Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Kristen K.)

As a Richmond transplant, setting down roots and finding my place within the community is an ongoing process. Finding good food options has been the same. That is why when I saw the Co-op booth at the Boulevard Pumpkin Festival last fall, joining was a no brainer. 

Let me give you a little background. I came to Richmond via Durham via New York City via Southern California. All of those places have especially developed food scenes and a passion for fresh, local produce. It was a combination of caring about what was going into my body, about the effects of producing that food on the environment, and reducing my overall carbon footprint that led me to the cooperative concept in NYC. 

What a great idea! A member-owned grocery store: a democratic approach to the food that we are putting into our bellies. A way to see first-hand the decisions that go into how food gets into the aisles: from working with farmers, to being able to provide produce in the off-season, to operating efficiently so that your doors can remain open. A way to be involved in the food process, and not just by what foods I choose to buy at the farmer’s market or grocery store.

And so when I saw that there was going to be a co-op starting in Richmond, I knew that I had to be a part of it. I signed up immediately after receiving the brochure. And now the hardest part is waiting for the rest of Richmond to realize how incredible a co-op is for the community and JOIN THE MOVEMENT! Because I want a storefront today!

-Kristin Klein, Co-op Member/Owner

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Self Responsibility: The Co-op Way

"Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One of the underlying values of any cooperative is the importance of self responsibility. This is both an empowered and empowering movement because it relies on an expanded definition of ownership, which includes participation. Simply put, a cooperative is a group of people electing to work together to own a business that meets their needs and truly reflects their shared commitment and values. 

The Richmond Food Co-op was built on the premise that we couldn't wait around for somebody else to bring us the grocery store of our dreams, but rather, that the impetus was on us to make it happen.  Who is this "us"? It started with Susan and me. It grew to 15 steering committee members. It grew to 5 original board members and a core group of 25 volunteers. It has grown to 550 member/owners. It continues to grow every day. We are all equally responsible for getting our doors open. Owning a cooperative can be as transformative to the individual members as to the community at large - but it requires commitment and involvement. It requires you. 

Taking responsibility for your co-op is as rewarding as it is an act of patience and persistence. It can expand your network and friendships, and it can push you to have deeper conversations about what you value with those people you already know. It can give you a new application for your skills and expertise, and it can make you realize new hidden talents you never knew you had. It can be a thrilling realization that you are capable of making lasting change and connections, and it can be a daunting task to get to the finish line. You make all the difference in getting us there. Own your co-op. 

Interested in becoming a leader?
The Co-op is forming neighborhood cohorts and looking for leaders to help promote communication, plan get togethers, and generally facilitate member connections amongst Co-op neighbors. Email info@richmondfoodcoop.com to become a part of this leadership core.

Interested in expanding membership? Grow the Co-op in a fun and personal way - invite your friends and family over and have a member party. A Co-op representative will join you and help answer questions but most importantly you will have the opportunity to tell those you love why you love the Co-op! Email info@richmondfoodcoop.com to set up a date and time.

Not yet a member/owner? Own this Co-op today - join now!

-Michele Lord, Co-founder & Project Manager

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Know Your Board: Tom Karnes

This is me and my wife Susie at one of our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. We have a group of friends from college who get together at our house each year along with whatever family happens to be in town. We meet at our house since I am the best cook of our group, although many assist. It is a real  "Big Chill"  weekend. Last year we came up with 29 dishes, mostly vegetarian. Susie, who makes the pies, would say that this is a bit "over the top" but what can I say, I am passionate about food and occasionally get carried away.

My interest in the Food Co-op comes from my passion for food. I love everything about food. I love growing it, preparing it, learning it, teaching  it, shopping for it, writing about it, serving it,  cooking it and of course eating it. My favorite dishes tend to be ethnic dishes like Thai and Indian dishes but I cook and have cooked just about everything including Norwegian Baccalau (salted cod and potato stew) shown in the picture below.

I wish I could say I have always been a natural healthy food guy but I have not. I have always loved fatty flavorful foods. As my interest in quality food has intensified, and I have been forced by age to pursue a more healthy diet and lifestyle, I have become nearly militant about avoiding overly processed food and have become a seeker of  vendors that I can trust to provide me with fresh  high quality and healthy foods at a fair price. Admittedly, this has become easier of late, except for the fair price part, because of the  movement toward healthier foods. I have been extremely troubled by the predominance of  over preserved, de-flavorized and nutritionally deficient food that is made available to us by high volume producers through our neighborhood supermarkets. I am appalled by the way foods are promoted as healthy in the media as "sugar free", "non fat",  "lite" and so on. The US FDA has done a good job with labeling for the most part, except for  things like genetically modified ingredients, and product ignorance prevails even for those who spend the time to read labels. The answer to this is local sourcing from responsible producers and that is what co-ops can do so well.   

Although affordable high quality food is the main issue for me, I have learned the Co-op is also about helping the community, volunteerism, social responsibility and a sense of belonging.

It is about maintaining the right balance between the economy and the ecosystem. These are all values your board is dedicated to. In this, my first year serving on your board, I have participated in a number of events and have found our members to be delightful people. I can assure you, our board is very competent,  fun to work with and focused on our common goal of opening a highly successful co-op as soon as possible.

-Tom Karnes, Co-op Board Member