Patronage rebate checks ranging in value from $5 to $173 for the fiscal year extending from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 have now been mailed to qualified member-owners. If your address has changed but you did not notify us until after we ran the mailing list a month or so ago, please wait patiently for your checks to be forwarded along. Oh, and please fill out a change of address form the next time you're in to shop.
As patronage rebate checks have begun hitting the mailboxes, we've been delighted by the decision of many members to make a tax-deductible donation of their check to the Bloomington Cooperative Community Fund (BCCF), an endowment fund invested in co-op and not-for profit ventures, and the interest from which we can use for our own giving programs. A special thanks to these folks who are helping us better serve our community. The generosity and civic concern displayed by our members is a perpetual satisfaction to us all.
Calculating member patronage provides us a nice opportunity to study some aspects of the purchasing patterns of our widely varying demographic groups. Here are a few interesting statistics:
Of the 8,139 members who qualified for a rebate, 4,788 (59%) became members before July 2007 (when we opened the Near West Side location), 3,351 (41%) after that date.
The set of pre-July 2007 member-owners are receiving an average check of $12.40, while those becoming owners after that date are receiving an average check of $8.40. We're not sure whether this is due to members becoming increasing loyal over time or whether it is due to the fact that many of the new members are primarily shoppers at the Near West Side location, where average basket size is lower than at the East store.
Fully 27% of the rebate recipients for whom we have addresses do not claim Bloomington as their place of residence, suggesting that we're doing a pretty good job of reaching out to surrounding communities.
Of the 200 largest checks, 13% were written to "Senior" members.
We're pleased to announce that membership growth remained very strong in 2011, with just fewer than 900 households joining the ranks of member-ownership, bringing our total at the end of the year to 9,644 households. To put that figure in some context, the 2010 census reported that Bloomington contained 31,425 "occupied households."
Reflections on Our Co-op
Board secretary Carol Bridges invites us to begin this new year by reflecting on the role our co-op plays in each of our lives, as it provides for both our physical nourishment and cultural enrichment.
Thanks to everyone -- shoppers, staff, and volunteers, alike -- who helped make Christmas such a splendid event in our stores. Tree sales, in particular, were fabulous, with more than 900 trees finding their way from our lot into local homes. Volunteers, if you haven't yet done so, please let me know when you want your working discounts activated.
January-February Member Days & Product Specials
Member day is Tuesday in January and Wednesday in February. These are the January product specials, and these are the member-owner specials.
(812-336-5400; 3220 East Third St.)
The omni-carnivorous segment of our audience will find much to celebrate in this month's report from the meat department, where the selection and quality continue to improve. First, we'll now be offering lamb, goat, and 100% grass-fed beef from This Old Farm Meats & Produce. Next, we're expanding our line of delicious Smoking Goose meats to include patés and terrines, dry-cured pancetta, bresaola, and salumi. And lastly, Fischer Farms has launched a "monthly specials" program, which will mean lower prices for you each month on a select cut of meats.
Good news in our Health and Beauty department: we'll be selling our Indy-based Frangipani body products at 20% off from January 15th through February 15th.
Those of you who start your garden plants from seed early, indoors, will be happy to learn that our garden center will have both bulk and packaged seeds available over the course of the next three or four weeks. Drop into our soon-to-be-completed garden center "shack" and chat with Chris, JD, and Linnea for details. They'll guide you in both the selection and the cultivation of the best possible seeds for your garden.
Last, but certainly not least, straight out of Greene County and a new Bloomingfoods [almost] exclusive, Mr. Buck's Genuinely Good Pet Food. The story of Mr. Buck's founding and operation is worthy of your attention. You can feel good feeding your pets food from these folks.
Near West Side Store
(812-333-7312; 316 W 6th St.
We have just three words to describe the latest development at this location, and they are, "a fourth register"! Finally, we figured out a way to set up an additional register in the deli area, so you'll be able to pay for your lunches and enjoy them while they're still good and hot. This new register station is scheduled for installation tonight, the 15th.
Downtown (Kirkwood) Store
(812-336-5300; 419 E. Kirkwood Ave.)
Don't forget, you can get breakfast at Kirkwood every weekday from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m., including such items as biscuits and gravy, cheesy grits, roasted potatoes, bacon, and tofu hash. Watch too for some old "favorites" we're bringing back to our KW deli, including grilled cabbage and capriole goat cheese, couscous and arugula goat cheese pesto, broccoli herb salad, and some signature dressings too! We're also very pleased to be selling new hand-made Jaguar Moon cloth bulk bags with and without the Bloomingfoods logo screen-printed on them, and we have a new line of tote bags made from recycled organic fabrics.
Make KW your hangout destination! Grab some hot soup, a grilled sandwich, or some hot local coffee or House made Chai, and take a seat upstairs! It's always warm and cozy, and we have Wi-Fi!
Community Orchard to Host Birds & Bees Day of Service
On January 28th from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., again at the Banneker Center, the Orchard will conduct its annual meeting. It promises to be a lively afternoon filled with discussion, planning, celebration, elections, voting, and food and music, so please join us.
Local Growers Guild Annual Winter Gathering
On Saturday, January 21, the Winter Market will run concurrently with the morning sessions of the Local Growers’ Guild Annual Winter Guild Gathering, also held at Harmony School (909 East 2nd Street), from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The day’s events feature a series of workshops, a lunch catered by the board of the Local Growers Guild, and a chance to mingle with people who are committed to improving the local foods economy. Please join us for an informative, enjoyable, and delicious day.
Green Drinks Bloomington
Here's our regular reminder that Green Drinks Bloomington meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Banquet Facility at Upland Brewing. A $5 donation is requested; some food is provided. This month, Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese, founder and owner of Twisted Limb Paperworks, will do a presentation entitled “Eco Beer Paper for Green Drinks Fans: How Twisted Limb Paperworks Is Recycling Upland Barley Into a Fun New Product.” during the programmed portion of the evening from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. on January 25th. Beer cards will be available for sale, with 25% of each sale being donated to Green Drinks Bloomington. Please join us for a snack, a drink, and a thought-provoking discussion.
In the Co-op World
Organic Valley Reports $715 Million in 2011 Sales
Organic Valley, the country's largest cooperative of organic farmers (1,687 farms in 35 states and 3 Canadian provinces) reported sales of $715 million dollars for 2011, up 15% from last year. Starting in March, the company will increase its farmer-owner pay price by $2 per hundred weight of milk, thereby helping them cope with rapidly rising operating expenses. Take a few minutes to learn more about the work done by this fine organization to promote agricultural sustainability, food quality, and family farms.
Food, Eating, and Health
How Beer Saved the World
Demonstrating yet again that things are not so much as they are as they are how we choose to see them, How Beer Saved the World features scientists and historians make a compelling - albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek - argument that we have beer to thank for much of the best that civilization has to offer: math, poetry, pyramids, modern medicine, labor laws, and refrigeration. This is cultural anthropology at its audacious best, and an absolutely delightful 43-minute look at one of mankind's favorite beverages.
New Study Links GMO Corn to Organ Failure
In a study published recently by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, researchers announced that Monsanto's GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats. Monsanto, whose own research had found the corn to be safe, immediately responded that the new research was "based on faulty analytical methods and reasoning and do not call into question the safety findings for these products." The Huffington Post has the full story. And so, the battle over gm crops rages on.
Randall Lineback Cattle Making Comeback
Randall Lineback is an all-purpose (meat, milk, labor) American heritage breed of cattle introduced into New England in the 1600's. By the 20th century the trend toward milk and meat specialization, coupled with the absence of need for draft animals, had driven it almost to extinction. Now, the Washington Post reports that a group of Virginia farmers and chefs is bringing the breed back by creating a market for the unique, rosy-colored, low-fat, fine-grained meat produced by these animals.
TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat
The IU Food Studies program is hosting a community viewing of this year's TEDx Manhattan conference, "Changing The Way We Eat," on Saturday, January 21st, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., in the Student Building (next to Franklin Hall) Room 150. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a small nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring and spreading ideas that can shape a happier, healthier future for our world. A dozen or so leading thinkers will be looking at the sustainable food and farming movement and the work being done to shift the U.S. food system from industrially-based agriculture to something more local, sustainable, and nutritious. During the lunch break, head down to our Kirkwood store, which will be offering a $5 soup and sandwich special that day.
Tea and Coffee Found to Protect Against Heart Disease
A Dutch study encompassing 40,000 subjects and stretching over thirteen years found that daily consumption of several cups of tea or coffee was linked to a lower incidence of heart disease. According to lead researcher, Professor Yvonne van der Schouw, "It's basically a good news story for those who like tea and coffee. These drinks appear to offer benefits for the heart without raising the risk of dying from anything else." The BBC has the full story. The Elephant Journal, meanwhile, acknowledges the benefits of coffee, but also reminds us of the possible negative consequences in Coffee: The Good, the Bad, and the Ayurvedic Perspective.
USDA Farm Support Statistics
According to the Congressional Budget Office, USDA assistance payments to large industrial farms in 2010 was $13.7 billion of your money.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, USDA assistance to small and medium farm operations was less than $100 million of your money.
New Study Finds Occasional Pot Smoking Does Not Damage Lungs
The LA Times reported recently on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that supports previous research that has also failed to find a link between low or moderate exposure to marijuana smoke and lung damage. The summary: "Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for [medical] purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function...On the other hand, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavier use -- either very frequent use or frequent use over many years..."
Investment in Renewable Power Exceeds that for Fossil Fuels
According to the LA Times, investment in renewable power generation totaled $187 billion in 2011, compared to only $157 billion in fossil fuel plants. Renewable energy sources enjoyed $66 billion in subsidies, and this, together with price-cutting by wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers, is credited with this remarkable phenomenon. On the flip side, all that investment wasn't without collateral damage: the price-cutting led to shattered company margins and a corresponding 40% decrease in the value of renewable energy stocks.
Mercury Standards Finally Issued for Coal-Fired Energy Plants
Grist filed a nice report on the EPA's newly released rules covering mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The new rules are expected to save thousands of lives a year, and to reduce the incidence of birth defects, respiratory ailments, and learning disabilities.
Honeybee Colony Collapse Nearing "Critical Tipping Point"
Although news concerning colony collapse disorder hasn't been prominent lately, it is not because the problem has diminished. In fact, commercial beekeepers have seen losses of approximately 30% since 2006. Steve Ellis, of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and a beekeeper, himself, believes "We are inching our way toward a critical tipping point." In addition to actual colony collapse, bee populations are suffering poor health in general, and are experiencing shorter life spans and diminished vitality. Parasites, pathogens, and habitat loss are all threats to bee health, but pesticides are thought to be the primary culprit. Grist offers this report.
"Canned food is a perversion...I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul."
~ Ignatius J. Reilly, Confederacy of Dunces, 1980 (Our special thanks to Joyce Cookman for bringing our attention to this wonderful piece of literature.)
"People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health,
and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food."
~ Wendell Berry