More hyper-local journalism below. Sorry I have not had very much critical theory on my blog lately.
An enthusiastic group of Tacomans are working towards creating a Food Co-Op in Tacoma sometime within the next year. A Food Co-Op is basically a grocery store that is owned by the community and in accordance with that model, usually receives its groceries from local, organic farmers. Tacoma’s Food Co-Op will be owned and run by paying members who have recognized “the need for an affordable urban grocery that provides organic, local, and natural food.”
The Co-Op organizers held a community event in People’s Park in Tacoma’s Hilltop Neighborhood last month to excite Tacoma and Pierce County residents about the idea. As of now, the Co-Op’s membership costs $100 for a full year of local grocery shopping at prices that beat the chains like Safeway and Fred Meyers. As membership increases, however, the cost of membership is supposed to drop.
The location of the Co-Op is still undecided at this point. Since I have recently moved to the Stadium District and have noticed the lack of affordable and healthy grocery outlets in that area, I suspect the location of the Co-Op will be somewhere closer to Downtown or the Hilltop area. Most of the grocery outlets in these areas are small, overpriced and stocked typically with unhealthy foods. My neighbors all tell me they shop at the Proctor District Safeway, which is where I used to shop when I lived in the 6th Avenue “scene” district. I still shop at the Proctor Safeway even though I moved to an entirely different neighborhood. The Hilltop Safeway is mostly stocked with canned foods, surveillance cameras and candy.
One of the Tacoma Food Co-Op organizers, Adam Ydstie, is currently scoping out other Co-Ops like the one in Minneapolis, called The Wedge. This Co-Op has 13,600 members and is a sizeable 11,000 square feet. The money The Wedge makes, $20 million a year, goes “back into their community”.
“One of the things that stood out to me,” says Adam on the Tacoma Food Co-Op blog, “is that there is a common misconception that Food Co-Ops are non-profit. They are really just a different type of for profit. It takes a radical shift in understanding in a community.”
My friend Kendle Bjelland, a junior at UPS, and I are currently working on a documentary tentatively called A Guide to Eating Locally in Tacoma, which will highlight the development of the Tacoma Food Co-Op, as well as provide resources for people in Pierce County who would like to know where to get local, organic food. We are hoping that the Tacoma School District will adopt a similar model as the Olympia School District has, which has a healthy farm-to-school program that makes use of local organic farms. We are also suggesting the possibility of urban agriculture programs in the City of Tacoma.