Until yesterday, I hadn’t shopped in a co-op grocery store for years, since college days when I would buy veggies and yogurt from a co-op in Cambridge, Mass. after my Saturday yoga class. Since then, I’ve grown my own gardens, frequented farmers’ markets and spent much money at the burgeoning chain “natural foods” stores.
But here in Madison, as in many other places around the country, the cooperative grocery store model is alive and well. Yesterday I joined the Willy St. Co-op, which means I own a share in the company, along with about 14,000 other people. It gave me a very communal feel about food and where I live.
Willy St. Co-op was launched in 1974, at a time when people were trying to find a more natural way to live and eat, much like we are today. You can still grind your own peanut butter, shop based on what’s local (very clearly marked!) and find some terrific brands and fresh foods. I picked up eggs from a local farm (Yuppie Hill, a Woman-Owned Farm, the label reads), beets, Umka (a natural cure for a bad cold my friend Evelyn recommends), organic grapes and Wisconsin honey.
Check out www.coopdirectory.org to find co-ops in your state or more about the concept, which brings us all a little closer in this world.