The Food Life

Recipes, resources and food inspiration from people and places in Kitsap County. By Kitsap Sun Web Editor Angela Dice.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to The Food Life

Archive for the ‘Grocers’ Category

More on Kitsap Food Co-op’s location announcement

Monday, June 27th, 2011
Map of the Youth Wellness Campus

Design plan for the the Youth Wellness Campus in East Bremerton. Click to see the wellness campus master plan.

I wrote an article for Kitsap Sun Sunday on Kitsap Food Co-op’s announcement of it’s future location at the old East High School campus in Bremerton, and here I wanted to offer a few more details about the project and the post-announcement conversation I had with board president Laura Moynihan.

One of the most frequent questions board members have heard in the past couple years is where the co-op would be, a question that has been difficult to answer.

From my understanding of the co-op’s situation, it’s been a sort of chicken and egg dilemma for the co-op: they need enough members and capital (which comes, in part from membership fees) to secure a location, but some people are hesitant to put a $200 fee on the line before they knew where it would go and how viable this project would be.

Conceivably, the announcement of a location gives the group an additional selling point for membership.

“Were really lucky to name a location that doesn’t require an infusion of capital,” Moynihan said.

In addition, the group has drawn some influential backers, namely Mayor Patty Lent, local architect Steve Rice, who has helped the Co-op look at potential sites, and members of the Boys & Girls club (the club’s director of special projects Stacy Dore’ was at Sunday’s meeting).

The East Bremerton campus has been conceptualized as a center for youth wellness issues. The youth wellness center, which would offer classes on nutrition and cooking and exercise, was the brainchild of former Mayor Cary Bozeman (though originally slated for Bay Vista, formerly known as Westpark). A design created by world-renowned and Bremerton-raised architect Steven Holl has three wings, one for health-monitoring (which may now include a dental center), one for cooking and gardening, and one for  play.

There will be a lot of money to raise both for the Co-op and other players on the East Bremerton campus. The Co-op is expected to cost $3 million to open. The Boys and Girls Club estimates the cost of it’s facility at $4.3 million, and the wellness center is estimated at $14 million.

“This campus makes everybody more visible,” Rice said at the meeting.

“We’re all stronger as one thing together,” he added.

Though so much is tentative, Moynihan envisions partnering with the schools and/or Boys & Girls Club on a demonstration garden, which was part of the campus’ original concepts.

The plan also included a year-round farmers market (which still is in dream-phase in Kitsap), which Moynihan said could enhance the visibility of the Co-op, and could possibly mean another partnership with the Co-op, which other area co-ops have done, Moynihan said.

One other thing of note is that this would put the co-op nearly next door to an Albertson’s. That could be an awful lot of grocer competition in one place, but Moynihan said it also could be an asset, allowing people to hop over for items they can’t find at the co-op.

On the subject of partnerships, Moynihan also said that the Co-op, when opened, wants to talk with the school district or area restaurants about procuring food for them.

The Co-op store itself has originally been planned as a 10,000 square-foot facility, with a 1920s grange-style look. Included inside may be a cafe.

The guidelines for what products will be sold still has to be determined by members. The overall philosophy, though, will put priority on purchasing foods grown and made in Kitsap then working out from there.

As Co-op vice president Kristina Kruzan said at Sunday’s meeting, “First we have to have a co-op before we know what we’re going to have in it.”

As part of Sunday’s presentation, a prepared video with words of encouragement from Lent and Bremerton School District Superintendent Flip Herndon also included some snapshots of the building and early conceptual sketches for the store:


The allure of Trader Joe’s aka what’s the big freakin’ deal?

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

 

Trader Joe's in University Place

When Hawaiian shirt-clad Trader Joe’s employees open the new Silverdale store’s doors for the first time at 8 a.m., you can bet a bottle of “Three Buck Chuck” that a line of people will be waiting.

Kitsap residents eagerly awaited its opening, filling Facebook groups with love notes, chiding newspapers for not writing more about it and gratifying Kitsap Sun reporters and bloggers who did with thousands of page views.

Elsewhere, the chain has inspired fan blogs, cookbooks and discussion groups about “TJs”.

When faced with such rampant adult enthusiasm, it awakens a journalistic tendency to question nearly everything, a tendency that, if left unchecked, can turn to mockery.

So I asked, what’s the big deal?

I hit Google and a Trader Joe’s store to attempt an honest answer.

As one Facebook fan posted on the Bring Trader Joe’s to Silverdale WA page, “I think TJs is a love it or don’t get it place.”

Place

On entering the Trader Joe’s in University Place, you’re greeted by hand-drawn signs advertising specials and new deals under thatch umbrellas consistent with its South Pacific theme.

It’s more like Cost Plus World Market than Safeway.

Employees, called “crew members” are generally friendly. On the job applications, part-time crew members are instructed to “become smitten with your customers. … Make sure customers know they are welcome and cared for.”

All the stores are like that, intended to feel laid-back, neighborhood-like, much like the company’s first store, which opened in Pasedena, Calif. in 1967. This despite having been bought out by the Albrecht family of grocers in Germany, the opening of 365 stores nationwide with profits estimated at $8.5 billion, according to industry analysts Supermarket News.

Products

But walking down the aisles, I can see that the products themselves are what set it apart from other grocery stores.

The first aisle on the left filled with organic nuts and dried fruits, including (catch my breath) green mangoes. Where else do you see that at a store outside of Hawaii?

Oh, dark chocolate almonds tossed with salt? In the basket.

A $3 six-pack of lager … can it really be worse than PBR? In the basket.

Sunflower butter and f rozen, deep fried Mac and cheese? Hold on a minute, I’ve got a budget.

It’s the kind of thing the company touts on its website as “the thrill of discovery.”

The company has cultivated a product line that includes plenty of organics, exotic ingredients and pre-made sauces and frozen products.

As one Pepperdine University marketing analyst sums it up the difference is that, “(Trader Joe’s) culture, because it involves the customers in an ongoing sense of discovery and adventure, is both unique and difficult to copy. And because it is aligned to their specific target market rather than broad differentiation built around quality and service, it is more difficult to replicate by those companies that are serving a more expansive competitive space.”

And somewhere between products and culture is the sense that shopping at Trader Joe’s is more responsible. Branded products claim to be free of artificial colors and preservatives, MSG or added trans fats. The company highlights a fair trade culture and has been responsive to customers’ requests for non-GMO foods, and a move to phase out by the end of next year seafood that doesn’t come from sustainable sources.

But, as a private company likely trying to maintain control of its relationships, it’s tight-lipped about where its products come from, making it difficult for an outside organization to track just how sustainable its buying practices are, according to Sustainable Industries magazine.

Those who lean toward knowing the exactly where the food came from would be better off sticking to local farmers markets.

Prices

But often unlike organic, fair trade products elsewhere, Trader Joe’s offers them cheaply.

The company generally purchases items directly from manufacturers, buying in bulk and doing its own repackaging mostly — by one estimate, 80 percent —under the Trader Joe’s label.

Items that in style (if not always in exact makeup) are familiar and cheaper than the original products at regular grocery stores.

Take, for example, an 8 oz. bottle of Annie’s Naturals Goddess dressing, which runs $4 to $5 at local grocery stores.  The Trader Joe’s version cost $1.99, lists nearly all of the same ingredients in the same order with slight variations in wording, such as “sea salt” vs. “salt” and “parsley, chives” vs. “spices” on the Annie’s and Trader Joe’s versions respectively.

And sometimes, that includes the brand name, too. A block of Dubliner cheese which has been cut and repackaged in plastic wrap sells for $6.49 per pound. A brand-packaged block of the same cheese retails for $12.55 per pound at Safeway.

That’s not to say everything is cheaper at Trader Joe’s. A look at six-packs of Northwest microbrews or, for example a tube of Tom’s of Maine mint toothpaste or box of Puffins cereal, are no better or slightly more than at my local grocery store.

And it’s not a place a person is likely to find an entire grocery list’s worth of goods.

According to a Fortune magazine article, “With the greater turnover on a smaller number of items, Trader Joe’s can buy large quantities and secure deep discounts” and simplify stocking.

The products regularly change, as the company puts it, “If an item doesn’t pull its weight in our stores, it goes away to gangway for something else.” But that doesn’t work against them, says Fortune, because “customers accept that Trader Joe’s has only two kinds of pudding or one kind of polenta because they trust that those few items will be very good.”

The big deal, in short, is that the stores have a consistent store brand and an ever-changing product line targeted to a middle- to upper middle-income shoppers who are socially, health- and cost-conscious.

And because of that, shoppers will be waiting Friday, ready to do their darndest to clear the shelves and stock up on cheap wine and the hundreds of other goodies that they’ll have just realized they can’t live without.


Finally Confirmed: Trader Joe’s Coming to Silverdale

Monday, November 8th, 2010

We’ve been hearing rumors about Trader Joe’s coming to Silverdale for more than a year. People in Kitsap have heard it from employees at other area Trader Joe’s. They’ve called us, and though we really, really wanted to tell people that they were right, no one from the company or the owners of the old Circuit City would confirm it as 100% fact.

We had to wait on the story, say that for now, it’s a rumor, we had no confirmation. In the meantime, fans who craved a store in Kitsap regularly commented. At least three separate Facebook groups were started: Kitsap Would Really Like a Trader Joe’s (1,397 members), Citizens of Kitsap County, WA Beg for a Trader Joe’s (874 members), Bring Trader Joe’s to Silverdale, WA (2,341 members)

Our newsroom ran into a similar issue when there were rumors that a new Town and Country or Uwajimaya would go into the old JC Penny’s building in downtown Bremerton. Those were just rumors too as far as we know.

That’s the tough thing about the newspaper business. We hear rumors then we have to wait, and wait, and wait. It can be frustrating to say the least.

Well, today we wait no longer, on the Trader Joe’s front at least. According to business reporter Rachel Pritchett Trader Joe lovers go ahead and rejoice. It’s been confirmed. They’ve even filed permits with the county.

Now on to the next local food rumor. What have you heard? And while we’re at it, what is it about Trader Joe’s that’s inspired such fandom? It can’t just be the two-buck (now three-buck) Chuck.


Bremerton’s FreshLocal Celebrates Its First Anniversary Next Week

Monday, November 8th, 2010

FreshLocal's Jean Schanen

[Note: The date of the anniversary party was initially incorrect. It has been corrected.]

Operating a grocery store for the past year has been a learning experience, said FreshLocal‘s Jean Schanen.

When the store opened in downtown Bremerton last November, it focused on Kitsap-grown produce, organic bulk products and soup made from scratch.

A year later, Kitsap-grown produce can still be found in bins at the back of the store, but so too can some produce from other Pacific Northwest farms.

They also carry more prepared products, such as locally made salsas and nuts as well as other sauces and boxed pastas.

“We’ve expanded our stock tremendously,” Schanen said.

They’ve included some requests from customers and from the growing number of connections Schanen has made in the local food community.

Though the store originally offered a few non-food items, they’re focusing on now on food.

Soon, they’ll add more meat. They’ll bring in another freezer next week to hold a shipment of lamb from the Willamette Valley. They currently also offer beef from Chimacum and pork raised in Kitsap.

The soup, two kinds each day, also still is there, cooked in the commercial kitchen across the street.

Schanen makes them herself, drawing from her experience running “Beautiful Soup” in the early ’90s. She took organic vegetables from her Wisconsin farm and made hundreds of kinds soups.

And FreshLocal plans to stay in Bremerton.

“Many people think we’re crazy for being downtown,” Schanen said. But there’s a need, she said, shown by the several hundred people who’ve supported the store.

She hopes to continue building relationships with local growers and food makers.

“We’re really excited that we’re supporting 30 other small, independent local businesses,” and keeping consumers’ dollars in the community, she said.

Going into a new year, FreshLocal will look at expanding hours, possibly staying open later to catch ferry commuters and opening on Mondays.

Schanen hopes to encourage and find more urban farmers.

They also plan to try out offering carryout meals. They’ll start with a couple types for lunches, but Schanen would like to take a note from the Eat Local company in Seattle and offer frozen, take-home dinners. Schanen said she’s been experimenting with a baked mac-and-cheese recipe that uses Beecher’s cheese.

This Next week, they’re preparing to celebrate their first anniversary. FreshLocal will host a party starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. Local producers will be there as will folk musicians Hank and Claire.


Update on the Kitsap Food-Co-Op

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Kitsap Community Food Co-op organizers have wrapped up this year’s fairs and fundraisers and appearances at community events and farmers markets and turned toward planning for next year.

For the past two years, co-op organizers have worked to open a member-owned grocery store with a focus on organic and sustainable foods.

I talked with Marit Bockelie from the Kitsap Community Food Co-Op Welcome.html this week to get a year-end update on the co-op’s progress.

They’re still perhaps two to three years from opening the store, Bockelie said.

“It’s a long and slow process … but we’re doing it right and putting a lot of thought into it,” she said.

They’ve decided that to be sustainable, the co-op store needs to be a full-service, 10,000 square-foot grocery store. The Kitsap Food Co-op did not want to disclose proposed locations.*

And they’re still working to get more members to ensure it will happen. Money from memberships will help the co-op have enough capital to open the store.

So far, they have 174 members. They hope to have 200 members by the end of the year.

They’ve also been pursuing grants and raising funds at events, such as fruit deliveries and the recent fall fair, in which they raised about $7,000. They also plan to start a member loan drive, offering something similar to certificates of deposit to raise initial operating funds, Bockelie said.

For more information and updates on the Co-op, visit their website at kitsapfoodcoop.org.

*Note to readers: This post previously stated possible cities, but those were tentative and the Co-op called after seeing the post and said it was not yet willing to disclose the areas they were looking at.


Bremerton Local Foods Grocer to Have an Open House

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The promised FreshLocal grocery store in downtown Bremerton says they’ll really open soon and will host an open house  Nov. 6 timed with the First Friday artwalk.

They’re opening a little later than what was expected when I wrote about them in September. They apparently were waiting for  approvals from the City of Bremerton and the County Health Department, which they now have. They now have to finish installing equipment and purchase a business license.


Kitsap Food Co-op Hosts Public Meeting

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I saw that Kitsap Food Co-op, group was hosting another public meeting about their efforts this Saturday (Feb. 21), and thought it would be a good time to catch up with how they’re doing.

The group has been working for more than a year to lay the groundwork for a community-supported and member-owned grocery store that would specialize in locally grown, natural and organic foods.

They’ve been fundraising and doing some basic market analysis since that time, and they are currently on the cusp of incorporating, said Laura Moynihan, one of the co-op organizers. Incorporation will allow them to start signing up members and collecting membership fees to help fund further progress.

They’ve decided memberships will be structured as an annual fee system —  as opposed to a large, one-time fee —  where members will get discounts and a profit refund, similar to the way REI sets up its member dividends.

The next step will be to do a feasibility study that will help them focus on where would be the smartest place to build, among other things.

“We’re still a ways off from having a physical building,” Moynihan said.

But it’s still a good time to try and start the co-op, despite the economic downturn, she said.

They may, for example, be able to take advantage of newly affordable real estate. And though the desire to save money may drive shoppers to discount grocers like Wal-Mart, having an organization that supports local foods in a down economy becomes additionally important, Moynihan said.

“When you shop at a food co-op, when you use local producers, farmers, craftspeople who shop local for feed and seed and other products,” she said. “That’s when the community really gets to hold on to its money” rather than having those dollars go to Arkansas or China.

Food Co-op members will talk more about the economy’s effect on the co-op at Saturday’s meeting.

The meeting will be from 3 to 5 p.m. at Seaside Church in Bremerton, near Evergreen Rotary Park. They’ll be talking about the economy as well as hold a silent auction for items, such as a quilt, free tree-trimming, haircut, yoga classes and other services.


The ULTIMATE Thanksgiving Cooking De-Stresser

Friday, November 21st, 2008

you can go out and battle the lines this weekend at the grocery stores, but if you really, really want to take the stress out of shopping AND cooking on turkey day, but don’t mind putting down a little cash, area grocers offer some take-home solutions. Actually, some of them look cheaper than making it yourself, though you may have to fill in a few sides.

I checked in with the stores and got some info on prices and content for you. I didn’t call every single store, so you should probably check ahead

DEADLINE ALERT: If you’re in Poulsbo or just want a Central Market meal, you have until Saturday to order one of these dinners. Details below. Safeway’s orders have already started filling up, so ordering earlier would be better.

ALBERTSONS
You can order through the day before Thanksgiving, but the deli needs time to thaw a turkey so don’t expect to call Thursday morning. They also have ham and rib dinners, but I think that’s just sacrilege.

Classic Turkey Dinner – $44.99
This includes a 12-pound turkey, 2.5 pounds stuffing, 3 pounds mahsed potatoes and 30 ounces of gravy.

Ultimate Turkey Dinner – $59.99

You get all that comes in the classic turkey dinner plus 2.5 pounds green been casserole, cranberry sauce and a pumpkin pie.

CENTRAL MARKET
I knew someone who did this one year and said the food was fantastic. At $100 bucks, it should be, though when you think about it, it comes out to about $12.50 per person and Central Market usually does a pretty good job with their prepared foods.

Dinner for eight is $99.99, which includes a 12-14 pound turkey, 2 quarts each of stuffing, mashed poatoes, yams and green beean casserole, cranberry sauce and gravy. (I may have missed something because my notes became illegible at this point as I started daydreaming about and drooling over all that food.)

The latest they’ll take orders is on Saturday. No more orders after Saturday.

DREAM DINNERS POULSBO

So this isn’t as free-wheeling as just ordering the whole thing via phone, but it may make you feel better about at least helping to prepare the food. If you’ve never heard of the Dream Dinners in Poulsbo , they’re a company that puts together the ingredients and instructions and you come in and do up the rest in freezer-friendly packets. You reheat the night or day you want to eat it.

They offer a Holiday Side Station option that’ll serve 6 modest portions for $36.45 (you could always double it). It includes a savory stuffing with sausage and pecans, a green bean casserole, ) home styled mashed potatoes with rich gravy and buttermilk biscuits.

The one catch is that when you set up a Dream Dinners thing, you have to commit to buying and make enough dinners for 36 servings. They don’t all have to be the holiday sides, you can make a bunch of different dinners for beyond Thanksgiving.

You also have to sign up for a session to make it and the only options before Thanksgiving are at 5 p.m. tonight and 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday.

FRED MEYER

The traditional dinner serves six to eight people. It’s $39.99 for a 12-pound turkey, 2.5 pounds of mashed potatoes, two pounds of stuffing, gravy, a green been casserole and an apple or pumpkin pie.

For $20 more ($59.99) you can up the sides to five pounds of mashed potatoes, four pounds of stuffing, more gravy and 3.5 pounds of green beans and a big pie.

They also offer spiral ham. But again: turkey.

SAFEWAY
Call the deli to order. I read a few online reviews of the Safeway dinners, and people said it was so-so, but it’s pretty inexpensive and the stress savings might be worth it. Each store has a limited number of dinners they make, so I would order soon. The Port Orchard store said they only had about 10-12 order open.

Dinner is $39.99 for an 8-12 pound turkey, two pounds of stuffing, two pounds of mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, a dozen diner rolls and an 8-inch pumpkin pie.

TOWN AND COUNTRY
The Bainbridge store said they’re not doing turkeys this year, but they will have all sides available in the deli case, and they’ll be open on Thanksgiving Day until 3 p.m. They’ll have hot case dinners, just not turkeys.

Note: If you’re still wanting recipes out of me, they’re coming. I’m going to focus mostly on sides, and I’ll make a little video about how to prepare a bird, though I’ll be demonstrating on a chicken.


Buy One, Get One Free Chuck Roast Deal

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Just in time for stew season, a friend of mine told me to today that QFC (Bremerton, Belfair and Port Orchard) stores are running a buy one, get one free chuck roast special. Apparently it’s going to run through Tuesday.

For anyone who ends up getting any, or if you have stew meat ready for the making, I’m going to have a post coming later this week (probably on Wednesday) on a little stew experiment. The experiement turned out pretty well, and it didn’t explode or anything! But that’s all I’ll tell you for now. Gotta get you coming back …


Tasting Before You Try in Poulsbo

Monday, October 27th, 2008

I’m at the stage in my cooking studies that I can read a recipe and know what most of the ingredients and techniques they’re talking about are. I know the trick to chopping an onion superfast (I’ll show you a video of it soon).

But there’s still a lot I don’t know, which is why I’ve been searching for local cooking classes.

Lo and behold, I came across Central Market’s food demonstrations  from its Culinary Resource Center, which bills itself as “Inspiring the Cook in You.”

I’m a Bremertonian, and shopping regularly at Central Market isn’t something I do regularly. So, I ended up with visions of a Julia Child-esque figure in the middle of the produce section chopping and mashing away dropping all the secret cooking knowledge I could handle.

Hubbard SquashSaturday’s demonstration was on an Autumn Squash Lasagna, and I just happened to have bags full of Hubbard and pumpkin squash from my in-laws.

When I got to the market, I was a little disappointed at first when I realized that it wasn’t an in-store cooking class. What happens is a group of cooks come in early in the morning and whip up the recipe of the day. Shoppers get tastes of the food and a recipe card so they can get all the ingredients before they go home.

As I took a warm, savory bite, it hit me: I don’t have to make a whole pan of lasagna just to figure out what this recipe tastes like.  I’ve had some not-so-happy recipe accidents in the past, so being able to taste something beforehand can save days’ worth of suffering taste buds.

It also turns out that the ladies at the resource center are happy to answer questions and give tips, such as adding a little chicken broth to moisten up the squash for the lasagna.

I bought everything and made it Sunday night. See my results:


Available on Kindle

About This Blog

The Food Life covers people, place and events involved in the food community on the Kitsap Peninsula and surrounding areas.
Written by Angela Dice. You can contact me at angela [at] angeladice.com.

Follow With RSS

Archives