Thursday, May 28, 2009

Be Informed

I wanted to tell you about two highly informative websites dedicated to our food purity and safety.

One is the Organic Consumers Association:

And the other is the Cornucopia Institute:

Both sites feature in-depth articles and studies on organic standards, the GMO controversy and a host of other issues directly relating to the food we eat. The information in both is highly researched and up-to-date.

They are two of the best sites I know of to get informed and take action. Both feature an assortment of campaigns (and electronic petitions) currently being waged against the trend toward weakening organic standards, the disappearance of small family-owned farms, genetically modified food proliferation and more.

I appreciate the immense dedication of the people involved in both organizations. They are working on the front lines to safeguard the future of our food, environment and small farmers.

If you're interested in any of the issues above, these sites are goldmines of information.

As Gandhi once said, "We need to be the change we want to see in the world."

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Co-op Bookstore

Twenty-five years ago, I stopped into Mrs. Gooch's on Palms and Centinela with my mother to pick up some flowers. Browsing through the book section, I picked up a slim little orange volume from a spinner rack. It was called The Miracle of Fasting by Paul Bragg. (Yes, the Bragg of Bragg's Liquid Aminos.) The title was intriguing, so I bought the book. Simply put, The Miracle of Fasting is the reason I'm working at the co-op. For 20 years I had been eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) of burgers, fries, pizza, Hot Pockets and Cheerios. Within a week of reading Bragg I became a vegetarian and completely overhauled my diet. A few months later (to get closer to the bean sprouts) I applied at Co-opportunity. Two weeks later I had the gig and never left. Had it not been for that tiny little tome of healthy wisdom, I might never have fasted, cooked quinoa or become GM of Co-opportunity.

This is just a fancy introduction to the subject of this blog: Our book section. I believe we have one of the best book sections of any natural foods store in Los Angeles. Robin Enwright, our Product Quality and Education Director, has been tending to our bookstore for over 20 years. And she's grown quite a garden of words. She carefully chooses each selection from several independent book distributors she's used for years.

Across from the soaps in our bodycare section (and on the display table by the bread), you can find books on everything from aromatherapy to vegan cuisine and everything in between. Books on the environment & green living. Gluten-free diets. Women's and children's health. Natural beauty. Organic gardening. Composting. Animal rights. Homeopathy. Bach flowers. Cookbooks of various persuasions. A whole section on raw foods. And some giant reference books on natural remedies and healing.

One of these days I'm going to read the book on how to grow my breakfast on my windowsill.

Years ago we used to have a bunch more independent bookstores, used and new. Sadly, they're mostly all gone. We're committed to keeping our little bookstore alive and thriving. Those little volumes contribute to the health and well being of our community and our environment.

That is, as long as someone reads them.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our Community Market

This week's Big 10 Tuesday had me working the sales floor quite a lot and I'm just getting back to my desk and finding time to post. I have set my goal of posting daily and will meet that goal! So expect more consistency in the coming days and weeks.

Our "Big 10 Tuesday" this past Tuesday was a great success. We did record sales and had a record customer count. It was exciting working the floor, helping shoppers, directing traffic, stocking and facing shelves. If I had my way (and much less other GM tasks), I'd be down on the floor all the time. I love meeting and interacting with all the many different owners and shoppers that come through our doors. Some of you I've known since the old days when I used to have hair. That's how long it's been. Also the positive feedback from our owners this past Tuesday confirms to me that--even though our current primary business is a grocery store--we're more than that.

We are a true community. Sure, people are rushing in and doing their shopping. And we may not all know each other. But there are webs of connections running throughout our co-op. We were started by four people in our community and we grew year by year from the vision, dedication and support of many more people in our community. And here we are--from 1974 to 2009.

I shop at other stores in town and I never experience the feeling there as I do at our co-op. Sure, I work here and my perceptions might be skewed. But I say this sincerely. I see much richer and longer interactions between everyone in our store. This is our community market. People are not just "shopping" here. They're engaging with each other. Connections are made. Old friends are rediscovering each other. Entire families are being raised from the food we provide. I've known owners before they had kids and then watched their children grow from infants to college graduates. (For those of you who don't know, I've been here since 1985. And I'd only planned on staying six months. Who knew?)

In these times, it's important to have public places that allow people to come together and engage on a deeper level than just "buying and selling" and the daily grind. I can honestly say Co-opportunity is one of those places.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gardens, Gardens Everywhere

The "100 Garden Challenge" (Gardens of Gratitude) went down this weekend and was capped off with a potluck and party in the Learning Garden at Venice High School last night. I had a great time sitting in on guitar with The Shoeflies, an acoustic bluegrass/country/folk band from the Venice canals. It was a fitting musical style to end a weekend of digging in the dirt and getting back to the land. Sean Jennings, the event's organizer and "Head Farmer" (my title), said about 200 volunteers helped with over 40 gardens. And there were roughly 100 gardens signed up for the event. So some people signed up in solidarity and worked on their own gardens; and some were helped by a large volunteer pool of folks who helped out where needed. Sean (who looked very sundried and tired Sunday night) drove around over the weekend to about 15 different gardens and helped out.

Last night's event featured a potluck and some good old-fashioned socializing, conversation and music. One highlight was the chance to stroll through the Learning Garden and experience what a true diverse urban garden looks like. There were rows upon rows of all sorts of vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains and fruit trees, including: corn, wheat, apple and peach trees, cabbage, kale, beets, carrots, strawberries, sunflowers, lettuce, brussel sprouts and more.

Standing in the garden at sunset and taking in all that nature while watching a stream of cars hurry by on Venice Blvd was quite an experience. Here I was in this space of incredible peace and beauty and less than 100 feet away was nothing but concrete and steel. I was amazed at the variety, beauty and bounty of this humble little plot of land on the corner of Venice Blvd. and Walgrove. It simply and elegantly proves the beauty and power of nature and how it will provide for us if we work with it and follow some basic principles.

For more info on The Learning Garden, visit their website:

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Plastic Soup

Here's some fun facts: There's a huge swath of Pacific Ocean, the size of Texas, with over 3.5 million tons of trash floating in it. The plastic to sea life ratio is 6:1. This means there's 6 times more plastic than plankton in the water.

It's called the Pacific Gyre or "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch." It was discovered by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach.

Here's a few videos documenting this manmade aquatic tragedy.

Let us hear from you. What steps (small or large) will you take to help reverse this unsustainable and destructive process?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Good Morning America

The Dangers of Plastic: Interview with Charles Moore

This website also has a wealth of information on the gyre:
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gardens of Gratitude

There's an amazing event taking place this weekend (5/16 & 17) all over the Westside. It's called the "100 Garden Challenge" or Gardens of Gratitude and we're proud to be one of the sponsors. The goal is to plant 100 edible gardens throughout the Westside. They're planting in backyards, front yards, balconies; simply put, wherever food can grow.

This is a perfect example of people coming together as a community and taking advantage of our ability to provide for ourselves. I encourage you all to log on to the Gardens of Gratitude website and sign up for some digging and planting.
Sure, our co-op sells organic and local produce (and we love it when you buy it!), but what could be more miraculous than growing your own fruits and vegetables, and then eating them straight from your own garden? You'd be surprised at how much you can grow in even a small area. And if you don't have a front or backyard, you can still grow food on your balcony or even indoors. Or, sign up to help with someone else's garden.

We need to exercise our ability and our right to grow our own food. This is a prime example of "acting locally."

For more info and a link to the event website, check out our homepage.

What are you already growing at your home? Let us know.


Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome to the Daily Compost

Hello, this is your General Manager, Bruce Palma reporting directly from the compost bin. I'm excited to announce that I'll be taking over posting for our blog. I'll be posting anything that seems fit to share from my own compost heap of information I'm continually gathering from various sources (including my own coffee ground brain).

Here's how the Free Online Dictionary defines compost:
1. A mixture of decaying organic matter, as from leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients.
2. A composition; a mixture.

So, in the tradition of our previous posts, that's what the Daily Compost blog will be: an organic mixture of info and thoughts on community, the environment, food, health and some demented musings to add a little spice.

And, as we've done in the past, I'll be tossing in a regular stream of info about our co-op as well. Our blog provides an easy way to communicate with our community more frequently than monthly emails or our newsletter. And if I recommend a product, book or DVD from our co-op, I do so because I truly believe it will provide some value to the purchaser. So, yes there might be shameless plugs, but they're high quality plugs.

I highly encourage you to join the conversation and post as well. Toss in your own used coffee grounds or orange rinds of insight. From our conversations, we can begin to create an online community garden. And we can extend our co-op community past the boundaries of our physical store in the process.

So tune in every day for more organic matter.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weekly Specials

Weekly specials up on site! Check em:


Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 4, 2009

Aakk! Plastic

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share