Its presence is legendary — a historical landmark in the foodie world of Brooklyn, frequented by both the Park Slope Stroller parents and the Former Hippies of Woodstock who now live in Brooklyn. The Food Coops’s simple neon sign delineates an invisible border for only the coveted few with membership. I exaggerate – there are thousands of members, but there is an aura of exclusivity surrounding being a part of this fancy grocery store (don’t ever call it a grocery, you will be evicted).
As twenty something roommates living in Brooklyn, the Coop was high on our priority list to check out. Seriously, shopping was not on our mind, but our budget indicated otherwise. While we would have preferred to eat out every meal, our first salaries disappointingly could barely afford Ramen Noodles. Forced with few other options, I became cognizant of the prices of fruits and vegetables. I feared turning into one of the mothers from Extreme Couponing. The Coop seemed like a compromise in my budget conscious world. And well, the whole organic buzz also captivated us as aspiring urban farmers. It’s not like we had tomato plants growing on our firescape, but the thought had entered our minds.
So, my roommates and I went on a tour of the Coop as we contemplated membership. They actually have tour guides! She gave us an overview of the mission and membership responsibilities while showing us the products. When we learned we had to work shifts at the Coop in order to be members, we were ready to bolt. No way! We had other priorities for our Saturday and Sunday afternoons- like drinking beer or watching tv.
When we expressed that we would not be joining, our guide reacted like we had insulted her. Rather harshly, she basically rebuked our right of ever entering the Coop by showing us that the rules clearly stated “if you live in a household with other adults with whom you share food and/or household products, all of you must join the Coop together.” And of course, when we registered for the Coop tour, my roommates and I had all foolishly listed our same apartment. Sadly, we never stepped foot in the Coop again.