"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The Tomatoes that Never Made It ™  from the blighted summer of 2009.

I love co-ops. More than just a grocery store, more than just a local market, they are a mixed bag of all the best the world has to offer- local produce, meats, dairy, honey and more, rubbing elbows with imported cheeses and herbs, organic chocolate and sugar and bread, and everything perfect and good for you from just about anywhere it could ever come from. Last September in Kids Fun Plaza magazine I talked about Farmer's Markets, and in March I'll be doing a piece on Community Supported Agriculture, but I have yet to talk about just how fantastic a co-op really is. Co-op stands for cooperative, but in my opinion, it should also stand for Community Operated, because it is. It belongs to the people.

I won't bore you too much. At least I'll try. Instead I'll tell you about how I used to get off the bus in Downtown Albany, NY, on my way to or from anywhere, just to pop into Honest Weight on Central Ave and grab myself a paper sack full of home-baked whole-grain fig bars and a bottle of Moroccan Mint Honest Tea or Tazo Brambleberry to tide me over until my next meal. (Sometimes, working as a software instructor, I was never sure when that would be. Sometimes I would go there with my boyfriend, at the time, to lovingly peruse the bars of Dagoba Chocolate or have a chat with Gustave, the eccentric cheese guy behind the sprawling cheese counter, who is thrilled to hand you a taste of anything he keeps in stock.

I took a trip to Montpelier, VT a year and a half ago to visit friends. They live across the river and across the road but still within view of their local co-op, so aptly named Hunger Mountain. There we carefully chose mushrooms and cheese, bread and wine to go along with the dinner we were going to cook together. I lusted over organic velour Mama Cloth, and very nearly bought myself a reusable shopping bag, but. As I've stated before, my collection is a little out of control.

I realized, while I was researching my piece on CSA's, that I'd never taken my kid inside of a co-op, never got the chance. She's used to normal grocery shenanigans. Tonight at the store, Ro, now four, said, "Can I buy some tomatoes, Mama?" Of course! I let her pick out a box of little cherry ones. Next she asked, "Can I buy a lemon?"
I blinked. "A lemon?" I asked. "Why do you want a lemon?"
"Because I like them!" She insisted. "Please? I have a dollar."

"Uh-oh," My husband intoned. "You know something's wrong when your kid wants to spend her allowance on vegetables."
Nope, I thought. She's just right.

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