For over 10 years, Council and staff have endeavored to provide GreenStar's customers and member-owners with various forms of augmented product education in our stores. Our goal has been to assist shoppers in making product choices that match up with their personal values and reflect some of the loftier values of the cooperative itself. The major obstacle to providing substantial product information is the amount of time it would take to do the necessary research and then maintain a database and labeling system on a routine basis. A bustling, independent store like ours simply cannot afford to dedicate the labor to an ongoing project of this magnitude. Which is why it was so intelligent for the founders of How Good to create a product-rating service designed for retailers in our very position. GreenStar Co-op has partnered with How Good to bring this rating system to our own shelves.
How Good seeks to move beyond ambiguous labeling, such as "all natural," and instead examine the actual footprint a product has on multiple levels, including social and environmental. To do this, their team of researchers look into a product's impact using a variety of criteria that align with our Co-op's values: Does the company employ fair-labor practices? Are ingredients locally sourced? What level of processing does the product undergo? Are the ingredients of high quality? What are the growing practices for the ingredients? And the list goes on...
Every product considered is then given a rating from 0-3 — 0 being "not good" and 3 being "excellent." This shows up as a simple, non-invasive symbol adjacent to the product's shelf tag. Because so much research results in only a simple symbol rating, How Good understands that many shoppers will want to know the details about how a product received a particular rating. To this end, How Good provides further information in two ways. People who own smartphones can make use of an app that will allow them to access a database of more than 100,000 products, along with all the details of their ratings. Those without smartphones will soon be able to use an in-store tablet kiosk equipped with this same How Good app.
I think it's important to note that the purpose of offering this rating system is not to make people feel guilty or coerce them into purchasing one product over another. We all have the dynamics of income, family, bills, and personal values and tastes to balance when making decisions as consumers. GreenStar's hope in offering this service is to go that extra mile for you, providing you with as much information as possible to help you make informed choices when shopping at the Co-op.
Currently How Good works with grocery products only (dry, refrigerated, and frozen), although they aspire to incorporate health and beauty products into their ratings in the future. Over the next few months, you will begin to see the How Good tags and information kiosks in our stores. I hope you find this service useful and as always thank you for your dedicated support of GreenStar Co-op.
New in Grocery
|Keep it Cool with Great Local Products|
Organic pizza in great new flavors? Yes, please! And check out local dryer balls and applesauce from two area farms.
Have you found Hudson Valley Flat Bread pizzas (83 percent or more organic) in our freezers? Look again: they're there at a lower price and in several new flavors (Roasted Goat cheese, anyone?). Next, from Fibers N Creations of Willseyville, NY, we've got dryer balls made from local hand-felted wool, an all-natural way to soften laundry and decrease drying time. (Lace them with drops of essential oil!) Think local for applesauce, too. We've just added one from Crooked Carrot Farms, straight outta Danby, made from a delicious mix of apple varieties and packed in a handsome 24-oz. jar. Then there's Black Diamond Farm applesauce from Trumansburg, which includes homegrown heirloom apples. Their pint-sized option has a great texture, and no sugar. In the sweetness department, we've added Madugno A4 maple syrup, family made and family run, from Deposit, NY. GreenStar is their first retailer outside of their own farm stand! Finally, beat Ithaca heat with an Ithaca innovation: Celia's Ice Pops come in awesome flavors (apple cider rosemary!).