Farmer Joe’s & Friends

All about Farmer Joe’s Marketplace

Estancia Grass-Fed Beef Tasting

Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 12, 1 – 5 pm. Estancia is grilling their grass-fed beef at Farmer Joe’s Marketplace for a free public tasting. Estancia Beef has an exceptional taste, and for good reasons. Their cattle are 100% grass fed, and free range, wandering the pampas, eating lush grasses, never enclosed in fences or feedlots. Estancia beef is naturally exercised and naturally fed. No hormones or growth promoting antibiotics are ever added. For more information visit the Estancia Beef web site, and feel free to speak to their representatives on Saturday at Joe’s. Hope to see you there!


July 4, 2008 Posted by | community, Dimond, food, neighborhood, Oakland | 1 Comment

Anniversary Celebration

Let the good times roll. Farmer Joe’s Marketplace is having a repeat performance of their anniversary celebration. It’s their second year, and Farmer Joe’s is inviting the whole neighborhood, their friends, loyal customers, and employees to a free barbeque with live music and a free raffle. Please come join Farmer Joe’s in their celebration as they thank the community and their employees. I got a sneak peak at some of the raffle prizes today. In all honesty I can’t say what is the grand prize. On Saturday, Joe’s will be raffling off a bicycle, an MP3 player, a set of golf clubs, Joe’s gift certificates, and an All-in-One – a printer, copier, scanner. WOW! I also heard some whispering about a 5 star wine tour. Remember, all raffle tickets are FREE. The raffles start at 5pm, and you must be present to win. Don’t miss out on the food and fun this Saturday at Joe’s Marketplace.

Where: Farmer Joe’s Marketplace at 3426 Fruitvale Avenue
When: Saturday, June 21, 2008, 2 – 5pm

June 17, 2008 Posted by | community, Dimond, food, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland, party | | Leave a comment

Baby Bananas

I’m in love with the baby bananas. They’re small, and they’re sweeter than their full sized counterparts. Every morning I mix up one packet of Kashi Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal with one cut baby banana and two sliced Medjool Dates. This healthy and good tasting breakfast keeps my motor running hunger free until lunchtime.

April 27, 2008 Posted by | food, Oakland | Leave a comment

Thai Basil Chicken Mango Sausage

Sadly, I have no picture. I bought the Farmer Joe’s Thai Basil Chicken Mango Sausage ($5.99/pound) last night at the big store, right before closing, along with a quarter pound of edamame salad. The sausage fried up quick and delicious, filling my kitchen with a savory aroma. I ate it before I could get the camera out of its bag. It was a beautiful picture too – the sausage, scattered edamame with slices of carrot, a cut orange tomato, olives from Joe’s bar and a few slices of sweet Gorgonzola cheese (COW/ITALIA) from the cheese bunker.  

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Dimond, food, Oakland | 1 Comment

Art Up

This is the new mural at Farmer Joe’s. I love it. The colors are so vibrant and the subject is our beloved Dimond District. It’s painted on the outside of the store on the patio, along with the other must-see murals.

Around the corner, at the Dimond Café, Rita Sklar’s watercolors are on exhibit. Stop, have a cup of jo, and enjoy the free Wifi. It’s turned on and ready for surfing.

Further down the street at Paws and Claws, the front window has been painted by our local artist Amy Jo Karn. The window has a cat, dog, and rabbit frolicking in the spring grass. For those of you with pets, don’t forget this coming Sunday’s free class at Paws & Claws, Dealing with End of Life Issues. The class will be guided by Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, MS. Follow the hyperlink for details.

March 28, 2008 Posted by | class, community, Dimond, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland | 3 Comments

Flower Power

Joe’s flower department is bursting with color and variety, with mix and match bouquets for as little as $3.99 and $4.99. Saturday, I stopped in store and bought some gorgeous heather for $3.99 that filled a vase and livened up my dining room. I could not resist snapping a photo of the flower cart today. It was overflowing with spring in the shape of fresh cut irises, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, renuculas, pussy willows, and all sorts of mixed arrangements. Flowers are fresh everyday and so affordable. I love having a bouquet sharing my dining room table while I eat dinner. You will too.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Best Grocery | Leave a comment

Buzz in the Burg, Dimond District Style

There’s so much buzz going on in the Dimond District of Oakland these days, I hardly know where to start. New stores are opening.

Arabella and Company, at 2006 MacArthur Boulevard, had their grand opening on Friday. It’s a great place to buy unique furnishings and pieces for your home and garden for yourself or as gifts.

A couple of doors down, New to You, children’s boutique opened at 2010 MacArthur Boulevard. They offer new and gently used children’s clothes, toys, accessories, and furniture.

Further up the street near Coolidge Avenue at 2710 MacArthur Boulevard, Lipstick had a hopping red carpet opening from 7 – 11pm Friday night. It was an extravaganza. Lipstick carries hip fashions for the ladies.

The next new store is technically in the Laurel District, but I’m claiming them because they’re so cool. It’s the Oakland Acupuncture Project at 3576 Laurel Avenue. They offer acupuncture at a very reasonable rated sliding scale.

I’m putting Dimond Café in the new store section because they have literally reinvented themselves. Located at 3430 Fruitvale Avenue, they used to sell primarily donuts and coffee. They now offer coffee, pasties, a café atmosphere, and WiFi.

I’ve also heard another location to get WiFi in the burg is at the Dimond Library located at 3565 Fruitvale Avenue. My sources tell me you can hook onto their WiFi for free.

Besides all these actual openings, a rumor is floating that our beloved Los Comales might be opening up a second Mexican restaurant in the Laurel District. YEAH! There ain’t no better carne asada quesadilla anywhere, than there. Keep your fingers crossed on that one.

New stores aren’t the only happenings in the Dimond. New classes!

Our pals at Paws & Claws are offering a class Sunday, March 30, 2008 5 – 6:15pm on Dealing with End of Life Issues. This free class is offered at Paws & Claws, 2023 MacArthur Boulevard. The speaker is Dr. Gary Richter, D.V.M., M.S. For those of us with pets, this is an important class to attend. We all want to recognize and do what’s best for our four legged friends at the appropriate time. Dr. Richter is going to talk about these delicate issues during this important class.

And let’s give a big “Hooray” for Loka Yoga located at 2701 MacArthur Boulevard. Wonderful Alice has added a children’s yoga class, ages 6 – 9, Wednesdays 4 – 5pm. She has also changed the time of one class and added another to accommodate our 9 to 5ers. She now offers a Tuesday night class levels 1 – 3, from 7:30 – 9:00pm. She added another level 1 – 3 class, Thursday nights from 7:30 – 9:00pm. Her Yoga Sutras class has been moved to the last Friday of the month with an hour of open practice starting at 6pm.

The next class I’m mentioning is not new, nor is it in the Dimond, but I’m claiming this one too because it’s so much fun. It’s the Aqua Maids, water aerobics class in the outdoor pool at Mills College. The class is most Sundays at 9am.

If you’re not into an organized water class, don’t forget you can swim laps throughout the year at the Dimond Park’s heated pool. The pool is located at 3860 Hanly Road.

New stores, new classes – what more could you ask for? More events!

During the month of April, Rita Sklar’s original paintings, entitled “Diversity in Play,” can be seen at the Dimond Library, La Farine (3411 Fruitvale Avenue), Café Diem, and Dimond Café (3430 Fruitvale Avenue). Two receptions will be held to meet the artist. The first will be at Café Diem, Friday, April 18th from 3 – 6:00pm. The second will be at Dimond Café, Wednesday, April 23 from 4 – 6:00pm.

And last but not least, we might be getting an Oktoberfest in the Dimond. YAH!! I can only wish. The rumor mill says some streets will be closed for beer, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and lederhosen. Wooo Hoooo. Polka, baby. It’ll be a huge undertaking, but the rumor mill also says Helen Wyman is thinking about tackling the project. I have my fingers doublely crossed. Helen heads up the Laurel World Music Festival and the Montclair Jazz and Wine Festival every year. She’s the right man, er woman, for the job.

March 9, 2008 Posted by | class, community, Dimond, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland, party | 8 Comments

The Intraweb

I like Chip Johnson, and there’s a reason for that. He doesn’t kowtow to anyone, including Oakland’s politicians. He says it like it is, whether it’s the popular opinion or not. Today, I enjoyed his column about bloggers. I bounced over to the blog Chip identified as one of Oakland’s best. It’s called “A Better Oakland.” The blog’s author, VSmoothe, writes, “Blogs like this will always be supplementary sources for a small, self-selecting audience that desires far more detail that the average person.” I like VSmoothe. I’ve added her to the links on the right over there. Chip likes her too. He says she “has flair, style and consistency, and that draws steady traffic to the site.”

Speaking of sites, Farmer Joe’s online has been updated. Check it out. I could brag on it, but you might as well click on over and get the full effect.

If you’re still in a surfing mood, Oakland Magazine has posted their monthly online copy. Their hardcopies have not quite hit the stands. March’s issue has an article entitled “Oakland’s All-New SuperMarkets.” It’s a good read and the concluding quotes are from our Diana Tam, Mrs. Farmer Joe.

February 29, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, community, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland, politicians | 1 Comment

Fresh Flowers Every Day

The cold and blowing rain got ya down? Need a little springtime and need it right now? Try the fresh flowers from Farmer Joe’s. The flower cart is to the right as you walk through the main entrance of the Dimond store. It overflows with a large selection of blossoms such as irises, hyacinths, roses, spider mums, lilies, sprigs of flowering peach, and numerous mixed arrangements. Need a vase? Joe’s carries those too, located on the flower cart in small, medium and large sizes. If you’re thinking more along the lines of gardening, the organic herbs and starter flowering plants are available near the entrance of the store. The herbs are a bargain at $2.19 each. Buy a dozen and get one free.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Dimond, flowers, Oakland, plants | 2 Comments


I think of myself as a bit of a cake connoisseur, mainly because there’s nothing I like better than cake. I spend a good deal of my waking hours thinking about cake, what is the best cake, and where I can get it. Needless to say, I am possessed by the beautiful cakes in Farmer Joe’s bakery section. Every time I shop, I spend time staring at them, reviewing the taste sensations of ones I have eaten and determining my next purchase.

Today, I treated myself to Douce France’s Opera Cake. I am going to give you the best advice you will probably receive all year. Drop what you are doing. Go straight to Farmer Joe’s. Give the clerk the $2.99 plus tax for this cake. Do it now. This is an unbelievable dessert.

The Opera Cake is pictured second from the left, but the picture hardly does it justice. The taste is incredible, very French pastry, not too rich. This dessert, with its exquisite, light and airy mix of delicious chocolate and not-too-sweet cake, knocked me out. It is an elegant dish with coffee, after a pasta dinner, or perhaps you will do what I did. Get a Joe’s roasted chicken, some Asiago from the deli, and top a wonderful meal with a perfect ending.

February 21, 2008 Posted by | Dimond, food, Oakland | Leave a comment

Lion Dance

The lion danced at both stores today. Gongs and a brilliant golden drum resonated throughout Farmer Joe’s, accompanying his performance. The beautiful creature paraded through the stores, heralding in the Chinese New Year.

He promised to bring luck to the community while warding off evil spirits. He took a brief turn toward the beautiful cakes. I was worried for a split second he was going to munch on them, but he headed out the door and snacked on some lettuce swinging from the entrance. Organic, no doubt.

February 16, 2008 Posted by | community, Dimond, neighborhood, Oakland, party | 2 Comments


The recipe is Farmer Joe’s Chocolate Marble Ice Cream topped by Scharffen Berger Cacao Nibs. I love this combination. The Scharffen Berger Cacao nibs are the perfect compliment to the Chocolate Marble. Gotta satisfy my sweet tooth. Speaking of which, I found a new array of beautiful cakes in the bakery section of Farmer Joe’s. I haven’t tried them yet, but I hear them calling my name. Right now, my sweet tooth has a quart of ice cream and cacao nibs keeping it happy.

February 2, 2008 Posted by | food, Oakland | 1 Comment

Cocktail Grapefruit

Do you like grapefruit, but don’t like the bite? Try Cocktail Grapefruit. This fruit is extra sweet, juicy, and unique. It’s not actually a grapefruit at all, but a cross between a Frua Mandarin orange and a Pummelo. The flavor is similar to a grapefruit’s but much sweeter and less acidic. For a special drink, try the Cocktail Grapefruit Cocktail, fresh squeezed Cocktail Grapefruit juice, over ice with a shot of vodka. Of course, I think I just negated all the healthy aspects of the fruit, but what the heck. It sure is tasty. Cocktail grapefruits are on sale at Joe’s, while they last, 69¢ each.

January 19, 2008 Posted by | Dimond, food, Oakland | 9 Comments

Attention Animal Lovers

Dimond’s beloved pet store, Paws & Claws is hosting a fabulous free class on Homeopathy for Animal Emergencies, Saturday, January 19, 2008 4 – 5:15pm at their store. Beth Murray will teach the class. Beth, CCH, RSHom (NA), is certified in classical homeopathy and a registered member of the North American Society of Homeopaths. She consults at Creature Comfort Holistic Veterinary Clinic, the Oakland Zoo, and Back to Life Wellness Center in Alameda for the human population. For more information, please click through to the hyperlinks provided. For all us animal lovers, this class is a must, and it’s FREE, provided in joint partnership by Paws & Claws and Beth.

January 12, 2008 Posted by | community, Dimond, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland | Leave a comment

Pom Juice

Pomegranate juice is definitely the “it” drink in health circles. It’s no wonder. Not only is the pom, higher in antioxidants than its cousin the blueberry, but recent scientific studies suggest the pomegranate may be helpful in fighting certain types of cancer. Preliminary tests also show the beautiful fruit may boost that old heart muscle and help it with the day to day business of providing cardiac blood flow.

I’m all over the pom juice at Farmer Joe’s. I buy the 32-ounce freshly squeezed mini jug for $7.99. You can find it in the iced bar to the right as you walk in the front door, past the flowers and veges. You know the place. It’s the same area you see me standing with the sample Joe’s tortilla chips and big load of freshly made guacamole stuffed in my mouth. I love that fresh bar. Everything in the ice is made daily. 

December 29, 2007 Posted by | Dimond, food, Oakland | Leave a comment

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

There’s still some great looking Evergreens at Farmer Joe’s for all you Christmas minded folks. We got a small one today for about $15. We put the twinkly lights on it and some silvery icicles. I hope Santa can squeak some gifts under it.

December 21, 2007 Posted by | community, Dimond, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland | Leave a comment

Dimond Winter Festival

Saturday, December 8, 2007, 10:00am – 3:00pm
Fruitvale Presbyterian Church

December 4, 2007 Posted by | community, Dimond, food, neighborhood, Oakland, party | 1 Comment

Ice Cream

I scream. You scream. We all scream for Farmer Joe’s ice cream. $4.19/quart. Right now, I’m stuck on the seasonal flavor, pumpkin. Yum! The strawberry and peppermint are flying off the shelves too. There are 13 delicious flavors in all at a great price.

December 2, 2007 Posted by | Dimond, food, Oakland | 2 Comments

7th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Join us this Sunday, November 18, 2007, for the 7th annual community Thanksgiving dinner. A scrumptious turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, will be served from 4:00 – 5:30pm at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church, located at 2735 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland 94602. For more information, please call (510) 530-0915 or visit Fruitvale Presbyterian Church online. We’ll see ya there!

November 12, 2007 Posted by | community, Dimond, food, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland, party | 1 Comment

The Great Pumpkin Contest Winners for 2007

The Great Pumpkin weighed in at whopping 468 pounds. First prize, $50, was awarded to Kathleen R. with the closest guess of 467 pounds. Second closest guess was 465 pounds and received $25. Third prize, $10, went to three lucky people, each guessing 463 pounds.

November 12, 2007 Posted by | community, contest, Dimond, neighborhood, Oakland | 2 Comments


Howl-o-ween came to Farmer Joe’s on Saturday. Our group of costumed adults, dogs and children started at Paws and Claws and worked our way down to the store, where Diana Tam greeted us with sacks of goodies. Okay, yeah, I yelled “trick or treat” with the kids so I could get some candy. My favorite item in my bag was an iced pumpkin cookie. Delicious. A little Dachshund thought the cookie looked yummy too. The small dog jumped up and snagged one from a child. I laughed at the hungry dog until I saw how disappointed the kid was. Diana quickly replaced her cookie, and this time the kid held it out of the dog’s reach.

This year’s Howl-o-ween was better than ever. People and dogs wore some fabulous costumes. I was really torn which were my favorites. I liked the pugs that were ticks, and the Chihuahua/Chinese Crested mix that was a fairy. The little girl who was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was adorable. Her mother was the wicked witch. One of my favorite dogs showed up wearing a Cinderella costume. The dog’s human said, “My dog is so embarrassed wearing that costume.” Later in the evening at the Howl-o-ween bonfire at Paws and Claws, the dog strolled by us with a big grin on her face and no costume. The dog had removed the costume herself. Embarrassed, indeed. We took a flashlight and looked around but we could never find the pup’s outfit.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | community, Dimond, neighborhood, Oakland, party | 2 Comments

Green Bags

The ecology friendly Green Bags have arrived at Farmer Joe’s. They are for sale, $1.79 each plus tax with a 5 cent bag redemption each time you use your Green Bag at the check out after purchasing groceries. Get one, or two, or like me – three – while supplies last. I gave my Green Bag a strength test on its maiden purchase. I loaded one up with a half gallon of Horizon Organic Milk, a half gallon of Joe’s fresh squeezed orange juice and a one liter bottle of Agrumi Tangerine, all natural Italian soda. The Green Bag passed my test with flying colors. It is much easier to carry too. Go Green.

October 15, 2007 Posted by | community, food | Leave a comment

Blessing of the Animals

Saturday, October 13, 2007
Fruitvale Presbyterian Church
2735 MacArthur Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 530-0915

Registration, Coffee, Introductions, & Information

Blessing Begins
Bring the 2 legged, 4 legged, feather, hooved, and scaled members of your family for a free non-denominational blessing on the church patio! We all love our wonderful animal family members. Have them blessed by Monte McClain, preacher of the Fruitvale Presbyterian Church, for the upcoming year. If you have never attended a Blessing of the Animals, check out an interfaith blessing that just occurred at Long Beach, California. Blessing of the Animals is truly an extraordinary event for you and your pets.

Co-Sponsored by Paws & Claws
2023 MacArthur Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94602
(510) 336-0105

October 11, 2007 Posted by | community, Dimond, neighbor, neighborhood, Oakland | Leave a comment

Lost in Translation?

Jean’s Address to the Community

Jean Quan’s electronic newsletter dated October 6, 2007, said

”FARMER JOES MEDIATION: As reported in the local media our office, Mayor Dellums, Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee are working jointly to bring both sides together in the Farmer Joe’s dispute. The management and union have never met face to face for direct discussion. To establish a cooling off period, we asked the United Food and Commercial Workers to call off their boycott; they ended picketing 2 weeks ago. We now expect to meet with both sides this week — a small but important step we should all encourage.” 

The Facts

The local media carried this story in both the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune on 9/21/07. It talks about the “confrontational approach” the UCFW local 5 took towards trying to unionize Farmer Joe’s. The union’s picketing and harassment forced Farmer Joe’s to file a charge against Local 5 with the NLRB, case #32-CP-490, on 7/19/07. The NLRB found the case had merit and filed a complaint against UFCW local 5. A federal hearing was scheduled for October 10, 2007 against the union for unfair labor practices. On September 10, 2007, the NLRB reported UFCW local 5 executed an informal settlement agreement to cease all picketing and publicly acknowledge they would refrain from illegal activity. Then on September 19, UFCW local 5 picketed in front of the store despite their settlement agreement. The NLRB is currently deciding how to proceed, considering the union’s latest bad faith demonstration.The MacArthur Metro’s lead story this month “Update at Union Activity at Farmer Joe’s,” said

“Misinformation on this dispute abounds and continues to be propagated. To be clear, the issue is not whether to unionize. It is also not about an unwillingness to sit down and work out the differences. The primary point of contention between Farmer Joe’s and the Union, one that has persisted since the opening of the second store, is about how to formally survey the employees’ views on representation. 

On September 14, 2007 Mayor Dellums wrote a letter to Ron J. Lind, UFCW Local 5 and the Tams of Farmer Joe’s. In that letter, he wrote,

“As Public Officials we (Mayor Dellums, Congress Member Barbara Lee, State Assembly Member Sandre Swanson, Councilmember Jean Quan) all stand firmly in favor of small local business enterprise and are keenly aware that such enterprises contribute greatly to the development of Oakland’s unique neighborhoods. At the same time, we are also in support of the rights of workers to freely organize.” 

The Tams petitioned the NLRB to conduct a vote to determine if in fact the employees wanted union representation. The request was dismissed August 3, 2007, citing “there is no evidence that it (the UFCW) has ever demanded that the Employer (Farmer Joe’s) recognize it (the UFCW) as the majority representative of its employees.” The MacArthur Metro elaborated,

”For the purposes of collective bargaining, an employee representative must be designated for an NLRB vote to be held. The UFCW persists with their request for a card check to determine if Local 5 represents a majority of the employees. The Tams maintain the card check violates their employees’ personal privacy rights and will not turn over the polling process to the UFCW.” 

It is noteworthy that the UFCW’s latest bad faith demonstration took place after their receipt of this letter from our public officials requesting a “cooling off period be established.”

October 9, 2007 Posted by | Dimond, Local 5, neighbor, neighborhood, NLRB, Oakland, politicians | 1 Comment

Dimond Howl-o-ween

Pet Parade & Costume Party

Dogs, kids, and adults are invited to the 4th Annual Dimond Howl-o-ween Pet Parade and Costume Party. Meet in front of Paws & Claws at 6pm and parade through the Dimond District collecting treats from participating store vendors. Then return to Paws & Claws for an outdoor party behind the store with a campfire and spooky games for kids. Dress warmly!

Donations will be accepted for the Oakland Animal Shelter

Where: Paws & Claws, 2023 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland
When: Oct. 27, 2007, 6pm – 9pm

October 4, 2007 Posted by | Dimond, neighborhood, Oakland, party | 1 Comment

The Great Pumpkin

This Halloween pumpkin is at Farmer Joe’s on Fruitvale Avenue. The store is holding a contest to guess the correct weight of this behemoth. First prize is $50. Second prize is $25, and third prize is $10. I saw an engineer with a calculator and a tape measure working on the pumpkin and her guess three days ago. Her friend was standing by, laughing at the great lengths the engineer was taking calculating her estimate. Yesterday, I saw 4 year-old Malcolm formulating a guess. He hung on his Dad with his finger stuck in his mouth. He told his Dad a number and his Pappa wrote out the entry and dropped it in the guessing box. Be sure to drop your entry in the guessing box next time you visit the store.

October 4, 2007 Posted by | community, contest, Dimond | Leave a comment


The MacArthur Metro has an enlightening article on the front page of their paper this month entitled, “Update on Union Activity at Farmer Joe’s.” The articles goes on to say…

“To be clear, the issue is not whether to unionize. It is also not about an unwillingness to sit down and work out the differences. The primary point of contention between Farmer Joe’s and the Union, one that has persisted since the opening of the second store, is about how to formally survey the employees’ views on representation.

According to the National Labor Relations Act ( Section 8 ) the UFCW must file a petition with the NLRB within thirty days of first picketing the store, stating the UFCW be recognized as the organization representing employees. The UFCW has not officially declared their wish to formally represent Farmer Joe’s employees; instead the UFCW’s position was made known to Farmer Joe’s ownership and employees through a third party.

Farmer Joe’s recently petitioned the NLRB to conduct a vote to determine if in fact the employees wanted union representation. The request was dismissed, citing ‘there is no evidence that it (the UFCW) has ever demanded that the Employer (Farmer Joe’s) recognize it (the UFCW) as the majority representative of its employees.’ For the purposes of collective bargaining, an employee representative must be designated for an NLRB vote to be held.

The UFCW persists with their request for a card check to determine if Local 5 represents a majority of the employees. The Tams maintain the card check violates their employees’ personal privacy rights and will not turn over the polling process to the UFCW.”

The Wall Street Journal also checks in with an interesting article entitled the “UAW’s Awakening” from September 29, 2007. The reporter states,

“We had a friendly visit not too long ago with Andy Stern, the Service Employees International Union President and perhaps the most successful modern labor leader.” The reporter continues “With Democrats now running Congress, and ahead in the Presidential polls, Mr. Stern and his union mates are closer than they’ve been in decades to seeing that agenda implemented. But they also reveal their own lack of faith in the appeal of unions when they support a ban on secret-ballot elections at work sites. And of course they still benefit–unlike anyone else in American politics–from being able to coerce the payment of dues.”

Ron Lind, President of Local 5 had this to say in Local 5’s last month’s newsletter (page 4) to his members.

“Union power has declined and with it, the contract conditions that our members work under. Local 5 members are no exception. The seven unions that merged to form our new union all employed the model, some to a greater extent than others.

The UFCW, along with other unions of the Change to Win Federation have embarked on different approach – a return to an organizing model that focuses the organization’s efforts on building power. I am committed to making Local 5 an example of this approach Servicing our members will still be a critical component of what we do, but increasingly, we will be shifting resources to organizing new members and building union power. Representatives have already been assigned larger territories and some have been reassigned to the organizing department. We intend to hire additional organizers in the coming months. Field representatives are being evaluated not just on how often they visit their stores and work sites, but on their ability to build a union presence and turn members out to events as well. We must work together to organize the non-union competitors in our industries to stop the erosion of our contracts.”

Okey dokey. I guess all that answers that question. The UFCW ain’t worrying about workers’ rights. They’re worrying about their declining power. I guess it’s only natural for them to try and take away secret-ballot elections. Could be their only hope?

October 2, 2007 Posted by | Dimond, Local 5, Oakland, UFCW, union | 3 Comments

Do the Right Thing

These are the vacant stores in the Dimond District within a one-block radius of the Farmer Joe’s on Fruitvale Avenue. It’s a sad state of affairs in Oakland. 10 million dollars a year are lost in tax revenue from shoppers going to other cities to spend their disposable income. My burg reminds me of a ghost town at times. The taggers spray paint these abandoned buildings on a regular basis. When the Payless Shoes pulled out, I called the corporate office and begged them to stay. They replied it was not feasible. They said they were losing too much money. When Blockbuster Video packed up, they told me too many people in my neighborhood stole.

This store used to be a vacated boarded up hole-in-the-wall for 7 years before Diana and Joe Tam took it over, renovated and opened up their first Farmer Joe’s on MacArthur Boulevard in the Laurel District. This is now what we neighbors fondly call “The Little Store.” It’s the original Farmer Joe’s grocery Joe and Diana Tam opened 13 years ago. When the Tams first started out, they sold only fruits and vegetables. Diana will laughingly tell you half the store was potatoes. Joe will tell you neighbors approached him and said, “Joe, you have to start selling milk and meat.” For a couple of years, Diana and Joe worked the store by themselves. Joe and Diana did everything from checking to order writing to hauling garbage. Gradually, they began to hire employees to help them. Like today, they remained deeply involved in their business, working side-by-side with their employees, cultivating a family atmosphere and getting to know a lot of their employees’ families. For the first 8 years in the life of The Little Store, the Tams took only 2 days off from work, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even on those 2 holidays, they drove to The Little Store to insure the electricity was running, and their food was safe and ready for sale the next day.

From looking at this picture, it’s hard to believe or remember what a physical dump and eyesore this building used to be. This is the new Farmer Joe’s on Fruitvale Avenue. Prior to being Farmer Joe’s, it was stalled out Crazy John’s, a failed Albertson’s and a closed Lucky.

Oakland politicians like to give a lot of airtime to renovating the city. They like to talk about helping the neighborhoods and throw around terms like sustainability. Joe and Diana Tam took the terms and did something tangible out of their own pocket. Since they opened their store on Fruitvale Avenue, Peet’s Coffee moved in across the street from the newer Farmer Joe’s. La Farine French Bakery opened a beautiful store also across the street. La Farine renovated the abandoned Payless Shoe Store. The Tams invested in our neighborhoods where others gave up. People call the new Farmer Joe’s an anchor store. Realtors are advertising now by their proximity to “the anchor.”

And then there’s this statement from Ron Lind, President of UFCW Local 5, “Locally, we’re working with elected officials to help protect our union market share by limiting the growth of non-union stores.” That statement makes me wonder what this conflict between the union and Farmer Joe’s is really about. Is it about the rights of the workers? If so, why won’t Local 5 agree to an NLRB secret ballot election to let the workers simply vote whether they want a union or not? Or is the real crux of the matter with the union, the union dues, declining union membership and the fact two other non-union groceries, Whole Foods and Trader Joes, are moving into our immediate area? Is the union picking on the Tams because they thought Farmer Joe’s would be an easy target? And why would the union think that? Because the Tams are first generation Chinese immigrants? Because they are a family owned business?

And what about the politicians Ron Lind claims he is working with so hard to limit the growth of non-union stores? It doesn’t sound much like he is concerned with employees’ rights. It sounds like he and the politicians are at a mutual back scratching party. Is that what this is about? Party down from out of town; screw Oakland. So, what about Oakland’s growth, expansion and helping our little burgs into a better place, whether they are union or not? The politicians need to do the right thing here – the right thing by their constituents, by the people that live here, by the people that support the store. It’s time for the politicians to step up to the plate and do what we elected them to do. They need to support us, the store, our community, and Oakland.

September 30, 2007 Posted by | community, Local 5, neighborhood, Oakland, politicians, UFCW, union | 1 Comment

30 Days

UFCW Local 5 is not at the store for 30 days, harassing everybody. According to this article that ran in the Contra Costa times on Septmber 21, 2007, “There should be a cooling off period to ensure that all parties are working towards an atmosphere where negotiations can be constructive,” Paul Rose, spokesman for Mayor Ron Dellums’ office said. “In a statement, the union said attempts to unionize stores that serve ethnic communities, including Farmer Joe’s and Super Mercado Market, have failed because of its common ‘confrontational approach.’” Ya think?So, let me get this straight. We’re supposed to be “cooling off” after UFCW local 5 called for a boycott at Farmer Joe’s, attempting to break their bottom line when that grocery has been the best thing for this neighborhood in a long, long time. The union harassed, threatened, and lied to the store and the whole community for the last 8 months. In other words, we were attacked, but now we’re supposed to act like everything is cool. Umm, sure. The article goes on to say, “The union will employ a new strategy to convince stores that a partnership would be of mutual interest to the store owners, employees and the community. There will be no picketing, boycotting or leafleting at the Fruitvale store during the cooling off period.”But I guess it’s okay for the union to leave this button up on their web site’s home page. It’s still clickable and urges UFCW members to wander over to store and rally every Friday yelling, “Boycott this place” at Farmer Joe’s shoppers. And I guess it is still okay to for them get on this blog and leave harassing comments I have to delete. I guess really what’s okay is what has always been okay with the UFCW – lies, threats, and harassment.Richard Cowan from Jean Quan’s office is quoted in the article that he hopes “the union uses the cooling-off period to win community support.” Win community support? Does Richard assume the community can be bought off with cheap trinkets? Maybe Halloween candy. Or perhaps he thinks the community has a bad memory or maybe did not experience first hand what the union did day after day. The truth is the community did. They lived through it, supporting the store every step of the way. I wish I could say the same for Richard and Jean. Since I don’t think either of them have seen the real ugliness of the day-to-day harassment, I’m posting some video.This video is a professional UFCW local 5 organizer on his typical day at Farmer Joe’s. The security guard asks the organizer to step away from the entrance because he is attempting to block shoppers from entering the store. The security guard says the organizer’s actions are “going to lead to confrontation.” The organizer replies, “It doesn’t matter.” At one point, the person shooting the video asks the organizer what the zip code is. He doesn’t know. He has no idea. He comes from out of town to disrupt our neighborhood. The organizer says that the man shooting this film hates Mexicans. Sometimes he would harass and threaten shoppers to the point we would call the police. When the police arrived, he would tell them we hated Mexicans and we were racists. He would tell the police we threatened and harassed him. All the statements were common lies the organizer used in his day-to-day rhetoric. In the video, he yells, “Boycott. Boycott. Boycott. Support workers’ rights” and yet his union has never asked for representation of a single employee at the store or there would have been an NLRB election. According to the NLRB, Farmer Joes’s petition for an election was dismissed because “Although Local 5’s actions appear to be part of its attempt to organize the Employer’s employees, there is no evidence that it has ever demanded that the Employer recognize it as a majority representative of its employees.”


10/3/2007 The union’s boycott button was removed today from their web site’s home page, but this is still on their dues refund page. I can’t decide if they’re deliberately being ornery or their web developer needs to be fired, or both.Then this appeared on their news pages. ”Local 5 President Ron Lind stated ‘the union is prepared to meet any time and any place to resolve the issues that effect Farmer Joe’s Worker’s and the community.’” Excuse me? Issues that affect the community? You and your hommies are the ones driving from San Jose to Oakland to cause the ruckus over here. You are “The Issue.”

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Local 5, UFCW, union, union harassment | 3 Comments

WTF, Local 5?

This article came out in the Contra Costa Times today. And I quote:

Last month, the Tams filed a complaint against the union with the National Labor Relations Board, charging it with illegal picketing. They contended that the union has picketed more than 30 days without petitioning the NLRB to become a collective bargaining representative for the stores’ employees.“The union has been picketing and boycotting to force us to unionize,” said Diana Tam.The case was scheduled for a hearing before the NLRB but the union agreed on a settlement to not picket.“We agreed to something we weren’t doing anyway,” said union spokesman Mike Henneberry. “We’re not picketing, we’re leafleting.”

WTF, dude? You agreed to something you weren’t doing? Since when? Merriam-Webster defines picket as “a person posted by a labor organization at a place of work affected by a strike; also: a person posted for a demonstration or protest.” AND you had an agreement with the NLRB to NOT picket. Yet here ya are Wednesday doing the big nasty in front of the store standing right next to the UFCW local 5 organizer with the bullhorn.My suggestion to you is to go buy yourself a dictionary, or at least a little integrity.

September 21, 2007 Posted by | Idiotic, Local 5, NLRB, Oakland, picket, UFCW, union, union harassment | 3 Comments

Picketing the Plywood

I have to give the whole UFCW local 5 theatrical scene yesterday a two thumbs down. First, they started late. The union’s “rally” was supposed to commence at 5pm. Local 5 has to drive in from out of town so someone is always holding up the show because of bad traffic. Finally, their “rally” got started with a little over twenty people – executive board members, paid organizers, and the hourly non-UFCW folks you’ve seen in the parking lot who don’t speak much English and don’t really care what’s happening. The manager of Pete’s popped her head out the door and told them to take the freak show away from her store. The “rally” walked down the sidewalk and was left circling in front of the plywood of the soon to be opened La Farine French Bakery across from Joe’s on Fruitvale Avenue. Their bullhorn broke.

I guess it was about that time I lost interest in the bad production. I walked back to Farmer Joe’s entrance and talked to customers. Some were laughing. Some were rolling their eyes. Some wanted harassment forms. All are sick of the union coming into our neighborhood and disturbing it. One shopper thought they were picketing the La Farine’s. I thought the person was kidding.

“Yeah, someone inside the unopened store called the UFCW,” I joked.

“Really?” she asked.

I shook my head though I wouldn’t put it past something local 5 would claim considering what they have said about Farmer Joe’s.

The only shining light to the whole afternoon was Saundra Andrews. She showed up from Barbara Lee’s office. She is the first and only person that has showed up in the trenches. She got a first hand view of the sideshow. She got to see how we get treated by local 5.

In all honesty, my attention had waned so there at the end, I don’t know if she stopped the “rally,” or local 5 stopped it, or the broken bullhorn stopped it. The next thing I knew the union was claiming they were taking the high road by calling off the boycott and the picketing. I squinted into the sun when they said this, not so much because the sun hurt my eyes but what they said hurt my brain. That’s kind of like saying, “I’m going to take the high road and quit beating my wife for a while.” Screwed up logic. Even while they were saying that, they had 2 organizers in Joe’s parking lot passing out leaflets with lies. Saundra Andrews called across the street to the UFCW and told them to get their boys out of Joe’s lot. The UFCW called back across to Joe’s lot and told the jokers to leave. Of course, they couldn’t just leave the premises. They intimated they were going to sue me for the blog as they strolled by. “Corn Dog, it’s gonna cost you,” the organizer sneered. “You better get your money ready.” That’s some high road.

So, I went and chatted with Saundra Andrews. I like her. She kicked two harassers out the parking lot by shouting across the street. She is a strong woman. She says her background is labor relations. She has a funny little car with a missing hubcap. Someone broke in it and stole the ashtrays looking for money. It is all Oakland. Can she help? I don’t know. She says she is interested in the workers and the small Oakland businesses.

She gave me her business card. She told me if I saw local 5 in the parking lot harassing, picketing, or passing out leaflets in the next 30 days to call her. I intend to, but I worry the union is using her. Local 5 needs 30 days right now to go off and fry bigger fish. According to their own web site, they are currently in contract negotiations in Northern California with the major grocery chains and things aren’t going well with Safeway. Does this mean they are going down the block and cause a big scene there? Another high road?

September 20, 2007 Posted by | Local 5, neighborhood, Oakland, picket, UFCW, union, union harassment | 2 Comments

Clausen House Donation

Pictured below, far left, is Peter Brooks, Development Director of Clausen House. He was at Farmer Joe’s Marketplace in the Dimond District accepting a $1500 donation from Farmer Joe’s Diana and Joe Tam this afternoon. This donation is 100% of the proceeds from the T-shirt sales. Also pictured are Wayne and Dal, our T-shirt guys. Peter expressed his gratitude for the large donation, and then could not resist the urge to go shopping. We all know that urge only too well. He left with a big bag of goodies and a big check for a worthy cause.

Special thanks to Wayne on the T-shirt project. We couldn’t have done it without you. You’re the best.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | T shirt | Leave a comment

Neighborhood Happenings

Maxwell Park’s A Day in the Park

Maxwell Park is hosting their second annual Day in the Park. Come and have fun Saturday, September 15, 2007, in Maxwell Park, Fleming Avenue between Courtland Avenue and Monticello Avenue. Local musicians will be featured along with a variety of other talent, activities for the kids and youth, delicious barbeque, neighborhood businesses, and of course – neighborhood chit chat. Fun, music, food and comradery!

Montclair Village’s 5th Annual Jazz and Wine Festival

Fruitvale Presbyterian Church’s Fundraiser

September 13, 2007 Posted by | community, neighborhood, Oakland | Leave a comment

Lawbreaking Liars

Another picture of the picketers in Joe’s parking lot. How long have the picketers been harassing us? Almost 7 months. The perverse thing about this snapshot is all these guys in this photo with orange leaflets are hourly workers, bought and paid for by the UFCW, but not belonging to the UFCW. It’s the latest in dirty tricks. It’s called “Outsourcing the Picket Line.”

And so it goes. Yesterday, I had a lady stop and ask me why the Tams weren’t allowing the employees to vote. I’m not even shocked any more when customers ask questions like these because I know where these misconceptions originate. I told the shopper the Tams had petitioned for an NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) secret ballot election for their employees but because UFCW local 5 has never asked to be recognized, the case was dismissed. She was stunned. I asked her who told her the lies, and she pointed at the folks in this photo with the orange boycott leaflets. Then I handed her this. Farmer Joe’s filed a petition for a secret ballot election so the employees could vote on whether they wanted a union or not, but according to the NLRB, “Although Local 5’s actions appear to be part of its attempt to organize the Employer’s employees, there is no evidence that it has ever demanded that the Employer recognize it as the majority representative of its employees.” The petition was dismissed.

“What are they still doing here then?” the customer asked.

I selected this info for her to read.

She read awhile. “I don’t get it,” she said.

“Get what?” I asked.

“How can they do this? Isn’t it illegal?”

I nodded. “You don’t know the half of it.”

September 5, 2007 Posted by | Local 5, UFCW, union, union harassment | 3 Comments

They’re back. They’re whack.

The harassment from UFCW local 5 continues. They’re wearing Friends of Farmer Joe’s T-shirts. They’re carrying propaganda with unauthorized Food Mill logos. They’ve printed their trivia on plastic coated paper so their garbage is not recyclable. They’re harassing senior and handicapped shoppers. On any given day, one of the organizers will tell the volunteers at the store they are racists and claim we have called him a “beaner.” We just stare at him, wondering why he is lying. Since no one is buying into his lies, he attempted to step it up a bit, and claimed we called him a “dirty, uncooked bean.” Okay, that one did make me laugh.

This picture is all UFCW local 5 organizers in the parking lot. They are like ants. All I could think of was a modification of that age-old joke – how many local 5 members does it take to screw Farmer Joe’s? For even more laughs, I picked up one of their discarded flyers out of a buggy today, and it read – I kid you not – “RESPECT THE WORKERS LAWFULL RIGHT TO UNINIZE.”

August 29, 2007 Posted by | Local 5, UFCW, union, union harassment | 4 Comments


Confused? You have every right to be, even another UFCW organizer looks befuddled. One of the UFCW Local 5 folks showed up at the store today wearing a Friends of Farmer Joe’s green T-shirt. I don’t know why that surprised me, but it did. After all, they have claimed to be private investigators, California Healthy Communities Network, and the Food Mill. The progression was only natural. Now, they want to be store supporters. I guess anything is better than being the UFCW. The coup de grace is the bumper stickers plastered to the front and back of the shirt. Schizophrenic, dude. Umm, a little hint here, bumper stickers are for your vehicle, not for cotton T-shirts.

August 16, 2007 Posted by | front company, Idiotic, Local 5, T shirt, UFCW, union, union harassment | 3 Comments

Seoul Kimchi

I was at the store today fulfilling my urge for some fresh broccolini when I ran into these ladies with free snacks. I’m all over the free snacks at Joe’s, so needless to say I ponied right up to their table. The ladies were stir frying Seoul Kimchi ($3.09/16 oz) and tofu. At first, I was taken aback. Tofu and I have not the best of friends. When I first left the South and crossed the Mason Dixon Line, I had never seen tofu. I bought a chunk, thinking it was white cake. I’ve never quite forgiven it for that deception, or perhaps showing me my ignorance. Anyway, I had to think twice about the kimchi and the tofu today, but it smelled so good I took the plunge. I was glad I did. The Seoul Kimchi is spicy delicious balanced out by the creamy smooth taste of the tofu. Fabulous! The recipe is too simple. Buy the Seoul Kimchi and let it ferment for an additional week to ten days in the refrig. Stir fry with a little olive oil in a frying pan and add in chunks of tofu. Viola. Scrumptious out-of-the-ordinary dinner for two for under $5.

August 12, 2007 Posted by | food | 1 Comment

Laurel World Music Festival

Just a reminder…
The 2nd Annual Laurel World Music Festival 2007 is tomorrow. Head on over to listen to live world music, stroll and shop the street fair, and entertain the kids at Kid’s World.

Date: Saturday, August 11, 2007
Time: Noon to 6:00pm
Place: The Laurel District, MacArthur Blvd between 35th & 38th Avenue

Hope to see you there!!!

August 10, 2007 Posted by | party | Leave a comment

The Beautiful Cakes

I took home a cheesecake number, second shelf down with the dark chocolate on top, leftmost in the case. It didn’t last the week. Two words – simply divine. The top shelf of the beautiful cakes’ case is filled with Tortabella cakes. I forget what the name of my cheesecake was. It was here and gone so quickly, I hardly knew it.

August 2, 2007 Posted by | food | 1 Comment

Same Old Same Old

For those of you visiting the store on Friday, you may have been handed a flyer from the UFCW local 5 union members that had a Food Mill logo and branding on the top of the page. The leaflet goes on to say “Welcome To The Food Mill.” The reader would quite naturally deduce this was a newsletter from our neighbor and friend, the beloved Food Mill. On the back of this leaflet is union tripe, though, hence a give away it’s union made.

The Food Mill was contacted, and they would like to inform the community they had nothing whatsoever to do with this leaflet. They are concerned about the unauthorized use of their branding and logo, and are actively working to resolve this situation.

And here I thought the union was just going to harass Farmer Joe’s. I guess they’re striving to be a blight on the whole community.

July 28, 2007 Posted by | front company, Local 5, UFCW, union, union harassment | 1 Comment