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To boycott or not?

Growers offer a fresh perspective on Real Food - By Carly Earnshaw, San Francisco Bay Gaurdian

THE REAL FOOD Company store on 24th Street in Noe Valley closed abruptly Aug. 29, and its former employees have been publicly speculating that the closure was a response to their unionizing efforts. Real Food's parent company, Fresh Organics, a Utah-based corporation that also operates under the name Nutraceuticals, is responsible for the mysterious closure. A spate of posts on Craigslist and Indybay.org encourage customers to boycott Fresh Organics' other Bay Area stores. But people who want to support local growers and small farms may want to find other ways to voice their disapproval.

Most Bay Area health food stores, including industry giant Whole Foods, are able to buy at least some of their produce locally. But some farms are too small to get attention from big health food chains. Susan Stover and her husband, Tony Sadoti, run Terra Sonoma, a distribution company that sells produce from their own small farm and several local growers. Stover said Real Food was "a good account" for them, and the loss of the 24th Street store "will obviously have an effect" on Terra Sonoma's business.

The shuttered store in Noe Valley accounted for a third of Fresh Organics' produce sales, but managers at Fresh Organics' Stanyan Street store are mitigating the damage the closure could have on these smaller businesses by increasing their orders. "They're trying," Stover said. "I don't know if Stanyan has the volume to keep up with 24th Street."

She added that she hoped the Noe Valley store would "reopen with a good produce department and will continue to buy direct."

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