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The Latest News from Wheatsville

Local Vendor Spotlight: Austin EastCiders

1. What led you to start Austin Eastciders?

At the beginning of the 20th century, cider was the #1 beverage in America. Then came Prohibition, which resulted in America’s cider apples orchards being destroyed. When people here began making cider again in the 90s, culinary apples were the only ones widely available. That’s why American ciders today are known for being overly sweet. We set out to make America fall in love with cider all over again by making it the traditional way.

2. What kind of apples do you use?

We use real cider apples that we source from Europe. Unlike culinary apples, cider apples are full of tannins that create astringency and a much more complex flavor profile. We then marry them with apples from Washington State.

3. How would you describe the flavor of your ciders?

Austin Eastciders ciders are perfectly-balanced ciders that are dry, clean, crisp, refreshing and taste almost too good going down.

4. What are some of your favorite pairings?

There’s no question our ciders are great on their own. They fill the role of beer in some ways. They fill the role of wine or champagne in others. They also happen to adapt quite nicely all around the drink world. From Pineapple serving as the base in an $18 cocktail to our Texas Honey whiskey on poker night, there’s no wrong way to enjoy Austin Eastciders. As far as food goes, Austin Eastciders pairs well with really anything from a cheese board to barbecue to a five-course dinner.

5. What kind of new products can we expect in the future?

Our Research & Development  department is constantly experimenting with new flavors and styles, some of which you can try in our tap room opening in November!

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September is Organic Harvest Month!


What does “organic” mean?

Crops must be:

  • Grown in safe soil
  • have no modifications
  • must remain separate from conventional products

Farmers are NOT  allowed to use:

  • synthetic pesticides
  • bioengineered genes (GMOs)
  • petroleum or sewage sludge-based fertilizers

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy.


Why buy organic?

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy.

Organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers and with natural weed & pest control.  Small local farmers often use organic methods but sometimes cannot afford to become certified organic. Visit a farmer’s market and talk with the farmers. Find out how they produce the fruits and vegetables they sell. You can even ask for a farm tour.

Organic food buying tips:  Buy in season! Fruits and vegetables are cheapest and freshest when they are in season.


Why buy local, organic produce?

More money goes directly to the farmer and  stays within the community to strengthen the local economy. It also requires less fuel and time to get to market resulting in fresher, tastier food for your table.

Fruits and vegetables where the organic label matters the most:

According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes the results of government pesticide testing in the U.S., the following 12 fruits and vegetables, also known as the Dirty Dozen, have the highest pesticide levels on average. Because of their high pesticide levels when conventionally grown, it is best to buy these organic:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Imported Nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Imported Snap Peas
  • Potatoes

Non-organic fruits and vegetables with low pesticide levels:

These conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, also known as the Clean 15, were found to have the lowest levels of pesticides. Most of these have thicker skin or peel, which naturally protects them better from pests.

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

Why buy organic meat and dairy?

    Livestock are given all organic feed.
    Clean housing and rotational grazing.
    Livestock must have access to the outdoors.


What are the benefits of organic wine?

Organic grapes are not sprayed with chemicals and are produced by sustainable farming methods. In addition to producing a healthier wine, this also creates brighter flavors in the wine.

Does organic wine still contain sulfites?

Organic wines contain less sulfites then traditional wines. Sulfites are salts or sulfurous acids that occur naturally in most wines (it is very rare to find a wine that does not have any sulfites). Traditional wines contain added sulfites to help in their preservation, whereas organic winemakers do not add sulfites. The less sulfites a wine contains, the healthier it will be for your body.

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Meet the Managers

Rory at Guadalupe

Who are you and how long have you worked at Wheatsville?

Rory Alexander, and I have worked at the Guadalupe store for 5 1/2 years


What do you love about Wheatsville compared to other grocers you worked at?

I really enjoy the more personal aspect of WV. The previous company I worked for started small and grew to thousands which very much changed the company and culture. It is easy to connect to all staff which makes it more fun to work here!


Why should someone who hasn’t shopped your store in a while come on by?

The Guadalupe location has transformed through our recent refresh! New cases, new menus, new floors, new energy efficient LED lighting and yes we really do still sell cheese and coffee (in new locations)! Please let us show you their new home!

What’s your favorite deli or Bakehouse item?

I eat a cashew butter cookie every day!
I am also a huge fan of our Bakehouse Sourdough Sandwich bread! It makes awesome
sandwiches and TOAST!


What do you love about your crew?

The staff is what makes my job the most rewarding. Our crew works so hard and makes it fun with such amazing sense of humors and the generosity to be there for each other when life gets tough. I also very much enjoy helping staff learn and develop so they can grow their roles at Wheatsville.


Why do you and your team work so hard for our co-op?

It is easy to work hard when you enjoy what you do and believe in your efforts. Our staff show up every day to make our Co-op a better place to work, a preferred place to shop all while making our community a better place to live. Most of us are also owners of the Co-op too which means taking workplace “ownership” to a whole new level!

Sal at South Lamar

Who are you and how long have you worked at Wheatsville?

My name is Sal Mendivil and I am the Store Manager for WV Sola (South Lamar store) and I have been with WV 3 years.


What do you love about Wheatsville compared to the other grocers you worked at?

I really love that here at Wheatsville, leadership truly listens to what our employees are saying, and actually acts on making things better. While working here, hearing employees talk about not making enough money to live in Austin, WV Leadership took this concern and addressed it head on. Not only did WV Leadership address the issue BUT it made sure that ALL employees had an opportunity to be involved in finding a solution, together! The result was our Livable Wage & Benefits project that made such a tremendous positive affect on so many staff at the co-op.

Why should someone who hasn’t shopped your store in a while come on by?

Two reasons, our products and our people. We carry some of the best natural and organic products you will ever find in this town at a very reasonable and affordable price– and they taste AMAZING! Our people truly deliver exceptional customer service. When our employees speak about our products, about their particular favorite item, it’s because they truly mean it and have a passion for food and to serve the Austin community. I love to hear customers say “this person went above and beyond in helping me today.” The thing is we will always go above and beyond with our customer service because that’s what we do, all day, everyday!


What’s your favorite deli or Bakehouse item?

Wow, tough question, so many cool and delicious items!! OK, our Bakehouse Rustic Olive Loaf. It’s so good! I usually spread some triple cream brie on it. I’ve finished an entire loaf in one sitting! Deli, I love our Buffalo Popcorn Tofu. I’ll make sandwiches out of it, put it on salads, or just eat it out of the container...so yummy!


What do you love about your crew?

I love the passion for food and service that my crew at S. Lamar have. I love the tenacity and drive my crew has to grow our coop economy and I really love the compassion, kindness, and love that my crew has for one another and for our customers.


Why do you and your team work so hard for our co-op?

Because we love what we do and we love the people we work with. WV is unique in that it’s not just another grocery store, it’s a place where friends meet and enjoy each other’s company over some awesome food from our Deli. It’s a place where families come to support local farmers and vendors. In doing so, it makes their families stronger and healthier and in turn makes the local Austin economy stronger and healthier as well. It’s a place where people come to learn about cool new products, taste new items, and grow their knowledge about healthy, natural, organic foods that are affordable! Working for WV we truly are making a positive difference in people lives. I feel extremely lucky to be able to make such a positive impact and doing it with people that share the same values and beliefs for making our communities stronger.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Kala’s Kuisine

Owner and founder Kala Uprety gives us the inner scoop about her delicious authentic Nepalese + Fusion vegetarian food!

1. How and why did Kala’s Kuisine get started?

In 1973, when I first came to the US as a student, I always dreamed of being in the food business. My grandparents had a brown sugar and molasses factory in Nepal, and I was always enjoyed seeing them turn raw ingredients into healthy, natural treats. 20 years later, while working as a computer programmer, I brainstormed ideas of what type of food I would want to sell. Then, while I was traveling abroad in Europe with my husband, I saw that there was packaged vegetarian food that was easy to grab and go. This made it very easy for me to eat abroad, whereas I had a difficult time finding interesting vegetarian options to eat at home. I saw an opportunity in the Austin market to create healthy vegetarian food that combined flavors from my home country of Nepal with the flavors native to Texas. I started with a few fresh products that were twists on traditional Nepalese dishes. By taking these traditional recipes and adding southwestern ingredients, I created a taste that was unique to Kala's Kuisine. Beyond fresh food, we have expanded our offering to include a variety of salsas, chutneys, pestos, hot sauces and fermented products. We started by supplying our fusion products to local grocery stores like Wheatsville co-op and other premier health food stores and now also operate booths at the 3 main Austin farmers markets every week.

2. Tell us a bit about the fusion flavors.

We sell a wide variety of products from fresh foods to fermented products, all with unique combinations of flavors that fuse influences from the East and West. For instance, our Roti Wraps and Saag Wraps combine a tortilla filled with curry-spiced vegetables making them both twists on the taco/burrito concept, but with eastern flavors.

Samosas, our most popular product, are filled with a potato and vegetable mixture that is seasoned to appeal to the western palate. The blend of spices is unique to Kala's Kuisine and offers a milder curry flavor than traditional Samosas.

Our Pasta Salads, Nepali Pasta Salad and Saag Pasta, take traditional dishes and mix them with pasta to create two brand new concepts, not available anywhere else. Saag Pasta, for example, has a nut-free spinach pesto base tossed with great northern beans and semolina rainbow noodles. This creates a tangy-spicy flavor in a cold noodle salad. Our Nepali Pasta Salad starts with a tomato-carrot based "spaghetti sauce" with eastern spices that make it unique to us. This sauce base is mixed with almonds and angel hair semolina noodles to create a milder spiced cold salad.

All of our salsas have a combination of eastern and western flavors that make them completely original. Our Curry-Chipotle and Mirchi Masala salsas, for example, combine Nepalese curry spices with the peppery flavors of the southwest to create flavor-filled hot sauces. Our newest addition, fermented products, are age old traditional Nepalese recipes that use western techniques to create crispy condiments that spice up any dish.

3. What are your favorite accompaniments to your food?

The great thing about all of our products is their versatility. I could name over twenty ways you could use each of our salsas, hot sauces and fermented products to create unique and interesting dishes. Here are a few of my favorite combinations:
Our Samosas pair perfectly with our Mango Chutney making an appetizer combination of salty, spicy and sweet that is impossible to resist. If you want to create a new take on a TexMex dinner, take our Mirchi Masala salsa, add some sour cream and pour over your favorite enchiladas for a Nepalese twist. For a flavorful breakfast with some extra kick, try adding our Curry-Chipotle salsa to some scrambled eggs. Then add some cheese and your favorite sautéed vegetables and you have a spicy breakfast taco.

You can also get creative with our condiment products by using them in surprising ways to add additional flavor to a variety of dishes. Our Pestos are great for tossing with pasta, spreading over naan or mixing with brown rice and vegetables for a healthy lunch bowl. Fermented products have a ton of unique uses apart from being great garnishes. Kimchi radishes are a great addition to salads or rice to add texture and tang. Carrot and Ruby krout are both tasty condiments that spice up any simple sandwich. For a unique salad dressing, combine our Lemon Preserve with Italian herbs and olive oil and pour over your choice of mixed greens.

4. How long have you been selling your food at Wheatsville?

Over 20 years. We started with fresh foods, expanded with our salsas and hot sauces, and have recently added our fermented products to our assortment. Striving to provide unique and interesting flavor combinations in every product, we have been working closely with Wheatsville to curate a collection that appeals to their clientele.

5. What is your favorite thing about Wheatsville?

Our favorite thing about Wheatsville is the environment. It is absolutely a joy to work with such friendly people who have supported Kala's Kuisine from the very beginning. They always provide us with great shelf space and they are inviting to local vendors like us as opposed to other grocery stores that ignore local vendors and focus on mass market brands.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Pie Jacked

Bukki Sittler of Pie Jacked, filled us in on this excellent local company!

1. How and why did Pie Jacked get started?

One of Mama Joyce's grandsons was diagnosed with Autism when he was very little. After a lot of research, we found that eliminating food allergens has shown to help with some of the symptoms of Autism, including digestion and even some of the "brain fog" aspects. We had him tested for food allergies and the results were overwhelming. Mama Joyce especially reworked basic recipes to help his mother with meals. Once the problem foods were removed from his diet, his entire aspect changed. His digestion improved, he started speaking in full sentences, and his entire face would light up when he smiled instead of just a crinkle at the corners of his mouth. As holidays came around, she knew she had to come up with something for pies - Grandma Buck, Bukki's namesake, had taught Mama Joyce when the family art of pie making when she was a child and it was too important to lose that legacy. With her decades of experience, and experimenting over three years, she finally came up with a crust that matched the flavor and texture of the original pies created 2 generations before her. That little man is Jack, so we named the company Pie Jacked.


2. What allergens are avoided in your pies?


We are top-8 allergen-free. This includes wheat (and all gluten), soy, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish. As if this is not limiting enough, we also avoid corn and GMO ingredients. Our pies are allergen-friendly and vegan. This extends to our entire product line, including our coffee cakes, Mud Pie Crusties, and some other goodies we are still developing!

3. Tell us a bit about the taste and flavors of your pies.

Our pie crust is what people rave over - it is tender and flakey as a pie crust should be. That has been the biggest hurdle to overcome, as so often gluten-free crusts can feel crumble or powdery. They have a light flavor that complements the sweet of fruit pies or even savory pies. Our fruit is based off of the original family recipe. We use evaporated cane juice that enhances the natural flavor and sweetness of our fruits rather than overpowering them. We let the fruits speak for themselves - just the right amount of tartness with our cherry, a light warmth to our apple, a freshness to our peach, and simple sweetness to our blueberry. We use traditional depth pie pans for all of our sizes so that we don't skimp on the fruit filling. We find they create the best balance of crust and fruit to complement each other.

4. What are your favorite accompaniments to your pie?

Either a full holiday meal with all the trimmings ;), or Sweet Ritual Salted Carmel frozen dessert on the apple and cherry pies. Their vanilla is great with all of our flavors.

5. What is your favorite thing about Wheatsville?

I love coming into the store and seeing the seasonal displays that are featured. I love finding new brands, especially new local brands, that way.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Pederson’s Natural Farms

Stacy Dudley, "The Paleo Cowgirl", Vice President of Marketing and Hans Van Der Enden, Sales Manager, filled us in on the Pederson's story.

1. How and why did Pederson’s get started?

Based in Hamilton, Texas, we have been producing fresh and smoked natural meat products since 1992. Our mantra is "real people making real food using natural meats raised with humane and environmentally safe practices.

What do you get when you throw two good ol’ boys and lifelong best buds into a business together? Success! Pederson's hired Comanche native Cody Lane for Quality Assurance straight out of college in 2001. With a degree in Ag Business Food and Fiber Marketing from Texas A&M University, Cody quickly gained respect from the owner of the all-natural meats producer. Within a year, Cody was promoted to President of Pederson's Natural Farms. And, it didn't take long for him to realize that this company could grow and grow steadily. With that in mind, he called upon his lifelong best friend Neil Dudley to come work alongside him as Vice President.

Growing up, the pair were respectable and hard working young men. Their personal integrity and work ethic pulses through the company which they've successfully grown since coming on board ten years ago. Since these two Comanche homegrown boys took the reins, the pair have nearly doubled the gross annual sales.

As Cody is celebrating his tenth year with Pederson's, the company celebrates its 20th year as a premier producer of  all natural fresh and smoked meat products. Started in 1992 with just two employees and the sale of the famous Applewood Smoked Bacon, Pederson's faced all the obstacles that any small business faces and then some.

Despite two fires leaving the company's production plant in ashes, Pederson's has steadily grown. Pederson's credits its success to its unwavering  integrity, and the company is sure to back up their words with actions. With top priorities being safety and quality, Pederson's has taken every rigorous step to become Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Level 3 Certified.

"That certification aligns with everything we value: safety and the highest quality standards. We're of the belief that actions speak louder than words. We can make claims all day long, but this certification brings the highest level of validation,”  Cody Lane, President.

The company's down home, honest to goodness business model has been rewarded with loyal employees, a loyal community, and loyal customers – not to mention steady growth. And, Pederson's gladly offers a steadfast loyalty in return. After a devastating fire in June of 2001, the small Texas community of Hamilton rallied around Pederson's in an effort to get the company up and running again. With only one production day lost, Pederson's chose to honor their roots and rebuild in Hamilton County.

The support of countless folks from the very beginning combined with Pederson's principles has culminated in the successful production of superior quality all natural meats. Specifically famous for "makin' bacon", here are some interesting statistics from Pederson's Natural Farms about just how much bacon they make annually:
• 1.5 million pounds of bacon each year
•  21 million slices
•  End to end, that's 2,982 miles of bacon
•  It's enough bacon to stretch across North America and halfway back
That's a lot of bacon!

Whether asked to reflect on Pederson's first 20 years in business or to look toward the future, Vice President Neil Dudley's assessment remains the same.

“We run our business as a marathon not a sprint. Our goal is to build our business on well-founded relationships! We believe in honesty, safety, quality, and efficiency…in that order. Pederson's Natural Farms isn't the biggest; it's just the best!"


2. How does y’all’s pork differ from other producer’s?

We make food you can feel good about feeding your family. All of our products are made from pork that is humanely-raised without the use of antibiotics or growth stimulants and fed no animal by-products ever. They have no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, and no added nitrites or nitrates. They are gluten free, MSG free, and, aside from the Jalapeño & Cheese Sausage, they are lactose-free, too.


3. Tell us a little about the No Sugar products.

We were listening to our consumers and team members, and we recognized the huge gaping hole in the market. In fact, in 2012, we had a consumer plea submitted on our website that read as follows: "Us health conscience eaters prefer the sugar out of our bacon. Please produce a product that contains NO SUGAR! Your bacon is too sweet for our group of Paleo dieters. Would appreciate your consideration on the matter." Eight weeks later, we took No Sugar Bacon to retail!

So, guess what?! We value the varying and ever evolving needs of health conscious eaters and bacon lovers. We valued the voice of this one single consumer. We made No Sugar Bacon. We are grateful that Pederson's is in the position to provide this kind of superior product to nationally well known and loved markets like Wheatsville that share our same values.


4. What is your favorite thing about Wheatsville?

Wheatsville is a grassroots Texas local co-op that sells good for you foods. They are a big supporter of Pederson's Natural Farms. We deeply appreciate that!


5. Do you have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share?

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