Saturday, August 15, 2009

New day, new place

Just a quick note to let you know I am now blogging at my own domain. Find me at Earthbound Chronicles. It's an amalgam of all my blogs, I hope you'll follow the link! See ya there!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009


Quite the flap over a breakfast cereal don't you think? The FDA is trying to wield it long arm and force General Mills to change their packaging. They claim to lower cholesteral and all...

What a fiasco. If the FDA really was concerned they'd have General Mills and the rest of the food production world actually use ingredients that we, as consumers, could trust to be healthy for our bodies.

They'd quit allowing large companies like Monsanto, ADM and Cargill and their lobbyists control congress and their own researchers. They'd actually have consumer health as their goal.

Instead, the FDA is only interested in headlines.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Cake class

I'm teaching a beginning cake decorating class beginning Thursday. It's funny that s'mee and I both were asked to teach them. She got through hers, and I of course, put them off until now. It will be a basic class, then if the students wish to go on they'll have to get specific on what they want to learn.
Spring cake

Week 1
will cover the basics of baking, prepping and the ways to make frosting. I was going to have them bring a cake to work with that first week until one of the attendees wrote me and asked just how you use parchment paper when baking a cake.

Week 2 we will put into practice a bit of what we learned in week 1. We will fill, and crumb coat then frost the cake in a basic icing. We'll talk about smoothing, and a bit about decorative tips.

Week 3 we will use the tips to make differnt designs and cover questions from week 2's experimentation at home. Well talk about different ways cakes can be shaped and flavored.

Week 4
we will talk a bit about fondant. I have told them fondant is its own class, I will not be teaching how to cover a cake in fondant in this series. We will learn a few fondant decorations and flower making a bit.

All in all we should have a great time.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cake Spy's Grilled Cheese

Best thing to happen to grilled cheese ever! Cake Spy's Grilled Cheese Dessert

Some people are born amazing!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My version of Chicken Run the movie

Not sure anyone else will be interested in this but for your viewing pleasure:

10 week old chickens enjoying the out of doors!

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pioneer Woman's BBQ Meatballs

Meatballs. Wow. I cannot say anything more.Mmm good

If you have not tried Pioneer Woman's BBQ Meatball recipe you need to. It will become a staple. And no one will ever complain if you make them every other night.
Ready to eat

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Thursday, April 09, 2009


If you look at my sidebar, I have a button for My Alltop. What is that? It's a news reader. But it's not a regular news reader. It's better.

If you click on it you'll see my Alltop page. All top stands for All the top stories. It is a news aggregator that puts everything, I deem important, on one page for me to read at my leisure. I love it. I have not had time to post here regularly but I am reading. Go take a look for yourself, and then set up your own Alltop page. I'd love to see what you like to read!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009



This is one of the Plymouth Rock chickens on top of the make-shift brooder. We built the pen for them yesterday. City farmers i tell ya! It would probably make a real farmer laugh just to look at it, but hey, this is the first time building a chicken pen. Soon there will be little hutches for all of them and a large coop. Yay. For now they are satisfied to be out doors and in the grass.


They have grown quite a bit since they joined us here!
chickensRhode Island Red

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chicken Run

We will soon be having our version of chicken run here at the 1963 remodel. We have been building a coop and today they will move in.

I cannot believe how quickly they grow! This picture is from a week ago. When we get them settled in later today, I'll post another picture.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Addendum to post on Grow a garden, go to jail

In the last post "Concerned in Tahoe" asked that someone comment on the exclusion of farms and gardens, etc. from the bill. They asked that someone who read the entire bill write a post about it.

Well, I've read the whole bull bill and will comment. I have added colored lettering to provide emphasis.

Concerned in Tahoe talks about Section 3. Section three is in the introduction of the bill as the Definitions. This section spells out the language and referential meanings pertaining to this bill.


(a) In General- Any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States shall register annually with the Administrator.

(b) Registration Requirements

(1) IN GENERAL- To be registered under subsection (a), a food establishment shall submit a registration or reregistration to the Administrator.

(2) REGISTRATION- Registration under this section shall begin within 90 days of the enactment of this Act. Each such registration shall be submitted to the Secretary through an electronic portal and shall contain such information as the Secretary, by guidance, determines to be appropriate. Such registration shall contain the following information:

(A) The name, address, and emergency contact information of each domestic food establishment or foreign food establishment that the registrant owns or operates under this Act and all trade names under which the registrant conducts business in the United States relating to food."

In the Definitions section (section 3 of the introduction) it defines those entities that must register and participate in this agency:

(5) CATEGORY 1 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 1 food establishment’ means a food establishment (other than a seafood processing establishment) that slaughters, for the purpose of producing food, animals that are not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or poultry that are not subject to inspection under the Poultry Products Inspection Act.

(6) CATEGORY 2 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 2 food establishment’ means a seafood processing establishment or other food establishment (other than a category 1 establishment) not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act, that processes raw seafood or other raw animal products, whether fresh or frozen, or other products that the Administrator determines by regulation to pose a significant risk of hazardous contamination.

(7) CATEGORY 3 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 3 food establishment’ means a food establishment (other than a category 1 or category 2 establishment) that processes cooked, pasteurized, or otherwise ready-to-eat seafood or other animal products, fresh produce in ready-to-eat raw form, or other products that pose a risk of hazardous contamination.

(8) CATEGORY 4 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 4 food establishment’ means a food establishment that processes all other categories of food products not described in paragraphs (5) through (7).

(9) CATEGORY 5 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 5 food establishment’ means a food establishment that stores, holds, or transports food products prior to delivery for retail sale."

Definitions continue regarding what is a food establishment:

(12) FOOD- The term ‘food’ means a product intended to be used for food or drink for a human or an animal and components thereof.


(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘food establishment’ means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.

(B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations).

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation."

As you can simply see there is not an exclusion for family farms, neighborhood gardens etc. Yes, you should be alarmed. A lot of the regulations regarding food establishments are already in place. They were set in place under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. That act did not cover meat processing plants and seafood, however it could easily be expanded. We do not need this law at all.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grow a garden, go to jail

Monsanto will never stop being evil. I know most of my readers could care less about Monsanto and its evil empire, but I do and I will continue to ring this bell over and over. If you need someone to bail you out, I may not be available, as I will be talking to a legislator about how bad things have gotten here in the good old U.S.

There is a bill that has been introduced in congress, authored by none other than Rosa DeLauro, whose husband just happens to be Stanley Greenburg - a Monsanto employee. HR875 is called the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. It is filled with verbiage that will make it illegal for ordinary citizens to grow their own food. YES! That is what it says! And it will be punishable in fines for up to $1,000,000. We'll bail out wall street, insurance companies and the like, but allow a lowly taxpayers to grow their own food, we'll have none of that here!

The full language of the bill can be read here. Hat tip: Friends Eat My farmer friends say the government will never be so efficient as to be able to enforce the regulations. That is true, however, I am not sure I want to even allow them to try. This affects our ability to have a small farm for our retirement. I do not want to have to register with the government to grow fruits and vegetable for our and our neighbors enjoyment. I want my government to be far away from me. I'll pay my taxes and do what is right, I just don't want them siezing my farm someday because I'm not using Monsanto seeds.

The bill is being buried in other legislative processes and we have about two weeks to do anything to stop it from becoming a law. (No we don't live in a socialist country, yet.)

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Fondant Cupcake Decorations

Cupcake decos

We have some very neat longtime friends. One of their daughters is turning 18 this week. Saturday is a bug party for her and her best friend who just happens to be turning 18 too! They have been best friends since they were very little. So I get to do the cake for the party!

Well, not really cake. 150 cupcakes! and two Big cupcake cakes! It should be very fun. The colors are neon orange, pink and green! Wowzers!

I made 50 each of the medallions shown in the picture. 50 green. 50 orange. and 50 neon pink. They took longer than baking the cupcakes I think. But I love the design and will be adding them to the etsy shop soon.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Adventures in chicken raising


We have been mulling around the idea of raising our own chickens for months. Yesterday, we committed to the project. We went to the local feed store picked up 6 Rhode Island red chicks and 6 Plymouth Rock chicks and left with an armload of chicken supplies. After studying the information at BackYard Chickens we decided the time was right to get a brood going. Fresh eggs here we come!

Prior to purchasing the birds we talked long and hard about making that kind of a commitment to raising livestock. No naming of birds. Yeah, well that one lasted about 15 minutes. Taking care of the birds. Everyone is pitching in a taking on a responsibility. I snapped a few pictures after we had them settled in their temporary home.
chicks in a boc

We went to the local u-haul store and purchased a wardrobe box. Taped it up and cut a hole in the side leaving a 3 inch border around the edge so it would support the egg crate plastic cover we also purchased. You see, the chicks aren't ready for a coop. It's still a bit cold out and they don't have their feathers in yet so they need to be in a smaller confine for a few more weeks. We also installed a heat lamp to warm one side of the box so they don't freeze at night.

Chickens growing fast

They grow so fast I am glad we don't dress them! In a couple more weeks they'll be former shadows of themselves and ready for the coop. We are building a simple coop to house them in the backyard. We live in the county and should not have too many problems with neighbors (giving away a few eggs never hurts either!) complaining about the chickens.

Chickens growing fast

We are not including a rooster in the mix, at least not now. In about 20 weeks they'll begin laying eggs. We are looking forward to farms fresh eggs. I don't care how fresh the grocery store says they're eggs are, I've seen too many news stories to the contrary. It will be good to have locally ;-) grown eggs. I've got two families already begging for eggs.

It should be fun, yet a lot of work keeping them healthy and happy. Here's a nice picture of the brood. The black ones are the Plymouths and the orange the Rhode Islands. chickens

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

FoodChronicles Wordle


Very nice, if I do say myself. Made at Wordle

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Raspberry Stars - Eat your heart out Godiva

Raspberry stars

One of my sisters favorite candies is the Godiva Raspberry Star. Now that I've banned all Godiva product from the world, I have created my own rendition of the Raspberry Star.

raspberry stars - mine not Godiva's

I used Dove's new White Chocolate and raspberry puree. And, a silicon mold for ice cubes I got at IKEA. They turned out great!

My rendition of Godiva raspberry star

I was pressed for time yesterday afternoon when I made them. I didn't drizzle the dark chocolate in the mold first - just did the white and raspberry - then drizzled them after the fact. Next time I'll do it right. However, these were so easy to do and they didn't cost me $44 a pound!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Informed Reasoning and Food

When I was twelve, I took my first class in cooking. My teacher was a well educated woman skilled in home arts. We all giggled, like 12 year old girls do, at her no nonsense approach to a perfectly toasted piece of bread. As the years have passed I appreciate her more and more. She knew not only how to toast the bread perfectly, but she also knew how the wheat was grown, ground and how the level of protein in the wheat would affect different baked goods.

She taught that knowledge yields power. The power to control you self, your food, and your spending. She was a woman of the depression era and frugality was her champion. We laughed and snickered at the thought of grinding our own wheat, why not just run to the store? We were of that era. Everything we needed came from a store. No need to bother doing it yourself, unless you really had the time or inclination.

The base reason I write posts about HFCS, the FDA, GMOs is well seated in that classroom experience when I was 12. A woman of simple means taught me that excellence is worth its cost of time. I haven't always applied it, and I wish I had. Convenience was how I was raised and not until my children were grown, did I recognize that convenience has its related costs.

For too long, I have relied on entities that do not know me, or care about me. No I really don't believe that ADM or the others really is going to ever care about me personally, don't misunderstand me. I did believe that they had people's interest at heart when they went into their labs to develop new products. I really felt that they put people in front of profits. But like my twelve year old self, they found that quick and easy is what sold products and that's what they set out to develop. The next big thing, whether it was true food or not, it's what Americans clamored for, as their accounting teams told them.

We worked as a team. They developed unreal food, we lapped it up both thinking we were serving good food. Rarely was there a question of ingredients. We believed the FDA was doing our job. I'm not picking on the major corporations. I only name them as providers. They are giving America what it thinks we want, because that's what is purchased. They did what we asked them to do. We are the ones who should be held responsible. We forgot we were in charge of our food. And that we needed to know more than just the mantra "The FDA approves it". It's called personal responsibility. Ultimately we are accountable for the things we do and see and eat. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, rather than ignore them, find out what they are.

Then when you read an article about HFCS you'll want to read more. You'll want to understand what is done to manufacture a product into something edible. Is it really a food? Or is it a conglomerate of ingredients manufactured in a lab to look like food? Is it something you really want to feed your children, your grandchildren or yourself? Food is best in simple form. The closer to the initial product the better it is. Keep that in mind. It's your body. Not an experimental testing labs.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Junk Science, Kooks

When I mentioned at another blog the mercury scare, the answer came back swift and ripe with plenty of intellectual dreck. To quote: "High levels? The report — questionable at best, and called “junk science” by most — found *trace* levels of mercury in some samples of name-brand foods with high-fructose corn syrup, no higher than are found naturally in air, water, and soil. As the spokesman for ConAgra noted, you’d have to eat more than 100 pounds of supposedly “tainted” ketchup per day in order to consume a level of mercury considered unsafe by the EPA.

Since the Minneapolis group that conducted the study has long campaigned against high-fructose corn syrup, and tested only foods that contain that ingredient, and only *name brand* foods at that, we ought to wonder whether the shock value is what they were after, more than the public good. Especially when the report’s even limited value is being distorted successfully in the minds of the public who think 30 parts per trillion is significant.

Pass the Hershey’s syrup. I’m willing to be the guinea pig!

It began with Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Velikovski. Now I'm the kook. And so is everyone that goes against the mainstream corporate thought process. I love the comment about ConAgra. Yes, ConAgra the bastion of "wholesomeness" in the American food supply. Just how many people who've worked for ConAgra have also worked for the FDA? You'd be surprised. Between Monsanto, ADM and ConAgra it's a veritable revolving door between the two entities. Keep in mind they also pay lobbyists to do their bidding in congress. Yes, I believe in the Easter Bunny too.

I am not sure if it is just easier for intellectuals to stick together on the party line because of sheer economics or position and the possibility of power at some future date. At least they've chosen a side.

That is until you ask them if they eat organic foods. Most say of course, when they are available. If you ask them why it's because they've read that organic equals healthy and therefore they are trying to make better choices. Until you mention that even soy is grown organically, and is a genetically altered product. As soon as you mention GMOs they turn their tail and run. It's as if they are so afraid to really know what is being foisted on the American people they'd rather just not think about it at all.

Even Canada has a better food supply than us. Something as simple as a Cadbury chocolate bar is better when purchased in Canada. Something about they fact that chocolate is not allowed to be adulterated to the extent there as it is here.

Sigh. We'll just keep putting up the information. You can call me boring, a kook or uninformed. I know I'm in good company.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mercury. In High Fructose Corn Syrup!!!!

Ethicurean (one of my favorite places on the net!) has pointed us to one of the most important stories to break in the past few days. Let's talk about the convenience. Let's talk about the modern age of processed foods. Let's talk about big box grocery stores! Nah, let's talk about Mercury being found in foods containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Anybody for a peanut butter and Smucker's strawberry jelly sandwich?

It is probably the best summation of the issue. Mercury is a by-product of Caustic Soda. Caustic Soda is used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. Mercury is a brain impairing substance, meaning it kills brain cells!!!!

Here is a list of the products that tested positive by not just one scientist but a group of them:

Quaker Oatmeal to Go, Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce from Heinz, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce, and Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars, Smuckers Strawberry Jelly, Blueberry PopTarts and others. Here's the link to the pdf file containing the entire list of results.

I noticed the article at Mother Earth News The video spoof of the Sugar industry's commercial about HFCS being a natural sugar by the makers of King Corn is priceless. Watch it too!

What I love is that these products are all approved for use by the FDA, as well as HFCS, and as Ethicurean points out, cloned animals. I would love to get the FDA out of my kitchen all together.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

The wrong message?

I went to get take out the other night, this was what they took the order on.

Actos: ACTOS is a once-a-day prescription medication for type 2 diabetes that, along with healthy eating and physical activity, helps your body control blood sugar (glucose) levels.

SO inside the box is the best Chicken Jerusalem in these here parts. It's linguine noodles with a mushroom sauce with pieces of chicken breasts. Not all that good for you and certainly not something a diabetic should choose for an evening meal. Thannk goodness this was a real treat and not a weekly indulgence.

It was a crack up to see all the little tummies on the note though.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Okay so how does Fresh and Easy fix their problem?

So last time we were at Fresh and Easy, we were a bit disappointed. How to fix it? I've thought about it a lot. I did mention that they should go to the Fancy Foods Show. That would be a great start. It was held this past weekend in San Francisco and here are a few of the items Fresh and Easy should give a second look to, if they have even glanced once.

One of the best products I've seen is Linda's Latkes. The are frozen latkes that do not taste frozen. It is a great product and deserves to be on every table in America.

Steel Cut Oats - any brand. I don't understand why they aren't there. Aren't the English famous for these? Maybe I've just missed them.

Gluten free items. This is a strong and growing category. There are people all over that are suffering from gluten allergies. Get on the band wagon!

Other items strong at the show are chocolates, olive oils, teas, and snack foods that are healthy and inexpensive. Also the drink lines available are amazing. Why not do a deal with Dry Soda. Be the first real grocery store to carry the full line. It's delicious.

Spices, there are some great spice companies that serve single serving spice needs. Instead of the mass produced spices currently on hand, that is available anywhere, why not add to your line-up? Also any product from The French Farm would be welcome!

A deeper line of artisan breads. The store started out strong, then faltered. Ordering for your needs is essential. If your bakery person doesn't understand how to order, teach them. It's not that we don't want the bread, it's getting used to buying it from you.

Your condiment section is good, but it could be better. Mayonnaise is lacking. Your brand is soupy. Americans do not like soupy mayo. Condiments have a great profit potential and a long shelf life, don't worry about the lack of sales on some items, they'll catch up when people know they can count on you to be their supplier.

A great line of baking items. Such as Rumford products. Yes, there is Clabber Girl, but bakers are no setting a higher standard and want quality, not cheap knock offs with aluminum, that aren't good for you. Think about the other aspects of baking that are essential to good bakers - a few good paper products such as recycled cupcake liners and parchment paper are great to offer.

Getting rid of the fluff product. Consumers are actually reading labels now days. I saw a frozen dinner made by you that was a chicken dish with black beans and something else - I forget what it was - but the first ingredient on the label was black beans. Was this chicken with black beans or vice versa?

I do like the rice offerings you have. Don't decrease it!

It's important to remember to serve your neighborhoods. Why not a few public interest gatherings to help shoppers know how to benefit from your offerings? Announce a store walk through at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, where you'll highlight the best at Fresh and Easy. And ways to help them stretch their grocery budget by shopping with you.

Hey guys, walk through a Mollie Stone's, a Whole Foods, a Sprouts for goodness sake. Look at their product lines. It doesn't all have to be about your brand. In fact "branding" is an over-used phrase that unless backed by quality and demand means nothing.

Well, that's probably more than should be said in one sitting. But it's about passion for the food and the shopping experience I'm trying to see.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Everything's better with bacon - even dessert!

Sorry about the blur, it's an early blogging photo and I didn't have any bacon hand to shoot a pic of currently. Bacon for dessert is the topic of late. One of the guys I work with at Godiva recently ran into Voges au Chocolat's Chocolate Bacon bars and was surprised at how good it was.

Well, yes, everything is better with bacon. In the video the guy seems to be more impressed with the word "brunoise" (a fine dice). And don't be fooled with the "fevillitine" ingredient. It's corn flakes folks. (As a side note: in France they have Feuillitine, it is crisped crepes broken into pieces. You can substitute crisped cereals like corn flakes or rice crispies, but it is not the same.)
Time magazine has a great article about making dessert with bacon. Go ahead give it a try. You may just like what you eat! The recipe is found here.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009


The LA Times had an excellent article on improving your lunch. Most if us, rush at lunchtime, as we only have 30 minutes to wolf something down and get back to work. The suggestions in the article are great and I see a whole new lunch coming my way!

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Fresh and Easy - Year 2

We are now into the second year of Fresh and Easy being part of the landscape around here. We have two locations in our town and one seems to be gaining favor the other is always deserted. But this isn't about the traffic.

I was surprised when I saw Fresh and Easy open their first store here. I wrote a post about it, took some flack, and moved on. I've shopped there for fresh vegetables, even thought they're wrapped in plastic, bought butter and eggs there and the occasional basketful of groceries. I've enjoyed their coupons and bought their water. Still, I have to ask is it going to last.

Last nights visit would say no. They've removed the long wall of produce. Reduced to about half its size. That's not good. Instead of learn that customers really want to choose their produce in loose bins they chose to limit what is sold. Bad idea. I am a customer. I have chosen that less than stellar package of 4 tomatoes, with one obviously bad and the others good. I had no choice - they were all like that. I've noticed the supply dwindling. The fullest shelf in the store was the marked down rack. If you're catering to the marked down crowd you've already lost. Time to step it up.

Gone is the large flower rack. In the beginning I thought this was an interesting addition. I'd seen gorgeous flowers at Trader Joe's, and Central Market. I just didn't think Hemet was ready for it. And they weren't. It has been replaced with the type of rack you find in the everyday Stater Bros here. Everyone competes with Staters. They're like the Russia of grocers here in this town. No one seems to win against them, and they only sell what they want to sell. Nothing that appeals to anything but the masses. No real specialty food items at all. Bit this isn't about them. It's about Fresh and Easy. They seem to be bowing to the pressure of the retail climate here.

Instead of offering more in a down market, they're climbing aboard the less train. I don't get it. Their message was - we're new, we're environmentally concerned, we're European, we know you'll like us. Yet my message to them is you're inconsistent. I can't seem to get the same things I got last time. The fresh vegetable selection is limited. The grab and go used to be quite diverse. No longer, now it's a few varieties of fried chicken wings and a couple of soups and then a bunch of pasta. Disappointing to think I was hoping for something along the lines of a Trader Joe's.

The Tesco mentality has set in. Gone is the creative juice they came with. Yes, it's a down market, but that's when creativity thrives. Go for a walk design team! Run down to TJ's and see how they're doing it. I was in the Temecula store last week and they were packed!!! Don't go to the majors and compete, end run them with good quality unknowns. Go to the Fancy Foods Show and talk to some new suppliers. Buy some good groceries that aren't Kellogs or F&E and begin to be the little store that could!

We want you to win. We want to purchase our groceries from you. We want something new to choose from, but we also want the tried and true. Come on guys - you've got the tenure, now lose some of the stodgy-ness and thrive! And if you need a good consultant to help you do it, I'm available.

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