Natural Foods Merchandiser

Spirit of Organic Honors Retailers

The fourth annual Spirit of Organic awards dinner will honor ?Innovators in Organic Retailing.? The event will again feature the celebrated fare of chef Nora Pouillon, owner of two certified organic restaurants in Washington D.C., Asia Nora and Restaurant Nora.

This year?s buffet-style dinner, held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Thursday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m., will highlight Latin, Asian and Mediterranean influences. Manufacturers participating in Expo East will provide organic wine.

Scott Silverman, organic program manager for New Hope Natural Media, says this year?s event is unique in that it will recognize retailers instead of individuals. ?We chose to honor retailers because they are the engine that drives new sales and new consumers. They are on the front line of facilitating communication and acting as a catalyst for growth of organic sales.

?The six retailers that are being acknowledged this year represent thousands of retailers that are part of the food revolution that is changing the way the modern world eats.?

This year?s Spirit of Organic awards recipients are:

Independent: Mustard Seed Market
Nominated by The Natural Foods Merchandiser, northeast Ohio-based Mustard Seed Market boasts a 90 percent organic produce department, and the entire store is certified organic. Founder-Owner Phillip Nabors, who will be accepting the award and says Mustard Seed prioritizes organics and embraces growers as well as consumers. ?We try to buy as much locally grown product as we can, and we also hold a variety of cooking classes and lectures, as well as perform off-premises catering and speeches to educate the community on organic and natural food.?

Co-operative: Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op
Andreu Mosche, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op?s local fresh foods merchandiser, will accept the award for the NFM-nominated co-operative. Paul Cultrera, general manager of the co-op, credits Mosche for the store?s 100 percent organic produce department. ?Four years ago, we got rid of all conventional produce and since then have doubled our efforts to purchase directly from local farmers,? Cultrera says. The co-op also works closely with the Monterey Bay Aquarium?s Seafood Watch to ensure the store carries only sustainably caught fish, and the co-op?s ?Adopt-a-Farm? program helps small local farmers by raising money to pay for their organic certification process.

Supernatural: Whole Foods Market
Accepting one of the Supernatural awards on behalf of NFM-nominated Whole Foods Market is Edmund LaMacchia, national produce coordinator. ?Our core commitment to organics has never been stronger,? says LaMacchia, who credits Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods with helping stabilize the organic market. ?We?ve become more responsible with our ability to forecast how much of a certain product we?ll need, allowing us to enter into specific buying plans with our producers. This helps us to avoid over- and undersupply, which can hurt growers financially.?

Supernatural: Wild Oats Market
Accepting the second Supernatural award for NFM-nominated Wild Oats is Sonja Tuitele, director of corporate communications. Wild Oats works to maintain the integrity of organics in its stores and throughout the farming community. When the National Organic Standards Act was threatened in 2003, Wild Oats participated in an educational campaign produced 250,000 letters in favor of the Act. In its stores, Wild Oats honors strict handling codes to ensure the purity of its produce, of which ?no less than 70 percent is organic, and up to 40 percent is locally grown,? says Tuitele.

International: El Rincón Orgánico
Accepting the International award is Mar?a Calzada, owner and founder of El Rincón Orgánico, a natural foods delivery company in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nominated by the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture, ?El Rincón has served as a channel for thousands of organic farmers and producers, medium and small, from Patagonia to the Andes, to reach the national market in Buenos Aires and to be able to export,? says Calzada.

Mainstream: Lunds and Byerly?s
Nominated by Natural Grocery Buyer, Minneapolis-based Lunds and Byerly?s has 20 stores in the Twin Cities area with certified organic produce departments. Accepting the award on behalf of the company is Bea James, Lunds and Byerly?s whole health manager. James notes that the company?s Living Wise program has been instrumental in increasing support of organic and natural foods. ?Living Wise embraces an integrated/segregated philosophy, which allows consumers to see organic and natural selections on every aisle, not just in one section.? Lunds and Byerly?s natural and organic sales have grown by an average of 59 percent for the past five years.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 10/p. 38, 42

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