Sunday, November 19, 2006

assignment #4

Our proposal is going to center around creating a Non-Profit arm for the cooperative. It will probably be related to education within the community, but this is still up in the air... We plan to research first by looking into what other coops have done already, then we plan to talk to local attorneys to find out more about 501(c)3's and the processes to do one, plus we plan to some of our own reading and research to help us gain a better understanding of what they can do....
Adding a non-profit arm will a be tremendous amount of time and work but is probably not a bad idea for a food coop like People's, that is one of the Davids amongst the now present Goliaths of the natural food industry. Either adding a non-profit arm, or broadening their products and merchandise to become more of a profitable and competitive business in the ever expanding natural food industry, especially in a city like Portland with a significant amount of Natural food stores to choose from.We have our project pretty nicely divided up in to four parts for the four members of our group.
Preliminary work and research shows that there is a lot of time, effort and even some capital that goes into adding a non-profit arm to an existing business, and there is even more time and research involved in finding out how to go about it, or even people to possibly help. I expect that our group will significantly provide the framework for adding a non-profit arm to the business, and a number of resources to make it possible, which we will present to People's board members in the form of a powerpoint presentation.
My focus for the group project is predominantly in helping to search for what resources are available to assist in the process of establishing and running a 501(c)3, as well as looking for pro-bono lawyers in Portland, and or students from Lewis and Clark that would be willing to help, or might need to help for some community hours towards their graduation, much like we are doing with this capstone class. I am also going to be organizing the powerpoint presentation, and most likely doing a majority of the presenting.
I think this inquiry relates to the University Studies Goals in every way. It has provided a definite opportunity to apply some aspects of my college education to a real life situation. I mean, I am definitely not going to be a business consultant of any sort, but it definitely encapsulates the University studies goals in a mulitude of ways. Having to work with a real community partner, and doing work and research that will acutally be used and is for more than yourself or your teacher is gratifying.And it has certainly been another test of strength in working with a team and having to collaborate with people's with dilfferent educational backgrounds, ways of doing things, and schedules. This class has in very much so been the culmination of College experience. If I could do one thing differently I wou have taken it by itself in a term rather than squeezing it in with other classes in an attempt to finish up. But regardless, has been one of the most positive experiences I've had with a college class.

assignment # 3

1.)You ask “ what do you think Americans should be eating?” The answer is quite simple really. Or rally, what would be easier is saying what Americans should not be eating., and that is food stuffed full of preservatives, that comes out of cans and boxes. Food that is soo colored and artificially flavored that it only resembles the real thing. And of course, Americans should not be relying on fast food restaurants to feed them regularly, or really ever. I'm not going to go in to what I think Americans should be eating item by item for each meal of the day, but nor do I think that is the point. I think the question is asking in a broader sense. So simply put, America would be a much healthier country if people consumed more whole, and prepared meals. Really, dinnertime has been lost in this country, and they need to det it back. For me growing up, I was pretty much the only kid who had a regular dinnertime, where even if it was just my mother and, I was always at the dinner table to enjoy a healthy cooked meal no matter what. It always entailed a main course, a fresh baguette, and salad, and company. That is something that seems totally lost in this country. Dinnertime is disenfranchised and it's every man for himself. Often kids are left with money and sent to fend for themselves for luch and dinner, and of course most of the time will not make the right choices.Of course I think Americans should be eating organically grown foods as well, and avoid products with GMO's, but at this point I think that's almost too much to ask. We need to bring dinner back to the dinner table first. People need to be re-educated on how to feed themselves and how to prepare meals that really aren't that difficult and are nourishing. People need to be eating fresh prepared foods, and not itmes out of the canned or frozen food section, or out of the phonebook.

2.) “can cooperation succeed as a business model in the United States?” I really can't see why the cooperative business model would not succeed As stated by the 2nd cooperative principle “Cooperative societies are democratic organizations..... Members of promarey societies should enjoy equal rights of voting and participation in decisions affecting their societies.” The United States is a democratic nation in which the people vote and participate in decisions affecting the whole country. So right there, the cooperative business model having a lot in common with the way this country is run would go to support that it should survive as a business model in this country. However, business is run different in this country than politics. This country is all about capitalsim and making a profit for the individual, where as the cooperative business model is something much more out of a socialist style country. It focuses on the group and and spreading the wealth rather than such a heirarchical command chain. Either way there is plenty of evidence to support that the cooperative business model can succeed in the United States, and I'll go on record as saying that I think the U.S. Would do a lot better as a whole if the entire economy were more like a cooperative. If everybody had an equal share, and a reason to care instead of the rich just getting richer and everybody else just works for them.

3.)I think the Natural Food Industry has a long and healthy future, with a slow but ever expanding share of the food industry market. Just looking at statistics, conventional food sales have been increasing at a very slow rate of about 3% annually, organic food sales has been growing at a rate of about 20% per year for more than a decade, according to estimates from the Organic Trade Association. Growth is particularly large in the field of organic milk and dairy products. USDA says that organic dairy sales went up more than 500% in the 1990's. Sales of organic milk and dairy products totaled about $600 million at during 2000, and sales of all organic foods during that year approached $9 billion. Accrding to statistics I found on the Organic Consumers Association website, organic foods are projected to be around 32 billion in 2009! So this alone shows that the future of the Natural Food Industry looks promising. I as well would expect it to be a growing market as well. Of course as generations pass, you're going to have an ever growing number of kids, like myself who were raised on Organic foods, and in turn will be rasing their children on it, so that will account for some growth. But also, especially in places like Los Angeles where I lived for a number of years, I can see (and in a sense do see) “Organic” food becoming a very trendy thing, much like sushi did. At what point did all these uber wealthy socialites start liking raw fish, I don't know, but one thing is for sure and that is that there is no shortage of sushi bars in Hollywood, and they are all packed. I think Natural foods is making the same sort of impact, where it is becoming cool to shop at Whole foods or wild oats. At least it felt that way much more in L.A. Than in Portland. Regardless of what the motivations or reasons are, the natural food industry is definitely here to stay in my opinion.

4.) I think People's biggest strength, or at least it's position in the local marketplace revolves around their product selection guidelines. Sure plenty of places offer Organically grown food products, but people's goes beyond that. They try and ensure that none of their products have ever had anything to do with a genetically modified organism. They buy they produce solely from local farmers. They focus on “low-impact living,” by prioritizing bulk, organic/or local products, and limiting the nmumber of products sold in non-recyclable or energy intensive packaging.They only distribute products distributed by companies whose politics and procedures are in harmony with their mission statement and definition of sustainability. People's carries only “whole foods,” that is, fooods with a minimum of processing and refining, and they will not sell products containing artificial coloring, preservatives, and flavorings. And of course, one of their biggest positions, a member-owner decision not to carry any meat, poultry, fish and any product containing animal byproducts. They are a 100% vegetarian store.In terms of how People's should position itself in the future, that is really entirely up them, and where they acutally want to go with the business. They are a lovely food store as it stands right now, but in my humble opinion if they truly see expansion in their future they may have to open their doors a little simply to meet a broader variety of customer needs. Clearly People's can make it, as they have been around since the 70's. Obviously they have enough clientel to keep their doors open for quite some time now. But if they want a larger market share, they will have to meet the demands of a larger market share, and think about broadening what they offer just a little, and also adding a hot food deli like most natural food markets have, at least for the purpose of bringing people in.


1a.) There are a couple factors that go into my answer for this question, and that make this question difficult for me. One is that at this point in my life, I make very few trips to the supermarket anymore.I used to shop and cook very regularly when I lived alone, but I currently reside in a house with three other males my age, and not much cooking is done there. Also, I work at a very nice restaurant that features plenty of organic foods, and I dine there frequently. Two is that I was raised off organic foods from my start in Juneau, Alaska where my mother was a part owner of the one local health food store, to when we moved to Portland at age 8 and no matter what financial situation we faced my mom would only shop at Nature's or Food Front.. The reason I say this is difficult is because it is slightly disappointing the food choices I make when I do visit the supermarket, not to mention that it is a safeway. Why safeway? Because it is closest to my house, and is of course less expensive than health food stores, and whatever I buy will be consumed by everyone in my house anyways. Another note that is interesting is that I will try and save a few dollars on things like food, but on any given weekend night will have no qualms against going out on the town with friends and spending what little money I do have on drinks with no real heed to the price. But that is a phenomenon we'll call the college student paradox, and is a whole other matter.So on my last trip to the safeway near my house, which I might add now carries their own line of organic products, cleverly named “Organics,” I purchased the following items: “Organics” cream cheese: pretty good price. Comparable to Kraft or Philadelphia.Bulk bagels from the bakery: I always prefer actual baked bread items as opposed to bagged preserved ones.Free range eggs: meat, poultry or dairy products I usual try and by the better ones because that is where it is most important.Darigold milk: I went for this one this time because it was incredibly cheap. $1.98 for the gallon, and I hardly use milk Only for the occasional cereal.Berry Crackles cereal: Safeways version of captain crunch. It's really a dessert for me. No one should start off their day with this much sugar and artificial flavoring. I think I”m attracted to these kinds of products because I was never allowed them as a child.Tillamook cheddar cheese: Not an organic product, but a local one and their cheese is okay.Steinfeld's Crunchy dill pickles: two for four dollars. Great deal. I love pickles.Caprisun juice: It was a good deal. 4 boxes for $5. Good for my house with a lot of guys, they're inexpensive so it doesn't matter when everybody drinks them all, and they are good for being on the go. But honestly I'm emberassed that I bought this product as it's completely unatural and produces way too much waste.
1b.) For the most part I don't think advertising or marketing has ever really played a huge role in my decisions for what to eat. I mean, sometimes a nice label or good design will attract me to it more than another, but price and ingredients will outweigh that. I've really never cared what a celebrity or athlete drinks or eats. I'd say that for pretty much all of these products my decision is made by a cost to quality ratio. The only product that I can say is probably more influenced by markting or advertising would be the Caprisuns. They definitely have a strong brand image that make them appealing to buy.
2.)So for one day i chose to eat only fast food, much like the movie “Super Size Me.” And to stay totally true to that film I also only ate McDonald's for that day. I avoided breakfast as I often do anyways, but at around noon the fun began. I started my day with: Quarter pounder with cheese- delivering 510 calories, and 25 grams of fat.Medium fries- 380 calories and 20 grams of fatmedium sprite- 210 calories and 56 Grams of sugar!!So of course I felt great after this. Actually, the first one wasn't terribly bad other than it sat like a bomb in my stomach and I felt like washing my hands and face after consuming it. But being my first McDonald's food in some time, it was somewhat gratifying. Of course it wasn't too long before I was hungry again, so on my way home from school around 5:30 I stopped for some dollar menu snacks. This time I only got sandwiches because I really never drink soda and didn't want anymore fried potatoes. So for my snack I had:1 McChicken- 370 calories and 16 grams of fat1 Double cheeseburger- 460 calories and 23 grams of fat1 apple pie- 250 calories and 11 grams of fatFrom here needless to say I was ready to eat some real food, but I went home and commenced doing schoolwork. Finally around 9:30 I was hungry again and ready for the grand finale. For my last meal I had:A big mac- 560 calories and 30 grams of fata cheeseburger- 310 calories and 12 grams of fatsmall fries-250 calories and 13 grams of fatsmall coca-cola – 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar!!small hot-fudge sundae- 330 calories, 9 grams of fat and 48 grams of sugar!After this final meal I felt like more than anything i needed to take a shower, and/or go to the gym, but pretty much didn't want to much else but sit on the couch for a little while and watch t.v. And then go to bed. So that's what I did. Today I consumed:calories- 3780fat- 159 gramssugar- 157 gramsSo I consumed probably twice as many calories as I needed and easily 3 times as much sugar and fat as I should have on any given day. It goes without saying that if this was a regular routine for me I would be grossly obese and extremely unhealthy.
3.)I visit New Seasons and Whole foods on a fairly regular basis, whenever I go shopping with my mother, which has always been a pastime for me, and an activity we both enjoy doing together. We actually mostly go to New Seasons anymore as my mom is not a fan of Whole Foods and no longer shops at Nature's since Wild Oats bought them out, but we will still occasionally step into any which one of them. I think it would actually be much easier to note what is similar about these markets compared to People's, as opposed to what is different because they are pretty much completely different. Obviously people's is a much smaller food store. They offer only organic products as opposed to the other markets which also carry conventional foods. Obviously there is the choice by people's to not offer meat which is a major difference. People's is obviously much less influenced by any sort of marketing. Most of their products are small brands or fresh food without any brand or packaging at all. These other markets all have great big delis and Bakeries which People's does not, although they do have their farmer's market on wednesdays. These stores such as whole foods and New Seasons are just a lot larger, and offer a lot more name brand goods, both organic name brands and some conventional name brands. These bigger health food stores are more like businesses and I think offer what will sell as opposed to people's which is far far more scrutinizing as to what they sell, and to me feels more like they sell what they want to sell based on what they believe in, not necessarily what is going to sell.
4.)My understanding is that the politics of the “food pyramid” are simply that the guidelines of the “food pyramid” are based largely on politics. In the words of Marion Nestle:To satisfy stockholders, food companies must convince people to eat more of their products or to eat their products instead of those ofcompetitors. They do so through advertising and public relations, of course, but also by working tirelessly to convince government officials,nutrition professionals, and the media that their products promote health.(Nestle 1)Nestle pretty much sums up the politics of the “food pyramid,” right away on the first page of the book, and within the following chapters discusses the way food companies and industries use political processes to obtain government and professional support for the sale of their products, and all of the different interest that compose the politics of the “food pyramid.”
5.) I don't really know what to say about this advertisement by Phillip Morris.Obviously what it is, is an attempt by a mega corporation to appear socially responsible and like they are some sort of philanthropic organization, and I'm sure this advertisement was effective for a great number of people. I don't what the truth is. Not the truth that Phillip Morris' website will give, but what they really truly do to help feed the world's hungry. I'm sure that this advertisement accomplished what it was supposed to, and that millions of people saw the add and felt good about Kraft foods, but anyone that knows these companies knows that Phillip Morris along with Miller is a company that distributes cigarettes and alchohol and things that are terrible for everyone and generate them billions upon billions of dollars. Ethically, I suppose I can't blame them for advertising because that is what every company does, and I sure hope they donate some of their plunder to help feed people. It's the least they could do. They should be paying for billions of dollars woth of medical bills as well.

Assignement #1

1a-1b.) "what are the different motivations that that drive Americans to make their food choices?"- according to Michael Pollan, what motivates Americans to make their food choices is itself the very title of his book, "The Omnivores Dilemma." When you have the ability as a human to eat just about anything mother earth has to offer, deciding what to eat is very much a challenge. According to michael Pollan there are a number of factors that determine what we decide to consume. He illustrates this dilemma well when comparing this choice as a human to that of a koala bear. "The koala bear doesn't worry about what to eat: If it looks smells and tastes like a eucalyptus leaf, it must be dinner" (Pollan 2). however omnivores like us have to figure out which of natures dishes are right for our consumption. We rely on recognition and "sense memory" to keep us away from poisons. Basically, somewhere along the way someone ate the wrong type of mushroom and died, so we know not to eat that mushroom. similarly, someone along the way discovered that meat hidden beneath harsh exterior of a crab was quite delicious. Also, taste and smell are basic factors that decide what we eat. Those senses are also what keep us from consuming things that have spoiled and are harmful to us. Another impotant factor that he discusses is culture. Culture greatly influences what and how we eat, and the fact that America is a nation built on soo many immigrants "each with its own culture of food, Americans have never had a single, strong, stable culinary tradition to guide us." Another factor that Pollan discusses is also the main issue that Marion Nestle discusses in his book "Food Politics," is marketing. The industrialization of food, and the food industry's power on what most Americans eat. Pollan discusses how one of the most important staples of the human food consumption disappeared almost over night , due to the diet industry. And that staple of course is bread, and consequently carbohydrates in general. Marketing and advertising seems to be Marion Nestles main argument in why Americans eat how they do.I have become increasingly convinced that many of the nutritional problems of Americans- the lesdt of them obesity- can be traced to the food industry's imperativeto encourage people to eat more in order to generate sales and increase income in a highly competative marketplace. Ambiguos dietary advice is only one result of thisimperative. Nestle 4So Marion Nestle's arguments on why Americans eat the way they do are largely based of on media and what the food industry sais we should eat as well, as what is made most available to us. His arguments are long and in depth, but in summary, the major factors and avenues the food industry uses to influence food choices are as follows: taste- make foods sweet, fat, and salty; Cost- Add value but keep prices low; convenience- make eating fast; confusion- keep the public puzzled; and promoting the public to eat more.Clearly there are many factors in why Americans eat the way they do. For me, in my personal experience, cost is what I witness as the most important factor in choosing what to eat. I was fortunate to have a mother that was born and raised in Italy, cooked well, and dinner was always a set part of the day where we sat down and took our time around the dinner table. Never in my childhood, unless I dined at a friend's house did everyone eat independently and KFC was on the menu. Though she made very little money, there was nothing that could have made her compromise organic foods for for industrialized itmes found at Fred Meyers or Safeway. Everyday almost all the way through highschool I watched kids eat pizza, or public school food served on styrofoam trays, while I brought my own assortment of home made pasta or stir fry. It was almost difficult, as everyone would comment and even teachers would be curious as to what I had for lunch today, but I am soo grateful for it. But today as a poor college student, I too seek refuge in cheap foods. Though perhaps not the 1 dollar McDonald cheeseburger but frequently the $2.50 submay sandwhich. I too oftne fall victim to this American diet phenomenon. Why? because it's predominantly what's accessible and it's cheap.2a.) I don't know that the film "The Future of Food" was hipeful or pessimistic about the future of food. It seemed that it did what a good informative documentary should do and that is state the current scenario as it stands, and provide information. Actually, if anything the vibe that I got from the film was that it was more on the pessimistic side of things. It painted a very clear picture of what is going on and the crimes that corporations such as Monsanto are commiting, but didn't really offer any hope or make it seem like anything could be done about it. I don't know. Maybe I just say this because after watching the film, I myself felt very pessimistic about the future of food, in America and around the world.2b.) I couldn't agree more with Michael Pollan's suggestion that organic food is not overpriced, once external costs are factored in. Actually, more than his comment in regards to the 99 cent burger that "the price may be low, but the cost is high," which is very true, I was particularly affected on his argument on the percentage of their income that Americans spend on food. He states that we spend some 10-11% of our incomes on food, and that is all we want to spend. Yet we have no problems spending the rest on material goods, gas, entertainment, etc. This is way too low. Lower than anybody else ever. Perhaps if we all actually bought Organics, then this percentage would actually be closer to what it SHOULD be!3.) I would define a cooperative business structure as a business without a boss. A business with a horizontal power distribution, and a demoacratic decision making model. IT is a very communistic approach to a business model, but works well because it focuses on the good of the whole. It is an effective business model for a number of reasons, namely because it will produce less employees who try and steal or do the business wrong as those who work for the cooperative business are also part owners, and will have the business' best interests in mind.4.) I think People's post expansion business is okay , but not solid. They are okay in that they definitely have picked some strong avenues and standards by which the business runs, such as being vegetarian, and being so strict about knowing where their items come from and whether or not they can put them on their shelves, and I think this is a strong technique. However I simply say that they're not all the way solid because they themselves will tell you that they are not. They are straight forward about the fact that they don't exactly know where they want the business to go.5.) I think the store itself is the marker of people's identity. The products they carry, their choice to be a vegetarian store, their cleanliness, and even just their architecture. Their architecture shows that their focus is very much community. From the open courtyard and ample seating outside to the wonderful open, light and airy community room upstairs. They definitely focus on health, and community health. It is a very nice place!