Own It With Me!
I shop almost exclusively at the farmers markets in Chicago. People who grow and raise my food have names and when I sit down to dinner, I rattle their first names off, smiling to think of them and glad they are part of my table. My daily “thanks-giving" is to those who feed me. The farmers market growth in this country is a response to something. It is a desire for healthful foods and community and people want to be in touch with their food sources. The market is the new town square. We stop and talk to our vendor friends and to other shoppers. We have not had a town square in a long time and coming together around food is where it’s happening now.
So why do I want a food co-op? I love farmers markets but they are not year-round. They are not in my neighborhood on the days I need them. They are not open all the time. They may, or may not have milk. None have yogurt right now. They don’t fill all of a shopper’s needs. But they are beautiful! And I am not trying to replace them. I am adding to them.
It used to be that my food activism was negatively framed. I was “against” this and “against” that. But I’m not sure that is the best way to effect change in our food system. Perhaps the best way is to offer a new idea, a new paradigm. Of course co-ops are not new, but they are not prevalent in Chicago. And as I think about our co-op I realize that it will be amazing for two reasons.
One, if we dream for it to have a full-service butcher, it will have it. If we dream for it to have a garden where you can harvest your own produce, it will have it. If we dream that it will pay farmers a living wage for their goods and encourage the growth of new crops just because we want them, it will happen. No creative idea will be pushed aside. A co-op can entertain them all!
And the second reason our co-op will be amazing is that it will include you and me. We will build it together; we will stock it; we will populate it with energy and conversation. It will be our town square.
Own it with me!
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