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Raley’s to award grants for ecology-friendly ideas

Raley’s Supermarkets said it plans to give away 10 grants totaling $ 30,000 for the best ideas to improve communities and make the planet a healthier place.


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The program — called “Healthy planet, healthy you” — was launched in commemoration of Earth Day. It will award grants from Raley’s Reach to the top 10 ideas that receive the most votes, with the top vote-getter receiving a $ 10,000 grant; the next two ideas getting grants of $ 5,000 each; the fourth- and fifth-place qualifiers receiving grants of $ 2,500 each; and five additional grants of $ 1,000 each.

Organizations can submit ideas through May 2, with ideas being posted for online voting May 5; voting is scheduled to end May 16, with winners announced sometime later, the company said.

“Raley’s has a long history of working to improve the environment in the communities where we do business. Given that commitment, we wanted to focus our Raley’s Reach program to help put 10 earth-friendly ideas into action,” said Jennifer Teel-Wolter, community relations manager for the West Sacramento, Calif.-based chain.

Raley’s said its environmental efforts including the following:

• Recycling more than 680 tons of store waste— aluminum, glass, plastic containers, cardboard, plastic shopping bags and expired food products — rather than dumping it into landfills.

• Making expired produce and other edibles available to local farmers as a food source for livestock.

• Installing a solar plant on top of the chain’s 400,000-square-foot distribution center in Sacramento to provide nearly 20% of the facility’s energy and supplemental power.

• Upgrading store refrigeration systems to be more energy-efficient and installing “night blankets” on refrigeration units to limit energy loss during evening hours.

• Using natural lighting from skylights in stores to reduce energy consumption; and installing more efficient light bulbs that use motion sensors to turn off lights automatically to reduce energy costs.

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Public Health Impact Levy, Urban Ag Zoning, and GMO Ban Among Latest Western Legislative Ideas

More evidence is in to support the old theory that legislative ideas move from west to east in the United States. This is primarily because California remains a hotbed for progressive ideas of all sorts.

California Senate Bill 747 is back for 2014 in an amended form. It would allow the state to levy $ 20,000 on retailers or producers of products that might contribute to “public health epidemics” for “risk assessments and mitigation documents” which then could be used for regulatory purposes.

The “adverse impact” on public health in California would have to exceed $ 50 million before the provisions of the statute would apply. The bill as amended is scheduled for a hearing Jan. 15 before the Senate Health Committee.

Also in California, the Berkeley-based Sustainable Economics Legal Center, which helped draft and pass the state’s new Cottage Food Law, is going to be seeking support for a bill making it a right to grow food. It is essentially a measure to trump city zoning laws that often limit urban farming activities.

Some cities have eased up on urban farming as it has become a more popular activity, but not enough, according to the center’s Christina Oatfield. She says California cities are not keeping up with the urban agriculture movement.

The California bill will address the growth and sale of edible plants, but will not address the popular backyard poultry movement for producing eggs. The center has apparently decided that backyard animal farms cause more problems for cities.

Meanwhile, Big Island Councilwoman Brenda Ford wants a ban on all genetically modified crops in Hawaii County. Ford is bringing back the issue many thought was decided a month ago when Hawaii County limited GMO production to contained facilities such as greenhouses and exempted Hawaii’s genetically engineered papaya crop and its Big Island Dairy.

Ford insists that re-visiting the issue is not a waste of time, although she also said she doesn’t expect a ban to pass. What’s important, she indicated, is that the county discusses the issue going forward.

Food Safety News

Retailers Welcome Autumn With Bakery Ideas

With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, retailers are targeting shoppers with a sweet tooth. The chains are promoting fall-themed baking recipes and store-made bakery products. 

In a blog post, Whole Foods called attention to the versatility of butternut squash with a pumpkin pie recipe and pumpkin cornmeal muffin recipe, as well as savory dish recipes like butternut squash panzanella salad. 

Fred Meyer is making an event of caramel apples and calling shoppers into the store for freshly made products.

Sam’s Club took a different approach to the classic caramel apple with a caramel apple cookie recipe.

PCC Natural Markets is encouraging consumers to embrace the colder weather, with a warm gooey dessert.

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Mushroom Council remaining out in front with great ideas, strong promotions, active participation

The Mushroom Council is thrilled about the attention that mushrooms received at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo in Monterey, CA, July 26-28.

“For the second year in a row, the Mushroom Council took the top prize in the Produce Marketing Association’s competitive Chef Demonstration Lunch,” said Bart Minor, council president. “Blendability once again proved to be an operator favorite by innovatively meeting all contest requirements to decrease plate cost and feature produce prominently on the plate, all in an appetizing presentation.”

Minor said guests enjoyed their choice of blended mushroom and beef or mushroom and turkey sliders with a variety of sauces, slaws and mushrooms to top.

He noted that the Meatless Monday trend has driven consumer demand for more meatless, sustainable options, saying that mushrooms are poised for continued sales growth as the meatless and flexetarian trend continues.

“As protein costs continue to rise and consumers continue to demand healthier products, mushroom blendability and swapability will take center stage,” said Minor. “Due to their texture and flavor, mushrooms partner, blend, extend or replace meat seamlessly, leaving consumers both satisfied and healthy.”

The Mushroom Council has seen evidence of the growing meatless and healthier eating trend both in foodservice and retail. The council noted that, according to Fusion Marketing, 65 percent of retailers surveyed said healthy eating was the No. 1 opportunity emerging as a consumer message platform.

Retail data indicated Portabella dollars sales have increased 23.9 percent. This growth is set to continue well into the fall as the grilling season continues, ending right before the busy holiday season, thus keeping mushroom demand consistent throughout the year.

The inaugural Mushroom & Health Nutrition Summit is scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, in September. Minor said it has always been central to the Mushroom Council’s strategy to invest in nutrition research.

“Continued focus on mushroom research has unveiled the countless nutrition and health benefits mushrooms provide,” he said. “As greater demand for naturally nutrient-dense foods increases, the known health benefits of mushrooms will continue to drive purchases.

The council will host the Mushroom & Health Summit on the importance of continued nutrition research and education while simultaneously harnessing the potential of future research.

“The summit will convene the world’s top scientists, nutritionists and health professionals to discuss and explore the vital role research discovery plays in improving consumer health and the nutrient content of the food supply,” said Minor. “It will specifically address mushrooms and the strength of the science linking mushrooms and health in areas of interest, such as vitamin D, weight management, immunity and cancer.”

For the fifth year, the Mushroom Council will again participate in the in-store City of Hope Pink Campaign supporting breast cancer research and awareness. Pink mushroom tills will again fill produce sections across the United States during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

“The mushroom Pink promotion has found great success in lifting sales throughout the past five years,” said Minor. “Continued success is expected this year, especially with increased digital support including guest bloggers, Twitter parties and Facebook posts. Most important is that the Pink Campaign drives greater consumer awareness linking mushrooms and health.”

For the second year, the Mushroom Council returned to the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Kansas City, MO,  in July. After an overwhelming reception to the blendability concept in 2012, the council made an even greater impression this year by sampling several mushroom-blended school recipes and sponsoring a culinary demonstration.

At the booth, council representatives served mushroom and turkey meatloaf, mushroom and beef taco salad, and pasta with mushroom marinara to an energetic crowd of school foodservice directors.

The council’s digital team filmed school foodservice directors’ personal testimonials on their experiences with blendability. These videos are shared on the new mushrooms in schools website, mushroomsinschools.com.

The culinary demonstration was hosted by local school lunch chefs Barb Scott and Aaron Woods from Hickman Mills School District in Kansas City. Chefs Barb and Aaron, who have already incorporated mushroom blendability into their lunch program, demonstrated the technique with a mushroom and beef taco salad and a mushroom and beef marinara. Council representative Malissa Marsden demonstrated the ease of preparing a Portabella panini for those districts interested in serving more vegetarian options to students.

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