Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Do I Like About Wheatsville?

The list is long and growing longer by the day.

For starters, I like that I took my garden variety grocery list in there a few days ago and found at least one version of everything I needed.

I found a good parking spot despite their construction. I found friendly employees there ready with helpful information including eggplant excess survival techniques.

As I rolled up and down aisles accompanied by the chattering of two children with their Mom auf Deutsch, I felt I had the best of both worlds, shopping local products in the company of, I don't know, not international hipsters maybe, but certainly in the company of whoever the opposite of provincial plebians might be.Recently I got my first paper edition of the Breeze in the snail mail. As I wandered through the pages I spotted a point/counterpoint duo of Wheatie Staffers debating the relative merits of carrying Coca-Cola products at the Co-op. The central question seemed to be wondering if the Coca-Cola company's mission and philosophy was consistent with that of Wheatsville.

I like that the question is up for discussion in the first place. I also like that two employees are given equal space to make their case for/against carrying the products as a jumping off point.

I like that I was reading this article on Gaiam.com about plastics safe to reuse as food containers and that when I went to check the number on the plastic container my Wheatsville olives were swimming in? It was made out of polypropylene (PP, or plastic number 5) which is one of the three plastics designated as safe to use and re-use by The Green Guide, owned by National Geographic. Do I trust NatGeo? Yeah, I think maybe I do....

I like that many, but not every employee who works at Wheatsville sport beards. Granted, if I find myself hormonally cranked in some way that has me sprouting unwanted facial hair? Applying for work at W'ville may be one way to find solace in the midst of that (for me) hirsute horror. Maybe I just like the idea of buying my food from folks who look kinda like rugged mountain men, I don't know.
I do know that until I see produce manager Johnny and meat guy Bryan in the same room at the same time, I will harbor a suspicion they might be the same person. And even if they are two separate guys, surely twins separated at birth?(Can you pick out both Johnny and Bryan in this photo supposedly of "all" the Wheat Staff? Uh huh - me neither...)

I like that Wheatsville is in the middle of a big renovation project which includes moving products around some. This means my disadvantage as a newbie is eliminated. Nobody will be able to easily find everything in W'ville for a bit. That puts me on even ground with the old guard. I have to say, I enjoy the chance to ask where an item might be living without my question screaming "SHE'S NEW!".So sure, I am developing a pretty good crush on the whole Wheatsville shopping experience. Not that I hate my old food partners, I am sure we will still be friends, you know? It is just that I plan on seeing my hot new food love partner regularly and I don't want to string my old food guys along. Just not the way I roll.

Back to the Coke Controversy for a moment. As a newcomer I am a little hesitant to jump into the fray. I do have a bit of an opinion however (you can act shocked later).

So what is the Wheatsville Mission? Glad you asked. Our Mission- The purpose of Wheatsville Food Co-op is to create a self-reliant, self-empowering community of people that will grow and promote a transformation of society toward cooperation, justice and non-exploitation. The mission of Wheatsville Co-op is to serve a broad range of people by providing them goods and services, using efficient methods that avoid manipulation of the consumers and minimize exploitation of the producers or damage to the environment. The primary focus for this mission is supplying high-quality food and non-doctrinaire informaiton about food to people in Austin, Texas.

And for Coca Cola? Everything we do is inspired by our enduring Mission:
To Refresh the World...in body, mind, and spirit.
To Inspire Moments of Optimism...through our brands and our actions.
To Create Value and Make a Difference...everywhere we engage.
To achieve sustainable growth, we have established a Vision with clear goals:
People: Being a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
Planet: Being a responsible global citizen that makes a difference.
Portfolio: Bringing to the world a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy peoples' desires and needs.
Partners: Nurturing a winning network of partners and building mutual loyalty.
Profit: Maximizing return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
We are guided by shared Values that we will live by as a company and as individuals:
Leadership: “The courage to shape a better future”
Passion: “Committed in heart and mind”
Integrity: “Be real”
Accountability: “If it is to be, it's up to me”
Collaboration: “Leverage collective genius”
Innovation: “Seek, imagine, create, delight”
Quality: “What we do, we do well”

Hmmm.  Pretty high minded all around. Mission talk aside though, it is difficult to characterize the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, or any company that large really, as entirely good or bad. Coke seems to be a blend of both, historically. To be honest I do say that as a gal who has grown up with a Coca-Cola product in my hand on a near daily basis. Am I biased? Fair enough to say I am.

With my bias in mind, while trying to keep up with reading about the recent political hooraw (subcategory NOT about pregnant teenagers) I did just run across this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how Coke set itself the goal of 85% recycling for containers at both political conventions, a number that matched what the DNC set for itself and was established for the GOP despite their lack of a recycling program altogether. Coke determined it would accept all containers (the Dems met in a facility that sells Pepsi products) in an effort to educate and reinforce positive patterns for the delegates attending.

Does this mean Coke is a "green" company? Well, probably not entirely, no. But it is a step in a good direction.
More importantly, does that mean Coke should be sold at Wheatsville?

On the one hand, Coke is a popular seller at the Wheat. On the other hand, the room on the shelves there is in a big squeeze at least temporarily as they accommodate the demands of moving departments around.

Would I want cans of Coke, or in my case, cans of Coke Zero, to take the place of other products I might not ordinarily find on the shelves at my old food providers? Hmmm. Probably not.

I for one would step out on Wheatsville to buy Coke products from somebody else if I needed to. If the majority of Wheatests voted that Coke has no place on the store shelves, that would not be any kind of a deal breaker for me.

I already make special trips to buy certain wines or beers I can't find in the grocery store aisles. I hit the Farmer's Market on Saturdays occasionally and buy the same products I get at Wheatsville or in my CSA baskets just so I can actually meet and talk face to face with a lot of the folks growing what I eat. I can't see how making a side trip to buy Coke products would be much different than that, bottom line.

So either way the bottle tilts, I'll be just fine shopping at Wheatsville.

And I like that, too.

1 comment:

Flapjacks said...

Okay, okay, okay. I'm the hairy brown guy on the left of the middle pole, and Bryan is the hairy white guy on the right side...

How haven't I met you in the store yet?