Greetings and thanks for writing. As usual, suggestions and responses may have been edited for brevity, clarity and/or comedy. In addition, no idea, concept, issue, remark, phrase, description of event, word or word string should be taken seriously. This also applies to the previous sentence.
Heather Carb, our Ambler Project Manager, and I have been working on our Ambler store plans, including selecting equipment. We’re planning to order a very capable but complex “combi-oven” like the one we have in the Chestnut Hill store kitchen. These ovens can cook — bake, grill, roast, pan-fry, steam, stew, blanch and poach. In some cases, at the same time, on different shelves.
Part of buying this oven is selecting options. My favorites are the “fat drain” and “fat trolley.” Apparently, if you cook a lot of chicken, you get a lot of fat, so much so that there are devices to capture the fat and route it into a container, which can live on a little trolley so you can wheel it to your Jewish grandmother’s kitchen, where it can sit on the shelf as schmaltz, seemingly for years without degrading, making it a survival food.
Because the spot where we want to place the oven in the Ambler kitchen is a little tight, we might have to run the fat hose through the wall to the dish room to the collection container. So I think we might be one of the first grocery-store kitchens with piped chicken fat.
From a sustainability perspective, chicken fat apparently can be used to make biofuels, including jet fuel. NASA has been researching this and we’ll be collaborating with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to see if chicken fat from naturally raised chickens is superior to factory-farmed chicken fat. Read our annual report next year, where the results will be reported.
Weavers Way also started Instacart this month, an interesting development in the evolution of a community institution. Part of what we’ve heard about the value of our stores is that they serve as people’s “third place” — anchors of community life that facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. Does Instacart enable a little more isolation or does it free people up so they have more time for other community activities? I’m guessing it depends on the user.
Instacart’s stated mission is to “transform everyday life by seeking and solving seemingly impossible problems.” Hmm, I think I’ll log in and see if they can solve seemingly impossible problems like peace in the Middle East, global warming, food insecurity and the progressive / conservative political divide. Maybe they can develop a free “solve impossible problem” app and thus fulfill their mission-impossible mission.
suggestions and responses
s: “There is trouble in the world of fig jam. Dalmatia brand was illegally and irresponsibly imitated by former business partners under the brand Divina. Whole Foods has dropped Divina, and only carries Dalmatia. Hoping Weavers Way sees the light, and has some kind of social conscience. (Price can’t be that different. $6.99 at WF.)”
r: (Norman) Thanks for pointing this out. Looks like our distributor no longer sells Divina. We’ll see if they replace it with Dalmatia.
s: “We love the Divina Marinated Mushrooms frequently (but not always) found at the Mt. Airy store. But, they are never at the Chestnut Hill store. Is there a reason for this? If not, please consider carrying these mushrooms at Chestnut Hill. Thank you.”
r: (Matt CH Deli) Hey there, thanks for the comment. We have carried these mushrooms, at customer request, on and off for a year or so. No matter how many times I try to stock them, they are always one of our slowest sellers. With our limited space, I need room for items that move more quickly. I can always have Mt. Airy send some over to Chestnut Hill for you if you call ahead a day or two.
s: “I would like to see more items that are ketogenic-diet-friendly in the Co-op. The ketogenic diet is a very-low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that is used in the treatment of epilepsy and Type 2 diabetes. Products such as MCT oil and MCT oil powder, derived from coconut oil, are helpful in achieving lowered blood sugar levels and increased blood ketones that are the aim of the diet. Can the Co-op source and stock organic, fair trade MCT oil products?”
r: (Norman) For those who aren’t familiar with it, “MCT” stands for “medium chain triglycerides,” which are generally made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils in a lab. So far, MCT oil is the only product I could find. We haven’t had enough requests to stock it yet, but we could order you a bottle for $13.95. It doesn’t have fair trade certification. If you know of any that are fair trade, I can look into getting it. Thanks for the suggestion.
s: “I’ve noticed that the self-serve soup sometimes has cardboard lids and sometimes plastic. Is the plastic environmentally sound in some way? Thank you.”
r: (Norman) As is often typical with these kinds of questions, the answer is “no, yes, no, yes,” depending on how you look at things. My own opinion is that no single-use manufactured item is environmentally sound. However, given that we sell takeout soup in single-serve containers, plastic might have slight environmental advantage in that it’s less material and theoretically recyclable, and if you don’t fill the soup cup to the limit, provides a better seal so less soup gets spilled and wasted. However, plastic is still a fossil-fuel product, and the degree it actually gets recycled is questionable. The paper lids are made from renewable material, but lots of water and chemicals are used to make them, and they are not recyclable due to the coating. Plus, cashiers often have to add tape or a rubber band to keep the lid from coming off, so more materials are used and end up in the landfill. The paper is also more expensive. Nevertheless, so many customers have complained about the plastic not being heat tolerant enough that we are switching back to paper.
s: “Plastic-bag recycling bins/pickup: Other grocery stores have these, why not us?”
r: (Norman) Coming soon, stay tuned.
s: “Carrot ginger artichoke soup was everything it should be. Delicious.”
r: (David MA Prep Food) Thanks, we like it too.
s: “Ecstatic that we had bangers. Made my month!”
r: (Norman) Thanks and they were from Stryker Farm — local, naturally raised, not confined, about as good as meat can get.