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.
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.
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.
What is Local? – Food Conspiracy defines local as grown by a farm or produced by a company located within 200 miles of the Co-op. We do not include produce grown in Mexico even though that would technically be within 200 miles.
Fresh & Farm Direct – One of the Co-op’s longtime farms, Local farm Forever Yong Farm, picks fresh and delivers to the co-op within 24 hours 2 to 3 times a week. The Co-op cooperates with local producers, for example, local Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) yellow squash from Forever Yong Farm is $1.99/lb and organic summer squash from Mexico is $1.99/lb. Despite the equal pricing to its California counterparts, local is purchased direct from the farm to the Co-op versus through a distributor meaning the farmer gets more of each dollar than if purchased through a distributor. John Rueb explains, “You aren’t paying more for the same product. You are paying more for a fresher high quality product.” In other words, locally grown tomatoes aren’t the same product as organic tomatoes grown in California and transported to Tucson.
Is Local Organically Grown? In some cases, the Co-op pays the same or more for organic, and it is the Certified Naturally Grown local, which supports selling both at the same price. In other cases, a lower margin is applied to local products to sell all products at a comparable price. Some might suggest that because the Co-op’s local produce is not Certified Organic like the imported or California grown produce, it should not be priced similar to organics. Locally grown produce sold at the Co-op is Certified Naturally Grown—a certification that our local growers choose and we require. It is a national farmer-to-farmer certification and the standards are comparable to the National Organic Standards which is more affordable, fosters local networks and knowledge sharing among farmer peers. It is all of the standards of Certified Organic but geared towards small scale farmers plus the added benefit is small farms are working with intact diverse ecosystems.
Diversity & Flavor – Another local producer Jaime de Zubeldia of Sun Apiaries suggests “our small scale results in very high quality food and lots of flavor, but it is very hands-on. To get flavor we need higher quality feed at a much higher cost, or alternatively, is much harder to source locally.” Crop diversity means unique and diverse varieties can be found in small markets that cannot be found elsewhere.
Why Buy Local? Aside from the freshness, diversity and safety of food grown locally, more of your money stays in the community. This year alone over $55,000 of local farm produce has been purchased by the Food Conspiracy. Buying local encourages smaller production and diversification of crops, keeping our topsoil rich, healthy and in place. Knowing where your food comes from enriches our mealtime experience and connection to place.
Hemp-derived CBD has recently gained a lot of attention, but there’s still a lingering cloud of uncertainty about the legal status of CBD products (tincture, topicals, etc). Hemp-derived CBD products can be shipped across state lines, to all 50 states and many countries. Businesses are having a hard time finding credit card processors that will work with them, because they are deemed high-risk. This has not stopped dozens of CBD companies popping up all over the country. A quick online search will offer many conflicting opinions on whether hemp extracts are legal to purchase in Arizona, in retail stores or online. This article is meant to be a brief overview on the legal status of CBD, and current legislation surrounding it.
An AZ state appeals court recently ruled that cannabis concentrates are not protected under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. This means that medical dispensaries throughout the state are no longer allowed to sell concentrated cannabis products, which makes up roughly 40% of medical cannabis market. The ruling makes no mention of hemp or CBD directly, but focuses entirely on cannabis extracts in concentrated forms (shatters, vapes, hashish, and edibles). While this ruling is already being challenged, it has filled the community with confusion about what this means for the future of medical cannabis and for CBD.
A Future for Hemp
In regards to hemp, Governor Doug Ducey very recently signed a law allowing a hemp pilot program to launch in Arizona in 2019. Soon hemp will be legal to grow and process into CBD extracts. In addition to CBD, hemp can be made into textiles, building materials, food products, plastic replacements, and much more! The FDA also very recently approved a CBD-based pharmaceutical drug called Epidiolex, which helps treat rare forms of epilepsy. The hemp-CBD industry is unsure of what this will mean in the long run, but CBD may now be recognized as having medical value.
On the federal level, hemp is receiving overwhelming bipartisan support. Hemp legalization is a part of the 2018 farm bill, which is currently undergoing reconciliation between the house and senate. Hopefully, within the next few months we will see sweeping progress and the start of a hemp boom in the United States. This will open the doors for more than just the CBD industry, many can benefit from the many uses of hemp!
This is by no means legal advice, and it’s always a good idea to do your own research before you buy CBD products. If you want to stay up to-date with the latest hemp legislation, visit https://hempsupporter.com/.
Zoe Rose Lambert is a Tucson native who has been working in the health and wellness industry for almost a decade. In 2017 she started Sonoran Apothecary, a website dedicated to teaching others about the hempderived CBD industry. She currently makes CBD infused topicals which are available at the Co-op, and teaches workshops about the benefits of CBD. Zoe will be teaching CBD & All Levels Yoga classes as well as CBD Edibles classes in September.
1. New Fresh Conspiracy Kitchen Summer Salads
Conspiracy Kitchen has been working hard in the kitchen this summer to revitalize our menu with fresh new offerings in the grab-and-go case and beyond. This includes our continuing our commitment to offering local and seasonal ingredients. New summer salads are Hunan Broccoli with Rice Salad, Edamame Mint Salad, Broccoli Cashew, Honey Mustard Potato, and Chicken Tarragon and Apple Salad. These salads and more will rotate in the grab-and-go case. There is a delicious and distinct flavor profile associated with each of these salads that are sure to please lunch time visitors or serve as a fine accompaniment as side dish for dinner.
2. California Rolls
Fresh California rolls are also new to our grab-and-go line up–both veggie and spicy tuna. All the fresh rolls are made in-house with organic veggies with no food coloring or additives in the pickled ginger or wasabi. Veggies include red bell pepper, carrots, sprouts, cucumber and avocado. Simple, natural and delicious made especially for you by us in the Conspiracy Kitchen. Your purchase of grab-and-go is guilt-free too as our sushi trays are made from plants too! They are a cutting edge bioplastic made by transforming the carbon in plants to lactic acid and are certified for industrial composting.
3. Fresh In-House Made Conspiracy Juice
In other fresh department news, we now make Conspiracy Juice in-house by our produce staff using only organic ingredients. We have a basic green juice recipe with kale, apple, celery, lime, etc. We have a carrot juice and ginger juice to which we added apple for an extra sweetness on top of the natural sweetness of the carrot. Lastly, the watermelon juice has been a favorite and a simple juice that people love. It is also really refreshing like an agua fresca on a hot and humid summer day. It is watermelon, fresh mint and lime. This watermelon mint juice will be available as long as the organic watermelons are available. The team then plans to add a seasonal offering following seasonal availability of produce.
CBD Yoga and Mindy & Body Classes
At the Co-op, we believe along with a healthy food, whole health comes from care and attention to mind and body. Some of the summer class offerings are by Zoe Rose Lambert of Sonoran Apothecary. Zoe is a Tucson native who has been working in the health and wellness industry for almost a decade. Zoe’s yoga and hemp derived CBD class will combine all levels relaxed-pace yoga with a hemp derived CBD tincture that students will take internally. She will also teach a CBD Edibles class where students will learn how to make CBD infused cooking oil to make their own edibles at home. The Kadampa Meditation Center will offer a class on Healing Mind & Body Buddhist nun Gen Kelsang Lingpur will explain how we can take control of our own healing by relying on the special practices taught by Buddha. Popular among locals, bread baker and Owner of Barrio Bread, Don Guerra will also teach a class on how purchasing Barrio Bread or making it at home supports a whole local ecosystem. All classes are at the Co-op’s annex building on 7th Street in Historic Fourth Avenue. Tickets for classes can be purchased online or in the store on 4th Avenue.
5. Love Local – 10% off Local Produce, Grocery and Conspiracy Kitchen Made Foods
Food Conspiracy has made the commitment long ago to support local farmers and food producers from local honey to rangeland-fed beef and organic apples. We invest in the time it takes to order directly from many local businesses and have had relationships with farmers since the day one. We also make great prepared foods with the same high quality organic ingredients you can find at the Co-op in our own kitchen. We highlight all of these offerings at the height of the local summer harvest season with discounts for everyone on all locally grown produce, grocery and Conspiracy Kitchen made foods September 5-11. Make your list and mark your calendar!
It takes a village to help small local businesses succeed. In Tucson, the Food Conspiracy Co-op has stepped up to support Local First Arizona and Tucson’s local business community with a grant from the Cooperative Community Fund. Through the Cooperative Community Fund and other community-focused initiatives, the Food Conspiracy Co-op––a member-owned organic grocery store––will help fund the Fuerza Local business accelerator program, from which the first-ever South Tucson cohort will graduate at the end of June.
According to the Food Conspiracy Co-op, the Cooperative Community Fund “is the work of a collaborative effort initiated in the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation and forty food co-ops around the country.” Throughout the year, members, shoppers, and the co-op itself donates money to the Cooperative Community Fund to raise money for nonprofits in Tucson. In February, Food Conspiracy Co-op members voted to divide the funds between three local nonprofits – including Local First Arizona.
The Cooperative Community Fund is a testament to one of the Food Conspiracy Co-op’s main principles––Concern for Community––which states that, “We [Food Conspiracy Co-op] have a special responsibility to ensure the sustainable development of our community economically, socially, and culturally.” The money that Local First Arizona receives from this grant will help fund Fuerza Local, a Local First Arizona Foundation program now serving entrepreneurs in South Tucson that provides a structured business curriculum taught by experienced, bilingual professionals. “Graduates gain access to credit at fair market rates, which enables them to strengthen their businesses, sustain their families, and rebuild their neighborhoods,” says Southern Arizona Director Mike Peel.
The Fuerza Local Business Accelerator is a six-month training program offered at no cost to underserved Hispanic business owners. During the program, entrepreneurs learn some of the 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. Fuerza Local now aims to create successful business owners in South Tucson, thus adding value to our local community and economy. “Fuerza Local” is a Spanish phrase that translates to “local strength,” referencing the idea that this program is meant to build community wealth and prosperity from the ground up. The program is graduating students in five communities across the state, now including Tucson. More than 260 business owners have already completed the program, and combined have generated more than $8.1 million in gross sales and borrowed more than $1.1 million.
Thanks to continued efforts made by the Food Conspiracy Co-op, Local First Arizona has more means to build a strong and vibrant local economy.
originally posted on the Local First Arizona blog, June 25th:
2018 Election Results Report
By John Glennon, Interim General Manager
Election results team 2018:
John Glennon, Chair
194 total votes were cast during the month of March
Board of Directors Election Results:
Guru Das Bach finished the 2018 election with the most votes and will receive a 3 year term. Laura Klass and Kevin Hendricks finished the 2018 election in a tie. The Board assigned Kevin a 3 year term and Laura a 1 year term. All three Board candidates received very strong support.
Propositions Election Results:
Bylaw 8.4: Require approval to defer owner patronage rebates—Passes
Bylaw 4.3: Reduce Board candidate application submittal requirement—Passes
Bylaw 2.4: Maintain full ownership rights—Passes
Cooperative Community Fund Election Results:
These are the top three organizations, starting with the highest vote count:
Northern Jaguar Project
Local First Arizona
Round Up Election Results:
These are the top three organizations, starting with the highest vote count:
Mariposas Sin Fronteras