5

votes

Whatever happened to the Food Coop Movement?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 19, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Reading about Hunter-Gatherer societies, I am reminded that they were based upon commmunalism and not the dog-eat-dog competitive paradigm that certain types of evolutionary psychologists (i.e. Steven Pinkner) would have us believe and that followers of Ayn Rand would have us fetishize. With that in mind, whatever happened to the Food Coop movement? Do you belong to a coop ("'m not talking about Costco)? How is that going? I try not to purchase from Whole Foods, for its extravagant prices and its corporatist spirit.

06325b762f78a2b8aaa977161cca4a1f

(539)

on September 05, 2011
at 08:38 PM

wheatsville? ..

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on September 05, 2011
at 07:05 PM

what she said. they literally drove me out which sucked because i loved the work and talking about food and helping people. when i could literally feel my hand forming into a fist ready to punch the next "i am an elite healthy person and you are my minion" client that was it. bummer, coops should be cool and fun.

3edf46d729f17cfff798b66eaa1ecb02

(334)

on April 20, 2011
at 05:27 AM

It's hit or miss on the prices sometimes, but from what I know about Whole Foods, everything is ridiculously overpriced. The farmer's market pastured eggs & grassfed beef are pricey but well worth it. I did join a CSA in January and get about 3 bags full of local organic produce every other week, $50/month. I'd recommend it if you can find one. It forces you to use strange veggies but sometimes that's a great thing. At farmer's markets you can always ask the farmers about their practices. Many do not use pesticides but can't afford "organic" certification or are in the process of obtaining it.

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 19, 2011
at 06:58 PM

Yeah, we shopped at Rainbow. While they had raw milk, they didn't sell meat, so we sourced grassfed meat at a convenient butcher in the Richmond.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on April 19, 2011
at 06:39 PM

Grand Rapids, Michigan

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:53 PM

Mark, if you don't mind saying, where do you live? That sounds great.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:52 PM

we have been with our CSA for six years now (going on seven!) and i think the first two years we got nothing but kale and radishes. the second year we got that in addition to celeriac and kohlrabi. i wanted to quit so badly. then, something happened and it suddenly got awesome. now we get our veggies, pork, beef, eggs, lamb, turkeys, chickens, pastured pork lard and fruit through them and its great. they charge an arm and a leg for grocery items though, which is why i need a co-op type thingy. i hate winter, but thank god for food preservation, root cellars and VLC!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:24 PM

How is the farmers market there? There is one here in Palo Alto, but the organic stuff is not much cheaper than Whole Foods. Buying from the Farmers Market takes care of my aversion for Whole Foods but still depletes my wallet in similar manner.

9f9fa49265e03ddd2bf2bba5477a556b

(3184)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I belonged to a food co-op in Austin, down the street from Whole Foods HQ. The only difference was that I paid a nominal annual membership fee, which meant I got discounts that made everything there maybe 10% cheaper than WF. Communalism? I guess. It was a grocery store that I could walk to. I guess if I wanted to get involved in their finances, I could have. I want to shop, not get involved. And once you get involved it is politics and business like anywhere else. Being owned by members is no different than being owned by shareholders, except members can micromanage. And Ayn Rand rules btw.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:25 PM

Which coop did you belong to, Rainbow Grocery? Last time I was there they didn't sell meat.

  • 77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

    asked by

    (78467)
  • Views
    1.5K
  • Last Activity
    1430D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

11 Answers

5
4aa3281b2b5c6ec066c82675ee3df5f7

on April 19, 2011
at 06:28 PM

An interesting aside is in oregon where I live lots of the organic / biodynamic / permaculture farms donate veggies, eggs, cheese, and meat to local food banks or other free community food resources. Some cities and towns have programs to harvest unused fruits/nuts from city and neighborhood trees mostly for donation. In southern oregon there was a big back to the land movement in the 60's & 70's. So even the small towns have things like sliding scale clinics, food coops, lots of organic/local food in the food banks, and even programs aimed at using underutilized crops both wild and domestic. In the town of takilma they are even trying to bring back controlled burning to increase wild food in the area with the goal of being able to feed more of the community for free. Walk around portland or eugene in the summer and you will find baskets full of veggies/fruits from peoples gardens free for the taking. I would consider all those examples of food communalism. A drop in the bucket but still in a positive direction. I personally always share harvests(hunting/fishing/gathering/roadkill finds or garden harvests) with neighbors and of course friends. I think it's a good practice to stay in good standing with the people around you and keep in mind that there happiness is linked to yours even if it doesn't seem like it.

5
2206f764adaac82696d7bb1c0dd870f0

(110)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:24 PM

I get beef and pork shares from the farm where we get our raw milk. I would do a veggie CSA because I think I would learn how to use veggies in novel ways. Unfortunately, shares sell out very quickly near me so I am looking into the possibility of high altitude gardening and growing my own vegetables instead. (I am doing this more for self-sufficiency reasons and hobby interests than short-term cost savings.)

In the summer, I shop at farmer's markets. I have found that buying food this way is a bit more expensive than purchases at the grocery store, but costs can be kept in check by adhering to a budget.

CSA models are a response to consumer desires: desires that haven't seemed to be filled so well by the food coop model, in my opinion. If I felt there was a food coop near me that suited my desires and needs, I would use it, however.

I shop this way for a number of reasons. I like the variety I get, I like to support of local farmers rather than subsidization, I think it's more nutritious, offers better taste, freshness and novelty, and I like to network with others who think food quality is important. All of those are values in the marketplace.

In my limited experience with one food coop, it was ridiculously more expensive than the for-profit CSA model. We did not get deliveries in the food coop in which I participated. We simply paid a membership fee for a 10% discount on all items, which were almost all outrageously overpriced. ($5 for a tiny bar of soap, e.g.) Faced with that as a grad student on a budget, I had no qualms about sourcing other foods/products from grocery stores, although I would have preferred the freshness, variety, and taste of local foods if they'd been affordable. The farmer's market was simply a better option. There are better food coops in university towns with a bigger "customer" base.

I am the moderator of OEvolve, a small (roughly 300 member) Objectivist mailing list that discusses paleo eating and fitness. While we do think capitalism best serves everyone's interests, the malevolent stereotype offered above about Ayn Rand's "followers" bears little resemblance to most Objectivists I know.

1
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 19, 2011
at 06:16 PM

I was a member of a coop, but got tired of the work requirements and smug hippy assholes (some of them vegans who wanted to restrict meat buying). I sort of run my own now, as a buying club www.meatshare.com, but it has MANY fewer obligations and its much more just about food than about being a hippy.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on September 05, 2011
at 07:05 PM

what she said. they literally drove me out which sucked because i loved the work and talking about food and helping people. when i could literally feel my hand forming into a fist ready to punch the next "i am an elite healthy person and you are my minion" client that was it. bummer, coops should be cool and fun.

1
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:46 PM

we belonged to a coop when i was a kid through our unitarian universalist church and it was great. i loved going. i would love to join one again- there is a grocery coop through our CSA farm that i have been thinking about doing, i just have to compare prices. my husband has been out of work for 14 months so unfortunately cost is my primary concern right now. i dont know many people that do it like they did in the 70s and 80s. i really wish it would come back en vogue.

1
Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:20 PM

We shopped at a food coop when we lived in the San Francisco Bay area, but after moving back east, couldn't find a decent coop that catered to our needs. So now we shop mainly at Whole Foods, high cost aside. We'd definitely go back to a coop if it offered the foods we wanted, was conveniently located, and was good priced. Unfortunately, that's not the case for us right now.

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 19, 2011
at 06:58 PM

Yeah, we shopped at Rainbow. While they had raw milk, they didn't sell meat, so we sourced grassfed meat at a convenient butcher in the Richmond.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:25 PM

Which coop did you belong to, Rainbow Grocery? Last time I was there they didn't sell meat.

0
306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on September 05, 2011
at 07:20 PM

We belonged to a food co-op before we moved.

Members (pay an annual fee) pay shelf price. Members who volunteer and paid employees get higher discounts, with various levels of volunteering/discount, from a few hours a month to several a week. General public pays a 5% surcharge over the shelf price.

While there was a lot of vegetarian/vegan food, they had an excellent meat department, too.

0
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on September 05, 2011
at 06:55 PM

I belong to a co-op but don't use it as much anymore. It was mostly a place for me to get macrobiotic and vegetarian foods.

0
535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:46 PM

Yes, we have a coop here. It was started a few years ago and now has hundreds of members. The emphasis is on anything organic. It is a great resource for local pastured meats of all types and eggs. I love it!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:53 PM

Mark, if you don't mind saying, where do you live? That sounds great.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on April 19, 2011
at 06:39 PM

Grand Rapids, Michigan

0
3edf46d729f17cfff798b66eaa1ecb02

on April 19, 2011
at 05:06 PM

there's a co-op in San Diego but it is only vegetarian food. much of it is junk or imported, but they do have local organic produce. but here, we have a farmers market or two every day of the week, so I usually go straight to those. I wish there was a co-op here that was free of vegan indoctrination, but I have yet to find one.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:24 PM

How is the farmers market there? There is one here in Palo Alto, but the organic stuff is not much cheaper than Whole Foods. Buying from the Farmers Market takes care of my aversion for Whole Foods but still depletes my wallet in similar manner.

3edf46d729f17cfff798b66eaa1ecb02

(334)

on April 20, 2011
at 05:27 AM

It's hit or miss on the prices sometimes, but from what I know about Whole Foods, everything is ridiculously overpriced. The farmer's market pastured eggs & grassfed beef are pricey but well worth it. I did join a CSA in January and get about 3 bags full of local organic produce every other week, $50/month. I'd recommend it if you can find one. It forces you to use strange veggies but sometimes that's a great thing. At farmer's markets you can always ask the farmers about their practices. Many do not use pesticides but can't afford "organic" certification or are in the process of obtaining it.

0
Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:03 PM

Where I live now, the two small Co-ops (one here in town and one 45 min away) are the only decent places to shop. We're members of both places. My husband works at one so we get a nice discount, but we still need to drive to the other one for a bigger meat selection. Ahh the food desert...

The Coop in town here makes a huge part of its subsistence on vitamins/supplements etc. Personally I think this is why Co-ops have gone the way of the dinosaur. I think it's hard for them to compete price wise with the internet (vitacost and whatnot) and stores with bigger buying power/bigger selection. When I lived in Chicago, I was sad to see Sherwyn's, who had been there forever, close when Whole Foods moved in.

I really don't know what a lot of people in this area would do during the winter when nothing is growing without the coop.

The CSA can be a great thing. I'm glad to see people offering meat CSAs and that's something I haven't done yet, but would be very interested to do. I've done a vegetable CSA but felt like the deliveries were expensive for what I was getting ("burdock root again?"), but I think that was just that producer.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on April 19, 2011
at 05:52 PM

we have been with our CSA for six years now (going on seven!) and i think the first two years we got nothing but kale and radishes. the second year we got that in addition to celeriac and kohlrabi. i wanted to quit so badly. then, something happened and it suddenly got awesome. now we get our veggies, pork, beef, eggs, lamb, turkeys, chickens, pastured pork lard and fruit through them and its great. they charge an arm and a leg for grocery items though, which is why i need a co-op type thingy. i hate winter, but thank god for food preservation, root cellars and VLC!

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!