The Nutrition and Education Committee’s Monthly 3-Question Survey & Report

Prepared Foods Section

The Nutrition and Education Committee (NEC) is looking for more of your input! Please, click here to go to our survey!

Each month, the NEC posts a survey in The Co-op Voice. We have recently adopted a multiple choice format to simplify both taking and tallying the surveys. Please take a few minutes of your time to take this month’s survey, so you can share your views with us and have an impact on what your Co-op sells.

November’s Survey Questions

This month, we decided to focus our survey on Prepared Foods. Did you know that our Co-op’s Prepared Food Department offers catering? YUM! Who knew that we could get our favorite, high quality prepared food with our dietary concerns addressed, all packed up, hot or cold, and ready to go for a special event? They have a regular catering menu with lots of options, a special menu for Holidays, and even a holiday dessert menu! Please go to this link to answer our prepared foods survey this month.

We recently had Dan Hurlbut, the Co-op’s Food Service Manager, join the NEC for our monthly meeting. He had a lot of great information to share. We talked about our new Food and Product Manual (FPM), how it would affect his department, how to improve on labeling in the Prepared Foods Department and throughout the store. We talked about what fats and oils are used in his department and learned that all the canola oil used in Prepared Foods at the Co-op is organic. We were glad to hear that, especially knowing that most non-organic canola oil is genetically modified. And when it was time to come up with new survey questions, we asked him what information he would like to know from you, particularly concerning Catering at the Co-op. There are a lot of great dishes that they offer. After this survey is complete and they see all your ideas, maybe they’ll have even more! If you would like to put your two cents in about what your Co-op’s Prepared Foods Department offers, we’d all love to see what you have to say!

September’s Survey Responses

In September’s survey, we were looking for information about chemicals and additives that are concerning to you in body products, cleaning supplies, and nutritional supplements. You may read the full list of responses here. Thank you to all who participated.

Fifteen individuals responded, often with generalized answers to our open-ended questions (e.g., “anything unnatural,” “all chemicals,” ”anything I can’t pronounce,” ”anything that could cause cancer,” etc.). Those things are all important to us too; we don’t want them in our products either. While working on the Food and Product Manual (FPM), we tried to cover all the chemicals and additives which we could find sound scientific studies for, suggesting them harmful in any capacity.

A few respondents gave us very detailed answers, listing many of the specific chemicals and additives that are concerning to many of us on the NEC (not to mention, to many others!). For instance, these responses:

“Sodium lauryl sulphate, anything derived from petroleum, parabens, fragrance, triclosan, tricarbon, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid retinol, oxybenzone, PEG, nanoparticles, DMDM hydantoin, coal tar, alcohol in hair and moisturizing products, estrogen disruptors, benzene, sodium benzoate, aluminum.”

“APEs, butyl glycol, ethylene glycol, monobutyl, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, EGBE or 2-Butoxyethanol, Monoethanolamine (MEA), Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), naphtha, formaldehyde, phenols, phthalates, and phosphates.”

[We’d like to add a short side note here specifically to the individual(s) who wrote these detailed responses. If you’re reading this today and you are not already on the Nutrition and Education Committee, if you are interested, we would certainly welcome your knowledge and enthusiasm.]

There are indeed some pretty scary ingredients in those responses! We don’t want any of those in our products, either! And many of us that are fortunate enough to have computers and smartphones turn to Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website and phone apps for help identifying products without those ingredients, because it’s awfully hard to remember everything on lists like those when you’re out shopping for shampoo or laundry detergent. The NEC is also considering the use of EWG’s rating system to help define which products will comply with our FPM.

Thank you so much for your participation!

Paula is a Co-Editor of the Co-op Voice. She's been an HWFC member since the eighties, when she first arrived in Albany. She is the co-founder and Director of Children at the Well Youth Storytellers. She has studied, researched, published and taught in the field of reading education, and has served as editor on a variety of projects.