Tag Archives: supplies

Milwaukee’s Growing Power hosts winter market

Since mid-fall, the fourth annual Growing Power Winter Market has been taking place in Milwaukee.

The second half of the 2016-17 winter market season will begin Jan. 7 at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive.

Growing Power, an urban farm, has earned national recognition for its mission to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for all people in the communities in which they live.

A Growing Power goal  is to bring together vendors from Milwaukee and the surrounding area to form a local market where the Silver Spring community can shop for fruits and veggies, as well as handmade crafts, goods and products.

Founding vendors include Lopez Bakery, Vadose Orchid Jewelry, River of Dreams Meats and Don the Farmer.

New vendors are joining the market every week.

If you go …


What: Growing Power Winter Market.

Where: 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee.

When: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, through March 25.

Did slaves peel your frozen shrimp? A guide to the issue and what to do

Enslaved migrant workers and children are ripping the heads, tails, shells and guts off shrimp at processing factories in Thailand, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

AP journalists followed and filmed trucks loaded with freshly peeled shrimp going from one peeling shed to major Thai exporting companies. Then, using U.S. customs records and Thai industry reports, they tracked it globally. They also traced similar connections from another factory raided six months earlier, and interviewed more than two dozen workers from both sites.

U.S. customs records show the farmed shrimp made its way into the supply chains of major U.S. food stores and retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Target, Dollar General and Petco, along with restaurants such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden. AP reporters in all 50 states went shopping and found related brands in more than 150 stores across America.

The businesses that responded condemned the practices that lead to labor abuse, and many said they were launching investigations.

Q: How do I know if my shrimp or other seafood is tainted by labor abuses?

A: That’s a big part of the problem. Most companies do not make their supply chains public. And even if they did, there are many places for abuses to occur that are not documented or take place far from any type of scrutiny. For example, slaves have been forced to work on boats catching trash fish used for feed at shrimp farms, and migrants have been brought across borders illegally and taken straight to shrimp sheds where they are locked inside and forced to peel. Fishing boats are going farther and farther from shore, sometimes not docking for months or years at a time, creating floating prisons.

Q: What shrimp brands and companies did the AP find linked to tainted supply chains in its investigation?

A: Cape Gourmet; Certifresh; Chef’s Net; Chicken of the Sea; Chico; CoCo; Darden (owner of Olive Garden Italian Kitchen, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze Island Grille, Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Yard House); Delicasea; Fancy Feast cat food; Farm Best; Fisherman’s Wharf; Winn-Dixie; Fishmarket; Great American; Great Atlantic; Great Catch; Harbor Banks; KPF; Market Basket; Master Catch; Neptune; Portico; Publix; Red Lobster; Royal Tiger; Royal White; Sea Best; Sea Queen; Stater Bros.; Supreme Choice; Tastee Choice; Wal-Mart; Waterfront Bistro; Wellness canned cat food; Whole Catch; Wholey; Xcellent.

Q: AP reporters visited supermarkets chosen at random in all 50 states. Where did they find shrimp linked to tainted supply chains in its investigation?

A: Acme Markets; Albertsons; Aldi; Bi-Lo; Carrs-Safeway; Cash Wise; Crest Foods; Cub Foods; D’Agostino Supermarket; Dan’s Supermarket; Dollar General; Edwards Food Giant; Family Dollar; Foodland; Fred Meyer; Giant Eagle; Harris-Teeter; H-E-B; Hy-Vee; Jerry’s Foods; Jewel-Osco; Jons International Marketplace; Kroger; Lowes Foods; Mariano’s; Market Basket; Marsh Supermarkets; Martin’s Super Markets; McDade’s Market; Pavilions; Petco; Piggly Wiggly; Price Chopper; Publix; Ralphs; Randall’s Food Market; Redner’s Warehouse Markets; Russ’s Market; Safeway; Save Mart; Schnucks; Shaws; ShopRite; Smart & Final; Sprouts Farmers Market; Stater Bros.; Stop & Shop; Sunshine Foods; Target; Van’s Thriftway; Vons; Wal-Mart; Whole Foods; Winn-Dixie.

Q: Thailand has been in the news a lot lately with problems linked to human trafficking in its seafood industry. Why is this still an issue?

A: Thailand is one of the world’s biggest seafood exporters, and relies heavily on migrant workers from poor neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. These laborers often are misled by brokers in their home countries and illegally brought to Thailand with promises of good-paying jobs. They are then sold onto fishing boats or put into seafood processing plants where they become trapped and forced to work long hours for little or no money. Thailand has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the abuses. It has created new laws and is helping to register undocumented workers, but arrests and prosecutions are still rare.

Q: What are buyers and governments doing to try to stop slave-tainted seafood from reaching their countries?

A: The U.S. State Department has blacklisted Thailand for the past two years for its dismal human rights record, placing it among the world’s worst offenders such as North Korea and Syria. However, it has not issued sanctions. The European Union put out a “yellow card” warning earlier this year that tripled seafood import tariffs, and is expected to decide next month whether to impose an outright ban on products. Companies such as Nestle have vowed to force change after conducting their own audits and finding that their Thai suppliers were abusing and enslaving workers. Others are working with rights groups to monitor their supply chains and ensure laborers are treated fairly and humanely.

Gifts to bark or purr about

Millions of Americans wouldn’t consider celebrating the holidays without including their pets. In fact, pet lovers go all-out.

According to a Harris Poll released in October, 61 percent of pet owners plan to buy presents for their pets this holiday season. Even among people without pets, 16 percent plan on buying a present for someone else’s pet.

Durvet, a pet product distributor, reports that pet owners will spend an average of $48 on their furry ones this year. Holiday shopping sprees for pets account for about 10 percent of the total amount individuals spend on pets throughout the year, Durvet has found.

Each year, there’s a wider and more imaginative array of pet gifts from which to choose. But, thinking from the pets’ point of view, edibles probably top the wish list. All the fancy bedroom furniture, rhinestone collars and woolen sweaters are really made for pet owners.

Wisconsin features a number of specialty pet stores that offer locally baked goods for dogs, including End of the Leash (325 Bayview Rd., Mukwonago). Although they’re made to look appetizing to people (who are, after all, picking up the check) baked goods for canines omit the sugar, chocolate (often poisonous to pets) and other unhealthy ingredients. Unlike humans, animals actually enjoy healthy treats.

Treats for cats have less visual appeal to humans, but are equally healthy. At Bark n’ Scratch Outpost (5835 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee), you can stuff kitty’s stocking with freeze-dried pollock, wild boar, elk, salmon and other exotic and protein-rich goodies that are gluten-free (cats did not evolve to digest grains). There are enough choices to please even the most finicky feline.

Nutritious and locally sourced food is as much a gift for you as for your pet, since it can keep your furry pal purring or barking for years longer.

“Anything you can give that’s healthy and absolutely wonderful — that’s the best gift,” says Bark n’ Scratch Outpost staffer Kathleen Folz.

Both Bark n’ Scratch and End of the Leash offer a variety of food options, nothing like those you’ll find on supermarket or big-box pet store shelves. The stores’ owners carefully research and select from the highest quality options available in today’s burgeoning pet food market, which racked up sales of $22.6 billion domestically last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

One of Folz’s favorite pet food brands is Orijen, a Canadian company that produces what she calls “species appropriate” nutrition. For instance, Orijen’s Regional Red cat food “replicates the diversity and balance of fresh meats, fruits and berries that cats would encounter in the natural environment and for which they are evolved to eat,” according to the Orijen website. The protein content includes human-grade Black Angus beef, wild boar, Alberta lamb, heritage pork and bison — all of them raised locally, according to the company.

Although a pet’s first gift choice will always be food, the critters also crave activity. Few pets, especially indoor cats, get anywhere near the level of activity their bodies crave. That’s why they leap and bound around the house all night, knocking expensive knickknacks from shelves and destroying the furniture. 

Most pet toys are designed to replicate an animal’s natural activities: Dogs enjoy chew toys, while cats prefer interactive toys that make them work to get a treat, according to Folz.

Folz recommends chews made by Chelsy’s Toys, based in Wheaton, Illinois. According to the company’s website, their chews are made of recycled material that’s gentle on a dog’s teeth and an owner’s hands. The strength comes from a patented knotting system that’s hard to unravel.

Squeaky throw toys for dogs are as popular as ever and also more elaborate than ever in design and durability. The single most important quality to look for in a squeaker is safety, Folz says. Nothing that’s been bleached is acceptable and squeakers should be checked frequently to ensure your pooch isn’t in danger of choking on something inside, Folz adds.

Cats are natural hockey players, so they’ll be engaged by anything — even a piece of broccoli — that they can bat around until it’s lost forever under a couch.

Remember: Cats like variety. Dangle alternating toys over kitty’s head, just beyond her reach and watch her go to town.

Large stores such as End of the Leash and Bark n’ Scratch have dozens of other cat toys, including sturdy teaser wands on which you can attach a variety of cool toys, including dragonflies.

Of course, when all else fails, there’s always catnip. Although some cats are immune to its charms, most find it irresistible. You can find it in a seemingly endless variety of breeds and strengths. Folz says it’s best to introduce a new catnip product slowly to see how your cat reacts to it. 

We want to include our pets in human holidays, but we don’t want them to overindulge human-style and wind up at the emergency room. Let’s keep that aspect of holiday cheer to ourselves.

What’s cool for back to school? A fresh look at the gear

For kids of all ages, one big thing helps soften the blow of summer turning into fall: fresh and fun back-to-school gear.

Supplies with popular licensed characters from movies, TV shows and books always make a splash among younger kids, while older students contemplate design and functionality for everything from lockers to dorm rooms to smartphone cases.

For phone-toting high school and college students with an eye for smart design, NewerTech NuGuard KX cases for the iPhone promise protection and a much better fit in the palm of a kid’s hand than other heavy-duty cases on the market.

The NuGuard KX cases for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus use state-of-the-art “x-orbing gel technology to absorb and evenly distribute kinetic energy.” This means the case provides the massive impact protection that kids need but is a fraction of the size of those other protective cases that fit like a brick in a hip pocket and cramp the hand of talkers and texters with a lot to say. The KX case, measuring a thin 1/2 inch thick when on the phone, slides into a pocket or even stows neatly in a day-planner.

Plus, the one-piece design — a hard shell with a soft interior available in red, black, blue and midnight — means fast installation, easy access to ports and buttons, simple cleaning and less to lose.

The additional “impact x-orbing” screen armor keeps the glass screen on the iPhone looking new, preventing damage from impacts and scratches but not interfering with the Retina display. Other screen covers might slip or turn yellow but the self-adhesive NewerTech cover installs without the use of water to preserve bubble-free clarity and block dirt and dust. The armor even held up to NewerTech’s hammer-hit tough claim.

For those with an eye toward color, a stop at Poppin.com might go a long way in desk supplies, dorm storage and other gear. Among the New York City company’s back-to-school products is an 18-month, spiral-bound planner good from July 2015 to December 2016. It includes weekly and monthly views with color-coded pages by month, along with a handy translucent front pocket.

“We’ve been very pleasantly surprised in past years with how well we’ve done with planners,” said Jeff Miller, Poppin’s vice president of product design. “You hear so much about how everybody’s moved to electronic whatever but we’re very much still in a paper age on planners for students.”

Dorm rooms remain, well, dorm rooms, so space is at a premium. Poppin sells a storage unit called the Box Seat for the college contingent tired of the milk-crate look. It’s covered with fabric in light and dark gray, navy, orange, red and pool blue, and is sturdy enough to withstand 275 pounds.

At Staples, students at two middle schools will see the fruits of their labor hit shelves. They were chosen to work in teams to come up with school supplies of their own for the company’s new Designed by Students Collection.

Among the winning products: The Big Pen, a pencil case that looks like a pen or pencil and actually writes. It comes in versions that are highlighters, ball point pens, markers and mechanical lead pencils. The cases include a pencil sharpener and real erasers at one end. Refills are available for the writing-implement part.

Another of the student designs chosen is an ingenious locker organizer that zigzags vertically to create nifty cubicles. The Floating Shelf comes in color combinations worthy of boys and girls — neon green and gray, purple and pink, and black and dark blue.

Alison Corcoran, senior vice president of marketing for Staples, said the company worked closely with about 48 students in all, from Middle School 88 in Brooklyn and the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. About 14 products are included in the collection.

“They made presentations. The teams did self-criticisms and evolved their ideas as part of the curriculum,” she said. “School supplies have been around forever. We thought, let’s take a fresh look with the people who are actually using these things on a day-to-day basis and ask, `How can we make them better and more relevant?”’

Yet another of the student designs is the Back2Back School Bag, a rectangular-shaped backpack that provides wider storage space and has two oversize slots for laptops and folders. It also includes a separate, attached compartment at the bottom to segregate lunch or snack items — or smelly gym shoes — from the main compartment.

“Kids loved it. It’s a highly functional shape,” Corcoran said of the unusual design.

This year, the rambunctious little yellow Minions with the big goggles have their own feature-length film spinoff from the “Despicable Me” franchise, and have surfaced on backpacks and notebooks available at Target.

A new take on Charlie Brown in another theatrical release, “The Peanuts Movie” due out in November, might have something to do with two choices in Snoopy-theme soft lunch bags, including one with the famous beagle snoozing on top of his equally famous doghouse.

Givebacks have grown among companies doing business in back-to-school. Many offer buy-one-give-one programs to kids and classrooms in need, or they’ll fill donated backpacks with school supplies to donate.

At Yoobi, a spate of new supplies in that vein was curated by Usher. The Yoobi X Usher collection was designed by artist Jonni Cheatwood and features five prints for more than 20 products, ranging from blue paint drips to pink-and-green splatters in binders, notebooks, pencils, pencil cases, folders and journals. For every item purchased, Yoobi donates an item to a worthy classroom. The collection is available at Yoobi.com and in Target stores nationwide.

It’s not the first education-focused collaboration for Usher, who has two school-age sons. They, too, had a hand in the project, the singer said by email.

“I looked at what colors they were drawn to and in a very sly way, I’d show something to them and ask, ‘What do you think about this? Do you like this color?’ That helped me curate the collection,” he said.