French Broad Food Co+Op

Open Daily: 8am to 8pm
(828)255-7650 | 

Open Daily 8am to 8pm
90 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801

Health and Beauty COVID-19 Update

Hello to our co-op family! As I finally sit down to write about the past couple of months and give updates, I am amazed at the changes that have come to everyones lives. We have all weathered something that no one could imagine or prepare for. I know here at the co-op it has been intense trying to keep the shelves stocked, keep everyone healthy, and make decisions with not just staff or management in mind…but our entire community. As of right now, we are waiting to see if North Carolina is recommended to move to phase 2 of reopening which allows an increase in number of people allowed to gather, limited opening of restaurants, and opening of public playgrounds. There are many opinions out there surrounding the  safety & responsibility businesses have around reopening, serving the community, and supporting employees. We are lucky as an essential business that we have remained open and continued to provide food, herbs, supplements, and support during this time, as well as income for the staff and management who chose to continue working. 

So, on to updates….

For the foreseeable future we will require masks to be worn by staff and customers to keep everyone safe. Staff will continue to wear gloves, but we are shifting to hand sanitizing stations for customers. Part of our decision is based on the waste of tossing so many plastic gloves. This pandemic has wrecked havoc on our desires to minimize waste. We closed our bulk herb and food room early in the game, as we realized that there was no way we could control pathogens with so many accessing open jars and containers. We have also stopped the practice of bringing your own containers to refill. This was a hard decision, as part of the beauty of buying in bulk is the reduction of containers and especially plastics in our business and our world. Again, we did it for safety reasons. We have no ability to sterilize everyones jars or containers before and after we fill them. Please bear with us as we navigate this, we are just as dismayed and conscious about the consequences of this as most of you are. We are looking to have some jar exchange situation in the future, where perhaps you bring a jar in and are given a new, sterilized jar with the herb or food you desire in it. We have also ordered a much more sustainable cellulose bag for bulk purchases so that we can minimize the amount of plastic we are using. The bulk herb room will not be open to customers for the foreseeable future. The bulk system we have in place, where you come to the cart and place your order or order online will be the norm while we figure this out and assess how to provide the safest shopping experience for all. We do have some new items in bulk herbs to be excited about. Cinchona bark is finally here! We have had many requests for this over the past couple of years and have never had a steady source for it. It is limited, we can only order a few pounds per month, so we cannot sell pound quantities, but we will have it available.

We have a couple of new teas from Two Hills tea coming:

Butterfly Pea Coconut Latte mix – heaven. Not only is it a lovely purple color, but it is full of sweet coconut goodness. Just add hot water and YUM! We have also ordered their pan fried Chao Qing Green Tea and have in stock Butterfly Pea Flower (Clitoria ternatea) which many of you have requested. Butterfly pea flower is  native to Asia but has also been introduced to warm climates in Africa, America, and Australia. It is a legume and so can help regenerate soil by fixing nitrogen, and medicinally it has been used as an aphrodisiac, nootropic and memory enhancer, anti depressant, and has calming and sedative properties. Clitoria ternatea is rich in antioxidants, flavanoids (one being quercetin), and peptides. I am just starting to learn from this plant and play a bit. It was used to color rice and other foods in some cultures and one of the experiments I plan to do is infusing in gin, which is suppose to produce a deep blue color, then when you add tonic water it turns to a pink/purple hue. Herbal cocktail fun!

We are still ordering from our regular vendors, throughout the HBC department and for the most part businesses are up and running. We do have many companies that are severely delayed in shipment times and processing, and a few who are not taking orders at all. Vitamin C and Zinc are still out of stock with some vendors, but we are working to source from other companies and meet consumer need. I assume that this may be the way of it for the coming months…we may not have the exact brand or product you usually get, but hopefully we have something comparable.I am constantly amazed at the resiliency of our supply chain. It is easy to become annoyed when your favorite herb or product is out of stock for any length of time, but really…that we have access to so much is humbling to me. We have just shy of 600 bulk herbs in our herb room. That blows me away that we have access to almost 600 plants from all around the world, different climates and cultures, some easy to grow and abundant, some rare and expensive.

I also think that in times when selection of products are limited, a good course is to learn more about what is available and how to replace the usual with something new. We adapt. Its actually the way of nature, some things are available only for a short time each season or year. Personally, as I have watched big ag tumble during this…from covid outbreaks of workers in meat processing to large scale vegetable production fumbles, I have never been more grateful for our local farmers and producers. It is one of the heartening aspects of this pandemic…so many local producers thriving by going direct to consumers. We are, and have been, so very lucky to live in such a biodiverse region with access to so many types of food. My goal is to be even more diligent in supporting these folks both now and beyond the Covid-19 reality. I ask that you consider doing the same. 

We are starting to get some local produce in and that will only increase as the season progresses. I want to thank all of you who have been kind and supportive during this trying time. We are all a bit out of sorts and having to adapt and adjust on a minute to minute basis. Please continue to have patience as we navigate this together. We are all trying to both serve and protect our beloved community in the best ways we can. I wish you all safety and good health, with some laughter thrown in for good measure.

Thank you for your patronage. We couldn’t do this without you!

Melissa Fryar

HBC Manager