UPDATED (Spring 2019): Discontent at Worker-Owned Rainbow Grocery Cooperative (San Francisco)
Rainbow Grocery Cooperative’s Mission Statement should now read: “Something For Everyone.” And delete the vegetarian/vegan and environmental-concern language.
Four main points from the article below:
1. If Rainbow were serious about their mission statement — particularly the language about vegetarian/vegan and their environmental-concern — their mission statement would apply to their sub-leased space as well — their entire property in other words — and not just to their store.
2. One would think that Rainbow would have chosen another vegetarian-vegan-only co-op or a vegetarian-vegan-only business of Latino/Hispano/mexicano culture from el Distrito de la Misión to occupy their sub-leased space.
3. The pizza café will be using smoked meats (dead animals). Is Rainbow not aware that smoked meats are among the worst meats one can eat because they are associated with an increased risk for certain cancers due to the presence of cancer-causing carcinogens? Surely Rainbow is aware that meat production is not good for the environment, in part, due the enormous amount of water consumption required (see link in article).
4. Why can’t Rainbow have a vegetarian-vegan-only pizza café which would match their store and be in agreement with their current mission statement? Most people don’t come to Rainbow to buy “meat” because they know it’s a vegetarian-vegan store, so why is this café promoting dead animals (“meat”)? One of Rainbow’s workers has described their café plans using the syrupy phrase, “something for everyone.” Ugh.
Hola. “The City has really changed” is something I hear rather often these days. It’s usually spoken with regret by some San Franciscans who are sad that The City has abandoned its proudly-radical and alternative past in favour of corporate and being “mainstream” and as some people put it, “trying to be like every place else.” The workers at vegetarian-vegan Rainbow Grocery have slowly changed their store to try to be more like their corporate competition. Sadly, most recently the majority of workers voted to sublease a space on their property to a company that will sell dead animals/”meat” on Rainbow’s property. Loco. No, I’m not joking. This is true.
I’ve written about how Rainbow Grocery Cooperative — a worker-owned and operated vegetarian/vegan grocery store in San Francisco — seems to be slowly losing itself. It’s as if there’s a conservative, non-vegetarian, non-“green-thinking” group of workers there who are determined to take their store in the opposite direction of its past and its founders, and that’s what’s slowly happening little-by-little. As mi amigo says: “It’s as if the store has been hijacked or corrupted by a particular group of people.” I suspect this is partly due to some new workers in the store — friends of workers who were hired ? — where working at Rainbow is just a job to them rather than their working there for reasons based on the store’s mission statement. Many of the workers eat dead animals/”meat,” but I doubt that was true with Rainbow’s founders from what I know about them.
So yes, Rainbow has sub-leased space on their property — right outside the entrance to their vegetarian/vegan store — to an East Bay pizza company co-owned by one of Rainbow workers that will be serving dead animals/”meat” on their menu. Some of us find this extremely hypocritical on Rainbow’s part. A couple of things about this: Couldn’t they find a local San Francisco catering company offering vegetarian-vegan food to lease the space to? That would be much more “local” which Rainbow focuses on. One would think that because this pizza company is on Rainbow’s property — within a few feet of the entrance to the store — that Rainbow’s current mission statement would apply to the lease of the space, no?
Here is the relevant language from Rainbow’s current mission statement:
“Providing affordable vegetarian food products which have minimal negative impact ecologically and socially. Buying goods from local organic farmers, collectives, bakers, dairies and other local businesses whenever possible.”
I’m not really surprised by this announcement of a pizza café opening on their property that will be serving dead animal pieces; I’m just thoroughly disgusted by it and it boils me as a longtime customer. I’m surprised Rainbow didn’t put in a meat counter during their renovation since Rainbow has slowly changed from the store they once were and also because the New Conservative, Sanitised, Lobotomised, Techie, Culture-less and Soul-less City of San Francisco For The Super-Wealthy loves eating dead animals and doesn’t seem to give a fuck about the health consequences. People in the New Conservative San Francisco can’t seem to eat enough (red) “meat.” I’ve read local restaurant reviews where people wrote, “more meat, more meat.” Loco. I guess their health doesn’t matter to them: Vegetarians ‘cut heart risk by 32%’. In some restaurants, they’re serving pig butt. WTF? Doesn’t that sound good? Disgusting stuff. Nearly all restaurants that I know of are very meat-based. They might have a token vegetarian option on the menu which rarely changes. It was the former proudly-radical and alternative San Francisco that cared more about being vegetarians/vegans with an opposition to eating animals. But much of the Old City has been evicted or forced out by techie gentrification. San Francisco is a very different city today, unfortunately. Many locals say that “The City has lost its soul.”
I talked with a couple of Rainbow workers during the renovation and asked about whether “meat” was going to be brought in. I was assured that it was not because it would go against their mission statement even though some/many? of their workers do eat “meat.” But doesn’t leasing space and serving “meat” next door to the store and on Rainbow’s property violate their mission statement? One would think so if one is being consistent and cares about animals and the environment, as Rainbow claims to.
I read the gushing remarks and marketing hype from the owners of the pizza café, one of whom is a Rainbow worker. She raises chickens while working in a vegetarian/vegan store and apparently doesn’t see anything hypocritical about that? That along with other reasons is why some of us feel that the Rainbow concept seems to be gone. The pizza café owners were asked whether any Rainbow workers or anyone else had concerns about their selling “meat” right outside their vegetarian/vegan store. Predictably, the Rainbow worker gave the usual and expected response that dead animal eaters give on cue, which is the innocently spoken, “No, people seem very pleased that there will be ‘something for everyone.'” Ugh. jesus fucking christ! Here we go with the “something for everyone” bull shit. So that makes eating “meat”/dead animals okay now because it’s “something for everyone?” Is that a statement one would expect to hear from a worker at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative and/or a vegetarian-vegan store? What has happened to Rainbow? This is loco. A person is not required to eat dead animals to live so there is already “something for everyone” with vegetarian/vegan food. Read this, por favor: UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet: “Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says” (it would appear that Rainbow no longer cares about that.) Also, using the Rainbow worker’s ludicrously lame rationale, Rainbow would never have been a vegetarian/vegan store starting in 1975 and would not be that today because there wasn’t/isn’t “something for everyone” because the store did not/does not sell dead animals/”meat.”
The pizza café will be selling meat-topped pies, one made with smoked-pepperoni (pepperoni is a mixture of beef and pork) and smoked-chicken apple sausage. Smoked foods are among the worse possible foods one can eat. It is unconscionable that a store that is supposedly concerned about health and sells “health food” is allowing this. Are they not aware — or perhaps they don’t care anymore — that smoked meats are associated with an increased risk for certain cancers due to the presence of cancer-causing substances — carcinogens. For example, nitrosamines, which are the common by-products of curing agents such as nitrites and nitrates are also carcinogenic. While there is ample definitive studies concluding that smoked meats contain cancer-causing chemicals, many epidemiological studies exist that connect high consumption of smoked, grilled or barbecued meat with increased risk of prostate, colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Eating smoked meats increases your risks of stomach infections associated with bacterial contamination such as E.coli and Listeria monocytogenes. Smoked meat has a high sodium content because it often involves salt brines, salt-curing and the addition of rubs. This salt increases the amount of sodium one ingests. High levels of sodium in the blood are associated with high blood pressure, over hydration and cardiovascular disease. Also, if one is following a special kidney or heart diet, the increased sodium intake through smoked meat can worsen one’s condition. A detailed Harvard School of Public Health study shows that eating smoked or otherwise processed meats such as hot dogs and cold cuts increases your risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes significantly. One would think that a vegetarian/vegan and healthy-food store would not allow smoked foods. Pepperoni is cured pork and beef mixed together. Rainbow is allowing on their property two of the worst meats environmentally speaking. Check out the water usage required for pork and beef at this link. From that site: In a country like the United States, a fifth of all your grain production is dependent upon irrigation. For every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes [on average] two thousand gallons of water. That is a lot of water and there is plenty of evidence that the Earth cannot keep up with the demand. The amount of agua/water required to produce one pound of Pork is 576 gallons.
Rainbow should rewrite their mission statement updating it to reflect the environmental consequences of raising these meats now that dead animals will be served on their property when the pizza place opens. Or they could delete entirely the language from their mission statement about their concern for the environment so as not to appear as hypocrites. Mi amigo asked: How long before they justify offering “culinary school” frog legs or Foie gras — using the same mainstream/sheeple rationale, “it’s something for everyone” excuse?
There’s no shortage of businesses that sell pizza in San Francisco that sell “meat”/dead animal pieces. So why does Rainbow sub-lease to a company that does this? I suspect it has to do with one of their workers being a co-owner of the pizza company. When they leased the space to her (the Rainbow worker) and her partner there should have been a stringent requirement in keeping with the mission of Rainbow Grocery Cooperative since it’s on their property, if they still have any principles and convictions and care about what they once did. One would think Rainbow would have preferred or required that another co-op take the space. I presume that the full Rainbow membership voted on this and approved it — rather than this disgusting decision having been made exclusively by their Board — so that should tell one the mindset and direction that the majority of workers are going in. (roll eyes, sigh). I can’t see the workers of the proudly-radical and alternative San Francisco of the past approving this decision. They would have fought this if some idiot not clear on the concept of their own store had proposed it. That shows one how much Rainbow has changed and lost itself and what it once claimed to stand for.
This pizza café is replacing Rainbow’s now-closed coffee café they had until recently since their renovation in the same location. I thought the coffee café was a bad idea from the start and I predicted among mis amigos that it would not do well because: Who goes to Rainbow to drink coffee? Instead, people go to Rainbow to buy coffee beans to make coffee at home. And I suspect this pizza café will not do well either because: Who goes to Rainbow to eat pizza or breakfast? Most people go to Rainbow to buy groceries and they leave.
As I said earlier, Rainbow is trying to be more like their corporate cookie-cutter competition and what they offer. Rainbow should try to be more like Rainbow. Rainbow is different from these corporate store, in part, because of its location. Their worker can give this café all of these pretty words to describe it (such as “an urban oasis”), but who wants to sit out there eating pizza and/or breakfast below a dusty, busy, noisy freeway overpass with dust floating down into the pizza from the stream of vehicles up above?
Rainbow’s activism is dead. Rainbow used to be an activist store during the former proudly-radical and alternative San Francisco days. Remember that? They no longer engage in boycotts of bad companies (or their bad policies) or boycotts of anything. They no longer alert customers to what mega-corporation has bought-out a small independent nor do they alert customers to bad decisions of companies. Rainbow carries anything today — including some products from China with their terrible environmental reputation — and Rainbow puts all responsibility on the customer for engaging in protests/boycotts of bad companies and/or their bad policies. They also continue to drag out their Hanukkah/Chanukah display at the appropriate time of year. What is organised religion doing in a secular store, and especially a faith connected with the Terrorist State of Israel and their barbaric treatment of Palestinians? (Rainbow used to be concerned about that). Rainbow’s renovation looks good — and fortunately they kept their beautiful mural (opposite the cashiers) and other murals and artwork in and outside the store — but I did not support the sanitising of the store at all (the removal of the political and housing bulletin boards. SEE UPDATE IN THE COMMENT SECTION REGARDING THE BULLETIN BOARDS). In my opinion, other than some political magazines they stock around the Cashier area of the store (like other grocery stores do), Rainbow sanitised itself for the New City and the workers removed all politics from their store presumably so as not to offend these new wealthy (lobotomised techie zombies) residents they’re trying to attract to their store. I won’t be surprised when at some point Rainbow installs a meat counter — they’ll find a place for it — and they will likely justify it by saying “it’s something for everyone” and “it’s needed to save our business because our old customer base has been evicted and/or forced out of the city and we’re now trying to cater to the snooty wealthy snots who eat dead animals and who’ve moved in here in recent years due to techie gentrification, and we’re hoping they’ll find our store and give us their la plata/money.”
In reality, the only “meats” they need to use in this pizza café are the alternative vegan “meats” that Rainbow sells in their store. They sell plenty of good alternatives. One of the employees of this pizza café is a culinary school graduate. That might seem like a positive but from what I’ve observed about culinary schools they are very “meat-centered” and cook using high heat which causes cancer-causing free radicals. How many culinary schools train chefs to use vegetarian and vegan “meat” alternatives? I suspect not many, if any at all. It’s mostly all about “meat”/dead animals. “Meat” is the center of a meal with culinary school chefs from my observations.
I don’t know why Rainbow thinks that pizza is going to sell out there next to their store. They have frozen organic pizzas in the store and I don’t see lines of people going to get those. Rainbow is en el Distrito de la Misión so why didn’t they open up something vegetarian-vegan-based in that space that reflects the — quickly-being-gentrified out — Latino/Hispano/mexicano culture de la Misión? Just as was the case with the now-closed coffee café, this pizza café scheme does not appear to have been very well thought-out. Do meat addicts in San Francisco come to Rainbow to get their “meat” on a regular basis? And anyone who whines about Rainbow not carrying dead animals is not clear on the original concept of the store they’re shopping in. There’s no shortage of “meat”/dead animals served in this city or in any other grocery stores without Rainbow contributing to this problem.
In recent years, I’ve learned that for many people being a vegetarian or vegan has been/is just a shallow fad. I’ve heard and read stories about many vegans and or vegetarians who are now eating dead animals. One “health food” store closer to me that used to be vegetarian started carrying those “humanely-raised and sustainable” brands of “meat” sometime ago and their business today is as dead as it was before. Carrying “meat” for them hasn’t made any difference in their business. I heard one of their customers brag to the manager of the store. She said, “I used to be a vegetarian but now I’m eating meat; it’s bad! it’s bad.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Loca. People these days are going through all type of calisthenics to make excuses and justifications for going back to eating dead animals, such as: “I nearly died being a vegan (or vegetarian).” If that’s the case, that’s because you didn’t do it correctly, idiot. Unfortunately, some people do no research on the best way to be a vegan or vegetarian and what they need to eat, so they think they can eat anything as long as it’s labeled “vegan” or “vegetarian.” Mi amigo has been a vegetarian for nearly 25 years and he consistently gets the best blood test results when he goes for a physical. At the medical centre he goes to they tell him, “we love vegetarians here.” Recently, they ran his blood test results twice to make sure there was not a mistake because they told him they rarely see such high quality test results. They asked him “what’s your secret?” He told them he didn’t have any secret. When they persisted he elaborated that he’s a vegetarian. They told him to keep doing what he’s doing.
These “meat” companies and the sheeple who justify eating “meat” do so by saying how “humanely raised the animal was” and how “sustainable” the meats are. One can use big words such as “sustainable” and attempt to sanitise what one is doing by using the word “humane,” but there’s nothing “humane” about killing an animal which is what happens in the end. That’s the part they like to leave out. Nor is it “sustainable” environmentally speaking (see links above).
Predictably in marketing style, the Rainbow worker who’s co-owner of this pizza café said that people are excited about this new café which is scheduled to open sometime en mayo de 2016/in May2016. People are excited about this are they? Really? Before the café opens, one would hope Rainbow would re-consider this idea of bringing in dead animal/meat onto their property in violation of their own mission statement. And frankly, what’s there to get excited about a pizza café? We have probably hundreds of pizza cafés all over this city and many of them have vegetarian options and they also serve dead animal pieces on their pizza (including pepperoni and beef). So what makes this one that’s going to open at Rainbow so special? Maybe it’s the potentially cancer-causing smoked meats they’ll be using with nitrites.
Some locals say “San Francisco has lost its soul.” The same can now be said about Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, based on this most recent decision. Chau.—el barrio rosa