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
|All Up in Your Grill|
It's not too early to start grilling — try some local pork, or meatless Gardein products. We've got all the fixin's.
It's never too early to start grilling! Try local, heritage-breed, pasture-raised, and 100-percent organic-grain-fed pork products from Hog Wild Farm for great barbecue fare! Throw those pork chops or hot dogs on your grill and fire it up with Woodstock all-natural hardwood lump charcoal. Try some Silver Hill hot-dog buns or Udi's gluten-free options. Woodstock supplies the grillin' fixin's: organic mustard and ketchup (part of our low-cost BASICS program!), and organic pickles and relish. You can also create a vegetarian barbecue from the exciting array of Gardein meatless products in the freezer. Be sure to try the new black bean burger. Round out your meal with a crisp, cold, regionally brewed Narragansett lager — the Pabst Blue Ribbon of New England and the perfect complement to springtime grilling! Not local enough for you? How about a bottle of Utica Club, the Pabst of upstate NY? Another easy sipping lager on hand here at the Co-op!