Although we’re no longer in the neighborhood, part of us will always be attached to that wild, wacky, slightly self-important town. The food co-op there epitomizes this attitude, with more emphasis on politics and activism than customer service or a comfortable shopping experience (in our opinion). Any store that takes two years or so to decide whether or not to install and use bar-code scanners, but decides in a matter of weeks (without member input) to boycott Israeli products may, in fact, have its priorities a little out of balance.
The latest tempest in this little teapot stems from the co-op’s refusal to carry a product due to objections over the imagery on the product’s label. OK, fine, whatever, right? Except that the product is from a local (I mean in-town!) producer, a woman running her own small business, and it’s organic tomato chutney. Oh, and here’s the label:
Shocking, no? Personally, I love it; I find it nostalgic, catchy, and fun. It also reflects the retro-hipster vibe of the community. But I’m not in The Co-Op Pantheon, and I’m a white guy, so what do I know? I know that the co-op sells make-up and beauty items; glossy magazines that have more to do with style and consumption than the essence of simple living; and packages with labeling consistent with quaint colonial stereotypes. I also know, or at least believe, that supporting locally-owned businesses run by moms who are making tasty, organic products should be a higher priority of a community food co-op than enforcing an inconsistent label-policing policy that is driven by a political agenda.