Green Spotlight

Green Spotlight:  Notes From Nancy GrantThe usual advice for wise energy use includes saving gas by planning your driving route carefully to avoid backtracking.  But what if you’d like to leave your car or truck out of your errand-running loop altogether? Here are three good ideas:Shank’s mare – This old-fashioned country term means using your own two legs for travel. Whether you’re starting from home or your workplace, just put on comfy shoes and it’s right foot, left foot all the way to the co-op. If you’re new to walking outdoors, you’ll find it’s quite different from a treadmill--traffic and signals to watch for, people to chat with, birds to watch--but you can estimate that each half mile will take ten to fifteen minutes. The return trip may take a bit longer because you’ll have the added weight of whatever

Green Spotlight:  Notes From Nancy GrantIn every department at Valley Natural Foods Co-op, staff members have found many ways to use energy wisely and prevent waste, while still providing the best service and highest quality foods.Have you thought about how you could put some of their good ideas into practice at home?Did you know that the biggest energy user in your kitchen is the refrigerator/freezer?The temperature in the refrigerator compartment must be set between 36 ˚ and 38 ˚ F. In the freezer, the safe temperature range is between 0 ˚ and 5 ˚ F. That’s because the point of keeping foods cool is to prevent the growth of bacteria. Resetting the temperature controls to use less energy is not an option.Instead, check to make certain that the gaskets around the doors seal tightly. A dollar bill shut in the

Green Spotlight:  Notes from Nancy GrantCooking and serving lots of tasty foods from the deli kitchen takes great recipes and attention to the tiniest details. That includes thinking about energy use, water consumption, and ways to prevent waste.Deli manager Jill Webster says the job’s easier because she’s surrounded by helpful “green thinking” team members.Valley Natural Foods co-op general manager Susan McGaughey believes in purchasing the most energy-efficient kitchen appliances available that save money in operating expenses in the long run. Today’s co-op kitchen features large stand mixers, slicers, a high-tech convection oven, plus a ten-rack “combi” oven that can steam and bake different kinds of foods at the same time. Such multi-tasking is simple with programmable controls that help prevent energy waste.Webster also counts on her keen-eyed deli staff members to turn off equipment when it’s not needed. Webster says

Green Spotlight:  Notes from Nancy GrantTrying to figure out the exact energy-saving benefits of switching to something new can be tough if you try to go it alone. Are you using the right thing for your situation? How much money can you save over a year’s time? How can you figure the impact on the environment?When Valley Natural Foods general manager Susan McGaughey needs answers to energy questions like these she calls on the helpful folks at Dakota Energy Cooperative. Operating a grocery store presents unique energy problems. For safety, the foods and drinks in freezers and refrigerated cases must be kept at certain temperatures. Lighting within these display cases must be bright enough so shoppers can read product labels easily.Working with Dakota Energy’s Tim Dougherty, Susan examined a new idea. Would replacing the good fluorescent lights inside the cases with

Green Spotlight:  Notes from Nancy Grant Ever get frustrated peeling away two or three layers of packaging around a simple purchase? Ever toss a plastic bottle into the trash instead of the recycling bin? Do you sometimes forget to bring along your reusable bags on a shopping trip?Making new greener ideas a steady part of life does take a bit of thinking ahead. At Valley Natural Foods sustainable habits are built-in to every department.In the meat department, trims go to an independent company that uses the leftover bits to make fertilizer. In the produce department, any veggies leftover after donations to local charities go to the co-op’s on-site compost heap. In the stock rooms, empty cardboard shipping boxes go to a paper and fiber recycler. In the employee break room, a co-op worker gathers aluminum cans and plastic bottles for recycling later.The

Green Spotlight:  Notes from Nancy GrantCan a food co-op add sustainable ideas to its daily operations? Sure, the co-op encourages food producers to take the best care possible of their land and natural resources. But what about other opportunities for a “greener” approach?At Valley Natural Foods the hunt is on to find ways to take better care of the environment right here in the store.The first good idea: Replace the paper towel dispensers in the restrooms with electric hand dryers to cut down on paper waste. The second good idea: Encourage office staffers to use e-mail and other computer technology as often as possible, then print documents on paper only when absolutely necessary. Throughout the co-op, the idea is to use a little less paper, please.Simple steps like these are part of a much larger effort to put the sustainability