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Discovering the Co-op | The Whole Woman Village Library

Discovering the Co-op

by admin on December 23, 2011

Growing up in the heartland of America, you might expect that it was easy to find a place where local farmers were able to sell produce at a fair price. Nope.

The thing about growing food for the whole country is that it has be mass produced, and while there were a smattering of locally owned grocery stores, you couldn’t find a co-op in the suburbs if you tried. The one thing we did have were farmers markets, and those were my haven. There’s just something special about still being able to taste the dirt in the tomato.

Albuquerque has a great co-op system, and a great farmer’s market circuit. On any given Saturday in the growing season, there are at least 6 markets all over the city. The one I go to is in a park, but there is even one in the bus depot in the business district. People here are pretty dedicated to the local movement, and it makes it easy. ABQ also has more mom and pop shops than any other town I’ve ever seen. My resolution for the new year is to only shop local, and to subscribe to the 100 mile rule. I already try to do this, but I am going to do it exclusively. Food is easy; that’s what the 100 mile rule is. There is a woman who wrote a book about a family experiment she did. For one year  she only ate the food and used products made and manufactured within 100 miles of her home. Where I will struggle is with things like house cleaner and hardware. I don’t like Walmart, but I don’t know of any local hardware store. I will have to find out.

So now back to the Co-op. I found that there is a branch of La Montanita, the local co-op, about 2 miles from my house. I just got a puppy last month, and he is 52 pounds of Lab energy. He chews like a squirrel and the only way to get him to not be destructive is to make him pass out. Thus began our walks to the co-op. I tie him outside, and besides the occasional crying little girl who thinks that I am abandoning him for good, it works out pretty well.



Produce is set up the same in any indoor market, but what you may not get at your local Dominicks, Jewel, Alberstons, Kroger, Piggly-Wiggly or Woodman’s is the name of the farm and the face of the farmer that grew it. You also won’t get the local heirloom varieties. Your corporate grocer will probably carry bean sprouts, but were you aware of such vocabularic tongue pleasers such as fennelgeek? Not only is it fun to say, but is great for boosting the immune system, raising energy levels, and is used as a weight loss aid.


Let’s be frank. Your co-op may charge more for produce. Just remember that whatever you spend here will go back into your community and not into the pocket of some rich child-enslaving banana overlord in Columbia. If you own a buisness, the farmers you buy from could spend their income with you. If maybes and coulds don’t work for you, as a co-op member you get a check at the end of the year for a percentage of the company’s profits. Does your chain grocer do that? I don’t think so.

Fresh Baked Goods:

The hearth is the center of any traditional home. Nowadays, it’s like when you have a party, everyone always hangs out in the kitchen. Why even clean the living room?

I wish that I had the time to make a fresh loaf of bread everyday, but occasionally I do like to sleep. Second best option; local, organic loaves. I am betting that your local co-op makes the best crustiest bread you’ll ever have. Mine makes a Kalamata Olive that is salty and chewy and marvelous. My puppy likes it so much, he once stole it off the counter. We came home to find him sharing it with our roommate’s dog on her bed. They usually hate each other. Oh, how food brings us all together.

The Whole Woman diet is a vegetarian one. Foods lower on the food chain lead to a better shape of the gut for prolapse, and in general less toxins. Think about it this way: muscle retains the chemicals that the body was not strong enough to flush out through the waste systems. Do you know the worst thing that they put in cow feed is? Oh yes, you may already know that they put other cow parts in there with it, but it gets worse. Ever wonder what happens to your cat or dog when you have to put them down? Oh, no, you say, but oh yes. If you don’t make Fluffy or Rufus an urn or a headstone, his remains may end up in cattle feed. This probably happens more to shelter animals, but think about what euthanasia is. The chemical used stops their heart. When their bodies are being processed, this chemical does not burn away or dissolve. That burger may be tasty, but you are also eating trace amounts of a lethal drug.

When I found that out, I just said goodbye to beef. What is that little diatribe doing in the baked good section? Organic doesn’t necessarily mean vegetarian. Watch out for baked goods that may contain lard.


The Bins:

My favorite part of the whole co-op is the bins. Hundreds of beans, dried fruits, herbs, grains, teas, cereals and roots for your selection. If you’ve ever been to an old fashioned candy store, it’s like that with less chance of diabetes. Instead of rows of gobstoppers and licorice, you get kidney beans and orange lentils. I have found them to be just as beautiful and just as bright. You’d be amazed how much money you can save by buying your grain here, and not in packaging. Produce may be more expensive in a co-op, but this is where it makes it up. It excites me that I can get as much or as little of anything I like, and change it out next week. Wheat is great, but we are overdependent on it.  I already knew about quinoa, but did you know you can also get a red variety? Talk about putting beauty and color on a plate.

Millet is another grain that reminds me of bright yellow tapioca balls, and I have a whole canister of that, too.

After my first bin-binge, I found that I had a problem. Storage. Where do I put this stuff? My house has one of those great spinning corner cabinets, but after sweeping up a whole meal’s worth of lentils off the tile because the bag had tipped over, I had had enough. Christine’s kitchen (the real one, not the one in the Village) is a Ball Jar sanctuary, and most of it isn’t labeled. I don’t know how she does it. I had to cook for an event in her kitchen and i just opened everything and smelled it to find out what the herbs are. For the most part, grains don’t smell that much. Hopefully.

Considering that Ball Jars and I are not friends (I dropped one of CK’s on the sidewalk last week) I needed another option. You can’t just go to Target and get a canister that says “Rye Flour,” “Millet” or “Local Heirloom Bean.” The other thing that bothered me is that I might not have the same things all the time. I mentioned that I also work for Pier 1. I will try not to plug too much for them, but gosh did they come through for me this time. Right now on clearance there are these great canisters that have chalkboard fronts so I can write what it is and change it whenever I like. They are currently 50% off, so if you want one, go NOW. I bought 12.

I feel that things are now even because I tell women all about Whole Woman while I’m there, so I’ve just returned the love.

Speaking of love, I hope you all have a happy holiday.

I just got word that the fiancee fell on some ice after chasing after our dog. Maybe the pup wanted some of that bread, and was trying to get to the co-op. I’ll have to write more about this later. I’ll be cooking quite a bit this weekend from the text, so the next one is about the recipes.


I hope that I’ve shed some light on the co-op for you.


All the Joy,


Amy Donahue



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

alemama December 28, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Just catching up here on your food blog. You know if you imbed the link on the forum it would be very easy for people to mosey on over here.
Congrats on the dog. Since you are returning more to the way we were intended to eat I thought you might like to know that the prey model diet is fabulous for the destructive dog!

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