Prices are rising, budgets are tight, and we’re all fighting to stay afloat. Too many of us don’t even have the hope of a light at the end of the tunnel as we struggle with our checkbooks and bills.
More people than ever are participating in the food stamp program too, and the ones who aren’t…still struggle to afford healthy, high quality food within their means. We all look for ways to stretch our budgets while we deal with the limitations imposed on us not only by our wallets, but by the limited choices as fewer and fewer grocery stores stay open in our neighborhoods and more often than not, our sole choice is what the big box stores have to offer us.
Long, long ago…back before I called the Gulf Coast home, I did belong to a co-op. We got natural and organic foods, remedies and assorted other items once a month. We got them at far less than most health food stores offered them, and it was an excellent choice when we had no local health food store at all. Each month, the members who were purchasing paid a small fee on top of their bill (I think it was $1 or $2 each) to cover the time and efforts of those who did the work of unloading and repacking the items. (Some items were sold in bulk, such as cheese, dried fruits, etc. and required cutting, repacking, and distributing to the members’ boxes.) It wasn’t anything fancy–it was done in the back room at the leader’s house and the boxes were stacked on a shelf at their back porch to allow everyone to be able to pick their box up. While we were all supposed to pick our purchase up that afternoon…some members would forget and it might be a day or two later before they showed up. Since the co-op also had refrigerated and frozen items, this could be a touchy subject–the host family didn’t necessarily have refrigerator or freezer space to accommodate everyone!
After years of purchasing, I began working on delivery day to help with my own purchases. My day’s labor and forced smiles at cranky members cut my bill considerably at a time when I really needed it to be smaller. I also learned a lot!
Many of the members of the co-op had once been considered “hippies” back in the day when hippies were common. They loved the cooperative nature and organic foods from the co-op. Today’s public is a bit different, I’m told.
They don’t like to be involved with their food purchases, and prefer to just go and buy it an anonymous manner from a big box store.
I am not so sure we really are what they are telling us we are.
I think I would be VERY interested in a food co-op, depending on how it was structured, even if I wasn’t “working” in the co-op but just purchasing from it. I LOVE saving money on my grocery bills, and I honestly DO prefer natural and organic foods over who-knows-what from who-knows-where.
Co-ops are not all created equally. Some let you “shop” from a monthly catalog, whether it is paper or online. Others sell you a pre-packed box of a pre-determined assortment of fresh foods. Others sell you a pre-packed box of a mixed assortment of frozen, canned, and fresh foods. Others are a mixture, and still others work just like a grocery store except you have to be a member of the co-op to shop there. All of them are designed to save you money and allow you to have healthy food.
My budget has anemia, and I know that often we’re cutting corners on it that may mean long term problems could occur. I’m sure I’m not alone. The co-op may mean less convenience, but if it meant better food for less money and I could afford it…Oh Yeah, Baby! I’m there!
How about you? Would you be interested in a food co-op to help save money? What kind of co-op would appeal to you?