These are reviews of Davis Food Co-op from 2006. For more current reviews, visit the entry.

2006-01-23 18:50:41   One thing I love about the co-op is that they are not snobby in their food selection. There are the expected natural/organic foods, and then you can also buy Doritos. I like that kind of tolerance and diversity — not feeling pressured to be so "correct" and pure all the time. —KarenaAslanian

2006-01-24 19:19:35   For anybody who thinks the Co-Op is patronised exclusively by liberals, today I was parked right next to a van with a W '04 sticker. —KenjiYamada

  • Very true. There are all sorts of people who shop there. Including conservative types that frequent the store because it's the only place one can buy "real" foods that might remind one of living in the country. Raw milk, goat milk, whole grains, organics, isn't political, it's fulfilling. The store is also very popular with people with food allergies or diet restrictions.

2006-02-23 18:08:52   Do be careful here, just because things in the deli are labeled vegan doesn't mean they actually are. I bought tamales that were labeled as vegan, but they had eggs in them. I asked the clerk about it, and they changed the sign to vegetarian. I felt pretty screwed over, so be sure to check the ingredients before you eat your food even if the placard says vegan. —VincentLee

2006-02-27 15:49:08   Their organic meats are primo. It's a wonderful compromise for those unable to take the full-on veggie plunge: meat without the guilt of inhumane treatment. It also tastes way better (you don't taste the cruelty haha). Worth the cost, which also helps encourage you to eat less of it since it's 'spensive. —JulieEickhof

2006-02-27 16:38:56   Wish they had a better food Whole Foods. Actually, waddaya'll think of WFoods? —LookyLoo

2006-03-28 13:38:27   As I write this, I am reminded how this small store HAS IT ALL. Must be why I shop nowhere else. It's as if one separated everything good from everything bad, put the good stuff here and the bad stuff... —SteveDavison

Rumors are flying that Co-op General Manager Eric Stromberg's contract will not be renewed. Have heard that the board rejected his profit-oriented management style, steering the co-op further and further from its community-oriented roots. Anybody know if there's any truth to the rumors? —WilyFerret

Like most rumours, there's more untruth to that one than truth. Here's a recent message from the DFC Board President, Joan Randall. —GrahamFreeman

Please distribute widely

A message from DFC Board of Directors to our membership and staff about the GM contract

The current general manager CONTRACT as written is flawed. It contains contradictions to be corrected, ambiguities that need clarification, and elements poorly written. The board contracted legal counsel to review this contract and to advise the board as to how subsequent contracts might be made both employee-fair and cooperative/business-prudent. Based on that advice, the Board is scraping the current contract and has taken on the task of constructing the elements of the next contract.

The current contract contains a six-month notice of non-renewal requirement. That is, the employer (the Board) or the employee is to give the other notice if either intends not to renew. Scrapping and rewriting a contract means it will not be renewed, therefore, the six-month notice must be given. That has been done. We so advised our incumbent GM, Eric Stromberg, both informally and formally. The current contract will simply run out. Eric has knowingly been directly involved in the Board's contract work since the summer of 2005. At that time, the Board changed a small portion of his compensation package as a way to begin our mutual conversation about the inclusion of specific performance outcomes as well as store profit outcomes. Our intent was that by working together, the GM and the Board, we would create a positive dialog during this last contract year, so as to develop more effective communication patterns reflective of the positive policy work we have accomplished over the last few years. Our bumpy process has made it clear that a fundamentally different contract is necessary to be in-sync with DFC values and goals. That is, we seek to set performance goals, offer support to achieve those goals, and provide rewards - appropriate and fair compensation.

The Board has been busy crafting new contract elements to be completed by June, the end of this Board cycle. We are required by confidentiality and time constraints to do much of our work in closed forums. In addition to clarifying what constitutes good faith action in terms of our fiduciary responsibility as your Board, much of what we talk about is personnel performance.

Finally, it is our expectation that the Board will enthusiastically encourage Eric to participate in the new contract process when it is ready to be initiated.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Joan Randall, BOD President DFC, Inc. Phone 530-758-3895

Background: The current contract was written about three years ago. At that time, the prime focus of the Board was to create DFC-relevant policies out of the "cut and paste from other co-ops" condition. (See President's 2006 message to the membership). Our current Board practices and Director training have produced a process with good outcomes: clearer policies, more effective monitoring, and meaningful boundaries between the Board and management. The work has also resulted in more meaningful values contributions from the membership into our member-owned business (e.g., see End 1: Food Values). The overall desired outcome is a more vital DFC community with future oriented momentum.

I think the problem here is that this letter doesn't answer a lot of questions. For example:

Will the current GM be offered a new contract? Has a new contract been written yet? Why is this coming right before some current board members' (including Joan Randall) terms are about to expire? If the current GM isn't being offered a new contract and/or you don't have one written yet, how do you expect to find a GM — who needs to know not only how to run a store, but how to run a co-op — by the time the contract expires?

It's no wonder people are confused.


  • The way I read the letter, the Board has encouraged Mr. Stromberg and expects that he will participate in the negotiations for a new contract. Anything to do with contracts and Personnel legal matters takes longer and is more complicated than it seems like it needs to be. - rocksanddirt

2006-04-27 02:31:04   If you have questions about the DFC Board's actions, I encourage you to attend DFC Board meetings. Personnel matters are confidential by law, but generally speaking the DFC Board is quite open and welcoming to member involvement. —GrahamFreeman

2006-04-27 02:35   Further evidence that rumours tend not to be worth repeating: the current President of the Board of the DFC delivered to Eric Stromberg on Wed 26 Apr '06 a letter of intent to offer him a new three-year employment contract. —GrahamFreeman

Mr. Freeman, thanks for the update: everything I wanted to know, and more. Are you British? —WilyFerret

2006-05-01 18:36   Nope. My parents just liked the name Graham. Happy May Day! —GrahamFreeman

2006-04-22 07:50:41   In addition, we love the Co-op. We spend about 80 to 90 % of our food money there. —RocksandDirt

2006-05-04 19:33:20   The people at the Co-op are SO FRIENDLY. They are always smiling and seem to get along very well. Also, they are really big on donating to the community. They readily donated to Tri Delta's sorority fundraiser "Big Bats" and were really generous. I LOVE THEM. —ValeriePeterson

2006-06-30 22:30:46   I enjoy the sushi. I haven't had any problems with anything else here, either, although when my wife tried to buy a small bag of organic grapes, the price was $12.00. We returned the grapes. —MisterProfessor

2006-06-30 22:52:55   Next 11% sale is sometime in November, I'll get the exact dates when I know them Your friendly Deli Dude: —TarZxf

2006-07-06 18:42:51   I can't believe nobody has mentioned the AMAZING wine selection the Co-op has. Paul, the wine buyer is very knowledgeable. Check out one of the wine tastings they freqeuntly host. They are usually themed, cost a $1 a taste, and I believe the proceeds go to charity. A good way to find bargain wines. —DjzayValenta

  • CREEPY. I just came home from the Co-Op and I was going to make an edit to mention this very fact. It must be telepathy! —KenjiYamada

"2006-08-03 20:53:42"   I like shopping at the Food Co-op, but I think the Co-op could improve itself with a few structural changes. For example, a lot of really succesful "health food" stores have an awesome deli area and a juice/smoothie bar. While the Co-op does have a deli section, it is sub-par to places like Nugget. They have no juice or smoothie bar, which is strange considering it is a health food store. I have given them the recommendation of putting a juice/smoothie bar where the demo area currently is. The demo area is underused and is not a necessary part of their business - they could always have someone demoing an item in another part of the store on a small table. Also, they have a meager drink selection - they could certainly improve this.

On the other hand, they have a really good bulk spice/tea selection and an extensive wine selection, a la Trader Joe's. Their bulk dried food selection is good too, considering they have strange foods that you cannot get elsewhere. This is the beauty of a health food store.

This is my own personal comment, but I think the term "health food" store implies that what these stores offer are necessarily healthy. Places like the Davis Food Co-op and Whole Foods and Wild Oats (not to mention Trader Joe's craziness) offer a lot of junk food that is labeled organic. Just because something is organic does not mean it's good for you. A lot of the things these places offer are healthy, but so are items in Safeway or Albertson's. Unfortunately, you have to look for these items in both types of stores! I do think health food stores offer (currently) non-mainstream food items as opposed to a mainstream supermarket like Safeway. This is a major benefit. They also offer more items that are environmentally-friendly and responsibly produced. I think it would be more accurate to call health food stores "alternative supermarkets" for the time being, given that we call places like Safeway a "supermarket" (because it is the norm), places like Cosco a "megamart," and places that predominantly carry Indian or Mexican food, etc... an "ethnic market." Anyways, that was just my tirade. It would be more accurate to call these places an "alternative supermarket" because they are an alternative to mainstream joints like Safeway.

By the way, where are the Uncle Eddie's Vegan Cookies? Oh man, those are sooo good yet sooo fattening! And I was so disappointed that they discontinued these awesome Tofutti Cutie large and round icecream sandwiches. I have lobbied the Co-op for them to bring this back, but, alas, to no avail! :( —ArielaHaro

  • I just want to point out that the DFC is a natural foods store not a "health food" store; there is a difference. —NiareeHopelian
    • What is the difference between a health food store and a natural food store? This is begging the question. I wasn't aware that there was such a distinction, they seem synonymous. -AH
  • I too have never thought of (or heard anybody refer to) the DFC as a health food store. They are a local cooperative grocery store. They sell quite a bit of health food, but then so does Safeway. —JabberWokky
  • Well, I used to work at a Wild Oats location in Los Angeles, and that place was referred to as a "health food store." Perhaps in L.A., there is less discrimination as to what constitutes a health food store. Also, I have heard a lot of people refer to the DFC as a health food store and a cooperative supermarket. There's this place I used to shop at in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, called simply, The Co-op, that is referred to as a health food store. As its name implies, it is a cooperative supermarket as well as a health food carrier. I might also point out that the DFC carries a ton of health food as well as alternative medicines and other products, so in this sense, they are very different from Safeway. Safeway does not have a huge alternative medicine section and they carry a marginal amount of organic produce to appeal to a niche market. DFC is the exact opposite, where the bulk of what they carry is organic and considered "natural" or "health" food, while they carry a marginal amount of conventional produce and regular junk food to appeal to that market. So in this sense, I think they are a cooperative grocery store in concern with their practices and an alternative food store in connection with what they carry. —ArielaHaro
    • Yes, but as you say, they aren't a health food store as they carry some very tasty things that aren't at all healthy... their handmade sausages, for instance. There's no attempt to be what you're trying to cast them as and then chiding for failure. You might as well complain that McDonalds is serving sub-par Irish cuisine... that's not what they are. The Davis Food Co-op is a cooperative grocery, under the principles of the International Co-operative Alliance. They started in a living room and have a focus on their community and their position in local community, and claim little to no intent on being a "health food" store. Perhaps you're judging them incorrectly by assuming they are something that they are not and have never claimed to be. —JabberWokky
      • From people I've talked to, I have only heard the Co-op referred to as a health-food store. I learned after a while what a co-operative grocery store was, but that always seemed related to its organization, not the content of its shelves. According to this very wiki page it is at a halfway point between "health food" and mainstream food: They position themselves as a "crossover" store, meaning they have health/natural foods as well as traditional supermarket items. I have never been to a "health-food" store that did not carry significant amounts of mainstream food, by the way, so I'm not sure if "halfway" is quite apt either. I concur with Ariela's point about "health-food" not necessarily being "healthy" - it is something we've discussed off the wiki. As for "Natural" food, heh. I think "whole" foods are a better description of some of the kinds of foods sold at the Co-op, such as whole flours and bulk grains, whereas "alternative" foods more accurately describe some other kinds of food, such as all the weird things made from soy, and vegan cookies. Obviously, there will be crossover. But I think that whole and alternative foods (too bad Whole Foods is the name of a chain of stores) are a better description than the ostensible "health" adjective. As for the handmade sausages, meat has a lot of nutrients.

To bring it all together, maybe some people who know more about the mission of the DFC should put more information on this page about it. -KarlMogel

2006-08-25 00:57:05   Only place to shop in Davis. support your local farmers, and the organic industry! The workers are really down to earth, and super friendly! —GehLei

2006-08-25 01:05:42   Oh yeah! Definetlt worth coughing up the fifteen bucks for a membership. Part of that is refundable when you move! And you get a realy great discount. It way better to just lend a helping hand, and volunteer for a coupla hours a week. Bring yer own bag! Save the earth. —GehLei

2006-09-06 00:15:55   I've been working in San Francisco for a few months now, and one of my paths to work takes me by a Whole Foods store. There are things that Whole Foods does better than the DFC, but sushi is not one of them! The DFC sushi is much better, fresher, and about $3/package cheaper. DFC should open a San Francisco store. :) —GrahamFreeman

2006-10-09 15:35:29   You may have been a hippie in the 60s and into organic food before most Co-op employees and customers were born, but if you dare walk into the store after work with business attire on, you'll be disdainfully ignored when you ask for help. I tried to like the Co-op, but I can't get past the holier-than-thou attitude and the terrible quality, over-priced produce. —AngelBug

2006-11-03 11:51:30   I rarely shop at a main chain anymore unless it's for something I absolutely crave at the time, such as a big can of Monster. Their beer selection is, for the prices, unbeatable. Also, I tend to like my coffee blonde, so while the price on the half-and-half (Organic Valley) is slightly higher than Safeway, it's sell date and lasting date is 2 weeks longer than Safeway's — and it tastes better, too! My only complaint is that the meat prices are higher, but hey, you get what you pay for. I've never had better meat (veg(etari)ans, hush...) than they sell at the Co-Op. We used to have one over in Marin LONG ago. I miss it. It closed when I was about nine. And the slow lines don't phase me — the atmosphere is much more mellow than your standard hustle and bustle chain. I have no complaints about the co-op whatsoever. Our household pretty much does ALL the shopping there. Oh, and the occasional sales on the big jugs of Odwalla are nice as well. —GreyWolf

2006-11-03 18:32:56   Very friendly people however I didnt find the food I purchased to be very good. But I guess thats what happens when you try new things without knowing exactly what they are. —RichardBobo

2006-11-28 12:46:31   I have only had mediocre experiences at the Co-Op. Even though the shelf-food is very high quality and the produce good, the people that work there have always been slightly rude to me. I used to shop there because the food quality was so much better than Safeway's but now I shop at the Nugget. At least there the people are not so self-righteous, and the food is just as good. Better selection of cheeses at the Nugget too. —VinceBuffalo

"2006-12-7 10:44:38" The Davis Enterprise ran a story on Tuesday (Dec. 5, '06) about how Davis Food Co-op shoppers who live in West Davis told the grocery store's directors Monday they want a satellite Co-op store in the now-vacant Westlake Plaza site in their neighborhood. This is an idea which makes a great deal of sense, from a community perspective. Bringing the great deals, fine selection of produce and Co-op values to a section of Davis which now doesn't even have a grocery store. The Satellite Co-op is a use of Co-op members' funds which makes sense, especially for students who live in West Davis and don't have cars. —WilyFerret

2006-12-12 12:47:58   I would live at co-op if I could] —GoofBall

2006-12-13 21:18:59   I'm glad this place is around. The workers are all really laid back compared to the rest of the grocery stores (no uniforms, no attitude). They are also super nice. Ask any of them for assistance and they jump at the opportunity. The food here is well priced (especially if you are a member) and the clincher is they sell some foods you just can't get elsewhere. —JohnHumperdinkle