Berkeley Store: 8:30am-8:30pm
El Cerrito Store: 8:30am-8:30pm
The Annex: 8:30am-7:30pm
The El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce is featuring The Natural Grocery Company in their February 2022 Byline!
Check out the entire Byline on the Chamber of Commerce Website
Thanks for your support!
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.
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 are still packaging everything in our Bulk Departments so that you may purchase the products you like without the plastic! The Natural Grocery Company is committed to using packaging that protects your food and does not contribute to more plastic waste. We use NatureFlex TM to pack all our Bulk Items. Our resilient workers at The Annex prepare these items for sale in our facility. Items are then transferred to our stores as needed. Thank you for your continued support!
The weather was so great last weekend that we decided to grill outdoors! So we fired up the grill using mesquite wood and put on a wonderful pork loin roast from our El Cerrito Meat Department. Just salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil and cooked until it had an internal temperature of 145F. The plantains we chose were blackened on the outside and we split them lengthwise (leaving the peels on). With a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper we placed them cut side down first. When we flipped them over and we brushed them with a mixture of honey (Bay Area Bee Company), ginger spread (The Ginger People) and fresh Meyer lemon juice. It turned out great! We chose to serve them up on tortillas with our favorite toppings. What is your favorite thing to grill right now?
STAFF PICK – VIOLIFE by Kristy, Housewares Buyer
“Many people know this about me; I am … was a cheese junky. Cheese on pasta, cheese on sandwiches, cheese on crackers… you get the idea. Then one day my world changed, and I could no longer digest lactose or casein (milk sugar and protein). Oh, no! Now what?
I tried all kinds of alternatives, none of which satisfied me in the same way as “real” cheese, and none of them tasted too great either. I soon gave up, and while brushing a small tear from my eye, realized that my cheese-eating days were over.
Luckily, my despair was short-lived, as it appeared one day, at El Cerrito Natural Grocery – Violife! I couldn’t believe it! Finally, an alternative cheese that tasted like the real thing! No soy, no gluten, no funky aftertaste! This is a non-GMO plant-based cheese that has the same feel and consistency as “real” cheese, and the flavors are spot on. I put it to the test and ate it plain – fantastic! I melted it on a burger – beautiful!
If you’re vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, lactose intolerant, or if you just want to cut down on cholesterol, this may be a good choice for you. I could go on about how great these products are, but really, I think that it’s best that you try it yourself.”
Love Bottle Water Bottle – 25% off through the end of December
Made from recycled glass (and absolutely no plastic), these BPA-free water bottles from Love Bottle are designed by glass experts and feature uplifting messages and fun artwork. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but 5 percent of each purchase goes towards Global Water to help deliver clean water to those in need.
All bottles are made in the USA, supporting small family businesses, and the company works with design artists from around the country.
Ghana Bolgatanga Baskets – 15% off through the end of December
For the women of Bolgatanga, basket-weaving groups have become a way to earn money in community with others. Local women supplement the family income by hand-weaving baskets using locally-grown straw, known as “elephant grass.”
The importer of these baskets follows the fair trade standards and the company gives back. Founder and CEO, Steve Karowe formed Every Basket Helps™, a non-profit organization created to help manage humanitarian
projects in the villages of Ghana. In addition to paying fair prices to the weavers, 10% of the proceeds from each basket sale goes back to the villagers.
The funds support these projects:
• Providing basic school supplies for the weavers’ children annually
• Organizing and funding health care for the weavers and their families annually
• Funding and building a community weaving center that serves two villages and over 400 weavers (2009)
Maggie’s Socks – 15% off all crew socks through the end of December
Maggie’s receives an A+, the highest rating of 300 apparel brands, in an independent study funded by the Department of State which ranks labor
Here is a list of what Maggie’s does to achieve Fair Trade.
• Dedication to the supply chains developed over many years.
• Working with suppliers to constantly improve quality without raising prices.
• Listening and learning from suppliers as well as customers.
• Seeking out producers as close to home as possible, and working with them to develop lower impact input processes.
• Responding to what farmers say they need, instead of purchasing what will look good in PR photos.
• Working with supply chains on continuous improvement in quality, environmental improvement, and living conditions.
As first world consumers living in a global economy, our choices impact people living in developing countries. Much of the apparel industry is fueled by labor in third world countries, resulting in clothing produced with very high human costs to health, and economic security. Many pieces of clothing are still made in sweatshops with dangerous conditions and a pay scale that resembles indentured servitude.
Andes Gifts items are hand-crafted year round in the highlands of both Peru and Bolivia. The artists are then paid a fair price for their products. Through their efforts, Andes Gifts enables a growing number of third world artisans to knit, stitch, and weave their way to a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Thanks to the loyal support of our customers, our knitters have projects year round.
“My 5 kids and I live in the altiplano of southern Peru. Women have very few work opportunities here. Knitting is one of our best options to improve our quality of life. The 35 women in our knitting cooperative work for Andes Gifts because they pay us well and we have work year round.”
“Knitting is one of our best options quality of life”