Well, the economy is still a work in progress. And like Josh, our Kitchen Manager, talked about last month, many of us are looking for ways to stretch our dollars. For an experienced cook, or someone with extra time on their hands, our Produce and Bulk departments are going to be the best bet for stretching your grocery dollar. Cooking at home generally gets you more food for your dollar. However, if you don’t have time or don’t have the comfort level in the kitchen, the Deli is your best bet.
Why? The single biggest reason is that we’re using the same quality ingredients you’d choose if you were doing the cooking. We use the same Produce and Bulk suppliers that you’d buy from our shelves. If you don’t have the time to make use of the best produce anywhere that’s okay, we’ll do it for you. We guarantee that our fresh produce is organic and that our dairy is from local suppliers. Let me repeat that: We guarantee that our fresh produce is organic and that our dairy is from local suppliers. Many folks will tell you they use local and/or organic produce, but usually followed by the words “whenever possible.” I liken that to the phrase “natural ingredients.” It’s vague enough to sound good while still letting you off the hook from actually having to use the good stuff. We don’t do that. Best of all, when you leave the Willy Street Co-op’s Deli you’ll still have some money left. Last month we promised you some lower priced items in the Deli. This month, I’m here to let you know what they are.
I’m going to start with the most exciting change. Sliced Deli turkey has been among our top sellers for many years. We were one of the first to offer Applegate Turkey in Madison and now it’s everywhere. But the price has been creeping up and up and up for the past few years. I’d been looking for someone that could match Applegate’s quality while giving us the opportunity to lower our price to our Owners. Enter Michigan Turkey. Michigan Turkey doesn’t just match Applegate’s quality, they provide it—they are made up of 16 family farms in north central Michigan that also supply Applegate’s turkeys. Here’s a brief rundown on the turkey: nitrite-free, gluten-free, MSG-free, antibiotic free, and animal by-product free (meaning they get fed corn and soy, and the necessity of the existence of this designation seems odd). And, almost as important, our price is down to $6.99/pound—a $3/pound improvement without compromising quality. For more information on this product, brochures are available at the Deli counter...and if you’re still not convinced, you can ask for a sample or head over to the packaged meat case, where Applegate is still available.
Josh mentioned that there’d be new salads in our service case meeting the $5.99 and under price point we were trying to achieve. Why $5.99? Well, a typical portion is about a third of a pound—meaning you’d be paying around two bucks a person for your food. I thought before I brought out the new stuff I’d give a quick look at some of our offerings that already meet this price point. Macaroni Salad, Chipotle Beans & Rice, Granny’s Potato Salad, and our Black Bean & Rice Salad are all top sellers and all come in between $4.99 and $5.99 a pound. Now let’s put this in perspective: our potato salad guarantees organic potatoes and local cheese, our beans and rice are organic, even the dressings contain local eggs and buttermilk. I’d like to compare how our price matches our grocery competitors, but no one else is making these guarantees—their product doesn’t match up; it’s like comparing car prices from dealer to dealer by checking the Jaguar dealer against Joe’s Used Cars. (Although I did check against one competitor, and our potato salad is $1.50/pound less!)
Now what about these new salads? Are they all potatoes and rice? Well, meeting this challenge in February/March in Wisconsin does necessitatesome potatoes and rice, but our goal was also to offer the type of high-end quality you expect from the Co-op. Besides, who says potatoes and rice can’t rock your world? For example, try our new Hearty Potato Salad. It’s potato salad, but it has Beeler’s Bacon and New Century Farms eggs as well as organic potatoes, celery, onions, and mayo—and it’s $4.99/pound. If you can actually eat a pound of this potato salad, you should think about competitive eating. Another example is our Roasted Poblano Beans & Rice. Organic beans, organic basmati rice, organic poblano peppers, organic onions and garlic...the list actually continues here but I think you get the picture. You won’t find this at the local Gas-N-Sip deli, no matter how fresh and gourmet they claim their food is.
As I was saying though, this isn’t all potatoes and rice. How about Bok Choy Chicken Salad? Boneless/skinless Bell & Evans chicken paired with organic bok choy and scallions, as well as otherlocal and organic ingredients. Or how about our Wakame Seaweed Salad? Organic apples, scallions, cilantro, and a gingery rice wine vinaigrette are combined with Wakame seaweed for a light tangy side dish for $5.99/pound. Or, there’s our Black-Eyed Pea Curry. Coming in at $4.49/pound it features organic quinoa, spinach, and onions in a light pilaf-style salad that still fills you up.
New recipes are always in development for the Deli, and we will continue to work to meet your (and my) budgetary needs...and we will continue to hold our ground and not compromise on the quality of the ingredients we offer our Owners.