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Go Big or Go Home

By Christian Smith

sunnysidecafe2Do you like lattes, or charities? Or both? Then you should know that Corvallis’ own Sunnyside Up Café is making radical moves to breathe life into local community commerce. According to their fundraising page on Indiegogo.com, “Everyone knows capitalism is broken,” and we should “occupy everything.”

Bold words from a bold man: Jon Gold, owner and proprietor of Sunnyside Up, is attempting to turn his restaurant into a charitable nonprofit. The end result will include all proceeds from the café going straight to charitable entities such as the South Corvallis Food Bank and Community Outreach.

A noble ideal indeed, this plan cuts out the middlemen and gives customers the peace of mind that they’re helping those in need. To get his plan to come to fruition, Gold has created a crowd-funding page at Indiegogo.com asking for a whopping $225,000.

With less than 20 days left to go (the fundraiser closes on Jan. 31), the campaign has raised $1,810 and needs to receive about $11,000 daily in public donations to reach its goal. Like many crowd-funding campaigns, there are rewards for donors. For Sunnyside Up’s campaign, $50 gets you a free latte, and $1,000 grants a full board of directors seat (there are six seats left). Board members are given a free meal and beverage at every meeting.

If you are interested in contributing to the cause, visit the Indiegogo page at www.indiegogo.com/projects/community-commerce.

Ethnic Grocery Store Guide

By Maddelena Rubini

file381267495844Welcome, international students! You’ve probably settled into your apartments and have already made a trip to one of Corvallis’ grocery stores to stock up on basics. If you didn’t notice already, the foods from your home countries are considered exotic here. Big grocery stores, especially those in smaller cities, charge a lot of money for poor quality versions of ingredients you’re used to using every day. Some of the chain groceries don’t even carry what you might need. Here’s a handy guide to stores around town where you can get a taste of home without spending an entire month’s stipend.

Rice’n’Spice
1075 NW Van Buren Ave.

Once your eyes adjust to the darkness, Rice’n’Spice is a tiny treasure trove of all things East and Southeast Asian. In addition to staples such as rice, soy sauce, chile paste, and vinegar, Rice’n’Spice has a comprehensive kitchenware section in the event that you didn’t pack a rice cooker and bowls in your luggage. Frozen dumplings and frozen meats for hotpot are a real bonus here. One word of caution: Rice’n’Spice only takes cash.

Asia Market
1875 NW 9th St.

Bigger and brighter than Rice’n’Spice, Asia Market is geared toward Korean tastebuds. I snagged a bag of frozen kimchi dumplings on my last visit and they are completely addictive. Produce is kept in a commercial grade cooler, out of public view, but it’s fresher and cheaper than similar places. You’ll also find a larger selection of just about everything, probably because their strip mall location and adjacency to a Chinese restaurant creates more foot traffic.

Devi Indian Grocery and Spices
919 NW Circle Blvd.

Located between a vitamin store and a tax preparation place, Devi is the only grocery in Corvallis fully dedicated to the Indian subcontinent. You can stock up on basmati rice, Swad brand spices, pre-mixed masalas, jarred pickles, and biscuits. The freezer section is great for those too busy to cook. Devi also has a decent selection of Bollywood DVDs for sale. Come ready to queue on Fridays, though. Fresh samosas and sweets such as jalebi, ladoo, and chumchums are delivered from Portland. They don’t last long.

Bazaar International Market
2240 SW 3rd St.

This Southtown gem specializes in all things Middle Eastern with a nod to the Mediterranean and South Asia. In addition to all the spices you could possibly need for a fully stocked pantry, Bazaar spills over with rice, olives, preserves (sweet and salty), tea, snacks, and cooking oil. The owner raises lambs, goats, and chickens to supply the frozen halal meat section, which sells for a fraction of the usual price. Produce comes in on Tuesday. They also have hookahs, hookah accessories, and a wide range of flavored tobacco for when you want to agitate your neighbors.

La Fuente
1411 NW 9th St.

I really wanted this place to be awesome, but Chicago’s well-stocked mercados spoiled me. La Fuente is half Mexican pantry basics and half haberdashery. They’ve got a small selection of reasonably priced hot sauce, dried chiles, tortillas, and instant Abuelita brand drinking chocolate, but that’s about it unless you need a shirt, a piñata, or a giant bag of those awful crunchy pinwheel snacks. A redeeming quality: the small, self-serve bakery case of pan dulce and churros.

Other fresh Corvallis arrivals should take note of this guide, too. Don’t spend a year blowing your out-of-town money on $5 coconut milk and stale spices from chain groceries like I did. After all, that posh high-rise apartment by the river doesn’t pay for itself.

Corvallis’ Leftovers

By Jaime Fuller, Bethany Carlson and Dave DeLuca

foodleftovers2The joys of living in a rich, industrialized country include getting our hands on nearly any food item we desire at nearly any time of day. Grocery stores are kept stocked full of our favorite and necessary edibles. But is there a cost to this exorbitance? Why yes, yes there is. According to NPR.com, “Supermarkets and restaurants serve up more than 400 million pounds of food each year, but nearly a third of it never makes it to a stomach.” Consumers want perfect, pristine fresh produce, which means retailers throw out heaps of decent, edible food that might only have a blemish or be slightly overripe. A full 10 percent of the available food supply in the U.S. is wasted every year at the retail level, reveals the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and about 20 percent is wasted at home.

We at The Advocate did a little research of our own to determine if food is going to waste locally. After scoping out a variety of food retailers, these were our findings:

BAKERIES:

Great Harvest

All leftover breads are donated to a multitude of different organizations including gleaners, churches, and school events. At the end of each day, one group or another stops by to collect breads, sweets, cookies, and scones.

New Morning Bakery

New Morning donates all breads and day-old pastries to various groups, but also gives their food scraps and coffee grounds to local farmers. Leftover bread is contributed to the South Corvallis Food Bank. Day-old pastries go to several organizations, such as schools and churches. An organization can submit a donation request for a specific date or length of time. The only regular donation group they have is on Saturdays, when leftovers are provided to Habitat for Humanity. Other than bread and pastries, NMB doesn’t have much food remaining at the end of the day. Maybe a sandwich or two, which employees can take home with them. If you are interested in submitting a donation request, write a letter describing your need and deliver it to Kera James at New Morning. You can also email her at kera@newmorningbakery.com, though she prefers a hard copy letter, as it won’t get buried in her junk email.

Panera Bread

This bagel and soup shop donates bags full of bagels, cookies, and assorted pastries to the community every night. In fact, all of the corporate-owned Panera stores end their day by giving away leftovers. Five different local charities, including the Oregon Food Bank, take turns hauling away donated food. Depending on the time of year, anywhere from one to three boxes and upwards of five big garbage bags full of leftover products are taken. That’s a lot of muffins!

 

RESTAURANTS:

Block 15

Very little food reaches its pull date here. Weekly specials sometimes make use of food that otherwise might not be served before its expiration, said Llanet Grischott, one of Block 15’s managers. That’s one way of adding creativity to their menu.

Flat Tail Brewing

Not much waste here either, said Kyle Davis. Food is ordered three times a week, and the brewery’s high turnover prevents food from nearing its expiration.

Laughing Planet

The Planet makes an effort to not have any leftover food. Whatever is left gets composted.

Les Caves

Caves uses up most of the food that it brings in. Food scraps and their compostable napkins and straws are composted.

Magenta

To keep food waste at a minimum, Magenta only buys what it uses and makes everything to order. If a customer leaves food on the plate, it becomes a meal for the chickens. Owner and chef Kimber Hoang explained, “I am very conscious about food waste. There are a lot of starving people, so to have food get wasted is very sad. My father wanted me to own a restaurant so I wouldn’t waste food.”

Big River

All leftover bread and cookies are donated to a local shelter, and other remaining food is sometimes donated. In the past during Thanksgiving, Big River has hosted a low-income and homeless feed. They have volunteers help cook and prepare the food, and a big plate of traditional Thanksgiving fare is free for everyone who comes in. Any food not used up at the feed is donated to a local shelter. Staff was uncertain as to whether the Thanksgiving feed will happen again this year, but if it’s a go, they will be advertising profusely.

Del Alma

The kitchen is pretty careful at Del Alma. There isn’t very much waste, since food costs are incredibly high. All menu items are served on small plates, so typically there are zero leftovers from customers, or they take home any uneaten portion of their meals.

GROCERY STORES:

First Alternative Co-op

Vegetable waste from the produce department is collected by people who want it for compost or chicken feed, said First Alt’s deli manager Jeannie Holiday. Food items are collected by Mary’s River Gleaners and Stone Soup. “Most of our Stone Soup donations are from our meat department,” said Holiday. “Perishables [like yogurt, cheese, or cold deli food] can be donated as long as the sell-by date is clearly visible, and as long as the product has been stored at safe, legal temperatures,” she continued. Prepared foods, which are served hot, cannot be donated for health reasons, and must be thrown away if they aren’t bought by the end of the day. Holiday said sometimes employees will buy up hot deli items before closing to prevent them from going to waste.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s local branch would not comment directly to The Advocate, but their national director of public relations, Alison Mochizuki, said, “Trader Joe’s long-running policy is to donate products that are not fit for sale but are safe for consumption. Each store has a designated donation coordinator, whose responsibilities include working with local food banks, food pantries, and/or soup kitchens in their communities to facilitate donations seven days a week.” She added that nationwide, Trader Joe’s donations to food banks amounted to over $260 million worth of food. When asked how many pounds of food the Corvallis store donated last year, Mochizuki said they had no additional comment at this time.

Market of Choice

This upscale grocer doesn’t let much of their extra food go to waste. Products in their bakery, kitchen, and grocery departments that are past pull date are donated to local gleaners. Specifically, Albany Gleaners and Harrisburg Harvesters Gleaners Inc. pick up the leftovers on alternating weeks. Sometimes as many as two or three cartloads of food are collected by the local non-profit organizations, which then donate the surplus to needy families. Although it is always the goal of MOC to produce as little extra food as possible, they are happy to give away what they cannot sell. In fact, they give away leftover hot foods from their kitchen to a local farmer, who uses it for pig slop. I hope Wilbur and Arnold like jojos and pizza by the slice.

All in all, Corvallis retailers do a great job of reducing the amount of food that goes to the landfill. Grocery stores seem to end up with the greatest amount of fare that can’t be sold, but they are active about giving it to people in need. If we are going to live lavishly in this country, it’s only fair to share otherwise wasted nutrients with those who are less fortunate. We then create a little more balance in the world.