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The Latest News from Wheatsville

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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Local Vendor Spotlight: Mill-King Creamery

Bulk & Chill Coordinator Chris Moore interviews Rhianna Miller of Mill-King

How long has Mill-King been a dairy farm; has the farm always been in the family?

Our family, the Millers, have owned and operated a dairy since 1941. Today’s operation is owned by Billy Miller (2nd generation) and Craig Miller (3rd generation). In 1941 Arnold and Minnie Miller moved into the Crawford area and started milking cows. They would sell the milk and cream at the farm or at the small general store in Crawford. Their small dairy that grew over time, and they then began selling their milk to a co-op as that became a more popular model of selling milk for dairy farmers.

Their son, Billy Miller, worked with his father on the farm, and later bought out his father out of the farm when his father retired. Billy and his wife, Shorty, operated the dairy on the family’s home place for many years. They grew the size of the dairy and also bought more land in the area. In 1993, they built a new dairy facility about a mile from the home place.

In 2004 Craig, Billy and Shorty’s youngest son, came home after graduating college to work on the family farm. Craig’s wife, Rhianna, began working for the family farm in 2008. In 2010, it was apparent that continuing to dairy in a conventional manner was not a viable option for the farm. The family started to explore alternative dairy options.

Spurred by Rhianna’s allergy to milk, the family looked at making raw milk cheese and selling raw milk. From that the family farm began to change. All of our practices changed to promote an unadulterated dairy product. We are passionate about our cows and getting their natural, wholesome milk to consumers.

How long have you been on the shelves at Wheatsville and what are some of your favorite products at the co-op?

We have been on the shelves in Wheatsville since 2012. We love the cheese department and we love getting to try all of the other local farmers cheese. My second favorite department is produce. We love being able to get the freshest produce from our fellow local farmers. Nothing tastes better than veggies straight out of the field, and the Wheatsville produce department never disappoints.

Are there other local vendors that use your milk in their products? If so who are they?

We are proud to have so many local vendors that use our milk. We make a base for Lick Ice Cream with our milk and cream. There are numerous coffee shops that use our milk like Houndstooth, Caffe Medici, and Cuvee. Numerous restaurants in Austin like Barley Swine, Elizabeth Street Cafe, and Bouldin Creek Cafe. Local frozen artisans like Spun Ice Cream also use Mill-King.

Do you have anything new coming out?

We are working on a yogurt that should come out later in 2017.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share with our patrons?

We love making mac and cheese with a variety of cheeses and fresh veggies thrown in.

Seasonal Mac and Cheese

12oz pasta
5-6 oz bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
2 Tbsp butter
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced

2-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 Cup flour
2 1/2 Cups Mill-King Whole Milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 tsp ground mustard
ground black pepper to taste
8 oz grated cheese (our favorite is Brazos Valley Gouda and White Cheddar)
Your favorite seasonal veggies. (for example spinach, varieties of squash, artichoke, asparagus, peas, etc)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the butter until melted with the garlic and onions. Add in mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. To make the cheese sauce, add the butter to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden and fragrant but not burned, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Whisk in the salt, red pepper flakes, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cheese until completely melted and smooth. (If necessary, you can return the pan to low heat to melt the cheeses.) Return the drained pasta to the pot.
  4. Mix in the cooked bacon and mushrooms, the cheese sauce and the seasonal veggies. (If necessary partly steam veggies) Stir everything together gently until well combined. Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.
  5. Bake for 15-2o minutes or until the top is light golden and the cheese is bubbling. Serve warm and top with reserved cooked bacon pieces, if desired.

Photos by Jo Ann Santangelo

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Hey Moms & Dads! Fun for your Kids—Co+op Explorers!

Co+op Explorer Kids get a FREE PIECE of ORGANIC FRUIT every time they visit!  To become a card-carrying Co+op Explorer, kids 12 and under simply need to bring you (their grown-up person) to the Hospitality Desk and ask to join the club. That’s it!

When you sign up - each kiddo will be issued their very own super-official Co+op Explorers membership card, sticker, temporary tattoo, and HIGH FIVE! Pretty cool!

They’ll also be eligible to WIN a PRIZE each month through our in-store coloring challenge AND we’ll send a birthday e-mail (actually it goes to you, their grown up, but if you could pass it along we’d appreciate it) letting them know they’ve got a BIRTHDAY SURPRISE from all of us here at the co-op!

Since we launched our Co+op Explorer’s program last year, we’ve had over 300 kids SIGN UP! WOOHOO!

Glad to see so many kids putting those tiny shopping carts to good use! 

Once kids are signed up, here's how it works:

        1. Kids and parents stop by our fruit basket near the tiny carts.

        2. Choose a piece of organic fruit from the basket.

        3. Take a sticker & wear it to show off their Co+op Explorer pride!

        4. Peels can be thrown away in any of our compost bins.


That's all there is to it! If you have any questions, please ask at the Hospitality Desk.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Vital Farms

Vital Farm Folks Interview by Chris Moore, Chill & Bulk Coordinator

How long has Vital Farms been farming, and what sets your standards apart from other farmers’?

Vital Farms was started in 2007 by our founder Matt O’Hayer and his wife, Catherine. They purchased a small farm in South Austin and began tending a flock of 20 hens, believing that there was a better way to produce eggs, sustainably and humanely. As the company grew, we began working together with small family farms to pioneer the Pasture-Raised standard here in the US, providing a minimum of 108 sq ft of green, organically maintained pasture for each and every hen. We’ve been Certified Humane since 2010, and even helped Humane Farm Animal Care develop the Pasture-Raised standard for egg laying hens.

How long has Vital Farms been on Wheatsville’s shelves?

Wheatsville Food Co-op was one of our very first retail partners here in Austin. Our partnership goes way back to 2008, and is very special to us. We are grateful to Wheatsville for believing in our mission early on.

Vital Farms produce different types of eggs. Is there one that is better than the rest? What makes them all different?

Pasture-Raised is the gold standard for eggs, and all of the eggs we produce reflects our passion for treating our hens humanely and bringing the very best eggs to market. Every single one of our hens are Certified Humane, Raised and Handled, and enjoy a standard of living that we believe all hens should have. They go outside every single day, and enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and 108 sq ft of green pasture each to roam and forage. The only difference in our organic brand and non-organic brand is in the supplemental feed we give our girls, to keep them healthy.

Vital farms has recently started to produce butter, what made you go in that direction?

We launched our butter in late 2015. We wanted to extend our Pasture-Raised farming standard to our other favorite Girls on Grass: cows!

What do you like most about Wheatsville Food Co-op?

Wheatsville is a great place to discover something new. There are so many great and innovative products coming out from mission-driven food companies that want to change the way we produce and consume food. We find ourselves in very good company at the co-op!

Is there anything new in the works at Vital Farms?

We’re always working on leading pasture-raised. We’ve got lots of exciting things in the works that we can’t wait to introduce to the world. Follow our Facebook and Instagram for the latest!

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with our patrons?

Our Baked Eggs with Fine Herbs was recently featured in the Vital Times, our mini newsletter that is included with every carton of our eggs. It’s absolutely delicious, very easy to make, and takes no time at all! You can also find our other great recipes on our website: www.vitalfarms.com/recipes

Baked Eggs with Fine Herbs

Ingredients
3 Large Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs
½ TBS Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Unsalted Butter
1 TBS Heavy Cream
1 TBS Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ TBS Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Finely chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped Sage
1 tsp chopped Rosemary
1 tsp chopped Thyme
 salt and pepper to taste

• Set oven to Broil, and let heat for about 5 minutes. Place rack no higher than 6 inches from the burner.
• Take a shallow gratin dish, and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in the dish. Place in oven and heat until the cream and butter start bubbling, about 5 minutes.
• Mix chopped herbs, garlic, and grated parmesan cheese together and set aside.
• Crack 3 eggs carefully into a small bowl, taking care not to puncture the yolk.
• Once the cream and butter are bubbling hot, remove the gratin dish from the oven and set on a trivet. Pour the eggs into the gratin dish and sprinkle with the herbed parmesan mixture until well covered. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally   all over.
• Place gratin dish back in the oven and broil for about 5 minutes. The dish should be done when the edges of the gratin and the garlic from the herb mixture are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 1-2 minutes, to cool and set the eggs.
• Enjoy with a slice of baguette or your favorite bread.

For more information about Vital Farms: http://www.vitalfarms.com

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Response: How to Raise Worker Wages

On Thursday, March 30th, the Chronicle reported on the work we’ve done with livable wages & benefits at Wheatsville over the past year, How to Raise Worker Wages by Jack Craver, as part of a much larger article about the challenge of workers making a livable wage in Austin. The co-op has worked long and hard on behalf of both our owners and 235 staff members to get all staff earning a livable wage with benefits and we’re pleased to be the concrete example of a business doing right by its employees in the article.

We know that you have a lot of choices for where you buy your food. This article strongly suggests that the kind of businesses you choose to support matter. Sure, in many ways choosing your grocer seems like such a small act – buying a loaf of bread, apple, or jug of milk. But the fact is when you shop here at the co-op, you support livable wages & benefits and a co-op full of PEOPLE, just like you, that come to work every day and try to make a positive impact in this world.  YOUR SHOP MATTERS. PEOPLE MATTER.

While we know that we have not satisfied every staff member or owner around our wage issues, we have worked very hard, and have done our best to address a very complicated problem as shown in the article. This issue is not just a Wheatsville issue, a box store issue, an independent business issue – this is a community issue. How are we lining up to take care of each other? How do we ensure good paying jobs for the future?

Our co-op was started 41 years ago as an alternative to other grocery stores. We listened, we fought, we joined together, we worked hard, we changed, we grew, we acted. We approached the Livable Wage & Benefits problem the same way we’ve been operating years - TOGETHER. Each of us brings a different perspective – but through open and honest dialogue and respectfully listening to each other’s point of view, we solve problems.

We’re happy the Chronicle decided to dig deeper into a complicated issue and glad that we can be a positive example of a good approach to dealing with this challenge. At the same time, we’re pressing forward to ensure that our co-op thrives and survives for another several decades and are glad that we can do so by being a good employer.

We appreciate your support, patronage, feedback, contribution, and criticism. It’s all part of the ecosystem that allows us to grow stronger together!

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Local Vendor Spotlight:Kosmic Kombucha

What was the origin of Kosmic Kombucha

Kosmic Kombucha is lovingly brewed in the heart of Austin by Omar and Mina Rios, who made their separate ways to UT back in the ’90s. Omar studied business administration and came from El Paso. Mina traveled even further to earn her degrees in education, as she hails from Maracaibo, Venezuela. After college, Mina pursued a career in math education, and Omar served as a paramedic. Thanks to their shared passion for yoga, it wasn’t long before the yoga community of Austin introduced them to kombucha. For years, they purchased home-brewed booch from a fellow yogi. When she decided not to brew her own tea anymore, Omar and Mina jumped in to fill the void—and in the summer of 2010, Kosmic Kombucha was born.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea with a rich history that began in China, where it has been celebrated for millennia as an “immortal health elixir.” The heart and soul of this living drink is a layered culture of yeast and bacteria (called the scoby) that grows on top of the tea throughout the fermentation process. After a short period, fermentation yields raw kombucha, a lightly effervescent tea with unmistakable notes of vinegar. The flavor of raw kombucha can range from tart to sweet—based on the amount of sugar fed to the culture, the duration of the fermentation process, and other factors that are tremendously interesting to those who brew the beverage and tremendously dull to those who simply enjoy it. The key takeaway for people who want to know what they’re putting into their bodies, however, is that raw kombucha is made with nothing but tea, water, sugar, and the all-important scoby.

Is kombucha good for you?

Skeptics doubt that kombucha is an “immortal health elixir” because it’s tough to find people who are celebrating their two thousandth birthdays. Okay, so maybe “immortal” is a bit hyperbolic. Nevertheless, kombucha contains beneficial acids, probiotics, antioxidants, and amino acids. Kombucha is claimed to promote digestive health, support liver function, and alkalize the body. Some proponents of the drink even believe that it may help fend off cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases, but you don’t have to verify any of the more grandiose claims to feel refreshed by a glass of kombucha after a bike ride or a long walk.

How are the flavors developed?

As Kosmic’s brewmistress, Mina goes through meticulous testing (and tasting!) procedures when developing new flavors with a variety of fresh, organic, and delicious ingredients. To help us celebrate our 40th birthday last year, Kosmic developed an exclusive flavor just for Wheatsville. It’s called “Wheatsville’s Pear of the Dog” and it’s got a prickly pear Mexican martini flavor that was named and flavor tested by the Wheatsville staff. With its beautiful dark pink color and refreshing flavor it’s a staff favorite!

photos by Kelly Stevens

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