Community Food Co-op here in Bellingham. There's even bulk Forbidden (black) rice!
When we decided to move here, Smart Guy drove up in February 2008 to find us a place to live, while I finished the last few months of my job in Boulder. He told me the very first thing he did was join the Co-op and shop for some foods. We didn't know about the store when we made the decision to live in Bellingham, but it has made a huge difference in our quality of life.
During the three decades I lived in Boulder, many times a community cooperative was attempted and we always joined, but none of them ever took off. I don't really know what the difference is, but the bulk bins and presentation of foods never seemed optimal; instead they were dusty and presumably stale. At the Co-op here in Bellingham, the sheer volume of customers and turnover of produce allows me to choose from a huge variety. From the link above, on the Co-op's "Vision, Mission, Values" page, I learned that it "promotes a sustainable economy by supporting organic and sustainable food production and other environmentally and socially responsible businesses locally, regionally, and nationally." I visit the store almost every day, since it's located just behind the YMCA where I exercise four days a week.
I ride the bus from home every morning to attend my class at 9:00am. The bus in my part of town is hourly, so I arrive a few minutes after 8:00am and walk to Avellino's coffee shop for my morning latte and visit with the regulars before heading two blocks to the Y. After class, I have about a half hour to wait after I've showered and changed, until it's time to catch the bus, so I head to the Co-op and buy any little thing I might need (since I've got my recyclable bag tucked into my purse) and get a small cup of coffee. Then I make myself comfy in the cafe section of the store. I pull out my iPad, check my email and read the latest news before heading the few blocks to the bus terminal. By now I know most of the bus drivers and feel very much a part of the community. I know the other riders who use the bus at this time of day; it goes by Bellingham Technical College and there are times when the bus is very crowded, but this week when schools were closed for the holiday, I was able to chat with the driver.
Sometimes when I feel like learning more about the Co-op, I'll walk the aisles that I don't usually visit and notice what items they have (like the cereal aisle, I never buy the stuff). Almost everywhere there is a sign to remind me to "buy local" and many times a sign declaring an items "certified non-GMO." GMO stands for "genetically modified organism." Once I searched in the store for items containing HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Even in the aisle with soft drinks (not many of them) and other drinks, I didn't find even one!
Where am I going with this post? I guess I just want to point out that I realize how fortunate I am to have such a place to shop. Not many of you have this luxury; it truly is exactly that. Sometimes I take one of the ladies who lives in my apartment complex grocery shopping (she no longer drives) to the local Albertson's store. She has shopped at this store for decades and knows the aisles and what is where. No way is she interested in changing her routine and going to the more expensive and foreign Co-op, and I never even suggest it. Just for grins while waiting for her, I will walk the aisles in the same way, looking at what foods are displayed there. No comparison, really. Just as an example, the massive aisle filled with cereals has hardly any natural cereals, they are all highly processed and filled with sugar. No wonder we have such an obesity epidemic in this country.
This week I will have my sixty-ninth birthday and begin my seventieth year. Because of my food choices, I believe that I have managed to maintain a semblance of health that eludes many people my age. Although none of us knows what the future holds, I do think that the food we put into our bodies is a choice that can assist or retard our health. A cartoon I saw recently showed a guy declaring that there are only two things that keep him from losing weight: diet and exercise.
It's still dark outside. These days the sun doesn't come up until after 7:30am and sets at 4:19pm. The wind has blown all night, bringing in a cold front after a warm and windy day yesterday. I sit here with my partner sleeping beside me, listening to the howling wind, propped up in bed with my laptop and tea. When I finish here, I'll dress and head to the Co-op to see what breakfast item they are serving today at the deli and if appropriate, I'll pick up a couple breakfasts to bring home. It's our regular wintertime Sunday morning routine. Kristin is usually behind the counter and she writes our names and a cute smiley face on the take-out boxes. I order my soy latte, pick up a Seattle Times newspaper and come home to my waiting partner. Life is pretty darn good.