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EBT and Oysters

January 28, 2010

There is so much new at FreshLocal these days, it’s tough to know where to start, but for us, a big welcome to EBT customers is the most exciting news.  After months (no kidding) of red tape, we are now approved to accept EBT cards for food purchases, have our machine installed, and we’re ready to go!

This month we welcome new local producer Hood Canal Oyster Company.  They are bringing us fresh live oysters from their own beds every Tuesday.  Rave reviews from those who have tried them.  We’re expecting steamer clams and Dungeness crabs when the time is right as well.

Yesterday we received our first shipment of garden seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, selected from our decades of growing experience as the best varieties for flavor, productivity, reliability, and success in our climate and growing conditions.  FreshLocal will have programs to recognize, support and reward home gardeners in our community for doing their part to promote the local food cause in our community.  To get started, we recommend that you send for your own Johnny’s catalog, which is so jam packed with detailed gardening information and instruction that it could be a college text on the subject.  Copies are available to peruse in the store, and you can order your own copy online at http://www.johnnyseeds.com/Catalog.aspx or call 1-877-564-6697.

During January, we have concentrated on bringing in lots more stock to expand our selection of foods.  We are bringing in more produce, 100% organic, to tide us over this season of minimum local availability.  This includes salad ingredients (lettuce, mesclun, baby spinach, arugula), peak-season Texas Rio-Star grapefruit, mushrooms and garnet yams.

Responding to requests, we now have gluten free bread in the freezer, competing for space with Greek Gods Baklava ice cream and a sweet selection of Ciao Bella sorbets.

Now here’s the big news about soup!  Two hot soup every day for lunch, of course, one with meat and one vegetarian, but also we now have an extensive selection of soups frozen in quarts to take home for supper.  Every one is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients, organic when feasible.  The frozen soups are not leftovers!  They are frozen fresh as soon as they are ready, to preserve flavor at its peak.  They represent ethnic cuisines from around the world and include some good old comfort food varieties as well.  These jam-packed-with-goodies soups make a meal.

Look for more locally made and frozen offerings in February.  Lasagna, our own signature mac and cheese, tamale pie and more.  These will be frozen in single servings so you can purchase precisely what you need for your family.

Thank you, all you new customers who came in this month!  Please tell all your friends that you get smiles, information and conversation along with excellent food when you shop FreshLocal. The more support we receive from our community, the more we can grow to be the full service, very special store you want us to be.

New year, new products, new plans

January 12, 2010

We’ve settled in at 540 Fourth Street, although we still don’t have a real sign, and we’re concentrating on expanding the range of our stock, trying to think about what people need and want to create meals with fresh, nutritious high quality foods.  We’re trying to keep prices down in these days of rapidly rising food prices by sticking generally with whole and minimally processed foods.  We know that means more cooking than many people are used to, but we plan to offer help with a series of cooking videos on our website.

Meanwhile, we’re aiming to provide convenience food as well, primarily with a full roster of soups, prepared with fresh ingredients and served hot for lunch or frozen in quarts at their flavor peak.  Each one packs a lot of nutrition.  Here’s the roster for this week:

Tuesday – Guinness beef stew and butternut squash with apple

Wednesday – Spicy African chicken and veg and Italian vegetable bean

Thursday – Swedish meatball w/capers and potato mushroom barley

Friday – Tex-Mex chili and Moroccan chickpea and veg

Saturday – Pork potato and greens dijon and Singapore vegetable curry

We plan to keep all of these in stock in frozen quarts and come up with a roster of ten more next week.

We can’t raise every kind of food in our county, and we still buy many from “outside,” but we’re particularly proud to be carrying four varieties of heirloom rice from the Eighth Wonder Company, a group of Philippine farmers who raise their traditional crops on remote mountain terraces and process it by hand.  Explore their website at http://www.heirloomrice.com/ and see why we feature these items.   Connecting our food with the faces of the people who produce it is one of our most important goals for FreshLocal.

The price of food

December 22, 2009

Since everybody needs to eat every day, and we’re operating a food store, we at FreshLocal are deeply concerned about the price of food – both the price we pay and the price at which we sell.  There are competing concerns here, and we need to consider them all.

  • basic foods should be available and affordable to all
  • our producer members should receive the best price the market will support to encourage them to keep farming and farm more
  • prices on our products must generate enough revenue to pay expenses and support the staff who work there

FreshLocal is a small store, and has to pay higher prices on most items than supermarkets because of that.  Customers have asked us to carry Organic Valley milk, for example.  We can get it, but we would have to pay more for it wholesale than the retail price at Fred Meyer.  This means that our prices on comparable goods have to be a bit higher.  To counter that, we try to supply quality products you won’t find in supermarkets.

Complicating the picture is the undeniable fact that food prices globally and locally are rising sharply, and predicted to continue to rise.  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=anmWH3QNomt0&pos=13

In other words, the situation is likely to get worse.

We’re trying to achieve a balance in pricing which will meet our goals of fairness to all, and we will appreciate customer assistance in doing so.  We hope that we will be on the same side with us in this effort, that customers will understand that we’re trying to maintain the lowest prices that will pay the bills, be fair to staff, and allow us to expand our offerings of locally produced foods and continue in business for a long time.

We can relieve the effects of  the rising price trend by making whole, relatively unprocessed foods the foundation of our diets, and at FreshLocal we’re trying to facilitate that by stocking a wide variety of bulk commodities (much less costly than the same items in boxes).  You can do your part by doing more of your own cooking, and relying much less on ready-to-eat dishes.  We’ll be trying to help with that by offering recipes, and maybe cooking seminars.

Please let us know what you think about this important issue, whether it’s specifics on particular prices, suggestions about which products you would like us to add or delete, or anything else you can think of which will help us find the right path in stocking and pricing.

Over the past few months, we’ve received abundant support from you, telling us that you want this kind of store in our community, and we’re grateful for that.  Now we’re asking for more.  Please shop at FreshLocal as often as you can, and give us the information we need to help us make the store everything you want it to be.

So Much to Say!

December 7, 2009

Opening the store put your blogger in a high speed sprint which left no time for blogging!  Well, better late than never, here’s the latest news from FreshLocal.

Super special loss-leader price on milk from our friends at Dungeness Valley Creamery in Sequim – this week only!  When you come in, please get on our list for regular delivery of this amazingly delicious and healthful beverage.  Raw milk has all the natural enzymes which are destroyed by pasteurization.  That’s the reason for the superb flavor, and explains why many lactose intolerant people can drink it with no ill effect.  Warning, however, once you taste it, it’s hard to go back!

We have Gift Cards available.  Give them to the people you love who love to eat!

We’re close to being fully stocked now, including a good roster of local cheeses and smoked salmon products for special holiday fare.  We have an excellent array of gluten free grains and flours, and soon will offer instructions for combining them in different ways for different kinds of home baking.  We have a continuing supply of fresh apples and pears, frozen cranberries, and wonderful, organic nuts and dried fruits for more holiday treats.  We now have an abundant supply of chicken and duck eggs.  We stock an assortment of organic Dave’s Killer Bread and will soon have some locally baked crusty loaves as well.  We now stock Greek Yogurt and Kefir Cheese!  We have Island Spring tofu from Vashon, a good tempeh selection and super-healthy and delicious miso. All this plus the fresh produce and wide range of organic bulk commodities, teas and spices and our own FreshLocal blend of organic, fair trade, fresh roasted whole bean coffee.  Wow!  Lots to find in our little store!

Starting this week, we will open at 10 a.m. so that our customers don’t have to wait out in the cold.  Hot soup and sandwiches for lunch starts at 11.

Please stop by at 540 Fourth Street and see all we have to offer.

FreshLocal says – Welcome to our store!

November 6, 2009

The t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted, our licenses and permits are in our hands, and the FreshLocal Open House is set to go tomorrow, Friday, from 3 until 8.  The weather may not be great, but it will probably better than it was today, so please come.  We’re eager to meet you.  There will be some food to sample, some lovely live music, and us, your local food producers, ready to give you a look at what you can expect to find at 540 Fourth Street.

 

We’re introducing a new concept here in Bremerton – food with faces, the real people who raise the crops, mind the herds, milk the cows, stir the soup and bake the goodies.  We are individuals and families.  We live near you, and we know people you know.  We can answer your questions and respond to your needs.  We’re making the kind of community connections in a business like we’ve never known before, and if feels mighty good!

 

The store is not open for business tomorrow.  The open house is just a party, an opportunity for us to meet each other.  When will we actually be open?  Give us a few more days to bring in more stock, get it arranged, get used to our new premises.  We’ll definitely let you know.

 

When we open, we will be offering hot soup, sandwiches, salads and baked goods for lunches and suppers as well as our line of groceries, all consistent with our basic commitment to fresh and local, the reason we’re here.  These foods will be prepared by our members and employees at the Evergreen Kitchen, across the street from the store, an unusual partnership which has greatly expanded the scope of our offerings.

 

Meanwhile, we’ll gather tomorrow with big smiles.  Hope to see you there.

 

Jean

Save the date! November 6 from 3-8 p.m.

October 27, 2009

Open House for FreshLocal is officially declared.  Come and meet our producers, board members and staff.  We’ll have some  fresh produce to sample, and some goodies as well, and we’ll give you your first opportunity to try our FreshLocal blend fresh-roasted organic fair-trade coffee.  A truly gala occasion, timed to coordinate with First Friday Art Walk.  Isn’t Bremerton a great place to live?  And getting better!

We hope we’ll be able to be open for business the very next week.  We have plan approvals from the health department and the city planning office.  We need to finish installing equipment, get our stock properly placed, have a final inspection, and purchase a business license.  Then we can open our doors for regular business, from 11 to 7, Tuesday through Saturday.

We look forward to meeting you.

FreshLocal – say it 3 times and it comes true!

When is opening day?

October 20, 2009

Sorry, can’t say yet.  We need approvals from the City of Bremerton and the County Health Department.  We’ve submitted the applications and now we’re waiting.  We’ve had help and cooperation from all the functionaries we’ve encountered so far, so we have high hopes that it won’t be long.

Meanwhile, we’re buying stock and supplies, so that when we get the stamp of approval we’ll be able to make the big announcement in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, let’s have an exciting discussion about bags and other containers.  You already know that we will have many bulk commodities and very few in boxes or cans.  We will have clear plastic bags to contain your rolled oats and beans, but if you bring in your own clean containers to put them in, that’s better.  We’ll subtract the weight of the container before weighing the product.

For produce, we’ve purchased some thin cloth washable, reusable drawstring bags, which we will resell to you at cost, so that you won’t need to use more plastic bags to bring home and fill your closets.

For carrying your purchases out of the store, we sincerely hope you will bring your own reusable shopping bags.  We will have some for sale if you forgot or need more, and we will have the usual plastic carry bags if all else fails.

We hope to offer fresh, hot soup for carry-out lunch, and wonder if you would care to bring your own or buy reusable containers from us to hold it.  There are plenty of compostable carryout containers now, but no trash is better.

There is still no sign in the window, but you know where we are, and if you look through the now clean window, you can see that a store is taking shape.  We’re around more these days, setting things up, and if you come by and we’re there, you’re welcome to step inside, say hello and take a look.

Soon, now.  Really soon.