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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.


FAQ

  • 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.
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Eden Organics

Wheatsville Food Co-op has been receiving comments in the store and via social media regarding Eden Foods CEO's position on the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision on June 30th, 2014. Eden Foods has expressed support for the Hobby Lobby ruling, and filed a similar complaint of its own against the U.S. government.

In response, some customers have inquired if the co-op would consider pulling Eden Foods products from our shelves. As a cooperative grocery, Wheatsville doesn't pull product in response to any political issues.  Our co-op serves a very diverse customer base and there are individuals on both sides of any issue. Instead, decisions on whether or not to pull products are made through the petition process, outlined in our bylaws, as a way for owners to address these issues in an open and democratic manner. Below is the section in our cooperative bylaws that pertains to this process:

3.3.3 Petitions Any matter that the owners wish to put before the ownership via a Co-op Vote may be placed on the ballot by a petition signed by at least 500 or five percent (5%) of the total number of owners in good standing, whichever is fewer. Proposals initiated by such a petition shall be included in the next regularly scheduled Co-op Vote, except that if a petition is signed by at least 1,000 or ten percent (10%) of the total number of owners in good standing, whichever is fewer, then the Co-op Vote shall be scheduled to commence no sooner than thirty days and no later than 60 days from the date the petition is submitted.

In order to have this, or any other matter considered on the next ballot, Wheatsville members would need to submit a petition to the Board of Directors by August 1st, 2014 with the next election cycle beginning September 1st, 2014.

As always, we encourage our customers and members 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.

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Help for the Homeless

Have you ever been approached by someone at a stoplight or on the sidewalk who needs money? What do you do? What do you say? How can you make a difference? The problem of homelessness is sadly, not a new one, but for the past 30 years it’s been increasing due to a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.

Tomas Heikkala, longtime co-op owner, had an idea to create a survival bag for homeless folks. He wanted to offer good food, fresh fruit, water and a list of resources from Austin’s House the Homeless organization that could be given in lieu of cash. The bags were running him about $5 each retail and he wanted to help more people than his personal budget would allow. He came to Wheatsville for help and we were able to donate some of the essentials to get him started and a system to keep the program sustainable. Thank you for supporting our co-op so that we can make donations like this possible!

Tomas will be tabling at S.Lamar and Guadalupe about once per week, selling these bags for $5 each. When you see him, thank him for making a difference and buy a bag to keep in your car. The next time a person asks for money, hand them a bag of food and wish them a good day.

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