The Bio-Engineered (BE) Food Labeling Law is going to take effect in January 2022. This infographic from The Non-GMO Project gives you some solid information about this new law and why The Natural Grocery Company supports stricter labeling standards like the one The Non-GMO Project provides. In our stores the shelf tags that are green indicate products that are certified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project. Products with blue labels still go through a process of verification conducted by our buyers and staff and we do our best to keep GMOs out of our stores but the best labeling program continues to be The Non-GMO Project Verification. We think it is important to “Follow the Butterfly”.
Mexico happens to be Pachamama’s coffee of the month, and since September marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we thought sharing this blog would be helpful, informative, and provide a new perspective about coffee’s wonderful, labor-love journey from seed to cup.
We present Pachamama’s latest Blog, Journey to the Origin. Their Creative Director, Rosa, recounts her discovery of coffee’s incredible journey from seed to cup while visiting one of Pachamama’s owner cooperatives: La Union Regionnal Cooperative, in Veracruz, Mexico.
We hope you find the time to read about her experience. It’s a short read that demonstrates how Pachamama Coffee is one of the most sustainable coffees the Natural Grocery can offer our customers. It is available in our El Cerrito Store.
Thanks to everyone who has made the sacrifices necessary to get us to this point! You will notice some changes in our stores the next time you visit.
Hand sanitizer will be available at the door for anyone who wishes to clean their hands before and/or after shopping. It is no longer a requirement but it is strongly encouraged.
We will no longer be limiting the number of customers who can enter the store at any given time but please be respectful of other shoppers personal space and don’t crowd anyone.
Customers who are vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks while shopping but are encouraged to do so until they are comfortable sharing indoor space with un-masked patrons.
If you are not vaccinated for Covid-19 you must wear a mask while inside any of our locations. This is for your safety, the safety of others and the current California requirement. By entering our stores without a mask you are self-attesting that you have been vaccinated.
The board of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, voted on June 17 to approve new rules, which now allows fully vaccinated workers to go without masks at work. Governor Newsom has signed an order, which makes Cal/OSHA’s new rules take effect immediately. Our Natural Grocery Company rules will change to follow the new Cal/OSHA rules, starting Friday, June 18. Fully Vaccinated employees have the option to not wear a mask. Of course, any fully vaccinated employee can continue wearing a mask. Employees who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask.
Self-serve Bulk is back! Our Bulk Departments have been given the green light to re-open self-serve bins. Things will look a little different and it will take a bit of time to transition the entire department. Our plan is to have items that are traditionally cooked in open scoop bins while foods eaten as-is will be in the gravity feed dispensers. Dried Fruits will remain pre-packaged. You may bring your own clean containers to fill. Please have a cashier weigh your clean, empty container before you fill it!
The Annex will now have indoor and outdoor seating available! Our menu is expanding and a separate announcement will be made about all the changes you will see there.
The Natural Grocery Company
Celebrate Fair Trade Month AND Non-GMO Month This October
Shoppers are demanding more: More from their local stores, more from their chosen brands, and even more from the farmers who grow their food.
Transparency in food production and in labeling is critical. Shoppers have a right to know if what they’re buying supports both people and planet.
This October, we celebrate both Fair Trade Month and Non-GMO Month — highlighting two labels you may have seen on your food often and want to know a bit more about.
What is “Non-GMO Project Verified”?
GMOs (or genetically modified organisms) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and/or virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Non-GMO Project verification means that a product is compliant with the Non-GMO Project Standard, which includes stringent provisions for ingredient testing, traceability, and segregation.
What is “Fairtrade Certified”?
Every day, we enjoy products only grown in tropical countries — products like coffee, chocolate and bananas. These farmers and workers often do not earn enough to have a decent living — that is to eat nutritious food, send their kids to school, have adequate shelter and weather a crisis (like COVID-19). Many live on less than $2 per day.
When you see the Fairtrade Mark on a product, you know that farmers were paid at least the cost of production as well as an added Fairtrade Premium to invest in their businesses and communities. You know that child labor was banned and that measures were in place to protect the local environment and water supply. You also know that workers’ rights were upheld and they have the choice to collectively bargain.
Why do we need such labels on food at all?
“Natural” food and “fair” food are big business these days and “greenwashing” has become a serious problem. By making unverified or uncertified claims about how their food is grown or processed (“self-made marketing claims”), some unscrupulous companies capitalize on shoppers choosing to pay a bit more for high-quality food that supports both people and planet. In response, there is a sea of different labels popping up with claims that sound really good, but have little backing them up.
So how does an informed shopper know what’s backed up and what’s empty words? Choosing well-recognized, independent, third-party seals on products is the best place to start. Seals like Non-GMO Project Verified and Fairtrade Certified are rigorous standards with meaningful rules that need to be followed in order to receive the seal. This may actually require laboratory testing and supply chain transparency that allows for “identity preservation.” That typically requires the strict segregation of ingredients that are compliant with the standards from ingredients that are not.
Both the Non-GMO Project and Fairtrade America are nonprofits driven by their missions to change how food is made in order to better serve people and planet. The Non-GMO Project has been verifying products since 2010 and Fairtrade has been operating internationally since 1989. Both nonprofits publish their Standards on their websites to give shoppers transparency, first and foremost. It also helps to check which brands are using these labels: Brands both large and small voluntarily showcase this compliance by including either the Fairtrade or Non-GMO Project seal on their packaging (and in some cases, both seals). This further gives shoppers assurance that it’s not a new fad but a sustainability tool used by brands to have a positive impact on people and planet.
How do Fairtrade and the Non-GMO Project overlap?
The rigorous Fairtrade Standards ban the use of GMO seeds. This is partly because farmers may get stuck in an exploitative cycle when they rely on big agribusinesses for genetically modified seeds, rather than buying seeds from a variety of sources. Furthermore, Fairtrade and others in the field are not yet sure of the impact GMOs may have on the environment, which farmers rely on for their livelihoods.
What you can do
Shop the labels! This store will be highlighting products that are Fairtrade Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified throughout October. Support brands working towards a more sustainable future, and try something new.
Want to learn more?
Get the scoop on Fairtrade. Sign up to receive Fairtrade America’s newsletter and follow them on social media — @FairtradeMarkUS
Follow the Butterfly with the Non-GMO Project. Check out their recipes and like them on social media — @NonGMOProject.
We choose our business relationships carefully. The folks at Hummingbird Wholesale live and breath values that align with our own. Headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, they serve their immediate area on down to us folks in Northern California. We are lucky to be within their distribution territory because they bring delicious, organic bulk products at competitive prices. Look for a list of products we carry from them below! Their philosophy about business is to be like a hummingbird. This beautiful and poetic entry from their website describes the metaphor in more detail.
Sustainability at Hummingbird Wholesale
by Julie and Charlie Tilt
What if, like the hummingbird, all people would sip the nectar of the earth without harming the flower? Is it possible? At Hummingbird we know it is possible, and we will never give up until this vision comes to fruition.
We can enjoy the sweetness of the harvest and the delicious nourishment of the earth while remembering to be grateful, and taking only our share. We honor the earth’s abundance through doing good work with the energy we receive from its sustenance. We are focused: with adroit maneuvering we extract the flower’s nectar in a manner that ensures the flower remains for others to be nourished. We share in the delight of its beauty, now and into the future.
We grow ourselves in collaboration with others, in service to the community. Our work at Hummingbird is essentially love in action. We use our willpower, along with positive thought and actions, to move the world into a sustaining momentum. We humbly learn from our mistakes, laugh at ourselves, and respect the different opinions of others. We do this with an attitude of joy and reverence; aware of the mystery and grandeur of the planet we all steward.
The hummingbird is a tiny little creature, and we recognize that the fragility and workings of the complex interaction of humans in nature is dependent on the smallest of things: the birds and the bees and the earthworms. We strive in every action to enhance the existence of all creatures with our caring attention.
We never give up, and remain positive despite any obstacles. We take 100% responsibility for our lives and our future. We feel complete and whole in relationship to our world. Our hearts are filled with love from our good and courageous deeds every day.
At Hummingbird, we model a business continually striving to deepen our understanding of sustainability by improving our systems to reflect these values. We represent positive change for a hopeful future for all beings.
Find these products in our bulk section:
Michigan Tart cherries dry organic
Regional Snack Blend organic
Granola- Bucky’s Raw Hazelnut organic
Granola- Higher Power GRAWnola organic unswtned
Nutritional Yeast organic
NUTS Tamari Almonds organic
NUTS Hazelnuts organic
NUTS Sprouted Mixed Nuts and Seeds organic
Pumpkin Seeds Oregon grown organic
TRAIL MIX – Northwest Blend w/cinnamon organic
Persimmons dry organic
Blueberries dry organic
Pear slices dry organic
Peaches slices dry organic
Bing cherries dry organic seasonal