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The Latest News from Wheatsville

Our Green Features

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one  thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson

As a community owned co-op, we take our Cooperative Values & Principles very seriously. We fulfill the ideals of Principle #7, Concern for Community, in a number of different ways – one of which is being a good environmental steward. Through thoughtful, small daily actions – such as sorting our trash from recycling and compost after we eat – we can make a HUGE impact.
 
Thank you for doing your part – bringing your containers to refill, remembering your reusable bags, sorting your trash, composting, planting gardens, collecting rainwater, and for supporting your co-op!
 
Here are some things your co-op does to stay green:

  1. We recycle metal, cardboard, plastic, paper, glass, food scraps, and cooking oil
  2. Break it Down, our local recyclers, estimate that we divert 20 tons of cardboard each month between both stores. That’s the equivalent of 3 elephants!

  3. Break it Down also estimates that we divert 100 tons of recycling (cardboard, glass, and plastic) each month between both stores. That’s the same as 50 full-grown cows!

  4. Wheatsville is part of Austin Energy’s Green Choice program which uses the money we pay for utilities to build wind farms and help Austin reach its goal of 55% renewable energy use by 2025!
  5. S. Lamar has 57 SolaTubes which use highly reflective fiber optic tubes to direct sunlight into our store so that we don’t have to use as much electricity. 

  6. Ceiling lights at S. Lamar adjust intensity depending on the amount of natural sunlight coming in from our SolaTubes.
  7. We only buy energy efficient coolers, refrigeration units, and equipment.

  8. We offer bulk refills of wellness products like Dr.Bronner’s soaps, lotions and laundry detergent!

  9. We use noVOC or lowVOC building materials and paint in order to have an odor-free store. 

  10. Our waterless urinal at S. Lamar saves 1.5 gallons of water per flush! 12 flushes per day saves 6,552 gallons of water per year!

  11. Our rainwater collection tanks at Guadalupe give us enough water to irrigate all of our landscaping!

  12. Our paper bags are made with 100% recovered fiber, minimum of 85% post consumer content, and are printed with water-based inks.

  13. Lots of bike parking, showers for staff at S. Lamar, a bike to work benefit for staff members who ride 8+ hours/month. 

  14. Concrete parking lots that absorb less sunlight than asphalt and reflect less heat, light paint colors, and awnings help keep us cool through the hot summers.

  15. Email receipts, double-sided receipts, and no receipts option significantly cut down the amount of paper register tape (BPA free) we have to buy.
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Local Farmer of the Month: Buena Tierra Farm

Steve Kramer and Carey Burkett have been farming for 23 years. For 15 years they’ve been farming  100 acres of fertile, high-iron, red sandy loam near Fredonia, Texas about 107 miles west of Austin.

A jack-of-all-trades, Steve taught himself how to farm. He and Carey incorporate their Do-It-Yourself spirit and solid values into everything they do on their land. They take great pride in the quality of the produce they provide for the community and it shows.

  • In April Buena Tierra Farms will be bringing spring items such as
  • Lacinato and Green Curly Kale
  • Red and Green Leaf Lettuces
  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash
  • Bunched Basil

We are proud to share the fruits of their labor with Wheatsville shoppers. Buena Tierra Farm is our favorite example of what hard work, integrity, and honesty can do for the local food community. Wheatsville Produce Coordinator Elias Valerio appreciates that Buena Tierra will not ship unless the produce is superior quality.

Brand Manager, Raquel Dadomo, shares her favorite uses of Buena Tierra Basil:

I am a huge fan of basil in general, but the Buena Tierra Basil is really extraordinary. Fresh, local and organic, it is lovingly hand bunched and ready to make you and your favorite basil recipe extremely happy.

The classic combo of basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella is a personal favorite of mine. I love to make cute little appetizer stacks of tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella drizzled with a flavorful cold-pressed olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

If I'm wanting something more substantial, I'll go with a grilled caprese sandwich on a fabulous Wheatsville Bakehouse Baguette. I lightly chop the basil and add some fresh garlic, olive oil and sea salt then just layer in with tomato and mozzarella slices and into the grilling pan. Both of these quick recipes are super easy, super delicious and super snazzy.

Be sure to check out the Buena Tierra Basil next time you stop by for a visit. Lift the lid on the Buena Tierra basil container and unleash an avalanche of deep rich basil aroma. It is the best. You and your stomach will be glad you did

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Happy 42nd Birthday Wheatsville!

Celebrate our 42nd birthday Fri, March 16, 12-6pm with BIRTHDAY CAKE at the top of each hour at BOTH STORES until it’s gone!


42: Life, the Universe, Wheatsville & You

by Dan Gillotte, Chief Executive Grocer

Wheatsville’s birthday is one of my favorite times of the year. I feel so lucky to have a chance each year to reflect on this special organization that I’ve been privileged to be a part of for the past 20 years.

Our birthday spurs me to recognize and thank our founders and all the great people who came before us. Those board members, managers, owners, employees and shoppers who have been with us since the beginning - or at least for a couple decades! The vision of a thriving food co-op was on the mind of our forebears in 1976 and every day, we try to live up to being the ethical, positive, community-owned business that they were trying to create together.

 These days, it seems more important than ever that co-ops exist to be a counter-balancing force to all of the selfish, negative, Wall Street driven activity that is so prevalent. Our ethical underpinnings and values allow us to embody our owners’ ideals of kindness, generosity and hospitality, caring for others, social responsibility and concern for community.

This year your co-op stood up for our common ideals of openness and a welcoming approach to all people. We worked hard to support Council Members Casar, Kitchen and Garza and Mayor Pro Tem Tovo’s efforts to require that all employees in the city of Austin had access to earned sick pay (as our staff have had for decades). We’ve also continued our commitment to pay all staff livable wages and benefits, with all staff earning $13.01 or more (after passing the 90 day intro period).

You’ll see more in this issue of the Breeze about our commitment to help reverse climate change. As an early signer to the Climate Collaborative, we have long been a leader in environmentally-friendly business practices, and this is just another way for us to show our commitment to a positive sustainable future on our planet.

Our leadership on food waste diversion was a big deal this year as many news outlets featured our work on getting food into the mouths of people who need it instead of landfills. We’re very proud of these efforts, I hope you are, too.

The future for Wheatsville is bright even as the grocery wars heat up with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. We’re STILL LOCAL and always will be! We look forward to creating more positive impact with your support for the next 42 years and beyond!

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Welcome the 2018 Board of Directors

This year, the Wheatsville Board seated our 2018 Directors at the January 16th meeting, and held our annual retreat on the second weekend in February. It was a great opportunity to develop as a team and do some foundational work as we embark on our journey together this year. It is exciting to lead the co-op as we turn 42 (which I am told is the secret of the universe) on March 16th, and as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dan Gillotte, our Chief Executive Grocer, who was first hired on February 18, 1998. We are deeply grateful to THAT Board of Directors for a wise decision that has paid dividends to our organization many times over!


We welcome four new directors along with two re-elected incumbents to the 2018 Board.

Jason Bourgeois describes himself as a student services practitioner, a performance conditioning specialist, an uncle, and a learning enthusiast. He loves that co-ops support unity, are inclusive, inspire creativity, and are some of the best hubs for community engagement.

Brandon Hines is a dimensional fund advisors manager specialized in information risk and security. He has been shopping at Wheatsville for 25 years because it is about so much more than getting groceries! Brandon believes that through support of our neighbors, Wheatsville will play a significant role in shaping Austin’s growing reputation as a creative center for community, culture, and cuisine.

Don Jackson is a dyed-in-the-wool cooperator who currently serves on the Austin Cooperative Business Association Board, and formerly served on the board of the Black Star Co-op. He is a Project Coordinator at the City of Austin focused on supporting small, local business districts, and he is inspired by Wheatsville’s efforts at local sourcing, commitment to affordable groceries and to livable wages.

Brian Mikulencak is an attorney whose law practice is focused on serving organizations that effect positive social change by using alternative business forms. He values the role that Wheatsville has played in the community throughout the course of Austin’s growth, and is passionate about supporting the food-choice owner-democracy of our co-op.

Lyz Nagan is the communications director for a Minneapolis-based firm, and she grew up shopping at local food co-ops. She knows from those experiences that co-ops build community. She believes in the value of small, personal actions, and she strives to be part of building a strong neighborhood by supporting local businesses and workers, and by doing one thing each day to make the city a better place.

MeriJayd O’Connor is a cranio-sacral therapist who sees Wheatsville as a fearless innovator, supporting sustainable food production, reducing waste, and creating strong cooperative alliances with other industries as we grow into the future. She dedicates herself to improving the health and well-being of others and is part of a developing organization that provides therapy to victims of torture and trauma.

At the January board meeting, three new officers were elected for 2018: Lisa Mitchell is Treasurer, Lyz Nagan is Secretary, and Rose Marie Klee is President. We are looking forward to supporting the work of this board!

We stand on the legacy of so many great directors and boards who came before us, and so I would like to say a special word of thanks to our outgoing directors: Julie Le, who was our star, leading more than her share of committees in her two years on the board; Andi Shively, who served as Treasurer and continues to provide leadership as President of the Austin Cooperative Business Association; and Kitten Holloway, who served as Secretary along with so many years of service on the Nominations Committee.

—Rose Marie Klee, Board President

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Women in Leadership at Wheatsville

Since 1900, International Women’s Day on March 8th, has been observed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and serves as a reminder to continue working towards gender equality.

According to recent Harman Group data, while grocery shopping is becoming an increasingly shared task, women are almost 80% more likely to be the main shopper and meal preparer. Retail in general has been dominated by men in leadership and women as shoppers. But as you might suspect, co-ops have long been leaders in closing the gender gap. From Kitchen Supervisors, Bakers and Cooks, women are an important part of our grocery.

The first retail grocery cooperative opened in Rochdale England on December 21, 1844 and sold butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal, and candles as a way to get quality food to working class people. The 28 Pioneers were clear that membership should be open to everyone who could benefit from their services, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion. They were committed to equal opportunities 150 years before the term became commonplace. Founded on the principle of ‘One Member, One Vote’, cooperatives welcomed working class people to the decision-making process - including women, long before women would gain the right to vote (1920 in the US, 1928 in the UK).

Today, co-ops, including Wheatsville, continue to lead the way. Our current Board of Directors is 45% women (about 20% in traditional business), our leadership team is 59% female and senior leadership is 44% female. In traditional retail businesses 42% of women hold mid-level manger jobs, 37% hold senior level manager jobs, and just 8% are CEO’s, according to Catalyst, Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Retail Trade (August 22, 2017).

While women still have work to do locally, nationally, and globally – it’s important to recognize our co-op’s commitment to our shared Cooperative Values and Principles. Together we are actively creating the kinds of social change we want to see in the world. By contributing to businesses that support these ideals, we can all help lift each other up.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Siete Family Foods

Many thanks to Siete Family Foods founder, Veronica Garza for answering  our questions about their business.


1. Why did you start Siete Family Foods?

Siete was formed when my family and I embarked on a health journey that included exercising together and adopting a low-inflammation, grain free diet, to help alleviate the autoimmune conditions I had been experiencing. As a Mexican-American, I grew up eating tortillas on a daily basis, and I have many wonderful memories of visiting my grandmother, always being welcomed with a batch of homemade flour tortillas. Eating gluten free and grain free meant that all tortillas were literally off the table for my family and me. While this may seem trivial, it wasn’t for us. In a way it felt like we were excluded from a part of our culture that we loved, being able to partake in delicious Mexican food. To fill this “tortilla void,” I experimented in the kitchen and developed a tortilla that we could eat. Over the next few years I modified the recipe numerous times, producing the first product we put to market, a grain free, gluten free, almond flour tortilla. I made them on weekends for many years, sharing them with my family and friends. In 2014 my family and I decided that we wanted to share our tortillas with more people outside of our circle of family and friends, so we found a buyer (Wheatsville!) for our products and started a business. 




2. What makes your chips and tortillas different from others on the market?

We make grain free Mexican-American food, utilizing nutrient dense, real food ingredients as much as possible. Our tortillas are currently made with ingredients such as almonds, coconut flour, cassava, chia seeds, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Our tortilla chips are made with cassava and coconut flour and cooked in avocado oil. All of our products have been created because they filled a void either in our own diets or for our core consumers. We sell products that we love to eat and hope that our customers feel the same way.


3. Are Siete Tortillas and Chips vegan? Non-GMO? paleo-friendly?

At Siete we try to make products that are as inclusive as possible. We’ve designed our products to allow people with a variety of diets, dietary restrictions, and backgrounds to gather around the table to enjoy Mexican-American foods. Currently, all of our products are gluten free, grain free, vegan-friendly, paleo-friendly and verified by the non-GMO Project.


 4. How do you choose your ingredients?

With all of our products, taste and quality are paramount. We care about what we put in our bodies and, because of that, we’ve gone to great lengths to scrutinize and carefully select every ingredient that goes into our products. I personally oversee all of our product development and spend the majority of my time testing the perfect combination of ingredients and finding the best partners to source ingredients from, all to offer our customers products we can be extremely proud of.

 5. Can you tell us the story about Siete getting started with Wheatsville?

After years of making an almond flour tortilla for friends and family out of my kitchen in Laredo, Texas, we decided to turn a recipe into a business. In 2014, I made a batch of tortillas, put them in a ziplock bag, and drive from Laredo to Austin to approach the buyer at Wheatsville Food Co-op. The grocery buyer loved them and asked how soon they could start selling them. We had no business, no brand name, and no idea how to start a food business. My mother, brother (Miguel), and I joined forces and within a couple of months had our first product on the shelves. We started off by renting space at a commercial kitchen in Austin, driving up from Laredo every weekend to make tortillas by hand and then deliver them to Wheatsville. Since then the rest of my family members have come onboard to help move Siete along on its mission to becoming a healthy Mexican American food brand.

 
6. What’s is your favorite thing about Wheatsville?

Before starting Siete Family Foods we had zero experience in the food industry. Wheatsville was instrumental in helping us get our start. Knowing we were just getting started as a business, the buyer provided guidance on many of the steps we had to take to get our products on the shelf. We love the warm, welcoming feel we get when walking into Wheatsville as customers and now as vendors/partners that have the privilege of selling our products to their customers.

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This Month’s Vendor Spotlight: Sjaak’s Organic Chocolate

Many thanks to Jessica Holten for answering our questions!

Who started Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates?

Jacques Holten and his daughter Jessica started Sjaak's Organic Chocolates in 2003, after discussing their passion for organic foods, they both felt like it was the right direction to go. They wanted to create a delicious chocolate that was also organic, thus being healthier for the consumer, farm workers and the earth.

How long has Sjaak’s been in business?

Jacques has been creating culinary confections since the age of 12, when he began trade school in his native country of Holland. We joke that he has been making chocolate forever, which is somewhat true. He has been in the confectionery and culinary industry most of his life; either working for himself in various businesses or for chocolate houses throughout Europe.

What is the meaning of your windmill and tulip logo?

The Sjaak’s logo is rooted deep in family history. Jacques, the owner and creator of Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, was born in the Netherlands and grew up next door to the family grain mill. The original wind mill that is represented in the   Sjaak’s logo was named Antonius Mollen, a family name to this day. This mill was destroyed in World War II, but it was   replaced by a mechanical mill. The tulip in the forefront is iconic of Holland, the largest producers of tulips in the world.

What makes Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates different from other chocolates on the market?

Most importantly, what sets Sjaak's Organic Chocolates aside is taste.  We pride ourselves on creating incredibly delicious chocolates. Sjaak's is also completely organic, vegan, kosher and is a small family owned and operated business.

Does Sjaak’s use Fair Trade and non-GMO ingredients?

All of Sjaak's ingredients are organic, therefore non-GMO. We use Fair trade cocoa and sugar. Sjaak's Organic Chocolates aims to create the highest quality gourmet organic chocolates possible while simultaneously supporting a positive work environment, fair trade practices and encouraging sustainable agriculture through the use of organic, non-GMO ingredients. It is also the goal of Sjaak's Organic Chocolates to build a socially responsible, profitable business that can be carried on for generations to come.

Are your chocolates vegan and Kosher?

All of Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates are vegan products, including chocolate bars, gift boxes and Holiday treats. This means they contain no animal ingredients, such as milk, butter, eggs, and gelatin. We have created a vegan 'Melk' chocolate that that is completely dairy free and is delicious! Even the sugar that we use is non bone char.  Our products are certified Kosher by Earth Kosher.

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Community Action Group for January: Sustainable Food Center

Sustainable Food Center is proud to be the beneficiary of Wheatsville’s monthly giving for January. For those unfamiliar with our work, our mission is to cultivate a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food. Beyond a shared commitment to a just and sustainable food system, it’s the people behind our organizations that make the local food movement in Austin special. In fact, many on staff at SFC are Wheatsville members. Hear from them about why they are proud to be a part of the co-op!

I joined the co-op about two years ago when I realized that I was hanging out at Wheatsville probably four or five times a week! I was sucked in by the great local produce, the friendly staff and the sense of community. So happy I found them and that they are my grocery store of choice J.
—Sara Law, Food Access Manager

I love seeing products sourced from local farmers and ranchers who I know!
— Joy Casnovsky, Deputy Director

I’ve been a Wheatsville member for so many years I’ve lost count. In addition to being a nearly daily stop on my way home from work, Wheatsville was instrumental in helping me start NadaMoo!, the coconut milk ice cream I created in 2004. Wheatsville was one of my first retailers and an ingredient supplier in my start up years. Simply put, they are the real deal when it comes to supporting the community and local food businesses. I love you, Wheatsville!
—Amy Rodman, Business Development Manager 

I love being able to depend on finding locally-sourced and organic produce at Wheatsville. It’s great to be able to support an Austin coop and local farmers at the same time!
—Sari Albornoz, Grow Local Program Director

Becoming a member of the co-op was one of the first things I did when I moved to Austin a little over a year ago. As a big supporter of local food, I love seeing the amount of variety from local farms and small producers at Wheatsville.
—Lucinda Ugarte, Grow Local Education Coordinator

I am proud to be a member of Wheatsville Co-op because Wheatsville champions health, well-being and community for a stronger Austin.  Thank you, Wheatsville!
— Barrie Cullinan, Finance Coordinator

There is a unique joy that is felt in spaces that are truly community-centered. Wheatsville was one of the first places I ever visited in Austin and I could feel that warmth immediately. Shopping here is a perfect complement to the bounty I can find at SFC Farmers’ Markets. Thank you!!! 
—Simone Benz, Food Access Projects Manager

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