February 2023 Produce Parable
Wild Harvest Organic Expansion
By Adam Calder
A recent article in The Packer by Jennifer Strailey details a new line of organic produce being offered through one of Wheatsfield’s distributors.
Wheatsfield Cooperative’s biggest grocery supplier is United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI). A couple years ago, UNFI bought Wheatsfield’s biggest produce supplier, Albert’s Fresh Produce. During the past few years, UNFI has introduced their own private label of organic produce: Wild Harvest.
Initially the program began with bananas, and has since expanded to include bagged apples, avocados, broccoli, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, limes, mangos, oranges, romaine lettuce, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
All Wild Harvest products are packaged with the same purple colored label to help customers easily identify the brand on the sales floor. Right now, Wheatsfield only regularly carries Wild Harvest bananas. We will increase our Wild Harvest offerings as they become available.
UNFI works directly with farms and farmers across North America to obtain produce for this program. The produce is packaged at the farm, which helps shorten the number of steps between the farm and the customer. This shortened supply chain results in lower costs, and those savings are passed on to our customers.
Demand for private label products, which are usually more affordable than large national brands, has only increased since the pandemic began. UNFI is capitalizing on its cache of consumer shopping data, continent-wide scale and supply chain network to increase their private label offerings and help our customers find great deals on high quality organic produce.
Feb 2023 Board Meeting Highlights
Here are highlights from the February 2023 Wheatsfield Board of Directors meeting:
- The Kitchen HVAC project is now complete aside from a few remaining unit modifications and painting throughout spaces; with no additional disruptions in the deli or bakery anticipated.
- Volunteer meeting has been scheduled for March 8 at 6pm. Those who have expressed interest will be receiving an invitation to this meeting shortly.
- Board training with our board consultant, Thane Joyal, was confirmed for March 3rd and 4th.
- The board adopted a new Lease Accounting Policy and amended the Procedures to Govern Appointment of the Student Board Member policy.
- March is Member Appreciation Month with the tiered discount coupon & a Mini Member Drive Month.
Valentine’s Day Recipes
There’s one table that doesn’t require a reservation on Valentine’s Day: yours! If you’re planning a night in with your sweetie, these delicious dishes will make your meal just as memorable as if you had gone out.
Gifts For You and Someone Special
Special Finds at the Co-op
Looking for the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or just because? We’ve got you covered. Here are some great last minute gifts, all of which you can buy right here at the co-op!
♥ Pamper Your Person ♥
From rejuvenating creams and cleansers to natural scents and nail polish, pamper yourself or someone special!
♥ Wine Not ♥
Pucker up and pick out a bottle of local or organic wine to share with your sweetie.
♥ Brie Mine? ♥
Need something to go with that bottle of wine? Check out our wonderful local, raw milk, and other artisan cheeses.
♥ You’re Our Cup of Tea ♥
Warm their hearts with high quality coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. We have fair trade, locally roasted, and whole bean coffees plus a huge range of lovely teas.
♥ Making Hearts Melt ♥
Chocolate is always appreciated! Make it high quality and fair trade.
♥ Brighten Their Day ♥
Create a romantic mood or fill a space with heartwarming scents with beeswax and coconut candles or fair trade and local products!
♥ Share Your Passion ♥
Show your love for that special someone and for the planet with eco-friendly presents that reduce waste.
♥ Unique Like You ♥
Check out unique gifts and local finds from hand made soap dishes and cuddly scarves to bandanas and puzzles!
♥ More Chocolate ♥
You really can’t go wrong with more of a good thing!
Wine, Cheese, & Chocolate Sale
February 2023 Word From the Board
Sarah S. Davis, Board Secretary
February 3, 2023
Winter is when we can watch a blanket of snow cover the ground as the living earth rests below and prepares for a warm reawakening. This process is more than a metaphor for us and our Co-op: We have been hunkering down through the long cold nights of January while serious preparations have been happening behind the scenes. Through no small miracle of the inner workings of the Co-op, we can welcome the warm reawakening of our Co-op Bakery, Deli Kitchen, and full Hot Bar! I’d like to share with you some of what I have seen happening under the cloak of winter that makes this possible.
From my seat on the Board of Directors, I can see that the Co-op never actually rests. Even when you and I might be less active, store management continues to plan and execute projects and improvements (alongside the constant activity of daily operations). We patiently waited through January and watched massive renovations to the outdated and insufficient ventilation and cooling systems, which were gutted and replaced – all on schedule! While this appeared seamless on the outside, what went unseen was the year+ of planning that ensured its success. Our store managers, with review and oversight from the Board, spent many months discovering the scope of the problem, getting feedback from store employees, seeking engineering and design consultation, getting estimates and bids for the equipment and construction, reviewing the “Major Repairs” policy, investigating the financing, approving the final bid, scheduling the work, and orchestrating the major dislocation of our kitchens with the least disruption to service as possible.
Even while Punxsutawney Phil returns to his lair for six more weeks, we can emerge to find a brand new kitchen HVAC system. Like a breath of Spring air, the store has improved working conditions and a better store environment. So, as our favorite foods reappear on the co-op shelves, let us savor each morsel of healthy deli and hot bar dishes and every slice of the incomparable Co-op bread. While we enjoy these delights, let’s also appreciate the work behind the scenes that turns your membership and store patronage into an ever-better community resource.
Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Sale!
Treat yourself and someone special just in time for Valentines Day!
Shop the Co-op February 10 & 11 to SAVE 15% on regular priced Wines, Cheeses and Chocolates!
Members-Owners and Student Members save 15%, non-members save 5%**
**Save on regular prices, sale excludes Co+op Deals and Co+op Basics items.
Sweet & Savory Samples – Wine Not!
Saturday, Feb 11 from 11AM-1PM
We will be sampling in the co-op so stop by for bites and sips of our favorite chocolates, cheeses, and wines. Make DIY valentines for your besties in the teaching kitchen, and Sign Up to Win a valentine’s giveaway!
February 2023 Change for Community: The Buxton Initiative
“The Buxton Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization centered around providing the community with educational programming in celebration of Black art, music, literature, and film in hopes of creating a more equitable future for Black Youth in Iowa and surrounding states.
When you donate, you are not just helping The Buxton Initiative, you are investing in the Iowa Black Community. You are making a difference. By giving, you are making the arts more accessible to all — helping us host community events and processions in which we are providing food for the homeless and the community at large.
Through your generosity, we are able to offer free programming, such as movie showings, artist talks, and in-person panel discussion; these experiences allow us to offer a space to showcase Blackness and its brilliance in a way Iowa has never seen. We are also able to bring art out to the community, enabling us to reach people that might not normally come to The Buxton Initiative. In places outside of Iowa, in the next five years we hope to bring the Black’D out Books program to cities across the US to combat the nationwide book bans that are happening in our schools.
Be apart of the movement and help us truly create equity and light in the forgotten spaces of this country.”
January 2023 Produce Parable
National Organic Standards Updates
By Adam Calder
For the first time since the 1990’s, the United States Department of Agriculture updated the rules for the National Organic Program (NOP) that regulates the integrity of organic industries. The updates close loopholes that previously existed in the NOP, and seek to maintain and improve the faith of the farmers, distributors, processors and consumers of food that is certified organic.
The global supply chain for organic food is vast and complex, and this complexity in part has driven the need for these rule updates. Because of this complexity, direct oversight and enforcement of NOP standards by USDA officials throughout the entire supply chain is virtually impossible. In just one basic example used in the rules update report, organic feed corn, there are twelve steps in the supply chain. Under the old rules, those steps allowed the introduction of uncertified elements in the form of trucks, grain elevators, commodity traders, storage facilities, commodities brokers, rail barges, river barges, food processors and distributors.
These new amendments seek to mitigate instances of organic fraud with the following changes:
- A reduction in the kinds of entities (brokers, traders, importers) that can operate uncertified and without any oversight from the USDA.
- The use of NOP import certificates will become mandatory for all organic products coming into the United States.
- Increased authority of the NOP’s overseers to act against a certifying agent or office.
- Nonretail containers used for shipping and storing organic products must be labeled with organic identity, and this information must match audit trail documentation. Such information will aid in the reduction of traceability and mishandled products.
- Certifying agents will make unannounced inspections at a minimum of 5% of the businesses they certify, and issue standardized organic certificates.
- Simplified process for organic operators to submit changes to their systems that reduces the paperwork burden for organic operators and certifying agencies.
- Further defined conditions for evaluating equivalency of foreign government organic systems with those of the NOP’s, to ensure organic products produced in other countries are compliant with standards in the United States.
- Clarification of the calculation method used to determine the percentage of organic ingredients in products with multiple ingredients.
This is just a summary of the most important changes in the report. The document is quite lengthy at eighty pages, and there are many pages that go over specific definitions such as the difference between a handler and a processor. Many of the changes are of a similar specific and technical nature, and none of them address one of the most controversial topics in the organic industry right now: allowing organic certification of soil-less (hydroponic, aeroponic) farm systems. Some say it should be allowed, other say it should not. It remains to be seen if the requirements for this type of organic farming will change, and Wheatsfield will keep you posted if they do.
Jan 2023 Board Meeting Highlights
Here are highlights from the January 2023 Wheatsfield Board of Directors meeting:
- The Kitchen HVAC project is coming along with minimal delays and the continued push for completion and reopening of the kitchen by the end of January.
- The Co-op broke the 7,000 member mark at the end of December 2022.
- The Co-op will open at 8:30am instead of 8am on Tuesday, January 24 due to a planned power outage that will allow the new HVAC equipment for the Kitchen HVAC project to be connected to the Wheatsfield power grid.
- The distribution of 2022 preferred shares dividends was completed in December with 55 gift cards and 33 checks.
- 420 member-owners voted in the October board election and on the proposed change to the Articles of Incorporation. The measure to change the Articles was approved and the Articles will be updated with the change on the website soon.
- The Board discussed potential dates to schedule board training in February or March with our board consultant, Thane Joyal.
January 2023 Change for Community: Ames Animal Shelter
Ames Animal Shelter
The Ames Animal Shelter exists as a safe place where animals without a human voice to speak for them can find comfort and safety. They believe every life that comes through their doors matters—be it wild, domestic, or somewhere in-between. Through their services, education, and advocacy, they work to build a humane community that promotes compassion and seeks to strengthen the human-animal bond. By partnering with their dedicated volunteers, donors, and community supporters, they can run a progressive animal sheltering agency that always puts the needs of their animals above all else.
They are proud to serve the Ames community as a no-kill animal shelter. Since 2005, the Ames Animal Shelter has boasted an over 90% live release rate, with an over 95% live release rate since 2015. They pride themselves on their transparency, ensuring all of their statistical data is posted on their website. Because every beating heart that comes in their doors matters, you will see that every animal is accounted for in their statistical data regardless of age, breed, or condition upon arrival. It is their solemn pledge that no animal’s life end by their hands unless that animal is suffering from irremediable conditions, in which case they feel it is their duty as caregivers to end the suffering.
Donation and rescue information available on their website.
January & February Artist: Kyle Renell
January & February Artist
My work is my ticket to the exploration of the world around me. This group of drawings was completed in 2019, when life was simpler and without COVID. It includes studies for A Journey of Life, a major work; character development studies; and water studies. The media used varies, and includes graphite powder and pencils, colored pencils, and pastel. The techniques I developed in this grouping has aided me in my current in-progress series on Mass Shootings. Completed work from that series is on display at Morning Bell Coffee Roasters in downtown Ames.
Each framed drawing is $100 (tax included)