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The Latest News from Wheatsville

TrollerPoint Fishery

The TrollerPoint Fishery is a family owned and operated Alaskan fishery, one of the most responsibly managed fisheries in the world. Alaskan seafood is one of the states greatest and necessary resources and Alaskans take their seafood sustainability very seriously.

Mark Hoffman and his family fish for King and Coho Salmon seasonally. They fish using hook and line tools, pulling each fish out the water one fish at a time. This method pretty much eliminates bycatch and has virtually no impact on the environment where they fish. The fish are immediately processed and then flash frozen right there on the boat. These fish go from the water to the freezer in a matter of minutes. This preserves the flavor, texture and freshness. Mark also offers products caught by some of his fisherman friends such as the sea scallops from TrollerPoint, which are sustainably fished by a friend of his.

Check out the TrollerPoint web site and you can also follow them on facebook.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repeat

As a co-op grocer, one of our guiding principles, Principle #7, is Concern for Community. For us, it’s important for us to find ways to recycle and divert as much of our reclaimable resources as we can in order to help create a more sustainable store and city.  Break it Down, a local recycling operation started in 2009 by Jeff Paine and Melanie MacFarlane, has helped us achieve our goals for many years. They have a 99% recycled rate and accept and sort plastic, glass, cardboard, paper, and inedible food scraps from local businesses, offices, condos and homes.

Reclaimed Resources for BOTH stores:

  • PLASTIC, GLASS + OTHER: approx 8 tons/month

  • CARDBOARD: approx. 20 tons/month

“Bales are delivered to a paper mill just outside of Dallas. There the boxes are pulverized and reformed into long spools of cardboard. Those spools are shipped to a plant in California that cuts and prints the recycled cardboard to fill custom box orders. The boxes can then be shipped to businesses all across the country.” - Break it Down

Allen Schroeder from Break it Down picking up recycled cardboard bales.

  • COMPOST  approx. 15 tons per month

Break It Down partners with Organics By Gosh, a composting facility on East MLK. After grinding and curing, the finished compost is bagged and sold at retailers. Just look for the Organics By Gosh name on the bag and know that a tiny bit of your co-op is in there!

Compost drums are emptied, readied for curing. Photo courtesy of Allen Schroeder

  • FOOD RECOVERY: approx 4,000 lbs. per month

In addition to diverting tons of resources for the waste stream, we also contribute to food recovery efforts. Alan Shroeder, our Food Recovery Coordinator , connects edible fresh foods with people that need it. On a weekly basis, we donate upwards of 1,000 pounds of fresh fruits, veggies, bread, and dairy to local community organizations around the city, including Blackland Community Center and South Austin Community Center. Alan started his food recovery efforts in 2008 and received a grant from Bread for the Journey to help get him started.

Recovered food ready for distribution. Allen Schroeder


9 Ways We Keep Wheatsville GREEN

In honor of Earth Day this month, we thought we’d share some of Wheatsville’s GREEN FACTS.

1. Wheatsville  is WAY ahead of the curve when it comes to recycling.  Austin has just started implementing a plan that would get businesses recycling by 2017, but we’ve been doing it for years! We  currently recycle metal, cardboard, plastic, paper, food scraps and glass!

2. In fact, according to our local recyclers, Break it Down, between both stores, we divert 20 tons of cardboard each month!

3. If you look up at the ceiling at S.Lamar, you’ll notice about 57 bubbly looking lenses. These are called SolaTubes. They use highly reflective fiber optic tubes to direct sunlight into our store so that we don’t have to use as much electricity. During construction, these SolaTubes were very useful to help keep the job sight lit!

4. Wheatsville offers bulk refills of wellness products like Dr.Bronner’s soaps, lotions and laundry detergent!

5. Throughout the S.Lamar construction process, we chose noVOC or lowVOC building materials and paint in order to have an odor-free store.

6. In the men’s room at S.Lamar we’ve installed a waterless urinal. This saves 1.5 gallons of water per flush! That’s means if we save 12 flushes per day, we save 6,552 gallons of water per year!

7. Way before Austin’s bag ban, we were offering recycled boxes and paper bags to customers. Our bags are made with 100% recovered fiber with a minimum of 85% post consumer content. They are printed with water-based inks, are Forest Stewardship Council for responsible use of forest resources.

8. We offer front-facing recycling and composting to customers, and our recyclers at Break it Down say we’ve got the cities best sorters! They rarely see mistakes which in-turn helps them be more efficient.

9. As a cooperative we have elected to contribute to renewable energy infrastructure here in Texas by subscribing to Austin Energy’s Green Choice program. This program uses the money we pay for utilities to build wind farms and help Austin reach it’s goal of goal of 55% renewable energy use by 2025!

We also do things like rainwater capture to help us irrigate our planter boxes, use LED lights, installed low flow toilets and have added showers to S.Lamar in order to keep our bike riders pedaling.

And remember, we are offering a FREE composting class from the City of Austin, in our Community Room at S.Lamar on Saturday, April 23, at 10am. By taking the class and reducing the size of your garbage can, you are eligible for a $75 REBATE on a home composting system. Each attendee will get a countertop composter for attending! RSVP for the class today!


Local Vendor Spotlight: Margarita’s Tortilla Factory

Interview with Sonia Grizzle by Chris Moore, Chill & Bulk Coordinator

1. How long have you been in business and why tortillas and tamales?

We have been making organic flour tortillas and non-GMO corn tortillas & tamales since January 1997.Why tortillas & tamales? I grew up eating home cooked meals accompanied by hand made flour or corn tortillas. My mother, Micaela, taught me even at the young age of 7, to make flour & corn tortillas. When I married, I continued in that tradition. After my second child was born, I looked for an easier way and bought the first commercial flour tortillas. I don’t remember the brand, because at the store, all tortillas look the same when you read the ingredients. And they all taste and smell the same. From there on, my thought was, “I can’t believe people actually eat these tortillas! because the tortillas tasted like cardboard and smelled terrible!” So I set out to make the first true “homemade” tortilla. I went to local natural foods stores and presented my tortillas.

2. As a small business how hard was it for you to source organic and non-GMO ingredients?

Sourcing organic and verified non-GMO ingredients from Texas has been difficult. Our organic materials come from Colorado and verified non-GMO corn comes from California. There is one Texas organic corn producer and they sell their corn to an international corn processor, limiting their local sourcing.

3. We know that you run a family business but what does that mean on the labor side of your business?

 We are truly a family run business. My children have grown knowing every aspect of the business, from production to delivering the product, to doing demos. However, we would not be able to produce these products without the help and dedication of our employees.

4. Do you have a favorite product that you produce and or recipe?

To me, there are certain foods that can only be eaten with flour or corn tortillas. For example, red meats and soups, to me, go best with corn tortillas. My favorite food are beef fajitas. I enjoy eating them with Margarita’s stone ground corn tortillas accompanied with roasted onions, tomatoes and serrano peppers. Flour tortillas taste best with guisados, like carne guisada. On our website,, we have recipes that my three children have enjoyed over the years. These are simple recipes yet they are so delicious. As a child, I was fascinated by how my mother and father created a fabulous meal with simple ingredients. With my family, I continue the tradition of home cooking all the meals. I enjoy staying true to my roots, my heritage. I enjoy watching the expressions of my family and friends as they eat the food I have prepared. Good food is to be shared. It brings joy and happiness to everyone present.

5. Do you have anything new in the works?

Austin is a great place to live and do business. There are thousands of tourist visiting our city and discovering our products and wishing our products were available in their local grocery store. Our company is going through a transition. We are slowly growing into the national spotlight. As our products become available statewide and even nationwide, we will strive in making the cleanest product possible, still adhering to the basic family recipe, without preservatives or additives. It brings me great joy that Margarita’s tortillas and tamales will be enjoyed by many more people.


Local Love

As Packaged Manager, I manage a team of talented people who work closely with the hard-working independent vendors and farmers in Austin and the greater Texas area to bring the Wheatsville community over 2,000 excellent local products. We are SO fortunate to have such a wide-range of locally produced and/or processed foods and wellness items to choose from in Austin. We are living in a town where you can get extra virgin olive oil pressed from Texas olives, coffee that’s freshly roasted a few miles away, creamy goat cheese and crispy pecans, chocolate that’s been crafted from bean-to-bar, pickles, eggs, kombucha, frozen meals and pizza, meat alternatives, scented soaps, herbal supplements, protein powders, energy bars, granola, ice cream, chips, salsa and more hand-crafted beers and ciders than we can even fit into the store. These are glory days for Austin producers and we’re all reaping the benefits!

Friend and co-worker Aldia Bluewillow has given me insight to the early days of Wheatsville since her start at Wheatsville in 1983. Some of the first local products sold at the fledgling Wheatsville are from vendors with whom we still have a great relationship such as Good Flow Honey Co. and White Mountain Foods.

Now in 2016, Wheatsville’s ties to the local community are stronger than ever, with nearly 350 local vendors and farmers working with the co-op on a regular basis. Look for Local Connection signs throughout the stores to identify them. Plus, each month a local vendor is given a special focus; look for the large LOCAL VENDORS ARE PARTNERS sign up on the walls in the Produce departments as well as a Breeze or blog article, in-store sampling and sales.

How do these vendors start a relationship with Wheatsville? The first step is filling out a new vendor application on the Wheatsville website. We’ll follow up for more information if the products look like a good fit for Wheatsville, with priority given to items that have already been requested by shoppers. The Wheatsville Wish List is the best way for product requests to be made, either in-store at the Hospitality Desk or online We really do look at your requests! Unfortunately we can’t honor them all, the volume is very high, but we try to accommodate as many as we can, especially when considering new items.

Once a vendor has been determined to be a good fit for Wheatsville, the appropriate department coordinator works with them to be as successful as possible. This includes setting up sampling and introductory sales as well as discussions about product packaging and barcodes. Many of our vendors are making the transition from selling at Farmer’s Markets or small stores and Wheatsville is their first large retailer. Some vendors will build a thriving foundation at Wheatsville and then go on to bigger state and national chain stores, while others are satisfied to consistently offer their excellent products in just the Austin area. Either way, we are always proud to see a business achieve their goals thanks to the support of Wheatsville shoppers. And your support is so important to the people behind the products. thank you!

For the year of Wheatsville’s 40th anniversary, we’re celebrating all of our local vendors throughout 2016 with even more opportunities to talk to the producers in the stores and to try their products and more special sales and events. Special attention will be on Kosmic Kombucha’s “Wheatsville’s Pear of the Dog” exclusive kombucha blend and Sweet Ritual, who sell their non-dairy ice cream pints exclusively to Wheatsville. Also, look for exclusive local products in honor of Wheatsville’s 40th, such as Lick Ice Creams’ “Happy Birthday Cake” Ice Cream, Third Coast Coffee’s Principle 6 Blend and many others!

Coming soon….Happy Birthday Cake

It's your birthday, so live it up!  Celebrate with Lick Ice Creams EXCLUSIVE Wheatsville flavor: Happy Birthday Cake! This fun pink birthday cake is colored with local Johnson's Backyard Garden beets, smothered in sweet vanilla ice cream, and sprinkled with bittersweet Great Bean dark chocolate.  Look for it at your favorite Wheatsville location in April!

Lick Honest Ice Creams has been handcrafting seasonal and sustainable artisan ice creams since 2011. Free of antibiotics and added hormones, Lick’s milk and cream come from grass-fed Texas cows at local Mill-King dairy. The other ingredients are sourced from small farms and local artisans scattered across the Lone Star State with a focus on Central Texas.


Local Vendor Spotlight: Jeremiah Cunningham’s World’s Best Eggs

1. How long have you had the farm and what made you choose to farm chickens and eggs?

 Our founder, Jeremiah Cunningham, started his first large-scale flock of chickens in 2005. Like most sustainable farmers, we had to bootstrap our way to get started. We knew that if we were going to make it in this industry we had better start with what we knew best - eggs. Organic, pasture-raised eggs weren’t on grocery store shelves at that time, so it was an exciting time to start a pasture-based chicken farm. 

Jeremiah was always quick to point out that “World’s Best Eggs” isn’t a brag - it’s a classification. He always reminded folks that they too could raise the world’s best eggs if they raised chickens on grass, bugs, and organic feed, with plenty of space and sunshine. Part of our mission at Coyote Creek is to teach others about organic farming and backyard chicken ventures.
2. When you first started out how hard was it for you to source organic materials for your feed?

When we started producing World’s Best Eggs in 2005, there wasn’t an organic feed mill in the southern United States. Sourcing organic feed was a difficult task. Since then, one of our primary goals as the only organic feed mill in Texas is to provide a market for Texas-grown organic grains and to support the conversion of acreage from chemically-intensive conventional agriculture to sustainable organic agriculture.  We are committed to Texas farmers, both grain farmers that utilize Texas farmland to provide the ingredients for our non-GMO and certified organic feeds, and to Texas farmers and ranchers who raise animals in the most considerate way possible - humanely, on pasture, with organic feed, and as part of a healthy ecosystem.  As we have grown, we have been successful in converting 8,000 acres of farmland into organic grain production to meet our farm’s needs and the needs of all of the local, organic farmers!
3. How do your farming practices differ from conventional/ cage free farming?

To start, the happiness and welfare of our birds is our #1 priority.  Our chickens live entirely outdoors where they are able to fully express natural behaviors such as scratching in the dirt for bugs, taking dust baths to stay clean, and stretching their wings in the sun.  Our hens are provided with a variety of environmental enrichments such as roosts and perches, shade covers, protection from predation, patio misters on warm days, and safe and ergonomic housing.  Their houses are moved weekly to fresh pastures.  

In addition to our hens’ wild diet, we mill organic feed for them daily on-site at the farm.  Our feed is USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, and it never contains herbicides, pesticides, animal by-products, hormones, or pharmaceuticals.  Because the hens forage in the pasture all day, about 30% of their diet comes from green plants and insects.  This makes our eggs extremely nutrient-dense, higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, and lower in cholesterol than eggs produced in confined conditions.

At Coyote Creek Farm, we adhere to the most stringent animal welfare standards and  have been instrumental in establishing some of the animal welfare standards adopted by current agencies. Our farm is recognized as one of the highest rated organic egg farms in the U.S. by the Cornucopia Institute.
4. What are some of your favorite products at Wheatsville?

Late July Tortilla Chips, Dewberry Hill Chicken, the produce section (yes, all of it), Ruta Maya Dark Roast Coffee, Jaime’s Red Salsa, Margarita’s tortillas, Bubbie’s Sauerkraut, Theo’s Chocolate Bars… 
5. Do you have a favorite way to cook eggs or a favorite recipe?
It’s hard to choose just one favorite egg dish! We love pickled red beets eggs, breakfast tacos, and homemade eggnog, but Tortilla Española is sure to please everyone!

Tortilla Española

3⁄4 cup olive oil
1 lb potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
6 eggs
1. Heat oil over medium heat in a 10” skillet.  Add potatoes and onions and cook until potatoes are soft but not brown.  Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Season with salt & pepper.  Add potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to beaten eggs while reserving oil in pan.  Cover and refrigerate for l hour.  

3. Heat 2 Tbs. reserved oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add egg and potato mixture, spreading evenly in the pan. Cook uncovered on low heat until the sides have set and the middle is beginning to set.

4. Gently slide a spatula along edges and underneath tortilla to loosen.  Place a large plate over pan and quickly turn plate and pan over so tortilla falls onto plate. Add 1 tsp. reserved oil to pan, slide tortilla back in (uncooked side down), carefully tuck in sides with a fork, and continue to cook until eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.
6. Is there anything new in the works for Coyote Creek?

Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm will soon be expanding into the South!  We have recently purchased property in Georgia, and will be opening an organic feed mill and pastured egg farm there. It will follow the same model as our Elgin, TX farm and mill, and will provide organic eggs and animal feed to a new community!
Thanks to the following folks for answering our questions:
Cameron Molberg, General Manager/CEO
Jenny Myers, Farm Manager
Emily Erickson, Community Relations & Sales Manager
Rob Cunningham, Owner

Learn more at:


New Livable Wage and Benefits Plan

We learned though a staff satisfaction survey done in early 2015 that pay was a strong concern for many of Wheatsville’s staff due to Austin becoming more expensive. We took this issue very seriously and convened a Wage Task Force, made up of interested staff from all parts of the co-op, to help us address the challenge of paying employees a livable wage while balancing our other important financial obligations.

The Wage Task Force met for several consecutive weeks to work through the wage issue. In late summer 2015, we enlisted the aid of our friends at National Co-op Grocers to help us come up with a workable solution. They shared their NCG Co-op Livable Wage and Benefits model, which we applied to the wage situation at Wheatsville. Once we applied the Austin-specific costs to the equation, we found that a worker in Austin getting benefits that offset their health care and food costs, as ours do, would need to earn $13.01 an hour. Once we saw and understood this number, we committed to making this new wage plan a reality for all of our staff.

We learned that increasing wages to $13.01 ensures that all full-time staff members are able to afford a one bedroom apartment in Austin, have health insurance, eat on the USDA moderate food plan, have a cell phone and transportation, and 5% for savings.

The new Livable Wage and Benefits Plan was implemented on January 4, 2016. The plan, which increased wages for over 80% of hourly staff, ensures that every Wheatsville employee earns a living wage of at least $13.01 after his or her introductory period. The new plan will also add benefits to our co-op business.

We expect to:
• Retain more of our great staff
• Attract more qualified and experienced candidates for open positions, and
• Create a stronger more positive and team-oriented co-op culture overall.

The Livable Wage and Benefits plan is a huge financial change at our co-op. The Wage Task Force, store managers, supervisors and myself came up with the staffing plan we would need to be able to afford this change yet implement it quickly. It involves an all staff effort to get more done with the same number of people and to become a highly efficient organization in the process. This is the path that all other successful livable wage co-ops have taken in order to be fiscally sound.

Our staff is working in new, smarter and more efficient ways to make this work while still delivering the friendliest store in town that you have grown to love. We will need commitment from our staff, owners, customers and the community to help make this bold new plan work.

I’m proud of what we’ve done here at Wheatsville to address a serious concern for our staff and our community and your patronage will help us ensure it’s a success!

Dan Gillotte
Wheatsville Food Co-op
Chief Executive Grocer