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Local Vendor Spotlight: El Milagro

When it comes to making tacos and scooping queso, the tortilla makes all the difference. Founder Raul Lopez learned how to make tortillas in Mexico from his uncle who owned a tortilleria. After coming to the US in the 1940s working for Santa Fe railroad, he soon started his own business in Chicago selling tortillas to restaurants. El Milagro, “the miracle”, quickly became a growing family business.


Production began in Austin after El Lago, the former tortilleria factory on 6th St., decided to sell. The Lopez family loved their visits to Austin and decided it would be a good base for production. While the storefront moved from it’s 6th St. location a few blocks over to 7th St. in 2017 and production moved to San Marcos, Manuel Lopez says the Austin market is still their biggest.


For scooping chunky guacamole and smooth ribbons of queso El Milagro’s thick salted tortilla chips are by far the most popular choice. Just try and get those chips to cave under a pile of nachos – won’t happen. For migas and spicy salsa thin chips reign supreme.


Of course, as any good Texan know, the secret behind a great chip is an outstanding tortilla and El Milagro serves up a great one. Made with just high-quality nonGMO corn, water, and lime – sometimes simple is just better.

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CBD + You

If you’re into natural wellness, you have most likely heard about CBD. You might have seen our growing selection of over 80 products on the shelf or have heard people talking about CBD as way to alleviate a variety of symptoms.  It’s relatively new and continues to gain loyal followers – but what exactly is it and how can it work for you? Here’s a quick guide to understanding this new and increasingly popular supplement.

What is CBD?

CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, a naturally found chemical compound in cannabis plants and hemp plants. The CBD compound is the same no matter which plant it’s extracted from.

What’s the difference between THC and CBD?

Both compounds are called cannabinoids are found in hemp and cannabis plants to varying degrees.  The difference is that CBD does not have any intoxicating affects and does not have any addictive properties as noted by a 2017 World Health Organization report.

Is CBD legal?

YES! Products that are manufactured from agricultural hemp, which contains less than 0.3% THC in dry weight, are exempt from the Federal Controlled Substances Act, therefore are currently not unlawful for distribution.  We require all of our brands to submit certified lab results to verify that CBD is in the concentration stated and that the amount of THC complies with the law. 

What are the benefits of CBD?

CBD has been clinically accepted as an effective medical treatment for epilepsy and has also been anecdotally reported to alleviate physical symptoms of anxiety, pain, insomnia and inflammation.

How much should I take?

If you’ve looked at our shelves, you’ll see a variety of concentrations in a variety of delivery systems – oils, capsules, balms, lotions – and even honey. The general recommendation with all supplements is to start off with the smallest dosage and see what works for you. Consult with your physician if you’re currently taking other prescription medications, or are pregnant.

How does it work?

Your body naturally makes neurotransmitters that closely resemble cannabinoids. Discovered in 1990 by Israeli chemist, Raphael Mechoulam, CBD is thought interact with various receptor targets with varying effects by using the body’s own ECS or endocannabinoid system.

With a growing inventory of over 80 products and several brands, your co-op is one of the BIGGEST CBD RETAILERS in town! From tinctures and capsules to lotions and balms, we have loads of choices to suit your needs.

NOTE: This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. As with all supplements, you should talk to your doctor and do your own research about what is right for you – especially people that are currently taking prescription medication, or are pregnant – to make sure there are no adverse interactions.

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LET US MAKE YOU A MEAL

As your schedule fills up and time becomes harder and harder to come by, let the co-op help! We’ve got loads of great options for meals on the go or low-prep meal solutions you can make at home in 30 minutes or less.

QUICK TO FIX
Who’s got time to marinate? We do! Flick on the burner and get cooking without the wait! Our butchers make all of our sausages, mixed burgers, marinades, and rubs right here in house. Packed in Fresh Seal vacuum-packs, these high quality proteins are perfect for a busy weeknight. Always humanely raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and sustainably caught. Just look for the GREEN Quick to Fix label in the Meat Department

HOT FOOD
HOT ROASTED Garlic Rosemary Chickens now available at both stores. Our chickens are fresh out of the oven all day long and are perfect for weeknight dinners - with leftovers! Always humanely raised and antibiotic-free. Pair with a hot side of organic brown rice and black beans for just $1.99, a green crunchy salad, or make your own mix with a rotating selection from our Hot Bar and Salad Bar.

READY to COOK VEGGIES
We’ve trimmed, chopped, dressed, and mixed a variety of fresh veggies (mostly organic) that just need a quick sauté or roasting in the oven. SO EASY! From seasoned cauliflower steaks, stir-fry mixes, or our own kale salad blend – we’ve got your veggies covered. Or, find a variety of pre-bagged one bowl wonders - salad mixes and slaws with dressing, or even snack boxes that include a choice of protein! DONE!

LUNCH TO GO
Order custom sandwiches and smoothies online, pay online, and just run in and pick-up with no wait at BOTH STORES! If you’ve only got 30 minutes – we’ll make sure you’re in and out in a hurry with just what you need.

SHOP ONLINE
You can also skip the whole store and order groceries online with Instacart! Perfect for hectic weeks at the office or home. Do you have an office fridge that needs to get stocked out with stuff you love? Instacart is the way to do it!

$5 DINNER THURSDAY
Join us for $5 DINNER EVERY THURSDAY 5-8pm / BOTH STORES. Our weekly menu always has a vegan and omnivore option - but on occasion we also have gluten-free nights! Fill up your plate or box and enjoy a meal on our patio or take it to go! Both patios now feature mister fans to help keep you cool in the summer AND we have a great selection of games perfect for every age.

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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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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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MACARONI AND CHEESE!

At my house, our favorite go-to easy dinner on a busy night is always boxed macaroni & cheese.  Wheatsville has something for EVERYONE!

  • Daiya Cheezy Mac is free from dairy and gluten.  This deluxe style is the easiest to prepare, the cheese sauce is in the pouch, just add to cooked pasta.  We have Deluxe Cheddar and White Cheddar with Veggies!
  • Earth Balance mac & cheeses are the closest vegan versions of that classic dinner.  Available in Cheddar, White Cheddar and Gluten Free Cheddar.
  • So Delicious is the newest player of vegan boxed mac & cheese. They're now making Cheddar and Pizza flavors!
  • For dairy lovers, we have new Field Day mac and cheese in White Cheddar and Mild Cheddar.
  • Back to Nature makes a darn good mac & cheese with fun shapes like Alphabets and Crazy Bugs.  This is my school aged daughter's absolute favorite!
  • Of course we couldn't leave our beloved Annie's Homegrown Mac & Cheese with dozens of varieties.

...I think my water is boiling, time for a mac & cheese dinner.  Time to heat up the veggies and get that macaroni cheesy!

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Wage Task Force: Open Letter 8/20/15

The Wage Task Force was formed by open enrollment of any staff who was interested in joining, and is comprised of a broad cross-section from many departments and tenures. We have decided to present an open letter of progress to the Staff of Wheatsville and the greater public. While we have offered our meeting notes to the staff, we understand it can be difficult to interpret these. We hope to offer a clear vision of what we have accomplished so far, and what we hope to accomplish in the near future.

During the first meeting, we all came with varied opinions about the state of wages at Wheatsville. It was about the freedom for everyone to air their concerns and state their expectations and goals. We had approximately 27 people attend.

At the second meeting, we began by reporting feedback from our co-workers. This is a tradition we have upheld since, with the understanding that we are ambassadors for the entire staff. During this meeting, we talked specifically about ways to raise wages. Opening a second store is a hard thing for a co-op to do and it takes time to recover. For more info, you can look at last year's annual report at http://wheatsville.coop/images/uploads/pdfs/13-14Annual_Report.pdf. Since we don't have a large pool of money to draw from, we need to be creative in our efforts. However, it is the priority of Wheatsville to deal with the wage issues before pursuing a third store. We have explored many avenues and have taken time to consider which, if any, benefits we might adjust. We had approximately 24 people attend.

By the third meeting, there were a few ideas that seemed liked realistic options to the majority.

  • Increasing Sales Per Labor Hour will provide us with more money.
  • Start brainstorming what it would look like to pay more to less employees. This does not mean pushing people out. But as people leave naturally, examining the work there is to be done and deciding if we need to fill the position with someone new, or if there are ways to absorb the responsibilities with our current staff.
  • Focusing on efficiency by challenging the systems we have in place and searching for better ways to work.
  • We also discussed our health benefits, since this is potentially an area where we can recover a great sum of money. The general consensus throughout the staff is that we do not want to lose our health benefits. However, we discussed exploring a tiered benefits package, which would provide more benefits for people who need more, and less for people who are looking for an inexpensive alternative. We are also experimenting with restructuring our breaks. These are topics we are still researching. This meeting had approximately 15 attendees. It's important to mention that our attendance is based upon availability, and therefore fluctuates.

The future goals of the Wage Task Force are to

  • Define what living wage means to Wheatsville.
  • Address wage compression. More specifically, dealing with fairness regarding new employees vs. tenured ones.
  • Come up with a timeline for completion.

We feel that we have made great progress towards wage satisfaction for Wheatsville employees. We encourage the staff of Wheatsville to keep coming to us with their ideas and concerns, and we will keep striving to work out problems and come up with solutions. Your help and feedback is greatly appreciated and needed.

It is a difficult task that we have set out to accomplish, but all of us together are working to achieve a compensation rate that is not only satisfactory, but will make Wheatsville a wage leader in our community.

Sincerely,
The Wheatsville Wage Task Force

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UPDATE: Staff Wage Task Force

One June 18th our group of 30+ voluntarily self-elected staff members met for the first of several Wage Task Force Meetings. There was  21 days to 16 years worth of tenure in the room representing staff members from all departments and job levels.

The meeting, led by Chief Executive Grocery, Dan Gillotte, included:

  • Introductions
  • Review of 5/28 Staff Wage Presentation information
  • Look at Financial Plan
  • Discussion and Q&A

On Thursday, June 25, the same group got together for a second meeting and discussed  the co-op's financial picture, sales per labor hour, and different aspects of overall compensation.

The group will meet again in July and August in order to reach consensus for staff recommendations regarding Wheatsville’s overall compensation package.

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