Lots of stores talk about shopping local. What does that really mean? The definition varies depending on where you shop, there is no set definition for local in the grocery sector. At our Co-op, local means the product was sourced from anywhere in Wisconsin or from within 150 miles of the state capitol building. Local products are noted with purple tags in our Co-op, and we break down our local definition three ways:
Products above this shelf tag are entirely local. If the product has multiple ingredients, all of them are local and the product is baked, cooked, mixed, etc. locally.
At least 50% of the ingredients are grown or raised in the state of Wisconsin, or within 150 miles of the Capitol building in Madison.
Products above this tag are made locally—and may be made with some local ingredients—but they do not meet the criteria we use for our "Essentially Local" designation.
Organically Produced Foods
Products with green tags around the Co-op are organic. Organic foods are produced without artificial pesticides, fertilizers with synthetic ingredients or sewage runoff. They are free of bioengineering and production practices emphasize renewable resources and resource conservation. Organic farmers rely on farming practices that have been used for thousands of years, practices designed to work with the environment instead of controlling it. In order for a product to be labeled organic, it must be certified via one or more of a number of certifying agencies.
Organic farmers and producers often select plant varieties to grow for their flavor, not just for appearance or shelf life. Because of this, many believe that organic products taste better. Fruits and vegetables commercially grown and produced are harvested early, may be irradiated, stored for long periods of time, or waxed to prevent dehydration and display an artificial shine. Organic fruits and vegetables that stay on the vine longer and ripen naturally absorb more sunlight and provide greater nutrition and flavor. The shelf life of organic fruits and vegetables can be shorter than chemically-sprayed conventional produce and is brought from the field to the Co-op more quickly, providing members with a fresher product.
Why is organic food more expensive?
Organic foods may also be more expensive for consumers than their conventional counterparts. Since organic operations rely on more labor intensive practices, they are typically smaller, meaning that they do not enjoy the economy of scale or government subsidies available to larger conventional farms that help artificially keep the cost of food and labor down. Much of the farming, pest control, and weeding is done by hand. Organic certification is also expensive and labor intensive to manage, requiring extensive record keeping, an organic system plan, and annual inspection. As organic farms are small and certification is expensive, the demand for produce grown and cared for using organic practices is still greater than the supply, meaning that prices asked for organic produce will remain at a premium.
Locally and/or organically sourced product is not always available, convenient, or affordable for all of our shoppers. For that reason, our Co-op carries a whole variety of products to meet a variety of our community needs. Throughout the store customers will notice a number of brands that are owned by larger corporations. Michigan State University has created a comprehensive table showing what corporations own which brands.
Allergen & Dietary Sensitivity Statement
All equipment and production space in our Co-op facilities is shared and common allergens (nuts, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs) are used daily in our delis and kitchen. We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination can be completely avoided in our prepared foods, bulk, or Co-op pre-packaged bulk items. We are happy to do our best to accommodate dietary preferences and restrictions within our standard operating procedures, and certain bulk items may be special ordered in volume upon request to avoid cross contamination. If you have a serious food allergy, please be advised of this and act accordingly.
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Need some more elbow room at Willy East?
Below is a chart showing the times and days when our Willy East parking lot and shopping aisles are likely to be less crowded.
Need some more elbow room at Willy West?
Below is a chart showing the times and days when our Willy West parking lot and shopping aisles are likely to be less crowded.