I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bulk bins and organic food

When I lived in Boulder, I didn't have anything like this amazing number of bulk bins of rice and beans. This is a picture of just a few of the bulk bins available to me at the 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.


CiCi said...

The best part of this post is how you end, with you going out to pick up Sunday breakfast and a paper and going home to your waiting partner. Wonderful.

Linda Reeder said...

You have made food a science and a hobby. Healthwise, it seems to be paying off for you.
And I also love how you end this post, but the thing that strikes me is how much of a morning person you must be!

Rita said...

I really miss the large clean co-op I used to frequent down in Minneapolis. They had deli/meat/produce. But we do have Tochi's up here in Fargo and I have come to love it. It's not a co-op. Privately owned since the 60s. They don't have bins or a lot of perishable foods and things are pre-bagged, but everything seems to be of excellent quality. I only wish I could get there more often, but I appreciate it when I do. Really makes a difference being able to have the foods available.

We do have farmer's markets here during the summer months, too. Being basically housebound and having to order groceries once a month from a regular grocery store has it's drawbacks. But I have noticed that the natural foods departments in the regular grocery stores has expanded considerably over the past ten years. That's a good sign. :)

Happy birthday early!!

Mel said...

I am envious of your Co-op. We have nothing like that here, and few public transportation options either. You are lucky, and smart. I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

Linda Myers said...

What interesting routines you have! At this time of year I tend to hibernate more. Not good for my mental view of things. So maybe I'll put on some raingear and head out for a walk today.

Anonymous said...

I really admire you, DJan. And now I feel bad that David has gone to DeeLite Bakery to pick up a butter horn and custard danish for me and some other sweet stuff for himself. Not terribly healthy, is it. No wonder we are obese.

But, hey, I am still experiencing a downward trend. I weigh one lb less than yesterday which was 1 lbs less than the day before. So, everything in moderation means weight loss for me...

Sally Wessely said...

I have to agree with Linda M. You have interesting routines. And, as Linda R. says, you are a morning person. I am inspired by you.

I wish I had your discipline. I wish I had a place to shop such as you have. My friend in VT also shops at a wonderful co-op. I am very envious.

I make baby steps each day toward making healthy choices in diet and exercise. I have lost a few pounds. I feel better most days.

Rubye Jack said...

The thing is that good co-ops or healthy grocery stores should not be a luxury. Your's sounds great and I envy you your routine. Stores like this are available all over the Bay Area in California and I so much miss them--to the point that I may return when I turn 65 and can have Medicare.
You are indeed a lucky woman DJan, and the thing is you are grateful for what you have.

Kathryn said...

I love your posts DJan. Between your two blogs you are an almost daily source of inspiration to me - you nourish my soul with your food and exersize tales, and food for thought. We have a little store called the Organic Grocer nearby. similar to your coop, but on a smaller scale. we call it the Orgasmic Grocer (how original), and buy our wheat-free breads and vitamins there.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

We have co-ops here, but none every seemed as attractive as yours. Maybe I need to go back and take a new look.

Dee Ready said...

Dear DJan,
I so admire you. Each time you post on "Eye" I learn something new about health or exercise or being gracious. The Co-op sounds wonderful, but I find that your gratitude for your life, which you express often in your postings, is even more awesome. It enlivens my spirit. Thank you.

And thank you also, DJan, for visiting my blog and commenting each time. I so look forward to your perspective.


Gigi said...

I love that you carry your recyclable bag with you! I carry mine with me everywhere - now if only I could convince Hubby to do the same and use them!

I don't do the grocery shopping, but this place sounds like something Hubby would love.

And yes, you are DEFINITELY a morning person....something that I am not (and might be a bit jealous about...) but as usual, your post has prompted to me to at least think about my life choices in more detail (such as my eating habits).

Have a good week, my friend.

Red said...

I'd agree that life is pretty darn good if it's like this with good food , health and friends. All of this takes some will and effort.
Keep on preaching about this stuff . We need to hear it over and over before it sinks in.

CrazyCris said...

Your life does sound pretty darn good DJan!

And you are lucky to have such a place to shop, it's completely unheard of here in Spain!

Arkansas Patti said...

How fortunate you are to have such a place to shop. I love my small town but fresh food or bulk food choices plus mass transit are just not happening.
Just having access to Forbidden Rice with out a 2 hour drive or paying shipping would be great.
I too am a morning person. Is there any other time of day?

Grandmother Mary said...

Good for you for making such healthy choices. It does make a difference for our overall health and quality of life. Good food is one of the things we do have under our control. Here in Italy, we go to our farmer's market each week and buy what is fresh out of the fields or freshly made since we don't have a co-op. I fully support your co-op's mission, however. You describe a great life style- thanks.

Far Side of Fifty said...

We have a wall of bins in the4 grocery store..I have never seen anyone get anything out of them. I am not sure what is in them I will have to look. Happy Birthday this week! :)

#1Nana said...

You are lucky! I miss the access to high quality food shopping that is available in the city. On the other hand, in the summer the spouse brings home farm fresh veggies from local farms. Corn pulled from the stalk and cooked within an hour is the best. There are always tradeoffs for where we choose to live.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

Anonymous said...

Great post and I also like the past paragraph, it really is the simple things in life that make us happy and keep us grounded:)

P.S. Love your header!

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant LAST paragraph, must need more coffee!

Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

That place sounds wonderful :)

This posts makes me miss riding on the bus. Cade and I used to ride it everywhere when we were in Hawaii. It was so much fun ;)