Jon Stewart's Park Slope Food Co-Op Jokes Were Dead On -- I Should Know (VIDEO)

Rant 5

park slope food coopJon Stewart pretty much hit the nail on the head (again) when he summed up the Park Slope Food Co-Op thusly: "Food shopping. It's kind of a pain in the ass. But did you know there's a way to make it much, much worse?" I did! As a former member of the Co-Op, I did know.

Not before I joined, of course, but it didn't take long to figure out that even though the deal sounds pretty good on paper -- organic groceries at wholesale prices in exchange for working one 4-hour shift per month -- there's not enough bulk quinoa in the world to make the experience worth your while.

Samantha Bee's expose of the Brooklyn mental institution on last night's Daily Show focused on the issue currently dividing Co-Op members: Whether or not to consider banning Israeli products as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions "movement against Israel's violation of international law and human rights."

But trust me, the controversy of the day could've just as easily been about putting tea tree oil handsoap in the bathroom dispenser instead of peppermint oil handsoap.

Because even though the Park Slope Food Co-Op gives the impression of a community founded on the hippie-ish principle of making natural foods affordable for everyone, it's actually a dystopian society that over-politicizes food as an excuse to divide and conquer. It's a lot like the election year-antics of the GOP, except instead of abortion and birth control as hot-button issues, you've got genetically-modified foods and fair trade cocoa.

I slogged along as PSFC member for a few years, dragging my kids along with me to shifts working in the "child care" room where parents could drop their little ones while they shopped (this was a coveted shift for mom members, since it didn't necessitate finding "child care" of our own). I stood in the ridiculously long lines (a result of the most inefficient check-out system ever). I even got yelled at by a fellow member for mindlessly eating A SINGLE SALTED CASHEW out of my bag before weighing it because I was 8 MONTHS PREGNANT and felt like I was going to faint, not because I was trying to destroy the profit margins of struggling cashew farmers (as he accused).

Finally I quit. I don't live in Brooklyn anymore anyway, but if I ever moved back ... well, let's just say I think overpriced produce is a small price to pay for sane shopping.

Do you have any experience working at a food co-op like this one?

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jessi... jessicasmom1

co-op ... ahhhh . why boycott .. and when you put polictics in the mix forget it.

nonmember avatar Jane

Sounds like my co-op only broken. My co-op doesn't force anyone to volunteer, they offer huge discounts as incentive and give the person watching your kids volunteer credit, too. When I want to die I go to the co-op for hugs anf nourishment. It is my haven away from home. Come to Olympia!!!

nonmember avatar Cookie

I love her!

nonmember avatar Barbara

Dear Jacqueline -

I am the Barbara featured on this Daily Show segment.

I agree, the Coop is not for everyone.

However, I estimate my savings are about $4,000 per year. Plus, I find products that I can't easily find elsewhere.

I agree that there are many - as you call it - "dystopian," overly politicized people there. But I would hardly they say that characterizes the majority of members. The outcome of the vote shows politicization was rejected. I just don't think it is very nice to make sweeping generalizations about an entire group.

I have met some really wonderful, funny and interesting people there, whom I never would have an opportunity to interact with. That is the bonus of coop membership.

Regarding the checkout system, if I wanted to pay by debit or ATM card, I could have done that at the register. Our system of separate location for paying cash actually provides a very low register losses compared to typical grocery stores.

We only work 2-3/4 hrs every 4 weeks. Not 4 hours. Like I said, it is not for everyone. But, if we do like it, who are we bothering, and why should we be mocked for it.

Kevin Ryan

people love to bash the coop.. I don't care.. let them leave.. I have been a member for 20 years.. i love the friendly exchanges with fellow shoppers, with the check out people, the cart walkers.. always intelligent, thoughtful conversations, and the best produce in NYC.. if you are soured by having to work 2 3/4 hours per month(not 4!!) then the coop is not for you.. if you want to spend your money on overpriced whole foods fare then that is your choice. There is nothing inefficient about the way the coop functions... 16,000 temporary workers changing shifts every two and three quarter hours is a model of efficiency. I am tired of the whiners and the dissatisfied former members who criticize the "coop nazis" for their unreasonable rules.. here is the rule: you have to work to shop..period! if you can't handle that then go to Union Market and good riddance... I love the diversity of the coop.. 16,000 New Yorkers is not a unified voice or body politic..hardly, but there is a sense of common ownership and shared ideals of supporting local growers, who adhere to natural farming practices... that you find the shopping experience less than sane suggests that you would be better off living in the suburbs..you can't eat in commercial grocery stores either.. that is called shop lifting. seriously.. you are just like all the other failed coop members.. a bunch of self important, entitled yuppie complainers.

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