Saturday, July 19, 2008

Land of Fruit and Nuts

Although it just isn't in my food budget this year to join the local CSA co-op, I plan on doing it next year, so I joined the list-serve devoted to the topic. Most of the members either subscribe to the co-op or are interested in going local, organic, and natural, so we've talked about doctors willing to go with alternative vaccination schedules, grocery stores, etc. Recently, we had a discussion on how having an organic grocery store would be great! And I agree. There is a 7th Day Adventist store nearby that offers a small inventory along with a daily cafeteria style vegan offering. The Country Life, as its called, is really quite a treat for such a small town like Columbus. However, there are days when the shelves are practically empty.

Well, one poster recommended Peachtree Natural Foods as well as Ben's Fresh Market. I've never been to Ben's, but P'tree Natural Foods is very expensive. Plus, it has no produce. The employees do not sample the goods, unlike many natural foods stores I've frequented all over the country. That tends to take away from its authenticity. It also doesn't help that the owners also run supplement-based weight-loss centers. Sends up red flags for me!

Anyway, at the same time, someone complained about the produce from the subscriptions. Several posters responded, wondering how anyone could have a problem with any of it since it's local! Here's what came about as a result (i've removed identifying information).

Hi Everyone,
I was the one who called [the organizer] to express unhappiness about the
produce. I thought some of the vegetables seemed small, the carrots
were way too small, my husband thought it was overpriced compared to
Lewis Jones organics, and we don't like southern vegetables. I have
really tried to like the okra, the turnip greens and the collards, to
name a few, but I guess because I was not raised on them, my family
and I have not been able to like them. We really did try. I love the
idea of a local,co-op farm, and natural foods. I also really love the
farmers that I have met each week at the Loft. This was one of the
hardest things to say, as I really fought with my truth and how much I
liked the people doing all the work for us. I do know how hard it is
on a farm, my husband comes from a farming family. However, it really
is not personal, it is just my experience. I am used to going to Whole
Foods in California and getting organic foods, so I suppose I have
been spoiled. I was very sad to hear about how evil some say Whole
Foods is, I have had the opposite experience.
While I am confessing these sins, I also want to say that I thought
Ben's Market was very overpriced, and I did not think the vegetables
were that fresh. The lettuce was wilted. I bought two potatoes and a
lettuce and a whole chicken, and it cost me $15.00. I don't pretend to
understand economics, but that seems to be a lot. Also the garlic was
sprouting and from Peru, so I can't see how that is local.
I am not interested in getting into a heated argument with anyone, I
try to live my life with compassion and kindness. I just needed to
express my reality about the produce. I hope this group is open to
hearing everyone's opinion about the co-op so the CSA can thrive.

Now, i'm all about varied opinions, but this letter is full-fledged whining. Just because she's seen happy faces at Whole Foods doesn't mean their business practices are sound. I bet she also thinks that Walmart employees are really pleased with their lack of health insurance. Honestly, I don't know what the official beef with WF is. However, I've spent enough time reading about corporate America that I don't trust any company "just because". I also know that the CEO of WF did not want to indicate the place of origin for their produce. hmmm....

And not liking southern vegetables is an issue that can only be solved by moving away from the South. A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) co-op supports local farms, so you're not going to get other types of vegetables if you live here. Sorry.

FYI: For anyone familiar with online list-serves and message boards, the claim that you are "not interested in getting into a heated argument" is actually a provocation. Go back to California, please. All you do is drive up real estate prices here anyway.

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