Bloomingfoods and the "Neighborhood Store"
With the opening of our Near West Side store in 2007, Bloomingfoods first experimented with the concept of the "neighborhood store." At the urging of our member-owners, we endeavored to establish a store to which neighbors could easily walk or bike, and that would become, in the words of author Ray Oldenburg (and our board secretary, Carol Bridges) a "Third Place," meaning a cultural landmark after work and home in which people experience a sense of community and connection. The great success enjoyed by the Near West Side store persuades us this is a model that resonates strongly with our member-owners, as well as with others in our community. It is on the basis of this experience that we are very pleased to announce that we are actively exploring a site that has been identified as a likely location for a new Bloomingfoods neighborhood grocery store. And although this project is still is in the early stage of development, we'd like to share with you this summary of current developments.
Truckload Sale is Here Again
Our spring truckload sale will take place this weekend, May 19th and 20th, so plan to stock up on all your favorite items at the best prices we can offer. Here are some examples of products we'll be offering. Oh, and inside the store, half case and larger wine purchases will be sale priced at 15% off on Friday and Saturday, rather than the usual 10%.
Our truckload sales provide Bloomingfoods and its shoppers a regular opportunity to help Mother Hubbard's Cupboard in its efforts to ensure that healthy, wholesome food is available to people in need in our community. This sale will be no exception. But this time, instead of inviting our shoppers to purchase items from the shelves and place them in a container, as we have done in the past, we thought we'd simplify the process for everyone by pre-assembling a pallet of food items we know Mother Hubbard's needs, and then inviting shoppers to make a cash donation as they pass through the checkout line. Any contribution, big or small, that you make will be appreciated.
Wine Tasting on the Patio
On Saturday, May 19th, from 4:00 - 7:00 we'll stage a tasting of many of the new wines that soon will be appearing on our shelves. This event will feature over fifty delicious wines from approximately ten of our distributors. We will also have fruit and cheese for you to enjoy with your wines. A $5 entry fee will be collected at the door, and will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club. So please join us on the patio for a tasting of wonderful wines, delicious food from our kitchen, and the fellowship of good friends and fellow bon vivants.
From the Board
Board secretary Carol Bridges invites us to ask, "What If," in this simple essay concerning co-op businesses and member-owners, "people who truly value a way of life based on cooperating with other humans, plants and animals, giving each the simple nourishments they need."
Brain Extravaganza News
The Jill Bolte Taylor Foundation's Brain Extravaganza is one of the most exciting and educationally significant projects to come to Bloomington recently, and Bloomingfoods would like to recognize the role played by staff and member-owners in the creation and installation of the 22 brains which now provide a colorful and informational accent to our community. Everywhere we turned as we were moving the brains hither and yon, we saw familiar faces from our stores. It represents yet another wonderful example of cooperation in action and of the high level of commitment Bloomingfoods member-owners feel toward this community. If you missed the launch, which took place on April 28th, you can see it on this WTIU video, which includes a very nice interview with Jill Bolte Taylor, herself. IU, too, has posted a nice story on the project.
May-June Member Days & Product Specials
Member day is Tuesday in May and Wednesday in June. These are the May product specials, and these are the member-owner specials. Your Co+op Deals flyers are available here.
(812-336-5400; 3220 East Third St.)
The garden center is a garden, indeed, with a huge selection of flower and vegetable seeds and nursery stock, and with all the supplements and tools you'll need to plant and nurture them.
As reported last month, the produce dept. was inspired this spring to convert some of the lawn space surrounding the store into gardens, and they're pleased to report that they've already harvest 20 pounds of baby chard, which we've offered for sale in the store.
Inside the store, Grocery Manager Martha Philion has lots of good news concerning a wide array of new products she has brought in, including: Local Folks Foods BBQ sauces; Rex Coffee (from Terre Haute); new flavors of Mister Buck's pet foods; Nacho Mom vegan queso; several new gluten free flours and mixtures; in bulk, Fields of Agape grits; and in our refrigerated section, Good Karma Flax Milks, Silk Protein Smoothies, and Hidden Pond Spruce Leaf Kombucha.
Near West Side Store
(812-333-7312; 316 W 6th St.)
Staffer Julie Harries is now bringing in some very fine nursery plants from Brambleberry Farm (pictured, left) and from Yonderground farm. We also have many new summer clothes items, and Rich Frog toys and baby gifts back in the store (including the famous rubber duck).
Bloomington Craft Beer Festival
Indiana’s growing love affair with craft beer will be on display in a uniquely Hoosier setting on Saturday, June 9, 2012 when the
Bloomington Craft Beer Festival returns to the historic Woolery Stone Mill. Indiana brewers from around the state will be joined by a select group of out-of-state breweries. A portion of every ticket sale will benefit the American Red Cross of Monroe County. See all the details here.
Green Drinks Bloomington
Here's our regular reminder that Green Drinks Bloomington meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Banquet Facility at Upland Brewing. A $5 donation is requested; some food is provided. This month, Marti Crouch, a biologist specializing in interrelationships of agriculture and technology, will provide a presentation entitled “Going Backwards: What the New 2,4-D Resistant Crops Will Mean for Indiana’s Agriculture (And You)” during the programmed portion of the evening, from 6 - 6:30 p.m. on May 23rd. Please join us for a snack, a drink, and a thought-provoking discussion of this topic.
Ready, Set, Grow
Whether you live in an apartment or a house, you can grow some of you own food. Come learn from the experts on Saturday, May 19th, at the Showers Plaza. There will be demos on seed starting and transplanting, composting, container gardening and garden layout. And, for those who feel really ambitious, beekeeping! The 4-H Poultry Club will be there to talk with you about keeping chickens. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a novice, you will also find numerous ways to volunteer in gardens around town growing food for our community - and learn a lot in the process. This event is sponsored by the Bloomington Food Policy Council and the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability.
Garden Towers Spotted Around Town
Speaking of growing your own food, three Bloomingtonians have come up with an innovative way to compost kitchen scraps, create a vermiculture space, grow fresh organic food, and have a living tower of beauty right on your deck or patio. You can see prototypes of the project at Bloomingfoods East and Near West Side stores, and also at Roots, on the east side of the downtown square. Learn all about the tower and how you can get one at their Kickstarter Project site.
Bento, Sushi, and Furoshiki Workshops
On Saturday May 19th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p. m. the Sanshin Zen Community will host a second benefit event for Japanese victims of the 2011 earthquake. Although a full year has passed since the disaster, there is still a vital need to fund projects that benefit those still suffering in its aftermath. The event will feature handicrafts and homemade food for sale, Origami demonstrations, and workshops on sushi roll preparation, bento lunch creation, and fashioning wrap carry-alls. For information, visit their website or call 812-339-2635.
Bloomingfoods Bike Anywhere Day Celebration
On Friday, May 18th, celebrate Bloomingfoods Bike Anywhere Day at the Near West Side, from 4 - 9:00 p.m. We'll have food, drinks, giveaways, raffles, and live music provided by the Dew Daddies. Many thanks to our partners in this event: City of Bloomington, Bicycle Indiana, Bikesmiths, J.L. Water's, Revolution Bike & Bean, and Upland Brewer.
In the Co-op World
Co-ops Rate High in National Survey
The results of a survey administered by Opinion Research Corp International (ORC) are that almost "one-third of Americans (29 percent) say they belong to a consumer cooperative and 72 percent of Americans think cooperatives, such as credit unions and rural electric co-ops (and, we must assume, natural foods grocery stores) are "helpful to consumers," with only 11 percent saying they are “unhelpful.” The full story is available here, on the website of the National Cooperative Business Association.
Some National Food Co-op Statistics
In preparing for a presentation the other day, we uncovered the following statistics concerning the American food co-op industry which we thought might be of interest to our member-owners:
- There are now over 300 co-op grocery businesses, with over 330 stores
- These stores employ over 80,000 people
- They generate approximately $40 billion in annual sales
- They are owned and governed by approximately 1.3 million member-owners
- Over 250 new co-ops are in development
- 10 to 12 new stores launch each year
Food, Eating, and Health
The Wider the Smile, the Longer the Life
Wayne State University researchers conducted a study of the smiles of 230 baseball players who played before 1950, based on pictures in the Baseball Register. Then they compared the quality of the smile to the average life span of the players. Their findings: no smile, 73 years; partial smile, 75 years; full smile, 80 years. Looked at another way, wide-grinning players were half as likely to die in any year than their non-smiling counterparts. Not deemed one of the most scientifically rigorous studies, it is nonetheless suggestive of the role which attitude plays in our lives.
From the Obesity Wars
In spite of an array of campaigns and program's to minimize the damage to kids from bad food and the advertising that promotes it, a Reuters study has discovered that the deep pockets of the food industry have pretty effectively nullified the efforts. The conclusion: "At every turn, whether it was ... advertising restrictions, soda taxes, pizza-as-vegetable, French fries in school lunches, or getting some of the excess salt and fat out of processed food, the industry has turned back new laws in favor of voluntary guidelines." This is bad news for those concerned over the fact that Type 2 diabetes is now at epidemic proportions among children, and that the drugs that control diabetes in adults are proving much less effective on children. Grist tells the grisly tale.
GMO Labeling Legislation Update
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA's) reports that the current trend in state-level labeling action is for the state to introduce the legislation to great fanfare, it moves quickly at first and enjoys a huge groundswell of public support, then stalls in committees under the control of legislators known to enjoy tremendous support from Monsanto and others in the biotech industry. Here is the OCA's story, if you can stomach it.
Farm Bill 2012
The American Farm Bill, renewed every five years, is the country's most significant piece of agricultural legislation. Grist reports that development of the next version of this bill is focused more on risk management (insurance, subsidies, and margins) of the Big Five commodity crops (sugar, corn, soybeans, wheat, and rice) than encouraging young people to replace the 125,000 farmers forecast to retire in the next five years. LunchBox characterizes the current draft of the bill as a "subsidy buffet" that "will continue to give away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to the nation’s largest, most profitable and environmentally damaging farm businesses. To pay for this giveaway, the Agriculture committee’s proposal would slash programs for conservation, nutrition, rural development and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers."
First Solar Project on U.S. Public Land Begins Operation
The Environment News Service reported last week that the first utility-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public land recently began delivering power. The Enbridge Silver State North solar project, located about 40 miles south of Las Vegas, is a 50-megawatt plant that uses thin film photovoltaic technology to generate enough power for about 9,000 Nevada homes. The plant, using technology with the smallest carbon footprint of any photovoltaic solar system, displaces about 42,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually - the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.
Automakers Standardize 15 Minute Charging System for Electric Vehicles
Eight U.S. and German automakers have agreed to utilize a fast-charging technology that recharges EV batteries in just 15 to 20 minutes. Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have agreed to support a "harmonized single-port fast charging approach" - called DC Fast Charging with a Combined Charging System - for use on electric vehicles in Europe and the US. The system was developed for all international vehicle markets and creates a uniform standard with identical electrical systems, charge controllers, package dimensions and safety mechanisms. The combined charging approach is intended to "reduce development and infrastructure complexity, improve charging reliability, reduce the total cost-of-ownership for end customers and provide low maintenance costs." Vehicles using the technology will be available starting in 2013.
Walking the Talk
Bloomingfoods staff take seriously their commitment to recycling and sustainability, as witness this corkboard strip seen beside the desk of our fresh foods manager, Alan Simmerman. The strip is nothing more than recycled corks attached to a small piece of trim board. Very simple; very effective.
"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one."
~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating