Unfortunately, today one can feed an entire family a box of macaroni and cheese for about 99 cents, and to feed them a meal full of fresh organic fruits and vegetables could cost way over $20. The financial aspect of buying clean organic foods is also a big stumbling block for a lot of my clients.
The Park Slope Food Coop (www.foodcoop.com) has been the best solution. Founded in 1973 and now totaling over 16,000 members, this giant health food store has become quite a success. To be able to shop at the Coop you have to be a member. This requires attendance at an orientation and then signing up for a 2 hour and 45 minute monthly shift in one of their departments. It can anything from sitting in an office picking up the phone to cleaning the bathrooms, to valeting bicycles of the shoppers.
The biggest advantages of being a member are the prices. They do not go beyond a 21% mark up. I once brought my sister, who is a manager of a Whole Foods Market, to visit the Coop and she pointed out that many of the products were cheaper than what she pays with her employee discount at Whole Foods Market! The highlight of the Coop is the impressive selection of fresh, organic, sometimes locally grown produce. There is also a great selection of natural and organic packaged foods.
The membership structure revolves around each member being required to work a 2 hour and 45 minute shift once a month. That goes for every member of the household over 18 years old that partakes of food purchased, and if they’re not interested in doing their 2 hour and 45 minute shift, then someone else has to do it for them. They have an extremely tight system to track this and missing a shift leads to having to do 2 make up shifts.