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The Latest News from Wheatsville

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!


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


Guadalupe Refresh!

As the seasons make their rounds and the holidays breeze by, our stores see thousands of shoppers in a week. After lots of planning, our Guadalupe store refresh includes new products and fixtures, improved shopper flow, maintenance to our physical store, and lots more! Look for:

  • Expanded selection in fresh foods: produce, meat, deli & bakery!

  • New and improved selections for our prepared foods including more grab & go deli items, hot food and salad bar!

  • Improved wait time for sandwiches along with some new menu items!

  • Larger self-serve coffee bar to help improve flow and increase variety!

  • Beer and wine on tap for when you want to join a friend for a drink!

  • Additional energy efficient coolers that will help us increase our product variety!

  • NEW Fresh Seal packaging for meat!

  • Improved lighting and flooring!

  • Fresh paint for the exterior and interior!

To make room for some of these new features we’ve pared our grocery selection down to our most popular favorites which include all of our Co+op Basics, increased shelf space in Wellness, and have moved our meat-cutting room to S.Lamar in order to offer our Fresh Seal packaged meat and seafood items.

We’re very excited about these changes and hope you will be, too! Work will be finished mid-March. Thank you for your patronage!



BIG NEWS! Our Meat Department is now using Fresh Seal packaging (also known as vacuum-pack) at both stores. This new packaging improves the shelf life of our fresh-cut meat and prevents food waste by slowing down the rate of oxidation.
Why we like it:

  • keeps meat fresher longer
  • inhibits the growth of pathogens
  • BPA-free
  • leak-proof packaging
  • prevents food waste
  • marinates ready-to-cook better
  • perfectly packaged for freezing

It also allows us to:

  • offer the same great products
  • keep the same great brands
  • cut our meat fresh in-house
  • offer more variety

As part of our Guadalupe store refresh, we will be moving our meat production to the S.Lamar store and removing our full-service meat and seafood cases (Guadalupe ONLY). While we know that this move disappoints some shoppers, we hope that the increase in variety and superior packaging provides the fresh items you need to make great meals.

If you have a special order or request, we are more than happy to accommodate with 24-48 hours notice. Please make requests at the Guadalupe Deli Counter or call our S.Lamar meat department and request delivery to Guadalupe: 512-814-2888.


Local Vendor Spotlight: Better Bites Bakery

Leah Lopez, Founder and CEO Better Bites Bakery, answered a few questions about her very special baked treats.

1. What led you to start your business?

I founded Better Bites Bakery with a simple mission in mind - I wanted my son to be able to enjoy delicious treats and not feel left out due to his severe food allergies. I believe that food is a BLESSING, but there was nothing on the market that was safe for my son - and delicious enough to be enjoyed by the entire family. Given this discovery, we embraced our new journey and the creative cooking began! It wasn't long until I realized that people were loving what was coming out of my kitchen and I was thrilled to share the passion that I had for baking with others.

2. What kind of ingredients do you use?

We strive to be very intentional with our ingredients. Our bakery sources only the finest gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, Kosher Pareve certified, real food ingredients. We never use artificial colours or preservatives. We believe this is not only better for our bodies, but our taste buds, as well.

3. What allergens do your products NOT contain?

Our products are free of the top 7 allergens. Those allergens are dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and peanuts. We also do not have tree nuts in our facility or products, with the exception of coconut in our Mostess Cupcakes. We are confident that our stringent sanitation procedures will avoid cross contamination for those who avoid coconut.

4. What are some of your favorite things about Wheatsville?

The fact that the Popcorn Tofu is now gluten-free is AWESOME! Also, my employees are definitely hooked on the vegan donuts. I love that we can be inclusive with our breakroom snack choices and not leave anyone out.

5. Do you have a favorite cool tip?

I love Cookie DO Bites au naturel, but I have a weakness for milkshakes. I love to throw in vanilla ice cream, milk, ice, and a few DO Bites into a blender for a chocolate chip cookie dough milkshake. Try it – you’ll love it!


Sustainable Seafood

Sustainability can be a tricky word. It has ideals and emotions attached to it and it can be challenging to define. We know that what ever we deem sustainable, it should have a conscientious impact on the environment, the life cycle and quality of life of the organism in question. Seafood has been a staple protein in cultures the world over for thousands of years. Technology and mastery of fishing technique have brought us into dangerous territory and it's necessary to make sure that our fishing practices are maintaining themselves for generations to come.

Eco systems and environments have different needs. Fresh water fish are very different than salt water fish and require different standards and practices to maintain their sustainability. Almost all fresh water fish must be farmed to be sustainable. There are plenty of farms, whether they be recirculating tanks or pens in a river that have standards that pass the peer reviewed science of the Monterey bay Aquariums Seafood Watch program.

The Seafood Watch program is Wheatsville's main standard for choosing our seafood selection. We also use the Marine Stewardship Council and EU standards such as the RSPCA. 

What does this mean to our seafood shoppers? It means we do the best we can to make sure that the seafood you buy from Wheatsville is clean, safe and socially responsible. Enjoy our seafood selection and feel confident that you are eating responsibly.


Local Vendor Spotlight: The Natural Citizen

The Natural Citizen founders, Angela and Nadia, share the scoop on their nutritious smoothie add-ins.

1. What led you to start your business?

ANGELA: We believe in honest-to-goodness wellness, and that's why we set out to create a transparent, real-food nutrition company that is a force for good. I have been a plant protein smoothie drinker for several years, so when I got pregnant, I started to question the quality of the ingredients that I was adding to my smoothie. I called up Nadia, who is a regulatory lawyer and quality expert, and together we went through everything on the shelf. Nothing was exactly what we were looking for, which were just super clean, incredibly simple and high-quality smoothie add-ins that deliver a functional benefit.

NADIA: That's when we went to work formulating our own blends. From our experience in the natural food industry, we knew that the fewer ingredients we used, the more attention we could give to the quality and sourcing of our ingredients. Angela and I spent tons of time doing research, working with different ingredients and formulating blends in our kitchens. We wanted a product line that we could use personally, but also feel confident recommending to our friends and family. After hundreds of hours developing these products to meet our extremely high quality standards, I am proud to say that I use them daily and my friends and family have become huge fans of the line as well.

2. What kind of ingredients do you use?

NADIA: We use only real food ingredients, and each ingredient that we selected serves a unique purpose in its formulation. For example, our Organic Digest, which supports digestion and regularity, offers 5 grams of fiber, which is a balanced blend of both soluble and insoluble fibers. Plus, you get omega fatty acids from the chia seeds, prebiotics from the Jerusalem Artichoke to help nourish your naturally-occurring probiotics, and the soothing effects of Aloe vera. You get all of this in only four ingredients that work together to nourish the digestive tract.

Additionally, we selected very nutrient-rich plants that you won't find in the produce section, some might call these "superfoods." Our Organic Greens is the perfect example. This blend combines the best of the land and sea with moringa leaf, spirulina, alfalfa and barley. All four of these super green ingredients brings a unique nutritional profile to the formulation, and when combined, you get a nutrient-rich boost. Our Organic Greens has 30% of your daily value of iron plus 120% of your daily value of Vitamin B12 - and it's all from plants!

ANGELA: I think it's also important to point out that we know where our ingredients comes from. This is extremely important to us, and that's why as often as possible we source directly from the farm. We pay incredibly close attention to our supply chain and conduct rigorous quality testing before and after production, making sure that all of our ingredients surpass our quality standards.

3. What is different about your product as opposed to other smoothie ad-ins on the market?

ANGELA: First, we offer something very unique. The other add-ins on the market are either single "superfood" ingredients, or they are blends with a laundry list of ingredients. Unfortunately the ingredients on that laundry list tend to be there for flavor or marketing purposes and do very little for your health. We formulated our add-ins by selecting only four ingredients per blend, and each ingredient serves a very specific purpose. All four ingredients work together to deliver the functional benefit. We really believe that less is more, and with our blends you get fewer, but better ingredients and none of the unneccessary "extras."

NADIA: Additionally, our quality is the best of the best. By limiting the number of ingredients to only four, we are able to test the ingredients multiple times throughout the supply chain. Plus, all of our blends are certified organic, certified gluten free, certified vegan, and manufactured in an allergen-free facility in the USA. Very few of the other add-ins on the market can make all of those claims about quality.

4. What are some of your favorite things about Wheatsville?

NADIA: As a member of the co-op, I love the sense of community and how it supports local businesses. I also love the smoothie bar where you can find our blends as add-ins! Wheatsville has some of the best smoothies in town.

ANGELA: I love that I can find my favorite local brands all in one place! Additionally, working with Wheatsville has been amazing. The company is incredibly supportive of our business and we truly feel like it's a partnership.

5. Do you have a favorite/cool tips or recipes?

ANGELA: A lot of our fans use our blends for smoothies, but since they are unflavored and unsweetened they are so versatile. You can use them in oatmeal, overnight oats, stir them into yogurt, add to pancake batter - the possibilities are endless.

Now, as the temperature has dropped in Austin, a lot of people might not find a cold smoothie appealing, so I suggest making a warm smoothie!
You simply heat your almond milk on the stove or in the microwave and add to your blender. Warm liquids will create steam, so start your blender on low and vent often. Here's an easy recipe that is absolutely delicious:

Apple Pie Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 raw apple, cored
1 serving The Natural Citizen Organic Digest
1 serving The Natural Citizen Organic Protein
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Sweeten to taste with honey (optional)

Combine the milk and the oats in the blender and let them soak for a couple minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend.

NADIA: When we do events, we make a simple PBJ&Greens smoothie that people love, they often ask us for the recipe. This is such an easy way to start making green smoothies if you don't already make them at home, and you can mix and match and use any of our blends in it!


1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen berries
1 heaping tbsp. peanut butter or nut butter
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 serving The Natural Citizen Organic Protein
1 serving The Natural Citizen Organic Greens (or 2 handfuls of spinach)

Add all ingredients to blender, and blend to desired consistency. Enjoy!


Pear Guide

Green D’Anjou

Flavor: Sweetly mellow
Texture: smooth and juicy
Uses: eating out of hand, baking, poaching, and roasting

Red D’anjou

Flavor: Sweeter than a green D’anjou, mellow flavor
Texture: Smooth and juicy
Uses: Eating out of hand, baking, poaching, and roasting


Flavor: Sweet and mild with subtle citrus notes
Texture: When ripe (bright yellow color), smooth and extremely juicy
Uses: Ripe – Eating out of hand
Slightly green: pureeing, baking, or canning

Red Bartlett

Flavor: Really flavorful and sweet when ripe
Texture: Smooth and juicy
Uses: Ripe: Eating out of hand,
Slightly green: pureeing, baking, or canning


Flavor: Bold, with an earthy sweetness
Texture: Frm and crisp
Uses: Best for poaching and baking; also good eating out of hand


Flavor: Sweet with a hint of vanilla
Texture: Firm but not crisp texture
Uses: Baking, poaching, salads (doesn’t brown as quickly), Eating out of hand


Flavor: Mild and earthy
Texture: Smooth and luscious
Uses: Eating out of hand, poaching, pairing with cheese


Flavor: Mild and sweet, with a subtle floral aroma
Texture: Smooth and juicy
Uses: Eating out of hand, baked


Flavor: Sweet and juicy
Texture: Smooth and crisp
Uses: Eating out of hand, salads, poaching, baked