Jon 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?
Image via The Daily Show
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