Lifetime of Co-op Memories
New Leaf Market E-newsletter February 27, 2012
By Cristin Burns
As a child, the Co-op on Gaines Street meant the smell of Munster cheese, the super sweet taste of dried papaya and the specific sensation that I have only experienced by slowly submerging my arm into a barrel of lentils. (Don’t worry, I restrain myself these days from lentil swimming and my adult arm-to-bin ratio just wouldn’t produce the same results anyway.) The memory of that store is pure sensation: running, smiling, eating, laughing and feeling simultaneously free as a bird and safe.
As a teenager, I rediscovered the Co-op. Having newly become a vegetarian, I was seeking guidance, and let’s face it, honey sticks. Honey sticks may have been the reason I walked into the door, but the Co-op now had more to offer me: education about organic foods, vegetarian products, and people who made me feel welcome.
As a young adult, having vowed repeatedly to never work in a grocery store, I found myself applying to work at the Co-op. Doing so improved my vegetarian diet by leaps and bounds. I was introduced to new foods like tempeh, quinoa, seitan, Chai tea, Kombucha, nutritional yeast, and more importantly, people who had a relationship with their food.
As an adult, I’ve made a career out of working at the Co-op. Over the past 14 years my eating habits have changed, evolved, devolved and come back around again. And while the food is important to me, the products are no longer the main reason I shop at the Co-op. It’s the people—the people who grow our food, who harvest our food and who support cooperative businesses. I believe that the cooperative business model is the key to a healthy society and economy. Being an active participant in my community and my co-op has shown me what is possible when people work together for the benefit of all.
As I look to the future, dried papaya and honey sticks are no longer staples in my life but I know that the Co-op will always have a place in my heart.
This article was submitted as part of a call for memories of the Co-op in honor of our 38th Anniversary in May 2012. If you would like to submit a memory, anecdote or story about New Leaf Market, please email Cristin@newleafmarket.coop or mail to:
New Leaf Market
C/O Marketing Department
1235 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL 32301