A worker-run grocery cooperative that pays a liveable wage, sells exclusively vegetarian foodstuffs, and provides a ten-percent discount if you’re a card-carrying member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition? Yes, my friends, yes.
Rainbow Grocery Coop proves itself a too-good-to-be-true purveyor of eats–conveniently located on a bleak, gritty corner under a blasted overpass. Still, when I push my shopping cart through its automatic doors–gliding past basil starters, bins of saffron rice, and big baskets of ripe cantaloupe–I’m transported into my own, sweet paradise.
I operate with little restraint in this sprawling, food-ethics wet dream, requiring that I forego my trusted bicycle (it’s not as if I can carry two-weeks worth of food staples home in my backpack) in favor of City Car Share. Social ingenuity at its finest, this unique car-share program is a Bay Area collective through which members pay $25 to access thousands of nice, clean cars–without owning any of them. I don’t drive, but my boyfriend–Jason–does. And City Car Share allows us to run occasional* big-scale errands…like a truck for hauling furniture, a van for transporting large groups of friends, or a Toyota Prius hybrid car for a major Rainbow Grocery shopping trip.
Rainbow’s food-ethics mission inspires me. Among other things, the cooperative strives to ensure that it is:
- Providing affordable vegetarian food products which have minimal negative impact ecologically and socially
- Buying goods from local organic farmers, collectives, bakers, dairies and other local businesses whenever possible
- Encouraging bicycling, mass transit, and alternative transportation
- Composting all in-store green wastes; recycling, reducing and reusing resources whenever possible
- Creating a diverse, non-discriminatory multilingual environment
I’m a sucker for this place, where I load up on favorite items, such as:
Bok Choy: Boy, oh boy. Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage in the same cruciferous family as broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Population studies of cultures whose meals contain a high cruciferous-vegetable content indicate that its consumption minimizes the incidence of specific cancers, such as prostrate, colon, and lung. It also helps that wilting bok choy in a high heat pan, followed by a drizzle of raw Stonehouse Olive Oil and sel gris is, in fact, the real deal.
Alvita Ginger-Peppermint Tea: Not sold in Rainbow’s expansive tea section, but rather its medicinal/vitamin shelves, Alvita’s Ginger-Peppermint non-caffeinated blend is a digestive tract’s dream. I’ll spare you details, but a ship-shape stomach and happy bowels attend this tea.
Straus Family Creamery Yogurt: I have a sort-of-though-not-full-fledged-love relationship with Straus’ Organic European-Style Plain Whole Milk Yogurt, pure as the driven snow from a small, family-owned dairy farm founded in 1941, just 60-miles north of San Francisco. Still, selling yogurt in a plastic container is lame (though it gets lots of re-use as a food storage container at my house), not to mention that despite treating their cows ethically, their farm is too big to treat them like pets–which, by my lights, is also a little lame. (“Lame” isn’t a very grownup-sounding word, now is it?)
Pacific Hemp Milk: Nutty (think sunflower seeds, although these aren’t nuts) and oh-so smooth, hemp milk is a veritable treasure chest of Omegas 3 & 6 as well as 10 amino acids–not to mention that it’s fortified with Calcium. It might just be the best beverage ever.
Yellow-Cheddar Cauliflower: Like bok choy, cauliflower is a cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable. Delicious sliced and eaten raw, perhaps dipped in olive oil and salted.
*If Americans drove their cars only a few times a month, our national, economic, and environmental security would shoot through the roof! And, if we instead tooled around instead on bicycles or our own two feet, we wouldn’t be such fatty McFatty fats**. And, if individuals weren’t dumping their paychecks at gas stations, they could save, rupture personal-debt cycles, and spend money mindfully.***
**I’m not critiquing individuals who are overweight. That’s definitely not cool. I am, however, pointedly critiquing a culture that sustains a collective unhealthy relationship with the body. I’m critiquing our mass-scale social illness, of which our country’s obesity epidemic is a symptom. One of my main goals for this blog is to encourage others to reevaluate their existing approach to diet and nutrition, with a mind toward whole-earth ecology. I want to help rupture dominant food-distribution and -consumption systems by talking to you in an accessible, non-judgmental, informative, and very-sassy voice.
***Mindful spending is a challenge for me and a commitment that I’ve made to myself. If you are living on the grid, you are participating in society, and many, many aspects of society include the compromise of ethics and even ethical hypocrisy.