PFC Newsletter March 2019
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Sunday March 10 - Owner Discount Day 10% off
Tuesday March 19 - Board Meeting 6 pm

Dear Co-op Customers and Co-owners,

As I am sure you know, our main refrigerated shelves are quite empty again. We have had four major repairs in the last three months. We have also had to remove/replace three stand alone refrigeration units (cheese case and two deli units).

Through this events I have learned a lot. First, I am guilty of taking for granted that our store’s refrigeration is constantly working to keep all foods at the perfect and safe temperature, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for years on end. Refrigeration is truly a modern miracle! Unfortunately, it is common for large units to have costly and time-consuming repairs. It is the cost of doing business as a grocery store or any food service business that relies on refrigeration. I have heard countless stories from local businesses and other co-ops that echo our experiences.

Our first concern is to preserve as much product as possible. We quickly prioritize meat, cheese, local items, and other high value items into back-up refrigeration. The good news is we now have many SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place and we act swiftly to reduce food waste. Food that is consumable goes to our staff and the El Dorado Food Bank. The good news is that a lot of food is consumable just not sellable.

Rest assured, we have insurance and have filed a claim to be reimbursed for loss of food as well as repair costs. We cannot be compensated for loss of sales and we cannot even begin to measure the impact of non quantifiable losses such as loss of customers, either for a day or forever. As a shopper of the co-op myself, I know that is it incredibly frustrating when you cannot rely on your favorite grocery store to have basics such as frozen vegetables and meat. We understand your frustration and we’re working hard to re-stock.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Our first breakdown occurred in June 2018. Our main retail freezer needed a new compressor. It was a multi-day repair that had our freezer empty for four days.

The second breakdown was in October 2018 - the same retail freezer had a related, but different, issue. We have since learned that refrigeration is very complicated - there are compressors, condensers, electronics, and all pieces must be working in perfect harmony at all times in order for proper refrigeration. One repair often leads to, or is connected to, another issue that may, or may not, show up within 24 hours or several days or weeks.

In December of 2018 our entire refrigeration system, which includes two walk-ins, a produce case, our retail freezer, our retail drink cooler, and two deli cases, was affected by the freezing temperatures (which we learned can affect the complex nature of refrigeration).
Mid-February we had another store-wide repair that occurred due to the major PG&E power outage.

The last week of February we had an issue (refrigerant leak) that affected all units in the store. Luckily it was diagnosed and repaired within a few short hours and food loss was kept to a minimum.

What do we do?

After an outage, we do not stock until we the temperature holds at the correct temperature for at least 24 hours. We learned our lesson in June when we re-stocked as quickly as possible and lost everything in our freezer when the temps unexpectedly rose overnight.

We stock slowly, beginning with basics and top-selling items. It is a challenge for us to have bare shelves but the thought of losing food is overwhelming.

We have still not stocked our ice cream set. As you probably know, when ice cream is out of temperature for even a short amount of time, you cannot refreeze it and maintain the quality. We have lost over $10,000 in ice cream alone and we cannot continue to restock with this in mind. When the warm weather returns, we will have ice cream!

Common Questions

What are you doing to prevent this from happening again?

We have a quarterly PM (Preventative Maintenance) contract that ensures basic operations and maintenance of our units. Unfortunately, preventative maintenance cannot predict outside factors and as we now know, repairs are often still needed.

We have new wi-fi temperature sensors that alert us when temps are too warm or cold. 

What about a generator?!

Due to the nature of our system, a generator is not a feasible option. We now have a plan to bring a refrigerated truck from Sacramento to store our food if another large outage occurs. Let's hope we d not need to use this option!

In closing, we’re grateful to all co-op shoppers who have given us kind words of support through this stressful time. Thank you for your continued support of the co-op. We have come together in a way that only happens under crisis. Thank you to PFC staff for your incredible work and resilience. I am incredibly proud of our staff and how they have handled the disheartening chain of events. Thank you to our board, as they support our staff and our store. A huge thank you to Heidi and Ben Leveroni for the donation and installation of our new wi-fi temperature sensors.

As always, please contact me with questions and suggestions.

In cooperation,

Regina Miranda

You May Be Wondering What in the World is Happening at the Co-op…..

If you have been into the co-op lately, you will have noticed that we have been having some issues with refrigeration.  Admittedly, it may appear as if we are not very good at managing inventory or equipment or both. You have undoubtedly been frustrated on these visits when you saw that many of the items you wished to find were simply not available.  Well, you cannot be more frustrated than we are about all of this. We have endured the most unusual series of unfortunate events. Multiple, unrelated breakdowns of key refrigeration equipment have left staff and management scrambling to secure as much inventory as possible while donating what they could not secure to the Upper Room in Placerville.  

Each outage has caused financial losses as well as morale losses as we work very hard to conserve and not be wasteful only to endure one loss after another. But the most difficult loss for us is the loss in member satisfaction and confidence. Please know that management has worked diligently to fix and maintain the refrigeration units, working long extra hours and coordinating numerous visits with the technicians.  Members of the board have brought in temperature gauges with sensors to detect changes and notify management on cell phones. Temperature readings are taken and recorded several times a day. And staff has worked hard to restock the shelves and respond to member comments about the lack of items available. These events are very trying on the staff of the co-op and we want you to know that we recognize they have been trying for you, our owner-members as well.   

We hope that the issues have been resolved and we can now look forward to uninterrupted service for the foreseeable future and we want to thank you for your patience and understanding.

Cooperatively Yours,

Heidi Mayerhofer
Board Secretary


Food For Thought: Is eating organic food really healthier?
Many organic consumers tout the health benefits of eating food produced without conventional methods including the use of pesticides. A new study conducted by UC Berkeley and Friends of the Earth backs up that claim with compelling evidence that indicates switching to an organic diet quickly and substantially reduces pesticides in the human body.

An organic diet was associated with significant reductions in urinary excretion of several pesticide metabolites and parent compounds. This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that an organic diet may reduce exposure to a range of pesticides in children and adults. 
Organophosphates dropped the most, with a 70 percent overall reduction. Chlorpyrifos—which has been linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities, and reduced IQ in children—dropped 61 percent in participants, and malathion, a probable human carcinogen, dropped 95 percent. After six days on the organic diet, overall pesticide levels dropped 60.5 percent in both the adults and children. While the study shows the body quickly rids itself of these compounds it is consistent exposure over time that is worrisome.
The study concludes that more research is needed on the effects of neonicotinoids which are now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world.

Study Highlights
  • Diet is a primary source of pesticide exposure.
  • Organic diet reduced neonicotinoid, OP, pyrethroid, 2,4-D exposure in U.S. families. 
  • Greatest reduction observed for malathion, clothianidin, and chlorpyrifos.
The Co-op is fortunate to have three local organic farmers on our board who help bring our attention to current issues. It’s an important part of our mission to provide education on health, food, and sustainability and to share the potential impacts on our members and community. In our “Food For Thought” series we will continue to explore topics we think are important to you. If you have any thoughts or ideas on future topics please feel free to contact us at:
Help us congratulate Julie!  Julie is our Deli Manager and as you can tell, our entire store appreciates everything she does!

"She is positive, helpful, and awesome!"
"Julie jams under pressure, she's made the deli the dopest in town!"
"Hard-workin' lady who is holding it down in the kitchen! She is great to work with!

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Placerville Food Co-op · 535 Placerville Dr. · Placerville, California 95667 · USA

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