and hate having to buy disposable packaging.
3. TWIST biodegradable sponges in multi-packs. Last time I looked you only had one-packs, but the product is also available in three- and six-packs according to their website. Offering multi-packs in addition to the one-packs would save a lot of packaging for peoplewho use more than one of them (most of us, I would imagine).
A: Thank you for your modification suggestions. Our bulk eggs currently are organic and under those standards are inherently cage free. Off hand I do not believe them to be free range, but we will research. Regardless, I’ll work with our signage team to better label just exactly what we are selling. As to the glass-bottle milk in quarts. I believe that this is available to us to order. Despite that, refrigerated space is always a commodity and especially for us at Willy Street. We are about to begin a reset project for the dairy cooler though and I will make note to consider creating some additional space to add in some glass-bottle quarts as I agree that they may do well. For the Twist sponges in multi-pack; I love it! You’re correct we only have single packs and I know many of us would prefer larger options. We’ll check in with our distributors and see what is available to us. Thank you again for your suggestions! -Patrick Humiston, Grocery Manager–East