Skip to main content

The Latest News from Wheatsville

South Lamar Store News

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repeat

As a co-op grocer, one of our guiding principles, Principle #7, is Concern for Community. For us, it’s important for us to find ways to recycle and divert as much of our reclaimable resources as we can in order to help create a more sustainable store and city.  Break it Down, a local recycling operation started in 2009 by Jeff Paine and Melanie MacFarlane, has helped us achieve our goals for many years. They have a 99% recycled rate and accept and sort plastic, glass, cardboard, paper, and inedible food scraps from local businesses, offices, condos and homes.

Reclaimed Resources for BOTH stores:

  • PLASTIC, GLASS + OTHER: approx 8 tons/month

  • CARDBOARD: approx. 20 tons/month

“Bales are delivered to a paper mill just outside of Dallas. There the boxes are pulverized and reformed into long spools of cardboard. Those spools are shipped to a plant in California that cuts and prints the recycled cardboard to fill custom box orders. The boxes can then be shipped to businesses all across the country.” - Break it Down

Allen Schroeder from Break it Down picking up recycled cardboard bales.

  • COMPOST  approx. 15 tons per month

Break It Down partners with Organics By Gosh, a composting facility on East MLK. After grinding and curing, the finished compost is bagged and sold at retailers. Just look for the Organics By Gosh name on the bag and know that a tiny bit of your co-op is in there!

Compost drums are emptied, readied for curing. Photo courtesy of Allen Schroeder

  • FOOD RECOVERY: approx 4,000 lbs. per month

In addition to diverting tons of resources for the waste stream, we also contribute to food recovery efforts. Alan Shroeder, our Food Recovery Coordinator , connects edible fresh foods with people that need it. On a weekly basis, we donate upwards of 1,000 pounds of fresh fruits, veggies, bread, and dairy to local community organizations around the city, including Blackland Community Center and South Austin Community Center. Alan started his food recovery efforts in 2008 and received a grant from Bread for the Journey to help get him started.

Recovered food ready for distribution. Allen Schroeder

0 Comments   Share

9 Ways We Keep Wheatsville GREEN

In honor of Earth Day this month, we thought we’d share some of Wheatsville’s GREEN FACTS.

1. Wheatsville  is WAY ahead of the curve when it comes to recycling.  Austin has just started implementing a plan that would get businesses recycling by 2017, but we’ve been doing it for years! We  currently recycle metal, cardboard, plastic, paper, food scraps and glass!

2. In fact, according to our local recyclers, Break it Down, between both stores, we divert 20 tons of cardboard each month!

3. If you look up at the ceiling at S.Lamar, you’ll notice about 57 bubbly looking lenses. These are called SolaTubes. They use highly reflective fiber optic tubes to direct sunlight into our store so that we don’t have to use as much electricity. During construction, these SolaTubes were very useful to help keep the job sight lit!

4. Wheatsville offers bulk refills of wellness products like Dr.Bronner’s soaps, lotions and laundry detergent!

5. Throughout the S.Lamar construction process, we chose noVOC or lowVOC building materials and paint in order to have an odor-free store.

6. In the men’s room at S.Lamar we’ve installed a waterless urinal. This saves 1.5 gallons of water per flush! That’s means if we save 12 flushes per day, we save 6,552 gallons of water per year!

7. Way before Austin’s bag ban, we were offering recycled boxes and paper bags to customers. Our bags are made with 100% recovered fiber with a minimum of 85% post consumer content. They are printed with water-based inks, are Forest Stewardship Council for responsible use of forest resources.

8. We offer front-facing recycling and composting to customers, and our recyclers at Break it Down say we’ve got the cities best sorters! They rarely see mistakes which in-turn helps them be more efficient.

9. As a cooperative we have elected to contribute to renewable energy infrastructure here in Texas by subscribing to Austin Energy’s Green Choice program. This program uses the money we pay for utilities to build wind farms and help Austin reach it’s goal of goal of 55% renewable energy use by 2025!

We also do things like rainwater capture to help us irrigate our planter boxes, use LED lights, installed low flow toilets and have added showers to S.Lamar in order to keep our bike riders pedaling.

And remember, we are offering a FREE composting class from the City of Austin, in our Community Room at S.Lamar on Saturday, April 23, at 10am. By taking the class and reducing the size of your garbage can, you are eligible for a $75 REBATE on a home composting system. Each attendee will get a countertop composter for attending! RSVP for the class today!

0 Comments   Share

Fruit as Meat Alternative? Meet Jackfruit.

If you're not familiar with jackfruit yet, you probably will be soon: it's poised to be the next big thing in meat alternatives.

The jackfruit tree is a huge rain forest tree native to South and Southeast Asia and is related botanically to figs, mulberry, and breadfruit. It's widely cultivated in the tropical regions of the Indian subcontinent, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil for its fruit, seeds, and wood. The largest tree-borne fruits in the world, jackfruits can reach nearly 80 pounds in weight and up to 3 feet in length, with a mature tree bearing as many as 100 to 200 fruits annually.

The fruits contain fleshy pods surrounding large seeds; the "meat" of these pods has a texture somewhat like that of artichokes except that it pulls into shreds and chunks remarkably comparable to pulled pork or braised beef. When ripe, jackfruit turns light brown and exudes a strong sweet, fruity smell; for savory preparations, it's the unripe, young green fruit that is used.

Young, green jackfruit has a flavor that is mild to nonexistent; like tofu, it's best considered a blank canvas which makes a good base for other flavors in spice rubs, marinades, and sauces. Try it in tacos, pulled "pork"-style, in "tuna" melts, chili, lettuce wraps, curries, Sloppy Joe's, and more. Pro tip: For a chewier texture, roast the shreds on a baking sheet for 15 minutes prior to use.

From a nutritional standpoint, jackfruit has much to offer: it's high in both protein and dietary fiber, and is one of the rare fruits that is rich in the elusive B-complex group of vitamins.

Jackfruit is most commonly found fresh (whole fruit) or canned; if using canned, make sure you're getting young green jackfruit in water (or "brine"), not in heavy syrup. Wheatsville carries shelf stable packages of jackfruit in water from The Jackfruit Company/Fruition ($9.99 30.5oz), which can be found in center store with other packaged meat alternative products.

0 Comments   Share

Board of Directors Meeting Recap

UPDATE: May 27, 2015
Board of Directors Meeting

On Tuesday, May 26th the Board of Directors extended open time in order to accommodate comments from co-op members in attendance, wanting Wheatsville’s management to raise wages to meet the rising cost of living in Austin.

Chief Executive Grocer, Dan Gillotte, spent 30 minutes going over the wage presentation that would be shown to staff on Thursday, May 28th. The presentation included information about current wages and how they were determined, overall labor costs, an overview of co-op finances and possible areas that could be used to raise the wage scale. The CEG then took questions from attendees. Caution centered around long term sustainability for future growth regarding both price increases and labor costs, wage compression if only some wages were to be raised, and decisions regarding other compensation such as benefits and sick/vacation pay that would affect all staff members.

Following the staff wage presentation on 5/28 a committee of staff members will be assembled in order to decide next steps and recommendations for changes to the staff compensation package. The committee is expected to meet several times over the coming weeks and report back to the Board of Directors and CEG.

The Board of Directors then discussed overall monitoring of the co-op’s internal management, looking back at the staff survey results from March, 2015. The Board identified areas of concern regarding the grievance procedure, wages, and staff participation. The Board voted to form a committee regarding D6 - Staff Treatment and Compensation policy monitoring. The Board questioned whether the transparency issues that have recently been raised would also fall under the purview of the D6 committee or whether another committee should be formed. They will revisit the topic of a potential transparency at their next board meeting. 

6 Comments   Share

Statement from the Board of Directors

On May 13, 2015, the Wheatsville Board of Directors received an open letter from the Wheatsville Staff Solidarity Collective.  In the letter, the Collective expressed frustration over Wheatsville’s current wage structure.  The Board is deeply concerned about the well-being of employees and conducts yearly monitoring of staff treatment. We were alerted to staff dissatisfaction around pay by Dan Gillotte in March and received a plan in April for addressing the challenging issue of paying better and maintaining  Wheatsville’s financial stability. 

We will continue to explore the concerns raised in the spirit of cooperation and in line with Policy Governance.  As stewards of this great cooperative, the Board's role is to define policies and monitor operational outcomes that are consistent with cooperative values and principles.  We take very seriously Wheatsville’s Mission of creating a self-reliant, self-empowering community of people that will grow and promote a transformation of society toward cooperation, justice, and non-exploitation.

In cooperation,
Wheatsville Food Co-op Board of Directors

2 Comments   Share

Staff Satisfaction & Compensation

Open Letter to Wheatsville Staff, Members and Shoppers:

Wheatsville’s management and Board of Directors take wage issues and overall staff satisfaction very seriously and proactively check in with staff to make sure the co-op is meeting our employees’ needs. The management team became aware of wage dissatisfaction a few months ago through a regularly scheduled third party staff satisfaction survey.

We care deeply about our staff and their happiness, and leadership has been working on an action plan to address and remedy this challenging and important issue since receiving that feedback. We started rolling out the plan this month and look forward to continue working with our staff members to reach a resolution.

We’ve also recently become aware of a petition seeking to pay a living wage at Wheatsville, as well as some letters expressing grievances against some of Wheatsville’s employment practices. While we do our best to be transparent and available, we apologize that we missed the mark and disappointed some staff members.

We believe that our cooperative runs best with openness and honesty, and we are committed to improving staff satisfaction around compensation at Wheatsville.


Dan Gillotte
Wheatsville Food Co-op
Chief Executive Grocer

8 Comments   Share

A Big Dream Come True: Celebrating Wheatsville’s 39th Birthday

Back in the mid-70s our founders had a vision for a cooperative grocery store.

Our first location at 29th and Lamar, during the original set up in spring 1976.

A place where they and their friends would get together and get the good food they couldn’t get anywhere else at the time. They envisioned a storefront of some kind somewhere near UT, probably, something small and affordable, I imagine. They likely figured we’d sell bulk food for cheap, probably some tofu and produce and maybe a few other odds and ends (ZigZags and wine anyone?). It would be a cooperative owned by its users and it would change Austin and, they dreamed, maybe the world.

Our check-out in 1976. The sign on the wall reads, “The future will be what the people struggle to make it.” The rolling papers are next to the scale

Miraculously, unlike a lot of ideas in this world, the people who dreamed up Wheatsville actually did the work to create this place and up we sprang at our first location 29th and Lamar on March 16, 1976!

As we busted at the seams and grew our sales and struggled to make our nascent systems work and figure out the crazy grocery business, some of our founders thought about our next step. There was more we could do if we just had more space and a more prominent location—we could do such great things for our community!

So our founders gathered up resources (many people invested money, time and energy) to move us up to 3101 Guadalupe and we became a “real” neighborhood grocery serving a much larger group of people for the next several years. (I made that all seem pretty easy, but I know it was HARD WORK!)

Our Grand Opening Party at 3101 Guadalupe in 1981.

We grew slowly through some good times and some not so good times and In 2005 we started to again think about what kind of future we wanted for our co-op. Would we finally open that second store people wanted in South Austin since the 80s? Spoiler alert: Yes, we would, but first we had to take care of Home Base. We were bursting at the seams at a facility that hadn’t really changed much since we moved in decades earlier and the wear and tear was taking its toll on staff AND shoppers and we weren’t reaching all the people we could have if we were just a little more welcoming and open and easy to shop at. Plus it was pretty hard to work here, maybe we could fix that, too. 165 of our owners invested $715,000 and our staff set about planning an expansion and renovation of Guadalupe that was executed in 2008-2009.

 With the renovated store completed a long time owner told me (with tears of joy in her eyes) that, “We finally have the co-op we always dreamed of!”

The super success of the renovated store allowed us to again dream our future and the board and owners and management started to articulate the groundwork of what would become Wheatsville’s BIG Direction, our path to having more positive impact in our world. We imagined that additional locations would best help us meet our end goals of More Local/ Organic/ Sustainable Food, More Co-op economy & More Happy People.

And now, as we celebrate our 39th Birthday (our second with 2 stores!) we can see what dreaming of the future and imagining a better world can get us. And we can see the impact of our BIG Direction on our communities.

At the beginning we were here because of our founding owners (some of whom still shop here) and today we’re here because of all of you! We are literally nothing without our amazing owners!

Thanks and Happy Birthday to US!

0 Comments   Share

Eden Foods Decision

The results of our annual election are in and as of January 1st, 2015, Wheatsville Food Co-op will no longer sell any Eden Foods products or use them in our recipes. The issue of whether or not to remove Eden Foods products was decided by a democratic vote as outlined in our bylaws. Below is the final verified vote tally from our Annual Election.

We know that some of our customers have been enjoying Eden Foods products for years and will be disappointed to learn that we will no longer stock that brand. As a cooperatively owned retail grocery, we abide by the rules mutually agreed upon in our bylaws and the collective decision reached by our owners.  We appreciate the effort and time it took members of the co-op to bring this issue to a vote and are very proud of the cooperative and democratic process used to make the final decision.

We have included a recap outline of the petition process that led to this decision and have included answers to frequently asked questions below.

Summary of the Issue

Eden Foods is one of the oldest natural and organic food companies in North America and has been an industry leader in maintaining organic standards, directly supporting North American family farms, and providing Non-GMO assurance on all products. The brand’s line of BPA-free canned beans, condiments, soymilk and pastas has been carried at Wheatsville Food Co-op since the 80’s.

On March 20, 2013, Eden Foods filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which administers the Affordable Care Act, for the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage for its employees.  Eden Foods objects to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies, if they choose to offer health insurance to their employees, to include coverage of a wide array of contraceptive choices.

Here’s an excerpt from Eden Foods’ statement on the issue:
We believe in a woman's right to decide, and have access to, all aspects of their health care and reproductive management. This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone's access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience. We object to the HHS [Health & Human Services] mandate and its government overreach.

Wheatsville’s Response

In response to Eden’s stance, some customers inquired if the co-op would stop selling Eden Foods products. As a cooperative grocery, Wheatsville doesn't stop selling product in response to any political issues. The co-op serves a very diverse customer base and there are individuals on both sides of any issue. We believe that we can best serve our community by continuing to focus on providing healthy foods.

The co-op encourages customers to vote, on this and other issues, with their dollars by supporting those companies they like and believe in.  When (for any reason) products don’t sell, the co-op stops carrying them.

If the products in question, such as Eden Foods, continue to sell and see no significant decrease in support, the decision on whether or not to stop selling the product must be made through the petition process. This process is outlined in our bylaws as a way for owners to address issues like these in an open and democratic manner.

Petition and Election

By August 1st, 2014 Wheatsville members had gathered the necessary 500 owner signatures to submit the petition to the Board of  Directors. The required signatures were received and verified and so the issue was put to a vote in our recent election.

The co-op presented both sides of the issue and asked  owners whether or not the co-op should stop selling Eden Foods products.

After all the votes were verified and tabulated, the final vote was in favor of removing Eden Foods products from the co-op.


  • When will Eden Foods stop being available?
    The co-op will sell down current stock and not place any reorders. The co-op will stop purchasing Eden Foods products for sale or use in recipes by 1/1/15.

  • Can a shopper still place special orders for the product?
    No. The co-op will no longer place special orders for Eden Foods products.

  • Will the co-op still cook with Eden products?
    No. The co-op will not use Eden Foods for ingredients in any of our housemade products.

  • Will the co-op have replacement products available?
    The co-op has identified all the items that would be affected by the vote and have made accommodations to find comparable replacements as available.

  • Can Eden Foods ever come back?
    The brand may come back to the co-op by the same process that took it off. A member petition would have to filed and endorsed by 500+ owners. The issue would then be put back on the general election ballot for a vote.

  • Have any other similar petitions been passed by owner election?
    Back in the 1980’s a petition was launched to not stock any wellness or bodycare products that were tested on animals. The petition passed and we can now say that we have a 100% cruelty-free wellness department.
1 Comment   Share
Older News More Recent News