East Bay Natural Grocers Win StopWaste Business Efficiency Award
Alameda Natural Grocery has been the go-to place for healthy, sustainable foods and other goods for almost two decades, and they recently expanded to Castro Valley, bringing the same “highest-use first” practices to the new location.
Alameda & Castro Valley Natural Grocers is an independently operated, woman-owned, Certified Green Business, where benefits to both people and planet guide every decision. In December 2020 they were recognized by Alameda County public agency StopWaste with a 2020 Business Efficiency Award for Excellence in Waste Reduction and Reuse.
Under the leadership of founder and president Donna Layburn, the stores follow a philosophy of “highest use first.” For example, leftover whole foods are used as ingredients for their prepared foods like salads and soups. In addition, employees get first pick of any products that can no longer be sold before sending still-edible items to the food bank. If food is no longer edible for humans, it goes to people nearby with chickens and rabbits to feed, with composting as a last resort.
The Alameda store launched the “Second Cycle” program in May 2019, selling perfectly nutritious but cosmetically imperfect produce for just $0.99 cents per pound. Since then, the program has helped save over 5,500 pounds of imperfect but perfectly edible produce at both locations, while making healthy, sustainable food more accessible and affordable.
They have also started several innovative initiatives to cut down on packaging waste. The Ditching Disposables Diner Club incentivizes customers to choose reusables when they eat in. Before the pandemic forced them to pause the program, close to 2000 eat-in meals had been served in reusable bowls. Donna and her team are looking forward to bringing back the Club when Covid-19 health orders permit.