FOOD CO-OPS ARE FOR PEOPLE • LARRY FRITZ
So much for theory . For those of you who re- member the Food Co-op in its earliest stages, recall the former procedure of ordering goods one week and picking them up the next week. Over the sum- mer several new changes have taken place . Now that more people are buying regularly at the Co-op, food can now be purchased at the store. Most are avail- able during store hours. Also a large vegetable gar- den was started on Grand Island which was well put to use over the summer months . Now that autumn is here, all that is left are gourds and pumpkins. But good news, a friend in East Aurora has donated 30 acres of land for use in the spring by both the Allentown and Lexington Co-ops. Also to facilitate the work of the Co-ops, a large truck has been pur~ chased. It will be used to pick food up at the Far- mers' Market and at various places around the state. Just a suggestion if you plan to shop at the Co-op: the best way to make use of the reduced prices is to buy in large quantity. Large jars of honey, peanut butter and cooking oil are places of substantial savings. Items such as brown rice, eggs, walnuts and dates are good buys no matter what the quantity . Besides, usually everything unless specified is organic. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• : start your own co-op • • • • • • The idea of cooperative efforts to reduce the price of things is not something necessarily limited to food produce . While the success of the Lexington and Allentown Co-ops have shown that such ven- tures are workable in Buffalo, such cooperative ef- forts need not be the only avenues of "cooperation" open to us. If you have visited the University lof Buffalo campus, you no doubt are aware of the record and electronics co-ops there. Initiated : through funds of student activities fees, both offer their products at substantial savings. In fact it was : the UB Graduate Association that has financed the Lexington Co-op. Except for the cost of the rent, : the Food Co-op is self-sustaining. Similarly besides • the initial funding of the record and electronics co- ops, these are also self-sustaining through a slight : markup on each item. All items remain well below wholesale prices. : There is no reason that such cooperative ven- tures cannot be initiated on the Buffalo State : campus. Considering the balance last year of some $60,000, the United Students Government could • easily provide the funds necessary to start a co-op : here. The wide interest shown at the U.B. co-ops and at the Lexington and Allentown Food Co-ops : should be a further stimulus to such an effort on this campus. Such success is only positive proof a co-op can work here. 15
I suppose there is little question that corporate food marts like Loblaws and A & P put a lot of effort into selling their food. Or at least their bill- board signs and newspaper ads want us to believe they do . Yes and no doubt on every alternate Wed- nesday or Thursday there is a good chance to save money by shopping at their food sales, to say nothing of their 12 hour work day which makes the availability of their food another attractive aspect of their business. But to compare the Lexington and Allentown Food Cooperatives with the Supermarkets on this basis is to miss the essential meaning behind the word cooperative. As the word itself suggests, it is a 'person-to-person working cooperation wherein by spending your own time at no wage, there is benefit derived through reduced costs in product and a mu- tual feeling of community effort. Mutual feeling of community effort, this seems to be the essential distinction between the business of the supermarket and the cooperation of a Food Co-op . However, there is no doubt that places like the Food Co-op are not attractive to everyone. If you're on the move, find time only to eat out or always have someone else cooking for you, there is a good chance that the Co-op will have little mean- ing for you. However, if you find yourself baking bread Sunday mornings or taking the extra ten minutes every night to make a real salad, the Co-op might be of interest-the interest being that you get to know who is handling your food and when you're part of the co-op, it could very likely be yourself. The attitude of supermarket business and com- petition is replaced by the liveable element of "cooperation." But what does this cooperation a- mount to? Is it something more than an attitude, I mean, can I actually buy it? Probably not and this i~ where the analysis of such a place as the Co-op breaks down. At least in terms of what so often has been used to measure capitalist enterprises. The basis of the business of the Co-op is that somewhat nebulous substance of human nature. Its roots grow in the idea of human "community ." Its product is neither purchasable nor immediately visible, it's something you can only know through the feeling of experience. It's knowing people are around you. It's knowing that you can put some- thing living and breathing back into city life. It is probably something you have never quite found on A the shelves of the electric door sliding enterprise of \•present day food markets. Even more so, it may be a proverbial kick-in-the-ass to the capitalistic urge. It's conceivably a new garden for the engine run race track of a city that is fast forgetting it was once made for people.
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