Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sustainability Review – LED and Dimmable Efficient Lighting

By Mike Forbes, Co-op volunteer writer

I’ve owned every sort of efficient lighting that has existed in the recent past. Always I am searching for a dimmable light bulb that closely emulates the standard incandescent light but offers lower energy use. Recently there have been large improvements in design that make these bulbs worth looking at but still there are issues. In this article I’ll talk about what is readily available and my perception of the technology.

First, LED lighting is making a step into lighting market. Until recently LED lights cast a very blue light and were very expensive ($50-$100/bulb). The advantage they have is the lowest energy use and ridiculously long life (50,000 hours+, that’s 5-1/2 years of continuous 24hr/day use). They currently cost approximately $18/bulb and use about ½ the power a compact fluorescent (CFL) does and 80% less than an incandescent. As a bonus, many are dimmable and are not affected by the cold as CFLs can be.

Let’s talk dimming. Incandescent bulbs are known for their smooth dimming, where as CFL and LED bulbs tend to be a bit more “jerky” in their dimming. This is due to the CFL & LED using electronics to control the light output. Older CFLs were horrible at dimming, they’d buzz loudly and cast a purplish, cold light unless they were on full. There is talk out there that you need a special dimmer for CFL/LED bulbs yet Consumer Reports did some testing on this with various bulbs and found no difference in performance.

The newer CFLs don’t buzz as much and dim much smoother but still don’t provide that infinite adjustment that the incandescent does. The light quality is good however on the whiter side. It is common to have the typical warm-up time that most CFLs have in varying degrees, gone is the startup flicker.

I purchased several LED dimmable bulbs and found them to behave and look very similar. There was a slight buzz, noticeable only when your head was next to the lamp, and they exhibited some of the jerky dimming but easily adjustable to various levels. The biggest drawback is that they don’t provide the warm, glow of the incandescent even thought the package claims to provide that color (soft white). I found the color of the bulb to be very cold, similar to the daylight bulbs out there.

Are they worth it? If you are concerned about energy use then you cannot beat the LED. If you are more concerned about nice, warm ambiance of a dimly lit room you might want to pass at this time. If I were looking for lights in my office, workroom, or any place I wanted a good, bright worklight, I’d definitely consider the LED lights. I think you’ll continue to see the price of these lights drop in the near future.

Mike welcomes questions and can be reached at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How many things can we do with old newspapers?

“How many?”
By Miriam Kent, pre-cycling czaress

How many things can we do with old newspapers?
· Line the bottom of a bird cage.
· Twist them into “logs” for the fireplace.
· Rip them in to strips for paper mache.
· Wrap breakables when you move.
· Use the colorful funnies to wrap a gift.
· Protect the table for arts and crafts projects.
· Use them with a hot iron to absorb spilled wax from the rug.
· Fold a paper hat for your grandchild.
· If the ink is soy-based, use it to mulch your garden.
· Line cardboard boxes for storing fruits and veggies.

That’s ten, number eleven is your job.

March 2011 Suggestion Box

Dana was my cashier today. He was very meticulous with the bagging. He was friendly and professional. What a treat! – Mercedes

Thank you for your kind comments. We are certainly lucky to have Dana be part of the Front End Team. Annie H, Front End Manager

Gluten-free lasagna noodles, please!!! Anonymous

They are located on the bottom shelf in the pasta section of aisle one. We have two brands of rice lasagna noodles to choose from. Julie, Grocery Buyer

For the second time after I’ve identified a product that you sell cheaper than other stores YOU TURN AROUND AND JACK THE PRICE WTF - Eric

We set our prices by what we pay for products. Oftentimes we can offer lower prices on items, but when the manufacturer raises their prices, it necessitates that we follow suit to stay in business. Joan, Grocery Manager

Please resume carrying Green & Black Cocoa for baking – the powdered kind. It makes the best hot chocolate & baked goods. G&B Chocolate has a varietal taste like coffee beans or wine. Jaqueline

That product is located in the baking section of aisle two. We too enjoy it and plan to continue carrying it. Julie

Katie gave me excellent customer service. – Sridurga
Thank you for the comment. I too am proud of the Front End Team and Katie in particular. Annie H

Please always have at least one brand of org. coffee on sale. This has been the case until recently. Anonymous

When our sales specials went to a twice monthly cycle, the Equal Exchange coffee was affected by this change. We have worked with them and will happily be able to offer one EE coffee at a sale price every month. Seth, Bulk Buyer

I would like to know if you would go back to carrying (1) Israeli paprika (it is fabulous) (2) mayonnaise with wasabi (I bought some about a month ago and now there is none!!) Cynthia

The Israeli paprika is available in the spice jars in the bulk department. Unfortunately the wasabi mayonnaise was discontinued by the manufacturer. Julie

Can you carry “Cravens” brand gluten free products. They are the best I have ever eaten. Thanks. – Polly

We now carry 3 varieties of The Craving Place gluten free baking products in the baking section. We hope these suit your needs. Julie

Need more de-caf coffee choices. Ernest

We offer 5 varieties of de-caf coffee from 4 different roasters. Is there a blend in particular that you are looking for that we don’t carry? Seth, Bulk Buyer

I was just wondering if you could sell the Reeds ginger chews that the deli gives with your fantastic sandwiches? The ginger chews you can buy in bulk hold no contest to the Reeds! Thanks so much. Kenzie

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The Reeds ginger chews are now available in the bulk bin. Seth

Kenna's Party

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Breakfast with the Board January 22, 2011

What would you like to see in your Co-op’s next GM?
Responses compiled by Christine Locker, BOD admin. asst.,

What would you like to see in your Co-op’s next GM?

· Maintain product consistency and variety

· Entrepreneurial and personal connection to the community

· Continue the salad bar

· Looking ahead

· Firm but not in an abrasive manner

· Enthusiastic/can attitude; expresses self positively when saying no

· Communicate clearly, thoughtfully, and incrementally regarding changes

· Maintain a good relationship with management, staff, customers, and community

· Open-mindedness

· Willing to be an enthusiastic leader

· Try new things

· I would like to see a GM with a vision for greater sustainability here in Moscow.

· Restoration projects

· Having a champion that would inspire change

· Someone who is good at bringing out the best in others and who can help other managers work together in a generous and cooperative way

· Open to, and willing to listen to, all opposing ideas

· Promote from within; if not from within, then somebody local or at least from the Pacific NW

· Open to constructive advice

· Humility

· Friendly

· Easy to approach

· Knowledgeable about products

Please list or describe qualities Kenna has that you would like us to retain in a new GM.

· Pragmatic

· Female

· Savvy

· Thick skin

· Community involvement

· Outgoing nature

· Cuteness

· Works in the front end

· Energetic

· Passionate

· Committed to mission of the Co-op

· Cares for the Co-op

· Friendly (x4)

· Positive attitude

· Resilience

· Dedicated

· Dependable

· Cooperative

· Easy-going

· Problem solving

· Patient

· Open-minded

· British accent (though not a deal breaker)

· Willingness to try new things

· Communicates with staff

· Reviews prices to meet the economy

Please let us know any other information or concerns you have about the GM search process.

· Don’t want a short-term GM

· GMs with long established patterns (otherwise may try to change the Co-op unnecessarily)

· The Co-op naturally resists change, so a good persuader may be needed to tackle divisive issues.

· Please hire from within the Co-op. If there aren’t any current Co-op managers qualified to take Kenna’s place, then have Kenna start training them or offer to pay for management classes. For continuity’s sake, I’d prefer a current or past MFC employee to become our new GM. (And thanks to Kenna for helping to transform the Co-op from the size of a 7-11 to a full grocery store, and good luck in Washington!)

Carol Price Spurling
Outreach and Ownership Coordinator

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GM Search Committee Weekly Summaries

Moscow Food Co-op

Week of Jan. 11, 2011:
• Communications: The committee chair will provide monthly updates in the newsletter that focus on process, not specific content such as candidate names, in order to respect confidentiality of applicants. After each meeting, a committee member will come up with bulleted points of interest; this information will be posted on the BOD board, on the website, and in the bi-weekly staff newsletter.

• The group developed a committee charter, to explicitly detail responsibilities and commitment to appropriate confidentiality.

• GM Job Description: There is nobody better to write the GM job description than the GM herself because nobody knows it better. The search committee will solicit input from Kenna regarding a job description. The BOD may need to make some changes. A discussion of the importance of job qualifications versus personal qualities then followed. The group will also solicit feedback from staff about GM qualifications. Will also get input from membership via Breakfast with the Board.

• Hiring Timeline/Job Descriptions: The committee would like to have the first box of the timeline, including the job description, completed by the February BOD meeting (on the 8th). The sample job description in the toolbox is a good place to start; focus on the minimum and preferred requirements, as well as knowledge and skills. It is best to limit minimum qualifications to a few yes/no questions; preferred qualifications can be ranked by priority. Management should be included in the process. Will solicit input from membership via Breakfast with the Board.

• January 19th –Fill out qualification worksheets; read job description in consultant packet and think about how we want to make it our own
• January 24th – Create job description & summary by next BOD meeting OR second week of February
• January 31st – Timeline and budget
• February 8th – Take it to the BOD for approval

Week of Jan. 18, 2011
• The committee looked at input from Kenna regarding the GM Job Summary. The job description itself is the governance policies. The qualifications can be listed in the summary. The committee will also have to decide what information they want from potential candidates – a complete resume, names and phone numbers of all supervisors, as well as people who worked with and under them, etc.

• Timeline: The committee hopes to have a GM in place within the next 3-6 months, but experience shows that it may take longer than that. The membership will be kept regularly up to date on the process in order to keep them from becoming frustrated.

Week of Jan 25, 2011
• We were in contact with our NCGA consultant. She stressed that formulating clear and specific qualifications is crucial so as to prevent struggles near the end of the GM hiring process. It also helps design intelligent interview questions and prevents subjectivity.

• GM Job Description: The committee discussed the results of the GM qualifications worksheet and decided that it will be easiest to have a few minimum requirements with a longer list of prioritized preferred qualifications. The “soft” qualities, which are hardest to evaluate are very important, and dominate the highly desired qualities.

Week of Jan. 31, 2011
• We discussed Highly Desired Qualifications at length.
o We will keep the Required Qualifications to a minimum, and have many “Highly Desired Qualifications”, most of which relate to character, effective and cooperative management style, and systems thinking.
o We will group our highly desired qualifications into four categories, including Cooperative Principles, Critical Thinking, Interpersonal Skills, and Operational Skills.
• We will solicit board feedback and approval in early February.