Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Tracy C.)

“This is an historic moment of opportunity for the co-operative sector. With political institutions in many nations struggling to keep up with a rapidly changing world, it is essential that citizens become increasingly resourceful, enterprising and co-operative in order to face the inevitable social and environmental challenges we face as a world community.” – Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade

I am weary of big food. It deprives our bodies and corrodes our communities. Big agriculture grows mammoth amounts of inedible corn and soy that are then processed beyond recognition into dead, nutrient poor compounds marketed to us as food. Big business creates hundreds of new products like this every year in a constant effort to expand market share, to get us to eat more. Big money generated by this ongoing process drains out of our cities and towns, turning into profits for shareholders, political donations to protect corporate interests, and of course, research into more 'innovative' food products. 

Many of the people working to harvest, process, prepare and serve our food in this industry have few rights, do not make a living wage, are often made sick and injured by their work, and are treated poorly. Animals are tortured in outsized meat operations. We are fed pain and misery and injustice. This system craves growth, the only 'ethic' it knows. 

Cooperative businesses are a meaningful alternative to agribusiness and the corporate food industry. They challenge the trend toward further consolidation and the extraction of profit from local areas. They challenge the economic logic behind the production, distribution, and consumption of big food. They create democratic spaces in which we can work locally to resolve moral conflicts embedded in the global food system. Food co-ops provide healthy food, construct healthy economies, and build healthy communities. They promote food justice. They transform the food system by reviving and reinventing traditions of local, sustainable agriculture and small businesses committed to local areas.

My father, a WWII veteran and child of immigrants who grew up in the Pennsylvania countryside, planted a sizable garden in our backyard every spring. My mother cooked many of our family meals with the harvest of tomatoes, onions, parsley, peppers, beans, peas, corn, zucchini, and carrots. At the end of the season, she put up mason jars of tomatoes on shelves in the basement and used them throughout the winter months. Mom often handed one or the other of us a few dollars to buy a few dozen ears of “Joe’s Sweet Corn” from a farmer’s truck parked at the end of our road. Sometimes we supplemented with veggies from the Lasser’s front yard farm stand three houses over. Our milk and eggs were for years delivered weekly to our front door by Weik's Dairy less than a mile away. We ate apples and peaches from the trees in our yard. Mom and I picked wild blackberries to make pies and cobblers. When I went to my friend Chrissy’s house to play, we nibbled elderberries and gooseberries from the bushes in her yard. When someone died, we were nourished for days by covered dishes and baked goods delivered from neighbors, family, and friends.

Decades earlier, my father's mother kept a cow and sold milk to her neighbors. My grandfather walked door to door with his pushcart selling goods in their rural community. When I was sixteen and working my first job at a local diner, I met an older cook named Lois who positively gushed about my grandfather when she learned my last name. When Lois was a small child, she and her family looked forward to Grandpa stopping by with his cart. She told me she would never forget his kindness and willingness to accept other things in exchange when they didn’t have cash for goods. 

I have inherited a legacy of love, solidarity, and community. We all have. These food habits and cooperative relationships were not an aberration. Memories of them cannot be dismissed as sheer nostalgia or cliché. They were and are a meaningful way of life for many people. Such practices have merely been sidelined, pushed to the margins as our food system relentlessly expanded, corporatized, and globalized. No more. People are growing their own food, developing relationships with farmers, preserving food and exchanging with others. Our food co-op embraces shared power, community building, and fair food as practical and necessary strategies for the survival of our neighborhoods and families.

I did not join the Richmond Food Co-op to benefit myself with a grocery discount and a vote on the products we sell. I joined to become an active participant in our food system. I joined to connect with others who also see cooperative relationships as the way forward. I joined to keep my food dollars in my city. I joined to endorse an ethical and democratic business model in which all members have a say. I joined to contribute to ongoing changes in the local food system. I joined to pass on that legacy of love, solidarity, and community.

-Tracy Citeroni, Co-op Member/Owner

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014!

Earth Day 2013 Memories

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. —Jane Goodall

Happy Earth Day! This year as you think about your impact on this world of ours, we invite you to join us in doing our part on the local level.  The choices we make on a daily basis around where, how and what we consume not only reflect, but actively shape this world. The Richmond Food Co-op offers you the opportunity to make those choices meaningful. Commit to the our earth, our future, and our Co-op.

Welcome Earth Day and honor this commitment to a happy, healthy food future for Richmond. Help us reach our member half way mark this week! 500 by Earth Day! 

This kind of a commitment calls for celebration - join us Thursday for happy hour at En Su Boca to toast to a healthy and happy food future in Richmond. Bonus! We will be giving away an En Su Boca gift certificate to one lucky person committed to growing the Co-op - become a member at (or before) the event, or bring a not yet member friend with you to be entered to win!

Earth Day also marks the beginning of our tabling season - to volunteer at the Co-op information table this Saturday (or at a future event later this spring/summer) send us an email

It starts with you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Know Your Board: Josiah Lockhart

I really started to understand the connection between food and community when I was managing The Grassmarket Community Project, originally a soup kitchen, in Edinburgh Scotland. Before the organization’s transformation, it primarily relied upon waste, out of date, and highly processed products for addressing the nutritional needs of its attendees. We very quickly learned that valuing food is an important part of valuing people, and over 4 years we transformed the project to include, among others, educational programs in agriculture, herbalism, and catering. It went on to be the first project of its kind in Scotland to source over 70% of its products from local farms.

In many ways it was the time I spent at the Grassmarket that led my wife and I to make gradual changes in our lifestyle and diet. We currently own and manage the Lockhart Family Farm, 35 minutes north of Richmond, and use our farm not just as a place to raise and sell heritage and rare breed meat, but also as an educational center that opens our doors to children and adults from all walks of life, especially those who don’t normally have access to high quality food.

We have been members of a lots of different types of co-ops over the years, and feel that the Richmond Food Co-op has an essential part to play in addressing the nutritional and community needs of Richmond. Being a democratically owned and operated organization, it places the power to make these decision in the hands of its customer/owners and has the potential to make a huge impact on the local food community. We can’t wait to see the Richmond Food Co-op develop and make an impact in RVA.

-Josiah Lockhart, Board Member

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thank You For Loving Your Co-op FUNdraiser

Were you at last week's Love Your Co-op FUNdraiser? If you were you know it was a HUGE success - live music, great prizes, and an outpouring of cooperative spirit. And did I mention that the event helped to raise over $3600 toward opening Richmond's only member-owned grocery store? An event this good requires a few words of thanks, so here they are:

Team Co-op: 

  • Thank you Erin Ball and Patrick Basloe for helping to organize the biggest event this Co-op has ever seen
  • Thank you to our amazing volunteers who never fail to make this operation run smoothly (and to Katherine Hill who coordinates them!): Matt Ball, Emily Banks, Dominic Barrett,  Ronnie Childs, James Crenshaw, Meghan Harris, Inderdeep Huja, Mark Lewis, Cheryl Marschak, Frances Martin, Jamie Nowakowski, Carter Severson, Mary Vidra, Tim Vidra, Taylor Whitehouse
  • Thank you to Emily Ellingsworth & Anna Meshejian for being decor goddesses and creating such a beautiful space with their artistic and crafty skills

Co-op Creatives:

  • Thank you Liana Mensh who has defined the visual identity of this Co-op - and did it once again with the visual of love
  • Thank you Jay Paul & Danny Spry for capturing these Co-op moments, and creating photobook after photobook of our Co-op community

Guest Stars:

  • Thank you Brandon Walton for making sure we had lots of the yummy treats
  • Thank you Balliceaux for the yummy curried cauliflower & edamame hummus
  • Thank you Cabot Creamery Cooperative for our cooperatively made cheese
  • Thank you Costello Personal Services for making sure we had our veggies
  • Thank you Dutch & Company for the drool-worthy stroupwaffle treats 


  • Thank you to our "dates" - The Balls of Richmond, Ronnie Childs, Deborah Saidel,  Anna Meshijian, Brandon Walton, John Evens
  • Thank you for donating amazing prizes:
Arbonne (Laura Georgiadis)
Boho Cyle Studio
Brooke March
Butler Photo Artistry
Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Casey Hues
Christine Severson
Coalition Theater
Contrary Jewelry
David King
Deborah Saidel
Eleanor Stickley
Elizabeth Bowie
Elizabeth Mastropierro, L.Ac.
Emily Ellingsworth
ER Face Paint
Fig Hill Group
Hill Gallery and Studio
Jay Paul Photography
Katherine Hill
Kitchen 64
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lockhart Family Farm
Mark Lewis
Martha Tyler
Matt Genier
Invoke Community Acupuncture
Patricia Michelsen-King
Rag and Bones Bicycle Cooperative
Richie Collins
Rita Root
Ronnie Childs
Susan Boisseau
Susan Hill
The Apple Cart
The Yoga Library
Tom Karnes & Susie Hansen
Vegan Cuts
Village Garden RVA

Plus! A big thanks to Gallery5 for providing the perfect venue, and everyone who attended for helping to bring the FUN!