Your health is our top priority. And we’re here to best serve you.
Our store hours are from 7am-9pm every day.
To keep up with the latest updates, visit our Facebook page.
Your health is our top priority. And we’re here to best serve you.
Our store hours are from 7am-9pm every day.
To keep up with the latest updates, visit our Facebook page.
Here we are, halfway through the year and six months sinceI began focusing on going zero waste, or attempting to. If you remember, I mentioned in my previous entry how I prefer to call my New Year resolutions intentions rather than resolutions. Well, I have found that attempting to produce zero waste, or a less plastic lifestyle, really becomes an intention and an act of accountability. One needs to approach zero waste with serious intention and be willing to make the subtle changes in lifestyle necessary to make it a habit. It is not effective to declare that you reject single use plastics and then order take-out with your plastic container, fork, knife and cup.
Back in April, Food Conspiracy hosted a Zero Waste Workshop with Claire Kaufman from Zerology, and she spoke about how to reach a zero waste lifestyle. Claire gave us pointers on how to begin and maintain this practice. We are all familiar with the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Claire gave us two more Rs: Refuse and Repurpose.
Number one, Refuse. Refuse the plastic bag, the straw, the single use item. Don’t even go there, change your habits and refuse to use. Number two, Repurpose. Find another use for it or have it mended or repaired. I’m already seeing sites on social media outlets that talk about going back to the ways of our grandmothers. Instead of throwing the torn shirt away, have it mended, get as much life out of it as possible. Make a tote bag from those old jeans. This may be way out of the ballpark for some of us, but it helps us to look at things from a different perspective and think about how we can reduce the items we are sending to the landfill. How about a braided bath mat made from that old, ratty-edged bath towel?
Another tip Claire gave us was to begin logging the plastic items we use or purchase daily on our phone or tablet. This forces us to focus on what we’re actually doing and helps us break some of those habits we are unaware of. “Oh my, I used 12 pieces of plastic today. Five produce bags, a coffee cup, etc.” And it goes on and on. We need to refocus and change those habits about which we’ve never given a second thought.
So my recommendation? Be focused and cognisant of what you are doing. If you are really concerned about changing your habits and helping the environment, be intent on changing them one action at a time.
Food Conspiracy Co-op
5 Year Strategic Plan
Approved November 28, 2018
We adhere to the internationally recognized Rochdale principles.
We promote whole, natural, organic and chemical-free products with minimal packaging.
We value openness, honesty, and integrity in our dealings with each other and the community.
We seek, through cooperative effort, to provide a humane, fulfilling environment in which to work and shop.
We support social justice, human and animal rights, diversity and peaceful solutions.
We strive for a sustainable, healthy ecology, through use of clean renewable resources.
The Food Conspiracy is committed to providing the highest quality natural and organic foods and related products to our members and the greater Tucson community.
The Food Conspiracy is also committed to expanding the selection of organic produce and products available in the store, and to network with and support organic producers and suppliers.
The Food Conspiracy promotes the health and well-being of our members and our community through education, information, service and outreach on food-related, ecological, sustainability, and cooperative movement issues.
The Food Conspiracy cooperates with and supports the work of other non-profit organizations working on issues that are consistent with cooperative principles and the Food Conspiracy’s stated values.
The Food Conspiracy Co-op (FCC) is the place to go for a variety of organic grab-and-go foods in the central city, offering healthy food and prepared meals. FCC production is at maximum capacity and supplying our branded goods, well known for health and sustainability to various retail outlets. We are also a premier distribution site for local food producers and maximize the usage of our commissary.
FCC is financially stable with the capacity to support dynamic business ventures, develop numerous income streams and consider other opportunities as they arise. We also contribute in a meaningful way to long-term food security in our region, acting as a resource for food producers adapting to climate change and supporting innovative cooperative models of food production.
The Food Conspiracy Co-op fully meets all legal obligations through bylaws and policies that are complete, legally sound and relevant to empower board work. Our board of directors is fully staffed and diverse, and our owner base is ever-expanding. Both are actively engaged, empowering the board and our owners to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. FCC staff is happy and fulfilled in their work. Our store is an anchor for the community as an educational center and is an important piece of Tucson’s identity.
FCC maintains maximum agility and responsiveness to meet changing customer and community needs, while still being deliberative and careful with our decisions. We have a tangible definition of what it means to be socially responsible and to further social justice. Our actual practice of these values is an example to the community, providing inspiration for other organizations. We fully collaborate with other community organizations, learning from them and maximizing resources. Together we identify needs and work effectively to fulfill those needs.
Goals and Strategies
Increase production of grab and go products and FCC branded goods by at least 25% and increase the capacity and production of our kitchen by at least 25%.
Complete a full review and revision of FCC bylaws, policies and processes, focusing on high-priority work first.
Initiate an organization-wide review and update of FCC documentation processes to better support the work of the Board and Operations, while ensuring access and transparency.
Revise Board of Directors application, nomination, election and on-boarding processes to maintain a full and diverse Board of Directors and increase owner engagement and voting by at least 25%.
Develop and execute a viable expansion plan that prioritizes assessment and utilization of existing assets and resources, while increasing our capacity to recognize and evaluate a wide range of expansion possibilities.
Always remain faithful and attentive to FCC values and mission, driven by the best interests of an engaged ownership, as we make decisions and pursue our goals.
Effectively utilize resources from the Board, Staff and outside sources to accomplish our goals through effective collaboration.
Periodically review and revise FCC bylaws, policies and processes to better serve Owner’s needs, enhance Board function, support Operations and assure fulfillment of all Board responsibilities.
Continuing the list of the top 10 single use plastics from Nick Super:
6. Plastic take out containers: not all take out containers are recyclable, especially the black ones. Most recyclable plastic has to be clear or opaque. Black plastic doesn’t always get recycled because of the optical scanners used in some facilities. This one seems the most difficult from the ten to me. Because when eating out you don’t usually have an option of take out containers, unless you’re going to bring your own.
7. Plastic wrap. As with the plastic bags, plastic wrap cannot be recycled. The solution: use your own lided containers, or there are several eco wraps now available, some made with bees wax, etc and are reusable for several uses.
8. Plastic cutlery. Like the straw, a single use item that can be easily done away with. Some countys are starting to ban all single use items like cutlery, cups and plates. Some are compostable like the ones used at the co-op. Solution: get yourself a handy spork like I did.
9. Plastic Drink Cups. Same as the coffee cup, a wasteful single use item. Solution: use reusable cups, and bottles. I use my Hydro Flask for coffee, tea, water, hot or cold. Whether I’m at the co-op or Circle K.
10. Six Pack Rings. Again, an item we don’t have many options with other than not buying items packaged this way. Though some companies are looking into biodegradable versions. My suggestion with these is to always cut them up, so if they do end up out in the world, birds and animals aren’t getting tangled up in them.
Well, that’s the list. How easily can you do away with, or change your habits of your plastic usage? Most of this information I borrowed from www.waterdocs.ca but if you Google the top 5,7, or 10 single use plastics, you end up with very similar lists. It’s all about doing your individual part in what I’m going into 2019 with, by being more Earth Mindful.
Last time I was talking about single use plastics. Did you give it some thought about the ones you use? Well, here’s a list of the top 10 single use plastics that you can give up today. Think about how often you use them, and how you dispose of them. Do you try to recycle them, or are you sending them off to the landfill?
1. The plastic straw. Of course! Today that’s the hot item. Bars and restaurants have started banning them or only having them available upon request. There are reusable straws now on the market, stainless steel, glass, even bamboo. And the Co-op has them for sale too.
2. The plastic water bottle. Approximately 50 billion water bottles are used each year in the U.S. while only an estimated 23 percent get recycled. This means 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills or littered. Solution: use a reusable water bottle.
3. Coffee cups with plastic lids. Most coffee cups have an oil based plastic lining that can’t be recycled, so they end up in the landfill. If it is a paper or compostable cup, you still have the lid to deal with. Solution: again, a reusable cup or thermos. There are even collapsible cups that you can throw into your purse, backpack, or briefcase.
4. Plastic bags. The co-op stopped using plastic grocery bags about 7 years ago as have several other stores, but they’re still out there. Solution: carry your own reusable bag. Nearly everyone has them, but how many times do you forget them in your trunk. Make it a habit! Going shopping=grocery bag!
5. Plastic bags for produce. This is a hard one to break because it’s so ingrained in our every day life. Grab a bag for your onions and lettuce. And often produce gets sprayed down so you reach for the plastic so everything doesn’t get wet. There is a solution though: reusable linen or net produce bags, or ask for paper bags if available. Some produce departments have the green compostable plastic bags and those are a good option. You can use them again for your own trash. Even if it ends up in the landfill, you know it will eventually breakdown.
A note here about plastic bags. Plastic department store bags, black trash bags, kitchen trash bags, etc. Keep these out of your recycling bin! They jam up the machinery at the recycling plant. So if you have a trash can in your kitchen for recycling items, don’t line that can with a plastic bag and toss it all out together into your blue tote. Keep all soft plastic out of your blue recycling container. That’s bags, plastic wrap, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, etc. A plastic bag full of recycled items will most likely go to the landfill.
The next top 5, to be continued.
Welcome back to Zero Waste with Nick. So, as I stated in the previous post/blog, one of the things I already do is keep my Hydro Flask handy to cut down on single cup use. Starting now, I want to expand that a bit. Since I work at the Food Conspiracy Co-op, I eat a lot of my meals from our hot bar. So every day it’s another single use paper plate, box, or soup cup. Yes, they’re compostable but why make the waste if I don’t have to? So, I now have a reusable plate, a mug for soup and stews, and my trusty spork which I’ve been using for a few years now.
You know, there are approximately 261 work days in a year. Okay, I’m not eating from the hot bar that many days, given days I bring my lunch, or go out for something different, but most the time I do. So, maybe 200 of the 261 to just pick a number? That’s 200 single use items I throw away every year. If I change that habit that’s 200 items that don’t have to go an extra step into the landfill, compost or the recycling bin. Imagine if four other employees did the same thing, that’d be 1,000 some pieces not being thrown away. And taking it a step further, maybe saving the Co-op a little bit by not having to order as much paper goods. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but the little things add up.
How about you? Do you work in an office or work place where you can bring your own plate? Do you drive through the local coffee joint every morning on your way to work and get a single use cup? Most places give you a discount when you bring your reusable cup. Take note this week, how many single use items you use. Use it once and throw it away. It’s something we do without even thinking about it. It’s become our norm. Can you start to change that pattern? Take a new awareness of your normal activity? Give it a try.
Well, as we begin a new year, we all come to that task of new year resolutions, or as I prefer to call, intentions. One big intention I have for 2019 is to be more aware and responsible regarding the amount of plastic I buy and how much waste I produce.
This isn’t a new idea for me. I already try to be as earth conscious as I can. After all, I have my Hydro Flask that I carry with me to cut down on single use coffee cups and water bottles. And I try to buy products that are packaged in glass instead of plastic, and the tp wrapped in paper instead of plastic wrap. But it’s not always that easy is it? And when you think about it, recycle, reduce, reuse, can take some work to get it right, and to be diligent. And when I recycle, am I doing that correctly as well?
So, for 2019 my ‘intention’ is to be more conscientious about what I, myself am doing toward making the planet cleaner. And, I thought I’d share my thoughts, ideas, and actions in blog form, to hopefully start that ripple effect to those who have the same concern. I use the term ripple effect because I think that’s what is needed. To share ideas and knowledge and hopefully encourage others to become more discerning on the whole plastic and waste issue. I think a lot of people don’t think they can make a difference. They throw their recycling in the blue container and roll it out to the curb once a week, and they’re done. They’ve done their part. But there’s a lot more to it.
Join me as I start this journey. I’m not sure how it will progress, or for how long. But I’m going to take it a step at a time. I also encourage you to add your comments, perhaps share tips that you do in your household, and we can become earth protectors together.
Michael DeSantis, President, Food Conspiracy Co-op Board of Directors
The Food Conspiracy Board of Directors is excited to announce that our Annual General Meeting will be held at Borderland’s Brewing Company on Saturday March 2nd, 2019. We will enjoy a beautiful dinner made from scratch with local ingredients from the Conspiracy Kitchen, as well as local craft beer served by Borderlands. This year we have something more for the Co-op kiddos. We are partnering with Playformance to offer a fun and engaging program during the business meeting portion of this year’s event. Our 2019 Annual Meeting will be a momentous milestone for Food Conspiracy as we unveil to you our new 5-Year Strategic Plan (read it on page 6) and the initial concept plans for our East Entrance Expansion Project.
Your Board of Directors finished another strong cycle of work in our November Board Meeting by approving Food Conspiracy’s 5-Year Strategic Plan, a project we have been working on for over a year. Please take some time to read it, paying special attention to our exciting Vision Statement. This plan honors our long history, powerful mission and strong community. With this vision, we look forward to Food Conspiracy’s bright future.
Considering owner input and all we had learned, about a year ago the Board of Directors took a thoughtful look at our expansion plans and set out in a new direction. Here is the Board approved statement that sums up that new direction: “The board has no plan to continue evaluating relocation options, but will continue exploring a wide range of expansion possibilities while better utilizing existing resources.” Consistent with that statement, we are happy to announce that we have begun the conceptual design of an improvement owners have been requesting for years – an east entrance to our store along with additional parking. It’s too early to provide details, but we plan to integrate our gardens and create outside café seating into the design and will have more information along with architectural renderings to share at our Annual Meeting in March.
This year, we plan to build on the momentum we generated at last year’s Annual General Meeting, and look forward to your input. Personally, the most meaningful statistic from last year’s election cycle was related to the three propositions we presented to owners. While two propositions received strong 2 to 1 support, one stood out with 3.5 to 1 support. It was the proposition addressing a potential barrier to running for a seat on the FCC Board of Directors. I deeply value our Co-op’s direct, highly functional democracy where all voices are heard. It has always been a beacon of light for me, even when I’m disheartened by world events. This year we will present another set of propositions that will open the door even wider for FCC owners who might like to serve on the Board of Directors. We are also continuing to review and revise our election processes to increase convenience and accuracy. We want your voice to be heard!
Join us for an exciting celebration of our Co-op: engage in discussions with your board members, hear from new board candidates running for election, learn and discuss our proposed bylaws changes that will be on the ballot, see our exciting east entrance concept drawings, and get to know your Co-op staff.
John Glennon, General Manager
As I reflect on our theme for the 2019 Annual Meeting – Yes, We Are Open! – I am struck by how imperative the gesture of yes and the concept of openness are to our work at Food Conspiracy. Of course “yes” is the answer we want to hear when we ask if a product is available but for me our collective disposition to yes goes deeper than that by residing at the level of our cooperative culture. I believe the fluidity and movement of possibilities that the gesture of “yes” produces has the power to emanate throughout the space of our Co-op, extending into the very fabric of the aesthetic mood of our store. This tone setting gesture is then reflected in our interactions and relationships at all levels of our cooperation, whether in our Wellness Department, at the checkout lane, in a board meeting, or working with our local producers. I have committed my work as General Manager to instilling this culture of “yes” at Food Conspiracy every day, and I can share with you first hand that I’ve seen a blossoming of new pathways toward success with this approach.
The concept of openness is similar to the gesture of “yes” in that openness perpetuates potential. When our Co-op opens for business, we are opening to the potential of the day by striving to meet the needs of our owners and customers while facilitating health, wellness, sustainability and joy with the products we stock and the vibes of our store. However, the concept of openness as it relates to this year’s Annual Meeting has a very specific meaning. For nearly half a century, you – our wonderful owners and customers – have supported your Co-op by parking behind the store and walking around to our front door. At this year’s annual meeting we plan to present to you our openness to a vision: a vision to alleviate “the walk”, a vision to dramatically increase the convenience of shopping at our store, a vision to open new doors, a vision of an east entrance. The preliminary plan is to create an east entrance with cafe seating as you approach the new door with increased parking throughout our properties. We plan to integrate creative edible gardens throughout the design that will make for a truly beautiful parking and entrance concept.
We are saying yes and opening new doors! Please be sure to come to our annual meeting on Saturday March 2, 2019 to celebrate with us and hear all about our plans for new successes at Food Conspiracy.
You might notice some awesome changes in our store culminating in January with our board-approved grab-and-go expansion project. In this project, we are replacing our sandwich bar with a new refrigerated case and a new island cheese case. The plan is to expand our back-of-house kitchen and produce production with new grab-and-go items and quick lunch/dinner solutions as well as a unique cheese and charcuterie set. We gave the sandwich bar its fair shot, but the numbers were not supporting it moving forward. After unanimous support from the Co-op staff and board for the grab-and-go expansion, I am extremely confident that these changes will be a huge win for our store.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for our grab- and-go expansion or for anything else in the store please let me know. Thank you!
Good things are happening in the little adobe on Simpson Street in Barrio Viejo. We caught up with Mike Peel, Southern Arizona Director at Local First Arizona to learn more about the growing partnership between Local First Arizona and LeadLocal and all that it brings to the Old Pueblo.
FC: Local First Arizona and LeadLocal have a new budding partnership, tell us more.
Mike: A new partnership between Local First Arizona (LFA) and LeadLocal is focused on the creation of community development efforts for businesses and nonprofits in Southern Arizona. Joint opportunities include local leadership development and ongoing networking and professional trainings to develop social entrepreneurship projects and hone local innovation. LFA’s headquarters for Southern Arizona is now located downtown at LeadLocal in the historic Barrio Viejo neighborhood, where locally-owned businesses and budding entrepreneurs will be able to connect more easily to the events and trainings being offered by this dynamic partnership. The new downtown location for LFA in Southern Arizona lends itself to increased collaboration with community partners, from new businesses to nonprofits and other partners alike.
FC: What kinds of things can we expect from this new partnership?
Mike: Local First Arizona and LeadLocal are launching the Southern Arizona Localism and Sustainability Alliance (SALSA), a new initiative comprised of a signature event and training series for growing prosperity in the Tucson community, bringing together visionary leaders from around Arizona. LeadLocal, a think, learn, and DO tank, provides workshops and professional learning opportunities to expand possibilities for collaboration and community building in Tucson. SALSA’s inaugural signature event, Discover Local Day, connects community members of all ages to learn how to engage in localism through unique and exciting micro-workshops focused on topics related to sustainability, local food and more, and will be the kick-off event of this year’s TENWEST Festival.
FC: What is Discover Local Day? That sounds like something our readers would be interested in. Tell us more…
Mike: Discover Local Day will offer Tucsonans the opportunity to connect with local organizations through innovative hands-on activities that are educational as well as fun. Through these micro-workshop experiences, Discover Local attendees will be able to experience the power of Tucson’s local organizations. From water harvesting and earth works to compassionate leadership, desert gardening and urban arts culture, Discover Local Day will highlight ways to get involved with diverse organizations that strengthen the Tucson economy. The main goal is to connect the community to actions on localism and sustainability and understanding how the choices you make and the interactions you have each day affect the entire Tucson ecosystem. The event is Sunday, October 14th with details forthcoming about the workshop schedule, along with many other surprising features.
FC: What else is Local First up to with other partnerships?
Mike: New community programs launched in Southern Arizona by Local First Arizona this year include the Fuerza Local program and SCALE UP program. Fuerza Local, a Local First Arizona Foundation (the sister nonprofit organization to our business membership) program with the YWCA is now serving entrepreneurs in South Tucson, is a six-month training program offered at no cost to underserved Hispanic business owners and provides a structured business curriculum taught by experienced, bilingual professionals. During the program, entrepreneurs learn fundamentals to launch or develop their business, creating a firm foundation for their goals. Lessons on accounting, social media, marketing, and many others are taught completely in Spanish by industry professionals and experts. Food Conspiracy Co-op owners voted to fund three local nonprofits – including this program – through the Cooperative Community Fund. With the expansion of Fuerza Local in Tucson, the program is adding significant value to our local community.
FC: You mentioned SCALE UP, what is this new initiative about and what does SCALE UP stand for?
Mike: SCALE UP stands for Sustainable Communities Accessing Lending and Expertise Upon Performance, a Local First Arizona Foundation program that saves businesses money by lowering utility costs through sustainable business practices. Participating businesses develop and implement sustainability plans and, in addition to saving money, are able to access exclusive benefits. Participating businesses are issued a workbook that guides them in creating a plan to achieve at least a 10% reduction in one of four categories: energy use, water use, waste reduction, or transportation emissions. To help meet their sustainability goals, participating businesses may qualify for a short-term loan to invest in energy- and water-saving or other sustainability improvements from program partner and nonprofit lender Community Investment Corporation (CIC). Through CIC’s Social Impact Lending initiative, participating businesses will have access to loans between $500 and $10,000 at below-market interest rates from 3 to 5% as part of a larger revolving loan fund. CIC has also committed $10,000 in grant funding to incentivize SCALE UP business participants to invest in their sustainability plans. CIC will pair grants of up to 10% of the project costs with its low-interest loans exclusively for participants of the SCALE UP program.
This article first appeared as a feature of the Tucson Gems pieces in the Conspiracy News summer issue 2018. Discover Local is partnered with the Museum of Art Second SundAZe Family Day @ TMA on Sunday, October 14 for a day of exploration and learning as you Discover Local @ TMA – a TENWEST Festival event. Take part in hands-on activities that will immerse you in all things Tucson!
Local First Arizona Southern Arizona and LeadLocal can be reached at their joint headquarters, the “local adobe,” at 196 W. Simpson Street. For more information about Local First Arizona, visit www.localfirstaz.com. For more information about LeadLocal, visit
Contact Michael Peel, Southern Arizona Director, Local First Arizona, at [email protected] for more information and to get involved.