"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a form of corporate self-regulation that is integrated into the business model and takes into account not only shareholders but also stakeholders such as employees and customers. CSR efforts often include the entire value chain, including suppliers, buyers and the communities in which the company operates, when addressing issues of social and environmental impact. The term “corporate social responsibility” came into common use in the late 1960s and early 1970s after many multinational corporations formed the term to describe any group that is impacted by a company’s activities."
|Courtesy of http://farmiemarket.com/|
Our commitment to providing clean ingredients is derived from how we eat at home. We personally know our farmers and have expended large blocks of time, energy & resources to seek them out and ask appropriate questions to ensure they don't use gmo seeds or spray pesticides (they use fish emulsion & kelp, and other natural methods like rigorous crop rotation to deter pests). Our chocolate, sugars & coffee are fair trade organic; our cheeses, butter & milks do not contain GMOs, hormones or antibiotics, animals are pastured locally & treated humanely with respect, and the milks are low-heat pasteurized; our eggs come from several small local farms (and one backyard!) that allow chickens to roam, and their diet is supplemented with only gmo-free organic feed; our stoneground whole white & whole wheat NY flours and organic rye & hi-gluten flours milled in NY are GMO free. We prepare almost everything in-house, from-scratch, even our mayo and in-season jams; we never use dyes, preservatives, lab produced additives, artificial dough conditioners or unnatural, un-clean ingredients. We are transparent about EVERYTHING we serve, and are happy to answer any questions you may have about our ingredients at anytime. We do the legwork for you. With us, you can dine out with the confidence that ALL of our ingredients have been raised/grown ethically and responsibly. We are morally opposed to Greenwashing. We would soon like to add comprehensive ingredients lists to our website. Providing nutrition information would be great, but it's unlikely we will be able to afford having clinical tests done on our menu items in the near future.
2. WE PAY MORE THAN MINIMUM WAGE: We pay our 2 part time employees as close to a living wage as we can afford (significantly more than minimum wage). We think this is important for many reasons. A full time worker making minimum wage is still below the poverty line, we could not in good conscience offer only the bare minimum. As a micro-business, we depend heavily on our staff to complete any and every job that needs to be done in the shop. Our staff pulls their weight in gold and we all collaborate. After spending 9 years doing absolutely everything ourselves baking for farmers markets and opening our shop on Quail St., we couldn't be more grateful for our competent, qualified staff who always go over and above our expectations. We pay ourselves, as owners, the same hourly rate as our employees (based on a 40 hour work week, even though we put in way more hours than that - we ourselves are living below the poverty line right now). In coming years, we would like to be able to afford to give our employees raises, health benefits, more responsibility, and hire additional qualified community members who are paid a living wage, offered health benefits and a meaningful, happy, community-minded place to work. Your frequent visits help us live up to these ideals. This video on income inequality in the United States is compelling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QPKKQnijnsM
3. AFFORDABLE PRICES: Clean, local foods don't belong exclusively on high-priced menus. Nick creates an inventive, seasonal menu based on the fresh ingredients we get from our farmers & other local producers every week, and we set our prices in the same general range of other local cafes. Yes, profit is important, but as long as we can meet our own basic needs, we don't need to make giant profits. Everyone deserves access to affordable, whole, clean, local foods. We are considering adding a small amount of sustainable, local meats and/or fish to our menu in order to reach a broader spectrum of potential customers, while still retaining our farm-to-table ethos. Our menu would remain primarily vegan/vegetarian, but with sustainable local meat-based substitutions available and perhaps 2-4 main meat-based main menu items. We are currently gathering opinions on this topic, please give us yours.
4. COMMUNITY DONATIONS: We donated more than $2000 in 2012 in the form of gift certificates, bread/baked goods/food and time to local projects for schools, art, AIDS, hunger abatement, non-profits, and community gardens. That may not seem like a lot, but for us as a very small mom & pop, it is! Everyone who has asked us to donate is a member of our community with a worthy cause, how could we say no? We've lived in Albany for 10 years now (Nick grew up in Clifton Park, Britin is a NC transplant). We consider everyone who visits our shop a friend and member of our close-knit community. We have often been on the receiving end of generosity and kindness from many people here in the Capital Region, it really means a lot to us to be in a position to repay/pay-it-forward when we are asked to and able. We hope to increase our donations to worthy local organizations considerably every year. We would like to get involved in promoting healthy food in local schools.
5. WE TAKE MAJOR STEPS TO LIMIT FOOD, PACKAGING, TRASH AND ENERGY WASTE: We re-purpose or compost all of our food scraps and coffee grinds with The Radix Center of Albany (the first and only company in Albany so far to do so). We recycle aggressively. We wrap our loaves in biodegradable unbleached parchment, serve our to go items in compostable clamshells, use real plates/silver/mason jars instead of plastic, and encourage our customers to bring their own to go coffee mugs. We use environmentally safe cleaners and take steps to reduce our water/energy usage. We would like to become members of the Green Restaurant Association (a 3rd party certifier) and take additional steps to reduce our waste, and water/energy consumption. Although we abhor providing one-use packaging, we soon will add recyclable/recycled material to go cups for coffee (due to customer demand), but will continue to provide reusable mason jars for soups to go.
6. OUR CO-OP KITCHEN: We rent our kitchen to other food entrepreneurs growing out of their home spaces. We help them order bulk goods, offer an affordable rental rate (often bartering), help publicize their businesses, connect them with wholesale/retail contacts, and offer our knowledge of the permitting/city regulatory process. We are currently incubating three women owned businesses (Three Smiles Kitchen Seitan and Nudge Baking Co., Kate's Kakes is on hiatus till May). This idea was borne from the fact that we couldn't find a space to rent hourly when we started our first Community Supported Bakery Program in 2010, and with a young daughter who needs family time in the evenings, we aren't able to use the shop around the clock. There is virtually no hourly kitchen space for rent in Albany for food entrepreneurs, we feel this is a valuable service to provide to our community. If you're looking to start or expand your own sustainable craft food business, give us a call to take a look at our kitchen! We still have available time on the books. Our current partners are thriving.
In closing, we give a lot of thought to every little aspect of our little business: the impact our decisions have on everyone with whom we come into contact, the resources we use as they relate to our self-imposed environmental and social responsibilities, balancing family/off-time with work for us and our employees, and contributing in a positive way to our immediate community and the world at large. There's a lot more we'd like to do. You can help propel us to success and accomplish our goals primarily by visiting us regularly, recommending us to your friends & family, sharing our menu and promoting us through social media, calling us for catering your morning & lunch meetings, joining our Community Supported Bakery program during the winter and visiting us at the Saturday Delmar Farmers Market June-December.
We have set up a "Go Fund Me" account for those of you who want go the extra mile to help us pay down our start-up funding debt, which will allow us to allocate more of our earnings to the initiatives outlined above, and our goals for the future that retain our belief that being responsible for not just profit, but people and our planet, is the way of the future for all businesses.
Nick and I sincerely appreciate your patronage and ongoing support of AGB and our socially responsible initiatives! We always look forward to seeing you.
Britin and Nick Foster