Tag: local shopping

President’s Blog – On Turning Five

By Pete Woltz, IFC Board President

Unexpected costs can be aggravating. Last week I misplaced my car keys and had to rent a car to get back home from KC.  I thought I chose the company with the most reasonable rates, but when I returned the car I was shocked to see my final bill.  With taxes, fees, and adjustments, it was a third more than the quoted price.

I mention this story because we as a cooperative have just come through a remarkable fiscal year that ended on June 30. Thanks to dedicated consumers, popular new products, and an increase in the number of distribution cycles, sales exceeded expectations and we ended up with a $6,300 profit for the year.

However, just like my rental car bill, there have been costs that are not reflected in our profit figure.  To keep the Coop alive financially, we lived off of grants and the help of volunteers. We’ve  consumed some of your equity, eliminated staff, and underpaid remaining staff. Perhaps most importantly (and thanks to the generosity of Merle Hay Mall), we have paid no rent.

Unfortunately, to use a term we local food enthusiasts can relate to, these practices are unsustainable.  To address this issue, the board approved a modest increase in our fees for the first time in our history. As a member of the board and a participant on this year’s budget committee that approved the increase, let me say that the decision was a painstakingly difficult one.

The decision came down to a question of sustainability. Our success in 2013 gave us a glimpse of what the IFC can become.  It was the unanimous opinion of the board that we embrace our destiny by creating a business that is financially sustainable.  This remarkable local food delivery system that we have built together these past four years must not be allowed to go away due to the lack of adequate funds to cover costs.happy-birthday-cake65

We have turned five and have matured as an organization.  It is now time to accept our financial responsibilities and keep this truly unique organization serving us for many delicious years to come.  Thank you for supporting this decision and KEEP SHOPPING!

President’s Blog – Out of the Primordial Soup!

By Pete Woltz, IFC Board President

PlanningI have been thinking lately about my dual role experiences as both a producer and consumer of the Iowa Food Coop.  Shopping and selling products through the IFC presents some interesting challenges.  Because I have become a product of a society geared toward instant everything, delivering product and shopping on a two-week schedule requires me to resurrect an ancient set of skills… planning!

Many of our regular shoppers have a highly evolved ‘meal planning’ gene.  To them, sitting at a computer to plug from over 1,000 locally-produced IFC food treasurers into approximately 42 meal time slots becomes second nature.  One by one they mix and match and visualize the future.   “Let’s see, Steak ‘n’ Eggs greens simmering with LaVentosa Berkshire bacon, that’ll work for next week’s potluck”. 

As producers, we must accurately plan and track our inventories so as not to ‘out’ a product on distribution day.   And, I am not talking sexual orientation here!  Outing occurs when a product is removed from a consumer’s invoice.  This can occur for any number of reasons, but it is usually a sad event for everyone involved.  It creates loss of revenue for the IFC, loss of revenue for the producer, and, most importantly, disruption in the lives of our highly evolved and much beloved consumers. 

Here are a couple Evolutionof things we as producers can do to help keep ‘outs’ from happening.  Check and double check orders prior to delivery.  Also, use the IFC website’s inventory feature to control sales volume.  Check inventory against orders prior cart closing.  That way, consumers can be notified in time to make a product substitution in the event of a product ‘out’.

The IFC is the best place on the planet to feed ourselves.  It may take a little more planning and a little more strategy, but hey, we are evolved!  SHOP THE COOP today.

President’s Blog – You Are How You Eat!

By Pete Woltz, IFC Board President

The IFC is much more than another place to buy food.  A while back Kelly and Angie Tagtow shared a request from a journal that was seeking essays that explored “the intersection of cooperatives with alternative food systems initiatives”.   I was so moved by the request’s language on cooperative food systems that I read a portion at an IFC board meeting for a bit of pre-meeting inspiration.

The words hit a familiar note for me.  Cooperative food systems were described as organizations populated by “food citizens” acting within “civic food networks”.  Cooperative food systems, they went on to say, were distinguished from conventional cooperatives in that they:

  1. Reconnect farmers and consumers in more direct and meaningful ways
  2. Sell to local and regional markets through alternative networks
  3. Promote food production, distribution, and consumption processes that are environmentally sound or socially just.

 

As my involvement in the IFC has expanded over the years from producing products that meet IFC standards, to public speaking, to Board involvement, to volunteering on distribution day, I have come to feel a compelling sense of citizenship within this extraordinary local food community.  More than just an intersection of consumers and food producers, I find the IFC to be a vibrant community of citizens accepting the responsibilities and enjoying the privileges that come with citizenship.

What are the responsibilities?   For starters, an all-volunteer workforce of “food citizens” somehow manages to collect hundreds of local products every other Thursday and distribute them to lines of very patient consumers at four different sites.  Thank you volunteers and patient consumers!

But responsibilities in a cooperative food system go beyond the sometimes overwhelming tasks of distribution.  There are responsibilities our producer owners accept to offer wholesome foods produced with practices that protect our land, water, and wildlife.  There are responsibilities to care for those who are less fortunate, which we do by supporting our EBT members with donations to cover their fees.  Indeed, being responsible is a theme that runs through everything we do.

What about the privileges that come with citizenship in our local food system?  Are you kidding – local greens in February!?!

I would also argue that this great privilege is also our responsibility. I encourage you as a coop citizen to buy products from our producers.   April sales are well on the way to meeting budget projections.  You can help us meet our goals and keep our community alive and healthy by loading your cart this next cycle with the most wonderful local Iowa products available anywhere.  Please shop your Coop!

From Iowa With Love

From Iowa with Love

By Rita Pray

 

Being of the age when I need to start getting rid of clutter instead of collecting more, I am inclined to give gifts that are consumable rather than “stuff” that sits around.  Hence, for the last couple of years, I have shopped the Co-op for holiday gifts.   I especially like to send all-Iowa gifts to my family that is flung all across the country—a sort of “look what you could have if you lived here” reminder.

 

A recent blog posting on this website listed the wide variety of products that would make great holiday gifts.  Obviously, you have to consider things like mailing and timing of the gift-giving when purchasing food-related items.  I recently boxed several collections of items to send to out-of-state family—things that won’t be spoiled if they aren’t opened for a month.   I love that all of the items show the from-Iowa label.

 

My finds for a non-perishable, family-friendly, general-happiness gift box were as follows:

Salamander Farms Popcorn on the Cob ($2.00/2 ears)

Elements of Rejuvenation Soy Candle  ($7.50)

Fieldstone Farms Beeswax Candles ($6.50/2 3” pillars)

Two Rivers Honey Bear Sample Size ($2.00)

Wildwood Farms Spiced Cocoa Mix ($2.00)

Twin Girls Autumn Jam ($5.50)

Country Harvest Blueberry Jam ($5.00)

Timber Ridge Summer Sausage  ($6.00)

Heart of Iowa Soapworks Pot Scrubbie ($2.50)

Fieldstone Farms Honey Straws  ($1.25/5)

 

Approximate Dollar Value=$40.00;

Recipients’ Iowa-Product Induced Happiness=Priceless.

 

11/27/2012

IFC Christmas Gift Ideas

The holiday shopping season is officially upon us! If you’re like me, you probably struggle over what to get for everyone on your Christmas list. Why not give them something from the IFC this year? You can not only find something for everyone on your list, but your shopping dollars stay in Iowa as well! Here are a few ideas.

For the Beauty Product Lovers:

-Rosebud Botanicals has several really great all natural and environmentally friendly health and beauty products that would make great gifts. They offer 3 facial gift baskets with everything needed to moisturize, exfoliate, and cleanse. Their lip balms would make cute stocking stuffers too!

-Heart of Iowa Soapworks offers homemade soaps with real essential oils and natural ingredients. I can tell you from my own personal experience that all of their products smell great! Their shampoo bars would be a nice gift for ladies who are looking for a more natural way to care for their hair.

-Grandma’s Soap, a sixth generation old-fashioned soapmaker, has aromatherapy packs. These are perfect for the holiday season, which can be a bit stressful.

-Griffieon Family Farms, our beef producer, now has a daughter making soaps and lotions from natural ingredients. The lotions and soaps would make a nice gift, or a perfect addition to your own guest washroom.

For the Ladies on Your List:

-Our four candle producers: Two Rivers Honey, Fieldstone Farms, Elements of Rejuvenation, and Ebert Honey Co have all your candle needs covered. You can find the perfect scent for your friend who loves aromatherapy, or an unscented beewax candle for someone sensitive to smells. I can personally say the scented candles smell amazing!

-Live Now, Rest Later has handmade sterling silver jewelry. She can even personalize what will be stamped onto your jewelry, perfect to add a meaningful touch to your gift.

For Everyone Else:

-Get the birdwatcher on your list a suet-cake or suet-lollipop from Ebersole Cattle. They are sure to draw birds into your recipient’s yard!

-For the knitter on your list, add some yarn from Hedgeapple Fiber Studio. The yarn comes from sheep hand-reared on Hedgeapple Farms, and are available in many beautiful colors.

-If you have a wine-lover on your list, Rosey Acres Winery offers wines ranging from dry to sweet. These Iowa wines are made and hand bottled in Runnels, Iowa.

-Iowa Orchard’s Fudge makes the perfect gift for ANYONE on your list. You really can’t go wrong with their rich chocolatey fudge.

Also be sure to check out our awesome assortment of baked goods from our hardworking producer members. Every product is made by hand locally, and will make a great addition to your holiday get together or work party. Gift memberships are also a great option for friends and family who aren’t already an IFC member! Be sure to look through our product listings when you’re looking for that hard to find gift, you may be surprised what you can find at the IFC. Happy holiday shopping to you all!