Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Roundup Memo: A Weekend Roundup of News, Features and Information for Your Weekend Reading

Ethical Foods Memo: The United Kingdom's Times Online is reporting today the animal rights group Peta is trading in its campaign against celebrities who wear fur and going after the whole animal so to speak, as well as now being able to target both genders equally--or at least those male celebrities who don't normally wear fur who might have been left out in the earlier campaign.

Peta is beginning to target high-profile celebrities in the U.S. and UK who eat meat, going after them for their meat-eating ways in a manner similar to how the animal rights advocacy group has conducted its anti fur-wearing campaign for the last few years. One of the first celebrities in Peta's sights is the singer and sometime actress Jessica Simpson. Read the piece, "Animal rights group turns its fire on celebrity meat-eaters," from today's Times Online here.

Retail Memo: Speaking of United Kingdom-United States' connection, including animal welfare issues, Tesco PLC, the UK's largest retailer and the third-largest retail company in the world, held its 2008 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday afternoon in the UK. Tesco owns the fast-growing Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market small-format food and grocery chain which currently has 61 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada, in the U.S. and will open 30 more stores in the next 90 days in these same states.

The AGM on Friday featured a vocal cast of Tesco critics, numerous activist groups, and even lots of shareholders. Among those activist groups were a coalition of animal welfare groups lead by popular British celebrity chef and animal welfare activist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who hosts a popular TV cooking program in the UK from his River Cottage farm. The chef and activist launched a shareholder resolution at this year's annual meeting, which if it had passed (it didn't) would have changed Tesco's chicken selling policy, limiting the number of small or battery cage-raised chickens it could sell, in favor of forcing the retailer to sell more free-range birds in its UK stores.

Numerous other activist groups attended the annual meeting on Friday. These included: a group protesting what it says is Tesco's practice of paying at one of its clothing factories in India sub-minimum wages; a group protesting Tesco's treatment of live turtles in its stores in China; the U.S. United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), which has launched a campaign in both the U.S. and the UK designed to get Tesco executives to meet with union leaders about unionizing the retailer's Fresh & Easy grocery stores in the U.S.; and others.

The blog Fresh & Easy Buzz, which covers Tesco and its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain in the U.S. in-depth, has a piece today about the Tesco annual meeting on Friday. The piece includes numerous links to stories published about the AGM in a variety of UK publications as well. Read the Fresh & Easy Buzz piece here.

Prepared Foods Memo: Florida's Palm Beach Post has a story today that suggests despite the soaring cost of food in the U.S., supermarkets and natural foods stores are still seeing strong sales in the fresh, prepared foods category. Retailers and others quoted in the piece attribute this to consumers eating out at restaurants far less than they were just a year ago and spending their prepared foods' dollars at supermarkets instead. As a result, although many consumers are cutting back on the overall quantity of prepared foods they purchase, supermarket sales are benefiting from a shift in those purchases from restaurants to in-store prepared foods departments.

Food retailers also are aiding category sales by offering more value-oriented prepared foods items and holding the line on prices for the ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat items. Read the story from Today's Palm Beach Post here.

Specialty Foods Memo: The Superbowl of specialty and gourmet food shows (with lots of natural and organic products included), the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade's (NASFT) annual Summer Fancy Food Show, starts today at the Javits Convention center in New York City. Despite the global economic slowdown, which has hit specialty foods producers and marketers fairly hard with soaring fuel costs and high food inflation, NASFT says this year's summer show will be its biggest ever. The show runs through Tuesday. To read more about this year's fancy food show go to Also learn more at:

Slow Foods Memo: The return of the victory garden to be part of Slow Foods Nation's big August 29 -to- September 2 conference and food festival in San Francisco, California.

Starting July 1, Slow Food Nation will herald the end of urban food deserts with the creation of an ornamental edible garden in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center. The garden will be part of Slow Food Nation's transformation of the Civic Center into a Slow Food Marketplace during the event. The artist's rendering above depicts what the Civic Center Slow Food Marketplace will look like.

Created in collaboration with Victory Gardens 2008+, the Victory Garden project takes its name from 20th Century wartime efforts to address food shortages by encouraging citizens to plant gardens on public and private land. In the early 1940s, gardens sprouted in front yards and vacant lots throughout the United States, and produced 40 percent of the nation’s vegetables.

San Francisco’s victory garden program became one of the best in the country; Golden Gate Park alone had 250 garden plots.
The Slow Food Nation Victory Garden will demonstrate the potential of truly local agriculture, bring together and promote Bay Area gardening organizations and produce high-quality food for those in need.
On Saturday, July 12, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Slow Food Nation founder, Alice Waters, will introduce the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden at San Francisco’s Civic Center. Over 100 volunteers and 10 garden leaders will join us to plant the garden. If you are interested in volunteering, please email:

For more information about Slow Food Nation:

Food & Society Memo: From, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Eco-friendly fashion statement: You could fill a shopping bag with groceries for a decent night's meal or tomorrow's lunch. But this particular bag can feed many more than just you and your family. Whole Foods Market and FEED Projects, a socially minded business with hopes of feeding the world, recently introduced the FEED 100 reusable shopping bag. Made from organic cotton, each bag will help provide 100 nutritious meals to hungry school-age children in Rwanda through the United Nations World Food Program's School Feeding Program. It's a lightweight, fresh-white tote that collapses easily into its base, which is a zippered rectangular burlap pouch emblazoned with the FEED logo and the number 100.

When a Whole Foods Market customer buys a bag (a mere $29.99), $10 will be donated to the Rwanda feeding operation. The remainder covers the cost of the bag and oversight of the program by the FEED foundation.

FEED Projects, which previously launched the original FEED 1 bag, was founded by Lauren Bush, a former fashion model, as well as Ellen Gustafson, a former World Food Program communications officer.

[Natural~Specialty Foods Memo note: Lauren Bush happens to be the niece of George W. Bush, President of the United States. However, since President Bush's approval rating in the U.S. is below 30% (and worse globally), please don't hold that against her if you happen to be among the 70-plupercent of those who disaprove of the job he is doing as President. It's good work on Ms. Bush's (Lauren's) part.]

Natural-Specialty Foods Industry Website Memo: We suggest you take a look at the design and content improvements editor-in-chief Dan Bolton and his team are doing over at (Natural Food Network.)

The natural foods industry business network and portal is adding additional features, along with refining its look and design. Additionally, more new features are on the way, says editor-in-chef Bolton.

One feature of is the ability for users to create custom news feeds as a way to keep informed about industry and related news and information. Natural~Specialty Foods Memo is included among those RSS feeds on the website, so you can now include us among your custom publication choices.

If you haven't visited before, when you get to the homepage just click on the MyNaturalFoodNet link at the top (you will see a menu). Once there, you can register for the website. Once registered, it shows you how to create your own custom dashboard, which allows you to create your own RSS feed publication list, including Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) of course.

NSFM also is linked with an RSS Feed on the homepage.

There's a link to the Natural Foods Network online magazine, along with other features of the site, on the homepage as well.

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