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Monthly Update from Tim

Wow! Time flies, doesn't it? Three months on the job already, and it sounds like I might get another few months with Common Ground as well. I feel like our staff has made unbelievable progress in the short time I have been here, and we have so much more planned for the next few months. I am fired up to get the opportunity to continue the journey with all of you for a bit longer.

Here are a few bullet points of what is coming up;
  • New produce display coolers are scheduled to be installed Nov. 6 th through the 9 th . (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the produce area may be slightly congested.)
  • This Friday night the 3 rd we have a sampling event in the Coop. I hope you will join us.
  • Join us on Thursday, Nov 16 and taste over 40 different wines. We will host several wine experts in our classroom with delicious food pairings. Invite your friends & family, learn more about wine, taste the differences, and find the perfect bottles for the holidays. ID required!
  • Thanksgiving is just around the corner. You can preorder your local TripleS Farms turkey now, and do not forget to join us for turkey with all the trimmings the day before Thanksgiving.
  • We are planning another awesome Owner Days event for December, so watch for details.
  • Free pizza and beer (or root beer) on Sunday December 3 rd ! (Did that get your attention? There is a small catch.)
OK, I better talk about that last item 1 st . You may have noticed we have been doing some painting, replacing signs and other small things to spruce up the Coop. Well we have this huge hallway in the mall behind the Coop just begging for some attention (our marketing team has big plans for that space). Here's the catch; since I have been here several owners have told me they wished they could still volunteer for the Coop. Most Coops don't have owner volunteers anymore because of labor laws and liability issues. However, we think painting our back hallway in some new bright colors would be a great way to allow our owners to support Common Ground. What do you think? Want to have some fun with other owners and staff? We hope so! We need about 20 adults or so to help (it is a big space). We are working on the design right now, so watch for opportunities to sign up to help. I almost forgot there is free pizza and beer, but only after we are done!

I think all of our active owners are aware of the struggles Common Ground has gone through the last couple of years. Increased competition in the local and organic food industry has impacted co-ops across the country. In spite of all of this I am very optimistic about the future for Common Ground. Our financial results are in for the last quarter and we are seeing improved results. I am just completing the 2018 budget and I believe Common Ground can not only survive but thrive. It will not be easy, the staffs challenge is to create an awesome shopping experience for you while maintaining operating excellence. And we must do it every single day! I have no doubts that the team we have at Common Ground can get the job done.

But ultimately it is up to you, our owners. Only Common Ground's owners can ensure our success. It won't be new customers that happen to come in that do not share our values and beliefs. It will be owners. In the short time that remains for me here we will work hard every day to convince you and all of our owners that it is worthwhile to simply make one or two more trips to Common Ground each month. That's all it will take!

When you are in the store ask for me, I would love to visit with you.


Return to Regular Store Hours: 8am - 10pm every day

We'll open at 7 am one last time for the final outdoor farmer's market on Saturday, 11/4. The following Saturday, 11/11, we'll resume our non-market-season hours of 8am to 10pm.

November First Friday: Holiday Preview Sampling Event 
1 1/3 5:30-7:30 pm

We will be sampling an entire  Triple S Farms  Turkey with Stan Schutte, varieties of roasted local squash, 5 different vegan eggnogs, wine and beer, co-op made desserts and much more!

Listen to the sounds of local musicians while you sample:
Uni Fiddle Club (high schools from Uni High) 5:30-6:30pm
CU Chanty Sing (15 singers) from 7-9pm

Come for some delicious fall samples that will be perfect for the upcoming Holidays.
Preorder your Local Turkey, too!

Holiday Wine Event: Sample over 40 different wines!

Join us on Thursday, Nov 16 and taste over 40 different wines! We will host several wine experts in our classroom with delicious food pairings. Invite your friends & family, learn more about wine, taste the differences, and find the perfect bottles for the holidays. 

A special thanks to  Heritage Wine Cellars Ltd Connoisseur Wines , and Maverick Wine Company.

*Must be 21+ to attend, please bring your ID

See our Facebook event to RSVP!

Thanksgiving in the Deli is just around the corner!

Stock up the day before Thanksgiving, when our Salad Bar and Grab 'N Go Case transform into an entire Thanksgiving Menu, where all of our foods featured are made from scratch in the Co-op kitchen! 

The Thanksgiving Menu will start at 11am Wednesday, November 22nd and will go fast until SOLD OUT. We sold over 430 pounds of Thanksgiving meals last year and we're looking to help you again this year. Save the Date!

Questions? Need 10 pies? Private message us!

See our Facebook event for the full description.
Cards & Cash at the Co-op
Tim Sullivan, Interim GM

Common Ground Owners;

Recently, I had the opportunity to do an analysis of Common Ground's credit/debit card processing fees. I had not looked at these numbers for years and found them fascinating, a bit painful, and thought you might also find them interesting.
For years the grocery industry resisted accepting credit cards, fearful of the costs. The banks lowered the rate for grocery stores and eventually the food industry joined the bandwagon. There is no going back as you will see in the following bullet point details.
  • Currently it looks like Common Ground's credit/debit card processing fees project out to more than $133,000.00 for 2017.
  • 86% of our sales are paid for with some kind of card.
  • The issuing banks receive between 85 to 93% of the processing fees.
You may have heard that debit card processing fees are less than credit cards, but that is only true for orders over $25.00 because of the higher transaction fee that debit cards have.
There is really only one way to lower these costs and that is simply by lowering the % of transactions that are payed for with a card. Using a card is very much a convenience issue for shoppers and in no way are we going to discourage customers from using them, other than to keep them informed. In the old days they claimed when people paid with cards the average order was larger, and that was the motivation to promote their use. I am not sure that is still true today.
Personally, this information has motivated my spouse and I to change how we use cards.  We talked it over and decided a good way for us to support the local economy was to pay cash when we purchase things from small local businesses. The big corporations get the card.
On another card note we would like to apologize for all the issues we are having with the new chip processing system. It is enough to drive an Interim General Manager back into retirement. Four different software providers have to work together to make it all work smoothly. That has not happened. If we had known the pain it was going to cause, we would have held off on converting to chips. However, we seem to have many of the bugs worked out, so we are not going to go back, at least for now. We appreciate your patience as we continue to work to make the system more customer friendly.
Thanks for being Common Ground owners!
Goat Milk: Is it homogenized?
Cara Siegel, Grocery Chill Lead

I know this is a question a lot of people have been asking- but goat milk is naturally homogenized within the goat! The chemical structure is fundamentally different than that of cow's milk, so it does not require mechanical homogenization.

Usually when people are asking about homogenization and homogenized milk, they are asking about the mechanical process where cow milk is forced through a very small opening under immense pressure. This breaks up the lipids cell walls, allowing the fat cells to become smaller and stay suspended within the milk. This process of destroying the cell wall of the lipid creates xanthine oxidase, which is classified as a free radical. If folks are trying to avoid free radicals, they will look for non-homogenized milk.

The only cow milk we carry that IS homogenized is the Organic Valley line. Kilgus, Old Heritage, and Traders Point, and Kalona Supernatural milks are all non-homogenized.

Goat milks, however, never require mechanical homogenization. While goat milk IS homogenized, it does not go through the process that creates xanthine oxidase within the milk. Goat milk naturally has smaller lipids than cow milk- they are only 20% of the size of cow milk lipid molecules- so they stay suspended without mechanical help. Goat milk also does not contain the protein that aids in coagulation of fat particles, which further helps the milk stay homogenized.

Therefore, all our goat milks ARE homogenized, but not mechanically.
Email grocery@commonground.coop with any product inquiries.
Let's Get Learnin': Owners save, sign up today!

You can always find our classes and their descriptions on the Class Calendar. Sign up for classes through Eventbrite.

Thursday, November 2; 4-5

FREE; registration required
This monthly cooking class is for kids in grades 3-5. We learn how to read recipes, use kitchen tools safely, and prepare new foods.

Thursday, November 2; 6-7

$5 owners & non-owners
As the holidays approach, our self-care instructor will lead a class about mindfulness and eating as a way to develop healthy habits for our diet and well-being.

Saturday, November 4; 3-4:30

$7 owners; $12 non-owners
Join us to learn a new method for making delicious non-dairy yogurt at home. Rather than milk-based products, we will be utilizing soy milk and raw cashews.

Tuesday, November 7; 4-5
FREE; registration required

This monthly cooking class is for kids in grades 1 & 2. We learn how to use kitchen tools safely while preparing delicious kid-friendly foods.

Friday, November 10; 6-8:30
$7 owners; $12 non-owners

We will learn to cook two popular southern Indian curries. These dishes will have coconut based gravies and are vegetarian.

Thai Cooking: Pad Kee Mao
Saturday, November 11; 3-5
$7 owners; $12 non-owners

Pad Kee Mao is a popular stir-fry noodle dish in Thailand. In English, this name translates to "Drunken Noodles."

Sunday, November 12; 12-1
$5 owners & non-owners

With so many different squash available right now, we will learn various recipes using seasonal squash and how create simple, but delicious meals. It is $5 to save a seat, but all attendees will receive a $5 voucher to use toward a purchase.

Tuesday, November 14; 6-7:30
FREE for Part I attendees; $10 owners; $15 non-owners

After fermenting for six weeks, the homemade mead from Part I is ready for its big reveal! Attendees from Part I can join this class for free. Those who did not buy a ticket for Part I can still attend at a discounted cost. Join us for a tasting and a small bottle of your own.

Friday, November 17; 6-7:30

$10 owners; $15 non-owners
Learn how to make your own Thanksgiving centerpiece using fresh and dried flowers. Delight Flower Farm will be with us to share their tips and tricks while you create your own arrangement to take with you.

Saturday, November 1; 2-4:30

$10 owners; $15 non-owners
This month, we will learn to prepare a non-vegetarian dish native to Ethiopia. Join us for hands-on, cultural class with lots of delicious foods to sample.

Triple S Farm Turkey 101
Sunday, November 19; 3-5

FREE for those who pre-ordered
Triple S Farm's Stan will lead a class on how to best use your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. This class is reserved for those who pre-ordered local Triple S turkeys.
Loving Local in the Wellness Department
Jess Rasmussen, Wellness Manager

Here at the Co-op, we absolutely love our local farmers and vendors! Did you know that we are representing local in the Wellness Department as well?!

My goal is to really highlight local vendors by giving them prime location and merchandising.  I want to encourage our owners and all of our customers to give them an extra perusal the next time you're in and see what amazing goodies our local vendors are making!

- - - - -

Queen Anne's Lace , whose farm is located in Camargo, IL, is a natural and organic body care line that is rich in wild crafted botanicals, herbs and essential oils. Linda makes a variety of home and body care products using herbs and floral infusions grown on the farm, as well as honey and beeswax from her hardworking bee colonies. They also have a goat family who provides fresh goat milk for their signature goats milk soaps.

- - - - -

Wild Botanicals is natural, small batch, artisan bath, body & skincare based out of Champaign,IL.  Every product is carefully formulated and crafted with natural botanicals to enhance one's beauty, health, and wellness. They are created without synthetic ingredients, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, animal testing, mineral oils, petroleum, and are made, bottled, and labeled by hand.

- - - - -

Soap by Felice , based in Urbana,IL, makes all-vegetable-oil soaps using the cold process method, plus occasional batches of glycerine soap (goats-milk, shea-butter, and clear).

"My goals in soapmaking are . . .  
. . . to make healthy, natural, animal-friendly soaps that are better for me, my friends, & my family than commercially available products;
. . . to make available some varieties that are extra mild, unscented, and able to be enjoyed by those with sensitive skin and noses;
. . . to use sustainable and reusable supplies in my soapmaking process wherever possible;*
. . . to have fun inventing strange recipes and color/fragrance/texture schemes for new soaps, even if it turns out I'm the only one willing to actually bathe with them;
. . . and above all, to set a good example for my public by staying squeaky clean. Which considering the ridiculous amount of soap currently curing on my racks, is not going to be a problem . . . "  

- - - - -

Coming soon!  Glow by Lola, based in Urbana IL, creating essential oil based skin care products with high quality ingredients to help you find your glow!
Hear from Newly Elected Board Member Karen Carney

Greetings! I'm one of three newly-elected directors of the Common Ground Food Co-Op Board. Since my election last month, a number of friends and neighbors have asked me why I shop at Common Ground, and what makes it different from conventional grocery stores.

Common Ground owners know, of course, that ours is the only store in town that is cooperatively owned and run. When we shop at Common Ground, our money goes not to a corporation headquartered somewhere else, but to helping our store serve our community. The Board of Directors works with the General Manager to ensure that our owners are at the center of all we do.

When we shop at Common Ground, we're supporting local farmers and producers; in fact, local items account for nearly $1 in every $5 spent in the store. When we buy local produce, eggs, meat, or dairy, we're also choosing a more just and sustainable form of food production over large-scale industrial farming.

When we shop at Common Ground, we also make it possible for others to have access to fresh, healthy food. Through the Food for All program, qualified customers pay less for Co+op Basics and fresh produce.

When we shop at Common Ground, the Round Up for Good program enables us to round up our purchases to do even more good in our community. Last year, shoppers donated more than $56,000 (often just a few cents at a time!) to local organizations.

So shopping at Common Ground enables us to do good for others as well as for ourselves. This month, I hope you'll join me in doing three small things to make our co-op even stronger:

  1. Do more (perhaps all?) of your shopping at Common Ground;
  2. Invite a friend to meet you for lunch or coffee from Common Ground's deli;
  3. Spread the word! Tell someone who isn't an owner why you shop at Common Ground, and encourage them to be an owner too.
November Round Up For Good:
Austin's Place Emergency Shelter

In November, we will be donating all Round Up for Good contributions to Austin's Place Emergency Shelter.

"Austin's Place is the only emergency shelter for single women in Champaign County.  Austin's Place operates solely on volunteer effort - from volunteers who stay overnight, transport guests, do laundry, make phone calls, advertise, collect donations, etc. Dedicated service meets significant needs and provides valuable support to all the guests that come through our doors.  We are thankful for all the faithful volunteers who so generously give their time, energy, prayers, and financial support! Austin's Place happens because of our volunteers!"

October Round Up For Good:
UC Books 2 Prisoners

This past month, Common Ground shoppers donated over $3,000 to UC Books 2 PrisonersIf you would still like to donate, we have a Books to Prisoners receptacle near our mall hallway entrance, where you can drop off books to benefit B2P.
Turkey Time is Running Out!
Jessica Weiner, Deli Manager

It's that time of year again....TURKEY TIME! Pre-ordering your turkey from Triple S Farms not only guarantees a delicious Broad-Breasted Bronze Heritage breed turkey raised on a Local and Organic Farm, but also comes with Co-op savings and incentives! 

Submit a pre-order and you will save 50ยข per pound, you can sign up for a free Turkey 101 class with Stan himself, you're entered to win your pre-ordered turkey for free, and you get up to $14 in coupons!
Shopping with Dietary Restrictions
Lisa Thomas, Grocery Manager

Having family and friends over with dietary restrictions? Don't sweat it! Common Ground Food Co-op has many easy options for everyone! We'll have Vegetarian meat options in our freezer and deli grab n' go, Vegan & Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie, Vegetarian & Gluten Free stuffing, Dairy Free Egg Nog...and more!

We have staff members of all dietary restrictions so don't hesitate to ask for help!
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What would you like to see in the newsletter? Email sam.ihm@commonground.coop.
Thanks for reading!

Common Ground Food Cooperative | 217-352-3347 |  www.commonground.coop  | 
300 S. Broadway Avenue Suite #166, Urbana, IL 61801

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