Defending the Park Slope Food Coop



Union St. & 6th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

[Here it is: The moment Fran Giuffre Fran Giuffre first realized that war was at hand. The first of countless responses to Giuffre’s critical evisceration of the Park Slope Food Coop, it was followed, many long and difficult years later, by Erica Weitzman‘s similarly devastating counterattack. –Ed.]

Dear Fran,

I read your horror story about Park Slope Food Coop. I have been a member for 4 odd years and am sadly leaving the place due to relocating overseas.

I won’t jump to defend the Coop without admitting that it does have its drawbacks (but what doesn’t?) The lines on the weekends are long, there is some bureaucracy, and nobody really likes to work.

However, I want to address a few issues you raised in your story.

First, there are rules and there are ways to make your life EZ despite the rules. Working less than 3 hours a month (NOT a week) instead of 3 hours of watching TV while eating junk food is worth what you get. You are right, the food is mostly organic, local and the freshest in NYC. And the prices are the best. You can choose ANY job you want (there are some chill jobs with minimal human interaction, I know that firsthand because I chose exactly that). IF you can’t make your shift you can try to swap it with another person after getting a list of fellow squad folks (I did it more than once, and it always worked). Or, you miss your shift and work 2 shifts to compensate. That’s a little tough but not the end of the world. How often you think it might happen to you? in my 4 years at the Coop it happened to me ONCE.

And the people at the Coop are… well, just people. There are nice and friendly people, and there are annoying people. Like everywhere. What did you expect? Paradise on Earth? overall, most Coopers look HEALTHIER than most people who shop at a supermarket, and that’s good enough. Most of them are NOT “rigid, even dogmatic hippie poseurs”. I rarely encounter people like that there. I have a dozen or so friends at the Coop and all of them are nice, down to earth, non-extremist people. The Coop body is very international, too.

I personally think – no offence – that you are not ready to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Nobody will MAKE you eat seitan or deprive you of your ice-cream. It’s all your own choice after all. I don’t see how light work 3 hours a month and a few annoying rules are not worth the best prices for the freshest organic produce in the city. I commute to the Coop from Upper East Side, and I know some people who even come from Queens, Upstate and NJ.

If you are serious about your health you might reconsider your attitude. If not, nobody will force you, right? and after all, you have other choices in NYC: you can waste your whole salary at the shiny bureaucracy-free Whole Foods that has only about 50% organic stuff, and mostly shipped from elsewhere… BUt then you’ll save those 3 hours a month for something you enjoy better, like ice cream. Except, as your health deteriorates, there will be less and less stuff you’ll find enjoyable…

Maybe you’ll join when you are ready. Maybe you won’t. I would definitely not recommend the former if you think you’ll be unhappy there. But I think you really exaggerate the “evils” of the Coop. It’s all about how WE see things, and how we react to them.

Again, no offence. I made a personal transition from poor to radiant health, and the Coop was crucial in this transition. I could not afford it without it.

Good luck!

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