Note: Over the coming months, the Mushroom Messenger will be sharing stories that help communicate the inspiration and urgency behind building a member-owned cooperative grocery store. Do you have a story to share about what the Co-op means to you? Please get in touch at [email protected]
Board President Edie Burkey has an admission to make:
Nutritional research makes it pretty clear that the best diet for human health is predominantly plant-based, where plants are grown in soil free of artificial chemicals and where meat, eaten in modest amounts, comes from grass-fed animals. And though I rationally know this and am a decent cook, I struggle to shop for and create a veggie-forward meal.
Instead, I grab a bag of frozen fries, a bunch of lettuce with bottled dressing and head out to the grill with a strip steak. Easy-peasy, there is supper! And that is after I have eaten a ham and cheese sandwich with a side of potato chips for lunch. Voila, here is why I have coronary artery disease (give or take a few inherited genes for the same).
What would help me change my ways? How can I change what I grab at mealtime? I need a place to buy good produce where the veggie and fruit displays are fresh and attractive and call out to me. My grab will be even greater when I know the growers and suppliers of those plants and know how and where they are grown.
I’ll be even more likely to fill my cart if I have someone to tell me how to use them. All too often, I have left Daikon radishes, carrots, kale, and chard to rot in my refrigerator despite reading recipes and despite knowing I was wasting money, simply because I had no inspiration to make a veggie dish. I need cooks to demonstrate how to make things I would want to eat. And what if I ran into my friends, neighbors, doctors, and fellow gym-goers in the produce department grabbing their own inspiration for this sort of cooking? Life could be more fun, and eating Daikon radishes for supper would be normalized.
When I’m asked, “Why the heck are you doing this?!” by anyone curious about KCG, the story I share is that we will be healthier together if we are inspired to eat things grown from soils that are not polluted with chemical fertilizer and bacteria from confined animal waste. We will have a great place to shop for a better diet, at a store fiercely devoted to selling those products in an economical way and providing education on how to prepare those healthy foods.
KCG has a tough mission because we are surrounded by corporate grocery stores that don’t really care about the health of the American diet. But our mission is possible if we join together, own that store, and work hard to make our community not just the “Mushroom Capitol of the World,” but the Healthiest Eating Capitol as well. That is what a Food Co-op can be. It is up to us!