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Customer Comments

helpful staff
Q: My family and I want to thank you for how wonderfully helpful the staff at the co-op have been to us. We shop at both locations and at each one people have gone above and beyond to find things and give us ideas for myself who has recently changed to eating vegetarian and my daughter who now eats vegan. This was especially nice around the holidays when I wanted to do something that would have replaced the meat but was festive and one of the co-op staff at Willy East looked for a product she knew of that was a wonderful entree, a vegan holiday entree stuffed with a cranberry bread type stuffing. It was amazing! And a young man at Willy West helped us with some ideas of mixing items from the bulk bins to make munchable snack mixes that can be easily taken on the go including to classes. That is just two things. The best part is that we are all treated well including my husband who still eats meat: we have support finding products that treat their animals humanely instead of putting animals through hell all of their lives. Our family appreciates this as although we each have made our own choices and agree to disagree, we also love each other and do not like it when one of the others gets abuse for theirchoice. Thank you so very much from all of us!

A: Thank you so much for sharing your great Co-op experience with us. Stories like yours get to the core of our mission, and we’re so glad we can meet your needs. We appreciate your support and we hope to see you in the store again soon. -Kirsten Moore, Director of Cooperative Services

Soy concerns
Q: In the April 2016 Reader, you published two customer letters repeating anti-soy propaganda:
“...I am male and the average tofu is made up of soybeans which is known to produce female like hormones”, and “...I’m trying to avoid soy (so bad for us!)”
Printing these statements without rebuttal could lead your readers to accept and repeat these ideas without questioning them, and avoid soy for very poor reasons. Soy contains phytoestrogens, not estrogen. Regular consumption of soy has not been shown to have any negative effect on human health, and phytoestrogens may provide protection against certain diseases such as breast cancer. In the future, please refrain from printing customer letters containing demonstrably false or misleading statements.

The idea that soy is bad for us comes from anti-soy websites that spread pseudoscience and overt lies for personal or commercial gain, and their claims have been thoroughly debunked. Please see these sites for more information (the first contains some background on the propaganda campaign, the next two are comprehensive reviews of the peer-reviewed literature and are authored by a molecular biologist and an RD, respectively):,,

A: Thanks for emailing us! We tend to respond only to the question posed to us rather than other things mentioned in the Customer Comment, but you bring up a good point. Thank you for sharing these sources so that readers can get more information about soy. Have a nice week! -Brendon Smith, Director of Communications

Search problems
Q: I’ve tried to use your search application several times and have been frustrated on most occasions. Latest example: I searched for “mate” and “yerba mate” and pull up only Guayaki and WSC brands when I know you carry others. What’s up with that?

A: Thanks for emailing us and I apologize for the frustration our website has caused. We also have Eco Teas and Nativa Yerba Mate as well, although depending on which store you’re going to, I recommend calling beforehand since varieties and stock vary. Willy East’s number is (608) 251-6776 and Willy West’s is (608) 284-7800.

The current list of products on our website is incomplete and has some errors on it, but we are in the process of improving that list. We are working on it in conjunction with the relaunch of our online shopping and delivery service this spring, and hope to have an even more complete product list later this fall. Even then it won’t contain our full catalogue, but it will include our packaged grocery at Willy East (since that’s the home base for our delivery service). We are also discussing showing availability of products by store at some point in the future.

Thanks again for letting us know and I hope that this helps! Feel free to email me with any other products you’re wondering about. -Brendon Smith, Director of Communications

Fish thawing
Q: Hi I have purchased several packages of Orca Bay Mahi Mahi fillets, which are delicious. My question is why do the thawing instructions emphasize to remove all packing before thawing. Even to remove all packaging and then “place fillets in a resealable bag” in order to thaw in cold water.

Am I to guess that thawing them in the packaging the fish is marketed in, istoxic somehow?

I would appreciate if you find out from the suppler the reasoning on this. I am following the package instructions but I would like to know why this is necessary.

A: Thanks for the question! The seafood in our stores is provided by the Seafood Center, which is a separate business from Willy Street Co-op.
I reached out to the owner of the Seafood Center regarding your questions, and here was his response: The main reason for opening or removing the product from the vacuum seal is to avoid the potential growth of Botulism. Botulism is a bacteria that grows in an oxygen free environment. Botulism grows very well over 38 degrees and can become toxic, the way to avoid this growth is to expose the product to the air. The reason Orca Bay suggests placing the mahi in a zip lock before placing in water to thaw is to avoid texture breakdown of the fish. The best way to handle these products is to open the vacuum package and allow to defrost in the refrigerator over night.

I hope this answers your question. Please feel free to call the Seafood Center at: 294-0116 Willy East, 836-1450 Willy West, 274-5255 Whitney Way. Thanks! -Megan Minnick, Director of Purchasing

Pork belly
Q: Hiya, we cook pork belly on a frequent basis, and I always think of the co-op as the first place to go to buy it. However, time and again, I am dismayed to find that you don’t order this cut from your butcher(s). Any chance you would consider carrying pork belly? I have a hunch that it would sell well, as it is a popular cut these days. Thanks for considering!

A: Thanks for writing. I’m happy to say I always have pork belly frozen that is available. Unfortunately I’ve had to loss out a quite a bit of product when I offer it fresh so for now I’m keeping it in our back freezer. Please let me know how much you would like and I’m happy to thaw and have it ready for you. Similarly, if there’s something you don’t see on the shelves just let us know. We fabricate many of the animals ourselves and can prepare or set aside specialty cuts given a little notice. Many thanks! -Heather Oppor, Meat Manager–East

Q: Reading more about certain crops being sprayed with glyphosate as way to “desiccate” or dry crops before harvesting. Are the lentils in your bulk department organic? If not, have they been treated in this way prior to harvest? Thank you.

A: Thank you for your inquiry. I am happy to say that all of our lentils in the bulk aisle are certified organic. Thank you also for mentioning and inquiring about this. I had not heard of this practice yet and am curious myself to learn more. -Patrick Humiston, Grocery Manager–East

Special ordering
Q: I would like to special order an item that is listed on your website but not in the stores. It is from the HABA department. How do I go about doing this? Thanks!

A: Hello! Thanks for your question. Please call Willy West at (608) 284-7800 and speak to any Health and Wellness staff. They can take your special order and we can call you when the product comes in. If the product is no longer available from the vendor, we will let you know. I’d like to update our website, can you tell us what the product is that is listed on the website that isn’t carried at either Co-op? Thank you & hope to hear from you soon. -Lily Hoyer-Winfield, General Merchandise Manager–West


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