Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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It is time for the Food Conspiracy Coop’s eat local challenge. The concept is key to saving the planet in my opinion. I do some gardening and shop at farmers’ markets, but I can’t say I eat 100% locally grown or produced food. When I turn my attention to this challenge, as I have in the past years, I notice how much I still buy in jars and bottles. By shipping my food around in heavy glass containers I add to the cost, but not really to the value, of my selections. I make an effort to use less and less from jars, and I very rarely buy any product in a can. If I can start form scratch I prefer it. Some condiments and ethnic delicacies are beyond my abilities to create at home, so I take pleasure in selecting tasty treats from foreign lands that are either a new sensation, or a serious favorite from the past. Truth be told some of those exotic pricey packaged products are sold at the coop along with locally sourced groceries. That is why the 1-14 of July is an extra special time to head down to Food Conspiracy.
First Fridays are always a day of 10% discounts throughout the store. This month in addition to that discount, all local foods will be on sale for 10% off for two weeks, 1-14 July. This is a chance to kick start the local eating habit with some helpful discounts. A contest will also be held on instagram. Using the hashtag #TucsonEatsLocal, and tagging @foodconspiracy contestants can enter shots of gardens, markets, and dishes prepared with local ingredients to win prizes. The t shirts and $50 gift certificate to the store are cool prizes, but the real prize is the satisfaction of starting a habit that is good for everyone. If this concept caught on in a big way factory farming would become obsolete. Processed foods would give way to fresh and organic because the costs in the long run are lower. By participating in the eat local challenge we bring our attention to how easy it is to do. Have you ever tired to be a locavore, gentle reader? Some places it is much easier than others. I still have citrus vodka I made from our fruits last winter..waste not want not.
Tucson, the city I call home, is a large sprawling city in a valley. Development has taken place in spurts, causing a race to the distant suburbs, followed by a race back to downtown. There are significant advantages to life in a university town with a very mild climate. Economic opportunity as well as cultural and educational enrichment are the city’s gifts from the University of Arizona and even from Pima College. I live in a neighborhood close to the university and downtown as yet untouched by urban renewal that has vastly improved the city center. Our new trolley system and upscale development along the route it serves has revitalized a sagging economic scene downtown. I am pleased that we finally have desirable business and residential options for students and others who want to live close to the university. With a long history of serving the community, the Food Conspiracy has grown to meet the needs of the downtown neighborhood.
The Food Conspiracy Coop was founded in 1971 by a small group of people who met in the alley behind the present storefront once a month to divide bulk food. We used the bed of a pick up truck, in which the food was delivered, to weigh out and package our orders. It was as crude and basic as you might imagine, but it worked. Soon we rented the building, but had no store. Later we opened the storefront to the public, but retained the values of our cooperative. Today the Coop is a vibrant and vital part of the new downtown. By sticking to the Roachdale pioneer Principles developed in 1837, the business has survived, thrived, and expanded. The statement of cooperative identity defines the purpose: “A cooperative is an autonomous association of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.”
This weekend we have a chance to see how well this mission is working at a Truckload Sale. I love the idea that on May 16 and 17 the truck will offer special deals for purchase from approximately the same spot on which we started this co-op 44 years ago in a truck. There are now gardens, a full kitchen, and an educational space. In honor of the 7th Rochdale Principle, Concern for Community, the sale will feature a beer garden to benefit BICAS. The store will offer 10% off, while the beef and veggie hot dogs and beer will flow in the back yard (parking lot). Garden tours will be offered both days at noon and 5 pm. Come on downtown to celebrate the ongoing success of the co-op.
By definition, a purchase at a small business is an act of individuation. The effort to save small business, slow food, craft quality, and organic farming is valid from an economic standpoint. The local business keeps currency flowing in the local stream. Home Depot takes as much profit as possible home to the stockholders, as is their mandate. This does not make Home Depot evil, but it does mean that it is impossible to purchase anything hip at that Depot. The interaction with the customer is done to scale, as in, ‘What do we need to order from China for next season?”, or “How do we create a new line of seasonal treats our customers have requested?” The hip gift giver looks for the unique match, which is not to be found in the massive crush of deep discount mall shopping.
My mom just loved being swept away by merchandise. She shopped all over the world and stocked up on gifts for unknown future receivers. These ghost recipients were just taking up some of the slack in her giant shopping disorder. She was good anywhere, from the street market in Asia to Wal-Mart. She loved acquisition for no apparent reason. I spent way too much time in my childhood shopping for my taste. I believe this experience shaped me into the psychic speed shopper that I am today. First of all, like many traits we reverse (only to end at the same place), my goal is always to spend as little time as possible. Exactly like my mother I start with no need to shop, owning already more stuff than I could ever possibly use in this lifetime. If I buy something I need to feel that I have been guided, like the Star of Bethlehem, to that object. I want to feel like shopping commando, in and out without even being detected in the marketplace. Ruby (my mom) wanted to hang out and try on everything, being stimulated and thrilled by dressing rooms and the hollow compliments of commissioned sales people. She burned me out long before I was 9 on that situation. I never go to malls, and would simply die if I had to go to one on Black Friday.
Today for Green Friday I have no particular need to buy anything. It is the perfect day, however to take the public bus to Fourth Avenue to buy pecans and pistachios at the Food Conspiracy. There is a local party with live music, discount shopping and dining, and a chance to see the streetcar tracks they have been building for what seems like forever. By taking the bus right in front of home I will avoid all traffic/parking/road construction issues. I like to create gifts I decide to give, to make it a personal deal. The recipient will never be thrilled as in wow the expensive brand name thingy everyone else has!!!!!!!, but maybe years later will be able to remember how the sugar plums tasted. I freestyle my own sugar plums from nuts and fruit I find or have. This year I dried some awesome pears in September that are delicious. I want to try mixing them with pistachios and pecans, both of which are grown in Arizona. I encourage you to do your own, since it is almost impossible to make them taste bad. I think Alton is way off base with the fennel seed, and would never do that in mine, but that is why the creation is an individual gift. The ones in The Night Before Christmas were sugar-coated coriander …..drastic flavor if you ask me. I goes to show that your flavor will be savored by individuals, so take some time to do something tailored to them. Thoughtful and personal is the new mindless overconsumption.