santa fe community coop

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The Trusted, Integrated Community

imagesOne of my favorites! Repost from Seth Godin

n the long run, there are only two sustainable positions–you sell less for less or you sell more for more.

It’s tempting to think that you can pull a Wal-mart and appear to deliver more for less, but that’s far more rare than it appears. And the market is smart (and getting smarter) so delivering less for more, while apparently a great gig, doesn’t last.

People are going to figure out what’s on offer, and they’re going to seek out real value. For some, that means getting a little less (less service, less quality, less panache) and paying less, or getting a lot more (more meaning, more insight, more joy) and paying a bit more.

Time to pick.

[After I published it, I realized that something about this post isn’t quite right.] Here’s my take:

More or less are simple concepts to understand in the scarcity-based industrial economy. If I want to put better butter in the croissants, I need to pay more and charge more for it…

On the other hand, the connection economy isn’t based on scarcity. And in an abundant world of connection (where tribes become more valuable as they scale, where vulnerability and art are valuable in and of themselves) then in fact, yes, you can have more for less. The benefits of the trusted, integrated community, the one that gives permission and seeks to be in sync–these benefits actually open the door for delivering more… in exchange for the guts and the tears it takes to do that scary work that we seek to connect over.

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santa fe community coop

a new grocery store that bridges the South and North sides

high quality, affordable food

it’s for everyone!

if you’re ready to join, click SIGN UP

if you want to learn more, click LEARN MORE

Community Gathering, Tuesday, November 26,  5:30 – 7:00

La Farge Branch Library, 1730 Llano Street

 

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Let’s do it . . . “two ‘suspendeds’, please”

"We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter:‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave.I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.”Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers - three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks‘Do you have a suspended coffee ?’It’s simple - people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support ? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it"

“We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter:

‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended’ They pay for their order, take the two and leave.

I ask my friend: “What are those ‘suspended’ coffees?”
My friend: “Wait for it and you will see.”

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks
‘Do you have a suspended coffee ?’

It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support ? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it”


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Top Rated Raw Goat Milk from New Mexico!

A little research on dairy has started us on our way to developing food policies and standards for the Coop. Of the national distributors, Organic Valley and Clover Farms are among those with the higher ratings, four cows.

three-twinsThree Twins Organic, a delicious organic ice cream manufactured in California, is also highly rated. Of particular note is Coonridge Diary, a local, New Mexico dairy, which was rated five cows, their highest rating, for raw goat milk. Trader Joe’s is among those with the lowest ratings. Horizon is at the very bottom. To find out exactly what the ratings are based on, link to Cornucopia Institute’s dairy survey.

The Cornucopia Institute’s study focused on organic dairy with careful attention to where the organic milk was sourced and how herd replacement animals are acquired. The organic label requires that cows be managed organically from the last third of gestation. Dairies with lower ratings often purchase their replacement cows when they are a year or more old, sometimes from conventional farms. Pasture time with adequate acreage was also surveyed.

Those rated “1” cow out of “5” cows, from lowest to highest quality, were those companies that did not respond to the survey and answer questions about where their milk was sourced, including Trader Joe’s. The Institute points out that there is an inherent limitation in private-label organic products. Organic consumers tend to want to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced, and private-label products are anonymous by their nature. As a case in point, although over 80% of the name-brand organic dairy marketers responded to their survey and are rated in their dairy report, not one of the private-label marketers was willing to tell consumers, openly, where its organic milk was purchased.

Their assessment of Horizon was scathing; they gave them zero cows.  The largest selling organic milk brand, Horizon, was purchased by Dean Foods, a giant agribusiness specializing in dairy products, Organic Valley (CROPP)with almost $11 billion in sales, also the largest conventional dairy marketer in the country. Horizon operates two corporate-owned farms, in Maryland and Idaho. Their Idaho facility, milking 4000–5000 cows, was originally a conventional factory-dairy that they converted to organic production. It has, according to widespread industry reports, very little access to pasture. Unlike the majority of all organic dairy farmers in the United States, who concentrate on the health and longevity of their cows, caring for them from birth, the Dean/Horizon Idaho farm sells off all their calves. Later, presumably to save money on organic feed and management, they buy one-year-old conventional animals on the open market. These replacements likely have received conventional milk replacer (made with blood—considered to be a “mad cow” risk), antibiotics, other prohibited pharmaceuticals, and genetically engineered feed. Many practices on a farm of this nature put ethical family-scale organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage. In addition, Dean/Horizon purchases milk from other industrial-scale farms, some of which have a history of alleged labor abuses.

Here is what Cornucopia Institute has to say about Straus, a venerable old producer of European style dairy and Organic Valley. Personally, I love Straus’ heavy cream which, especially when hand whipped, has a glorious texture, and I’ve always preferred the taste of Organic Valley.

     Straus Family Creamery

2013 UPDATE:  Though well-respected as one of the first organic dairies in the West, events at Straus Dairy since the initial publication of our organic dairy scorecard have been troubling. However, we are cautiously optimistic that things are changing for the better and we hope that after a site visit we will be able to upgrade the dairy in the scorecard. The vast majority of all organic dairy farmers around the country, and the groups that represent them (in addition to The Cornucopia Institute the three regional producer groups: Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Midwest Organic Producers Association and the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance), and the Organic Consumers Association, among others, all came to a consensus regarding new rules at the USDA designed to require and ensure genuine, season-long grazing of ALL organic dairy cows.

However, Albert Straus, Straus Dairy owner, testified publicly against the rule making. Appearing on a panel at a symposium sponsored by the USDA on pasture in State College, Pennsylvania, Mr. Straus complained that he would be unable to graze his animals, even at the very low minimums proposed, because of the climate. Other dairy farmers from California on the panel challenged his contention and suggested that maybe he needed to reduce the size of his herd so it was compatible with the amount of pasture acreage he had available. It’s troubling that Straus Dairy would lobby against rule making that would help crack down on the giant corporate dairies that have been skirting the law.

In addition, with great fanfare, Straus Dairy announced that they were generating electricity on the farm from animal waste using a methane digester. The only problem with this technology is… it only works financially when you have lots of manure collected from cows when they are in confinement. A steady supply of manure is needed to run these systems that require hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment. You can’t run them effectively when your cattle are depositing their own manure, as fertilizer, out in your pastures.

Until recently Straus Dairy milked their cows three times a day, unlike almost every other organic dairy in the country, most of whom find it challenging enough moving cows in and out of pasture twice a day. This is consistent with running a high-production dairy operation, which is very hard on the health and longevity of the cattle, but produces more milk. Recently, the dairy’s owner, Albert Straus, stated publicly they had changed to two times a day milking. Now that the USDA is implementing tougher pasturing requirements for dairy cattle, despite the lobbying campaign by factory farms and Straus, we will reevaluate their ranking in 2011 based on their compliance with the law.

The Straus family operates a processing plant and buys additional milk from four neighboring dairies. Their brand is widely distributed in California and, after some represented improvements, has a four-cow rating in our study.

They write, “Straus Family Creamery, the first Organic Dairy west of the Mississippi has been producing artisan organic dairy products for over a decade. Straus European-style organic butter is used by leading gourmet restaurants across the country. Straus small-batch super premium organic ice cream, the newest addition to the product line, is available in vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, coffee, and chocolate mint. Straus European-style yogurts are generating rave reviews.

Overall, Organic Valley receives a high rating from Cornucopia Institute. They do, however, use carrageenans in their chocolate milk and their “Ultra Pasturized” cream. Carrageenans are linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red seaweeds. Their main application is in dairy and meat products, due to their strong interactions with protein. Carrageenan is a vegetarian and vegan alternative to gelatin. Some physicians advise avoiding consumption of foods with carrageenan, especially for people with gastrointestinal symptoms. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening and stabilizing properties. Scientists have raised serious concerns about the safety of carrageenan in food, based on laboratory animal studies showing gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcerations and colitis-like disease in animals given food-grade carrageenan in their drinking water or diet. The animal studies done in 1981 have not been verified by other researchers.

Organic Valley (CROPP)
     Organic Valley (CROPP)
 

The CROPP Cooperative, starting with cheese, was the first nationwide, commercial organic dairy processor and marketer. Starting with seven dairy farms, they now have hundreds of farmers in all straus-organic-cow-pastureregions of the country and manufacturer a full line of products including milk, butter, cheese, etc. The cooperative also markets milk and other dairy products to manufacturers as ingredients in processed organic food. In addition, they package milk for a number of private-label/store brands around the country.

They write: CROPP (Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools) is a farmer-owned cooperative, dedicated to bringing our member-owners’ certified organic products to market under the brand names of Organic Valley Family of Farms for dairy, juice, eggs, produce, and soy, and Organic Prairie for beef, pork, and poultry.In an era where corporations dominate all facets of business including government, global energy, agriculture, and global food supply, CROPP Cooperative serves small farmers and rural community health. Our cooperative was founded to nurture local communities by keeping farmers on the land, farming.


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Following In Very Successful Footsteps

The Santa Fe Community Coop is modeled after the Park Slope Food Coop, an Imageunconventional, mostly organic, grocery store which been in business for 40 years, hence its url, foodcoop.com. One of the ten most successful independent grocery stores in the country, the PSFC has purchased three buildings and now has 16,000 active working members. It has a whopping $39.4 million in sales, which translates into a per square foot average of $6,500 compared to Whole Food’s average store sales of $31.2 million and a per square foot average of $838.

ImageKeep in mind that these sales figures are based on Park Slope Food Coop prices, which are significantly lower than Whole Foods prices. This means the PSFC is selling a whole lot more food than Whole Foods for each dollar spent. It also means that Coop members are collectively saving millions of dollars compared to shopping at Whole Foods.

The PSFC estimates that it saves members 20% to 40% on groceries. Extrapolating from USDA numbers on what a “moderate plan” family of four spends on food, shopping at the coop saves them $200 to $400 a month, as much as $4,800 a year.

The reason for the Park Slope Food Cooperative’s success is that it is in business to serve its members. It provides high quality, mostly organic, food at 21% over cost. It can do this because 75% of its labor costs, after product the largest grocery expense, are provided by its members.

Because all members actively participate in running the cooperative during regular and flex work shifts, there is significantly less staffing cost for receiving, inventory management, packaging, shelf stocking, checkout, and cleaning. The money saved on staffing reduces the price of food. Other economies include carefully selected inventory, 9,500 SKUs instead of the customary 50,000, like Trader Joe’s, enabling reduced inventory, leasing and energy costs; reduced use of packaging; and eliminating credit card interchange fees.

Like the Park Slope Food Coop, the Santa Fe Community Coop is a member owned, member operated, member governed consumer cooperative selling nutritious food at affordable prices.

The Park Slope Co-op Makes More Money Than Whole Foods , Grubb Street NY

The rise of the grocery co-op , Fortune

Whole Foods Market Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript , Seeking Alpha