For the Love of Bulk
By Kahadish Wa'adabisha, Bulk Buyer, Collective Manager
The History of Bulk
The bulk section at People’s Food Co-op offers a wide array of foodstuffs that are in alignment with values that began in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Around that time, the number of farms were declining and access to healthy, organic and pesticide-free food was not a primary focus. As a result food cooperatives were established by groups of people who wanted to make decisions about production and distribution of foodstuffs and the quality of food we eat.
Food co-ops were on the front line of creating what are now known as “health food stores”. And between 1969 and 1970 approximately 10,000 food coops were established throughout the United States (People’s Food Coop being one of these co-ops).
The food cooperative movement, specific to the foundation of People’s, is different than the general health food movement in that it is very intentional. It is based on values, as seen in the Rochdale principles which guide the co-op:
- Voluntary & open membership
- Democratic Member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy & independence
- Education, training & information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
Making Bulk Part of your Everyday Life
In our bulk section you’ll notice a wide variety of organically grown grains, beans, seaweeds, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and even so called “super foods”, many of which are locally grown (noted by the Foodshed logos in the store). These items are significant in our co-op history, in that at co-ops used to be the main provider of these items to our community.
Yet, lifestyles have changed over the last fifty years. People are busy and have so many obligations that they’re running between. Food options have been created that fit this lifestyle—there’smore eating out, grab and go, snacks and prepared food. There is less time given to and available for preparing food at home.
But preparing food as it was originally intended grounds us in the movement that led to the founding of People’s Food Co-op and other food co-ops. Eating food in its whole form helps to fertilize the garden of our own bodies by honoring food preparation, eating the food we prepare, and returning to sharing food as a community.
Where to Start
There is something intentional in the action of preparing food in its most basic form. It connects us with the community it serves and the earth it comes from. For example, try making beans instead of buying them canned. Through the process of making food from its whole form, you may find yourself having time to enjoy the beauty and colors of the food you eat. You’ll be honoring the fact that many of us have access to healthy, kindly planted and harvested food. You may be using your own containers and bags andtherefore reducing waste (statistics from the EPA show we generate approximately 80 million tons of waste fr om packaging and containers annually). And you’ll be supporting farmers and taking part in a legacy of food preparation that dates back to generations long before us.
Here's a recipe to get you started.
- 1 1/2 cups onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons (or more) curry powder and garam masala
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup fresh tomato or 1, 15 oz canned tomatoes drained
- 1 can coconut milk
- Olive oil
- 4 cups water
- Lime wedges
Saute onion, garlic, ginger and spices in olive oil. Add squash, lentils, tomato and salt. Then add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring until the squash is tender for about 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milkand simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro and enjoy as this dish makes you comfy cozy