J500 Media and the Environment

Cooperate and Everyone Can Eat (Well) by jkongs

My gastronomical intake on March 2:

Brown rice and quinoa, fermented from the night before with whey, mixed with homeground sunflower butter and raw local honey (People are going to think I’m so weird, if they didn’t already…)

Fresh pressed carrot/parsley/apple juice, homeade hummus with sourdough bread made with a culture I fermented for 7 days (Now they’re going to wonder why I spend so much time fermenting food, and why I use so many adjectives)

Curried split pea dal with sweet potatoes, onions, coconut milk and tomatoes over brown rice, hijiki, and ground mycelium powder (What the hell is hijiki?)

It’s true: I’m obsessed with food, a self-proclaimed foodie, I would even go so far as to call myself a food snob – I read Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website in my free time. Honestly.

My food choices, and the amount of time I spend preparing them, are largely based on where I get most of my food. After making the attempted conversion to organics, I realized something all students probably confront: I didn’t have enough money to buy organic food (and I even work at the Merc!). My roommates and I, plus several other friends, were tired of either spending our entire income (plus loan money for some) to eat ethically, and we weren’t willing to give it up either: it’s a hard world for food snobs with a tight budget.

Our dilemma at first seemed to have no hope – working the streets and selling plasma seemed counterproductive for the whole health benefits thing we were going for. So, we took a lesson from our hippie friends from a generation ago and organized a food buying cooperative. New Boston Coop is a group, mostly broke college students and interested community members, that meets twice a month: once to place a bulk food order from United (which supplies the Merc) , and once to pick up the 50 lb. bags and split them up by orderee.

It’s cheap, yes, but it’s also a great way to get involved with a community of active Lawrencians who are ready to take strides towards a food system that does not depend on profit margins, markups, or underpaid hourly employees working without insurance. Plus, the potlucks are just fantastic.


Potluck/Splits Meeting – yum. (newbostoncoop.org/photos)


Consumption of co-op food. (My roommates, Andrew and Berrigan, are in the red and maroon shirts 🙂 )



5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The NBC sounds very cool. I’m still a little confused about how it works exactly. I logged on to United, but how do you tell how much things cost? This is something I may want to explore further…

~Sarah H

Comment by shemme

What’s it like working at the merc? I’d be very interested in hearing more about that. I can imagine working there being even more of an inspiration for you to try to be more environmentally conscious and aware.

-Dena Hart

Comment by denah

Fermented and soaked foods are so awesome! My girlfriend and I have been experimenting with kim chi, soaked oats, soaked grains, ketchup, and legumes. It is such an old, lost secret.

Not only is it better for digestion to soak and ferment foods, but it’s a good way to preserve food over the winter. It eases the need to ship foods long distances when they are out of season.

Better digestion and health, fewer food miles, and exotic flavors? Sounds good to me.

Bobby Grace

Comment by bobbygrace

Sarah – to get prices you have to get hooked up with NBC, we can get you a copy of the catalog or get you hooked up with the online web ordering page. If you are interested, I can add you (and anyone else who wants) the email list.
Dena – When I first started working at the Merc I was in heaven, and felt very cool to work at a place that works to lessen their carbon footprint yet still provide a wide array of groceries. It is a business with profit in mind though, so the environment often gets the back burner just like at other stores. I would say I learned quite a bit though, but I also learned what wasn’t inspirational (we still use disposable nonrecyclable to go containers, ship in produce from all over the world regardless of the season, and even carry Coke products!) The customer comes first, even before environmental concerns, and I can’t blame the Merc entirely – they are definitely ahead of the game.


Comment by jkongs

I have a little e-jealousy over how you eat. So many good things!
And I wonder how much of your diet is also about what the food does for your soul (now I’m the weirdo)? Seriously, the time and care you invest in creating your food makes it more delicious. It’s got your love in it. And I think that is highly nourishing, as well.
Hats off to you and the New Boston Coop for walking your talk and trying to make healthy food more accessible.
Take a look at People’s Grocery in West Oakland, CA. Another very cool approach to food justice.

Comment by j500

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