Raw Life Food Co-op. There's a great quality-of-life elevator two blocks from my loft - the Raw Life Food Co-op on South Street. I'm so lucky that I can walk there; a lot of members travel much farther to get to this special place. It's the ONLY organic produce and grocery co-op in Westchester County. This is its 11th year of operation.
As a holistic health-care practitioner, I try to live by the dietary guidelines I recommend to my patients. It's vitally important to me to have a source for organic produce, gluten-free grains, legumes, nuts and dried fruits. The co-op also has humanely produced animal products--free-range chicken and local grass-fed beef. Although I don't do dairy, there's an assortment of organic milk products, yogurts and cheeses. Then there's the fun stuff that I (mostly) stay away from - organic chocolate bars and other snack foods. And I'm afraid I've given up coffee, although it sure smells good. There's lots of other stuff, too - spices, seaweeds, teas, beverages, natural body care and cleaning products - even pet food.
It's amazing that I can walk two blocks to this treasure trove. And I can go any time--the door has a keycode and members have 24-hour access. Our area otherwise has spotty access to organic food products. Stop & Shop at The Beach makes a nod with its natural foods aisle and some organic produce. Other stores are similar, but the selection at the food co-op is much wider, and the prices are comparable.
The co-op is not cheap--organic foods cost significantly more than agra-business products--but they do their best to keep prices as low as possible. There's a yearly fee of $50 (with a one-time $100 fee upon joining), and each member contributes a minimum of three hours of work every four weeks. My job is bulk bagging and labeling. I put on a hair net and rubber gloves and scoop items from big containers of almonds, dried papaya, cardamom, hemp seeds, lentils, or whatever into smaller bags, which are then sealed, weighed, priced, labeled and put on the shelves.
A side benefit is meeting like-minded people who are doing their best to live a healthy, earth-conscious life. A number of acupuncture clients have first connected with me through the food co-op.
Unfortunately, the future of the Raw Life Food Co-op is uncertain. It takes a lot of work to keep it going. As with so many organizations that are administered by volunteers, about 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I'm afraid I'm one of the 80%. My plate is very full right now, and I just can't take on anything else. Those 20% are all professional people with full plates also. There are many other factors imminently threatening the co-op, including rapidly escalating food prices. A boost in our membership would help a lot.
If you feel you could benefit from this wonderful community resource, I urge you to join and JOIN NOW. You can call and schedule a tour. You'll find not only beautiful organic produce and groceries, but also a group of amazing people. Help us keep the co-op open.