Putting the Power of Product Information in Shoppers' Hands

Brandon Kane, 

General Manager

howgoodtagFor 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.

how-good-in-stores-shelfI 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

Who Needs a Reason? It's Pumpkin Beer Season

Adam Morris,
Grocery Manager

Fall beers are a reason to celebrate the change of the seasons. We've got a great variety from local and organic breweries.

20121012pumpkinciderharpoonI know you don't want to hear it but ... fall and winter are coming! We in the Grocery Department mark the seasonal changes early to coincide with our local and regional beer company's changing seasonal options. That's right, the fall beers are here! Harvest beers, pumpkin beers, and the Oktoberfest brews are rolling in. We've got Country Pumpkin from Ithaca Beer Company, Pumpkin and Oktoberfest brews from Saranac, Harvest Ale from Southern Tier, Pumpkin Ale from Magic Hat, and an organic Pumpkin from Wolavers! We'll also be getting the Post Road Pumpkin from Brooklyn Brewery along with a very limited amount of Pumking from Southern Tier. And, for the first time, we have a gluten-free pumpkin option in the form of Harpoon Brewery Pumpkin Cider. All of these wonderful brews will be available in our beer selection as well as in several seasonal displays spread throughout the store. It's worth celebrating the season's change so early when so many wonderful libations are available to try at the Co-op!

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