Will we, must we, ever stop talking about the Park Slope Food Coop? Not when we have such interesting things to talk about! Did you know that the Brooklyn-based Food Coop has its own official newsletter, The Linewaiters Gazette? It's been around since way back in 1973, and it is its own source of fascinating information (or at least, it captures a lot of the good stuff). In the latest issue of the Gazette, out today, there's a piece about the recent general meeting at which the proposed phaseout of free plastic bags was debated (the vote was postponed because not everyone could fit in the room), a story about one member's retirement (members can retire after 30 years of cumulative service if they are 60 or over), a member submission on "boycotts and hypocrisy," and an interview with The New York Times' A.O. Scott by Coop member Allison Pennell. Scott belongs to the Coop, you see. Pennell writes, "He and his wife Justine are two of my favorite people to run into while perusing organic produce at the coop."
What does Scott, who's been a member for almost 17 years now, think about his big, sometimes happy, occasionally cantankerous food family? What does he do there? How does he feel about Coop mockery? These questions were asked, and answered. A few highlights follow. (Read the whole interview at the Gazette, and maybe the plastic bag-vote piece, too.)
Scott's roles have been in childcare, on a shopping squad, and "then to Food Processing, where I cut up cheese with the other laid-back basement people." He visits the store at least once a week, and his favorite purchases are "That yogurt that comes in glass jars. Peaches in the summer. Apples in the Fall. Six Point beer. The smelliest cheese Yuri is peddling. Savoy cabbage. Marcona almonds... Hot pepper sesame oil. Equal Exchange French Roast coffee. " He has never been to a general meeting, and he was not that thrilled with the Israeli boycott drama of last spring.
But! He adores the Coop: "without reservation, and I'm consistently dismayed that it's an easy target for the scorn of the ignorant and insecure, including some who work at my paper." He loves it for the friendship, the camaraderie of members, the food, "the fact that I know where almost all of it comes from." And he loves it for its efficiency, "in spite of how complicated it is as an organization and how many different things the members want from it." He does not love being "urged to have someone else unload or pack my groceries," and is iffy on the benefits of line management. But overall, Scott's pretty much a fan, and a responsible member, too. He's no Adrien Grenier.
If there were a movie about the place, he says, "it would be a slow, sad, Neo-realist fable involving cheese." But he really thinks it should be a serial (and why isn't it?): "A workplace sitcom like The Office would work, or else a competitive reality show. Or a premium-cable anti-hero drama about the tormented inner life and criminal secrets of an outwardly mild-mannered cheese buyer. Yuri could totally be the next Walter White or Tony Soprano."
Personally, I'd prefer a Law and Order of food dealing with member violations, yogurt theft and recovery, and mild fisticuffs in the aisles — plus romance! Speaking of TV plots, remember when a bunch of members got locked into the store by accident by another in his haste to go home and watch Castle (and the show wasn't even on that night)? Pennell investigates. That man was not Scott, though it would be a good possible episode of Law and Order: CVU.
Photo by Wally Gobetz via Flickr.