Friday, January 15, 2010

On the Freezer Doors at the Food Co-op: Man Makes Use of Plants and Animals

We sometimes talk about the Theater of Food in food co-ops, and in the kitchens of small cafés. The show must go on, through all kinds of weather, political crises, personal dilemmas. There is always a lot happening behind the scenes, as in any theater. In the morning, the vegetables are put out on display like gigantic live sculptures, and the meat and deli cases are restocked. The grocery shelves are fronted and faced; the morning muffins start baking before the sun comes up. Phone calls are made to source local and organic products: tofu, grass-fed meats, wild seafood, morels, watercress, organic dairy. (Wo)Man Makes Use of Plants and Animals, indeed.

I love food co-ops because they provide jobs with benefits to talented people who enrich their communities in multiple ways. They are independent-minded souls. Many also excel as musicians, writers, mothers and fathers, midwives, artists, community volunteers, green builders, students, teachers, healers, tattoo-artists, massage therapists, master gardeners, local growers, videographers, dancers, business entrepreneurs. They are very community-minded and tend to be active in local politics. Nerds, geeks, back-to-the-landers, hipsters – they resist such delimiting designations (or embrace them ironically), tending to run the individuality gamut. Most like people and thrive on teamwork. They make good stagehands, extras, soloists, stand-up comedians, set painters, wine tasters, and go-to-guys and gals. Lots of them are really good cooks. They've discovered natural foods and as a result they don't spend a lot money on junk food or pharmaceuticals. They span a wide age range, too, making this an inter-generational drama.

These vintage schoolbook images decorate the freezer walk-in doors at the Bloomingfoods Near West Side location. Just a little glimpse of the set design (and the wit) backstage.

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